Your video planning guide – the safari is only the beginning

By: Lee Rickwood

March 8, 2010

Photo:David Cronenberg

It’s one of the scariest stories I have ever heard.

 On a recent trip to Africa, a student of mine came face to face with hungry lions, aggressive alligators, terrifying hyenas. The danger was tangible, the experience unforgettable.

But the scariest moment came when he got home – and faced video format incompatibility!

Before his trip, the fellow was sold a brand new HD camcorder, a brand new laptop computer, and a rather expensive high end video editing software package, none of which worked together very well. He has tons of footage, some of it quite good, but his frustrations in just trying to watch, or edit, or share the video, have been a trip unto themselves.

We’ve now spent a few sessions together, getting it together. (I’ve even seen my first warthog on tape!  Yuck!)

So, by testing and experimenting – and finally upgrading – he is now editing his video footage at home, and planning to make DVD gifts for his family and maybe even putting some footage online.

Yes, he has some amazing stories from his African safari, but the story for our purposes here at is his rather painful and expensive trip through the creative, technical and marketplace jungle that is digital video today.

Not knowing exactly what to ask, he was sold some gear he really didn’t need.

 Not knowing exactly how to use the gear he got, he had to waste some time and up his frustration level when he really shouldn’t have.

 So, there’s something in his experience for us all, I think, and without embarrassing him too too much, his experiences will help trigger a new series of articles, blog posts and e-mails here about how to make video – without having a hard time of it.

 Video should be fun, not a hassle. Especially for personal use, but even if you’re doing for more profitable uses, you should get a sense of enjoyment as well as accomplishment from making video.

 We’ll talk a bit about why to use video (for business, social and personal reasons), but we’ll also talk about how to use video.

 So, whatsyourtech?  What can you share about your video experience, or what do you want to know for the next – or the first – time you shoot something on digital video?

 small-camera-in-hand-w-logoAmong the topics we plan to look at:

  •  Basic video production, including camera techniques and technologies
  • Lighting tools, audio gear and editing
  • Storing and sharing video
  • Online digital video formats, like for YouTube and such
  • Cell phone video formatting
  • 3D Video ‘on the cheap’
  • Geo-tagged video
  • Putting the audio in video
    And more….

 Many of these topics I cover in digital video production workshops that I lead at a local video artists’ co-op.  I’ve been leading those classes for several years now, and that’s where I crossed paths with the African traveller, and where I hear many other questions, complaints, inquiries and great ideas about making good video today.

And I’ll be touching base with co-conspirator and whatsyourtech blogger Ted Kritsonis about his use of video and the ways he’s making the cool video reports  posted on our site.

 You’ll notice we’ve also launched a ‘Win a Camcorder’ Contest here at whatsyourtech, so we will talk about that, we will review some other camcorders and related video gear, and we’ll explore how where and why digital video is being used.

 We will be taking your feedback and comments about your experiences with digital video – good, bad or as yet undermined – and relating back to them in the upcoming articles.

Add your comments now to this article or send your questions to, and make sure you check out our poll and answer our questions about video.   That will help guide us in our upcoming reports and blogs.

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