Music terminology for videographers

When working with directors and videographers, one of the most common phrases I hear is “I know what I mean, but I don’t know how to say it.” Communication is key on creative projects and getting the composer and director on the same wavelength is vital. Even if you’re not working with a composer directly, music licensing sites like Killer Tracks uses the same sort of terminology for their key words, so knowing how to articulate what you want will help there too.

So, here’s a list of common music terminology to describe the way music sounds that will help with this communication. I’ll also write what is actually going on with the music so it makes more sense. You’ll notice that a lot of the descriptors are the same ones you’d use for visual art forms, so realize that just about any visual descriptor can translate to an auditory one. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: Operation Christmas Drop

Operation Christmas Drop 2012 from Samuel Morse on Vimeo / YouTube.

Ever since the Operation Christmas Drop video went live, I have received a lot of questions about how I put the video together and how I managed to get the feel and emotion that permeates the video. Truth is, there were a lot of factors that played into it, a bit of help from a few key people. The factors could be grouped into the following categories (not necessarily in order of importance): the steadicam, in-flight documentation techniques, the interviews, the music and sound design, the scope and perspective of the video, and the editing.

1st Place, Video Documentary — Pacific Air Forces Media Contest
2nd Place, Multimedia — NPPA Monthly Multimedia Contest
3rd Place, Video Documentary – Air Force Media Contest
3rd Place, Multimedia Feature — Military Photographer of the Year Competition

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A discussion of bits

RAW for the win

Josh Voyles and his RAW shirt.
image © 2012 Samuel Morse

Ever wonder what “14-bit RAW recording” or “24-bit audio” really mean? Hopefully this will help clear some things up.

Bit depth, or the number of bits used to define a pixel’s color or an audio sample’s amplitude, is an indicator of image or audio fidelity. A bit is one digit in binary code, a one or a zero. For instance, 16-bit audio has 16 ones or zeros to define amplitude. I say that this is an “indicator” of fidelity, because a high quality analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is required to accurately translate the analog world into ones and zeros.

Each additional bit doubles the possible number of combinations or values. Two bits has four possible values (00, 01, 10, 11), and three bits has eight. Coincidentally, this is how you can count to 32 on a single hand, using your fingers as binary digits rather than a cumulative total. Here are some more examples of what a number of bits equates to in terms of possible values. I’ve color-coded the values to make them easier to read.

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