Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Go play day: AV style"

I had an opportunity at having a slow day yesterday at work, so I decided to bring my Roku 3 with me. I spoke to my boss, and we both agreed that the day could be utilized to learn "what the future may hold with technology" as well as "should the need arise / a client pop up a streaming device, someone should be somewhat versed in how to hook everything up". Therefore, in between random client interactions, I was able to figure out a way to get my player hooked to the work equipment, and "play".

Quick run down of equipment used (via Amazon):

Notes: The products with the ** are what I could find on Amazon that are comparable / compatible to what we use at work. 
  • The projector screen listed is an older version of what we are using at my property. 
  • I used a 25ft HDMI cable that I connected from the Roku to the Projector, as it was the first cable I grabbed from the wall in the office (plus the fact it's going to be used tomorrow for an event, so I needed to use all this equipment anyway to set the room). 
  • The XLR is not the brand we use at work, and I had picked up a 50ft cable instead of a 25ft cable, which I realized I needed to add as the 50ft will be too long. 
  • The power extension cord and surge protectors are similar in the sense I did use a 25 foot AC power (but different brand).
  • I linked to a black power strip for blog use.

To take all this down a notch and explain what was going on, there is a meeting tomorrow in one of the conference rooms at the hotel. I had to set the room up in accordance to what the banquet department was doing with their tables and what AV equipment was rented to this group. 


Out comes the 8ft tripod screen, a wireless microphone kit (not used in my "play" situation), the Allen & Heath mixer, NEC projector, 8" Electro-Voice speaker, a speaker stand (not listed in my breakdown, but an array of different stands can be found here), various XLR, a power extension cord, 2 power strips (one for projector, one for audio table), projector stand (not listed in breakdown) and a roll of tape. 

After all of the main event basics were set, I was able to plug in my Roku to the projector. I went HDMI out from the Roku to HDMI in to the projector. An aux cable from the Audio Out of the projector to the Audio In on SwitchCraft box, ran an XLR cable from the SwitchCraft to the mixer, and then another XLR cable from the mixer to the speaker. I forgot to turn the internal volume up on the projector, so I ended up listening to audio at a lower volume than I wanted. Especially when I'd then need to use this setup and play with a set of lights. 

I ran everything mono, although the ability to run stereo audio is there. Tomorrow's event doesn't call for two speakers in the room and it would have been wasteful (both time, resources and energy) to set up stereo for a play day. It's all a matter of running one more wire from the SwitchCraft into the Mixer and then add another speaker. Simple enough.

* All pictures shot on an iPhone 5S and edited in Photoshop (my watermark name) *

Skewed top view of video setup
Top view of video set up
Back view of video set up

Front of Speaker

Back of Speaker

Allen & Heath ZED mixer

Upon Roku start up, I needed to access the Wifi. I got the following message (see picture):

Connection please!

It was hard to get connected at first because the internet is hit or miss some days, depending on where you are in the hotel. But the ability to have a hotel or dorm room connectivity in the Roku is great; it's an awesome resource for those who travel and want to bring along their streaming device, or the students who can get onto campus wifi and not want to pay for a cable subscription. The down part? The "need" to have a smartphone or tablet to get the Roku connected to the wifi. Although "you will not be charged for mobile data", it's a little bit of a downer that you've got to have a smart device laying around - what happens if you own a dumb phone? What if you have a laptop? I luckily had my iPhone, so I was able to connect, but it was still awkward, as there is a timeout limit with the wireless setup. Your phone connection has to be pretty good in order to connect to the Roku right away. However, it can drain your phone battery real quick as well. I started with 90% around 12:30 and by the time I left at 6, I had 40% battery. I don't know if it was a combination of taking 3 videos and 10 pictures plus connecting to the Roku, or it was something else. I factory reset my phone Monday night, so I know it should be okay. It was odd that I lost that much battery life in five and a half hours.

But once I was able to get everything wirelessly connected, it took a few minutes for all my apps to appear and be working, as everything needed to register on the internet to play. First thing I did was try Vevo for some music videos and I got them to play.

* Videos shot on iPhone 5S and edited in Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate * 

(The video shows my entire set up)
Youtube link HERE for those who don't have Flash on a device. Also, the video seems washed out with Blogger's processing... apologies for that! Youtube video is cleaner.

Confident in my setup, I opened my A&E app and started Monday night's season premiere of Bates Motel. I sat in the back of the room to make sure all my settings were comfortable, and I watched the first 20 minutes of the episode. "Unfortunately", I ended up having to pause and then stop the show so I could help clients in other rooms and then work on some brand of lights we have and why they don't pick up audio so wonderfully. 

Youtube link HERE for those who don't have Flash on a device. Also, the video seems washed out with Blogger's processing... apologies for that! Youtube video is cleaner.

Panoramic view from "the back of the room"

All in all, it was a great test of where the future can go. It's not the set up I would love for my own home theatre system, but it's a start in trying products out and figuring out how to hook things together to make them work. I'm sure someone has some better equipment out than what I use / used at work / this situation, and maybe someone can make everything be heard and seen so it just pops, thus allowing users to have an amazing experience in their audio and video moment in time. 

At least I now know how to get everything hooked up and talking to each other and am confident enough that I can work with clients and provide exceptional service to them, should the need arise that they bring a streaming device and want a "theatre mode" AV experience.


See Also:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I think I need more friends

...and some sort of studio.

As I mentioned the other day, "in a perfect world", I would want a low key home theatre in my basement. By happenstance, yesterday I was thinking that the other thing I would like would be some sort of video editing / photography suite. Something to create videos in and then to be able to edit them. It doesn't have to be some place I own; maybe I can rent a building space or something. For the amount of work I want to do, it's not necessary to get financially invested in a building or even monthly rent. I would just need working space to produce the video (floor space, lights, cameras, backdrops, etc) and then a room to edit the video. I don't want to have a desk in the same room because I might want to utilize the entire space for whatever I'm working on. Outside of the space needed and all the equipment, I'm thinking the main thing I would really need is some sort of faux hardwood floor - something that resembles a good dance floor without the hassle of constantly dealing with a real one. Sometimes the fake looks better than the original. In total, after all said and done, we're talking maybe a week's worth of time and a couple times a year. I wouldn't need anything for more than a combined total of a month. More reason it's not worth investing in a building... the reward isn't worth the risk because I'm not looking to sell my finished product; all I want is to do something fun with my friends for a few days.

I guess being out of the photography studios for over a year, I "didn't realize what good I had" now that it's gone, simply based on the ease of ability in using my last employer's equipment. How many times did I run into her studio from my desk, take a quick couple photos with whatever background was left up, and run back to my editing in the blink of an eye? It's all about learning what you can do in a literal flash.

Why am I bringing this all up? I've been listening revisiting David Bowie's The Next Day this week and one of the latter songs on the album, Dancing Out In Space, made me think of wanting a studio. Had I more friends here (with dancing abilities), I'd create some sort of music video for the song. I've got fun, creative and willing friends, but they're all a straight 22 hour drive and 1500 miles away, at the very least. As the Poland Spring radio advert used to say "you can't get there from here". Especially since it's a long drive away. Doesn't make my wanting a studio helpful if I have to go to them, and because they all have kids (sans my favorite ginger.. even though he keeps telling me he wants some), I wouldn't want my friends to have to pick up their rugrats and drive here. Unless the in-laws would be willing to watch the babies for a few days. But knowing my friends' in-laws, it can be questionable. Haha.

I don't want to sit here and give all my secrets to this video away (I Can't Give Everything Away), because secrets still have to be be kept hidden until they can be talked about, but just being able to think and plan is worth something, right? The experience I've had in prior work will follow me through the rest of my life; it's all relative and a matter of how I utilize my skills going forward in whatever I do. Dreamers can dream and doers do... I have to figure out how to manage both!


See Also (aka "Keyword Search via Amazon"):

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

If all the world were under his heels

It's Valentine's Day
© 2013 
David Bowie
from the album The Next Day

Yes, it's Valentine's Day. It's like any other day around here. I had to be at work, and one of the things I did today was set up a room that has a 180° view of the ocean. This room had a specific brand of up lights at 8 different columns around the panoramic window (I can't link to the exact model of lights in Amazon, because it doesn't seem to exist on the site). All in red. Had this been a dinner event instead of of a luncheon, I would have taken pictures to prove the All Hearts Day meal took place (because you know it's "picture proof or it didn't happen"). I will take pictures at the next time I set up lights for this room; I guarantee I'll make good on it.

So, it being the day for lovers, I don't have any plans after I write this. (Un)Lucky me? Save on candy and cards? Who knows; one day my answer may change...

Maybe today is a good time to revisit a pair of jazz musicians that try to escape the South Side (Chicago) mob in the 1929 St Valentine's Day Massacre (for a movie made in 1959, it plays on a lot of "What ifs" at points. Nice nod, Wilder). Considering this is one of my "go to" / "favorite" movies, I've got to (re)start my tradition of watching it on Valentine's Day. I used to have the soundtrack playing when I was at school; I'd start my morning with it before classes, and let it softly run in my room when I'm not there. I was leaving my laptop on anyway - might as well let people think I was there... no one bothered me as it was... people were too busy in their own worlds. Things happen.

As I type this and think of it, the really cool thing I wish I could do, in a perfect world mind you, is a simple matter of not having a Vizio TV in my room. I'd have a nice theater room to watch movies in... nothing spectacular, though. We're talking a general basement / den; not a lap of luxury refurb you do when you've got money. I'd have a projector on a coffee table from whatever throw distance I'm looking for (yes, facing a white wall), attached to whatever streaming device I want (whether it's a DVD player or an actual streamer. I don't know how one of the HDMI sticks would fare in an HDMI port into the projector, but I'm certain it could work). Attach some sort of surround sound for audio out, and I'm good to go. All I need is comfortable furniture and I won't leave my house!

(Note to self: Next slow day at work, see if you can replicate any of this with the work equipment)

Although, truth be told, in today's ever changing technological world, the power of projection is in your hands. Literally. The once massive powerful heating optical devices have become Polly sized and can fit in your pocket (bug out bag, purse, etc). Attach that to your phone somehow, and you're showing your family the new video you shot (before posting to social networks). Long gone are the days when people gathered around some sort of screen (or white sheet on the wall), set up the Kodak or Bell & Howell, and let the group "ooh" and "ahh" over static images (let alone, put some wax on the turntable for background music). Craziness is the simple fact it's all done in one program... to the point a 4 year old probably edited it.

Now that I'm working more in the AV field, I'm meeting with clients who are bringing in their own projectors and renting our screens. The most popular projectors are from the Epson line and a small cube like projector, that is rather cheap in concept because it's hard to focus it on a large screen. You need to tilt it in such a way, as it's connected to your source, that it makes video casting troublesome. That's one of the things I definitely wouldn't recommend - unless it comes with tripod stand legs. Even then, it's not so hot to keep standing.

Outside of that, beggars can't be choosers. "I guess I have to survive" with my TV, DVD player (which is used on occasion now) and Roku 3. Until I can move and upgrade my equipment (and house) the way I want, all that I am using is sufficient enough.

Ramble over; TV on, cue some 1920s hi-jinks.

Cheers (and don't worry, nobody's perfect);

See Also:

Couches and Sofas

Various video projectors version 2

Polly Pocket


Vinyl Records