Thursday, March 26, 2015

Audioblocks: Royalty-Free Music, Sound FX and Loop Library



A common question people ask me is where they can find royalty-free music. There are some good sites out there that will let you use lots of stuff for free (freesound.org, incompetech.com), but there are also subscription-based services, that can streamline the process of content creation for single digit dollars per month.

One such site is Audioblocks. I was recently contacted by them and asked to make a video explaining their service, which as it turns out, is pretty good. For a yearly rate of $99, you have access to their entire sound library which includes music of all varieties, sound effects and loops. The site is supposed to receive new material regularly and boasts the fastest preview system I've ever seen. This last item is a real selling point for me as you can audibly scan a huge list of search results in record time. This preview option is also free to anyone surfing the site, while only subscribers can actually download the files.

Audioblocks is also offering a seven-day free trial to Frugal Filmmaker viewers. Once you sign up, you can download up to 20 files per day for seven days. Once the trial is over, make sure you cancel or you'll automatically be rolled over into the $79/month plan. I suggest if you want to continue the service, enroll in the $99/year plan which gives you full access and unlimited downloads for $8.25 per month.

If you create content on a regular basis (like I do), I can see how beneficial a service like this can be. No, it's not free, but it's free to try and it's very affordable if you do choose to sign up for the yearly plan. I also really like that speedy preview system. It will save a ton of time and anyone can use it to check out what Audioblocks has to offer.


Friday, March 20, 2015

YouTube Cards: An Annotation Upgrade?



The current annotation system on YouTube videos is pretty cool and allows you to embed custom text and links in your videos, which can help drive traffic to other videos. Text can add metadata that aids with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and the "spotlight" feature lets your draw boxes around objects in your video (such as graphics you added in post), which can also be links. It' a somewhat flexible system that lends to minimalist creativity.

The largest drawback to this system has always been the lack of these links to work on mobile devices. With more and more traffic coming from smartphones and tablets, it only makes sense that content creators would want these users the same click-through options as computer viewers.

YouTube is touting "YouTube Cards" as the next step in annotations, that will eventually replace the old system. While it finally allows embedded YouTube links to work on mobile devices, it also eliminates a lot of nice flexibility of the former system. This could lead to a lot of similar looking links across the YouTube space.

While I go into further examples of this problem in the video, I'm left asking some questions to those in charge. Why not just make the old system work on mobile devices? If close captioning works on mobile platforms, why not text pop-ups and text linking? Why move the branding mark to the bottom of the screen where lower-third graphics have always lived, which is why they are called "lower-thirds"?

Why, YouTube, why?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: Cheap Light Stand



If you want a decent, inexpensive light stand or want to upgrade from your PVC light stands, look no further. Here I detail my findings about a low-cost stand that will hold 1-2lb. lights and not collapse. It has a nice locking mechanism that serves its plastic collars well and even includes a 1/4-20 male thread on the end, so you can instantly mount any LED light or sound recorder or camera or whatever. It's a full-featured stand that will serve you well if you handle it with care.



Check the video for my full review.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Q&A: No light kit? No problem!



STUFF MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Sneak Peek: Frugal Studio
Portable Green Screen
Three point lighting
Dry Erase Clapper Slate


Shot with a Sony NEX 5n with an adapted Minolta 28mm Rokkor-X f/2.8 lens. Sound recorded on a Zoom H1 Handy Recorder using a Radio Shack 33-3013 clip on lav mic.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sneak Peek: Frugal Studio



Ever since I've been doing the YouTube video thing, I've been relegated to late night shoots. Since I've always had to use my living room/kitchen as studio space. This involves not only waiting for my kids to go to bed, but also constant setups and strikes (tearing down the equipment). It's a discouraging cycle that has often left me drained and unmotivated.

My wife recently suggested we pare down one room, giving me about a third of it for studio space. While this seems like not enough room to do anything, it gives me a medium shot for standups (me talking to the camera) and "counter top" space where I show closeups for builds and reviews. It's also has many preset features such as built in lighting and fixed counter top cam (with easy to access SD card). For my A camera, it will move in and out of the room, but I've marked the floor with gaffer's tape, so I can easily restore my tripod and talent position.

While the left side of the background looks pretty industrial (storage crates and clamp lights), it's a work in progress and may change as I add things. The right side is a green chromakey, stretched tight and lit by the ceiling fan light that also lights me. I hope to include some kind of effect that changes with every video, fitting the content and breaking up the room.

What this all means is now I can shoot when the kids are awake and setup time is minimal. This should save me a lot of time and let me shoot when I'm a lot more coherent and awake. I also hope this helps me resolve my constant issue of posting videos late, something that really bothers me.

If you are making videos with any regularity, have somewhere to easily shoot is vital. It can save lots of time and energy, and hopefully increase the quality of your product. All you need is just a little to do a lot.


OTHER THINGS OF NOTE IN THIS VIDEO

Aftermarket remote for Sony NEX 5n (and others)
Frugal Clamp 1.5
250 watt work light
300 LED strip lights

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mail Call: Video Archive Drives for DIY NAS


With the tax return comes the more expensive projects that exceed the normal monthly budget of The Frugal Filmmaker. This time it was two 5TB external hard drives that I purchased for a video archive that I'm setting up. They arrived today from Newegg.

When I created the Blu-ray Archive video, I got a lot of comments about how unreliable the format is. Several people also mentioned using NAS (Networked Attached Storage), which consists of a drive (or drives) in a special enclosure. I liked the dual drive enclosures as they could be set up as a mirrored RAID, with both drives being copies of each other. If one drive fails, you replace it and the data is restored by the copy.

The only problem I can see with any NAS (other than time) is "catastrophic failure". Since the drives are right next to each other, they are both susceptible to proximity threats like a fire. If one drive is consumed, the second will likely go with it.

So what I wanted was the benefits of NAS without the higher cost or likelihood of mutal destruction. This is why I have the two separate drives of equal size. One will be connected to our main computer that is always on and sits in our living room, connected to a widescreen TV. The clone will be connected another item coming in the mail that will allow me to keep it far as possible from the first drive, thus improving the odds of a proximity attack.

How will I do this (hint: it's not another computer)? And how will I mirror the first drive onto the second? More details when the next package arrives...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Q&A: Trivia Monday Begins!



Today I'm introducing something new and fun (I hope) for all the faithful Q&A viewers. The first Monday of the month is Trivia Monday, where you can win a free copy of The Frugal Filmmaker Short Film Idea Deck. Find the questions in the video and send the answers to thefrugalfilmmaker@gmail.com and you could win! Win or lose, I hope everyone will like a bit more interactivity in the show.

Here's the rest of what's mentioned in today's episode:

Zoom H1 Automatic Safety Track Adapter
3 CFL light umbrella kit
3 CFL light softbox kit
3 CFL light umbrella/softbox combo kit!
5-in-1 43" reflector
Three Point Lighting


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