Lunch with Philip and Greg

A little background to our latest project. Greg and I take people we think are interesting out to lunch, and record it. Our first video will go up shortly, but I thought I’d run through the background first.

Lunch with Philip and Greg is an opportunity to get to know people we associate with, but have never had the opportunity to sit down with and get really get to know the person. The individual. And for the few who don’t know, Greg Clarke is my husband of nearly 7 years, partner for over 24 years and the guy who writes the code for the Intelligent Assistance apps and for the Lumberjack web and desktop apps.

It’s also a real-world project that helps keep my production skills current, and changing. This was the project I had in mind when I purchased the two GoPro Hero 4 Black cameras used for the recent Family History Video project that I reviewed on the Digital Production BuZZ.

Because we shoot in normal restaurants, without special consideration, the kit has to be small, unobtrusive and still produce high quality video. The 4K/30fps mode on the GoPros give me room to reframe in post for 1080 finish. I run 64GB miniSD cards in each camera, and have a second set to rotate between shoots.

In practice the camera facing Greg and I gives me four shots: original very wide, medium wide, close Greg, close Philip. The GoPros are mounted with a clamp and multiple gooseneck components ganged together.

Lunch with Peter Wiggins showing the camera setup.
Lunch with Peter Wiggins showing the camera setup.

Audio is the same combination I used for the Family History Project, but each person wears the lapel microphone feeding into a Zoom H1N combination. These inexpensive little microphones have done a great job of background noise rejection, to the point where we could have easily continued recording outdoors under the flight path of San Jose International Airport! We didn’t because we thought it would drown the mic!

Each Zoom H1N has a 32GB miniSD card. This way I can record close to 45 hours on each H1. The cards are named Philip, Greg and Guest, so that Apply Custom Name in FCP X can do it’s job.

The lunch conversation is logged with Lumberjack, of course. Not for the short term benefit because the edit is essentially a “tidy-up” edit of lunch, but for the long term prospect of using the content-based keyword ranges (aka Content Metadata) and Lumberyard’s story mode to extract string out subject-based edits from across the year’s lunches.

In Final Cut Pro X I use Apply Custom Name to rename the audio clips by card name and file name, and another custom name to set the names for the video components. GoPro clip are limited in size, so it’s usual to have 5 or 6 clips covering the one “shot”. It’s very important to name the clip angles before making multicam clips, then sending the Event to be logged via the Lumberyard desktop app. Because the GoPros’ time is set every time the app connects from iPhone or iPad it sets the time to current UTC so we have perfect synchronization for Lumberjack.

In the edit, I make good use of the new Custom Effect feature by saving out “shot” extractions from the 4K wide. These are combinations of scale and position (and sometimes rotation).

We have no idea if anyone will find these interesting, but we have certainly learnt a lot more about people we’ve “known” for many years. It’s been great to really get to know our first guests, and I look forward to recording many more. One question – answer in the comments. Would you prefer each lunch be broken into several chunks (probably based on subjects discussed) or does the full lunch approach work better?

Lessons I have learnt so far

GoPros may be small but they are not simple. And they have default modes! Twice I have been caught by one camera defaulting to Looping mode!

Standard GoPro batteries run about an hour in 4K/30 mode. Adding the larger battery pack certainly extends battery life, but it turns out, they shut down after about an hour of continuous recording due to overheating. I’m still working on the best strategies to deal with this, but simply being aware of it is half the battle.

It’s probably better allow a GoPro to come into the shot, to get a better angle on the guest.

It’s better to clamp the GoPros to a chair, or surrounding shelf, than to the table. Most tables move slightly as we bump them, or eat.

Background music is endemic in restaurants. Outdoors we have to deal with wind (and flight paths). The lapel mics do a reasonable job of keeping the background well in the background, but I worry that YouTube might have issues with the background music? We will find out soon enough.


3 replies on “Lunch with Philip and Greg”

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  1. I look forward to seeing the launch of this series. I think I would prefer the full lunch approach. Couple of questions. Are the lapel mic’s directly wired to the H1N or are you using a wireless setup? Do you use software for renaming files or the Finder rename feature? Thanks for sharing this setup and workflow.

    1. Lapel mics are wired direct to H1N – wireless adds a lot more complexity without simplifying anything. I use the Batch Rename function inside FCP X to rename clips.

      1. I had the name of the FCP X function wrong. It is Apply Custom Name not Batch Rename, that I use.

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