by Ksenia Annis, Washrag Editor
The beginnings of my audiovisual (AV) setup date back to when I decided to pursue my art full time. The immediate need was the ability to properly light and hang two-dimensional art for photographing. To this end, we installed track lighting on two walls and the ceiling of our landing. Using 5500 K (degrees Kelvin) color temperature bulbs, this enabled easy photo shoots as I produced my art. As time progressed, my AV need shifted from still photography to video as the business focus shifted towards demonstration and education. For the production of online classes, I needed the ability to video art pieces during painting. This required a camera mounted to shoot vertically down.
Originally, I purchased a metal floor stand with a “selfie ring” - a circular light with a camera mount in the middle made for video bloggers. I mounted a cheap web camera on that stand, aimed it at my drawing table and filmed my first class. The thing I didn’t consider was that every time I moved at my table or applied a slightest pressure to it, the whole contraption shook and I had to cut shaky frames from my videos.
A ceiling mount was an obvious solution and the contraption you see in the photos is our homemade engineered solution. It is a box on drawer slides for horizontal adjustments with the same 5500K lights. An old camera tripod bungeed to the box mounts the camera. It is helpful to have a business partner skilled in engineering solutions such as this. A note of caution with ceiling mounts. Most Houston homes have air conditioning equipment in the attic and it turns out ours was directly above my upstairs studio space. This resulted in unacceptable vibration being transmitted to the camera. I spent the first summer using this setup with the air conditioning off during shooting - we all must suffer for our art. Fortunately, the air conditioning was old and failed the next summer. The expensive replacement is not located above my studio and does not vibrate the ceiling in any case.
Of course, I needed a way to record my voice and the Yeti Blue microphone and boom you see is used for all audio recording needs. It is extremely sensitive. It also required the air conditioning to be off or it would record too much background noise. I love my new quiet air conditioning system for giving me comfort while working!
All AV recording is done directly into my Asus laptop. It is a high end gaming/graphics laptop purchased because I needed portability and the power to drive the Adobe Creative Suite I use to process my product. I no longer need that portability so my next computer will likely be a tower style PC as you can get much more power for less money. I also have a professional level video monitor so that my colors are displayed as true to life as possible. This is an important part of producing quality prints. It is helpful, but not entirely necessary for video production.
For online classes, the majority of the camera work is focused solely on the work. I add the reference photo on screen, in post-production. In order to do that I needed software capable of displaying a second video source. For this we chose Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio).
Online classes require introduction and ending sequences (intro and outro). These generally present the artist so I needed the capability to also video these sequences. We decided to use “green screen” and post process the backgrounds. Here you see our second floor landing converted to “green screen” production studio.
In October 2019 we went to Florida where I taught a class at our friends’ art studio. I brought my artwork, my materials, my projector, but I forgot to bring my camera! We bought another one of the same type at the local BestBuy and I thought I’d return it after my guest tour was done.
When we came back home, I decided to expand my video production to YouTube live streams and online live classes on Skilpe.com. This meant I needed to shoot simultaneous video of the art in progress and the artist working. Luckily, my prior equipment and software choices made this a simple matter of adding the Florida purchased camera to my existing setup. This camera mounts to the light ring I now use for the green screen head shots; it feeds into the OBS software, which is capable of multiple audio and video source presentation. The boom mounted microphone feeds into OBS and records the audio. OBS allows easy live streaming as well as recording.
The setup was complete when I bought an iPad stand, so that I can show slides or a reference photo via screen mirroring using Lonely Screen software (free). All the devices are plugged into my laptop via a USD hub (unless you have a custom built computer, there will never be enough USB ports for all this stuff).
Here is the list of hardware and software I use for video streaming and production:
Green Screen Paint
Track Lighting – Big Box home improvement stores or lighting stores
5500K Bulbs -Lighting store or Amazon
High end gaming/graphics computer- Video processing is intensive computing. Adobe Creative Suite requires heavy duty computing power to run smoothly. Consult an expert before purchasing.
Yeti Blue microphone and boom stand
Logitech C920 webcams
Selfie Ring and Stand
OBS Studio – https://obsproject.com/
Free software that allows you to arrange the feed from all your devices into a “scene”. It has camera control features and can be used to record video, or stream live on YouTube and Facebook.
Adobe Creative Suite - https://www.adobe.com/
- Premier Pro and AfterEffects are two powerful programs I use to edit videos and create animated sequences and titles. Audition is the sound recording and editing program that integrates with Premier Pro.
We also have file server and backup (Western Digital MyCloud Ultra), https://shop.westerndigital.com/products/network-attached-storage/wd-my-cloud-expert-series-ex2-ultra#WDBVBZ0000NCH-NESN
Those video files are huge and large storage is essential. We also need to be able to easily share files as Patrick, in addition to engineering, also writes copy, films green screen and reference shoots and edits video and audio. The file server allows us to easily work on the same project.
I love working on videos. Even though it is sometimes nerve wracking to do them live, after all it is a lot of fun to connect with fellow artists and art lovers.
I hope you check out my YouTube channel and my classes - more info can be found on my website - tummyrubb.com. Please let me know in comments what you think and if you have any questions!