15 September 2004

Hilliard v. Commonwealth

And yet another video blog entry to inflict upon you all.

The case in question is Hilliard v. Commonwealth and it concerns interrogation of a detained suspect.

You'll notice that I was fooling around with the title features in this one. It's still out of sync somewhat and I think I'm going to buy a specific line to run audio from my recorder to the computer and see if that does anything to fix the problem.

As to the content, it's rough, about 5 minutes too long and overly verbose (I'm a rambling man . . .). I think I may have to limit these entries to weekends when I have more time to do retakes and edit. It's been a while since I worked at my A/V department in college (in case none of you have figured it out, I'm a geek) and I'd forgotten how long it actually takes to get things right.

Hopefully, as I continue to inflict these things upon ya'll they will tend to improve in quality and content. In the meantime enjoy making fun of my mistakes and misstatements.


Windypundit said...

I've got a few suggestions to improve your videos. (I am not a videographer. This is not videography advice.)

1. Get in closer. We want to see you. In know, with all the self-deprecating comments, you don't believe this, but you're a lot more interesting than the walls of your office. Your eye movements and facial expressions are helpful in interpreting what you mean and make your presentation more vivid.

2. On my monitor, the upper edges or your suit and your hair both blend into the background of that high-backed leather chair. There's very little sense of watching an actual person. If I switch my monitor to its Ultrabrite mode, I can see you a little better. The next two suggestions will help.

3. Choose a more neutral background. Light enough so that you contrast, not so light it glares. The glare from the window and from the white papers on your desk is distracting.

4. Add more light to the scene. Ideally these should be non-florescent or very color balanced florescent. Remember you can always adjust the camera to take away too much light, but it can't add light. Actually, with better light, you should be able to get more vivid color from the scene. We should see the blue of your jacket and the pink of your face.

5. Going back to the background, keep it simple. First, a complex background is distracting, and second, every bit of bandwidth spent transmitting the background is less bandwidth for transmitting you, making you seem less realistic and therefore less compelling.

6. Video compression algorithms are designed to transmit only the parts of each frame that change, so you may think that an unchanging background is good enough. But reflections and shadows off of you will move, and if the camera itself moves (due to vibration or air currents) the whole background moves and has to be updated. That's easier when it's simpler.

7. Prop up your notes so you don't have to look down. This will block the camera's view of you, so move the camera to the side a bit, like in the previous video, and get closer. You'll still have to look away to the side, but we'll have a better view of you while you do it. The slight side angle on your face is often more visually interesting.

8. While we're talking angles, bring the camera down a bit so that we're looking up at you. This will also help as you glance down at documents.

9. I'm told that people sound better when they're standing than when they're sittling. I think it's a matter of your legs compressing your stomach and therefore your diaphragm, so you can probably still sit on a chair that allows your legs to extend from your hips, like on a barstool.

Here's an example:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/TV/12/19/tv.youngviewers.ap/Sorry to go on so long. I'm a rambling man too. It's an awful lot of stuff, but I don't know your resources, so maybe some of it will help.

If I ever get in trouble in Virgina, you're my first phone call. "I will not talk to you about anything, including the weather, unless my counsel, Mr. Lammers, is here with me." How's that.

Windypundit said...

And another thing...

I think the sound is synced correctly (at least as it plays on my PC) but I think the video compression algorithm has removed many of the updates of the position of your mouth, ruining the illusion that you are speaking. If you watch carefully, I think you will see that every time your mouth changes position, the new position exactly corresponds with the sound of your voice, but your mouth doesn't move as you finish the word or syllable. Try using a smaller image size so that the compression algorithm can reach a higher frame rate.

Ken Lammers said...

As to the technical aspect of your advice, most of the improvements you suggest are spot on. A good portion of my problem is that I don't have a room with a proper lighting setup thus the bad lighting from the flourescent above and the window behind. This will probably take some time before it is fixed completely as I suspect I will need at least two directional lamps to get proper lighting and I will either have to find a room without windows or buy some heavy curtains. I'll probably try a couple other tricks before I invest in the lamps to see if there is any way I can solve it on the cheap.

I'd noted the chair problem as well and will probably fix it in the next video.

I think you are right about the sound/picture problem. And I'm pretty sure I know the source of the problem. The camera is hooked to the computer via USB cable which sends both video and sound. I am hopeful that having a dedicated sound line may relieve some of the burden and produce a better picture although I don't hold out great hope for that. Thinking it might help, I bought a firewire line and then discovered that none of the computers I have in the office has a hookup for firewire. Perhaps I will use this as an excuse to go buy a new computer.

Windypundit said...

"...none of the computers I have in the office has a hookup for firewire. Perhaps I will use this as an excuse to go buy a new computer"

That's how I buy all my new computers. New computer game needs better CPU and graphics card which require new motherboard which requires new power supply. A whole new case is only a little more expensive than the power supply. Might as well get a new hard drive while I'm at it...

Anyway, the video blawg experiment is kind of interesting to watch as it develops. Who knows, maybe there's a future in criminal defense info tapes? "Have you been arrested? Are you worried you might be? Even if don't think it can happen to you, you're a loser if you don't listen to Ken "The Hammer" Lammers' criminal defense Info Tapes!"

Maybe not.

SavannahDad said...

I hate to post a non-criminal law question, but how were you able to post video to your blog? I have been trying to figure that out for months.


Malachi Knight said...

I think the whole video blawg (vlawg) thing is great. It can be used in so many helpful ways, especially in law enforcement associations trying to raise money. Share your theories and opinions visually, seeing is believing. Create emphasis that standard blogs cannot create in text formation. Share your knowledge via video for future law students. There are many ways that video blawgs (vlawgs) can be used for all matters of law.