My favorite picture of 2014

I took a lot of pictures in 2014.  This picture of my 2nd son, taken on July 3 at the Athens, Ohio fireworks show, is my favorite.  We’ve had a few health issues/concerns/scares over the past couple of years with him, though he’s checked out okay through it all.  This picture of him just makes me smile.  I took about 100 pictures that evening and most of them were disposable except this one.

Son 2 holds a sparkler
Son 2 sparkles

My new and improved setup for making instructional videos

Last summer I started using some new hardware that has made my video making a lot easier.  The new setup helps me make better quality videos while reducing steps and saving a substantial amount of time.

I made some videos today with my new camera and mic.  #blueyeti #screencastomatic #bizref

Some time ago I shared how I make my instructional videos.  In that post I detailed how I recorded my video introductions with a dedicated camcorder (or using the video mode on a standard camera) and then captured the screencast using Screencast-o-matic.   I was recording the camcorder audio with a lavalier mic, but recording the desktop audio with a gaming microphone headset.  While the audio was good, the levels from the two different sources never quite matched, despite my best attempts to equalize them in my video editor.  My old process also required me to plug the camcorder into my desktop computer, then download the video from the camera.  While this did not take a huge amount of time, it was an extra step.

The picture above shows my new and improved setup.  On the left is a Logitech HD Webcam that records up to 1080P video.  On the right is a Blue Yeti Microphone that records excellent audio. Both are connected to my computer via USB.    I’ve stopped using the video camcorder altogether and now just record my introductory video with the webcam, Blue Yeti, and Screencast-o-matic.  I then record the desktop demonstration with Screencast-o-matic and the Blue Yeti mic.  Because I am using the Blue Yeti for the audio source for both the introduction and the screencast, there isn’t any need to adjust the audio levels.  Both sound awesome since they are from the same source!

Since the Webcam is already attached to my computer, I don’t have to combine multiple video files.  I will usually record in the introduction (and outro) at the end of my screencast, using the same video file.  I then export the file to my desktop and then do my editing in the old faithful Windows Live Moviemaker.  Unfortunately, the editing in SOM is still a little slow and clunky on my machine.

In general, the quality of the video is superior to my old method and my new method definitely saves me a lot of time.  However, there are times when the video can lag behind the audio in the  on-camera personal introduction segments.  This is usually caused by having too many applications open on my computer while recording video, so closing unneeded programs helps.

The other drawback of this setup is that since my camera and mic are tied to my desktop, I am by default tied to my desktop.  Should I want to take my show on the road and do a video introduction outside my office I’ll need to use a different camera.  Other than that it’s a great setup.

I’m still so 2010

wordpress-logoWordPress 4.1 was released today, and I’ve just now upgraded.  The automagic distraction-free writing is pretty cool and there appear to be a few more neat things on the wp-admin, dashboard, and publishing side.

The new 2015 theme, however, at first glance doesn’t really get me too excited.  The idea behind the theme is to really let your content shine and “take center stage”.  I’ve been thinking more about reviving this old blog, and perhaps a new theme will get me inspired.  Unfortunately it looks like the 2015 theme gets rid of the header image and is pretty minimalistic in the default sidebar content.  I’m sure it looks great on a mobile device, but without the standard customizable header image (found in TwentyTen, which this site still uses) I feel the blog loses a bit of personality.  Maybe I’m just out of touch with the new hip blogging kids since I haven’t blogged in so long……