Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tech tips for the library's Canon Vixia HG20


1.) Although the librarian will probably check, make sure the inventory in the case matches up with the contents of the case. (Make sure it is all there!)

2.) Go ahead, if you don’t already own one, and check out a tripod from Media Services. 90% of the filming that you will do should be on a tripod.

3.) Make sure the camera’s battery and back-up battery are fully charged before you head out to do some filming. EVEN IF IT HAS JUST BEEN SITTING IN THE CASE UNUSED, the batteries will be slowly dying. Allow an hour to charge the battery. If you have an electrical outlet where you are conducting the interview, then you don't have to worry about this. Bring an extension cord if you are planning to use an outlet, however!

4.) Before you head out, make sure your camera’s settings are right. Once you set them, they should not change. Chances are that the camera will be on the settings you need.

How to make sure the settings are right:

  • Turn the camera on.
  • Make sure that the thumbwheel (pictured) is set in the movie recording mode (the RED MOVIE CAMERA icon)

  • Press the FUNC button along the bottom of the screen.
  • Now you can use the joystick labeled “SET” that is on the left margin of the screen to navigate the menus.
  • If you click the joystick down four spots, you will notice that your shooting quality options are thus: MXP, FXP, XP+, SP, and LP. We want to be shooting in MXP, which is the highest quality mode. If it is not on MXP, click SET to the left until it is.
  • Next you will make sure the shooting mode is set where we want it.
  • Click the set joystick to the top spot. It should be one of the following settings: P, TV, AV, (filmstrip), or (portrait). (filmstrip) shows an icon of a film frame for CINE Mode, and (portrait) shows an icon of a human face for PORTRAIT mode. (You can see these in the photo.) I have had best results thus far with CINE mode, although you can try PORTRAIT also. There are a bunch of additional options with PORTRAIT. Don’t mess with them unless you really know what you are doing!
  • Now that the camera is in MXP and CINE mode, IT is ready for shooting. You, however, are probably not ready to start shooting yet!

5.) Plug your microphone into the camera. If you are interviewing someone, you will want to use a clip-on as you will probably neither need nor have the capacity to set up the History Department’s stereo shotgun microphone and/or have access to the microphone boom. These clip on mics are most often the best option anyhow. On the FRONT, RIGHT HAND side of the camcorder, you will see a little door. Plug your microphone into the RED outlet.

NOTE: at present, the microphone supplied with the library’s camera does not work. You MUST use a microphone that has a power source (battery) of its own or you will have complete silence on your recording! (for now, use mine.)

6.) Turn your Microphone ON and have your interviewee clip it to their lapel. Ideally, you will have them run the cord where it is not seen, like inside a jacket. Be careful – the foam windscreen and the clip come off of the microphone very easily!

If the battery in the microphone is dead, you are going to have to replace it with a fresh one. I will have a small supply of replacement batteries for you to use.

7.) Plug your headphones into the camera. It is a good idea to do this even if you are recording by yourself. It is essential that you confirm that you are getting a good audio signal. Headphones will confirm that the microphone battery is not DEAD! (i.e., recording silence!)

NOTE: You MAY get a ton of NOISE through your headphones with the HG20. This means that the A/V output is not set right. To fix this:

In movie shooting mode:
Press FUNC
Click down to the bottom menu selection (a box with lines for “menu”)
Push SET (down on the joystick)
Click the joystick to the right twice and land on the first little wrench icon
Click down six settings to AV/Headphones
Push SET
Select Headphones and push SET
Press FUNC to exit the menu

In movie viewing mode (blue movie camera on thumbwheel)
Press FUNC
Make sure furthest right icon “menu” is selected
Push SET
Click joystick to the right once
Scroll down to AV/Headphones and change setting as above.

On the HG20, the headphone setting works independently on the movie playback AND recording mode. Don’t ask me why! But I have gone ahead and changed both settings on the camera ahead of time and they should remain in this mode unless someone else changes them back.

NOTE: if the camera is set to Headphones, you will not hear anything during playback without headphones!

8.) At this point, if your subject/interviewee is properly lit and the camera properly set on the tripod, you are ready to start recording!

9.) Record a test. Have your interviewee talk into the microphone for a few seconds to try things out.

10.) Switch camera into playback mode (blue movie camera) – select the track with the SET joystick and press the joystick to play the clip. Listen to the audio through your headphones. If the headphones are buzzing furiously, go up to step 7 and follow the setting instructions and repeat the playback.

11.) Set the camera back to recording mode, and start recording your interview!

12.) When you are done, it would be a good idea to make sure your recordings are on the hard drive, so go ahead and check.

13. Turn OFF the microphone when you are putting away the equipment.

14. It is now time to head to the computer to offload your videos!

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