Schedule

Schedule

Tuesday, October 21

1413910800 Tech News Today
1413914400 MacBreak Weekly
1413921600 Security Now
1413928800 Before You Buy
1413932400 Tech News 2Night
1413936000 All About Android
1413945000 Padre's Corner

Wednesday, October 22

1413991800 FLOSS Weekly
1413997200 Tech News Today
1414000800 Windows Weekly
1414008000 This Week in Google
1414018800 Tech News 2Night
1414026000 Ham Nation

Thursday, October 23

1414083600 Tech News Today
1414087200 Know How...
1414090800 Marketing Mavericks
1414096200 Coding 101
1414099800 Home Theater Geeks
1414105200 Tech News 2Night
1414107000 The Giz Wiz

Friday, October 24

1414170000 Tech News Today
1414173600 This Week in Law
1414180800 Android App Arena
1414191600 Tech News 2Night

Saturday, October 25

1414260000 The Tech Guy

Sunday, October 26

1414346400 The Tech Guy
1414360800 This Week in Tech

Monday, October 27

1414429200 Tech News Today
1414432800 Triangulation
1414438200 iPad Today
1414450800 Tech News 2Night

Tuesday, October 28

1414515600 Tech News Today
1414519200 MacBreak Weekly
1414526400 Security Now
1414533600 Before You Buy
1414537200 Tech News 2Night
1414540800 All About Android
1414549800 Padre's Corner

Wednesday, October 29

1414596600 FLOSS Weekly
1414602000 Tech News Today
1414605600 Windows Weekly
1414612800 This Week in Google
1414623600 Tech News 2Night
1414630800 Ham Nation

Thursday, October 30

1414688400 Tech News Today
1414692000 Know How...
1414695600 Marketing Mavericks
1414701000 Coding 101
1414704600 Home Theater Geeks
1414710000 Tech News 2Night
1414711800 The Giz Wiz

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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