Schedule

Schedule

Tuesday, September 2

1409677200 Tech News Today
1409680800 MacBreak Weekly
1409688000 Security Now
1409695200 Before You Buy
1409698800 Tech News 2Night
1409702400 All About Android
1409711400 Padre's Corner

Wednesday, September 3

1409758200 FLOSS Weekly
1409763600 Tech News Today
1409767200 Windows Weekly
1409774400 This Week in Google
1409785200 Tech News 2Night
1409787000 redditUP
1409792400 Ham Nation

Thursday, September 4

1409850000 Tech News Today
1409853600 Know How...
1409857200 The Social Hour
1409862600 Coding 101
1409866200 Home Theater Geeks
1409871600 Tech News 2Night
1409873400 The Giz Wiz
1409882400 OMGcraft

Friday, September 5

1409936400 Tech News Today
1409940000 This Week in Law
1409947200 Android App Arena
1409958000 Tech News 2Night

Saturday, September 6

1410026400 The Tech Guy

Sunday, September 7

1410112800 The Tech Guy
1410127200 This Week in Tech

Monday, September 8

1410195600 Tech News Today
1410199200 Triangulation
1410204600 iPad Today
1410217200 Tech News 2Night
1410219000 Marketing Mavericks

Tuesday, September 9

1410282000 Tech News Today
1410285600 MacBreak Weekly
1410292800 Security Now
1410300000 Before You Buy
1410303600 Tech News 2Night
1410307200 All About Android
1410316200 Padre's Corner

Wednesday, September 10

1410363000 FLOSS Weekly
1410368400 Tech News Today
1410372000 Windows Weekly
1410379200 This Week in Google
1410390000 Tech News 2Night
1410391800 redditUP
1410397200 Ham Nation

Thursday, September 11

1410454800 Tech News Today
1410458400 Know How...
1410462000 The Social Hour
1410467400 Coding 101
1410471000 Home Theater Geeks
1410476400 Tech News 2Night
1410478200 The Giz Wiz
1410487200 OMGcraft

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Know How... 46

Make a Home Studio

May 30 2013

If you’ve ever wanted to create your own videos there’s plenty to know. We took a field trip to Tom Merritt’s house in Los Angeles to see what it takes to create a home studio.

Bandwidth

Tom hosts “Tech News Today” from the comfort of his own home via Skype. However, the first thing he considered was bandwidth. Tom managed to find a place served by fiber that gets him insane speeds. His download speed is 300Mbps, and his upload speed is 65Mbps. ISPs like to tout download speeds, but you definitely want to pay attention to the upload speed if you plan on sending video over the internet.

The Hardware Setup

To Skype, Tom uses an off-the-shelf Mac mini that is wired to his home network via Ethernet (again, getting the best speeds is paramount when dealing with streaming online video).

How video reaches the computer: Canon Vixia HF GF10 > HDMI out > Blackmagic Intensity Extreme HDMI to Thunderbolt adapter > goes into Mac mini.

The Canon Vixia HF G10 uses an HD CMOS sensor to output its signal via HDMI. To get that video into the Mac mini, a Blackmagic Intensity Extreme HDMI to Thunderbolt adapter accepts an HDMI input and then outputs it over Thunderbolt.

For audio, Tom speaks into a Heil PR-40, which is the same kind of mic used at the TWiT Brickhouse Studio. The Heil outputs audio using XLR. To get that signal to the Mac mini, the XLR cable is plugged into a Blue Microphones Icicle adapter, which accepts XLR and outputs over USB.

For more audio complex setups, you can choose to use a USB Mixer like Tom’s Mackie PROFX8 mixer.

Lighting

Camera and Lighting Design specialist Brent Bye of OceanStudio.com was called in to make sure the video looks as good as possible. Brent designed the lighting setup at the TWiT Brickhouse studios.

When setting up your studio, survey the entire space. Consider the space as a whole to see where a good shot would be established. Camera framing makes the small brick fireplace behind Tom appear much larger than it is.

Ambient lighting can be problematic when shooting. In general, avoid backlighting like having a big window behind you. For Tom’s setup, Brent closed the blinds to eliminate the changing lighting from the sun.

After the camera was set to isolate the background, Brent first lit Tom from behind using two rear lights to highlight Tom’s hair. The rim lights separate Tom from the background. The lights Brent used are American DJ (ADJ) brand and are called the Micro Wash WWCW. The acronym stands for “Warm White, Cool White,” which means they can produce both outdoor and indoor color temperatures to match existing indoor lights or correctly match any exterior daylight coming into the shooting space.

For the key light, Brent used a single Kino Flo ParaBeam 210. The light is large enough that it lights Tom without the need for a separate fill light. If you’re wondering about that old stand-by three-point lighting, Brent says that three-point lighting is antiquated and was for when people were using hard light sources which creates harsh shadows.

Using diffusion allows for softer lighting and is a heat resistant material tough enough to handle the heat of lights. Diffusion looks like wax paper is placed over the light source to create pleasant shadows on the talent. Also, you’ll need to control your light - can’t have it spilling all over the place. You can use a material called Cinefoil that can be used to direct light. It’s like aluminum foil, but tougher.

The Green Screen Controversy

For the first several weeks when Tom would call in from his home studio, the audience would yell, “Green screen! That’s no brick wall back there! It must be a green screen - just look at it!” We got to the bottom of that. Brent explained that the combination of a lower resolution camera at Tom’s studio (since replaced), in addition to different colored lights in Tom’s studio, and the backlighting fooled people into thinking “That’s a keyed setup!” A more full explanation is in the episode.

Budget Lighting Setup

Everything you just read applies to lighting in general. You don’t necessarily need professional gear to produce good lighting. You can create a key light using a four-foot workshop light that you can pick up at the hardware store. These use fluorescent tube lighting that flicker. That flickering may be picked up by your camera, but you can adjust that using your camera’s shutter.

To replicate the backlights we used, you can use inexpensive clamp lights. They cost about $8 each. If you’re feeling creative, you can attempt Brent’s “Frankenstein Key Light,” which places four clamp lights on a cross beam that sits atop a mic stand. Placing diffusion over the four lights creates a softer light and unifies the four light sources. (If you can’t picture it, that’s why we do a video show).

The money you save on lights can be used to pick up a camera with enough controls (like manual white balance) so you can make excellent looking video.

Wrap up

That’s a lot of material, but now you’ve got the tools to build your own home studio. Good lighting makes a world of difference and can

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Runtime: 01:35:05

People: Leo Laporte