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Q: How do I make good videos (for cheap)?

A: First you'll need a camera. For $20 to $30, you can get a DV camera directly from Aiptek. Check the clearance section. Either the DV4100 or the DV4500 will do just fine. Ignore what the specs say - we will work around that. Don't bother getting extra memory or batteries - you won't need them.

When your camera arrives, take the CD and throw it in your computer's disk drive. A menu screen should pop up. You're looking to install something called 'DV4100 Driver.' Install it.

Plug the USB cable into your computer and into your camera. The camera will beep at you, and windows you inform you (several times) that it has found new hardware. Let it finish finding and installing the new hardware. In the meantime, set the camera up on its tripod.

Open the LCD lid on the camera. On it, you'll see two options: 'DV Disk' and 'Live.' Use the scroll wheel on the back end of the camera to select 'Live.'

Windows will (probably) inform you that it found new hardware again. Let it finish.

Look on your desktop. There should be a link to the 'DV4100 Driver' you installed earlier. Double-click on it. You should see a window pop up. In the middle you'll see whatever the camera is pointed at. Along the bottom of the window you'll see a row of buttons.

The button of the far right is the 'Gallery.' This is a link to the folder where everything you record will be saved.

The button 4th from the left is the 'Format' button. Click it. A new window will pop up, with a few options. In the drop down menu for 'Output Size,' select 640 x 480, and click 'Ok.' Give it a second, and the video preview will enlarge.

The button on the far left is the 'Record' button. Click it. A new window will pop up with some options on it. You'll see a slider for 'Frame Rate.' By default, it's set at 7fps or so. Slide it all the way up to 30. Click 'Start to Record.'

That window will go away and you'll see another window, saying 'Press Ok to start capture image.' Click ok. The camera will now be recording video straight to your hard drive. It doesn't matter what it's recording, this is only a test. Let it go for a few seconds. To stop it, click the button second from the left - that's the 'Stop Record' button.

When it's stopped recording, take a look athe the very bottom of the window, below all the buttons. You should see a row of stats. These tell you how well your computer did at recording the video. The most important stat is the fps - that's the framerate you're getting. If you look at the screenshot above, it says 18.8 fps (that was done with an older laptop). Make a note of yours.

When your ready to shoot a video, just click the 'Record' button, and adjust the slider to the fps you noted earlier.

A few tips:

The biggest limitation to your framerate will probably be your harddrive speed.
With a 5400rpm IDE harddisk, you should get over 15fps (the example above was such).
With a 7200rpm IDE harddisk, you should get over 20 fps.
With a SATA harddisk, you should be able to get all 30 fps.

The cheaper Aiptek cameras needs lots of light to work properly. They do just fine with sunlight - indirect (ambient) sunlight is okay. Indoors, especially at night, you will need additional lighting. Desklamps work fine for this.

Make sure your light source is behind the camera, pointed at you. The whole point is to bounce light off of you and into the camera lens. If the light goes directly into the lens, it won't turn out well.

Created by: brokenbrains, Last Modification: Sunday 24 of August, 2008 19:35:43 EDT by brokenbrains

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