Over the Christmas break I revamped my studio so I thought I’d show you what I did and what’s left to do. I know that some people would do things differently, but this is how I did it. There’s also a bit of a Q&A from my subscribers.
Part 1: The studio refit and a bit of Q&A
Part 2: The new studio guided tour
What does my studio look like?
This is one of the most common questions I get.
Well, heck, the old studio was real a dog’s breakfast, which is Australian slang for … yeah you get the idea. It would often take me an hour just to setup a shot and the same for tear-down. During editing, if I didn’t like a shot I’d have to repeat the whole process. Man, it was a very very frustrating, disorganized mess.Really, have I said mess yet?
Not only that, but my old lighting situation was hopeless and with my tight video schedule I had little time to fix it.
So I finally got around to fixing it over the Christmas break.
Do you have a bachelors or masters and in what subject did you graduate?
Actually, I don’t have either.
I started a degree in electrical engineering, but then the attraction of full time work was too great and I never actually finished it. During one my semester breaks I worked for an office automation repair shop fixing printers and copiers. I was given the task of fixing a shelf full of broken PCBs, which normally would have taken someone a couple of weeks.
Well I did it in a couple of days. So, they gave me the “too hard basket” shelf and I knocked those over in a couple of weeks. After that they offered me full-time employment and I grabbed it.
I tried to finish off my degree part time, but it never really happened.
What did you do before YouTube?
Well after I spent a bit of time in the electronics industry I moved into IT. You know the attraction of computers in the 80s was a bit irresistible for me. I landed jobs as a SysAdmin for UNIX systems, then moved into roles like; Team Lead, Project Management and then into Enterprise Architecture.
These were all large systems; datacentres, Geo-clusters, etc. But my electrical engineering past was used extensively for things like datacentre audits, where I would come up with long lists of issues that were often overlooked.
Anyway that’s pretty much where I was up to last October.
Where else have you worked?
Well, I’m one of those Jack Of All Trades people. I’ve stayed mainly within the IT and electronics industry, but I’ve been an electronics technician, Team Leader, Project Manager, People Manager, SysAdmin, Solution Architect; I’ve worked on databases like MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL; I’ve used almost every UNIX based O/S there is, I hate AIX, love Linux, but if I need to manage them I will.
I’m a strong believer of; just use what works, because time is too short to fluff around, but if something needs fixing I’ll fix it.
Why did you become a YouTuber?
Good question. Well, I’d spent my whole career in IT and keeping electronics as a hobby, and I had the opportunity last year to be able to switch that around completely. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to support myself from YouTube full time, but wanted to throw myself into it as much as I could to see how far I could take it, because frankly if I didn’t do it, I’d always be wondering…
Basically I love learning and I also love teaching people. I regularly watch channels like I Like To Make Stuff, EEVBlog, Great Scott, Andreas and other channels like that, but I saw a real lack of videos that gave you the answers a Maker wanted to know.
Engineering is all about choices, but I wanted to be able to watch a video that told me:
- Oh, how much power does *this* SBC really consume?
- Will this sensor board actually deliver what it promises?
I want to see someone testing something in front of me to see if it’s worthwhile, but, there weren’t any. So, I spent a good three months planning it all. I didn’t want to just sit there testing, because that’s boring and you would know by now that I don’t like boring. It had to be a bit entertaining, because people really switch off if you aren’t. So, I just do what comes naturally to me.
How did you get into electronics?
Well, I’ve been doing it all my life. If you watched my interview with Dave Jones you would have seen a lot of parallels.
I was always pulling stuff apart when I was young.
My brother had a draw full of stuff I’d pulled apart. My parents got sick of this and bought me a 100in1 electronics kit for Christmas. That was it. I spent weeks and weeks and weeks playing with that thing.
But I also had an Uncle who was really into electronics. He used to run an electronics importer called MicroZed. He would give me presents like half finished electronics kits that he made up himself with instructions written on the back of an envelope. He had a triple car garage that didn’t have any cars in it, but chock full of electronics stuff, and this stuff wasn’t rubbish this was all cool stuff. I’d spend weeks in there just looking. Anyway, unfortunately my Uncle passed away some time ago, and I feel like I’m continuing with his legacy.
Could you talk about projects you have done?
Hmm. I… have… done a lot of projects, but very few fully completed. There’s one that does come to mind; Shortly after the 8051 hit the scene I built a talking alarm clock.
I recorded myself saying one, two, three all the numbers up to 19, and then twenty, thirty, and so on, then burnt that into a bunch of EPROMs. The 8051 couldn’t handle a heck of a lot of memory space so I had to page in the EPROM. I managed to get each sound sample down to a page size and so all I had to do was page in each sample and play it as a PWM output on one of the pins.
I even recorded my baby daughter crying at the time and used that as the alarm. It also had a real time clock in it, but no display so setting the time was by voice. It was actually a fully functional alarm clock that I probably could have sold, but we didn’t have things like Tindie back then.
A couple of others I had on hand, were my OBD vehicle logger, complete with IMU, GPS and GPRS. So, I could log all my engine details, (like RPM, speed, etc), along with GPS position and 9 axis motion.And my Panoramic camera rig. That would move a camera in increments taking a photo each time to build up a extreme megapixel panoramic.
Fixing the studio
First of all I bought three large finger-jointed Oak kitchen bench-tops, sanded them down and put on a layer of flooring lacquer. Then repeated this another four times until I had a very hard wearing surface. It has to be tough because it has to put up with solder blobs, and bits of wire jabbing into it. I also lacquered the underside to avoid warping.
I bought a cheap flat-pack kitchen kit from my local hardware store. This is because often I’m standing while filming and sitting down is a pain in the neck, … or rear end. Whatever. If you’re in Australia I bought the Kaboodle brand from Bunnings. I needed lots of draws, because I have a lot of stuff that I need to store. Building 7 cabinets took around a day, with a little help.When I built my house I installed a double power point and double Ethernet in each corner of the room. So I had to cut a hole for access to each of them in the back of several cabinets. Easily done with a jigsaw. If you’re ever installing kitchen benches make sure you spend a fair amount of time making sure everything is level. It’ll pay off in the long run. Make sure the front back, side to side and diagonals are level. Then on to installing the bench-tops. I cut off the excess with my table saw and re-sealed the edges with flooring sealant. I bought the right lengths so that the off-cut of the first bench became the insert after the second.
Installing the green screen was easy. I bought some disgusting green backing material from a sewing shop and sewed a hoop in two ends. Then ran a 50mm PVC drain pipe through that. This reduces creases in the material and kept it nice and flat. Then hung that up using wire.
My old studio lacked a lot of lighting. So, in the new studio I ran a long LED strip just under the rim of the bench-top. This is so I could see into drawers and cupboards without having to install lights in every one of them. Works quite well!
Acoustics is always hard in small spaces. Echos bounce around like crazy, especially with directly opposing walls. I reduced the echo a lot by making a small sound baffle out of 5 cheap towels and put into a frame. All towels were secured in each corner with a bolt. So, if I really needed to take them out it was easy to do. I plan to make more of these and hang them from walls and ceiling.
I also bought some cheap camera mounts off eBay. These allowed me to attach plates to my cameras and then attach the base plates to walls and tripods. So, I can very easily and quickly move the camera around the studio.I also made a teleprompter camera mount out of some spare telco conduit and cap ends.
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