Teaching Video, Part 1 -- Your Equipment and How to Use it

When moving to video journalism, not only are you a reporter, but you are dealing with a lot of moving parts, and a lot of technology which can go wrong, can run out of juice, can fill up, can stop working, can bug up, basically, which can drive you crazy. At the very least, though, you want to be working with a decent camera which has proper audio inputs and a decent audio kit. For this class you will be using a Canon XA10 and whatever audio equipment is available from the checkout room. Even if you are using another camera, a lot of the tips here apply. ht to Kari Barber for sharing her cheat sheets for this class. Some of the wording is hers.

Purchase and Insert Card

Before you go out in the field to record, make sure to purchase an SD card, on Amazon for example. It should cost $15 to $30. Make sure to choose a "class 10" with 32 GB. Once you have your SD card, insert it into one of the slots on the side of the camera. Do not force it. If it does not go in smoothly and easily you are putting it in the wrong direction.

Initializing Your Card

Attach the battery and turn on the camera's power. Open the LCD screen. If you have not initialized this card in one of our Canon XA10's before you will need to do this at this time. Initializing will erase everything on your card, so be sure anything you may need in the future is backed up on your computer or hard drive. To initialize, go to playback mode, and then on the screen go to [Func.] > [Menu] > The picture of a wrench. > Scroll to [Initialize] > Select which slot you put your card into. > [Initialize]. This will take a moment. Do not interrupt this process.

Recording Onto Your Card

Once the card has been initialized you should select the memory card for recording. Note that the default for these cameras is to record to internal memory. To select your card make sure you are in MANUAL mode with shooting mode, go to [Func.] > [Menu]>  > MOVIE ICON then Rec. Media for Movies > Touch [Memory Card A or B] > X.

If the camera defaults to internal memory your files will be saved onto the camera and you will need to transfer them from there to your hard drive before returning the camera. Be sure to check this before you return the camera as someone else may check it out and delete your work. Now you are ready to record. Before you go out and shoot though, make sure you have batteries with juice for your camera and wireless mics, as well as all your cables plugged in, and a working tripod, as well as your manual.

Your Manual

The manual for the Canon XA10 is here. When in doubt, refer to it. It can get you out of unexpected trouble spots. Initially, I would shoot everything in automatic except for the focus, which I would keep in manual.

Don't Forget Your Batteries, Tripod, Audio and Headphones

Before you go out in the field, make sure your batteries are all juiced up and that you have enough of them.

Make sure your tripod works, and that you know how to use it, and keep the bubble in the middle.

In terms of your audio kit, you should have a wireless mic, shotgun mic on top already attached, a handheld mic for standups and a wired lavalier mic for interviews. Make sure you are recording your audio onto two separate channels. Always wear quality headphones to make sure the audio you are getting is of the highest quality possible. Test your audio yourself. Make sure both audio channels are going separately. Don't go out in the field until you are sure your audio works. Check back on my audio primer. Per the camera, you will be using, if there is screeching in your ear, make sure to go into the menu and switch to headphone out instead of AV out. Now go out and shoot.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, make sure to check out the other chapters in my video series.

Teaching Video, Part 1 -- Your Equipment and How to Use It

Teaching Video, Part 2 -- A Lexicon of Shots

Teaching Video, Part 3 -- Shot Composition and Sequencing

Teaching Video, Part 4 -- Nat Sounds and Action Shots

Teaching Video, Part 5 -- Interviews

Teaching Video, Part 6 -- Standups

Teaching Video, Part 7 -- Choosing Your Video Stories and Shooting Them Wisely

Teaching Video, Part 8 -- Ingesting Into Premiere

Teaching Video, Part 9 -- Writing Your Script

Teaching Video, Part 10 -- Editing

Teaching Video, Part 11 -- Raising Your Game

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