Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Travel Videos... And Other Ways To Bore Your Friends!

I've just recently bought a DVD-Burner - nice little gizmo really. Now I can take boring home movies and import them into the computer, add a menu, soundtrack and some transition effect and subtitles with some handy-dandy software that came with the burner, only to finally realize that they're still nothing more than boring home movies with a bit of bling! Let's face it; most events that make it into your Handycam are usually of the "had-to-be-there" variety. When taken out of context, the viewer will most likely fall into a daze or self-induced coma to make your 2-hour video memories of the summer cottage tolerable!

Here are a few tips that can make your home DVD's a little more interesting:

  1. Keep length of clips to a minimum. Your viewer doesn't need to see all two and a half hours of little Tommy's choir recital to figure out that A) Tommy looked cute in his suit, and B) Tommy can't sing. Try to use the best bits; usually no more than 30 seconds per clip. This keeps things moving and thus can prevent viewer-coma.
  2. Mix media. When traveling abroad, I always try to buy some CD's of local musicians playing some traditional music (folk songs are great). Add this as a background track to a video montage; this way the viewer discovers not only the sights but also the sounds of the region. We've all heard the saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words" - use it! Try to alternate between brief video clips (15 to 30 seconds) and still pictures (5 seconds) with an audio background track.
  3. Add ambiance. If you can swing it; get a small digital audio recorder (some MP3 players have a built-in microphone that allows you to record). This will allow you to pick-up some ambient sounds that you can use as an audio track to strengthen narration. A simple voice-over gets boring mighty quick, but if you add some ambient sounds it lends more depth to the narration. A two-minute loop is usually sufficient for an audio recording.
  4. Subdivide. Try to subdivide your DVD into different subjects, with each "Chapter" no more than 15 - 20 minutes in length. For a road-trip, each "Chapter" can be a different area that was visited.
  5. Don't overdo it!!! Just because the software lets you add scrolling titles, fold-over transitions, lighting effects and mondo-reverb doesn't necessarily mean that your viewer wants to see and hear it! In video montage, the KISS rule definitely applies (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).

As a last tip, here's some simple etiquette: don't assume that guests want to see your home movies! If a certain subject comes up in conversation (the lost art) like Little Tommy's Choir Recital - then suggest that you have a brief clip. If your guests are bored after 5 minutes, shut it down... PLEASE!

"I can think of nothing more boring for the American people than to have to sit in their living rooms for a whole half hour looking at my face on their television screens." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

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