21 September 2013

Multimedia production with FujiFilm X100 - © PAUL TREACY (.COM) 2013.

*Let me start this post by first apologising for some missing images from older posts. These images were linked from a service I no longer use.*

Back in March I made a short film using just the FujiFilm X100 for both stills and video with a little help from an audio recorder.

Iʼve made multimedia films before and I was initially wary of relying on the X100 for video as there is little manual control to be had. However, on previous projects, using multiple cameras was a problem. Too many straps, cables, cards and more besides.

I needed to travel light so that I could be flexible and move quickly in what was a vibrant, dynamic and often raucous crowd which is not so easy with different cameras set up for different purposes. But using the X100 only and switching quickly and effortlessly between stills and video modes was great fun and it became intuitive. I set the function button to video.

I had two focal lengths for stills, the standard lens and the WCL-X100 for wide angle but I had effectively 3 focal lengths for video including the zoom mode which served me well.

Anyone with a video function on their camera can make a wee film like this with a little practice.

For this exercise I used a combination of programs on a Mac but if you are using a PC and Windows media programs the principals are the same and you can simply adjust accordingly. I used Aperture (but iPhoto would also work), Garage Band and iMovie. I may have used PhotoShop CS too but I canʼt remember. If I did it was to tweak a particular image beyond what Aperture could handle.

First things first. Charge all batteries (hopefully youʼll have some spares). The X100 camera is a gem of a tool but its battery is a bit rubbish. Format some high speed SD cards. You should always re-format your cards after uploading to your computer. The camera works faster then and your cards will remain healthy for longer.

For my wee film I used some flash. I use either my Nikon speedlites, which are very powerful and allow manual control, or my diminutive Konica Hexar flash which is the same size as the fully manual Fuji EFX20 but has just two power settings. This little thing only needs two AA batteries and recycles quickly and is great for some fill in bright conditions and as a regular low light flash at f5.6 for small group shots.

I always fire my flash units off camera using my coiled Nikon SC-17 cord from years ago. Given that this is not a DSLR camera you need to be careful not to get the cord in frame. You can guard against this by shooting with the EVF as your eye will then see as the sensor sees. But I prefer the OVF and so I use my little finger to control the cord and prevent it intruding upon the view. Itʼs second nature now.

I also carry a small audio recorder that I mount in the hot shoe. It has four mirophones so it capures wonderful surround sound in very high quality which I can then either synch with the audio from the cameraʼs own built in mics or I can overlay it on the stills. Itʼs easy to synch separated sound with video clips in iMovie now that it has the visible waves. Simply click and drag the audio clip on the timeline until the waves match up. You can fine tune this process by wearing headphones when editing. When you have alligned the audio waves, simply turn off the audio on the video clip as itʼll likely not be as good as the captured sound on the audio recorder. I had a wind screen on mine as it was a blustery day which created buzzing in the camera mics.

One more tip I have that might be of use and thatʼs loosing the gadget bag. I try to keep my back in good condition and will, where possible, spread weight about my torso. I have a short fishing tackle vest I use. Itʼs better than the overly long photo vests which look too obvious anyway. I took a liking to my uncleʼs as Iʼm not a fisherman. He gave it to me. The pockets are small but so too are the batteries, cards and the WCL- X100. Thereʼs a large pocket at the back which takes my A-Z map and inside pockets that take my keys, travel card and wallet. I also carry 2 or 3 bandanas for wiping down equipment and cleaning lenses.

When Iʼm back at my computer I upload all the cards, photos and videos to Aperture and audio to GarageBand. If you record in MP3 format you can simply drop the audio files directly into your iTunes Library remembering, of course, to clearly label the folder so that you can find it easily within iMovie.

Using GarageBand allows me to shorten and separate out the various audio clips and cut them up into smaller segments for easier editing later in iMovie. I also listen several times to the clips to get a thorough understanding of the content. Sometimes youʼll catch a great soundbite but not have video to match it but thatʼs where the stills come in.

You can approach audio capture in a similar way to gathering video clips and photographs. Itʼs all about looking for opportunities for good content, acoustic and visual, to gather the various ingredients for an interesting audio visual experience as a short movie.

Screenshot of Aperture where I sequence and rate the stills and enter metadata

When you have enough content over the three disciplines of photographs, video and sound then wrap it up, grab a drink and enjoy yourself and allow yourself to get excited at the prospect of putting a cool project together when you get back to your computer.


The latest version of iMovie is excellent. Itʼs easy to use, can export at broadcast quality, has easy upload to Vimeo and YouTube and has visual audio waves which allows thorough control.

Just show the stills straight up, either cropped in or full frame. Use zoom and Ken Burns effect SPARINGLY, if at all. I suggest not using any transitions between stills. However, I would use cross dissolve when switching between stills and video and vice versa. The cross dissolve transition is important between video clips because it also cross dissolves the audio otherwise youʼll get audio gaps which is very disconcerting to audiences. I would hightly recommend using cross dissolve at about.25 seconds. Anything longer can cause issues when exporting.

Just show the stills straight up, either cropped in or full frame. Use zoom and Ken Burns effect SPARINGLY, if at all. I suggest not using any transitions between stills. However, I would use cross dissolve when switching between stills and video and vice versa. The cross dissolve transition is important between video clips because it also cross dissolves the audio otherwise youʼll get audio gaps which is very disconcerting to audiences. I would hightly recommend using cross dissolve at about.25 seconds. Anything longer can cause issues when exporting.

Make sure you overlap audio near beginning and end of clips and stills to smoothen the flow. Some experimentation with volume control may be required to find what works best for you. Remember that all elements that go into making a short film are controllable and can be tweaked as often as needed.

Finally, make sure to keep the audio under the danger line, that is to say control the volume level such that the various tracks are similar and donʼt go into the red zone.



And here is the completed film,


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