Tag Archives: tools

How I create my videos

I’ll start with a caveat: I’m still learning the ropes when it comes to creating and editing videos, so please take the info. in this post as a starting point only.

Onward! Okay these the tools I use:

  1. KLM microphone
  2. Action! video capture
  3. Corel Draw X8 for any precise graphics
  4. Good old Paint for quick and dirty graphics
  5. Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021 for video editing
  1. The microphone: Before I started doing voice overs, I did some research online and found all sorts of stuff about how to set up an area for audio recording. I also read up on the kind of equipment you would need. In the end, I bought the cheapest microphone Amazon had to offer – it was on sale – and I try to record when there’s no background noise [Offspring puttering around in the kitchen, dog barking, cat wanting to be fed etc]. That’s it. Not professional quality but…good enough.
  2. Video capture software: I love Action! because I own it outright – no recurring subscription fees – and it’s sophisticated enough to allow me to take good quality footage. Plus it was relatively cheap.
  3. I’ve owned and used Corel Draw X8 for a very long time. It’s a great program and I love it.
  4. Windows Paint has been around for a very long time too, and it’s perfect for quickly resizing a screenshot, or adding some arrows and labels, or cropping out the bits I don’t want. And it’s free. Can’t argue with that.
  5. And now to Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021…. I don’t love it. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why.

Before buying the VideoStudio editor, I tried out a number of editors, but not the Corel one. So it was an impulse buy based on Corel being a trusted brand… and it was on sale. I had trouble from the start. Installing the software and getting it to run ate up days of frustration and online searching. Once I had it running, I had trouble learning it because, although it looks pretty, the interface is weirdly unintuitive. It’s also inconsistent. It’s supposed to be great for beginners but I had trouble learning it. I’ll leave it at that.

One thing I do like is the ability to edit multiple tracks, which look something like this:

Once I have captured the actual video with Action!, I import it into VideoStudio and drag it to what’s called the ‘timeline’. The timeline can include all the tracks shown in the screenshot.

The first track to go on the timeline has to be the video track [for me]. This is my raw material. Once it’s on the timeline, I can snip out the bits I don’t like to get an overall feel for the length of the finished video and what I want/must present in that time.

The overlay track is where I place still images, or even snippets of video, that will create a ‘picture-in-a-picture’ effect. In the example above, my self portrait and the pic of Warrandyte both overlaid the video going on in the background.

Narration was always going to be important in my videos so it really helps that I can create short bits of voice-over [usually about one sentence worth] which can then be positioned at the precise locations that fit the visual narrative.

And finally there’s the music. I included music in the how-to video to provide continuity, but also to get rid of the ‘dead air’ you get in-between bits of voice-over. Essentially this dead air is the non-sound you get when the microphone is not recording. It’s quite disturbing when you first hear it. A very, very soft music track in the background just smooths the transitions from one audio clip to the next. If I could record everything in one hit, I wouldn’t need that smoothing, but I simply couldn’t do it, no matter how hard I tried. Ums, ahs, oops, coughs, and other gremlins would always creep in, even when I scripted what I wanted to say. It’s actually a lot easier deleting a blooper and re-recording a single sentence than trying to do Hamlet without a break. 😉

So that’s what I’ve learned to-date. I would recommend the KLM microphone and Action!. I would not recommend VideoStudio Pro 2021. That said, I would advise you to buy a video editor that is sophisticated enough to offer multiple tracks, including voice over, and does it without any fuss or bother. Do I know of one? No, but perhaps people will chime in, in comments.


I have my U back!

I meant to write like crazy these school holidays, but instead I’ve done a lot of physical work – building new rockeries in the garden, spring cleaning the house, messing around with my computers, and cooking. You have no idea how much cooking I’ve done, and not for pleasure either.

But that rant is for another post. This post is about me, cleaning the keyboard of my computer… on the inside. Yes,you heard me. This is what came out of my keyboard :

keyboard 3

If you feel weak at the sight of what was hiding under my keys, take a stiff brandy before you continue.

Moving right along. I really would like to blame the cats for all that mess, but mixed in with the fluff were crumbs, lots and lots of crumbs. My work, I’m afraid. Nonetheless, the trigger that sent me into techie mode was that I spilt some coffee on the keyboard.

<<picture of woman madly shaking white coffee with one sugar out of her keyboard>>

It didn’t work. By the next day, the letter U had seized up. I either got ‘bt’ or ‘buuuuuuuuuuuuut’, ‘yo’ or ‘youuuuuuuuuuuuuu’. Not a happy state of affairs. Something had to be done. After doing some online research, I gathered my trusty tools and set to work :

keyboard 4

I’ve had those teensy weensy screwdrivers for about 20 years, but you should still be able to get them at a computer shop. The tweezers I stole from the Daughter. Sorry dear. 🙂

DISCLAIMER : I have not tried doing this with the keys of a laptop. I highly recommend taking your laptop to a professional for repairs! 

Now, the first key is always the hardest to get off because space is at a premium. If you don’t have the teensy weensy screwdrivers, try using an ordinary dinner knife. Place the tip of the knife in the gap between the right hand CTRL key and the base, and wiggle until the key pops off. Once you have that first key off, you can attack the rest of the keys fairly easily.

Whatever you do, though, don’t pull everything off in one hit unless you have a photographic memory. I took the keys off row by row, lining them up in the order in which they would have to go back :

keyboard 5

You can now use the tweezers to pull out the gunge, or you can use a small paint brush to sweep out the dirt, but whatever you do, do NOT use the vacuum cleaner. Inside those exposed keys are the doohikkies that make them go up and down. If you use the vacuum, the suction could possibly hoover up the most important parts of the keyboard. So be warned!

Once the loose dirt is cleared away, spray a little ordinary window cleaner ON A COTTON BUD [not directly into the keyboard please!]. Give the inside of each row a good clean with the cotton bud and allow to dry before replacing the keys.

As you were pulling off the keys, you may have noticed that some keys, including the SPACEBAR,come with an extra little locking doohikkie. The following are two photos I took of the locking mechanism under the spacebar :

keyboard 6 red outline

I outlined the locking mechanism in red as it’s very hard to see. The two ‘horns’ at either end are currently in the down position, but they swivel up and down as shown in the next picture :

keyboard 7 in the up position

And just in case you still can’t make head nor tail of the photos, the following is a diagram I created showing the two halves of the mechanism – i.e. the bit that stays in the keyboard, and the bit that goes inside the spacebar :

keyboard 2

Please do not say ‘oh but my keyboard doesn’t look anything like that’. Of course it doesn’t, this is a schematic thingie, okay? The point my picture is trying to convey is that the tongue and groove arrangement has to be in place before the locking bits in the middle can snap into place. Do not be daunted! This is how you do it :

keyboard 1

As you can see, the little rods do not snap into place, they slip into the hole shapes from below.

Once the tips of the rods are in place, tilt the key forward slightly in order to get the two box shaped locking bits to fit together. Once they do, you will hear a click, and the key will be back, and popping up and down quite happily.

All the ordinary keys just snap into place without any drama.

I didn’t clean under the numeric key pad, or the arrow keys as I don’t use them much [and couldn’t be bothered]. I also did not take out the function keys [F1, F2, F3 etc] as I have no idea how the key mechanism works with them [and the coffee seems to have missed them]. You mess with the rest of the keyboard at your peril – i.e. don’t blame me if something goes horribly wrong. 😦

With the cleaning all finished, I plugged my keyboard back into the pc and crossed my fingers. It worked! And the proof is this post. Look…

‘but’ ‘you’ ‘up’ ‘under’

I have my ‘U’ back. 🙂

Conclusion : Honestly? This job was nowhere near as hard as I thought it might be, and by tackling it myself, I avoided having to buy another, expensive keyboard. That said, I probably would not have been motivated to try this if I had lots of money to throw around. So if you’re in the same boat, give it a try and give your wallet a break. Your self confidence will receive a huge boost too. 😀




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