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Mar 13 2012   3:11AM GMT

Videos and Lighting

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

I’ve been doing videos for couple of years – mainly podcasts which I record using Call Recorder for Skype when I do mychinwags – I also use ScreenFlow on the Mac for when I do my “vendorwags“. I’m thinking of doing some videos incorporating a whiteboard. So to improve quality, I decided it was time I invested in some quality lighting…

The Setup

I went out and bought from Jessops (a photography/video specialist in the UK), a budget entry level lighting system. It’s a pretty good kit for the price – very well built from a company in the UK. It supplies collapsible stands, reflectors, umbrellas (for defusing the light) and 500W bulbs. That’s a total of 1000W output for my small office space.To be a bit more exacting its a “Interfit EZ-Lite Twin head Kit INIT160“. Yeah, I know does anyone think its still cool to use the abbreviation “EZ” in a product name? No matter, it does the job at price I felt comfortable with – especially as I had NO IDEA if it would even work.

  

I’ve been experimenting with the videos – both with a SD-based camcorder, and iphone4. Why use an iPhone4? Well, its records pretty easily, and videos come off the phone in a native .MOV format which screenflow recognizes – so therefore I did a mix of PowerPoint, Whiteboard and Demo – I can assemble most of the pieces together. The other reason is the camcorder files are BIG because of the quality they record at. Converting them to a format that ScreenFlow would recognise would be a royal PITA. To be honest the camcorder is really only good/practical if you doing a straight to camera whiteboard or in-person podcast which you going to upload directly to YouTube (which does recognise its .MOD format). I have no idea what this “.MOD” format is – I wondering if the files could be renamed to .MOV and imported. I’ve seen that with other formats… As you probably know on laptop converting video formats maxes out the CPU rendering your use of the laptop almost useless, and when you go to upload big videos they saturate the internet it makes you web-access almost useless. That’s why encode and uploading when I’m not using machine. I’ve been toying with the idea of dedicating the laptop to media work, and buying a second machine for usage whilst its busy – of course, that wouldn’t help with the internet access which unless I reached for my 3G WiFi whilst the uploads were taking place.

One of the biggest issues I’ve had is mere space. My office isn’t terribly big, and once I have two guitars and AMP set-up – and tripod for the camera & the lights – the physical logistics were tricky. I’ve worked out I would have temporarily move out my guitars whilst I did any whiteboard work.

Is it worth it?

Mmm, I’m going to be honest and say – probably not. You could use educreations.com for free and get much better results without half the hassle or expense – erm, well you need to have iPAD – but hey, you have one of those don’t you? ;-)   The only downside I see of educreations is:

a.) it doesn’t incorporate me in the video, just my voice – I think a good presentation is as much to do with the person delivering the content as the whiteboard. Hopefully your presenter is more animated than a whiteboard!

b.) It does offer an export option to .mov/m4v – that means its hard to get the whiteboard session into a video podcast, or incorporate into a video that might include other elements such as a PowerPoint or a on-screen demo. There’s nothing stopping me playing back one of my own whiteboard sessions in web-page and capturing it with ScreenFlow – but that’s more work.

c.) It’s dependent on the mic of the iPAD for narrations – I tried plug-in my my condenser lapel-Mics into the iPAD (which I use with an iPhone successful) and got silence out of them.

So what do I do with my kit now. Well, I will probably use just one light in the office to help with the lighting of the Chinwag/Vendorwag. I don’t really need two and logistically two is more hassle. I will probably keep the second light as a spare/backup – unless I can offload it on ebay (but that’s a hassle in its own right…)

When the whiteboard arrives I will do another attempt at the preso – and see how it goes… But if I decide educreations is the way to go, I think my girlfriend will take the whiteboard off me for her office.

So here is sample of my different experiments and the results…

But a quick summary would be:

Camcorder with 2x500W Lamps is fine, and Screenflow with a single 500w lamp is fine as well. iPhone in any configuration is too degraded – and if you want to do whiteboard work online, your best bet is not spend money on a real whiteboard & lights but use educreations.com – its less hassle and less money.

 

Camcorder with just natural daylight:

iPhone with just natural daylight:

Camcorder with 1x500W Lamps:

Screenflow with 1x500W Lamp:

Camcorder with 2x500W Lamps:

iPhone with 2x500w Lamps:
Notice the kind of strobe affect with the lights… It’s quite “yellow” in quality – I remember reading something about this in the user guide. I’m not sure I want a yellow board when I want a whiteboard…

Screenflow with 1x500w Lamp (Native without Youtube Lossiness)

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