Doing the video thing

Making my own videos has never been a great priority for me although I have now started to think that it would be a good idea for use in documenting interviews which have historical.

There is an awful lot but I don’t know about video, and I haven’t often used a video camera. so I was pleased when I was offered the chance to review Toshiba’s Camileo PRO HD camcorder. It is a very compact little machine which is which is a trifle unconventional in shape, being about the size of a small brick of margarine stood on end, with a screen that flips out from the side, so that you can see what you’re recording.

The Camileo records in high-definition format (1280×720 pixels) but it supports other lesser formats such as VGA or QVGA. Video or still pictures are recorded onto SD card and can be replayed through a television or downloaded to a computer. One nifty trick is that the Camileo can upload video clips directly to YouTube if you connect it to an internet-enabled computer.

I soon had the camcorder unpacked from its neat packaging and had it working as soon as I had figured out the instructions. The machine turns out to be pretty simple to use but, unfortunately, the same can’t quite be said for the instruction manual which accompanies it.

Holding the camcorder ion one hand and the instructions in the other, I did eventually manage to take some test videos. Once that was done, I connected the machine to my TV and got it to replay the videos I just taken.

The quality seemed to pretty good, at least to my inexpert eye, and so I decided that I would take the camera with me the next day to record the visit I was going to make to the old whaling station on the Bluff. I duly filmed the ruined buildings, which are all that remain of that once vibrant industrial site, and need not have been quite so selective about what I filmed because I hardly made a dent in the battery and a 2Gb SD card.

Having a lot of video clips on the camera is only half the battle, however, because you then have to download them onto your computer and create some sort of coherent whole from bits and pieces you’ve recorded. The software supplied with the camera is called Nero Vision Essentials, which is a scaled-down video editor which you can use to assemble video clips into movies.

After copying all the clips onto the computer, and opening them in Nero Vision, I found it very easy to put each of them onto a timeline so that they play one after each other. You do get an opportunity to trim the clips and you can add sound, special effects, transitions between clips, and titles to your movie very easily.

All in all, I found the Camelio PRO HD camcorder to be a very neat little item of kit and one which would doubtless be great for documenting family events and holidays, or whatever have you. It is small enough to put in a pocket and light enough so that, even with an extra battery or two, it wouldn’t be hassle to carry all day.

I liked the Camileo but a problem was the flip-out screen which was difficult to view in very bright light, making it difficult to frame my subject properly. If I were buying a camcorder for myself, I would want one of the ones with a little eyepiece on a stalk that shades the viewing screen.

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