History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Posting Video of Readings

Late last year, I was invited to participate in the Girl Cooties¬†website, which features science fiction (and other speculative fiction) for women, by women. One of the suggestions for how I could contribute was by recording some of my stories. Initially, I thought “great! I just tested out recording in my closet for some songs I was singing on, so this will be a snap!” Then I poked at the website a bit and realized that they wanted video of me reading my stories, not just audio. The really dark closet was not going to work for that.

So instead, I set up a little reading nook in our spare bedroom, where I could have a mostly white background behind me, and used my webcam to record several videos of me reading my stories. In doing so, I learned a handful of things, some of which you can see in the embedded video.

  1. Anti-reflective coating on glasses + computer screen = blue-purple lenses. I love having anti-reflective coating on my glasses, as it makes driving at night a lot easier and safer. But it does give my glasses a strange blue-purple hue, especially when light of some sort (like, say, from my laptop screen) is shining right at them. Try as I might, I can’t really read from my monitor without my glasses, and even if I read from a tablet, Kindle, or paper book, I still have the light from my webcam hitting my glasses. If you don’t wear glasses, this one doesn’t really apply to you. If you don’t have anti-reflective coating, same deal. But if you do need glasses and do have anti-reflective coating, be warned that this is a thing that will likely drive you nuts, until you decide that maybe you’re just a Fremen in disguise. The spice must flow.
  2. There may be an unadvertised lead time on your recording software. My webcam software (that came with my laptop) gives me a countdown to when it’s going to start recording. This is a lie. The first time I tried to use it, I started speaking immediately after the countdown was over. I recorded just a short intro so I could check the sound quality and such, and it turns out that my intro lost the first 5 or 10 seconds. So now I know to watch the countdown, and then take a deep breath, and then get started.
  3. Webcams are kind of like mirrors. At least in their default configurations. See that still image of me above? See how my hair¬†appears to be parted on my right-hand side? Mirror image–I part my hair on the left. And if you watch about half a minute of the video, you’ll see me hold up a couple of books, which are also mirror-imaged. There is a way to flip this on my webcam software, but it didn’t even occur to me to test out that feature before I recorded. I didn’t even notice until I got to the end of my reading and rewatched the beginning of the video. And at that point, the last thing I wanted to do was go back and re-do the whole thing. So the books are forever preserved in mirror image.

I’m sure there’s a lot more for me to learn. Like how to angle the camera so that it doesn’t look like I’ve hung pictures crooked on the wall (it’s the angle, I promise). But starting with these three tips can help you avoid the mistakes I made when I was getting started.

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