Archives for category: Audio

It’s been pretty hectic this last week. Had quite a few gigs this week, and the big one is almost finished. Should be done this afternoon at the latest. Once it’s done and uploaded, I’ll be posting links so that you guys can all watch them and comment and hopefully get them into the finals.

I shot a comedy show, Humor for Heroes, last Monday and am in the process of finishing that up. Wednesday was Corridor, which I haven’t even touched yet, and last night (and tonight) I shot for Gy Odom and Curtis Hammill. And I’ll get to that after the other two gigs are done.

And next Friday I have another comedy gig to shoot at Hotties Bar and Grill in San Antonio. It’s a new venue for me, so I’ll have to leave early so I can figure out what I need to do to set up properly.

And right now, I’m looking into selling my Canon XL2 and getting a Canon T2i. There are a few reasons as to why I want to do this. One, it’s full 1080p HD video for less than $900. Even the cheapest 1080p pro camcorders start at $2500. And if I want to get that ‘film’ look that the DSLRs get, I have to buy an adapter and then buy lenses. So, I could get a good rig for about $1500 with DSLR, or I could get something equivalent using an HD camcorder for about $7500. Even if math isn’t your strong suit, it should be fairly evident which is a better deal.

Another thing to consider is the media. Right now, I’m shooting on tape. Which is okay, but for every minute of video I take, I have to spend a minute capturing it to the computer. So, if the gig is a 2 hr comedy show, I have 2 hrs of video I have to play onto the computer. THEN, I can start editing.

With DSLR, I just take the SDHC card and pop it into the computer and can begin editing in seconds. And, if I’m shooting something with multiple takes, I can review the clips and only put those clips onto the computer.

Even with the HVX200a, the P2 cards are expensive compared to the same size SD card. So what’s the point?

Size. My XL2 is arguably the best Standard Definition camera on the market. There aren’t many SD cameras out there that are better. When I show up to a shoot with my XL2 and people see me piecing it together, they are impressed. I never fail to get a compliment when I’m out (unless I’m doing the normal gigs, and people are used to it).

However, if I showed up with what amounts to a still camera, people aren’t as impressed. In their heads, it’s a still camera. It’s not a video camera. It’s not impressive. Yes, it’s nicer than their little point and shoot jobber, but it’s not an intimidating impressive machine. It’s something they think they can get off the shelf at BestBuy. Which technically they can.

So what’s next week? The normal gigs, editing these vids, and hopefully getting a new T2i…

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Staged.

Is this thing on?

Last night was the weekly open mic at Corridor – my comedy home. Every week is fun, but last night was a bit different.

I started off my evening of comedy by heading over to Michael Nieto’s place. The one and only Wade Word was over and they were recording their podcast, “Before the Show” (caution, language). I was surprised to see Curtis Hammill there. So this particular episode of BTS could be quite interesting. I know I had a good time. We wrapped up and headed out to Corridor.

As always, the show started late.  There were quite a few people in the main room at J’s Bistro, but the lounge was strictly comics. There was a new guy, who slightly resembled a Zack Galifianakis. The people in the main room? His friends. The kicker? None of them wanted to pay the $5 to get in. At first. Then they all relented and got themselves inside. And of course, Galifianakis-man had to comment on that. He was the first guy up for the night.

This guy wasn't there.

I had asked my good friend, Nick Kukowski to come out and run the camera so that I could concentrate on comedy. Last week, I showed up without the camera and it was a great time. I wanted to keep that going, so I asked Nick to help out. The deal was I’d split the cash we made. Which was $14. Go us! But I must admit, it was nice to be able to just do what I do without having to stress about the camera. I didn’t realize how much of a toll that takes on the comic side of myself.

I got everything set up, and Nick rolled in. I showed him how I had things set up and chatted for a bit while we all waited for Galifianakis, Jr. to get his people inside. And then we started.

Oh, I should mention, the guy who runs the place, Nick Aluotto, has been choosing the host of the open mic a few minutes before the show starts. That was another thing we were waiting on. He picked Paul Roca, and once he got the list together, we got rolling.

And what a ride it was.

I didn’t stay in the lounge area often, I stayed in the main room and talked with the other comics. It’s refreshing to talk comedy and life while comedy and life is happening. While Galifianakis Jr. was on, Curtis walked up to me and voiced his concern, which was the same concern I had just had myself.

We were both concerned that when this guy was done on stage, all his friends would leave and we’d all be stuck doing comedy for each other. It’s fine, we’ve done that before, but it’s an odd thing. Comics don’t really do comedy when it’s just comics, they talk smack and just do a bunch of ‘inside’ jokes. So even if someone walks in, they don’t get the comedy. Fortunately, the friends stayed and the show rolled on.

Later on, Curtis and I would realize that since the guys were scraping up funds to see a show, they’d get the most of their money and stay the whole two and a half hours. That’s two bucks an hour. What a bargain.

If I may digress here, one thing I’ve noticed about stand up comics is that when someone first starts doing comedy, they bring friends. Sometimes it’s four or five friends, but many times it’s something like 8 to 10. Then for the second outing, there’s fewer friends, if it was 8 before, it’s 5 now. And this trend continues until the comic can’t even get the spouse to show. And as time goes on, you get a bunch of comics watching comedy with a bunch of comics. Especially in San Marcos where comedy takes a back seat to drinking and dancing. In Austin, it’s not a big deal, because there are plenty of people who wander in, or specifically look for comedy.

Perspective

Like these people, comedy isn't always straight up.

I wandered in and out of the room, and noticed that the crowd wasn’t shy – meaning a couple of people didn’t mind joining in the show, even though they weren’t invited. One guy in particular was constantly heckling. I’m not sure what his deal was, but he was the sort of heckler that thinks he’s adding to the performance. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.

I’m going to take a minute and break the illusion of comedy. The reason comedy works so well is because it’s well rehearsed. It’s rehearsed to be energetic and off-the-cuff. Bad comedy is bad not so much because of the material, but because the performance. Imagine if Louie CK just mumbled his jokes in a very sloppy way. Or if Brian Regan just sat in a chair relating his Pie Joke in a very A.D.D. manner? It wouldn’t play. The reason it’s funny is because it comes of as new. Fresh. As if the comic just thought it up on the way over. If you notice, comics will almost always say something happened recently. They saw something on the way in. They had something happen yesterday. Or last week. It’s always timely. That’s part of the illusion. I saw a comic last year, and saw him again recently. He has an airplane joke. It was the same both times. And both times it happened last week. To the uninitiated, it comes off as he just thought it up. To the comics, we know that it probably never happened. But the illusion is there.

This is part of the problem with the heckler. The heckler believes in the illusion, and that the comic really is living in the moment. Sadly, most comics aren’t that great on their feet and can’t really handle the immediacy of an idiot in the crowd. Even more sad is the fact that the comics that can, usually default to verbally abusing the heckler. It works, and most times shuts up the heckler, but not always.

Heckler UMP

Not your typical Heckler.

So this guy was talking all night. Adding little comments here and there. I can’t say how the other comics handled it, because I was in and out of the room. I know a couple comics addressed it and did their best to shut him up. I imagine others just ignored the guy. Either way, it’s not a fun experience for the comic, and truthfully, the audience tends to really frown on it too. Any heckler video you see on YouTube usually ends with the crowd cheering the comic, because they really can’t do anything to the heckler to make them stop. It’s up to the comic or the establishment.

Which brings me to another point. A lot of comics look forward to dealing with a heckler. When they know there’s a heckler in the audience, they start ignoring their material and start concentrating on that heckler. They want to get some practice in dealing with these guys. The truth is, as a comic, you’re going to see a heckler fairly often. More often than one would like usually. So when a comic does get the chance, the comic will take it.

It’s not always the case. It’s not always funny. And it’s not always the best thing for the night. The trick to dealing with a heckler is to walk that line between doing material, handling the heckler, and not offending the audience. It’s a tricky, fun walk to take. I’ve personally had two hecklers in my short time on stage. Once was from a drunk lady who had been a bit distracting and practically ruined David McQuary’s set that night. She was leaving when I got on stage and I sort of agged her on. She stayed and magic happened.

Last night was my second time handling a heckler. I don’t have video up yet, but I will, and I’ll post the link in the comments. Hopefully.

After the show, the heckler stuck around and then apologized to various people about what he did. He actually told me, “I’m funny, I’m actually funny!” which was really annoying, because this is our craft. Imagine if you’re a CPA and some guy comes in and starts manipulating your numbers and then says, “I’m good with numbers, I really am!” Yeah, not funny either way.

But we all encouraged him to show up next week and get on stage. I don’t know if he will, but if he does, I’ll put his video up just on principle.

Hey, thanks for reading folks – I really appreciate it.

Sony HeadphonesThey’re Sony. Sue me.

I have a set of cheap Sony headphones that I use when I’m recording video to monitor the sound. They’re actually my second pair. First pair broke. The current pair are fine, but they’ve seen better days.

Earlier this year, I saw a pair of headphones that were pretty cool. And another friend just recently got a pair of these. I was looking around the internet this morning, and found that there is a third company producing headphones.

Yes, three different companies are putting out Star Wars themed headsets – Taito, Funko, and Coloud. I found it surprising that there was more than one company making headphones, but even more so when I found the third. I don’t understand it because LFL tends to just go with one company to produce an item. For instance, Master Replicas (now Factory Entertainment from what I see) used to make the Force FX sabers. Now Hasbro has that job.

I have you now.

These were inside the pilot's helmets.

I’ve gotten to hold the Funko Rebel Alliance headphones. It was some time ago, but they seemed nice. A little smaller on the ears than what I’d need for what I’d use them for. They seemed like a good pair of headphones to have just for casual listening. I definitely wouldn’t consider them studio monitor worthy. From what I remember, these were semi embossed, but they may not be. There’s quite a bit of detail on some of the headphones, but on others, it looks like a stencil or sticker stuck on the side. The Boba Fett ones look really cool on the band, but the ears seem to just have a sticker of Fett on it. That seems sort of cheap to me. Also, each earpiece has a wire coming from it. I try to stay away from these types, because the dual wire setup gets caught on things. Many times I’ve plugged things into my camera THROUGH that loop. Annoying. They’re listed at $25, but you may find them for $20 on the ‘net.

BooWeep

With all the bells and whistles.

I haven’t gotten to see or use the Taito versions, but they seem to be a little bigger and a little more durable. A friend of mine who got the R2 version said they were nice, but a little plastic-y feeling. The R2 headphones are chrome, with blue earphones and top (felt?). The sides are the top pattern of R2’s dome. I can see why they feel cheap and plastic, because they are. The chrome on it is that same chrome you seen on kids toys. The C-3P0 ones are similar, but the sides are 3P0’s eyes, they’re gold, and the ears and top are black. The Vader ones just have a red stencil of Vader’s helmet, and the ears and top are red on a black set of headphones. I can’t tell by the pictures, but it’s highly possible each headphone has a wire coming from it. And as I mentioned above, I find it annoying. Listed at $25.

Heavy breathing

I hope these play more than just heavy breathing.

Lastly is Coloud. Apparently all they do is make merchandised headphones. They have Hello Kitty, NHL, Marvel, and Fame (Really?). They have three different Star Wars headphones. Vader – black with red accents (see pic). Star Wars – black with gold Star Wars on a flying starfield. Rebel – white with orange and black accents. They also feature the single wire from one side of the headphones, which is really a plus. They also feature a coiled wire which allows for some tension and less tangling with normal use. I was impressed with these (although I’ve not used them) because the website actually has specs for these.  But these come at a little higher price – $40. If I get a chance to test these out (which I believe to be better than the Sony’s I’m using now), I’d be able to really decide how good these are. The single, coiled cord is worth it to me, really. Add the Vader on the side, and to me it’s worth the $15 extra bucks – everything else being equal.

Each of these headphones seem nice enough. The Funko headphones seem to have the edge to the casual listener, because there are quite a few of them to choose from. Some of the designs are really nice, but others seem to be nothing more than a stencil/sticker on it with color coordinated plastic parts.

Irony

Does anyone else see the irony in this picture?

The Taito ones seem to be a bit more detailed than the Funkos, but there are only three versions. The two toned look is a plus, and the 3P0 and R2 designs seem to be rather inspired.

Burnt.

Of course, I could be completely wrong and we all end up like Owen and Beru.


The Coloud ones are not as inspired as the Taitos, but the quality seems to be there. The higher price tag would probably turn off the casual listener, and the hard core fan would probably shy away from the designs. For instance, I prefer the Funko Rebel headphones to the Coloud Rebel headphones based solely on the design. But the Coloud Vader seems much better than the Funko or the Taito Vader.

Overall, the Coloud headphones are worth the extra $15, simply because they seem like headphones first and Star Wars ads second. The other brands are more dedicated to the fans, and for a casual mp3 listener, they’re more ‘involved’ than the Coloud. Taito has a good offering with the droid headphones, but for a Fett fan, the obvious choice is Funko.

UPDATE – I think I found out why there are three different companies making headphones. Coloud is based out of Canada, Taito is either Japan or China, and I think Funko is here in the States. I may be wrong on this all around, but it’s all I could figure.