Tuesday, November 10, 2015

White Background Videos

I was recently asked how I do my white backgrounds on videos.  Here's my setup (white background, video, lighting, and audio).

I just setup in basement.  Right in front of the pictures on the wall.

I use a crossbar suspended between two tall tripods, specially made for hanging backgrounds.  I drape a thick white background over it and clamp it tight to the edges with clamps, so it's as flat as possible.  Flat white sheets would work.  (For the ultimate 'farm rig', you could throw up a couple two-by-fours (2x4) with a top cross bar 2x4, and lean them against the wall with a sheet hung over it.  I also have a heavy bar holding the bottom down--again to make it as flat as possible.  Since I was going for a 'waist-up' shot, I didn't worry about the slight wrinkles near the edges of the background.  But if there are shadows in your shot on the background, they'll show up, so you may need to adjust a bit more than I did.

I add my mic next.  I have a cool tripod boom to put it on, and I adjust it to be pointed in the direction where I'll be standing.

This is really about where I put it.  When I get it all adjusted, the mic is never much more than a couple feet (maybe even as close as 8-12 inches or so) from my mouth.  You just have to be careful to keep it just out of the shot.

Here's the mic I use.  The AudioTechnica AT6500 shotgun mic set on 'tele' mode.

To use this or almost any other external mic with your smartphone (at least my iphone 5s--maybe other phones play nicer w/ external mic jacks...), you'll need to get an appropriate adapter.  You can see the right adapter here in my pic of the camera setup I have.  (You can also see I just have my iphone bungee-strapped to an ipad mount that is attached to a tripod.  I know there are much nicer mounts than this, specifically designed for iphones, but this is all I had.)

See the little adapter connected right into the phone?  It's a Rode SC4.  It's called a TRS to TRRS adapter.  It converts the TRS jack from most external mics (with 3.5mm outputs) to the TRRS input of most smart phones.  It's $15 on Amazon.  I need to get an affiliate program setup w/ Amazon so I can make money off you going to THIS LINK (or that Rode SC4 link) to buy it, but I don't have that setup yet, so enjoy WITHOUT benefiting me, for now. :)  It works great.  (And no matter WHAT they tell you at Best Buy, WITHOUT this adapter cable, most external mics will NOT work directly plugged your smart phone.)  Also, be careful not to get the Rode SC3, which connects some mics to TRS inputs like on sound recorders and DSLR cameras.

Back to the white background, though.  Light is the key.  --and I'm certainly not the best at this, but here's what I do.  I put three huge lights as close as I can to the background from all three angles (left, right, center).

The key is making the background really bright.  I find that to make it as bright as I want, it helps to put a light from the top as well.  Here's a pic of all my lights lit up, brightening the background.

Next is to position the camera and the mic to optimize your video shot and sound just the way you want.

You'll also notice that I put a warmer light right up there close to where I'll stand.  It should help make sure that the colors in my skin tones and hair don't get too washed out with the bright lights.

Here's a video showing my 3 test shots for this setup.

I used my iphone 5s for video, AudioTechnica 6500 shotgun mic on 'Tele' for audio, and a bunch of high power lights on tripods shining at a white background.  DSLR cameras can lock in the white balance setting, so the light doesn't vary.  But this works OK and looks decent.

Thanks for checking it out.  Good luck on your white background ventures.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dream Living

It just occurred to me (and forgive me if fact checkers and researches find there is another who has articulated these ideas...  If so, good job to them, because I've adopted them and when I think of them, they feel like my own thoughts.  --and that goes for any and all of my posts....)

It just occurred to me that there are three types of "dream living"...

  •        Living IN a dream
  •        Living ON a dream
  •        Living the dream

Living IN a dream is the state of being delusional...  Either through over-optimistic thinking that denies reality, or through negative despair that sees no brighter day, a dream can haunt and torment a person.

Living ON a dream is the healthy use of hope to drive action.  It motivates a person to see beyond obstacles to find solutions and picks them up when they are down.  Living on a dream is the power that can move a person to real action for real results.

Living the dream is the feeling of gratitude in any condition that allows a person to understand (as the proverb says) "The secret to having it all is to realize you already do."

Which dream are you living?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vision is success

I was reading through one of my journals, and found the following words I penned on March 30, 2012 (almost 2 years ago, exactly) to be insightful and motivating: Some people view the world as being made up of winners and losers. I choose to believe we're all gladiators in the arena of life, each with varying degrees of success, skill, and victories under our respective belts. Like gladiators we can choose hate, anger, and negative emotion to drive us in a competitive aggression towards our personal goals. Or we can choose a comradery of brotherhood that propels us individually and collectively to wards victory. And why do we fight? who is the foe? Is it our brother? no. the lion, the tiger, or the bull? No. Perhaps the arena itself or the empire that enables the fight? Still no. They are all mere facilitators for our fight that, if not fought at their venue, would be fought out in myriad conditions, times, and places--either occurring naturally in our respective worlds, facilitated by some other entity at some other venue, or created ourselves through our own choices. No, the foe is not external. The real foe is within. it is us. The fight--while waged outwardly--is not about the superficial circumstances that make up our physical world. The real fight is within. It's the fight to conquer will-- to be disciplined enough to defeat the natural will of self destruction in view of a more glorious victory. And victory is found when, by virtue of our mental ability, strength of will, and personal desire directed towards the personal ends we decide to create, we are in fact able to manage our circumstances in such a manner as to bring our intended purposes to pass. Varying levels of this internal victory are sometimes observable in this great arena of life as we watch the intentions of purpose-driven individuals creating their intended purposes. More often, though, is the case where the observable conditions of a man don't tell us very much about the internal victories of self that occur in every battle. The key to turning internal victories into the very observable successes most of us may long for is vision. To create, believe in, maintain, and focus on a clear vision of the ultimate ends to which all effort is directed is in very deed the root, trunk, limbs, and leaves of victory. In short: to see, have faith in, and enact a clear vision is success.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Positioning Statement Template

In Marketing, it's important to differentiate a product from competitors. In order to do this, it's important to understand what makes your product uniquely valuable to the target customer. You have to share a little bit of how your "secret sauce" is going to blow away the customer's expectations. Here's a quick template for effective posititoing statements that has served me well: [The product] is a [the category] for [target customer]. Unlike other [competitive category], [The product] offers [the KEY benefit] by doing [the description/secret sauce/key differentiating feature].

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh Danny Boy Third Verse

Oh Danny Boy has been a favorite song of mine ever since my first date with my wife (before we were married).  I heard it performed by world renowned tenor (famous for performances with the Metropolitan Opera), Stanford Olsen, at President of the LDS Church (at the time) Gordon B. Hinckley's 90th birthday celebration.

I remember listening to the beautiful music, reflecting on the lyrics of the song, and considering the emotions President Hinckley must have as he had not too long previously experienced the passing of his wife, Marjorie.  I was touched.  I have reflected on that moment and that date many times.

Just today, I opened a youtube video of a performance of the same song by BYU's Vocal Point.  It's an impressive a'cappella rendition of the song.  I was quite surprised to hear a THIRD verse to the song.  I have only ever heard TWO.

The third verse brought tears to my eyes--actually I wept--as I considered the loss my own parents have recently experienced at the passing of their son (my brother), Wade.  (Below is a link to his obituary)


Here is the third verse:

Oh danny boy the stream flows cool and slowly
And pipes still call and echo cross the glen
Your broken mother sighs and feels so lonely
For you have not returned to smile again

So if you’ve died and crossed the stream before us
We pray that angels met you on the shore
And you’ll look down and gently you’ll implore us
To live so we may see your smiling face once more.

I did a search, and didn't find this verse written anywhere, so I transcribed what I heard BYU's Vocal Point sing.  I believe this verse seems to contain 'the rest of the story' of that song.  And to my dear mother and father who I know still long for him to 'return and smile again' (as do we all, who knew him well), I hope you know you are still in my prayers daily--as I am sure you must be in Wade's as well, as he implores we live 'so we may see his smiling face once more'.

Here is the link to the BYU Vocal Point version:


Here are the complete lyrics to the song:

Oh Danny Boy

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen, and down the mountain side

The summer's gone, and all the flow'rs are dying

'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow

Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow

'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow

Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.


And if you come, and all the flowers are dying

If I am dead, as dead I well may be

I pray you'll find the place where I am lying

And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me

And all my grave will warm and sweeter be

And then you'll kneel and whisper that you love me

And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.


Oh danny boy the stream flows cool and slowly
And pipes still call and echo cross the glen
Your broken mother sighs and feels so lonely
For you have not returned to smile again

So if you’ve died and crossed the stream before us
We pray that angels met you on the shore
And you’ll look down and gently you’ll implore us
To live so we may see your smiling face once more.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Being 'thin skinned' as a form of criticism...

This is one of those 'deep thoughts' that goes through some logic on a topic I have thought some about, but haven't really said anything.  It may not be 'spot on' just yet, but I thought I'd get the conversation going, and see where it leads.

I actually typed this post first as a response to a comment on a post I had made about how a request (articulated as a requirement) that I fill out a survey bothered me because it seemed more coercive than I like.  However, due to the limitations of 'blogger' I couldn't post the whole comment in the comments section, so I've made it a new post here (and referred to it as a link).


The initial comment on the blog read as follows:

NR said...

I was google searching for Dr. Roger's contact info when I came across your blog. I am new to Utah and am amazed at what seems to be a Utah culture/habit behavior demonstrated in your blog, that of taking offence when none was intended. It seems to be sport here in Utah to read offence into everything. Maybe I feel this way because I have witnessed it several times in the past two weeks while observing interpersonal relationships among Utahns, each time being a different individual & in a variety of situations. Any idea why this is such a problem here? Maybe living at this high altitude gives people very thin skins. I've always lived at sea level so that could be why I have never seen this behavior in so many adults.

Here is the response I made.  Let me know what you think:

Hey NR--  Thanks for the comment.  Sorry it took me so long to get it "approved".  I wish I didn't have to do any moderating, but I've received some weird links posted here, so I moderate (once a year or so, apparently. :$) 

To answer your question, fist of all, I agree.  Choosing to be offended (especially where none is intended) can be cultural.  What causes it?  I think two things:  First, some (ill conceived) notions of self worth are validated by the practice of coming off as smarter (or better) than someone else.  The easiest way to do that is to express offense at others' methods or ideas.  It's 'easy' because it's hard to argue with someone's right to feel offended.  Taking offense is a choice, but it's a choice that has a critical edge.  It works because most criticism (no matter what the source) does, indeed, put the subject of the criticism, at least to some extent, on the defensive--even if it's only in the mind of the critic.  When someone is on the defensive, superiority is assumed (again, at least in the mind of the critic). 

The second reason it occurs (and the thing I think explains WHY I was personally inclined to make any kind of point about addressing my--probably false--interpretation of Dr. Roger's 'strong handed' phraseology) has to do with choice in contribution versus authoritarian requirements of the same.  It has been my observation that most people tend to respond better to requests than to directives.  The 'you're not the boss of me' syndrome is common when an individual who (through experience, study, or otherwise) has become sensitive to the effect of authoritarian directives, and wishes to guard against them.  I have perhaps personally developed such a sensitivity through the following: 

1.  As conclusions I have drawn through my study of the founding of the United States of America, and the principles of autonomy verses coercion I believe are part of a truly free society.

2.  As a matter of politeness in addressing individuals respectfully regardless of status, and in a way that does not assume one 'class' or another. 

But your biggest question seems to revolve around WHY this method of illogical self aggrandizement exists so prevalently in one area or another area (presumably because of cultural implications in that area)--in this case, specifically in Utah.  While I confess I am likely guilty of both causes of such behavior (probably more the second than the first--but does it really matter?), I beg to differ that such behavior is unique to Utah.  Have you heard the pride in the voice of an East-coaster boasting of the superior quality of education their children receive?  Per them, it's difficult to fathom that any of us West of the Mississippi have somehow learned to count.  Even the interpersonal conversations that judge others--even friends and family--as inferior because of personal behaviors are very strong.  The biggest difference I have seen in those realms versus here (and I've had plenty of opportunity to observe such behavior--from Beijing to Mumbai, Cairo, London, and the islands to all across the United States in roles that give me great access to interpersonal communications that ALL seem to include personal judgements)...  everywhere I go, there is a sense of PRIDE that requires human behavior show how one's individual choices and methods of life are somehow superior to other's.  It's the baffling conundrum that all 7.126 billion of us in the human population all think we individually 'have it right' when it comes to our personal paradigm on life. 

Whether it's "I'm offended by the way you addressed me" or "your children will grow up stupider, less fulfilled, and have nothing of value to offer society because of their inferior education", we all criticize one another.  What makes the 'taking offense' route so popular in Utah?  Well--I can't speak for the rest of the stereotype we're trying to impose here--but for me, it's because it's the easiest way for me to get others to consider another opinion WITHOUT trying to make it about superiority.  Being offended is MY choice; and it's not necessarily someone else's responsibility to conform to my expectations of proper behavior.  Even so, my hope is that perhaps my expression will get them to consider different behavior all the same. 

Hope this was helpful.  At least for me, it was a good opportunity to consider the question you raised.  Thanks again for your thoughts.