WWD Interview: Israel "Izzy" Hyman, IzzyVideo.com


izzy_picIsrael “Izzy” Hyman’s passion is video. He’s a video podcaster who makes a living producing three different online shows:

  • Izzy Video — How to shoot and edit video. It covers a wide range of topics like cinematography, lighting, recording good audio, gear, editing and distribution.
  • Paperclipping.com — This show is hosted by Hyman’s wife, Noell, and it’s all about scrapbooking and design principles.
  • Rolling R’s — This show is hosted by Hyman’s friend, Larry Keim, and teaches people the Spanish language.

All three are membership sites where some of the content is available for free, but the majority of the material is available to paid members only. I caught up with Hyman to ask him a few questions about the work he does, and how he does it. Below is an edited transcript of our interview:

Simon: How did you originally get into video? And what made you decide to start blogging about it?

Hyman: I’m one of those people who started with video as a passion. I got my first video camera when my first son was born nearly 12 years ago. A few years later, I got my first Mac (s aapl) and found iMovie, so I started doing some basic editing. Then I upgraded to Final Cut Express, upgraded my camera, and started getting other gear like microphones and lights. Eventually I moved to a Mac Pro, Final Cut Pro, and now the camera I use is the Sony PWM-EX1 (s sne).

When I got into video, I did a lot of reading on the subject. I was shocked there weren’t a lot of great places to learn video on the web, so I started making videos that showed the principles I was learning. That was how Izzy Video got started. It filled a need.

Simon: What’s a typical day like for you?

Hyman: The days vary, but on days when we’re shooting video (once per week), it goes like this:

  1. Clear out the furniture in my living room.
  2. Set up my studio gear like lights, C-stands, microphone and background.
  3. Shoot video for a couple hours, depending on the subject and what shows we’re shooting.
  4. Transfer the footage into the computer.
  5. Edit the video, and while it’s rendering I take down the studio and move my furniture back into place.

Between shooting, editing and posting the videos, that keeps me busy for the day. On other days of the week I keep my load pretty light. I work from a coffee shop probably three times per week, answering emails, researching, outlining, writing, tweeting and doing other social media stuff.

I’m also working on creating a resource that shows other people how to create profitable video podcasts like we’ve done. We’ve done it three times, using a business model based on what Don McAllister did with ScreencastsOnline.

One of the reasons I became a full-time video podcaster was so I could spend more time with my family: I do things like take my kids to and from school, help them with homework, and run them to dentist appointments. Also, I exercise every day, and right now I’m participating in NanoWriMo, so I’m writing a novel in November. I frequently joke with Noell that I feel as if I’m retired. When I’m working, I do the stuff I love to do. And my work leaves plenty of time with my family.

Simon: Your blog is based around the message that video is not a “black art,” and is accessible for nearly anyone. The barriers to entry for aspiring video shooters/producers are getting lower. What gear would you recommend to someone just starting out; I’m curious as to whether you’d recommend a video-capable DSLR over a dedicated video camera?

Hyman: The biggest mistake I think people make when they’re buying gear for video is they spend too much time and money on the video camera, and not enough on audio and lighting. What kind of gear should a new person get? That depends on what they’ll be shooting, but for someone who just wants to post video on the web, something like this might work:

  1. A basic three-point lighting setup such as three Rifa lights from Lowel. Lighting is critical for a good image, and many people don’t spend any time or money on it.
  2. A wireless lavalier (lapel) microphone setup like the Sennheiser Evolution G2 series.
  3. Any video camera that shoots HD, has an external mic input, and records to a solid state media like an SD card (I capture to SxS cards). I don’t recommend someone buy a tape-based or hard drive camera. Tape is going away, and hard drives have too many problems.

A video-capable DSLR can be an excellent choice if you’ll always be shooting short video clips and you don’t mind spending more on important accessories that make the camera usable as a video camera. I just bought my first video-capable DSLR a few weeks ago. I love the imagery I get from it, with the shallow depth of field, color saturation and overall film-look. Still, for professional gigs, it’s probably a good idea to stick with dedicated video cameras. That might change over the next couple years, though.

Simon: I suppose it varies with the project, but what gear do you like to use?

Hyman: Some favorite pieces of gear I use:

  • My camera is the Sony PMW-EX1, and I adore this thing. It shoots amazing HD footage, and it shoots true slow motion. It’s incredible.
  • My favorite microphone is the Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mic.
  • For lights I use several Chimera lights inside of Chimera soft boxes.
  • I also love my Scrim Jim set of diffusion panels and scrims. I use this for controlling light outdoors.

I could go on and on, because I do tend to be a gear hound. I enjoy the tools probably a little too much. Here’s a list of most of the gear I use. By the way, I’ve created video tutorials on how to use all this gear. They’re on my web site.

Simon: With modern computers and software, video editing and production can be added to the list of careers that are “web worker compatible.” What’s your office setup like, and if you work on the road, what makes it possible?

Hyman: My office is in my bedroom. I work at a table with a Mac Pro (8 cores). I edit in Final Cut Studio, which means Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro, Motion, Compressor, and other tools. I have a closet full of gear, and as I mentioned earlier, I periodically convert my living room into a studio.

If I’m just doing Internet work then I use my MacBook Pro and a Verizon (s vz) card, and I’ll usually head to Starbucks for that. Sometimes I’ll do mobile video editing, but not often. That’s a good thing, because I have an old 17″ Macbook Pro, and it’s a little slow for video these days.

Simon: Finally, video is being used in a lot of places on the web now (on web sites, in advertising, as part of multimedia projects). What is an interesting use of commercial video you’ve seen recently?

Hyman: One of the most interesting things I’ve seen lately with video is the Apple ad running on major web sites like the NY Times. Along the top of the page there’s a video banner, and in the sidebar there’s another video ad that interacts with the video ad at the top of the page. That’s brilliant.

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