My first show-related post, production notes for the 2011-12-16 show.
First I want to talk about recent changes and last week's show. We're recently clamping one or two of the webcams to tripods, which gives us a lot of flexibility in placing the cameras and even moving them during the show. Previously we were using monitors or old laptops as camera stands or setting them on a table.
We had Sri Sridharan (NTSSUG president) live on set campaigning for a seat on the PASS board. I set up camera 3 on a tripod on the desk so it was eye level as he was standing at his podium, but when he came on live it looked like the camera was looking down on him. I then realized the camera was angled down, and I had used the software's zoom and pan controls to frame the set, and that caused a perspective control problem. See how the left side of the flag and backdrop converges inward, giving the perspective of looking down? If I had thought about or noticed this beforehand I could have physically moved the camera to frame the set and have both sides of the flag and backdrop appear vertical. If you want to know the details look up view cameras, architectural photography or shift lenses, but make sure the webcam—specifically the focal plane—is parallel to the backdrop or whatever virtual plane you want to appear flat.
This week's show: I tried hard with camera 1 to keep the backdrop looking square while being eye-height with Sean and Jen. It took more camera-moving than I expected, but it looks a lot better. Actually the photo doesn't look as good as I thought I had aligned it, but when I aligned it the backdrop was rolled up, so I had to align by the top only. I guess next week I need the backdrop down before adjusting the camera.
This week we had Denny Cherry as a live guest. It's hard to properly fit three people on camera one. I'm not sure how much we can do about this with the current set. Camera one sits on top of a monitor Sean and Jen use during the show. I might be able to mount it elsewhere, but there is a lot of desk and table and stuff to work around. There is also the problem that moving the camera back exposes even more space not covered by the backdrop, but I don't think we're too picky about that.
Camera two is our favorite camera for Sean's rants. Due to inertia it has been sitting on a spare monitor on a PC to Sean's camera-left. He can look down into it, and it provides I think an interesting different perspective to the set. Well, the PC and monitor got moved for this week's show, so I used a tripod. I wanted the camera to still look up at Sean, but I overdid it. It was almost down to tabletop level, and the perspective was too jarring. It doesn't have to be much below eye level to make a difference.
Camera three has generally been to Jen's camera-right and high. It's sort of been a backstage look where you can see what's on the desk and what's around them. I would like to be more creative with camera three, but not much has come to mind.
Actually we'd really like at least four cameras. We have more than four, but so far due to USB bandwidth limits we have only been able to get three going.
Things to work on this week include restyling the chat page and video windows. Currently I have the video launch in a new window. Sean wants the video and chat side-by-side, but getting that to work properly in all our viewers' browsers is tricky, and modifying the width of phpFreeChat has proven problematic.
Speaking of browsers, I would have thought that MSSQL DBAs would be watching the show with Windows and IE, but most of them use other combinations like Chrome, Firefox and iPads.
I also need to make progress on figuring out how to get live video guests on live, and preferably either split-screen or PiP with the live cams.