From everyone at Ghost Leg Media and Web Sellers’ Circle – have a happy holiday and a joyous new year.
Are you looking for last minute gifts for your favorite Info Product producer (or yourself?) There are some great deals this holiday season, on both hardware and software.
CAMCORDERS and DIGITAL CAMERAS
These run the gamut from cheap to expensive – but you ought to find something for even the pickiest photographer or videographer.
- Canon VIXIA HV40 HD HDV Camcorderhas been named Camcorder of the Year every year since the HV line was introduced. It hasn’t dropped in price this holiday season as much as it has in other years, but a camcorder of this quality is still a great deal at $699.00
- Canon VIXIA HF200 HD Flash Memory Camcorder is a great choice if you want to record to flash memory instead of tape. It costs under $600.00 at Amazon.
- Step up to the Canon VIXIA HF20 HD Dual Flash Memory with 32 GB Internal Memory for just $100 more right now at Amazon.
Flip Style Camcorders
The hottest pocket camcorder this season isn’t made by Flip.
It’s the Kodak Zi8 HD which not only shoots in 1080p High Definition but has an external microphone jack. The improved video quality and the external mic jack – combined with the under $200.00 price tag – might make this the perfect web video camcorder. This is also the first pocket camcorder to offer expandable memory via SD/SDHC memory cards. Kodak has definitely raised the bar with this camcorder.
There’s only one choice under $1,000.00 for serious photographers – Canon EOS Rebel T1i 15.1 MP CMOS Digital SLR
This spectacular DSLR not only takes amazing still photos – it brings the 1920×1080 High Definition video pioneered on last year’s pro grade EOS to the consumer market. There is no consumer or prosumer camcorder with interchangeable lenses and variable focus. Except for the Canon DSLRs!
The picture quality – bot still and video – is amazing and the reviews have been rapturous. The only drawback is that there is no external microphone jack.
MICROPHONES and AUDIO
If you want good video, you first need good audio. No matter how good your camcorder, the onboard mic is going to produce, at best, mediocre sound.
An external microphone (which is why, of course, you should never buy a camcorder that doesn’t have an external microphone jack)
The Rode VideoMic should be your first (and probably last) choice for a shotgun microphone on a handheld video camera. I use one with my Canon HV20, and the microphone and shock mount dwarf the camcorder. But the Rode is lightweight and high quality, making it perfect for smaller camcorders. The included shockmount keeps the microphone well away from any camera noise. For the price, you won’t find anything better.
For indoor shoots, a lavalier microphone is a must. You can pay hundreds for a pro quality mic with an XLR connection. But if you are shooting web video, the difference in quality will be imperceptible.
The Audio-Technica ATR-35S Lavalier Microphone offers great sound at a low price. It has a minjack that plugs directly into your camcorder’s microphone jack. The only downside to this microphone (and the Rode VideoMic) is that it is a mono microphone. If you are shooting voiceovers and narration, this isn’t really much of a drawback, however.
Want to go wireless instead? Try the AUDIO TECHNICA PRO88W-R35 Microphone. It’s an omnidirectional clip on, with 2 channels for interference free recording. This is a VHF wireless microphone, rated for between 100 to 300 feet. Don’t expect to get anywhere near 300 feet unless you are working under perfect conditions. Fortunately, info product videos rarely require that sort of range.
SOFTWARE (for WINDOWS PCs)
If you want to do screencasts, there is only one choice: Camtasia Studio, from TechSmith.
Yes, there are cheaper (and even a few more expensive) options, but if you want to look like a pro – then use the tool the pros use. Camtasia is far and away the number one choice for screencasting.
Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro will give you everything you need in a video editing package. It can handle high definition and standard definition videos, has an excellent collection of effects and transitions built in, and includes DVD Architect for burning DVDs.
If you want to move up to Vegas Pro 9, don’t forget their upgrade deal, good until the end of the year. You can save hundreds of dollars by taking advantage of this offer.
Digital Juice’s 12 Days of Christmas Sale has more great offers than you’ll believe:
- Compositor’s Toolkit (Vol 1 or 2) is $199.95
- StackTraxx are 2 for $24.95
- BackTraxx Vol 1 or 2 for $69.95
- Any Pro Single from the Editor’s Toolkit for $9.95
- Any Theme Kit for $9.95
- Plus deals on DJ Fonts, reflectors, and stock footage.
If you want to give your videos a little something special, now’s the time to become familiar with Digital Juice.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 may not have all the bells and whistles of it’s big brother, but it has plenty for the average product producer.
There are precious few photos that require no editing. Great film photographers performed their magic in the darkroom. Today’s digital photography is tweaked on the computer. Sure, the true artist is still the person behind the camera, but why tie your hands when you can let your imagination fly?
Get Elements and learn to use it. You’ll not only improve your photos but you will find that you can create great graphic elements for your web site or videos.
But what if the image you need isn’t found in nature – but online? Then you need SnagIt from TechSmith. SnagIt does so many things besides simple screen caps, it deserves its own post.
If you make PowerPoint presentations, do software tutoring, teach eBay or other internet related classes, you need SnagIt. In fact, if you’ve ever tried to explain anything to anyone in an email, and given up in despair after five pages of describing where to click next — you’ll immediately recognize the value of screen capture software. And in this category, SnagIt leaves all competitors in the dust.
Audacity, the free, open source audio editor, may be all you ever need to record and produce your audio. It can output sound files as WAV or MP3. And it has a host of free plugins and filters available.
Packaging Box Shots
Any eBayer will tell you: If there is no picture, you won’t sell it. But what do you do when there is no physical product to take a picture of (like an ebook for instance)? You turn to Box Shot software.
Quick 3D Cover from NervePreserve must have the ugliest web site ever produced for a top notch graphics product. Don’t let the web site fool you – Quick 3D Cover is a top notch product. It has a series of pre-made templates for hardcover, paperbound, and spiral bound books; open and closed DVD cases; CD cases; CD and DVD disks; iPhone and SmartPhone screens; computer monitors; binders and more. If you need a simple to use, high quality, retail ready product shot for your info products, Quick 3D Cover will do the job.
True BoxShot also creates great looking books and DVDs. Like Quick 3D Cover, it has a set of pre-defined templates – but that’s where the similarity ends. True BoxShot lets you rotate the art in 3D. You can change perspective and angle by simply dragging your mouse.
LEARN TO USE IT
This is the gear we use at Ghost Leg and Web Sellers Circle use when creating books, DVDs, CDs and screencasts. If you want to learn more about using these products to create your own products, please join us at The Web Sellers Circle. There is a 21 Day trial membership for only $1.00. Or you can save even more by taking advantage of our Annual Membership Sale. Right now, a full year costs only $125.00 – less than 35¢ a day.
Affiliate Disclaimer: The links to products on Amazon are all affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you buy the product after clicking on the link. Non-Amazon links are not affiliate links and will not generate commissions.
You’ll get the full, boxed, retail version, including DVD Architect Pro. This is a must have upgrade if you shoot and edit in High Definition video or want to render to Blu-Ray.
The upgrade from Vegas 8 is a good deal – but the upgrade from a $40.00 version of Movie Studio to the $600.00 version of Vegas Pro is unbelievable!
Vegas Pro 9 retails for about $600.00. If you don’t already have a copy of Vegas, go buy Movie Studio for $40.00 and you’ll end up saving $400.00
Here are the links (not affiliate links):
Upgrade any version of Vegas Pro:
Upgrade any version of Movie Studio
(h/t to Perry Lawrence. I knew about the Vegas 8 to Vegas 9 upgrade, but didn’t realize Movie Studio was eligible until I read his newsletter)
WordPress 2.9 is now available. However, I’d suggest you hold off updating, at least for a few days, until you are sure your theme and any essentially plugins are compatible with the new version.
Beyond compatability, I’ve run across a few puzzling deletions in the final version.
First – on the Plugin Upgrader. The buzz has all been about Bulk Upgrades for Plugins – but several people have reported that it is missing from the final, released version of WordPress 2.9
It’s not missing. It’s just another victim of WordPress’s User-Hostile interface design.
You’d probably expect to find the Plugin Bulk Updater in the Plugins section. But it is not there. Instead, it’s tucked away under Tools | Upgrade | Plugins. Bad design – great feature.
Prior to the full release, there was talk of a built in URL shortener. This has, apparently, been available on WordPress.com for some time. The report I read said the new Short URL button would appear in the Post Edit window, right beside the permalink. But – not on my blog it doesn’t.
Of course, these are quibbles. There are many behind the scenes bug fixes and improvements that will make this a worthwhile upgrade (eventually). But it will be interesting to hear where the much ballyhooed features disappeared to.
Although I am not programmer, I help a lot of people install and maintain their WordPress blogs and web sites. By and large, WordPress is troublefree – but eventually, no matter how good the software, something is bound to go wrong somewhere for someone.
This week, I ran across a puzzling WordPress 2.8x bug that I’d never seen before.
It seems to strike only under very particular conditions, so there isn’t much documentation about it. After much Googling, I found a tip from NellCooper on the WordPress support forums that helped.
Here’s the Problem:
If you use Firefox, when you click on any “Edit” link in the Publish panel of WordPress 2.8x – nothing happens. The slide open panel does not slide open.
So you can neither schedule a post for later publication nor password protect a post. Clicking on the link just jumps the cursor a few lines down the page.
Oddly, the links work fine in Internet Explorer 8. For some people, they also work in Chrome.
But whether you are using a Mac or a PC, the Edit links will not work with Firefox if – and this is a big if – you also cannot use WordPress’s built in Plugin and Theme upgrade option.
With most web hosts, when you click the “Add New” link for themes or plugins, the theme is downloaded and installed automatically. However, with some web hosts, you will have to either enter your FTP credentials before the plugin or theme can be accessed or you will have to manually download the item to your computer and then unzip it and then finally upload the plugin to your site as WordPress users did before WordPress 2.7.
If you find yourself in that boat and then find that your Publish panel links no longer work after an upgrade to WordPress 2.8x, try this:
- Update any out of date plugins
- Disable all plugins
- Close Firefox
- Reopen Firefox and try the Edit links (plugins are still all disabled)
If the links work, hooray!, you are half way home.
Now go back to your plugins and re-enable them one at a time. After each plug in is enabled, re-test your edit links.
If you find a plugin conflict, deactivate or delete the plugin.
The combination of Firefox, a plugin conflict, and a mis-configured web server may not be the only cause for this dilemma, but it is a common one and the easiest one to troubleshoot.
You may also find, if the plugins are not the problem, that your theme is causing the conflict. Sadly, that is harder to fix. You may have to choose between using the Edit links and keeping your theme. Or, perhaps, moving to a different web host.