* Backdrop and Shower curtain from Wal-Mart: $18
* Tripod from Sears: $30
* Expensive, Wireless Headphone (with “compander circuitry”) that sounds like crap: $100
* Cheap-looking, Wired Headphone that just works: $20
* Pink-shade Table Lamp: $10
* 100W bulb (that you need to keep switching off between takes because the lamp-shade says it can handle only 40W): $2
* CyberLink PowerDirector: $90
* Getting great feedback from (rather kind) friends and family who enjoyed your spirited attempt: Priceless!
Ok, I finally gave in to my alter ego (“Wilson”) and started a channel on YouTube.
Had a lot of fun creating the videos. Here’s what I ended up learning (and buying), in order to make a half-decent video:
* Ventriloquism is 60% “funny script”, 30% “sense of humor and timing” and only 10% “mouth-not-moving skills”
* You need to have a decent back-drop (read, your computer desk in the background really sucks). So, got some fabric from Walmart for $6, an extra long shower curtain for $12, and walla – bearable background for my videos! I just placed the shower curtain on the front edge of my book shelf – so didn’t even have to bring out the screwdriver (or my drill) – and no nails were hurt during the hanging of my backdrop.
* Need a tripod – so got a 66″ tripod (~ $30) from Sears – ordered online and picked up the same evening in-store. The 3rd-party merchant I found on Amazon that was selling the 70″ tripod I really wanted, said it would take 3 weeks to ship. I wanted it like, er, “yesterday”. So, 6 inches short, sure, but got it in 3 hours flat.
* You need more-than-good-enough sound. My spanking new $100 wireless headphone bought-just-for-this worked like crap. Went back to my old $20 wired, brandless headphones that I bought from Staples 4 years ago, and the sound is like 10 times better (see difference in sound between video #1 and #2 below). So all you really need is a half-decent mike – don’t splurge on the microphones, unless you have the $500+ ones.
* Need good video editing software – have had PowerDirector for a few years now – have edited a few home videos and stuff. Paid for an updated version – it kicks butt and has pretty much everything a non-power-user would need. Very happy with PowerDirector (~ $90) so far, but I have a feeling I will be outgrowing it sooner than later (especially, when I think of doing, say chroma keying (the green-screen stuff).
* Of course, you need a camcorder (I have an old, big-ass Sony), and the cable to connect it to your computer (faster if you have a FireWire port).
* The regular lighting in your room is no good. So I borrowed my 8-yr old daughter’s pink-shaded table lamp (without her permission, and got yelled at later) and set it up on a chair next to me during the shoot.
* If you have PowerDirector (PD) installed, it automatically prompts to be launched when you plug your camcorder in. Just put the camcorder in “Play” (VTR) mode, and hit the red “Record” button in PD, and it starts recording right away. Once you finish recording, hit “Stop”, save the file, edit it (very intuitive interface) to add sound effects, transitions, trimming out bad takes, etc
* PD v5 has a cool new “Create File for YouTube” feature – where it will create a slightly low-res Windows media file (.wmv) that has a smaller file size compared to MPEG’s (given YouTube’s 100MB limit), and will even upload it directly to YouTube (provided you’ve logged in previously, of course)
* Create a new YouTube account with the same name as your channel (because you can’t change the login later).
* Create and upload the video directly from PD.
* Wait for like at least 2-3 hours before you can see it live (used to be live within just 10 minutes as recently as 6 months ago!)
* Any changes you make to your channel (description, change to template, colors, etc) will take anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours to take effect.
* Wait for it to go live, spam your friends and family, and publish the video on your site or blog