Monday, December 12, 2016

Podcasting

A client has asked me to start producing a series of podcasts for them!

In the podcast booth!

Podcasting is clearly enjoying a renaissance, primarily because of the hit series Serial. Several years ago I had done two podcast series for Firehouse Magazine, Campus Firewatch Radio and The Fire Marshal's Corner. Both were pretty successful, and the way we recorded them was that the guest and I would call into a phone number where a sound engineer would record us and then edit and upload the finished podcast. Pretty easy, from my end.

Podcasting has become even easier now. If you look at the picture above, it's not really a "booth," but my office where I have hung sound dampening materials (blankets on light stands) behind me to cut down on the echo. I also went as far as putting a towel down on the desk to help eliminate reverb as well...breaking up any hard surface really does make a difference, I'm finding. 

As a matter of fact, some podcasters record from inside their closets (lots of soft clothes to absorb the sound). One podcaster, who does much of his recording on the road from hotel rooms, actually does his sitting under the blankets on his hotel bed, kind of like what we used to do when we were kids reading books when we were supposed to be asleep!

For a microphone, I'm using my H4N sound recorder mounted on a microphone stand that I plug into the USB port on my Mac PowerBook. I had to adjust the frequency from 44 khz to 48 khz because it was coming out almost Mickey Mouse-ish.

Since I'm interviewing people for these podcasts, I call them on Skype and then use a program called Call Recorder from Ecamm to record the call. This records both sides of the conversation either 1) in a single file or 2) exports them into TWO files, one for each side of the conversation. Why, you ask?

With Skype and Call Recorder, it isn't possible to adjust the sound levels for each side of the conversation separately, so if I set it for my sound level, and then have a guest that is either very loud or very soft, this could be a problem. However, since the files get exported separately for each side, I can then adjust the levels accordingly in post production.

I can also mute one side of the conversation, so if someone is making comments such as "um" or coughing or breathing loudly (amazing how it comes through) all of that can be muted easily.

For editing, there are several popular options out there. GarageBand from Apple is one that I have never really mastered. It used to be designed for podcasting, but it seems like it has moved away from that.

The other very popular one is Audacity, a free (doesn't get much better) open source editing program. It is a very powerful tool and really does a lot.

However, I'm using Adobe Premiere Pro, which is actually a video editing program.

Why, you ask again?

Because I know how to use it from video editing and can be pretty quick with it, and it does the job for me. Probably as I get more and more into it, I'm going to move away from it, but it really seems to have a lot of the tools I need to get the job done quickly and easily. Premiere Pro is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, and their video editing package is called Audition. As I'm doing more, I might move over to it, but for now, Premiere Pro is doing the trick.

I'll be posting more on this as time goes on...topics such as hosting (Soundcloud), podcast sources (iTunes, Stitcher or Outcast, for example) and more!

Take care...

Ed

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What's all the NOISE????

Despite the name "video," audio is a pretty big part of any production. And unwanted noise can really mess up a great shoot or a great production. In this episode I talk about some of the things you can do to watch for it and eliminate, or at least reduce, it.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Lighting, without it, it's called "radio"

Lighting is pretty important to video. Heck, if you can't see anything, you might as well call it radio, right?

In this episode, I talk about how to use both artificial and natural lighting, especially in an interview setup.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, and please subscribe to my YouTube channel! When I hit 100 subscribers I get to pick a custom URL!

Thanks...Ed


Monday, June 20, 2016

Audio Gear, making your videos a LOT better!

First...THANK YOU to everyone that is subscribing to my YouTube Channel! We're on our way to 100 subscribers, which means I can then pick a custom URL! If you haven't subscribed yet, please do, it helps a lot!

Capturing audio using the camera's microphones, whether it is a DSLR or smartphone is a bad idea. To put it bluntly, your audio will suck. There are other ways to do it, and this video talks about the tools and techniques that you can use to make your videos 100% better. Well, ok, maybe not 100%, but a LOT better!


Please feel free to leave a comment, either here or on the YouTube channel!

What's in my Bag?

I've had a few questions on gear, what I use, etc., so I put together this video,"What's in my Bag" to show you the equipment I'm using and how I'm carrying it.

My goal when I started was to configure a setup that would easily go into an airplane overhead compartment because I was certainly not going to check my gear, I wanted it by my side all the time to protect it!

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below, and please subscribe to my channel! When I reach 100 subscribers, I can pick a custom url...

Thanks!  Ed




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Comparing Audio

What's more important, video or audio?

You might think video, but in reality, audio is pretty darned important. Think about the videos you have watched-aren't you willing to put up with some pretty weak video as long as you can hear what is going on? But if it is crappy audio, you are going to click away. 



Our brains are good at filling in the blanks visually, but not as effectively when it comes to audio. 

In this episode, I'm going to put out the differences in how to capture audio so you can realize just how important it is, and in future ones we'll be going over some techniques and equipment you can use to make your videos just hat little bit better.

Have some ideas or suggestions, please let me know!

By the way (BIG ASK HERE), when I reach 100 subscribers on my YouTube channel I can pick a custom URL better than https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqOVpcG8Xj3ZCbfyRrSC31w, so if you can go there and subscribe, I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks..
Ed Comeau





Teaching yourself video

It is incredible how much information there is online when it comes to video. I've learned a ton, and this video is going to cover some of my "go to" channels for information.





  • Lynda.com This is the grand-daddy of sites for online learning. It is subscription based, but there may be workarounds. For example, anyone with a Boston Public Library card gets free access, and anyone living in Massachusetts can get a BPL card...therefore, I can get in free! You might check with your local library or see if there is something similar where you are.
  • Basic Filmmaker A great channel by a quirky kind of guy. I have learned a lot from here.
  • Basic Filmmaker University The Basic Filmmaker has started up a separate, subscription-based, page of video tutorials. I've looked at the free ones, and they are very well done, but I have a hard time dropping the cash for stuff that I probably can find elsewhere, especially in lynda.com. 
  • Vimeo Mastering Mobile Video A really great site on how to shoot good video just using your smartphone.
  • DSLRGuide This is another great channel by a guy in England who has been chronicling what he has been learning and doing through the years as he progresses.
  • Dave Dugdale YouTube Channel  Website  This is the first channel that I started on and I bought his eight-part tutorial on how to use my camera. Best $35 I spent.
  • Film Riot Admittedly, this channel is beyond where I am right now, but it is pretty entertaining and you can learn a lot from it.
  • Knoptop This channel hasn't been updated in quite a while. He focuses on a lot of DIY stuff for video production, and is fun to watch (and learn).

Here's looking at Cameras!

Throughout this series we're going to be talking about two cameras, the smartphone that everyone has in their pocket, and a DSLR, or digital single lens reflex camera.  Each one has their pluses and minuses, and each one can do a great job of shooting video. With some simple techniques, you can make it even better, which we'll be covering in future episodes.





Have some ideas or suggestions, please let me know!

By the way (BIG ASK HERE), when I reach 100 subscribers on my YouTube channel I can pick a custom URL better than https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqOVpcG8Xj3ZCbfyRrSC31w, so if you can go there and subscribe, I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks..

Ed Comeau

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Video for Fire Safety, a new series

I'm launching a new series, Video for Fire Safety (and I keep having to backtrack when I type it, because for some reason I keep typing "Fire for Video Safety").




These are going to be very short YouTube clips about what I am learning as I do more video production. Equipment, techniques, tips...pre-production, production and post-production. Software, workflow and a lot more!

This series was born out of a class that I did for the Fire and Life Safety Educators of Colorado Conference of the Rockies. I'm using the format for what I did there as the starting point, but I can easily see me moving beyond it into a whole host of different areas.

You can subscribe to this Blog by either email or through your RSS feed in the column on the right, or you can subscribe to the YouTube channel itself, which I would like to ask you to do...once I reach 100 subscribers, then YouTube lets me pick a custom URL instead of the long, random numbers it has.

Lots more to come, and thanks for stopping by!

Ed

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Video for off-campus fire safety

I'm really getting more into using video for fire safety communications (or even all communications!).  Here's the latest video I just produced for the See It Before You Sign It campaign I'm doing with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Fire Protection Association and the United States Fire Administration.


This was really interesting to put together, and the hardest part of all, for all of my videos, is keeping them short. This one came in at 30 seconds, and even something that short does have three acts to it:
  • Act I - What the problem is (most kids die in off-campus fires)
  • Act II - What parents can do to help protect their kids (check for smoke alarms and two ways out)
  • Act III - Call for Action - See It Before You Sign It (the lease)
No matter what you are producing, having three acts seems to be the way to go, it is a tried-and-true methodology.


Each time I do a shoot, I learn so much more. This one...
  • I should have watched the lighting more and tried to get consistent lighting between the different shots.
  • What was really interesting on the first shot with Chief Nelson is that you'll notice there is a strong light coming in from screen left. While this was shot in the early morning, with the sun low, it turned out the reflection was coming off of the windshield on my car, which I could have easily fixed by just moving the car!
  • I didn't frame all of the people consistently in each shot. Not too bad, but I could have done a better job of framing them so it would flow easier between the six shots.
  • With Chief Partridge, we were filming on a partly-cloudy day, so the sun was going in and out which created two different lighting situations. I was able to balance it out in post-production a bit, but something to watch for in the future.
  • I got lucky while doing the voice over in the beginning. I was actually videotaping myself in front of an off-campus house when a fire engine went by with its siren on, which made for a great sound effect. I decided to not use the video portion, just the audio, with the photos I have taken of real fatal fires instead.
More to come!

Ed


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Workflow Management

One of the things that I have always struggled with is managing workflow...I can't tell you how many to-do lists I have created, how many apps I have tried, to keep on top of things, and it is  a challenge. Oddly enough, one of my best management tools is my email inbox which I use as a reminder on things that need doing, but it really isn't the best way to do it, or is it?

Like many other people, I suffer (or did) from an overflowing emailbox. You read about all these tips that say you should strive for zero-inbox...in other words, no emails in your inbox. You file them, take action on them, etc. so they aren't hovering there, distracting you, calling to you. Yes, there is something to be said for that, and periodically I do go through and do a wholesale cleaning. But I think I might have found a better way.

I use Gmail to manage all of my mail accounts, and along with Gmail they have a nifty thing called GTasks, a to-do list, that I have tried using without success in the past. (The problem with to-do lists is not in creating them...but actually going back and USING them!)  Gmail has a great feature where you can click on it and make a GTask item that is connected to the Gmail. I do this, and if the subject line (which becomes the GTask item) is not descriptive enough, I write a new one, and give it a due date if necessary. I then file away the email because the GTask item has a link to the email itself.

So, when I review the GTask list, and I'm working on that item, I can click on the link and voila! it brings back up the email.

I've been using this for a few months and it is working out for me...keeping my inbox level down to a very manageable level, keeping a list (that I actually do check) of items and, hopefully, keeping a workflow moving.

Give it a shot!

Ed