Welcome To My Studio Den … Home Sweet Home
I love my studio den to bits and I spend most of my time in here working. During the day I work on various projects to help me make an income and the rest of the time I spend working on my other projects. My studio den is an ongoing project in itself and I must admit it can get a bit crammed in here as you can see from the photos. But to me it just makes it more homely and special.
The Cat Comedian Video Blog is one of my projects and I’m really passionate about it. However without my den I would of never been able to get it done. It’s even the background image to the whole blog and it’s the background in all my videos too. Please see the two photos below, the one on the right has been darkened down a bit.
O.k so you know it all happens in here in terms of the Cat Comedian Video Blog but what exactly goes on? Quite a few things but let’s start at the beginning.
Creating & Writing My Stuff
I think up a lot of my ideas in here as well as other places but I fine tune them all in my studio den with the help of my computer. My good old computer I nicknamed “Tesla” has been in the den for over a decade now and I would be lost without him. Tesla runs Windows XP and has a massive 80 gig hard drive (lol)! Must admit I’ve got kind of attached to him and I dread the day he finally bites the dust. Most of my ideas start out on scraps of paper or on my old Sony Dictaphone I got off ebay. But in the end with the help of Tesla I put them all into word documents to make things easier. Below are some more pictures of Tesla on my big work desk which is made from cardboard tubes and a piece of 7 ‘ by 4 ‘ white laminated chipboard. The cardboard tubes I got from my local carpet shop. They normally get thrown away so they were glad for me to take them off their hands.
Rehearse, Perform & Film
When I rehearse my material in my den I make sure not to rehearse in the same place I film. I keep them separate as I find it works much better that way. When I’m ready to film a sketch I get my cat face on (face paint) and quickly set up the studio in my den. This takes about 10 minutes at most. The first thing I set up is my budget light kit.
I bought some clamp lamps off ebay from a pet supplier which are meant to be used as reptile heat lamps. They do a good enough job for me as the foundation of my budget light kit. I have one mounted on the wall behind me which I turned into a spot light with some black metal foil. Please see the photo to the left.
The other clamp lamps are set up either side of me clamped on two wooden chairs. There are two lamps on my left and one lamp on my right. I used the rest of the black metal foil to cover cardboard flag screens I made to help me keep the light off the background as best as I could. My goal was to try and make my videos look as good as I could on my budget. One of these flag screens is held up with white elastic, bulldog clips and two old wine bottles filled with water. The other on my right is attached to a second hand mic stand I got off ebay for £9.99!
I use three 150w Eveready “Rough Service” incandescent bulbs to provide the light. I got a pack of 10 off ebay for £12.99 so only £1.30 each plus they last ages. For my back light I use a 120w PAR 38 spot bulb. After my light kit is sorted I set up my video camera.
I started filming with my old Panasonic mini DV camcorder. Unfortunately it was getting a bit long in the old tooth and it started to malfunction. This was fate I think because I manged to get an old second hand Panasonic NVGS400 mini DV camcorder off ebay for a bargain price. It’s a great replacement and is so much better than my other one. I really am over the moon with it.
Plus you can even take still photos with it because it has a 4 mega pixel digital camera built in. All the photos on this page and on the whole blog were taken with my video camera. I edited them in “Microsoft Paint” which came free with my computer and I also used another free paint software called “Paint.Net”. This was harder to learn than “Microsoft Paint” but was really helpful especially when I wanted to darken down my blog background image. I can’t recommend “Paint.Net” more highly and it’s completely free.
Most of the graphics and other images came from “clker.com“. These are all safe to use as they are sourced from the “Public Domain”. I also used “Paint.Net” to fiddle with these too. Any images I use from the “Creative Commons” I make sure to give them full attribution at the end of the post they are featured in. However up to now there’s only one image like that which is the Barry White picture in the “Finding My Voice” page. I got that from Wikipedia.
This is very important as the last thing I want is a lawsuit breathing down my neck (lol) !!
Here is a screenshot from “Paint.Net” below.
My video camera is supported on a tripod I got off good old ebay again for £12.99. Considering the price it’s pretty good actually and even has a spirit level built in which is very handy. To manually set the white balance I use a sheet of white foam board I bought from my local art shop. I carefully place it where I sit using another mic stand to hold it in position. Please see below.
I had problems making sure I was always in the same place on my videos so I made a home made focus/position board to help me. It replicates me when I’m sitting down and is held in place over my chair with the same microphone stand mentioned above. My white foam board actually clips on top of this position board using good old bulldog clips. I decided to use a photograph of a model I got in a sample pack from an online printer website. At least I have something nice to focus on (lol) !
It’s important I give full recognition to the guys on the “Digital Director” Forum. I had no idea what I was doing and they helped me so much with this project. I mention this in more detail at the end along with a link to the forum. Thanks a million guys !!!!
After my video camera is sorted the last thing I set up is my microphone.
I saved up for my microphone which is a Rode NT3. It cost me £140 and although expensive I thought it was wise to invest in a new mic compared to buying a second hand one. I know that if I really look after it then it should serve me well for many years. Another simple second hand mic stand was purchased from Ebay and my audio is sorted.
Oh yea I almost forgot I had to buy an XLR to 3.5mm mini jack audio lead. This allowed me to connect my mic directly to my camcorder, another £10. I tried using tie clip mics but found them awkward to use and as I move around a lot there was too much interference. The Rode NT3 is an absolute joy to use and I’m really happy with it.
Still not sure about my voice though? See ” Finding My Voice “
The seat I sit on in the photos below is an old classroom school chair I picked up for £2.50.
That’s it in terms of filming my footage, all done. Next my studio den becomes my very own video editing studio with the help of good old Tesla once again.
Edit & Upload To Cat Comedian Video Blog
Windows Movie Maker
Once I have shot my footage of me performing my material I transfer it to my computer “Tesla” with a firewire lead. Luckily for me Tesla came with Windows Movie Maker 2.1 video editing software built in. I tried to put a trial version of Sony Vegas on Tesla but he couldn’t handle it. So I bought a book from Amazon on how to use Windows Movie Maker 2 and was amazed with what you could do with it. It really is great software. Here’s a screen shot of it below.
You Tube & WordPress
Once I’ve finishing editing my footage I save it as a movie file and then upload it to “You Tube”. When it has uploaded I can then embed it on the CAT Comedian Video Blog using WordPress shortcode.
Took a while to figure it out!
The Cat Comedian Video Blog is a free blog I got from “WordPress.com” and is actually the 2010 default template. I’m chuffed to bits with it.
(You Tube upload page)
(Cat Comedian WordPress Dashboard)
To help me get feedback about my comedy material I use Polldaddy. I opened a free account so I could use their great 5 star rating widgets. These are so good because they can help me find the 1% of my comedy material that isn’t total crap.
Here’s an example of a Polldaddy 5 star rating widget.
Finally I write the post and embed the Polldaddy rating widgets.
All done !!!!
Well that’s not quite true …… next I have to figure out how people are going to find it !!
Last Few Pictures Of My Studio Den
I have included “Ronald” my Rubber plant and a picture of another one of my heroes “Audrey Hepburn”. There are no words to describe how much I think off her, she was incandescent, elegant and kind. Her inner beauty matched her outer beauty which was no mean feat. R.I.P Audrey.
Digital Director Forum Tribute
I mentioned the Digital Director forum further up. Like I said I didn’t have a clue what I was doing so I looked around online for a good place to learn. The Digital Director forum was such a great find and I can’t recommend the forum more highly to you if you’re interested in making videos or films.
Here’s a link to the Digital Director video forum.
With their help I originally tried to turn my old basement room into a studio for Cat Comedian. It went really well and I used quilts for sound proofing as there was a terrible echo in there. I put an awful lot of work into it and was so happy with the end result.
In alphabetical order I would like to thank the following people from that forum as without them the Cat Comedian Video Blog would still just be a project in my head.
- David Walsh
- Midnight Blue
- Rembrandt Rob
- Tim Stannard
Please note these guys are extremely knowledgeable and please don’t judge my videos on here as a reflection on them. They just gave me advice but it was up to me to take that advice and put it into action. None of my videos have their seal of approval (visual /audio quality). Like I said these guys are pro’s, I just wanted to learn how to use my equipment and do the best job as I could on my budget .
I am indebted to all of them and can’t thank them enough for their help. Unfortunately my basement studio didn’t work out as it was too damp and all my stuff down there got wrecked!!!! So I moved to my old den and turned it into a studio den. I took what I learned in my basement and applied it as best as I could in my den.
This has been a long read, If you got to the end thanks a million.