Movie-Making in Snow Time: Some Experience.

By: Wayne Rice

Everything is White this morning! What a great time to make a movie! Winter does present some interesting problems for videos. First thing is, itís cold! That means keeping not just yourself, but your equipment warm as well. Thereís some controversy surrounding whether batteries lose their charge quicker in low temperatures, maybe the guys at Mythbusters can answer that one; personally, I say they certainly do. I also can say with some certainty that cold weather affects equipment as well; I have a digital camera that takes great pictures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but below that it starts out as if filled with molasses and eventually just stops working. It may be the lubricant, or close tolerances in the parts, but it canít take the cold. So before you make a big project out of your winter flicks, letís run a few tests. Make sure itís below freezing outside first.

Find a place outside thatís a safe place to leave your equipment, a back porch, backyard, etc., thatís got some light available, if itís after dark. Set up your camera with a freshly charged battery pack, select a setting, and start filming. Place a spare battery outside on a dry surface. Go back inside and make some hot cocoa! No sense you freezing, leave that task to the equipment. Wait 10 or 15 minutes and check to see if anything is still working. If the cameraís stopped, try the spare battery to see if it works. Keep checking at 10-minute intervals until the media fills up or the camera stops working. Now you have some idea of how long you will have to make your video.

Now for the second test: on a sunny, cold day, take some shots that include total sunshine, partial shade, and deep shadows. Shoot the same footage on several different settings: if your camera has a snow/beach setting, try that, also the full automatic, and any other settings that you think might work. You may find that the snow/sand setting is inadequate for deep shadow shots while in bright sun. Review your test a shot, make a few notes and itís on to the last test.

The final test is you: what do you have for personal warmth equipment? Remember the little gut in A Christmas Story that looked like an overstuffed Teddy bear? You donít want that look. You want flexible, warm layers; you want gloves or mittens that have removable finger covers, and warm, comfortable footwear. Leave the sunglasses off when you film so that you can better gage the lighting. You also want to have some sort of equipment cases, to hedge a little against the bitter cold you may encounter. I keep my batteries inside my outer clothing, to add a little time to their life.

When youíre ready to go, make a mental note of what kind of video you want, think about where you want the camera, and whether youíll be able to re-take any shots or just rely on one take for everything. If youíre off to the slopes to shoot some awesome snowboarding moves or some exciting mogul moves, remember to try to protect your camera from spraying snow. Keep the equipment off until youíre ready to shoot, and turn it off when youíre through, and put it away, even back the still-warm car. If itís ice-skating or cross-country skiing, or just having fun in the snow, shoot until you run out of battery power; then head back to the editing studio.

The last step is the editing, including any sound editing you want to do. I like to use Audio4fun.comís Voice Changing Software Diamond 5.0 for audio editing, as it has some dynamic features that allow for real-time editing, and many filters and effects for adding depth and quality to your productions, and the ability to morph your own voice into almost anyone elseís voice. This would be great if you want to create a funny video clip with this Voice Changer. Once youíve got your final product, burn a couple of CDís or DVDís, invite the relatives over, and donít forget the popcorn and hot cocoa!

ABOUT AUTHOR: Wayne Rice is a freelance journalist, copywriter, photographer and artist. He currently resides in the United States

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