My video recording setup

After working with this setup for over a year, I wanted to share it with you, having gained full knowledge of its advantages and disadvantages. It is what works for me at this time, in my particular situation, but it may help you as well, if like me, you make your own videos and don’t have a team working behind the scenes.

This 3-4 camera setup is what I use to film my wife’s shows: Ligia’s Kitchen and De Vorbă cu Ligia. For my own videos I use a more basic 1-2 camera setup, since I have to be both in front and behind the camera.

Let me state the advantage and disadvantages first and then I’ll give you the exact list of equipment.

The advantages:

  • The big iPad displays allow for proper framing, focusing and exposure control. I always disliked those tiny screens on DSLRs and video cameras.
  • The iPads have big batteries (except for the iPod Touch) that allow for hours of filming.
  • The featherweight iPod Touch can be mounted  in all sorts of unusual spots (including overhead).
  • Live viewing and control of the video feeds (things such as focus, exposure, white balance), including instantaneous switching between the feeds, from a master iPad. One person can manage all of the cameras at once. This setup allows up to four angles at a time.
  • Lightweight, small and highly portable setup.
  • With the aid of dedicated apps, you can get very good control of the video quality and look, right in the camera, without having to resort to a lot of post-editing.

The disadvantages:

  • Video quality isn’t on par with what you can obtain from a good DSLR with a good lens or better yet, from a dedicated, professional video camera. The dynamic range isn’t there, the noise levels are fairly high, the focus isn’t crisp enough. What you’ll need to do to compensate is to make sure your lighting is as good as you can get it.
  • The battery life of the iPod Touch is terrible. Have an external power source (plug or power bank) readily available if you need to record more than 30-45 minutes of video.
  • Also, the iPod Touch has a much slower processor than the iPad, so don’t attempt to use it as a master controller or for video editing. Use it only as a slave camera and be prepared to wait for good, long times when it updates itself with new Apple software and apps.
  • The on-camera (iPad Air and iPod Touch) microphones don’t offer good sound. The iPad’s microphone is passable from a close distance when nothing else is available, but that of the iPod Touch sounds tinny, no matter the situation. Use shotgun, dedicated or lavalier microphones for better sound.
  • You’ll need good WiFi signal in the room where you’re recording video, if you’re going to want to manage the video feeds from each iPad camera on a master iPad.

The equipment list:

  • 4 iPad Air units: mine are 128 GB first-generation models, I got a great deal on them at B&H Photo about 1 ½ years ago, I think they were old stock and they were making room for the 2nd generation iPads. I went for the largest capacity available because I wanted to be able to record lots of video without needing to stop and download. It just so happened that they also had 4G LTE, which was a nice plus. It was the right decision.
  • 1 iPod Touch unit: I got this because it was small and I wanted to use it for overhead angles, where a heavy camera might fall on my head. I didn’t want to use my iPhone, just in case it ever fell from its rigging. (An iPod is cheaper to replace than an iPhone.) It was the right decision. The short battery life and slow performance were unexpected and disappointing, but it does its job when needed.
  • 5 iOgrapher cases for the iPads and iPod Touch: check out their website, they keep working on their cases and have developed new ones to fit the new gadgets from Apple. I love their cases because they work both handheld (they have two big handles on each side) or mounted on a tripod. And they have mounts for external microphones and lights, right on top where they’re needed.
  • 5-6 iOgrapher lenses: I use a mix of Telephoto and Wide Angle lenses made for the iOgrapher cases, they use a 37 mm mount. They’re not pro-level lenses and they have a bit of distortion and chromatic aberration around the edges, but they’ll do the job.
  • 2 Rode smartLav+ lavalier microphones. This is where our iPhones are useful. We put them on Airplane mode, plug these mics into them, start up the Voice Memos app and slide them in our pockets. We get to record great audio with little fuss.
  • The following iPad/iPod Touch/iPhone apps: the built-in Camera app that comes with iOS, RecoLive MultiCam and Filmic Pro.
  • 1 or more video lights. There are a ton of options here. We use this one. Its advantage is that it comes with interchangeable color filters that shift the temperature of the light.
  • 2 or more softboxes mounted on C-stands for each set.
  • 1 hair light such as this one. I mounted it on a C-stand that I extended to its maximum height and lateral length. You may need to use some sandbags to stabilize the stand.
  • We also use the room’s own lighting for effect and illumination. I tend to use cold temperatures for the studio lights (white CFLs and LEDs) and warm temperatures for the room lights. I know people say you shouldn’t mix light colors when you’re shooting video or photos, but I like it. When they’re mixed the right way, they give me a “live” white balance, an in-studio “look” for my video, which is better than doing it in post.

If you have any questions or if I’ve forgotten to mention anything, let me know in the comments. I hope this helps you!

The importance of trust and common ground in relationships

One of the things I know to be true, because it’s proven itself to me time and time again, is the value of my relationship with Ligia (my wife). I knew it to be true as soon as I met her. My heart told me so, in pretty clear terms, that if I didn’t connect with her, if I didn’t make it work with her long-term, it would be something I would regret for the rest of my life. The heart will do that — talk to you at crucial times — but you have to listen. You have to be in a state of mind where you’re looking for guidance. Both my wife and I were in that state of raised awareness, so to speak, when we met, and we both felt that we were made for each other, even if we hadn’t yet gotten to know each other.

I told you that in order to set the scene. Fast forward 14 years and my wife and I are happily married. More than that, we know we can trust each other implicitly. We can rely on each other implicitly. We think alike. We share common goals and visions for our life together. We share everything with each other: what we’re thinking, feeling, planning on doing, finances, expenses, etc. We work together. We form the perfect team and it’s this concerted effort, this uniting of two beings, that multiplies the effect of our united actions, so that it’s not just x2, it’s more like x3 or x4. I guess one word for it would be synergy. A year or so ago, we were told by a Russian shaman that we were true soulmates, which is apparently something quite rare in the world. We didn’t seek this piece of knowledge, it came out serendipitously as we were inquiring about something else.

I believe our relationship grew to be so for two reasons: (1) we both wanted it to be this way and we made concerted, persistent efforts over time to get it to this point (we’re aware that this is an ongoing project) and (2) we shared a lot of common ground from the start. You know the old saying, “opposites attract”… well, long-term that’s not really true. You need a lot of common ground so that you stay together over time, otherwise the relationship and the bond between you will get pulled in different directions. Instead of naturally pulling together, you’ll waste a lot of effort and time just trying to stay together and you won’t be able to accomplish the goals you want to achieve as a couple, or even the goals you want to achieve as a person.

Now don’t take my words as golden rules. I’m not trying to pose as an expert here. I’m talking strictly from my own experience and as I stated here, my experience with women is limited and before I met my wife, it was mostly painful. This is what works for my relationship with Ligia. Your experience may vary. With that in mind, here’s a video I made on this very subject. I spoke from my heart and I hope it helps you.

How I dealt with my back pain

Last year, I experienced a bout of debilitating back pain, whose cause is still unclear to me. I talked about it in this video and some of you asked me to make a follow-up video where I detail the treatments I underwent to get over it. This is that video.

I’ll let you watch the video to get the full details, but here are the concrete things that helped:

  • Regular deep tissue massages from a knowledgeable masseur.
  • Stretching routines, particularly yoga routines for the hips and lower back (here’s a particularly good routine for me).
  • Various pain relief medications, but they only mask the symptoms and cause other problems after long-term use.
  • A posturology exam which can pinpoint various anatomical imbalances in gait, posture and muscular development that can cause back pain; custom-made shoe inserts are usually recommended as a result of the exam, and they need to be worn daily for over three months in order to correct the problems.
  • Ozone injections to the lower back (subcutaneous and deep tissue) in order to help the vertebrae and discs heal. Look for a good sports doctor in your area, they’re the ones who are usually equipped to do these treatments.
  • Regular use of a special massage bed made with jade stones, that uses infrared heat and mechanical movement of the jade stones along the paraspinal muscles in order to relax and elongate the back, helping relieve the strain on the discs.
  • Regular use of an inversion table that also elongates the back and helps ease or get rid of pain flare-ups, but you have to hang on it for 5-10 minutes at a time in order to make a difference.
  • Supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid to help heal the discs, plus multivitamins and superfoods to feed the body and make sure it has all of the nutrients it needs to function properly. I made a video recipe of a superfood smoothie that I use after workouts.
  • The most important thing I did, the thing that got me back on my feet, was a visit to a traditional Romanian healer, who used a combination of muscle and joint stretches, plus some other courses of treatment, to make my life livable again and to help me become fully functional once more. His name is Costică Bonta, and he has an office in Baia Mare, Romania. His phone number is posted in the video. Not sure if you can visit him, but I also encourage you to look for traditional healers in your country or local area, perhaps they’ll be able to help just as well.

In my case, I don’t believe the cause of my back pain was physical. There was no one particular injury I can point to and say, yes, that’s when I screwed up my back and started to feel the pain. Rather, in my case, the progression of the pain was incremental, from annoying to debilitating within the course of a few months. So I believe the trigger was something else, perhaps stress, perhaps overwork, perhaps anger or resentment, something that accumulated inside me and then manifested psychosomatically. It’s true, I have several herniated discs in my lumbar and sacral region that were confirmed by an MRI, but so do many, many other people who are experiencing no pain at all and are fully functional. So a herniated disc does not necessarily lead to torturous pain and an inability to function on a daily basis. There is more to this than meets the eye, and I’m still looking into it.

A few pointers on men’s personal hygiene

I held off on making this video for some time, because I’m not comfortable talking about these things in public (in private is another matter — I love to laugh at a good potty joke among friends), but I keep seeing (or rather smelling) people whose body odor and lack of bathroom etiquette leaves a lot to be desired, so I had to get these things off my chest. 

Feel free to send this post to anyone whom you think might need to “get the message”. You can watch it on my YouTube channel or below.

A tale about dealing with pain

As I write this, I’m lying in a bed, where I will have to spend the next 10 days. It’s part of a process where I am dealing with what has become constant, debilitating pain. I’m sharing this with you in the hope that it will spur you to deal with your pain as soon as you experience it, before it gets serious and it starts to dominate your life.

There are few things one can do when they’re stuck in a bed. Sharing their thoughts, whether it’s in written form or as recorded media, is one of those things. So here is a video I recorded last night about my experience with pain and the process I went through in order to deal with it.

Before you watch it though, I want to share the most important point from the video, the clincher if you will, and it’s this: pain begets misery; misery begets more pain, and so the downward spiral goes, bringing you into darkness, into a personal hell out of which only you can escape, and the more you stay down there in that hell hole, the harder it becomes to see the light, to live your life, to enjoy what the world has to offer, to appreciate the love of those around you, and to accomplish your goals. Your life gets put on hold and you’re stuck dealing with the pain, thinking about it constantly, gritting your teeth, trying to ignore what cannot be ignored. Do not get to this point. Do whatever you can, as soon as you can, short of illegal stuff, to feel better and to be able to do what you need to do in order to feel alive and happy.

Sasha sleeps under my desk

When she was a kitten, Sasha would come in after a full day of playing outside and fall asleep at my feet, right on (or curled around) the power bricks for my computer equipment. She was and still is so adorable. Enjoy this short video clip of her during one of her frequent visits to Dreamland.

Bonus: a video clip featuring an Indian male peafowl (a peacock) strutting his amazing tail feathers for us.

Enjoy!

Ligia’s Kitchen: Lentil and Scallion Entree

We just published episode 32 of our show, Ligia’s Kitchen, featuring a delicious entree made from lentils and scallions, seasoned with dill, lemon and salt. Ever since Ligia created the recipe a couple of months ago, she’s made it for us at least once a week, and it’s still great, every time I taste it. It’s a wonderful summer recipe.

LK-032-EN-HD
Released 6/25/12

Enjoy!