Happy New Year, and happy GURPS-Day.
I was asked recently how I do my interviews. I answered this a while back from a logistics point of view, but I was asked a bit about the tech and tools, since the interviews go fairly well and people were curious.
First, check out the logistics part. There’s some important stuff there.
I use a Microsoft Lifecam Studio HD as my webcam. In truth, I recently updated drivers on my system, and now it still will capture video, but I can no longer control the camera zoom. This seems to be an issue MS has been told about but won’t/can’t/hasn’t fixed yet. It’s annoying but not crippling just yet. I’m considering upgrading, but I really don’t want to. Logitech stuff works flawlessly for me, so if I go, I’ll go that way unless research shows there’s a much better option.
My headphones are a pair of Razer gaming phones that I pressed into service. I can theoretically use my Lifecam, but I often get terrible echo when I do. Fortunately, +Rob Conley diagnosed and fixed the issue for me (turns out you need to set the speaker/microphone settings from within the Google or Skype app itself for any sort of results). Again, there are better microphones out there – I’ve heard good things about Blue Microphones – but the gaming setup works well enough.
My preference would be to have an audio-visual setup that does not require headphones, honestly. But until I can guarantee relative quiet, this setup gives me relatively echo-free audio, which is important when +Christopher R. Rice starts transcribing.
For video capture, I simply use Hangouts On Air when I can (meaning the other party agrees and/or has access). It eventually makes an MP4 file available for download, though it can take a while to process. I almost always download the file from YouTube and mark it “only available with the link” for a while. I also remove the link from Google+ as soon as I’m sure I have the raw file. I have no problem with people watching it live, of course! But the version of the interview I want people to watch is after I put in the work of post-production.
For post-production, I use the Movavi video suite. It’s not free, but it has the features I want. Mostly what I do is look for “um, uh, what?” pauses and delete those, as well as excising any unwanted interruptions or noise. Or pee breaks. Sometimes there’s a section of interview that either I as primary editor or both parties decide needs to go. For example, there as a very long conversation in the old Pyramid Panel about the details of getting paid for including maps in Pyramid articles. That was very esoteric stuff, and was primarily a dialog between two parties. So I cut it.
When the video is all done, I spool it out at relatively low resolution 480p or so for YouTube, and also make an MP3. The video spooling can take all night – hours and hours – due to some of the added content.
Because recently I’ve started to insert more video post-production into my stuff. You can see this in my interviews with +Steve Jackson and +Hans-Christian Vortisch, where as they bring up covers or products I will flash up images for a few seconds. I’ve not gotten a ton of feedback on this, but what feedback I have had has been positive.
The last piece that I use periodically is Snaggit and it’s accompanying Snaggit Editor. Highly recommended screen capture program and image editor, though obviously a program like Photoshop would be more powerful, it’s often overkill. I also use Snaggit to capture screenshots when I game and do my transcripts, and it’s proven surprisingly helpful when it comes time to make and edit tokens (also using TokenTool).
And that’s really it. I don’t over-complicate things, but they get complicated, or at least time-consuming, quite enough by themselves. It usually takes me a couple of days to get the video and audio ready to post.
Then it’s a matter of getting the rough transcription from Christopher, and editing that. It’s usually pretty good, just words here and there, or audio he can’t make out but that I can, since I was there. I also have a good ear for garbled speech, since my day job has me on trans-pacific conference calls several times per week. Between poor lines and accented speech, I’ve gotten good at it.
At that point, it gets posted, and then bask in fortune and glory.
Fortune and Glory, kid. Fortune and Glory.