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August 13, 2007

How I produce my videos with Windows Vista

As you probably already noticed, I’ve been doing quite a bit of posts that include video demos of devices and software in my posts. A few folks have asked me how I produce these videos and I’d like to outline the exact process I use in producing these videos for a blog post.

For software demos (like my recent Windows Live SkyDrive demo) I use Camtasia Studio 4 to capture my screen and I publish out to a WMV file I then upload to MSN Soapbox.

However when shooting actual footage of me demoing a device (like the Fingerprint Reader) or events coverage (like WinHEC 2007) – I have a pretty standard step-by-step process I use every time I shoot video. First off: I always shoot video in HD (1080i specifically). Secondly: in grabbing and editing video I shoot of my digital camcorder, everything I use is a feature that ships in Windows Vista.  Let’s take a look at my step-by-step process to see what I mean:

Step 1: I shoot the video using my Sony HDR-HC3 HDV Handycam which shoots in 1080i and 16:9 widescreen. For events, such as when I was at WinHEC, I shoot usually without a tripod. For footage such as close-up demos of hardware and devices – I have a tripod that I use with the camcorder to get steady footage. I don’t want to make anyone seasick with wobbly video. The HDR-HD3 comes with a remote which allows me set up the camcorder and tripod for the best shot and quickly hit record without having to physically be behind the camera. I can focus on doing the video.

Step 2: After I shoot the video, I hook up my HDR-HDC to my Windows Vista PC via Firewire. Windows Vista automatically detects the camcorder without the need of searching for any required drivers which is absolutely wonderful.

Step 3: I open up Windows Movie Maker to import the footage off my HD-HDC. Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate come with the built-in ability to bring in raw HD footage off of a HD camcorder. I use Windows Vista Ultimate on the PC I use for producing my videos.

Step 4: Using the Import Video Wizard in Windows Movie Maker – I import my HD video shot from my camcorder into Windows Vista.

Step 5: Using Windows Movie Maker – I edit the clip I want to publish. I split the video, move video around, add transitions (I usually use “Fade”) and also add custom graphics such as my Windows Vista Team Blog graphic you can see at the end of several of my videos.

Step 6: After I have the video edited to how I like it – I publish the video from Windows Movie Maker.

Step 7: Windows Movie Maker gives you several options in publishing videos. I choose to publish videos under the “Windows Media Portable Device” template which publishes videos out at 1.0Mbps, 640×480, and 30 frames per second. I’ve found this sitting gives me decent quality and small file sizes for publishing videos on MSN Soapbox.

Step 8: I take the video I published out from Windows Movie Maker and import it into MSN Soapbox. MSN Soapbox then lets me embed the video into a blog post.

That’s how I produce videos for blog posts from shooting the footage to embedding the Soapbox player in a post.

Take note that Windows Vista natively supports bringing in HD content from a HD camcorder and lets you edit those HD videos. After importing my HD footage into Windows Vista, I can take that HD content and stream it to a HDTV using my Xbox 360. It looks wonderful. I can also burn it onto a DVD and give it to friends or family to watch too (just not in HD though). I sometimes take my HD video and put it onto my laptop to edit video while traveling too.

Because of the ease of producing videos with Windows Vista, you can continue to expect to see more videos here moving forward.