Necessary small disclaimer:
In life there are two kinds of people. Some people watch every bonus feature and directors commentary that is available for a movie. This is me. Other people can’t stand watching 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 that shall go unnamed. It was quick setup, shoot a press conference, and go home. Nothing remotely artistic. In the good old days, being a musician required making records. Now it is more important for an artist to have a video stream than to make records. I can tap record on my iPhone and get a video but 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 like a stage. The creative process can really benefit from a great vibe. Performing from the 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. It’s a really live sounding room which can give my recordings a cool character but it’s really harsh for a smart phone microphone. I was trying to run the sound from my mixer to my iPhone and despite the purchase of several different adapters, I couldn’t make it work.
I liked the way the studio curtains framed in the video but it just wasn’t working. It was almost the look I wanted but difficult to work around, made the sound lousy, and all the crap in the background looked bad. I decided the best solution was to turn it all around and use the curtains for a backdrop. I put some Edison bulbs in the row of lights and it worked great for backlighting the shot. I had an old desk lamp over my mixer that I turned to aim at me like a spotlight. The mic on the iPhone was fine but I really wanted a better sound. I recorded video with my phone and audio with my mixer at the same time and did my best to put them together. This requires editing. I guess I should have anticipated the editing process as it’s a standard and necessary part of anything that gets made. However, given my time constraints, this was not a desired extra step. 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 when I learned how to edit video, we used a razor blade to cut and paste.”
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? Otherwise, 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 made new ones. I edited too much and now 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 ideal 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. However, I am learning that it’s more productive to move on quickly if something is not working. I am also learning that making videos doesn’t mean they all have to be perfect. I can’t do perfect. The best I can do at this point is find the courage to just be me and put that out into the world, worts and all.
This is my starting point. I am working on some different ideas and also some ways to force this setup to work because I love beating a dead horse. If you have any ideas, let me know.
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Also, if you want to throw some money at me because of how embarrassing the quality of my work is, here is a virtual tip jar.