Category Archives: Tutorials

Why You Should Learn About Lighting BEFORE Buying Lights For YouTube

LEARN ABOUT LIGHTING BEFORE BUYING LIGHTS!

I learned this the hard way. I made the mistake of buying a ring light after I saw so many YouTubers raving about them. The light I got is nice for the money, however looking back on it now, it was totally the wrong choice for my channel. I would have been better off with a couple of softbox lights, or even one.

After I got my ring light, the first thing I quickly noticed was the horrible refection on my glasses. This should be a warning to all looking to talk to the camera who wear glasses. You can’t use a ring light. At least not in a traditional way (more about this later). Disappointed, I started watching some YouTube videos on ways to avoid glasses reflections with lighting. The suggested position the light at an angle from above then using a reflector to bounce light to the other side of my face. This helped me a little bit, but I was still getting reflections in the glasses. Also the lighting quality, even though brighter wasn’t really better. My skin seemed to look really harsh and I seemed to age like 5 years on camera! See the video below for an example.

Luckily I live in NYC, and YouTube has one of their “YouTube Spaces” here. Which is a great place that has a massive video studio and offers free classes to those who are interested and qualify. I got accepted into their course “Lighting for Vlogs” taught by Misael Sanchez, of The International Film Institute of NY. It was a hands on 3 hour course where I basically learned everything I was doing was wrong.

First off, my ring light was throwing the wrong temperature light for the type of shooting I was doing, which is why my skin tone was looking so bad. It came with some orange looking covers for it, that I thought were some kind of special effect thing and ignored them, but turns out I should have been using them all along! The light I was using was balanced for outdoor usage (5500k), but by using the amber orange looking covers, I can change my ring light to being balanced to indoor temperature (around 3200k).

Also in the course I learned how much of a difference defusing the light source can make. We setup an example in the class with a student in glasses, with only a single high / front angled bright softbox, and it looked great and no reflections! I snapped the pic below of the setup.

The good news was I can still use my ring light, I just had to make some adjustments by installing the 3200k light covers, and made a simple DIY defuser from Wax Paper (see below).

WARNING, DO NOT USE WAX PAPER ON ANYTHING BUT LED, NON-HEAT GENERATING LIGHTS! BECAUSE YOU WILL START A FIRE IF YOU DO!!!

I then took my modded ring light and set it as high as the stand could go and further away than before in my tiny room to try to replicate the setup shown above at YouTube Space and got much better results! See the video below where I used this setup. There’s still a bit of reflections in my glasses, but this is because I just don’t have the space in my apartment to offset it enough. They are not there unless I look up too. Also, my skin tone is MUCH BETTER now.

It is still not perfect, but it is a drastic improvement!

So the moral of the story is LEARN BEFORE YOU BUY!

Here’s some books on lighting to help you get started. I know I’m doing a lot more research before I buy anything else for lighting!



RAW Photography and Linux

Funny Fish Heads

As an audio guy, I always heard people talking about RAW photography format, but I didn’t really know much about it. An old co-worker of mine would constantly tell me it was better, but he really couldn’t express it in a meaningful way that made sense to me, so honestly I never really thought much of it.

Recently though I installed a hack on my Canon Powershot that enabled me to shoot in RAW and I wanted to learn more about it. I started reading online and playing with software in Linux and one program quickly came up as what seemed like a great one for RAW photography processing…. Darktable.

So first off, what is RAW? To explain this simply and from an audio engineer’s point of view, imagine your camera lens was a microphone. Now imagine that your camera body is an fx chain that processes what goes into the microphone then converts it to an MP3 before it writes it to memory. Would you want to record sound this way? I wouldn’t. But this is exactly how most cameras record images. You take a picture, the camera lens captures the image and the camera takes color information, exposure compensation, sharpening data, or whatever else gets determined at the time, applies that to the image data, then compresses all of that into a .jpg file which has all of this data permanently stored in the file and unchangeable except for post-processing.

90% of the time, this is just fine for most people. Because the camera was intelligently designed to figure out most of the important work to optimize the image to make it look it’s best according to the settings used at the time the image was captured. But for a serious photographer, or just for anyone who likes having insane amounts of control over all of their creative work, RAW is a much better option. When you shoot in RAW your lens captures the image data, and the camera still captures the processing data, but instead of writing it together into a .jpg file, the image data is stored purely without any processing or compression applied to it and the processing information is stored in a header of the RAW data.

Now back to Darktable.

Darktable is a photo management program for processing RAW images. When you open a RAW file in Darktable, many times you’ll already see a processing history on the image in the left pane of the software. This is because Darktable reads the header information from the RAW file that your camera wrote and applies it to the image data. The major difference here is you can turn it off and see what it looks like without any of that applied. You can decide to use it or not, and you can tweak, add to it, change it, or just discard it all together if you like.

There are many other tools for Linux for working with RAW images. Digikam has RAW processing features, though in my opinion Darktable seems to work much better and is faster. Gimp also has the ability to work with RAW, but not out of the box. You need to install the UFRaw plugin, but once you do, then you have access to a lot of processing tools for RAW images that are quite good. The major difference between this approach instead of using Darktable, is all of the RAW processing is done in the importing process of Gimp. This may be good or bad depending on your needs. Gimp has a more robust set of editing features more similar to Photoshop, where Darktable has a lot of RAW processing features with endless undos and a very nice photo management system.

My conclusion and personal workflow at least at this moment is Darktable as my organizer and main RAW processor, and Gimp for special and more in-depth editing. You could look at it like: Gimp=Photoshop and Darktable=Lightroom.

I hope you found this article helpful and please ask questions if you have any. I will be making some video tutorials on these subjects in the near future as well.

Create a VHS Movie Effect with Vegas Movie Studio

This is a tutorial I made a while back about creating a VHS effect using Vegas. Vegas is a great affordable movie editor for Windows.

It used to be owned by Sony, but recently was purchased by Magix. It’s still the same great editor and this technique will still work. With the popularity of Synthwave, and the never ending 80s nostalgia, a lot of people have been living this tutorial. I’m glad it was able to help som e people.

If you don’t have Vegas, you can use the link above to get a copy for yourself.

Synchronizing External Audio With Video in Kdenlive

A lot of people think you need a camera with an external microphone input, but this really is not the case. Using this lapel microphone for smart phone, you can have high quality, clear audio on any video no matter how far away you are from the camera. There’s no need to have a camera with an external mic input, you can get just as good results, or better by synchronizing audio recorded on your smart phone to your video recorded on any camera. All of this is done in post production. In this video I demonstrate the technique, as well as walk you through the process of doing it yourself.
If you’re interested in the exact camera I’m using, you can get them for much less than a DSLR here.

Installing 64 Bit Linux on 32 Bit EFI Macbooks AKA Black Macbook

The 2007 and 2008 ‘Macbooks’ have 64 bit core2 duo processors in them, but still had a 32 bit EFI which is sorta like bios and is what is needed for the OS to boot for installation. However if you ever just tried to download the standard Ubuntu 64 bit ISO from their website, it won’t work.

This was a bit of an annoyance for me a while back and I ended up just going with 32 bit. However, as time went on, 32 bit was not going to cut the mustard anymore, mostly because of certain programs no longer offering 32 bit versions like Skype and Google Chrome. Chromium Browser however does still offer a 32 bit, but since I need skype, I had to upgrade.

I knew there had to be a way to do it, so after some sleuthing I found an old bug report that included little bit of c source code that when compiled and ran in the same directory as the 64 bit linux iso, it will ‘remaster’ the iso into one with 32 bit EFI booting capabilities.

I first re-installed my personal Macbook and it worked like a charm! Then I decided to pick up another of the same exact model macbook and do a video on it. Check it out above if you’re interested. If you’re interested in creating your own iso to install, see this post for details . This is a bit of an advanced method and you will need to compile from source.

or if you’d rather just download an Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS 64 that’ll boot on 32 bit EFI. I’ve created one you can get here.