Learning video

Post topics about the business side of magic.

Postby Guest » 07/26/04 02:52 PM

I've gradually learned over the last couple yeasr how important it is to have a magic videotape thatr promotes you well.

So today, I'm signing up for a video-editing program at the local community college. I'm going to get free access to their editing bays, on which I will do my own projects, as well as learning the skills, for only $110 (including textbook). And, of course, the time expended.

I'm also signing up for public-access cable programming. They say that with just two evening sessions, I can start:

*borrowing their cameras
*editing on their machines

...as long as I put together a program that they can broadcast.

The goal, of course, is just to get the best videotape I can that will market me as a magician.

Does anybody have any advice on this area of magic?

I've been asking around, and different people have wildly differing idaes about what makes a good videotape. Also, it's terribly time consuming to tape, edit, and package a promotional videtoape. But man is it essential!
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Postby Guest » 08/04/04 08:22 AM

Here's the best advice I can offer.... Find a experienced producer to do this work for you. The idea that you can spend a few evenings at a community college and emerge with the skills and experience necessary to produce a compelling promotional tape is just silly. Television production is an art that takes many years to master. While the equipment available today is less expensive and vastly superior to that available in the past, the skills necessary to create excellent work with it have not changed. And the quality of instruction that you are likely to get at a community college will not be what you would need. If the instructor was really proficient, he or she would be working in the production industry, not teaching evening courses to novices. Better to team up with an experienced producer and spend your time on magic and marketing.
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Postby Scott Sullivan » 08/12/04 07:05 AM

Gensheimer is correct in that having access to the equipment doesn't always translate into experience.

That said, I think it can only help for you to look into learning what you can from video professionals. Photography and videography fall into simlar fields in that understanding colors and framing balance will make your images look better.

For great examples of this, study directors like M. Night Shyamalan. He uses images to help tell the story. Also, since your video will be for one purpose (selling you), watch the trailers to your favorite movies and see how the trailers sell the movie. This is one of those "hidden secrets" I wish more people knew about.

Finally, if you can afford it, hire a professional video crew to do your video. It might seem like a lot of money, but they will supply the equipment and you can focus on being you while they focus (no pun intended) on capturing you in your best light.

All this said, here are some bits of information I have picked up from producing promotional videos:

* Watch the colors your use on stage, including your outfit. Certain colors work better on camera. Red doesn't work well at all. When shown on television, red tends to 'bleed' to the side, making a nasty looking picture. Blues and greens work much better.

* Frame your video using the "Rule of Thirds." Imagine a tic-tac-toe grid on your screen, dividing the screen into nine smaller squares. The focus of any scene should fall on one of the lines (best if at one of the four intersecting points). Any book on cinematography or photography will explain this in more detail.

* Pay attention to audio! This is often the last thing entertainers (and even many video guys) work on. The attitude many have is "This is video, not radio." WRONG! Good microphones will cost anywhere from $700 to several thousand dollars. I wish I could explain how important the audio is to a video. You want to use more than one mic and record them to separate audio tracks so you can mix in post.

I would set up the audio as follows: 1 wireless lapel mic on you, 1 shotgun mic (this is a higly directional mic) located at the base of the stage and pointed towards you, one omnidirectional mic located in the audience (to record audience reaction), with each mic going to a separate track.

I hope this little bit helps. Good luck and keep us all informed on how you do!

Best regards,

Scott Sullivan

Reels In Motion
www.reelsinmotion.com
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Postby Guest » 08/14/04 03:38 PM

Originally posted by Gensheimer:
...Find a experienced producer to do this work for you. The idea that you can spend a few evenings at a community college and emerge with the skills and experience necessary to produce a compelling promotional tape is just silly....If the instructor was really proficient, he or she would be working in the production industry, not teaching evening courses to novices....
Gensheimer:

First off, I just don't have the money to throw at a promotional video crew. Just don't have that kind of cash or credit, period. My previous video cost $350, and that was cheap. If you hire a crew and a real professional, that's gonna cost a couple thou, and there's no guarantees that he'll be that good.

On the other hand, I intend to immerse myself in video-editing courses over a year, as my friend Bill has just did. If you have the ability to go back and tweak over weeks and months on various videos, without paying hourly rates for eaqch tweak, that's gonna give me something much better than I can buy from some guy who can edit but doesn't know magic. The comment about "a few hours in community college" is so off the mark.

The first semester is a prerequisite course in which you simply learn how to use the equipment. Then you get into semesters of learning editing. I am so appalled by the idea that college doesn't offer anything worth learning, which has cropped up in some quarters.

I'm sorry tobe so contrary, but I have to disagree with another of your points, which is that community-college teachers don't know snit. Over the past four years, the editing business has undergone a complete revolution with the introduction of digital.

I know several editors who have worked in the industry and have left it because, first of all, directors don't need film editors anymore; secondly, because it's a young man's game in which you work 20-hour days for a couple months, something that only twenty- and thirtysomethings can do; and thirdly, because college positions offer a freedom from commercial demands that working in industry doesn't offer you.

Scott: Thanks so much for your technical advice. It will be quite useful, I'm sure. Are you that guy in Kentucky?

Everybody: I've also signed up for a local public-access show with the local Adelphia. There, you can use their editing equipment, and it's less crowded. In addition, it gets you free use of a studio, and the station supplies personnel on three cameras, with adequate lighting and sound, etc.

If you don't have a lot of money, how do you scale this essential hurdle, which is the promotional videotape? That's the problem I'm trying to solve.
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Postby Scott Sullivan » 08/15/04 08:31 AM

First off, good luck with the local public-access show! I've never had that chance and I wish you the best!

Regarding that "essential hurdle," I'm going to make a few assumptions to make this easier. I'll assume you have access to the equipment (sounds like you're well on your way). If you can afford it, buy a cheap miniDV camera. They run about $350 for a nice consumer brand. Until I purchased the pro equipment I use now, I used a JVC miniDV cam that ran me about tat much. It gave a perfectly acceptable quality for a promo video that can be used until you have more resources down the road.

Use this camera to record EVERY show you do. Each show, place the camera in a different spot in the room. The gems that you'll find yourself using in a promo video will be those spontaneous bits of by-play with spectators and your audience. Also, you'll have the key factor when working on a video and that is footage.

The more footage you have, the better your video can be. Even if the quality isn't perfect, record every show you do. I've kicked myself in the past for not recording a show after the fact when there was a golden moment in that show.

Out of everything, having a ton of footage and having good audio on that footage will get you a better video. When sitting in the editing room, it's always better to have a choice than be stuck with one clip. You'll thank yourself when you're sitting at the editing bay. I'm guilty of this. I've had promo videos where I used a really bad clips just because they were the only clips.

One final thought. Get Dave Dee's course in marketing. Use his concepts towards your video. I don't want to give away what isn't mine to give, so I'll be carefull here. Figure out who your clients are and design your video to sell yourself specifically to those people. This includes showing yourself performing in the same venue as the one you're selling to.

For example, show video of yourself performing in a park if you're trying to work parks. Dave has much more info regarding this. I can't recommend his stuff enough. It's just plain good.

Make a list of those great moments in the form of a log. You'll use these to compile a list of shots you want in your video. Add the marketing concepts that Dave Dee has in his course and you've got yourself a video. Okay, we all know there's more to it than that, but I hope this helps get you in the right direction.


Warm regards,
Scott Sullivan

Reels In Motion,
www.reelsinmotion.com

P.S.
By the way, I'm not the Scott in Kentucky. Out of pure coincidence, I am ANOTHER Scott Sullivan who is involved in magic and video. What are the chances? I'm based out of Pennsylvania, but I'm eager to see his work as it sounds great!
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Postby Guest » 08/15/04 11:27 AM

Thanks for the encouraging words, Scott.

Actually, I have a ton of video, but the problem right now is the editing. I will, however, take your advice to heed.

The other thing is, Idon't intend to use public access to become famous; instead, I just want to use their editing equipment, because in my first semester of video, they don't even get into editing, they just get you up to spe3d on the equipment.

I suspect that public-access TV shows can be a real trap, because they just tend to eat up time in massive quantities. That's time that I should more productively spend on magic and marketing of my magic.

I'll let you know how it goes. I meet with the director of the public-access station on Monday afternoon, and I have to tell her my plans for a show. I have to misrepresent myself a bit, of course, because they're looking for a show, preferably a regular show, because they want to fill airtime. I'm looking to use the equipment for my own purposes. But I think we can find a mutually agreeable middle ground, without my telling her what I'm actually going to do.

The fact that Congress negotiated public access a couple decades ago is a great thing. That's what Congress should do more of: Negotiate something for us.
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Postby Guest » 08/17/04 03:30 PM

I worked for a summer as an assistant producer in a video production company that does most of its work for a local television channel (via cable or digital). So I have some experience.

It is true that learning to make a good vide is hard and takes a long time. Both editing and shooting are highly skilled crafts and sometimes even art. On top of that there is even the more demanding task of scripting and putting it all together in your plans. While the creative process may not be as important as one could think the experience needed can save time and money.

What I suggest to any magician is to find a good quality local channel. Offer to let them make a few episodes on your magic (either as many few minutes fillers or a couple of 15 minutes performance) for exchange for a promotional video. The good thing in this is that you would receive promotion via the television appearences and you would have a lot of good, solid, broadcast quality material in a master tape. Using their help and expertise you can compose a very high quality promotional video and you would still have plenty of material left for future videos.

If a magician would have approached me with this kind of offer I would have jumped on it immediately. And yes, I could have easily offered him 2-3 promotional videos for exchange. Why? Because monetary resources are more limited than other resources. Especially if the magician would be willing to use the slots in production that are usually quiet.

It is truly a win-win situation and I advice everyone to approach their local networks.
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Postby Tabman » 08/17/04 04:12 PM

hay, i do a lot this for a living, see my studio website at: flatwoodstudio.com corporate and music stuff. my team got an honorable mention in the 2004 48 hour film festival two weeks ago and i had a 6 minute piece i did for prime outlet malls of america that played on the jumbotron at madison sq gardens a few months ago. im tired of just making money doing this and want to have some fun helping people. ive got the gear, the cameras, the computers, etc...if theres any magician in this area that needs a professional short promo video let me know and ill do it gratis if you'll pay the media costs (tape, cds, dvds, etc). life's too short to be bound by $$$. ill help if i can.
-=tabman
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Postby Guest » 08/17/04 05:23 PM

Originally posted by -=tabman:
...if theres any magician in this area that needs a professional short promo video let me know and ill do it gratis....-=tabman
Which area are you in?
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Postby Guest » 08/17/04 07:09 PM

Gryffindor Hall meets Moonshine Holler! Only in magic! --Asrah
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Postby Tabman » 08/17/04 07:46 PM

PDQ Erdnase asks:
Which area are you in?
why moonshine hollow is in central tennessee of course!!
-=tabman
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Postby M. Sibbernsen » 08/25/04 06:38 PM

PDQ Erdnase,

I have a report entitled "Keys to a Successful Promotional Video" which is for sale at the Magic Notes website via the link below. I think you would find it very helpful.

http://www.magic-notes.com/thenotes/det ... duct_id=44

Michael Sibbernsen
Starr Video Productions
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 09/09/04 07:44 AM

Getting a video can be a hard thing to do in magic. One of the reasons is that we perform in places in front of a live audience that is not set up for shows. That is Fairs, Malls, restaurants and other places are not great locations to video tape shows.

Having done cable TV classes and produced cable TV shows featuring me as the star in Chicago - I have to say cable is a hit or miss deal. You might get good people to work with and you might not.

But you could get contacts of people that learn how to video tape your show and you can use them at a later date to tape you live...

Here is what I suggest to get a video DVD of your show... Invest in a good camera... Get a computer that can do video and burn DVD's...

Then get good software so you can edit the video yourself and burn it onto a DVD... Because DVD's mail better and are flat and file better. And clients have the ability to play DVD's now.

Have a friend video tape you at several shows. Use your computer and software to edit it into a ten minute video promo of you. What you want is something that will sell you to the client. I suggest a fast moving montoge opening like the starting of an exciting TV show. Then you performing your best short stuff with audience reaction. Then close with a montoge sales pitch and how to reach you.

Go to my web site and download my hypnosis video and my magic video... www.mrhypnotist.org

Good luck...

I hope this helps
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Postby Guest » 09/09/04 01:48 PM

I had my meeting with public-access cable. They were eager to have me produce shows, so I'm going to start.

Interesting. He said that fully 30% of their shows are Christian evangelism--that is, guys and ladies coming over from the church, Bible in hand, and just reading The Good Word for a half-hour. A bit of magical entertainment will be a welcome relief, he said.

I start the analog editing class next Tuesday. And I'm continuing into my second week of my studio video class at the local community college. In January, I'll be able to edit on an Avid!
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Postby Scott Sullivan » 09/09/04 04:39 PM

Congratulations on your new production! Welcome to the wonderful world of video production! I hope you have a great experience with it and learn as much as you can. You sound like you've got the drive!

Working with Avid will be a great experience, too! You are going to be using THE industry standard.

Glen has a good point about getting all that equipment, but then again, you've now got access to some top notch equipment. I love DVDs (in fact, I produce them in my studio), but just remember, not everyone has one yet. In fact, you'd be amazed at how many VCRs are sitting in college Student Activity Offices, Cruise Ship Entertainment Director Offices and so on. Just remember, it's the painting, not the paint, that makes the artist.

Keep us informed on what you learn from this wonderful experience! You're doing what most don't and is you took action. You acted and you'll reap the rewards. Kudos!

Warm regards,
Scott Sullivan

Reels In Motion
http://www.reelsinmotion.com/

P.S.
Erdnase, you sound like the type of person that would appreciate and USE good information, so if you get a chance, I have a 7-day email mini-course that you'd enjoy. You can sign up for free at http://www.reelsinmotion.com/promovideobook.html
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