Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Baby food pouches compared

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 | Video

Baby food pouches come with a variety of ingredients and flavours listed on the front. But there are often not as accurate a one might hope. With these pouches, for example, it turns out that a significant percentage of each of them is apples.

Not just a little bit of apple. In the case of the Heinz baby pouch, most of it is apples. But Ella’s Kitchen does make the grade. Their banana baby pouch is made of just one thing: bananas. How crazy is that? Apparently, far more crazy than it should be.

Watch the video. You get to hear the amusing baby screams.

But, if you’re at work, here are the stats:

Company Flavour Ingredients
Cow & Gate Banana, mango and coconut 30% apple
Heinz Strawberry, raspberry, banana 89% apple
Ella’s Kitchen Banana 100% banana

Make your videos look awesome with a shallow depth of field

Saturday, March 18th, 2017 | Video

If you have done any talking head or tutorial videos, you may have run into a problem. Namely, that your videos suck. I know mine do. Yours are probably way better. But there is still a clear distinction between your videos and what the pros produce, right?

This is the problem I have been trying to solve. I have a nice camera, so it should be possible.

Lighting

The first thing I did to improve my videos was to bring in some proper lighting. I have two softboxes with high-output bulbs on them. In an ideal world, you would have three to set up the industry-standard three point lighting arrangement. My kit only came with two, though, so I have had to make do with other lights around my house to fill in the gaps.

For comparison, here is me under my natural houselights:

It doesn’t look terrible: it appears natural. However, one side of my face is over-exposed while the other is in shadow. My eye sockets are too dark. Detail is lost.

Here is my ugly face in the studio lights:

Notice that the shadows in my face are filled in. It is not the dark and gloomy picture you tend to get when just using your standard home lighting.

Things are looking a little better. My next jump is the one I want to discuss in this blog post: using a shallow depth of field.

Why depth of field is important

Most people do not have a home studio. Therefore, your background is whatever you can find. In the video still above, I have the piano in the background. This works well but does mean I have nothing but hard surfaces behind me, resulting in a lot of echo.

Any background is going to be distracting, though. The ideal solution is to have the background blurred so that the audience focus on the talent exclusively.

Using a large aperture

The way we create this affect is using a large aperture. The above clip was filmed with my 24-105mm lens. This is a nice piece of kit but only goes down to f4. So I switched it out for my 50mm prime lens so that I could shoot at 50mm.

Here is the result:

I spent no time getting the lighting right, composing the shot to make sure I was in it, or working out what I was going to say. And yet, it looks cool. I am in focus while the window behind me is very blurred.

How to keep yourself in focus

The pros have someone to shoot the video and somebody else to be the talent. When you are on your own, you do not have that luxury. One of the problems with shooting at a high aperture is that the depth of field is incredibly shallow. This is the effect we want: however, it does mean it is tricky to get the focus point correct and stay within in.

Enter EOS Utilities from Canon. This little piece of software allows you to remotely control your camera from your computer.

My EOS 6D has wifi. However, I could not shoot live video over wifi. Therefore, I had to connect it using the mini-USB port on my camera. Once I had done this, I was able to get full control over the live shooting mode from my laptop.

This means that I can be in position and then set the camera up. By clicking on the screen where I want the focus to be (my head) the camera’s autofocus then adjusts to set it correctly.

Remember that if you want full control, you need to set the camera to manual (M). This applies for the software, too: if you want all of the controls on your computer, you need to alter the dial on the camera itself.

WATCH: Video preview of Trump inauguration speech

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 | Religion & Politics, Video

On Friday, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Unless Obama resigns tomorrow, and Joe Bidden takes over, in which case Trump will be the 46th president. That seems unlikely, though.

It has been a hard time filling the bill. Celine Dion, Charlotte Church, Elton John, Moby and Rebecca Ferguson (and possibly many others) all declined offers to perform. Some because they wanted to make a political statement that they do not like Trump. However, for others, it could simply be that they already had plans.

Here is what Trump is expected to say in his inauguration speech…

SAL July 2016

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 | Humanism, Music, Video

The July event of Sunday Assembly Leeds was on the theme of Yorkshire (it being Yorkshire Day the following day). Our speaker for the month, Mary from City of Sanctuary, spoke about the efforts to make Leeds a more inclusive and more welcoming place. The cake selection was also excellent, having had much left overs from the Humanist picnic the day before.

The Assembly Line performed as usual, just as a three piece this month. This left me as the only guitarist, but it could have sounded a bit worse.

The Housemartins – Happy Hour

Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot

The City Talking: Tech in Leeds

Saturday, August 6th, 2016 | Tech, Video

Interesting documentary about technology in Leeds. I was already familiar with the history of our tech scene, but it is always nice for a refresher. Many people may be surprised with just how involved we were with the early internet.

SAL May 2016

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 | Humanism, Video

The May 2016 Sunday Assembly Leeds had a theme of “friendship”. The Assembly Line performed two songs, I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts and With a Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles.

I’ll Be There For You

With a Little Help Frm My Friends

Warehouse of Gifts

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 | Public Speaking, Video

Two days after I delivered Speak from the Heart at Leeds City, I delivered a speech called “Warehouse of Gifts” at Asselby Speakers. It was another speech I had written to try and develop my personal stories and improve the emotion in my speeches.

I did not go there with high hopes. The speech was rough, the idea was clich├ęd, and I was doing the whole thing in a Finland hockey jersey. However, it actually went a lot better than the other one did. People liked it.

Asselby Speakers is a great place to take a speech. It is an advanced club, only open to Competent Communicators. The result is that you get unparalleled feedback. Speeches that regular clubs fail to give any suggestions, Asselby will give you an A4 page full, which is what you want at this level.

Speak from the Heart

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 | Public Speaking, Video

Recently, I’ve been working on including more personal stories and emotion in my speeches. Some have gone better than others. This speech, for example, was a failure. Sort of.

Feedback was very positive. One of our members stopped me in the bathroom to tell me that he had never written a feedback slip before, but had tonight, because my speech was “perfect”. In fact, all the feedback slips were positive, which is frustrating because you can’t improve when nobody call tell you what was wrong. This was extra frustrating, because I failed to win best speaker.

Looking back at the video though, I can see why it wasn’t a winner. It doesn’t have the emotion in that I wanted it to have. I just didn’t express it. In fact, I think my trademark humour, as everyone refers to it, probably detracted from the speech because it took the edge off the emotion, and maybe I shouldn’t have done that.

Scott Galloway speech

Monday, May 9th, 2016 | Tech, Video

This is a super-interesting speech if you are interested in technology, business, and the short-term future of our society. In it, Galloway discusses how the “big four”: Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, are basically claiming all of the growth and all of the talent that the world is producing; redefining industries while at the same time concentrating wealth into even smaller pools.

Eurovision 2016 preview

Saturday, May 7th, 2016 | Distractions, Video

eurovision-2016

It’s only one week away! Here is a quick round-up of the entries I will be watching out for.

United Kingdom

We have definitely put up a lot worse in our time. I think it would have worked better if it had kicked up into a dance routine with some fancy light show, but we’ll see. We scored 5 points last year, so basically anything would be good.

Sweden

I think this is a poor effort from Sweden. The bookies put them fairly high up, but I feel it lacks the magic of their recent winners.

Russia

Russia are strong favourites to win, at 2/1. It is a pretty good song. Still, I live in hope that the bad guys won’t win. Eurovision was designed as a contest to bring war-torn Europe together. It would be sorely ironic if it were in Russia next year, while Ukraine remains occupied by Russian forces.

Did you know, last year they used anti-booing technology for the first time ever to try and hide the anti-Russian boos. Imagine how loud they would have been without it!

France

France are the only other country with a chance of winning if Paddy Power is to believed. Almost as hot as Russia, leaving everyone else far in the distance. It’s a really upbeat song. It’s probably got my vote.

Finland

Last year, Finland entered a band of punk rockers with learning difficulties. They didn’t make it through the semi-finals. Now, I’m not saying that makes the whole of Europe simple-minded bigots. Clearly Finland have learned their lesson trying to be inclusive though, and dropped it in favour of a pretty typical Eurovision song. I like it, but the bookies don’t. It’s no Hard Rock Hallelujah, but it is a catchy tune.