Budget broadcasting: Visual Communicator Studio

One of the biggest challenges you'll face in amateur video production is making your work look more professional than the equipment you used to shoot it. This is where Visual Communicator Studio comes in.

Designed to provide everything you need to produce newsroom-style videos, the box contains the software, a tie-clip microphone and a 1.5x1.8m sheet of green vinyl. It'll work with any kind of PC-attached video camera, including a webcam. The better the quality, the better the end results will look.

The sheet of green vinyl is for a technique called chromakeying. With the vinyl on the wall behind you, the software can 'key out' the background, allowing you to substitute one of the supplied video or still backgrounds, or even one of your own.

Your script can be typed or pasted into the teleprompter pane, which scrolls upwards on your monitor as you record, keeping your eyes close to your camera's line of sight. Adding elements such as title overlays is as simple as dragging them onto the vertical timeline next to the script. Video Communicator Studio supports up to three separate cameras, embedded PowerPoint slides and live Web broadcasting. Web page templates are also included.

Strong lighting is required to get the best outcome, and PAL settings should be more accessible, but the end results can be extremely professional, given the price and simplicity of the package.

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