4 Lessons from Live Streaming for 24 hours

4 Lessons after 24hrs of Live Streaming

Extra Life helps raise money for children's hospitals across the country

Hello and welcome,

So this week we are doing a post-game carnage report of our 24-hour live stream we did this previous weekend to benefit Extra Life. While we consider it a definite success (we raised nearly $1400 for Children’s Hospital New Orleans) and a great collaborative effort with the other participating companies (NOLAnerdcast and Implicted), we still learned a ton from successes and roadblocks a like.

  1. Delegation isn’t enough. You need to be able to trust people to do their job and then let it go. There are a ton of moving pieces when prepping do A) live stream for such a long duration, B) coordinate several participants, C) coordinate all donations, social media, and sponsors. I would often get caught up in the sponsorship side instead of just trusting NOLAnerdcast’s Matt Finneman to do what he set out to do. All it amounted to was wasted time on my end – he performed incredibly well and secured us around a dozen sponsors, way more than we ever anticipated.
  2. Test, test, and test some more. We ran through Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 3.58.21 PMextensive tests of the televisions, game consoles, twitch account, broadcast speeds, and more. Hours and hours of prep and test and we still ran into roadblocks (some avoidable, some not). If we had not spent a ton of time testing everything the evening would have been a disaster. No matter how well you know your equipment, test it all ahead of time over and over again and make sure you have any parts/info you need to troubleshoot when the inevitable snags arise.
  3. Personalities matter. This again goes back to the nerdcast team. They have experience being goofy, opinionated, messing with each other, and more. They were a fantastic on-screen presence and it was our job (inDEPTH and Implicted) to facilitate that. We always made sure to have at least one person in front of the camera either “actively” playing (i.e. screaming at people and making fun of their teammates), providing entertaining commentary, or overall just talking to the audience. People want to see the video games, but at the end of the day a live-stream is watched because of the people in front of the camera.
  4. Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 1.36.54 PM (3)Know your audience. Seems simple enough, but this is exponentially more important when collaborating. NOLAnerdcast draws on a demographic that we do not usually pull – we needed to adjust our thinking, wording, hashtags, what have you, in order to maximize that exposure. Each group can’t be solely responsible for mobilizing their audience, each collaborator needs to work together to compliment the other’s efforts. Matt and I discussed which game launches to build off of (Halo 5 was a big one), which tech specs to trumpet to video and streaming folks, what jokes hit which groups, and more. By the end of the 24 hours inDEPTH Media had dozens of new followers on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. Awesome, right?

Thanks for reading this wall of text! Hit us up @inDEPTHmedia on twitter and instagram and let us know your thoughts!

Cheers,

inDEPTH

Extra Life

Extra Life

OR

We’re going to be playing a LOT of Halo

NOLAnerdcast, inDEPTH Media, and Implicted Studios have joined forces to raise money for Children’s Hospital in our home of New Orleans!

We will be participating in a MASSIVE worldwide celebration of the social impact of gamers of all kinds from video games to board games and tabletop RPG’s! Since 2010, Extra Life has raised more than $14 million to help children’s hospitals across the country (and a few beyond!) provide critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment, research and charitible care. It is our sincere hope that you’ll not only enjoy our 24-hour live gaming stream (provided by inDEPTH and Implicted) with hilarious commentary (provided by Nola Nerdcast)!

Click here to donate now through November 8th at noon.

All proceeds go to Children’s Hospital New Orleans!

Want to play? Contact us!

Want to make your own group and join our team? Do it!

Want to just watch and donate? Go to our team page at any point up through our live stream to donate now
then get ready for November 7th @12pm when we start the live stream

We will be playing the Halo franchise in the story’s chronological order, not order of release. It should be a grand and silly time for all! Thank you for your support and don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any reasons regarding the event! Please consider supporting Extra Life and New Orleans Children’s Hospital!

 

 

Magic Lantern and You

Magic Lantern and You

MAGIC LANTERN IS THE MOST AMAZING THING OF ALL TIME

…is how my colleagues expect me to open this post. And to be honest? That’s fair. I love magic lantern. It’s basically the reason my t3i is still in service. While I love my rebel, ML really opens it up and takes it to another level.

So, what is magic lantern? Before we continue, we have to mention: Installing Magic Lantern is done at your own risk! We cannot guarantee success, no issues, full functionality, etc. and Canon does not approve of using it. 

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 3.49.16 PM (2)So now, on to the fun stuff.

  • First off, according to the ML team, it is not a hack.  We don’t necessarily agree with them, but it’s important to note their stance.
  • It is a firmware you add on your SD/CF cards. It only takes up about 10mb, so don’t worry about reduced space on the card.
  • It allows an insane amount of customization and tools for your Canon camera. Most DSLR’s produced by Canon can have it installed.
  • If you remove the SD card, your camera functions without it. If you want to use the Canon menus while it’s running, that works too. It is useful to think of it as a parallel firmware.

Here are few of the tools we find to be the most useful/fun on ML, as to detail them all would be silly. If you are comfortable adding it to your camera, go for it and test it yourself! While we have never had any issues with it, there is always a risk when you use a non-verified 3rd party installation on your equipment. That being said, if the ML team has showed us anything, it’s that Canon’s cameras are capable of much more than they let us have out the box.

Hooray moire!

Woot! Digital zoom! (Sorry, it can’t solve moire)

  • Intervalometer. That’s right, a built in intervalometer. You can take high-resolution, raw stills for a good time-lapses. We use this regularly.
  • Live-view/Rec. picture style. If you use FLAAT, CINESTYLE, or another picture style designed to flatten your image for coloring, you can set your pre-record view to a more saturated look to get an idea of what your image will end up looking like at the end.
  • Zebras/Focus Peaking. Self-explanatory, for the most part. You can set your camera to show what’s over-exposed and get a solid feel for what’s in focus on the fly.
  • Digital zoom while recording. You are able to zoom and check focus while recording, a feature needed for way too long.
  • Lastly, one of the simplest and most useful features: Audio metering. At the top of your liveview you can see your audio levels (a feature only recently added by Canon with the 5DIII).

Here’s the install guide from the ML Wiki. Basically:

1) Make sure camera firmware is up to date (UNLESS IT’S A 5DIII)
2) Download the files
3) Low Level Format your card
4) Drag and drop ML files onto the SD card
5) Go to “M” mode. Do the Update Firmware process on your camera and voila!

Used Magic Lantern before? Have any questions on it? Give us a shout!

Image from eoshd.com

Image from eoshd.com

An intro for all: How to Record Sound

An Intro on how to Record Sound

How often do you find yourself fumbling to mute the volume on your phone during a facebook or instagram video?

As incredible as these tools are, not everyone needs them for every project. Image Source: http://andysound.webs.com/IMG_0666.JPG

As incredible as these tools are, not everyone needs them for every project. Image Source: http://andysound.webs.com/IMG_0666.JPG

The biggest sin we see that ruins 90% of productions – professional work, home movies, podcast, travel logs, a new webseries, you name it – is terrible, insufferable audio. No one wants to strain to hear what people are saying and it guarantees your audience will close your video in seconds, no matter how little they know about audio production.

Here are a few tools and rules that will help you learn how to record sound for your needs. Believe it or not, there are incredibly affordable and effective sound solutions out there. Got a kickstarter you want to do? A hilarious youtube video in the works? This could push you over the top.

Mic placement. This is by far the most important rule bar none. Whether you are using the onboard camera mic, an iphone, or a $2000 sennheiser shotgun mic, placement is key. You always want to get the mic as close as possible to the subject (usually within 3 ft), aiming top-down and towards their solar plexus (basically towards the center of their chest). These three points will almost guarantee the most faithful, natural recording, regardless of what you are using. If you take nothing else from this article besides these three rules then you are way ahead of the game.

Get it in there! Image Source: nofilmschool.com

Making their boom ops earn their keep!
Image Source: nofilmschool.com

Protect your mic from wind. Whether you are using a dead cat, zeppelin, or a sock, you need something covering that microphone. This is generally to avoid spikes in sound from wind gusts or from swinging the mic to a new location mid recording. It is also just a good way to protect your microphone. Most covers are designed to block as little sound as possible, so do not worry too much about how much they will dampen your recording.

Garbage in, garbage out. If you are going to spring, spring for a good mic. A garbage mic will not improve if you plug it in to a $5000 recorder. Drop $200-$500 on a solid shotgun mic and you will generally be set. A personal favorite that performs very well for the price is the AT-897 by Audio Technica.

Record .wav. This is a lossless codec and allows the most editing power in post-production. .mp3 and others are simply too compressed for serious work and .wav eats up so much less memory compared to HD cameras anyway that that sacrifice in quality is generally not worth it.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 1.52.54 PM

One of the most useful tools we ever purchased: The Zoom H1*

Last piece of advice: Get the zoom h1. You can generally find for under $100, it records .wav, it’s tiny, it has two very well built onboard condenser microphones, and it has a small input you can plug certain mics in to if you want. We have a professional sound rig that does not see half as much usage as our Zoom h1. It is probably the most used piece of equipment we have!

These will generally cover most of your issues. Remember: You cannot cut corners with sound. People will forgive bad video quality before they forgive bad audio. It makes it impossible to enjoy, or worse, follow your film – no one wants to work in order to enjoy your film. Place it and aim it right regardless of what you are recording with. If you have any questions on what settings to record at (such as codec, frequency, etc.) hit us up @inDEPTHmedia!

Cheers,

inDEPTH

*We are not officially representing or in anyway associated with Zoom, their products, or any other products depicted/discussed in this post. 

“How much will my video cost?”

How much will my video cost?

Need a green screen for your shoot?

Need a green screen for your shoot?

This is arguably the most frequently asked/heard question from both sides of the table. As a potential partner, your first consideration is generally cost. You want to know what it takes to accomplish your vision – whether a commercial, a television pilot, or even a series of instagram videos. Unfortunately, many people end upon  production websites and can rarely find a specific quote for their project. Here’s why (and how you can make your life much easier when talking to companies like us).

The answer is simple: Not all videos are created equal. Simplistic and over the top? Sure, but easy to remember. A three minute video is not just a three minute video.

  • Are talent/actors featured?
  • Is there a script? Do we need to copyright it?
  • Is studio space required? Do we need to travel?
  • Do we need to license music? Hire a composer?
  • Do we need specialized equipment, such as drones or cranes?

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Luckily, we don’t need to play what-if.

So what should you ask yourself and us? The more details you give us, the more accurate an estimate we can give you, and the more time both groups save – then we can get straight to work and make your video a reality.

A little prep goes a long way From: "In the Bag" - Produced by Peter Zuppardo

A little prep goes a long way
From: “In the Bag” – Produced by Peter Zuppardo

  • What is your end-game? What’s the goal? Are we selling a product? Building an image/brand awareness? Increasing web traffic? Ultimately, what does success look like? If you can tell us the results you want, we can help craft a video that suits your needs.
  • Where will your video live? Is it a 15-second instagram video? 2-minute youtube video? 30-second TV spot? Multiple cuts for different platforms? Maybe you aren’t sure – we can help you determine what in our opinion is most appropriate and move from there.
  • Where is it happening and when? Approximate dates and locations can go a long way, but they are not required. Part of our job can very much be location scouting and determining the best time for a production to happen.
  • Are there any special shots that are essential to your final product? If we need to film underwater, get a drone shot, or create complicated animations, knowing up front allows us to tell you our capabilities or give you very specific numbers for what it costs to hire out.

There are many more details you can have prepared, but we frequently ask some version of the above questions whenever talking with a potential collaborator. Luckily, the work does not fall squarely on you. We know it’s our responsibility to be ready to answer these questions and, when we don’t have the answer immediately on hand, where to find it.

Let’s connect and make your project a reality

 

 

The Canon C100 and Preconceived Notions

 

Canon_EOS_C100_EF_Cinema_889545

The C100

OR

How Atlanta Forced me to eat Crow

Greg here.

At the end of August we traveled to Atlanta to shoot a TV/Web pilot episode and sizzle reel. As per usual we had many debates over what camera(s) to use – the GH4 has great 4K, 1080p slo-mo, takes very good stills, and has a very efficient codec. The 5D2 is tried and true, full-frame, can handle relatively low-light, and takes top-notch stills. Rental options were discussed.

Many cameras, many options, but as we got closer to the shoot date and location details emerged, we ultimately decided to go with the Canon C100, and by “we,” I mean Mickey convinced me we needed it despite my woefully incorrect prediction that we could work with what we had. Spoiler alert: The C100 ultimately made our shoot possible and I had to reassess how I viewed Canon’s “budget” cinema camera.

I have to be honest: I was never very impressed with the Canon “C” line. They always seemed to cost 30% more than they should and I could generally come up with a similar camera at half or less of the price. But, as you are about to read, I had to rethink this mentality. While I still think they charge a little too much for these guys, there are some great built-in components that I previously saw as “handy perks” that I now respect more as “features” that really up the value of these cameras. This article is part reassessment and part reviewing an older camera, but we find it’s always good to update opinions on gear currently in rotation.

ND C100

Nick Detrich of Cane & Table being a baller at Empire State South. This is an ungraded AVCHD converted h.264 still, for those of you who want an idea of what comes out the camera

  1. XLR-in. The C100 has 2 XLR inputs that, if you have a quick turnaround time/documentary work/really anything that can’t keep waiting for a slate, then the ability to feed straight from the mixer is invaluable. No mixer? Run your mics straight through. The use of this is pretty obvious, but with all the run-and-gun work many of us are used to doing on DSLR’s and DSLR-like cameras, it’s easy to forget how it isn’t just a convenience.
  2. Video auto-focus. Incredibly useful in a pinch, this upgrade is an addition to the C100 that was not available upon its release. The ability to snap quick, accurate focus on a faster-paced set is invaluable.
  3. Built-in ND. The ability to open up your aperture and drop ND quickly is fantastic. You don’t need to have a a matte box, different screw on ND’s (which might not even work on all your lenses unless you invest in adaptors), so on and so forth. Like most features with this camera, it just simplifies the process.
  4. Low-light. While more cameras are coming out now with low-light capabilities, C100’s at $3,000.00 are a pretty solid deal. They hold their own at 12,500 ISO and you can really push past that if you have to. The GH4 taps out at 1600 and even that is often not usable (beyond 1600 is basically for when you absolutely have to get it). The 5DIII, which comes in at barely a lower price point, strains past 6400. It comes close, but it does not have the XLR-in and other features of the C100. The low-light capabilities were incredibly crucial for our shoot as we were often shooting in bars and restaurants that wanted us to keep any lighting to a minimum so as to not disrupt their service – seeing as this was a pilot for a travel show where we needed life to our scenes, we could not just shoot after/before hours at these locations.
IMG_0138 copy

Mickey thinking to himself, “Told you, fool.”

This camera is far from perfect, but if you are doing reality work, commercial, really anything where you need to be fast on your feet. I’m not crazy about the color palette and I think that at its original price point – over $7,000 – it’s pretty ridiculous that it couldn’t put out at much more than 30Mb/s in 2012. The Black Magic Pocket came out in 2013/2014 and cranks out raw at 1080p for, at that time, $1,000.00 (Confession: Probably my favorite camera ever). It is a seriously flawed camera, but we are talking over 50Mb/s for a camera that was a fraction of the cost released shortly after. Hey, I couldn’t just sing praises all day for this guy.

Overall: Great camera, great in low-light, XLR inputs are critical for speeding up your post-production (meaning faster turnaround AND saving money), ergonomics and layout make it easy to use. Even after three years – which in technology is an eternity – it holds up. At $3,000 and, consequentially, a lower rent-point, people should definitely consider using the C100. I was very much against it and, like most of us, had formed an opinion without enough firsthand experience with the camera. Many of our shoots center around live events and active spaces, as our style definitely tends to cater towards or a more “documentary feel.” This camera kept us moving quickly, allowed us to adapt to situations without constantly bringing the production to a halt (often requiring you to interrupt excellent, real moments with your talent), and allowed sound and camera to work together more harmoniously. In one word: it made things efficient, which for our style of shooting, is a must. Plus, it made Mickey happy, and a happy Mickey is a productive Mickey.

Cheers,

inDEPTH