New Canon XA25 Is My Latest Pick for a Great Video Camera for Communicators and PIO's

Canon XA25 HD video camera

Canon XA25 HD video camera

I'm always on the hunt for the best gear for communicators and public information officers to use to step up their communications efforts using video and audio tools. I think one of the best camera choices for many applications is the newly announced Canon XA25. It's the successor to the popular XA10, but it has features on sterioids.

The small HD camera has great image quality, wonderful low-light performance, and features a full audio head/handle to connect professional XLR microphones. (You want to have pro audio connectors so you can use professional mics and also easily connect to P.A. systems or mult boxes to record your own news conferences and public meetings).

Its 20X lens lets you zoom in tight, and the CMOS sensor is 1/2", an increase from the 1/3" sensor in the XA10 model. Video is recorded to dual SDHC memory cards.

Built-in WiFi allows you to immediately transfer files from the camera over FTP. This camera is a powerhouse and sells for $2,499 at B&H Photo Video.

The XA25 has HDMI and SDI outputs. (Note: A non-SDI version, the XA-20, sells for $2,199). SDI is kind of a big deal. You don't usually see SDI outputs on a compact video camera, especially in this price range. SDI is the way professional broadcast cameras connect to video switchers, recorders, news gathering vehicles and lots of other HD equipment. Audio and timecode data are embedded in the SDI output, and the image quality is even better than with the regular HDTV format.

So if, for example, you could connect one or more XA25's to the very affordable $995 BlackMagic Design ATEM Television Studio product (video switcher). You'd then have full HD video production and streaming for a very low price.

Check out more information on the XA25, including a video interview from a Canon representative at April's NAB 2013 Show, from Streaming Media Today.

Low-Cost, No-Cost Production Music Helps Set the Scene for your Video or Presentation


As noted in my previous post, it's easy to get started shooting and editing video for your web site or for use in presentations. But after you complete the initial edit, you realize there's something missing. What is it?! It's MUSIC! The right music bed for your video can do many things:

  • It can set the scene or "tone" for the entire video.
  • It can increase the energy level of the production. For example, fast music accompanied by quick video cuts between images communicate action and show that exciting things are happening with your program or event.
  • It can help you transition between scenes, such as suggesting the passage of time, or moving smoothly from a high-action sequence to a lower-key or emotional interview segment.

So where do you get music for your videos? As much as we'd all like to use some of the latest pop hits in our productions (i.e. wouldn't you just love to drop "Call Me Maybe" into your informational video about how your city's 211 call center operates?), you can't do that without a steep price: it's copyrighted material. Unless you have access to a composer and band that will create custom material for you, the best approach is to use royalty-free production music. That's production music that you buy and own - you don't have to pay licensing fees to use the music for a limited term.

My favorite source for low-cost, royalty-free production music is Footage Firm. The music is free, but with a catch: each themed disc you buy has an $8.41 shipping and handling fee. That means that you can buy, say, 10 discs for $88.41 and have a nice start to your production music library! For example, here is the link to their recently-released collection of Rock production music: . I signed up for their mailing list, so I get notified anytime new music is released. I probably have 50 discs in my collection now, and I use the music in all sorts of productions, such as this quick recap video I produced on a Kodak Zi10 pocket camera for the California Association of Public Information Officials: .

Another company, Digital Juice, sells affordable production music as well as video production aids such as animated backgrounds and transitions. Their "Toxic Traxx" collection currently offers a free disc when you spend $99 on any of their other products:

These are just a couple of options for low-cost production music for your videos. If there are other vendors you know about or like, go ahead and include the information in the Comments section for this post!

Kerry Shearer is a broadcaster, communicator, social media/communications consultant, and Chair of the National Public Health Information Coalition's Web and Social Media Committee. He's a frequent emergency communications trainer and speaker at national conferences on social media and web audio/video techniques.