I'm at a fabulous contra dance, the Lake City Thursday dance, with a new-style contra-fusion band, Lift Ticket, playing. Amazing music, fabulous dances, it's heavenly. I'm sitting one out though, as I want to spy on the piano player and see how he's constructing these amazing chord combinations. I wish I had a camera to document the scene. Wait, I have my new iPhone. I wonder if...?
The video quality is fabulous. It looks better in low light than my old HV-30. The sound quality is good, given what it is (weak on the bass). I had a nine minute take of the dance. Did I have enough to construct a little dance video?
I shot with the idea of doing cutaways. I wanted good audio of every tune in the medley, and several full sequences of the dance. What I tried to do (though I failed more often than not), is keep the camera steady for a full 32 beats, then move to the next shot. The cutaways can cover up my transitions.
Now, about editing iPhone footage. Once it was on my hard drive (via Image Capture, not iTunes), I pointed it toward MPEG Streamclip and converted it to ProRes. The iPhone capture is a compressed H.264, which is uneditable in the native format. This was the last thing I did before going to bed.
The next morning I had a nice, fat (6gb) easily editable file (the original capture was 700mb). I lay the whole thing into a Final Cut timeline, and start laying markers on the file (not the timeline) at the switches between the A and B parts of each tune. Basically, I keep time with a finger on the M key, and I press it every 32 beats. This tells me where it's safe to cut. I cut out about two thirds of the footage, keeping the peak musical moments. I don't care much about the visuals at this point.
In the viewer window I listen again to the whole sequence, and also lay in markers (I should have done this first, but I forgot to. Then they would have shown up in the timeline.) I look at what I have on the timeline, with an eye to the changes between views that I want to cover up. I also look for sequences in the footage that I really want in there, and look for a place where it fits the music. Since both timelines have markers, I can pick either an A or B part (so that someone who cares will notice that the dance is never out of sequence) and sync to the markers. With musicians of this caliber, the timing was spot on the entire sequence. I then trim to a point in the musical phrasing that makes sense for a jump cut.
Still, I really didn't have sufficient B-roll to patch over all the spots I wanted to. One of my problems is that I capture footage like I dance. When I dance, before the end of the phrase I prepare for the next move, so I'm ready for my partner on the beat. It appears I do something similar with the camera. I wish I had more variety of dance moves to cutaway to.
In the end—it's a phone, not a video camera. But it's a really impressive phone that can do something like this.