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Lessons Learned Blog PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 02 July 2012 20:17

Since one of the goals of One on One: Inside the Crighton Theatre is to provide a growth environment for the staff and students, we will publish a blog detailing what we learn as we go.  In no particular order...

1) Either get the guests and hosts to speak up and enunciate or mic them.  Cheapest way is to use wired mics.  The microphones attached to the camcorders are great at picking up background noises that you don't want.  You can eliminate some of the background sounds in post production.  However, the best way is to start with good source material (just as in photography).  Unfortunately there are no shortcuts when it comes to sound.
2) Synchronization can be done with any unique sound.  Slates (clappers) work great.
3) Consumer/prosumer grade cameras can lose synchronization due to small delays in writing to disk.  These delays can differ even between the same type and make of camera.
4) Lighting definitely helps.  You can't have enough light.
5) Video is a great way to find out every annoying habit one has.
6) Chromakeying using a blue or green screen works only if the surface is very uniform.  Creases, shadows, etc. make it harder than you think to chromakey successfully.
7) Prosumer type non-linear editing suites (i.e. Adobe) provide sufficient flexibility to do any length project.
8) Develop a checklist of quality checks to make so that the overall quality of the final presentation is better. This includes keeping the subject within a prototype outline, reminders to hosts and guests, etc.
9)We now use a dedicated sound recorder which is placed closer to the guest. Not perfect, but sound is better and avoids any noises associated with movement (mic and mic wires can generate unwanted sounds too).
10)Color correction?! There is a reason NTSC is jokingly called not the same color. For now we have tried different locations where we have a little more control over lighting.  Until we get a dedicated studio, we will have to live with reflections, unwanted shadows, imperfect camera angles, etc.
11)Garbage mattes, masking, and more: I love you! Anything from unwanted reflections to anything you don't want in a scene can be removed in post-production. It's better if it isn't there, but masking can definitely fix some wanted scene elements.
12)Goldwave, I love you! It's got the best filter around for removing background sounds - air conditioning, water cooler, etc. It almost sounds like we know what we are doing.
13)Nervous habit and annoying speech patterns. We all have them. We just don't like having them thrown in our face. But video is a lot like teenagers - they both are brutally honest.
14)Kids generally need more warmup time to get them to relate stories. Adults don't seem to have any problem. Why is it the opposite off-camera?

August 16, 2012

Sound quality continues to evade us.  We have verified with professionals that we have the best microphone recorders.  Just need to set them even closer to the guests.  Background noise also is an issue in a working theatre.  Color balance is next on the list.  We may need to use color bars (remember those when a station would go off the air?).

Light. Light. More light.  You can never have enough light.

On the positive side we have learned to adjust for camera positioning adjustments in Adobe Premiere. Editing is also getting faster.  We are experimenting with faster and slower cutting of interviews.

September 1, 2012

Reflections on glasses?!  I started noticing that even CNN has this problem.  At least we have been able to make podcast versions of the interviews easily (i.e. in batch mode thanks to Goldwave).

September 10, 2012

Bought my first color correction banner.  It has white, grey and black so that you can color correct each camera to a standard reference. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  Maybe not.

September 24, 2012

My color correction banner is still NOT here.  However, I have learned something wonderful - ULTRAKEY!  Think of chroma key on steroids.  Now the green screen doesn't have to be perfect, or ironed, or lite perfectly.  About time.

Learning After Effects is still slow.  The next project is to enable Harley to talk so he can tell his story,

September 27, 2012

What I wouldn't give for a completely controlled studio with complete light, sound, and camera control.  Then again, I don't have much of a budget.  It is possible to manually white balance the cameras I have.  Now that I have my color correction banner we'll try it and see if we can control the colors between cameras so that video from each looks closer to each other.

Audio background noise still is a pain.  I can cancel out the noise but at the expense of reduced audio quality.  It is amazing how much background sounds there are everywhere.  My separate audio recorder is great as long as the guests and I don't bump the mic - which we seem to do.

October 7, 2012

For whatever reason, the preparation for the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) helped us to discover two fixes for long suffering issues: sound and white balance.  We are now able to use the Zoom mp3 player to capture awesome audio.  The sound is incredible - at times.  We still have issues with closing doors, background talking, trains, etc.  Just have to wait for that sound studio next door.

As for white balance, we are finally able to manually white balance the inexpensive HD cameras.  Now the color from each of the cameras match each other.  Sounds trivial, but it has been a pain in the touche.

BTW if you missed ROCO at the Crighton, you missed some awesome music.  I didn't know that although the group is based in Houston, members come from as far away as New York or LA to play with the group on a regular basis.

October 28, 2012

Now that we have started white balancing manually, the colors are more uniform camera to camera.  Bland, but uniform.  We are working on additional lighting and sound control.

Jan 12, 2013

Now interviewees can say they have joined the ranks of the famous personalities - like Ray Price (Country Music Hall of Fame). Audio background noise seems to be under control with the exception of the train and people who refuse to be quiet.  The noise removal via signal processing works fairly well as long as the background noise is constant such as a light hum.

May 5, 2013

More on sound sweetening.  Make sure you get a sample of the background sound only.  Target 80% removal of the background sound.  Otherwise you will overcorrect and get sound artifacts.  Now if we could get people entering the set to be QUIET.

July 6, 2013

Fuzzy video?! Come on!  With a manual/auto focus and no apparent light changes how does the camera get out of focus?  Fortunately, an unsharp mask can help with sharpening the picture.  Sounds counterintuitive, but it works.  It also increases the video processing time by about 4-5X times.

July 14, 2013

Every now and then something ends up on film that someone might not want to show.  The best way would be to check before filming to make sure nothing is showing (another checklist item).  But what do you do in post-production.  Mask it?  Replace it?  Hide it?  Use After Effects?

March 25, 2014

We're Baaack!  Every now and then one needs to take a sabbatical to rediscover the joy of - whatever!  We're added four new interviews including a professional dancer and professional photographer! And what IS it with the fuzzy camera?  All the cameras are the same.  Why does one seems to go out of focus (and on the guest no less)?!

This time we've tried something different.  Dave Clements wanted so show some of his pictures.  We're worked them into the interview.

August 20, 2014

We've figured out a way to do green screen (keying) in the lobby of the Crighton.  We just have to block out the light from the windows.  Learned that the hard way.

The most viewed video to date is the interview with Ray Price.  As it should be.

Discovered an interesting sound filter.  It boosts soft sounds only.  Preferable on widely dynamically recorded sounds.  Isn't it amazing when we rediscover something we tossed aside some time ago?

Also found a way to sync sound and film a lot easier.  Helps having the visual of the slate to sync against.

Video cameras can still drop frames which can cause long edits to get out of sync.

August 28, 2015

After a long hiatus (i.e. I needed the rest) I found the motivation to do some more interviews.  This time we had a guest host - Craig Campobella - because we needed to do interviews that I couldn't easily do.  We chose a different point of view by recording on the Crighton stage and looking back towards the audience.  I never realized the air conditioners could be so loud.  Removing or minimizing the air conditioning was difficult.  Next time, turn the air off before recording.

Feb. 22, 2016

It's been a while since we have done some interviews.  We've started recording on the Crighton stage.  Much better control over sound issues.  Lighting is not ideal.  Still need additional light sources to get rid of some of the shadows.

Feb 23, 2016

I WANT MY OWN SOUND STUDIO!  It was so windy at the Crighton that the ceiling was making some really interesting noises while filming Josh Sandros and Hillary Moore's interviews.  Then, of course, we still have the train.

March 21, 2016

I have rediscovered Adobe Soundbooth.  It has its own noise removal that can be extremely aggressive without needing a lot of information.  The sound on the mp3 recorder turned out to have some unpleasant background noises that were hard to remove.  Enter the camera sound source (yecch).  In this case, it is my backup.  Soundbooth makes it palatable.

March 25, 2016

So much for Soundbooth.  Goldwave still does better when removing background sound.

Most of the interviews for The Producers are finished.  We're taking a detour as we help with the original play Dust Bowl Motel by Scott McCarley.  The edited version of the show will be placed on youtube and all funds generated will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Also experimented with the Cineon converter.  What rich colors!  Almost looks like movies from the 1950's which is probably the intent.

June 11, 2016

We have a backlog of interviews from Dust Bowl Motel and Rumors.  Just trying to get caught up.

We started using the set as a backdrop for the interviews.  This allows us to use the stage for interviews.  Surprisingly, it isn't quieter on stage.  Still, it does make for a nice interview setting.

July 19, 2016

We're back!  Editing like crazy.  I never thought I would use the audio from a camera for other than emergency purposes.  However, the auto-gain of the camera sometimes works better than anything I can do in post(-processing).

August 1, 2016

My son and I built our own workstation (16 cores) for about ~700 dollars.  So what?  Now we can process video a lot faster.  The workstation runs about 3 times faster although on some video streams it ran 8 times faster.  Probably an anomaly.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 August 2016 19:41