An Old Dog Attempts a New Trick

In life there are two kinds of people.  When enjoying a movie, some people watch every bonus feature and directors commentary that is available.  This is me.  Other people won’t give time for anything extra, not even the bloopers.  This is my wife.  The following post is for the people like me.

When I was younger, I spent some time doing video work for a specific government entity.  Everything we did was structured as a quick setup, boring press conference, then go home.  It was like the news, if the news was only comprised of the really boring parts. There was nothing remotely artistic.  

In the good old days, being a musician required making records.  Now, frequent and regular video posts are far more important than a record.   I know how to tap the little red button on my phone and get a video. I have no idea how to make it look good, sound good, or be remotely entertaining.

I have always wanted to fashion my studio space to look like a stage setup.  The creative process can really benefit from a great vibe. Performing from a stage, even without an audience, can provide an energy to an otherwise mundane performance.  Achieving the look of a stage setup has been a work in progress for a long time.  We had some rolls of this awesome green and tan upholstery collecting dust in the attic, long story.  My mom helped me turn it into stage curtains with her awesome sewing machine skills.  We have a row of lights across a beam in the ceiling which works great as a front of stage.  I thought this would be the perfect spot to start shooting some really compelling videos.

Unfortunately the lighting is terrible.  It makes my bald head look super radiant but not in a good way.  I have also been playing around with some wall treatments to get a softer sound.  This room has a very live sound. This can give recordings a cool character but it’s really harsh when the audio is straight from the phone.  I was trying to run the sound from my mixer to my phone and despite the purchase of several different adapters, I couldn’t make it work.

Adding filters to a video is really cool.  I guess filters are a part of reality for anyone under 30 but it’s another new trick for this old dog.  Back in my day, if we wanted to edit something, we used a razor blade to cut and paste.

I liked the way the studio curtains framed in the video but it just wasn’t working.  We almost achieved the look I wanted. However, it was difficult to move around, the sound was lousy, and all the crap in the background looked bad.  I decided to try turning it all around. The curtains could be a backdrop.  I put some Edison bulbs in the row of lights and it worked great for back lighting the shot.  I had an old desk lamp over my mixer that I turned to aim at me like a spotlight.  The mic on my phone was fine but I really wanted a better sound.  I recorded the video with the phone and the audio with my regular recording setup. I did my best to put it together so my sound matched my mouth.  This requires editing.  I guess I should have anticipated the editing process. It is a standard and necessary part of making anything.  However, given life’s time constraints, this was not a desired extra step.  

I forgot my hat again.  Stupid shiny head…

I probably shouldn’t point it out, but did anybody notice the bad light bulb on the right?  I am pretty satisfied with the lighting in general at this point.  It’s as good as it’s going to get.  I fixed the audio issues and created new ones.  I effected the sound too much and it feels like the sound doesn’t fit the video.  As a performer, it no longer feels like a stage.  I think I have successfully killed the whole idea that I was hoping to achieve.

As my fourth and final example, you would expect this to be my best attempt.  Ironically, I don’t feel that way.  I have this bad habit of ruminating on something until I hate it.  I have trouble letting go of things.  I am learning that it’s more productive to move on quickly when something is not working.  The best I can do is find the courage to just be me and put that out into the world.

Since doing this project, I got a new mixer that is far more compatible with my current technology. This upgrade solved most of my audio issues.

My conclusion regarding this endeavor is that it was a lot of time wasted. I spent a lot of time trying to achieve a very specific look/feel. I could have spent that time creating more stuff that was all close enough. If I had been able to achieve my perfect idea, I might feel like it was all worth it. I think the key is to have the camera rolling as much and as often as possible. Grab the toothpicks and prop up those eyelids. We got a lot of new stuff coming straight for your eyeballs and ear holes. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Also, if you want to throw some money at me because of the embarrassingly poor quality of my work, here is a virtual tip jar.