Some days I just don’t have the time to stay at Studio D for hours on end, but I still want to get things done. Day 22 is one of those days.
The landlord visited the night before (I didn’t have the camera with me, nor would it have made exciting video) to simply turn off the power to the wall receptacles, so on Day 22 I could safely replace the outlet which Paulo had discovered to be rusted out, having been filled and drained of rainwater many times through the years.
Tali was with me so she held my phone to capture the video for you. It’s not the best quality clip, but at least it’s not vertical
Okay, so people told me all about how dusty sanding drywall mud is, but why did nobody mention how much work it is? That was brutal!
I spent several hours sanding the mud by hand, and figured out a way to speed it up by being slightly less… you know… picky (I’m an extreme perfectionist with all I do).
I was feeling really encouraged when the rain poured down but the studio was still dry, but then the rain started working its way into the studio as well. My heart sank a little at that point, but I’m pressing on and trusting and believing this is all going to come together beautifully. No time to dwell on it just yet.
I’m doing pretty well, but finding the days long and tiring. I can’t wait to move everything in and get to the point where the studio is just a studio.
I decided to try something I haven’t done since Tali was born… a good long bike ride! Apparently Studio D is on the summit of a small mountain. Yep, turns out it was pretty much all uphill, or at least that’s how it seemed.
But I made it safe and sound, and felt invigorated by the cardio, which should help me with getting into better shape, which is something I’ve been working on for a while now.
So my whole visit was a day of preparations: scraping, taping and mudding the walls. I got the first coat entirely done… prepped and ready for sanding on Day 21.
I feel like I’m a fairly quick study. I mean, I was much more confident with my mudding today, and much faster too.
It’s really starting to come together and look good!
Check out the Backstage Pass video from Day 20 at Studio D…
Christa and Brad are some good friends, I gotta say. Christa picked up a new client and was much too busy to come help with Studio D, and Brad came down with a bad head cold… yet they still came by in spite of all that and put up much of the remaining drywall, and taught me how to tape and mud so I could continue on in their absence.
I tried really hard to do a good job of the mudding, but they still made fun of me. And my gloves. But I tell you what: I’m really starting to see the finish line. Getting the drywall and mud up really makes the place look like we’re on the downhill slope. We’re putting stuff up now, rather than taking stuff down.
Learn along with me as I mud for the first time. Don’t mind Christa and Brad… they’re just jealous that I’m so awesome at it on my first try.
My method is not for the person who wants to be able to spend time on their cellphone, chatting it up, nor the person who wants to have blazing Internet speeds on their phone while they’re hiking through Algonquin Park. This is for those of us with very basic requirements, who need a phone out of necessity… for emergencies… and don’t want to spend a bunch of monthly cash to do it.
Let me tell you a little bit about me, and perhaps shed some light on why you may have received an answering machine or two when reaching out to me. I’m not one to spend much time on the phone. In fact, I do almost all my communication either in person or by email.
I’m not a brain surgeon, nor the President of the United States, so I’ve never felt “important enough” to need to be accessible 24/7 no matter where I am. So I’ve never gotten myself into a costly phone contract, because it simply wasn’t a necessary expense.
However, recently we had our new alarm installed at the studio thanks to Froggy.ca, and the alarm monitoring company needs to be able to get a hold of me in event of break-in or other emergency. Otherwise, they might send the Police to false alarms should they occur, resulting in a hefty fine from the local emergency service.
So I started doing research, and realized a few things about my needs.
I am almost always within reach of a WiFi connection, and when I’m not, I don’t want to be. For example, I don’t need to have Internet while I’m at the beach or eating dinner at a restaurant with my darling wife.
I never use the phone. I need it for emergency use only, and perhaps the rare short call, but nothing to warrant the 500 minutes a month of a standard phone contract.
I want a phone out of necessity, not desire for constant contact, and therefore I do not want to have to spend the $35+ per month on a phone contract.
I use an iPod Touch 4 to keep on top of my inbox. I know it’s on its last legs (they’re not built to last), plus I don’t want to have a phone and iPod in my pocket–so a smartphone makes more sense to me than a flip phone. I want to remove the iPod from the mix entirely and just have a single device for both purposes.
With some back-and-forth between the Category5 TV chat room, and discussing with a few friends, I came up with a brilliant solution, and I must say it’s working great!
First of all, I bought the phone. That’s right. I paid outright for a refurbished unlocked smartphone. I’ve never done this before, but the freedom is wonderful! I got to choose my phone from dozens of available options, and got a great deal (I paid $90 Canadian) since it’s a refurb, and not the most current of phones. Check out the amazing selection on Amazon! One of them is bound to work for you.
By purchasing the phone outright, I am not tied to a contract. It’s how the phone companies get you: they promise a free smartphone, or one for very cheap, but you have to sign up for $35 per month for 2 years (Wind Mobile). So I’ve avoided the contract, and the high monthly fee (but had to pay nearly $100 up front for the device–a fair trade-off).
The other advantage to buying the phone is that for less money in the long run, I actually end up with a better device. The ones being offered at the $35 / month contract level don’t hold a candle to the one I bought for just $90. You can get an unlocked phone for as little as $40 from what I saw, but again, I wanted to replace my iPod Touch at the same time.
Secondly, we know I have easy access to WiFi. What about you? I think it’s pretty rare to be out of reach of a WiFi connection where you truly need it, at least for me. I have it at work, I have it at home, and my favorite coffee shops also give me free access. I do not need Internet while sitting on a park bench watching my kids play. I’d prefer to cheer them on and show some interest in what they’re doing.
So scrub the need to have cellular Internet on my phone. I set the phone to disable using Internet on cellular networks, and I can still have high-speed Internet on my smartphone whenever I am within reach of a WiFi connection… which is practically always.
Third, I shopped around. You’ll never guess where I found my service.
Wait for it…
After weighing about 15 different providers against one another, I walked into my local Petro Canada gas bar and picked up a SIM card and pay-as-you-go minutes. Whaaaaat?
Yeah, you heard me right.
Why did I choose Petro Canada? For starters, it’s easy to activate my phone. I bought the SIM card for $10, which gave me the local phone number and activated my new phone. All I had to do was enter some numbers into a web site as per the instructions, and I was up and running.
Not to mention, you get Petro Points for your phone service. That will mean free gas, free groceries, whatever I choose to redeem them for.
So here’s how I got my phone service for $6.25 per month…
I actually purchased a single $25 pay-as-you-go card. That’s it. Having read all the fine print, Petro Canada’s $25 card expires in 4 months. That’s 4 months of phone service, with no Internet (I’m getting that via WiFi) for just $25, assuming I don’t make an abundance of calls using up the card prematurely (which I won’t do unless there’s an emergency, in which case I won’t mind reloading early). $25 every 4 months is $6.25 per month.
It doesn’t give me a lot of talk time. Roughly 50-100 minutes per month, but that’s actually more than I need.
So for those who are like me and only need cellular service in an emergency or in a bind, I wanted to post how I did it and share with you that you too can get phone service in Canada for just $6.25 per month.
Already have a cellphone? Cancel your phone plan and do what I did if you are paying more than you need to! Even $35 per month to have a “phone for emergencies” is too much now that we know it can be done for so much less.
Please comment below and let me know what you think of my solution, and certainly if you opt for the same, I’d love to know about it.
Here’s a video where Sasha Dirmeitis and I discuss how I did it:
I received an email from Robert after I told him the water was still coming in: he visited the studio again after hours to try to track down where the water may be coming from.
He explained some of the things I could do to help prep the area for him to come back and fix the problems, so my daughter Tali and I visited the studio with a couple of wire brushes and compressed air to start cleaning the joints, ready for that “cementitious compound” Andy told us so much about on Day 4 (sorry if that sounds pretentious).
So, while I did what we set out to do, Tali built a habitat for a tiny toad we found outside the fire exit door.
Oh yeah, and we learned that apparently, Studio D mice can chew holes directly through concrete!
Wow! We’re really getting into the exciting stuff now.
Christa and her hubby Brad arrived to start putting up the drywall, and my friend Jean Bamford from Labar Sales & Distribution also paid us a visit to figure out the colors for our new studio. I’m glad she came by on a night when Christa was around since it was her who designed our logo and she has a good vision for our image. This is getting exciting!
We also got our first piece of furniture donated by my friend Chelsea: a coffee table!
You’ve got to see the video! So much going on.
Please don’t forget, we need to buy a new video camera for Studio D, and we do not yet have the funds. We need our viewers’ help, and every contribution makes a huge difference. Please consider contributing to this need here: http://shop.category5.tv/?product=upgrade-the-cameras
I started this thread over in the Telestream forums and have been getting some excellent feedback from the community.
We need to buy a new camera for Studio D.
Basically it boils down to this: right now we use a webcam. We get away with it because we’re confined to a very small space. But Studio D is a much larger space, with more potential “screen area”, and a webcam just won’t work in that environment.
This living blog is where I’ll way the pros and cons of each possible camera, and welcome your feedback either here in the comments below, or directly on the Telestream thread.
1080p vs. Ultra HD vs. 4K
1080p gives us 1920×1080 pixels to work with.
Ultra HD provides a source of 3840×2160 pixels, and
4K provides a source similar to Ultra HD at 4096×2160 … a bit wider than Ultra HD.
HDMI vs. HD-SDI
Both provide full resolution/framerate.
HDMI at 1080p, we do not need to purchase additional hardware. Anything at Ultra-HD or 4K, we will need to purchase a new capture device, regardless of whether it is HDMI or HD-SDI.
HDMI maximum cable length is hard to gauge. Some say it’s 25 feet, some say 50 or more. However, in our experience (having tested with our old HDMI consumer camera) a 6 foot length is safe, but 15 feet or more starts to lead to problems (eg., dropped signals). We would not feel safe to use more than say, 10′ of HDMI, which means the broadcast server needs to be extremely close in proximity to the camera itself. You’re already familiar with HDMI: it plugs in and could easily be accidentally unplugged if the cable gets snagged or pulled. HDMI does offer wireless options in 1080p, but at this point I haven’t seen a 4K model. Also, HDMI to SDI converters can be purchased cheaply.
HD-SDI is generally safe at a maximum of 300 feet. This means our broadcast server can be well away from the camera, and we can move the camera around much more freely within our studio space. HD-SDI “locks” into place. It will not come out of the camera or the server if it gets snagged. For these reasons, HD-SDI is preferable over HDMI. HD-SDI traditionally adds a fair bit to the cost of a camera: it is the “professional” option, whereas HDMI is the consumer option.
Prices shown are in USD. To see how much it would actually cost us in our local currency, click the amount.
These are listed by price, highest to lowest. Higher price does not necessarily mean better. That’s what we need to weigh.
Blackmagic Design Studio 4K B&H List Price:$2,995* Pros: Ultra HD. Multiple camera angles from one camera, including lossless digital zoom. Built-in HD-SDI. Professional (studio) form factor. Cons: *Does not include lens. Rather expensive (although comparatively cheap compared to other studio cameras of this quality and featureset). No WiFi controls (but does have LANC controls for Iris and Focus, if we buy a separate controller). Auto-focus only available with specific lenses and not realtime.
Sony FDR-AX100 4K B&H List Price:$1,998 Pros: Ultra HD. Includes lens. 1″ CMOS sensor. WiFi control. Realtime auto focus. I really like the “camcorder” form factor. Built-in ND filters. Includes a wireless remote control which allows optical zoom. Cons: Maximum 30fps when shooting in Ultra HD mode (60p available in 1080p mode).
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 B&H List Price:$1,697.99* Pros: 4K (higher horizontal resolution than even the Blackmagic camera above). Multiple camera angles from one camera, including lossless digital zoom. WiFi controllable. Cons: No HD-SDI. HD-SDI may be added via an interface accessory which costs an additional $2,300 (making this camera cost more than the BlackMagic Studio 4K to get HD-SDI). Could we use an HDMI to HD-SDI converter instead? *Does not include lens. Has auto-focus if you buy specific lenses, but it’s not as good as the Canon units (but can use WiFi app to control focus). DSLR form factor (bleh).
Canon Vixia HF-G30 B&H List Price:$1,399 Pros: Includes lens. Larger sensor than the G20. Has WiFi controls. 60p recording mode (not necessary, but could be neat for slow-motion reviews). Improved positioning of the output jacks. Switch to control the use of the manual dial ring. Realtime auto-focus. I really like the “camcorder” form factor. Cons: No HD-SDI. HDMI only. Will require multiple cameras to attain multiple angles. Seems like a pretty high premium, approaching a little too close to the 4K price range.
Canon Vixia HF-G20 B&H List Price:$899 Pros: Includes lens. Comparatively cheap for great picture quality at 1080p. Realtime auto-focus. I really like the “camcorder” form factor. Cons: Interlaced at 60p. No HD-SDI. HDMI only. No 60p. No WiFi controls. Will require multiple cameras to attain multiple angles. Controls are largely based on touch screen.
Since this is a living blog, please check back often. I will update this with any new findings or other changes, and I welcome (and appreciate) your comments below, and contributions to the project.
— UPDATE: September 12, 2014
We’ve raised roughly $1,500 so far. Thank you to those who are supporting this venture!
As Studio D fast approaches, I’ve been considering our options more and more. 4K is the route I would love to go, and I think it best suits the show in the new space, and will give us the best quality possible. If however, we can’t afford it, and the main advantage stems from being able to shoot multiple angles, the idea of purchasing multiple 1080p cameras instead of one 4K camera is a good option (and cheaper), although the disadvantage is the increased floorspace of another camera and increased broadcast server resource usage to power two cameras live.
We’re also going to need a teleprompter for the news segment and possibly viewer questions, so whatever camera we use for that purpose will need to be reasonably close proximity (4m).