Archive for the tips & tutorials Category

Step 1: Film Something, Anything! Step 2: Review

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 | Permalink

First things first, 90% of what you will be doing is controlled by a simple web camcorder. They are surprisingly high in quality, and very easy to operate. The majority of your use will entail the power button, starting to record, and stopping. I don’t mean to be condescending, it is just the truth. The magic is in deciding what to record and in editing. The filming itself is very straightforward.

So to begin, go play with your camcorder. I’m serious. Film something, so long as you are recording you are on the right track. The point is to go use the camcorder then sit-back and reflect on what you can do to record better next time. Why? Because you will not be an expert until you practice. No shortcuts here. So to help get you started right, we will walk you through the first practice recordings with this video tutorial.

After you have recorded a little test footage, you can go ahead and transfer it to your computer to take a peek at your first video dabblings. Beware, they will be shaky and nowhere near pro quality, but that is normal, and that is why we are here to help. So to learn how to get those video clips onto your computer for the first time, you can watch the following.

I mentioned that you will only use the most basic functions of your camcorder and you may want to raise your hand and ask about some of the other features. But resist the temptation, especially when it comes to zooming.

Zooming may seem like the perfect solution to get a little closer to your subject, but don’t do it. Although it achieves what you’d like (getting closer) the cost is far greater than you’d expect. Simple camcorders lose quality when zooming. So if you’d like a closer shot… get closer. Scientific, I know, but little tricks like this will greatly improve your end product. For additional clarity on this topic we made the following tutorial.

Whether zooming or moving closer there is a limit to how close you can get. This varies camera to camera but the rule of thumb is about a foot. So when looking to include the finer details of the inside of a toy robot, the painting you just finished, or those ants marching toward their hill keep the camera the minimum distance away to keep everything in focus and looking fantastic. To see examples of what we are describing, the following video is available for you to enjoy.

Next on the list is the most common culprit for footage being ruined. Light. It seems obvious, yet when you are filming it can be easy to overlook. Bright light, low light, and contrasting light are the three lighting situations you will encounter in real-world filming. Understanding what causes them and how to avoid them will save you time and frustration. So learn the basics and get ahead of the curve.

Last but not least, where is your audio coming from, what background noises are there, and how can you avoid them? This is so important because audio disruptions are a nightmare while editing. The built-in microphone on an inexpensive camcorder is amazing, but it can be overwhelmed by audio you do not want to record. These are evident in noisy rooms, on windy days, and when the person speaking is too far from the camera. So know your cameras limitations and record the best possible audio.

Video Editing made simple, just the programs you need

Friday, February 22nd, 2013 | Permalink

Video editing is not as scary as it may seem, but in order to get started you have to have your computer ready to go. What are the essentials? Your camcorders software, Windows Movie Maker, Real Player, and Any Video Converter. These programs will help you get the videos onto your computer and into Windows Movie Maker where you can easily edit them into your finished product.

Your camcorders software (if using one of our recommended shoot n share camcorders) is installed the first time you plug your camcorder into your computer. However, keep in mind this software usually never needs to be used again. Why? Because when you plug in your camcorder from then on, a dialogue box appears and you can select “Open folder to view files” and navigate to your files. The navigation is not the same for every camera but will be something along the lines of:

Open folder to view files > DCIM > 100MEDIA > (here are your files)

So to get started right, watch the following video to get the specifics and install your camcorders software.

After your camcorders software is installed the next ingredient is Windows Movie Maker. This program has evolved over the years from it’s beginnings in XP, to a touchy version for Vista, and finally Windows Movie Maker Live for Windows Seven. Of all the versions our favorite is the tried and true version for Windows XP. Luckily, it has kept up with the times and is available for Vista as well as Seven. So download the previous version of Windows Movie Maker and watch the following video for all the details of installing this free, powerful video editing program on Windows Seven.

Click here for our video detailing Windows XP or Windows Vista.

Next, we have a video player, this is not necessary for every computer. However, if you are having problems viewing your video files, it may be a life saver. This is because video players like iTunes, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player bring codecs into your computer when they are installed. Codecs are magical instruction booklets that your computer uses to understand video files. So if you are having problems viewing your cherished videos, download Real Player and watch the following video for all the details of its installation.

Last but certainly not least is Any Video Converter. This program has saved me time and time again. The problem is that Windows Movie Maker does not understand every type of video file. Think of file types as languages. If your computer speaks italian, french, and russian, but you import a video file in spanish, your computer can not understand it. Same goes for file types, Windows Movie Maker’s favorite type of file is .wmv because it is a Windows file type. So to be safe, I always convert my file types from whatever they might be (.avi, .mov, .mp4) to .wmv and Any Video Converter lets me easily do this for free. So download Any Video Converter and watch this video for all the specifics on getting it installed correctly.

And there we are, everything we need to import, view, convert, and edit our video files is installed and ready to go. Next step? Well, if you have footage that is ready to edit, but are not sure where to begin then let’s dabble is your new best friend. We have free video tutorials that will teach you all you need to know, just jump down to "Editing a Real World Example in Windows Movie Maker" to learn how to use this free, powerful editing program.


Making the job hunt a little easier, one link at a time

Friday, February 8th, 2013 | Permalink

The job hunt is best executed by a person who knows the lay of the land and is well prepared. Preparation is something we can all handle, but getting to know the lay of the land takes precious time. Recently, a job seeker at a networking event raised the question of organizations revolving around nonprofit organizations, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc that have job postings.

So I offered to share a list of organizations that I have complied over the last few years working in the nonprofit arena with let’s dabble; although they are mere bookmarks to me, to the job hunter they are so much more. So after sharing the list, I realized that I should continue to share it and maybe help another job seeker.

The following are links to job listings/searches associated to each website or organization.

Global Organizations: Change, Ashoka, idealist

National Organizations: Nonprofit Jobs, Nonprofit Jobs Cooperative, Association of Fundraising Professionals, American Marketing Association, The Center for Association Leadership, National Council of Nonprofits, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Philanthropy Journal

Everything else: Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire, The Nonprofit Times, Nonprofit Resource Center, Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, Independent Sector, Opportunity Knocks, The Bridgespan Group

And finally, if you are looking to relocate to Canada: Charity Village

Hopefully you find this resource to be helpful. If you do, please pass it along.


Whatever the question, The Nonprofit Resource Center may have the answer

Thursday, January 17th, 2013 | Permalink

NPR Center The Nonprofit Resource Center is a comprehensive service and support center for nonprofits based in Sacramento since 1989. Offering a professionally staffed library, grant funder database, fundraising workshops, and management networking, the Center is a resource in the purest sense.

And just recently, it’s Tools area got an infusion from let’s dabble and our video tutorials teaching the fundamentals of video production. Some of the tools offered by the Center include information on funding your organization, running your organization, starting a nonprofit, models, templates, and philanthropy.

For organizations up and running the “Running Your Organization” area covers even more detail with advocacy, lobbying, boards, financial management, HR, Legal, and Marketing and Communications.

So whether you are just starting, established, or could use a little direction, The Nonprofit Resource Center is there to help.

Video as a simple story; short and easy. Say hello to “video storytelling”

Friday, January 11th, 2013 | Permalink

Video has changed the way we remember, share, and view the world. What I am referring to is video storytelling and it is a new genre of video… or web video to be precise.

Video in the sense of hollywood, big budgets, and years of training will never die… nor would I ever want it to (I love going to the movies!). But it is important to realize and take advantage of professional video’s little brother; video storytelling. It is far less than full-feature films, far less than short films, and less still than brief documentaries. It lives online and is the marriage of advancing technology and a person’s natural creativity.

Smart phones have allowed better and better photos (so much so that many of us have laid to rest our beloved point-and-shoot cameras). Similarly, smart phones and inexpensive camcorders enable us all to create high quality short videos for sharing online. These videos are each a story: a story of a vacation, a birthday, a nonprofit fundraiser, or a weekly update. Thanks to advancements in the way we record, edit, and share video we are able to tell previously untold stories and share them in new and engaging ways.

This perfect storm of a persons raw creative talent and new technologies is what let’s dabble is all about. We empower you to create video stories and share them online. The skills needed are commonly unknown and unpracticed, but they are easy to learn and easy to master. With a little know-how you can write a script, shoot the video, edit the video, and share it online in a few hours.

If you would like to learn more or are interested in learning the skills I spoke of, then you are in luck; we can teach you, for free. Using…. drumroll please… short web videos. Learning video through video, it’s a brave new world.

The following video outlines the new advancing technologies. It discusses why the ability to shoot, edit, and publish video is now easier and more inexpensive than ever.

The means to make a video is the tip of the iceberg, the impact comes from looking at how we can use it. Moreover, since the cost of producing video has dropped dramatically, we can use it in ways previously never considered: training videos, video grant proposals, custom thank-you videos to generous donors, or program updates. This video outlines what web video means for nonprofits, how it can change the way they share their mission, their successes, and their future.

Finally, researching new equipment to buy can be mind-numbing with so many options and endless reviews; it can be over-whelming. Therefore, when you are asking yourself: what equipment do I need, what are the options, and how much does it all cost? Have no fear, we did the homework, this video answers those questions and more.

To learn more visit or send us an email:

Google for Nonprofits

Friday, January 4th, 2013 | Permalink

Google has a miriade of tools and helpful resources for nonprofits and it is called Google for Nonprofits. It goes beyond the YouTube nonprofit program, which is a piece of the Google for Nonprofits pie.

It includes such resources as:

– Google Apps
– Google Grants
– Google Analytics
– YouTube Nonprofit Program
– Google Earth Outreach

These tools are great and the details of each include more and more helpful resources. Just take the YouTube Nonprofit Program for example. It provides listing on the YouTube nonprofit channel for increased exposure, free google checkout for donations, “call to action” overlays on videos for directing traffic to nonprofit websites, and more. You can learn more on how to apply to the YouTube Nonprofit Program by watching our free video tutorial.

The following video goes into more detail regarding Google for Nonprofits and the services it provides.

Make a Website: 5 steps

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 | Permalink

Having a website made and hosted can be costly: from one thousand dollars to tens of thousands. Since that rarely is a drop in the bucket, it good to know that you can make and host your very own website.

If you are looking to do-it-yourself, then video tutorials are always a blessing. While let’s dabble walks you through the process of making a web video. This resource guides you through the waters of hosting a website.

To view all their website tutorials you can visit their youtube page.

Say No to Vertical Video

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 | Permalink

Vertical video typically happens when recording with phones, which is becoming more and more common with the high quality of the lenses in smart phones.

In technical terms it is recording in an aspect ratio of 9×16 rather than 16×9, this makes playback on a 16×9 screen less than great. So when filming your video dabblings be sure to keep your camcorder properly positioned for the best possible footage.

This playful video discusses the problem, while at the same time making you smile. Enjoy.

We’re let’s dabble, we’d like to teach you video. For free!

Sunday, September 9th, 2012 | Permalink

let's dabble

If we haven’t met, then it is a pleasure to meet you. If we have met, then you may be wondering where we’ve been. Well, it’s a long story and it goes something like this…

…we’ve been making videos.

Ok, it’s actually quite short. But we made them just for you! Especially you reading this right now, you’re our favorite.

The real story is that we decided to launch our instructional video series for free! It teaches anyone anywhere how to make a web video. It took awhile, over a year to be exact, but when making videos on how to make a video one can never be too awesome. (yeah, I just said we’re awesome. We’re also modest.)

The videos are available at in an easy-to-view format and are also hosted on YouTube. They cover what equipment you need, filming a video, writing a script, video editing with Windows Movie Maker, and finally how to upload a video to YouTube. Everything you need to take your story and share it with the world.

Go ahead, share your story. We dare you. We double dog dare you.

Got what it takes to accept the challenge? Then watch this video to get the details on how to show us up.

I can, You can, We can all Share Files

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 | Permalink


Dropbox is a file sharing option for you, me, and anyone else needing remote access to files. Emailing is restricted by file size, flash drives are wonderful if you didn’t leave them at home, and of course you could lug your laptop along with you. Yet, what if your flash drive is sitting next to your laptop at home? Dropbox allows you to create a free account and upload up to 2 GB of information for free; paying customers can upload up to 100 GB. Once you upload the information you can access the files from anywhere with a computer. Simply wonderful.

Ready for some brainstorming? Let’s think outside the dropbox. I want to share a video with someone but would rather not upload it to Youtube for fear of the world seeing it. Now I have the option to upload the file, tell my friend my username and password, and they can log in and download it. Simply amazing.

One more example, I recently wanted to put together a video for a friend. However, I needed video testimonials from a group of people on varied schedules. Not a problem. I setup an account, emailed them all the username and password, and they were able to upload video files that I later downloaded. Simply brilliant.

Would you like to setup an account? You can do so on their login page.