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A Peek Behind the Curtain

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A Peek Behind the Curtain

A peek behind the curtain at Ask Leo!

Hi everyone, I’m Leo Notenboom for As most of you know, for the past few weeks I’ve been playing a little bit with video doing these direct to camera videos as I call them, talking about various topics and issues and so forth relating to technology.

Today what I want to do is I want to give you a little bit of a peek behind the curtain, and that’s why I’m holding this. So this is my cell phone on a monopod. A monopod is not a selfie stick. What it is is a tripod with only one leg. It’s actually commonly used by videographers and photographers to give them some stability when they’re out doing whatever it is they’re doing. It’s something that I intend to play with a little bit.

In fact, I really should be holding it a little bit differently, so that it gets a little bit more distance between me and the camera. This way I’ve got a little bit bigger frame and not quite so close into my face.

But the real reason I have the camera on a monopod today is because I want to be able to do this. I want to be able to turn it around and show you what it is I see when I’m doing these things. So what you can see: here there’s my desk, my coffee cup, my keyboard, my ham radio, telephone, all that kinda stuff. But most interestingly, that’s the camera that’s actually recording me when I’m doing these kinds of videos.

The microphone you see there off to your left is not the microphone I’m using right now. I’ll talk about that in just a minute. That microphone is what I use for web cam, my screen cap recording (screen capture) and occasionally some of the audio on the podcasts.

So, now we’re in the far corner of my room, and you can see the area that I was standing in there with the white board in the background and a couple of pieces of white paper to reflect some light and such. The one thing that you may notice is that there are three light boxes: two on poles and then one on the lower left. Lighting has proven to be one of the more difficult things to try and work on and get right with this set up. But I think I’ve actually got it pretty nailed down right now. Those are all using compact fluorescent light bulbs specifically for video or photography.

So there’s my computer again, there’s the tripod, there’s the Surface Pro in the background doing its thing.

Now, what I want to show you also, on the top of my camera there is Ellen. Ellen is there to remind me; she has a very important job. Her job is to remind me that I’m not talking to a camera; I’m talking to you. You are what this is all about; what my videos are all about and what my … what actually Ask Leo! is all about. It’s not just about me playing with technology; it’s about me playing with technology and doing it in a way that makes it useful to you.

So her job is just to slap me around everyone once in a while and remind me that there are real people – you – at the other end of that camera.

The camera, by the way, is really just a Sony handicam of some sort. It’s digital. You can see its little light flashing there as it continues to record. It uses USB to connect to my desktop computer to download the video. And again, the camera itself is looking at the corner of my office with my white board where I typically will stand and do whatever it is that particular video is calling for.

Now, I mentioned that the microphone that was over there at my desk was not the microphone I’m’ using right now. You’ll notice that I’m wearing what’s called a Lavalier microphone. That actually is connected to this, a TASCAM DR-05 recorder. Now, I would hold it up to the camera, but I did that earlier, and it was completely washed out so instead I’m going to put another picture of it here in the corner.

What this boils down to is, it’s fundamentally intended to be an audio recorder: these are actually two microphones at the top of the thing. But as you can it also has an audio in. That audio in is connected via a fairly lengthy cable to a microphone that I have pinned here to my shirt.

What I do then at the end of this video, when I’m done recording all of these various pieces including the piece from my camera phone is I will take all three of those pieces of media: the video from the camera phone, the video from what I’ll call my studio camera and then the audio from the digital recorder in my pocket. I’ll use Final Cut Pro to synchronize them all up and do all the magic switching and zooms and all that kind of stuff that you’ve been seeing on these videos.

So that’s kinda sorta what’s going on here in the background. I thought I’d let you know. I’ve got a couple of people who are interested in exactly what this is and how it all works and there you go.

If you’ve got any questions about this, if you’re watching this anywhere but on, I’m going to put a link right here that is this video posted on Go there, that’s where all the comments happen, that’s where comments are moderated as we talked about last week, YouTube comments to the extent that they exist, usually aren’t very pretty, so I’d rather have you all come out to and leave comments there. They all get read, and I’ll answer any questions you might have about this set up or anything video related to the Ask Leo! videos that I’ve been producing.

Thanks again for watching. I’ll see you again next week.

Until then, have a great one!

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22 comments on “A Peek Behind the Curtain”

  1. Great video, nice to see what goes on in the background. I definitely love all these clips you are doing, much easier to see the face and more personal than just reading text.

  2. What a way cool setup Leo i like it i so wondered how you did all the awesome recording you do and how you get such a good picture, and audio. I like it keep up the amazing help you give we all need it and god bless.

  3. Great video Leo! I find the personal touch you are including gives Ask Leo a special connection beyond the tech info which I enjoy so much.
    Keep up the good work. I love your stories tech or personal.
    Fred B.

  4. Always appreciate Ask Leo! news emails, and now I see you’re actually a human bean! Very professional results from a somewhat minimal studio, but if you know what you’re doing, you just don’t need all the fancy, impressive knobs and displays, do ya! Thank you, Leo, and keep up the great work!

  5. I apologize for leaving a rather sour comment, but it seems to me that you make things unnecessarily complicated. I am using a pro video camera (Canon HF-G25) and a Röde microphone attached to its audio input, plus a quality tripod, for all my video, and I get excellent HD video with excellent sound. No need to synchronize material from different sources, just editing the video and audio together or separately with a video editing software. – I´m proud of my gear :).

  6. Awww Leo, thanks for inviting us in. Your office is a perfect reflection of you — straightforward. Very much enjoyed the visit with you (and Ellen).

  7. Interesting video Leo–thanks for sharing. I have been a subscriber for almost 10 years now and appreciate your computer advice/wisdom and personal approach while giving it.

  8. Hi Leo. Film student here. I love your setup. Only critique/tip I’d have would be that your “studio” camera seems to have a white balance or slight lack of color information in your video. This might be fixed by changing the white balance in your camera or by possibly turning up your saturation in Final Cut and throwing a color converter on the video and playing with levels to make you look more human. It probably isn’t noticeable when you’re only using that camera but the distinction between the color information from the Sony and the color information from the phone is pretty drastic. They are two different sensors gathering two different depths of color and luminosity. Anyway, I hope that helps. Keep making cool things!

    • Thanks! Yes, the color difference is striking I agree. My approach here is that this is all one big continuous test – each time I make a video I learn a little more and can tweak the videos to come. Thanks for the feedback!

  9. I have been your fan for quite awhile reading “Ask Leo” . Glad to see you have setup video home studio ! So, you are using Final Cut Pro on an iMac ? For multiple media mixing and editing do you like Final Cut Pro?

    • It has a high learning curve, but then I would expect most all powerful video editing software to have that. And it is powerful – I’ve only scratched the surface.

  10. About white balance: Always the best, most lossless option is setting the white balance manually on the camera (using white paper) rather than adjusting it afterwards with the editing software. Of course using a phone for taking video complicates matters.


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