Get The Most Out of Your Canon Camcorder Intro

Shooting With Prosumer Gear

Canon has been in the camera business for as long as I can remember but it wasn’t until recently I started shooting with a prosumer camera.  Prosumer cameras give us more control of the cameras functions like manual white balance, aperture, and shutter speed controls.  These added functions allow us as the video shooter to record better looking video or specific styles of video for our subject.  Because the price of prosumer gear is now in the range where a high school summer job can get you great gear lots of people like yourself have these cameras.

Asking the Same Questions

When I first started shooting with my Canon Vixia HG20 I noticed right away that my videos sucked really bad when using manual mode.  Sometimes they were to granny, sometimes it looked like it was in drunk mode, and other times it was just over exposed.  Manual settings are great but what is even better is knowing how to correctly use them.  There are thousands of videos on youtube and vimeo these days showing you how to shoot video with DSLRs but many people still use Camcorders.  I’ll be focusing on some of the specific settings you can use with your Canon Camera.

Canon Got it Right

Canon’s brand of camcorders from consumer to prosumer even professional ones have a lot in common.  That is the user menu and functions are just about all the same and in the same location inside the menu.   The way you access your settings might be a little different, by that I mean touch screen other than joy stick.  I’d like to stress the Canon User Manuals do a great job at breaking down the functions of your camera and you should absolutely dissect the you specific models users manual.

Don’t Underestimate Easy Mode

My favorite button on Canons is the easy button.  I like this button for when I am out and about and just need a quick shot of something cool going on.  It takes your manual settings you have and tweaks them for automatic. I always shoot in the highest resolution possible and recently I’ve been leaving the Cine Mode setting on as well.  It’s a good place to start to see what kind of video you can get with your manual settings in the current environment you’re shooting in.

It’s Not Progressive and Get Pro Editing Software

One thing you’ll notice at some point if you have not already is the video recorded by your camera is not truly progressive. Canon’s video codecs save the video in using Interlace at 60i.  Some of their marketing literature claim 24p and 30p in some recording modes but in reality it’s all 60i.  Their are great lessons on Progressive and Interlace all over the web so take some time to look it up one day.  But for now just know if you see some weird bars in your video when you’re shooting action shots your seeing the interlaced video frames.  Most of the time I’ll encode my video to quicktime or DVCPRO p2 format in Media Encoder before I edit the video.  This is because .mxf and mpeg4’s are not the best for editing as they are for direct upload/streaming to sites.  (My Editing station has the Adobe Suite installed on it)

If you’re not Editing with Adobe Premiere or Avid you should be.  You don’t have to buy them right now, you can use the free trail version for as long you feel like re-install them every 30 days. (You will find more training/tutorials with these products then other products on the market).

Tools of the Trade

Two tools that will make your videos stand out from armature to professional.  Tripod and Microphone, Canon’s camcorders have pretty decent build in microphone but they also come with two ways to hook up external microphones, the advanced mini hot shoe and a 1/8th or 3.5mm jack.  Use an external audio device for optimal audio collection.  The second tool is a tri-pod, shaky footage/video of a stationary object is tacky, amateur  and if you’re on manual settings could mess up your shot.

Diving Into Canon Vixia Manual Setting

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