August 21, 2006

"Should I go with this 'home-style' background?"

I ask. Comparative vlogging backgrounds. That's the main subject here. Also covered: the UPS guy and his brown shorts set, Post Impressionism, National Review and my relationship to the rest of lawprofessordom.

30 comments:

Eli Blake said...

Dang it, Ann.

If only you were a Liberal!

stephenb said...

Looks good there at the house. And the feed seemed okay, too. But shouldn't you, a law professor vlog from your office in front of your wall of books like Larry Tribe no doubt would were he to condescend to vlog

Ruth Anne Adams said...

My vote: as this is an eclectic blog, you should have eclectic backgrounds.

Go with the IFWOB [intellectually fortifying wall o' books] for the intellectually fortifying vlogs.

Go with the home-style when talking about potatoes and American Idol or Project Runway or stuff you do at home.

Go with a tank a piranhas when you're talking about lawprofs.

Oh. You said "pariah." Never mind.

quietnorth said...

Ann,

The architecture in the background, with the view of other rooms, expresses depth. It is a more direct, visceral expression of depth than a wall of books.

joeone said...

Perhaps the background should change depending on the topic. You could have a blue or green screen behind you onto which you project the appropriate image. A real multi-media production! Now that would be cool.

Or maybe people could stand behind you, behind a rope line, and wave at the camera, ala The Today Show. That wouldn't be as cool, but somewhat entertaining. For a minute or two. Or not.

Ernst Blofeld said...

One of the features of the next release of Mac OS X is backgrounds for the video capture, with no green screen required. So you can insert any background you like, either still photo or video, and make it appear that you're talking from the Capitol steps, Venice, an opium den, etc.

olivia1 said...

Don't know why since I am a very loyal reader but this was the first vlog of yours I clicked on to (maybe it was the lure of the promised mention of UPS guys in their brown shorts). Anyway, I was totally ok with the background but it seemed like you had a bit of a spotlight effect on your face. Maybe that is unavoidable with how the video camera works. The synch of audio and video was fine. Most delightful was to get a better sense of your personality. You seem to enjoy this and your playful, teasing side was readily apparent. I think you could hold your own quite easily in a right side (yes, yes, we know you are really a moderate) left side debate with Mr Tribe. He would succumb to your charms and appear befuddled.

Richard Dolan said...

The perspective into the blue/purple dining room (if that's what it is) reminds me of the visual frame of a Renaissance painting -- the closeup of you, with a long shot towards a window and the world beyond, with very little of significance in between. In the typical Renaissance painting the world depicted through the window -- the Heavenly City, the Peaceable Kingdom, idyllic Tuscan hillsides, whatever -- would connect thematically to the qualities about the main character(s) in the painting that the artist was seeking to bring out. The long shot you were using on your vlog didn't quite work in that way, since the light coming in from the window is so bright that the outside world is reduced to a blank. (That couldn't have been the point at any level, could it?) But put that detail aside and just think of the many madonnas, annunciations, saints in distress, and the like, all flanked by the good burghers seeking heavenly favor who paid for the exercise, that were painted using that formula. Since you are both the subject and the artist here (it's a self-portrait!), you can play with that formula to keep whatever company you want.

If you're going for those kinds of associations, then you'll need to scatter around various objects testifying symbolically to the qualities and virtues of the main subject (yourself) you want to underscore (subliminally, of course), and make sure that those objects will be visible in the viewer's frame. Add don't forget to be flanked by appropriate spiritual sponsors -- a picture of Learned Hand or Robert Jackson, perhaps. Think of the conversation you can have across the centuries with the likes of, say, Van Eyck in the Betrothal of the Arnolfini or the Madonna with Chancellor Rolin. Who needs to take on Tribe when there's DaVinci, Raphael and that crowd just waiting to be engaged visually, while the audio portion of the vlog deals with more humdrum contemporaries?

In all seriousness, the visual frame of a Renaissance painting doesn't really work for these vlogs. The bright light coming through the window just emphasizes the overall bad lighting in the vlog. I'd go for something more controlled and visually sedate, where the lighting won't run to extremes, and the shadows and bright spots are much easier to control. And, to make the brave new world of vlogging look a little more professional, you might invest in some actor's pancake makeup to control the reflections coming off your forehead.

Ann Althouse said...

The light can be changed. I was using a light that has a dimmer switch, which I should probably just turn down some.

I could get a complete outdoor scene by sitting a the other side of the work table... I'll have to try that.

Nancy said...

I'd put your face higher in the frame, but set the camera a little higher so you don't have to look down at it.

I know vlogging is somewhat different from television, but that's a rule in television producing -- not too much space above the head. In fact, it's okay to cut off the top of the head, but not the bottom.

Dale B said...

Video quality was a bit lower than the vlog recorded in your office but you did say that you were using a less powerful computer so I guess that's just the way it has to be. The color balance for skin tones was too red (unless you got sunburned this weekend in which case, never mind).

It may be just me but I prefer podcasts. I load them all into my mp3 player and listen in the car. Can't do that with video. I could get a video player and then just listen to the audio but I don't want to to that.

Just my $0.02

Ron said...

Whew! I thought for a second Ann...Coulter declared a coup de blog, and Ms. Althouse was rendered a 'non-lawprof.' But all is well...

VICTOR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
VICTOR said...

I mean this in the most respectful and supportive way, but you may want to consider .5 hour with someone who "coaches" people with their tv appearances.

You have these gestures with your eyelids and face that on Kaus seem geeky cute but on you just seem skittish. It's similar to a mannerism that some may exhibit when speaking. Most who are good public speakers think if you don't have these mannerisms then you should be OK on tv. Most don't think being on tv is different from public speaking, but it surely is!

Look forward to the bheads appearance.

Ken Stalter said...

I second all those you liked the home-style background, depth, etc. I do think that the sunlight in the back window was a distracting hotspot, though. When movies are shot on-location yet indoors, they tape up lighting gels to the windows to soften the contrast and in the end, make the scene look both more pleasant and authentic.

I'm not suggesting you need to buy gels for vlogging--that might actually be a little ridiculous--but it's just what I was thinking when I watched.

Wickedpinto said...

If you have a video camera, and a dvr, you can rig it so that you can pre-record using higher quality on tape, put it on your dvr and dump it to your computer, then upload.

The picture quality makes it hard to judge on the colors, if the walls are white, or a sort of aquamarine i don't know, the camera can't keep up with the colors when you gesticulate, so theres a lot of bleed or whatever it's called.

I personly think the background is just fine (as long as the walls aren't white, you are too fair skinned for a white background) the only thing I would say is never leeve an open door in the picture. Close the door, or adjust the camera just off the door.

As for your performance, thats just fine, only thing I would suggest, is that you seem to have a bit of self consciousness by talking to the camera, so if you got someone to stand behind it for the duration, or maybe a dog, or a cat, or since you like art so much, a piece of art, something that is close enough to camera that you can be looking in camera, and actually emote to the camera without feeling goofy by playing to a piece of plastic silicate and copper, since you can glance off camera and interact with whatever it is behind for just a second, before returning to camera.

Just a thought, though none of those things are important on Vlogs, at least on yours, you are personal enough to offset any of the techy refinements, and thats why people like you. But if you wanna play with it, and tweak as you please, then those are my notes.

joeschmo1of3 said...

Ann Althouse: "cats are godless killing machines." Someone won't be joining the Carnival of Cats anytime soon. Ha!

There was some kind of cyclical hissing sound in the background. Was it the pc cycling up (depending on the chip) or are the cicadas still going crazy over there? Something to check out, but overall, the location seems fine, but there might be interruptions that happen at home that can't quite be controlled as well than your campus office.

I hope you do well, whichever locale you decide.

Ann Althouse said...

Victor: I'm not going for a TV look, but a vlog look. It really is different and intentional. Similarly, the podcast isn't meant to sound like radio.

Ann Althouse said...

And, yeah, that was the cicadas! We're having a little plague of locusts here.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Conservatives are gaga for Althouse. Not only National Review, but I remember there was a time when James Taranto linked to you almost once a week. (I used to think I found this blog through Instapundit, but now that I think about it, it was Taranto).

What are we to make of this? You're not really conservative, after all.

Here's my theory (which is utterly unoriginal). Your tone is that of an non-ideologue. It's as if you are a spectator in the big left/right war. When you say something conservatives like, they trumpet it because they think it might convince other non-idealogues - "See? Althouse agrees with us. She's normal. Not crazy like you think we are. So maybe we're not so crazy, eh?" I think they also think it bolsters New Righties who are still not quite comfortable thinking of themselves as "conservative." But even if you agreed with them, if what you said was not smart, conservatives would ignore you. Your value to conservatives is not as a flinger of red meat. It is as a source of validation from the outside.

When you agree with the left, of course, they ignore you, because your apostasy regarding The Evil One is unforgivable. Unless you recant. The left has become very 16th century Catholic Church.

The big question is this: What happens in '08 if Althouse gives her nod to a hawkish Dem? There will be shockwaves in the blogosphere!

Another reason why we must nominate Condi or Rudy.

Ernst Blofeld said...

There's no reason to get carried away about "professional" looking vlogs. After all, blogging is supposed to be fun and spontaneous and creative. Why not make the backgrounds look like a Renaissance painting? Why not have a few tics that differentiate you from a million local news reporters who all learned the same rules of on-camera behavior in their college broadcasting classes? Try something different. Have some fun.

Kev said...

There was a little bit of a synch problem when I watched it, but only when my browser wasn't the default application running. Everything caught up nicely once I stopped talking to people on iChat and brought you to the forefront.

I like the "homey" atmosphere too, though I can see how the IFWOB might have its place sometimes.

Wickedpinto said...

cicada's are evil!

Giant silver mutant flies! I hate cicada's.

I'm a cicadist, burn them all!

Wickedpinto said...

also, I flogging LOVE your hair.

Wickedpinto said...

"cats are godless killing machines"

aren't you also the one who said of all pets "yes they are beautiful, but don't forget that they are animals just waiting for an oportunity to eat your face?"

Just wanna confirm that.

Wickedpinto said...

Just finished the whole Vlog.

Your emotive actions of "pushing" a subject (as a teacher/professor you should know that term) are GREATLY exaggerated with your camera, stage your camera further away with a tighter focus, you know how that works far better than I. Whenever you "push" a point, your head EXPLODES on the screen, criminy, CRIMINY, CRICKEY! at least give yourself a few inches.

joeone said...

I don't mean to offend, but vlogging, generally, strikes me as somewhat vane and narcissitic (more so than blogging, which I think suffers to a lesser extent from the same problem). Why do we feel that sharing our visage with the world, more so than our vision, is worthwhile? And as somewhat you enjoys this blog, what do I gain from the vlogging? Because, after all, this really is about me.

Ann Althouse said...

If it's vane, you might be able to figure out which way the wind blows.

joeone said...

Yeah, I knew the typos would get me!

Davos said...

The background is not important, its your views and opinions that are important. Thats why we come back to this site.

If you think backgrounds are important, why limit yourself to just home and the office? Why not "Vlog" from different locations. Be like Rick Lee - go "On Location" anywhere and everywhere!