It seems like a common scenario: You work within the field of public history, you're trying to create an interpretive video for your site, and you probably don't have much of a budget. Maybe the powers at hand don't want to (or can't) allocate the resources until you show you're capable of doing the job. Or maybe you're just flat broke. You want to create an interpretive video, but in researching you keep seeing people talk about how they love the Canon C100 - which retails for about $5,000, and that's without any lenses. Then they talk about all the external mics they like to use for different sound settings. You don't have that. Let's face it, I don't have that. So how do we do this on a shoestring budget?
1. The Camera- This can be one of your big expenses. But even that can be mitigated. Most dSLR cameras shoot HD video now, as most point and shoot cameras can shoot short footage as well. Chances are your site owns a camera and chances are it already shoots video. If not, your cell phone probably shoots. Searching for Sugar Man won an Oscar, and it was shot partially on an iPhone when the production ran out of money. It can be done. In fact, there's a good chance your interpretive video will be shot with the phone already in your pocket. Ours was. Right now I shoot with a Nikon d3200 camera with the kit lens that came on it. As far as settings, I "like" to shoot in 720HD (fine for most web) and at 24/25fps. (But that's just a personal preference.)
2. A Tripod- Even if you don't have a "great camera" you can still get acceptable footage if it's steady. You can pick up a tripod for $10. Or you can make one. Or set your camera on a level stationary object like a table in a worst case scenario.
4. Editing Software- There are a lot of free editing programs out there. Some better than others. iMovie comes on every Mac, and if you're shooting your video on iPhone you can purchase iMovie in the app store for like $5. If you're in PC world there's Windows movie maker that probably came on your computer. I use Adobe Premier Elements - you can get it for less than $100.
5. Content Resources- Your site probably has a nice collection of images or maybe footage in the archives. But you might want more. The Library of Congress has a wonderful collection of historic images. Archive.org has lots of archival newsreel footage and audio recordings. Modern shots of a place can fill a visual, as you show your audience what you are talking about.
Here's the fun part - you can create an interpretive video for free, even if you don't have a camera. Use the freeware on your computer (iMovie or Windows Movie Maker), use the free sound recorder app, and you can create it as a narrated slideshow of images from your site's collection or from the vast collections of the Library of Congress. For some reason you don't have the freeware on your computer, you can always create a narrated slideshow. If this is used as a tool, it won't take away from your craft of telling a story.
*Written on my own time. Thoughts and ideas are my own and do not reflect any official opinions.