Use This Camera for Your Nonprofit Videos
If you haven't bought a video camera for your nonprofit - you should. And this is the camera you should buy: the Kodak Zi8. It's inexpensive (about $250 with 16GB Flash card and case), it takes great-looking video, AND it has an external microphone jack.
The external microphone jack is important because it gives you the option of using a lapel mic and getting better sound if you're talking to someone. At less than $30, the AudioTechnica ATR 3350 does a fine job.
So where do you get the Zi8 and the microphone? The Internet, of course. More specifically, go to Amazon. You'll get the best price and you'll have it in two days.
How To Begin
Now - what do you do once you get your camera and microphone? You start experimenting. Make a few little videos without the microphone, just using the camera. Shoot people in your office - or film scenes in your cafeteria, out on the street, in your garden. Just use it, and learn how to pull the video into your computer and do basic editing - with iMovie if you have a Mac and Windows Movie Maker if you have a PC. These programs are already installed on your computer.
What to Shoot
Once you're comfortable with your camera, now start making a list of the small stories you can use it to tell. I say ‘small' because you shouldn't be planning to make a half-hour documentary. Rather, you're looking to make videos as short as 60 seconds. Really. You'll be using these to connect with and grow your community by posting them on Facebook, YouTube, and your website. You may even use them in email campaigns. So you want to make many, not one.
To get you thinking, here are a few examples of stories specific nonprofits might tell:
- A veterans shelter may use their camera to shoot their events person talking about the upcoming military ball. The person holding the camera would say, "Tell me your name and title, and then tell me all about the military ball in two minutes: what it is, who can come, why it's special, how people get more info." And then film the events person talking.
- An animal hospital might tell the story of a patient. The person holding the camera would ask a vet to sit next to Sparky on the floor, and pet him so his tail wags, and tell us why he lost a leg and how he's doing. Then, while the vet is talking, move the camera over to Sparky so we can see him - his tail wagging, his poor amputated leg, how brave he is.
- A boys and girls club might use their camera to talk to some of the staff members and volunteers about programs, like the basketball program. The person holding the camera might ask the coach: "Tell me your name, and what you do here, and then tell me about the basketball program, who participates, and what it does for the kids." Start filming the coach as he talks, and then slowly move the camera so you're filming the kids playing basketball as he talks. Then, come back to him to wrap up. Your final question might be something like, "Why do you do this work?"
You get the picture. A video camera will let you share small stories that communicate why your nonprofit is special. These stories have great potential to connect you with the people who care about the work you do. So... what are you waiting for?