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Set Up a Video Shoot on Your BlackBerry PlayBook

The video cameras in the BlackBerry PlayBook use the same lenses (and much of the same electronics) as the digital still cameras. Again, the rear-facing camera (the one on the back of the tablet) is the higher-resolution device, providing 5-megapixel high-definition images; the front-facing camera is still quite capable at 3 megapixels.

The video camera has no zoom. The image is shot at the standard wide angle setting. You can make a few minor adjustments to exposure, and you can select the resolution (the amount of detail recorded) for your video.

Start the process as if you were taking a still digital picture. To choose the video camera, tap the icon in the upper-right corner to switch between the camera and video camera.

If you use the rear-facing video camera, remove your BlackBerry PlayBook from its protective case. That is, unless you want to shoot a video of life inside a padded carrying case.

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To see some additional options for the video camera, swipe down onto the touchscreen from the top bezel. Here are the standard set of custom options:

  • Videos. Tap here to look at all videos stored on the PlayBook, including those taken with the camera as well as any downloaded from another. You can choose All Videos, Downloaded Videos, and Recorded Videos tabs. Here, you can see two downloaded clips, as well as the very impressive demo reel that comes with the BlackBerry PlayBook.

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  • Resolution. Tap the rectangle next to Videos to choose a resolution. The BlackBerry PlayBook can shoot and record at the same high resolution used on the most capable of high-definition television sets: 1080p. It can record at a medium resolution of 720p, or standard television definition of 480p.

    Videos shot with the BlackBerry PlayBook camera are stored in standard MPEG-4 format, which should be playable or editable on most computer systems. A 1080p recording is much larger than a 480p recording. As an example, using the 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 30-second video shot in high-definition will be about 60MB in size, while a standard-definition video of the same length will be about 10MB.

  • Delete. You can get rid of a specific video from your collection by following these steps:

    1. Display the videos and then swipe down from the top bezel.

    2. Tap the open white square at the lower-right corner of a video to place a checkmark there.

    3. Tap the trashcan icon in the upper-right corner of the status bar.

    4. Confirm your decision (or change your mind).

  • Exposure and white balance settings. The video camera shares the same electronics as the digital still camera; remember that a video is essentially a string of individual still photos that appear one after another. Tap one of the three available settings to select exposure:

    • Auto. The operating system and processor will choose the best combination of settings based on what’s coming through the lens.

    • Sports. The camera will seek the shortest exposure time possible to minimize blurring.

    • Whiteboard. This setting looks for a significant area of the image that’s closest to white and assigns that value as white; this is an effective tool to allow photographing notes on a whiteboard in a conference room, notes on paper, or other similar objects.

  • Shooting a video. Once you’ve selected the video camera over the still digital camera, the shutter button is replaced by a silver circle with a red core. Tap the icon to start recording; you will hear a beep and the circle changes to a red square. You’ll see a clock running, in seconds and hundredths of a second; tap the red square to stop recording.

    The video will be stored in the memory of your tablet. Files are recorded on the tablet and automatically named (beginning with the date and then a unique code). For example, a video shot on July 4, 2011, would have filename like this: 2011-07-04T10:40:23.

You can play back the video just as it was shot, or you can become Steven Spielberg or Alfred Hitchcock or Ingmar Bergman: you can edit the files using a full-featured program like Windows Live Movie Maker on a PC or iMovie on a Mac.

And there are certain to be editing programs that will be sold as apps to run on the PlayBook itself. A proper editing job might include removing unnecessary portions of a video, cutting from one scene to another, and adding scenes from a different video.

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