Newsletter #170 - Oct 6, 2007
Use Your 'point-and-shoot'
Camera... for video
The recent Geekipedia
Supplement to Wired magazine had this to say about camcorders, in the
Obsolescence management section on page 38...
Camcorder gadget -
"Manufacturers have yet to settle on a hi-def codec or
medium. Be patient while they are ironing out the kinks, and stick with a
digital point-and-shoot that records video".
For this week's newsletter, I'll try it... put
aside my mini-DV tape camcorder with it's firewire connection, and use my
Canon PowerShot SD750 7 megapixel camera with its video
I'll connect it with
a USB connection and import the files using the beta version of Photo
Gallery on my XP laptop.
Before I posted this, I figured I needed at
least a little pilot project to see if it worked without the hassle of file
conversions. Sure enough, it worked fine...
I started by
recording the first things I saw... my laptop's
keyboard... some screen clips... then played with making a bluescreen
and using it for animated text.
Copying the clips from the
camera to the hard drive by USB cable is easy, as is the importing and
using of the source files in MM2.1 and MM6.
Here's the one minute test
project that puts the clips together. The project was done in
Before getting into it, here
I hope to spend some
time this winter getting to know the new Expression Suite,
to enhance the appearance of my website, and to use Silverlight
for things beyond simply playing the same videos I have on my site
YouTube, my library training sessions for this school year start again on
Oct 17th... with the first class about putting movies on
.... back to the main
I feel obligated to first say why the
'point-and-shoot' isn't as good at taking video as my $1,000+ mini-DV
camcorder. After all, it cost so much more... it must be better. Here are some
the Canon PowerShot shoots only standard
mode... no widescreen option
the little mic input is on the left side of the
camera, not the front, so the audio is what you hear with your left
the smaller sized camera is much lighter in
weight, which means the laws of physics say it needs much less force to change
its movement. In other words, it's not near as steady as a heavier camcorder
a 1 GB SD card holds 8 minutes of high quality
640x480 sized video... not the hour of video I can put on a mini-DV
the visual quality is less... the audio quality
is mono and much less than the stereo from my mini-DV
Why use a 'point-and-shoot'?
its small size makes it such that it fits in your
pocket, any pocket, so it can go wherever you do
it's ultra-easy to turn on and start
the visual quality, although less than a mini-DV
camcorder, has improved considerably over recent years... and for videos on
YouTube and many other online services, anything is good enough or
you can choose to record and output
in NTSC or PAL... my mini-DV camcorder is an NTSC model
the macro or flower-mode works well for both
pictures and video
this model shoots 7 megapixel still shots,
so getting higher quality pictures for stories, and video clips
for movies, is easier with one camera than two. It's just a quick
flip of the switch on top to toggle between taking video and still
it seems to do better in low light than my
mini-DV camcorder. I walked around the house at night and, with low level
ambient lighting, took video clips... and they looked much better than I
The file type for video clips is .avi. What codecs are
Here's what GSpot shows about them on my XP
The video compression is MJPG (motion JPEG).
640x480 pixels, 30 frames per second.
The audio is PCM (uncompressed) and no codec is
Note: the camera's manual says QuickTime is needed
to play the MJPEG files on a Windows 2000 system.
The clips import, preview and work fine in
projects, using MM2.1 on my XP laptop or MM6 on my Vista laptop.
No conversion needed.
The file sizes of the video clips are pretty big...
A 46 second clip is 92 MB file. That's 7.2 GB per hour, more than half the size of a DV-AVI file, and
larger than high quality DVD MPEG-2 files. You would expect such
clips to be pretty good quality. And they are.
Here's a couple full-sized frame
snapshots taken by MM2.1 from the video clips. The first is my recent Civil
War re-enactment clip on YouTube, playing in an IE7 browser
via Veoh TV (which gets YouTube in addition to regular TV
This one is during a slide-show in Photo
Gallery.... one of the 7 megapixel snapshots.
Focus and Optical
The manual has an interesting note about the
focus and optical zoom settings remaining fixed at whatever the first frame
recorded is... for the rest of the scene.
Each scene is recorded on the flash card (an SD
one) as its own avi file.
For Fun... a
I was curious about how well a bluescreen clip
would work in a movie project if the screen was the LCD of the laptop and the
blueness was the background color in a graphics app.
I tried it with RendersoftVRLM,
placing an animated URL over the blueness and shooting it such that
the bluescreen was zoomed into. The result is the animated URL that plays in the
I put the project together in MM6 on my Vista Home
Basic laptop, and used one of Rehan's bluescreen
transitions. It was easy and pretty effective.
Conclusion and Closing... and What's
At the end of the week using the SureShot SD750,
I'd grown to appreciate it more, but I'm not tempted to use it as a regular
replacement for my mini-DV camcorder... or as a replacement for our pro-sumer
Sony and Nikon 7 and 10 megapixel cameras.
If you haven't taken any video clips with your
'point-and-shoot' camera, try it.
I'll close with a copy of glow's, a
regular on the moviemakers.net forum, in response to my post announcing this
week's subject... he sums up well the value of a 'point-and-shoot'
Indeed I use my
point and shoot camera for video more often than I use my video camera.
disagree with your assertion that a file copy is just as easy as capturing via
firewire from mini-DV. I find file copying is much easier, quicker and more
I find it frustrating only
being able to capture in real time and not have random access to clips when
A few weeks ago I shot about 4
hours of my kids' school concerts. I wanted to edit it and make a DVD. After
half a day my wife asks me if I've finished - at that point I'd only just
These days I only drag out the video camera when I want
- slightly better quality for a big event like a wedding
- many hours
of recording (my 1Gb card only holds a maximum of about 40 minutes on standard
- better zooming like at a concert (20x for my video camera, only
3x for the still and can't zoom while recording)
My son was born this
week and all my video has been taken with my point-and-shoot.
It was nice
being able to send out a quick video with the birth announcement email.
With a point-and-click camera with a video feature,
you can enjoy the events you're recording, and like glow did, more
easily get the memories to friends and family.
Have a great week!!