Mon 10 Dec 2007
The other day I was listening to a podcast of the latest Snide Remarks humor column, You Panhandle the Truth. At the end, author Eric Snider gives a melodramatic rendition of a donate-to-good-causes PSA (public service announcement.) I thought to myself, “I bet I could make that into a video clip.” I rewrote Eric’s PSA text slightly and got out my camera.
When thinking of PSAs, I remembered the Fake PSAs from the Office DVD. To understand the critical elements of a typical PSA, I re-watched a few of them, and then drove out to get some supplies. I got
- three king-sized bedsheets: a light brown, black and white
- three cans of spray paint (black, silver and gray)
- two halogen flood lights
When I returned, I dried the brown sheet with a wet towel to remove the fold lines. Then I laid a tarp on the ground, placed the sheet on top and used spray paint to create a faux marble texture. An hour later it was dry, so I pinned it to the wall. On either side of the backdrop, I attached part of a black sheet to form a three sided filming area. I plugged one floodlight into a light socket mounted on a small step ladder and pointed it at the center of the backdrop. The other floodlight was placed in a box and covered with a white sheet for ambient lighting.
The script was divided into four scenes and each scene was taken zoomed out and zoomed in. I had considered filming with two cameras simultaneously, but the difference in color balance between two different digital cameras I found was significant. Consequently, it was all filmed from one camera, my trusty Canon PowerShot SD800 IS. Once we had the clips, it was time to put it all together. I re-recorded the voice segments, found some royalty-free piano music and began to edit. Since I wasn’t doing anything fancy, I decided to use Windows Movie Maker. Sadly, WMM only makes wmv files (but I converted that wmv to an AVI with Visicom’s video edit converter.) I mixed in the dubbed audio (recorded with Goldwave) and the sound track with Audacity. I stripped out the old audio and reinserted the new track with VirtualDub and finally I converted to flv with Macromedia’s Flash Video Encoder. The hardest part was the filming; getting the lighting right and the shots (and remembering the lines) was time-intensive. Once that was done, the rest was comparably easier.
What would have made things smoother? Two matching video cameras (for the two shots), a teleprompter (or cue cards), recording the final sound on site with a good microphone, better lighting, and composed music.
Said Eric Snider after watching the clip, “Very nice! And what an odd thing to do with your time!”