Community Video for the Holidays

Now in my third straight year doing this “in modern times,” covering my little Borough town’s annual Tree Lighting and arrival of Santa. For 104 years a big, well attended tradition the day after Thanksgiving. I say “modern times” because I once covered this event in a similar way in the early ’90s, at the beginning of my video broadcast career. A lot has changed in the technology I use for the event. In the 90’s I had about 40 lbs of gear on me. Lots of batteries, lots of videotape, all to produce for a community cable television audience. Nowadays, one camera that runs the whole night, to an unlimited social media audience. Better video quality too.

Although my career is a video engineer, I seldom use what’s considered traditional equipment for my own purposes. My “camera” is an iPad Pro. For other cameras–GoPros, which now include a six camera 360 camera system. I enjoy the different workflow using these as my tools, and pushing how they can be used. I’ve been improving on my technique over the years. Since I’ve become involved with 3D printing, I even use that to help make special mounts, and even a full blown iPad film rig to make for easier hand held use. The cover image is an action shot of me during this event, sporting what I call Version 1.5 of my printed iPad Video Rig.

For this year’s event, I used the iPad Pro rig, shooting in 4K. I like the FilmIc Pro app, which gives serious control to the iPad camera. Shooting in 4K allows me to crop and zoom in post while maintaining quality images. This year, Santa was to be lifted in a bucket truck above the crowd. For this I clipped my GoPro HERO3+ to the bucket for a great “Santa Eye View.” Also helping with some footage was my local friend Joel M, whose apartment has a great vantage point across the street. I used a separate iPad connected to the event sound board for direct audio that I could manually re-synch later.

Different for this year, I have a 360 camera system capable of 8K recording. This system is actually 6 GoPro HERO5 Sessions in a 3D printed mount. It worked beautifully. Aside from capturing the event for the first time in 360 VR, I could also make use of the 360 for the traditional video. In Final Cut Pro, importing 360 into a standard video project allows you to pan around the entire 360 scene, choosing the view to show. In the finished video below, you can see this between 2:35-5:28, as I show wide shots of the crowd, pan around the crowd, pan the lit up tree; all from what was a single fixed camera system. I loved the versatility of this editing! A technique I am sure to use more of in future projects.

Now for the finished product:

And here is the 360 video/VR coverage, in up to 4K video quality.

If you have hardware capable of it, the full resolution 8K video can be found on my YouTube Channel.

I have a more in-depth blog about how I did the 360 video on my page dedicated to 360 content.