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dv_tape_packageWe are using the College’s Canon Vixia HV 40 cameras. Manual.

These are digital cameras, which means they record the images in digital format, not analog format like VHS and older media. When you check out the camera, it will come in a case with a power cord and a spare battery. It will not have a tape with it.

The camera runs on battery power or can be plugged into the wall.

It records on miniDV tape, which until recently was the standard. These tapes involve moving camera parts and they need to be protected from the elements. But they produce images that will look terrific on the 12-foot screen in the Lecture Hall. The tape goes into the side compartment. It only goes in one way, so don’t force it. It will just drop in.

The Power button has two settings, record to the left and playback to the right.

When you press the FUNC button, the menu choices will appear on the screen. The on-screen menu works with a joy-stick-like button that may take some getting used to. There are what will seem to be a bewildering number of settings, but only three or four that you need to pay attention to.

If you use the camera for more than one session, someone may have changed the settings. Thus, it is important that you know what your settings are and that you check to make sure that they are correct.



Camera settings

Mode – focus, exposure, white balance

Auto / P – on the outside of the compartment holding the miniDV tape. The Auto mode will set the focus, exposure, and white balance automatically, and I recommend that you use it.

If you aren’t happy with the focus or amount of light or color, try the P mode. When you switch to it, you will have options to adjust that you don’t have in Auto mode.


Use the two buttons on the left side of the camera near the front (lens).

For fast-moving subjects, very low light conditions like night-time, or if you’re bothered by relections off metal or glass surfaces, you may want to adjust the focus. The roller will let you make a near (or far) object sharply in focus with the rest slightly blurred.


Push “Set” on the joystick to bring up the on-screen control.

Increase/decrease the amount of light coming in. In the sun, you want to decrease it until you don’t see any more blown-out spots on the white colors in the scene. In the dark of night, you probably want to increase it as far as you can.

If you are using the green screen, be especially careful about the light to save yourself problems later on.

White Balance

Press the FUNC button and then the joystick to adjust the white balance (color).

Every camerahas a couple of buttons or menu items to adjust for lighting conditions. Be especially careful to make the distinction between yellow (incandescent) and blue (fluorescent) light indoors. Also, be careful if you are using more than one camera that they are all set similarly.

Camera Setup

D.Zoom – digital zoom – set to 200x

AF Mode – auto-focus – set to AF

Rec/In Setup

HD Standard – aspect ratio (width/height) – set to HDV 30 (wide screen) the more rectangular 16:9 – your other option is DV (normal) the more square 4:3.

Play/Out Setup

AV/Phones – set to headphones (icon) – if you can’t hear anything through the headphones, they jack is probably not pushed all the way in. If it is and you still can’t hear, try this setting.


Use one unless you have a very good reason not to. We don’t have Steadicams and other fancy equipment, so holding the camera in your hand will produce nothing but amateurish-looking video AKA motion blur

Frame Rate

usually measured in frames per second

You should shoot at 30 fps (frames per second)

the visual differences between various frame rates and motion blur.

Camera placements

Your first and almost only choice is to mount the camera on a tripod and hold it still. But what will you point it at? How far in will you zoom? That information should be on the shot list.

Media College’s Shot Types

There is a convention in the video, film and television industries which assigns names and guidelines to common types of shots, framing and picture composition.

Media College’s Framing

Shots are all about composition. Rather than pointing the camera at the subject, you need to compose an image. As mentioned previously, framing is the process of creating composition.

To which I would add:

Avoid zooming during a shot. Turn (swivel) the camera very slowly, if at all. Be very careful about moving the whole camera or camera operator during a shot. The camera is not (usually) a character.

Your next best choice is to rest the camera on a shelf, ledge, wall, rock, or piece of furniture to get the angle you want.

Only on rare occasions should you use a hand-held camera. Have good reason to do so. And please note that you probably won’t be able to hold it still enough for as long as you’ll need to.

Number of cameras

Today’s audiences expect a lot of action on the screen, quick cuts from one shot to another. Or you may have a complicated set, as we had for the So You Think You Can Dance video that we taped in the Lecture Hall last fall. We had three cameras: one in the center of the audience pointed at Joe while he danced concentrating on head close-ups and his upper body, one on the judges, and the third from off to the side concentrating on full-body shots and his feet.


When you are shooting, don’t forget to shoot extra footage that you can cut away to. It can be an off-camera character listening, a shot establishing a character’s point of view (what he/she is seeing), and context shots of the outside of the building or of the weather.