The tutorials I’ve made on YouTube about Audacity are by far the most popular of all of my videos. I started to wonder why this was? I realized the answer was pretty simple. It’s free software that is pretty good at what it does and runs on every platform. This is why Audacity is very popular among young creative musicians. This got me thinking about how these people are only using about 1% of the amazing open source software they could be using if the were all using Linux instead of Windows or Mac OS.
If you’re a teenager and want to setup a computer to become a YouTuber, Music Producer, Film Maker, Photographer, Graphic Designer, or all of those things, doing so with Mac or Windows is going to cost you an arm and a leg. It is hardly worth spending $3000 on a Macbook, then another $3000 on software when making money in the creative landscape can be challenging, especially when you are first starting out. A much better option would be spending $500 to $1200 on a PC then install a Linux distro geared towards creativity like Ubuntustudio. You could even spend far less than this. I personally use a 10 year old Macbook running Ubuntu and KXstudio that I purchased for $150.
If you’re a young music producer, there’s a ton of great programs on the Linux platform. There’s several DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) like Ardour, Qtractor, Rosegarden, and LMMS. There’s high end mastering tools like Jamin, and of course Audacity. There’s the Jack Audio Connection Kit, that allows you to interconnect nearly every piece of audio software into one gigantic modular audio workstation, there’s thousands of plugins, software synths, and FX all available for free on Linux.
But it’s not just about audio, Linux has become incredibly powerful as a full multimedia workstation. For photography there’s full RAW development capabilities with Darktable, and Digikam, photo editing programs like GIMP and Fotoxx. For Graphics there’s Inkscape and Blender, and for video editing there Kdenlive and Openshot.
This is all just the tip of the iceberg too! There’s always new and exciting software being developed for Linux, there’s a huge user support group online, and there’s more and more of us who use it for everything every day!
To me there’s also ethical reasons to use Linux as apposed to the other two. Mac is one of the worst companies when it comes to planned obsolescence. Every time they release a new OS, suddenly computers they made just 4 years ago are completely useless (if you’re using Mac OS). There’s no more security updates, no updated web browsers, software companies all play along and drop support forcing you to purchase software and hardware updates. This is not only unneeded, it is incredibly wasteful. It is completely insane that we live in such a society that normalizes throwing away a computer after only 5 years of use when the only reason is corporate software developers decided they want you to buy a new one.
If you’re a young creative person, I urge you to consider what I am saying here. You can spend a lot less money, make the money you DO spend last longer, and help the environment as well has have all the tools you need for complete creative expression if you switch 100% to Linux.
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!
I was lucky to see Hiromi with Simon Phillips and Anthony Jackson at Blue Note back in 2013 or so and it is a real pleasure to learn her history and thoughts on playing live and recording in this really cool interview from Yamaha.
Her Trio Project is probably some of the most passionately played Jazz/Fusion happening these days and watching this group play is incredibly moving. You should definitely check it out if you haven’t yet after you watch this interview.