Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

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jacob
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Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by jacob »

I did a presentation on The Stoa which is a multi-disciplinary series of zoom talks and Q&As using the stoic tradition to figure out to how to make sense of things and live better lives. This is the first time, I've put ERE on a slideshow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPvftqB-WXk (90 minutes)

The Stoa has also featured people like Noam Chomsky, James Carse (Infinite Games), and Davin Allen (Getting Things Done), John Robb (global guerrillas), Nora Bateson, ... so likely worth checking out.

PS: This was the first time using my new (to me) microphone. Hopefully it improved the sound somewhat---at least I can understand myself speaking now although it could be better (working on making a boom). Anything else I can do to improve the sound or video (I've been looking at ubuntu 18.04 compatible webcams) short of decorating my walls with fur or egg crates?

Loner
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Re: Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Loner »

Amazing. Didn't listen to it already, obviously, but very much looking forward to.

The sound is already much better.

Two small things. First, perhaps get a light, if you intend to do more videos. Something like a ring light might work, or maybe a softbox or an umbrella. They're easy to set up -- Youtube has a million tutorials -- and that would substantially improve the video quality. (No improvement to suggest for the slides, they look great. Is this ppt? I'd think you'd use LaTex.) You might find cheap ones on Craiglist, Amazon or Aliexpress.

Second (and this is a question as mush as a suggestion), one thing I always wonder about is why don't interviewees record their interviews in their own computer (and then send it to the podcaster via WeTransfer, or whatever)? It seems that it is always the podcaster who does the recording, on his end, and there's always some compression happening in between both PCs, resulting in a noticeable loss of audio quality. It's a shame when the interviewee has great hardware. Is it too difficult to sync the audio/video afterwards?

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Re: Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by jacob »

Loner wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:42 am
It seems that it is always the podcaster who does the recording, on his end, and there's always some compression happening in between both PCs, resulting in a noticeable loss of audio quality. It's a shame when the interviewee has great hardware. Is it too difficult to sync the audio/video afterwards?
Madfientist had me record the audio on my end too while doing the interview. He said he usually did this as a form of backup. I don't know whether he used the recording or the live feed on the final result, but it implies syncing could be done.

(In that case, the connection was transatlantic, so that might have compressed things further. There were some weird reverberating sounds from time to time.)

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Re: Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by jacob »

Loner wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:42 am
(No improvement to suggest for the slides, they look great. Is this ppt? I'd think you'd use LaTex.)
I used GoogleSlides, exported to pdf, full screen viewer on the pdf, and shared that screen via zoom. (There's also a way to do that directly from google slide, but the risk of messing things up seemed greater---it didn't go well during the trial run.)

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Re: Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Loner »

jacob wrote: Madfientist had me record the audio on my end too while doing the interview. He said he usually did this as a form of backup. I don't know whether he used the recording or the live feed on the final result, but it implies syncing could be done.

(In that case, the connection was transatlantic, so that might have compressed things further. There were some weird reverberating sounds from time to time.)
Ah ok, great. That would be ideal for sure. I only sampled your presentation as of yet, and the sound is already much butter, but I listened to Youtube tests of the mic you got, and for sure you can squeeze more juice out of it by recording on your end if/when that's possible.

And thanks for the info on the slides. They looked real good, I'm really eager to dive in the whole thing.

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Re: Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Ego »

Nice! 15 minutes in. The format is great. I love the yield / waste wave form.

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Re: Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Alphaville »

fantastic, congrats!

my pomodoro break is almost over so i only watched a little and i only have a couple of minutes to comment, but your audio already sounds a lot better than the guests i see on bloomberg. i'm not sure you need a boom? might be overkill.

sound compression works with signal so signal quality is always first.

as for the video, read up on 3 point lighting. basically you have key, fill and back light, with key light being the most important. there are other details (eg eye glint, hairlight) that fill in further detail. but big rocks first.

in your video, the key light appears to be on the corner of the door while your face is more or less in the shadows. but i wouldn't sweat it for this iteration, because your headshot is only a tiny portion of the video frame, and more eyes on the slide is a good thing.

you don't need professional lights, just a sense ofmforeground and background and we can look at ways to do this.

more later...

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by jacob »

Room dimensions: 7ft (front back)x8ft(side to side)x8ft(floor to ceiling). There's a window with blinds on my right hand side (the painting on the wall is on the right of my face in case the video is inverted) and a low-watt CFL in a frosty glassed ceiling light almost right over my head . (This was not switched on until near the end when I realized it had gotten dark outside.) Thus the only light source from the front was the glow of two monitors showing the full screen presentation (white).

There's a door behind me on my left wall which I open to give the sound waves some place to escape. The door on the right in the wall behind me is a closet(*). The ceiling and walls are plaster! The floor is squeaky old wood. The walls are painted a sickly green. We've wanted to repaint those for years... insofar there's an optimal color setup, we could do that.

(*) If I ever had to make a hardcore podcasting pod or whatever the technical term is, etc. that might be a good choice?! It's 2.75x4sqft.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Loner »

Three light setups give nice results, and they are the most conventional setups you can imagine, but they are time-consuming to install/uninstall/adjust, not to mention that you need three lights. (I guess you could use desk lamps, but it'll just be a massive PITA.) The ring light setup (or one-softbox setup, somewhat to the front of you; see Rick Beato's setup here, where you can see the big softbox: https://youtu.be/arbtYtND4Js?t=500) is nice because it's simple and gives results that are pleasing enough.

See quick overviews:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iU_qFNUsGeQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-RJTtV8B_I

Ring lights used to be used mainly for beauty setups (think Vogue covers), but it seems to have gained wider traction now. You can see such setups in so many Youtubers (easy to spot since you can see the ring in their eyes). When you put them close to you, they also give good separation between foreground and background.

Talking about repainting: if the wall behind your PC is white, you could also just bounce a light on that, and use it as a kind of mega-softbox. You can then repaint the wall behind you (i.e. the one we see in the camera) in gray-ish (darker than white) in order to have good foreground/background separation.

Just some thoughts here. Hope it helps.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Scott 2 »

I look forward to watching the presentation fully. I dipped in and out to skim it.

I had to solve some of the audio/video problems working virtually.

Video - I found good lighting for a webcam is unexpectedly bright. It can also be helpful to disable auto camera settings, like focus, white balance, etc. Tune things manually. I've generally gotten ok video quality from an HD webcam, plus ring light with diffuser. Staring at the ring light makes my head hurt after awhile though.

Background - You have to pick between framing a set or using a backdrop. Done with skill, a green screen can offer a high level of professionalism with relatively low investment. It might be easier then creating and lighting a set. I was able to get a sufficient light gray background, by hanging a white backdrop. Steaming it to remove wrinkles made the difference.


I don't think your microphone is a problem. The audio seems comparable to the TV segment you were on. The formality of offering a presentation (vs. just a conversation) does raise expectations. It made me more conscious of your accent and filler sounds.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Alphaville »

Loner wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:07 pm
Three light setups give nice results, and they are the most conventional setups you can imagine, but they are time-consuming to install/uninstall/adjust, not to mention that you need three lights.
whoa, i suggested he reads up on it for comprehension, i didn't say go buy a video light kit.

a video frame is a video frame regardless of tools used, and you still need to tell your subject from the background, your eyes will gravitate to the brightest spot against a darkest background, shadows will add drama and high key will lighten moods, etc. it's basic visual grammar.

i would strongly advice against buying any lights, it's the least ere thing imaginable for a non-professional. if you know what you're doing (renaissance skill) you can rig very workable systems with little or no money.

amateur photography/video fields are driven by a gearhead mentality one need to be cautious with. but a lot of the best amateur content is produced with minimal resources, and this is even more important given @jacob's message and philosophy-- you want him to show, not tell, what ere is about.

and of course softboxes are ideal, but @jacob is not in a studio setup, he's a frugal guy sitting in front of a computer giving a talk. different standards apply. if you analyze the frame of that youtube dude you notice there's a lot more going on than a softbox. $$$$$.

as for working with what you have, the window is the obvious key light in the day, the monitor might be the key light at night.

eg in the daytime you can rig an easy reflector for the window with cardboard and a piece of aluminum foil or with some spare piece of sheet metal. even a piece of foamcore adds a nice fill. a bedsheet can be a diffuser. at night, or in a darkened room, some practicals can set the stage.

but again, understanding must go ahead of purchasing, as learning to read goes before learning to write. originally @jacob didn't want another piece of electronic gear, and there is no substitute for a decent mic, but there are definite substitutes for pro or prosumer lights.

besides there's also the issue of color temperature to consider, but i'm trying to be all about concepts, concepts, concepts--not gear. :)

--

tldr: @jacob, read up on 3 point lighting. lesson 2: read up on color temperature :D

tldrtldr: the brightest light goes on the face. don't buy anything.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Alphaville »

another easy fix i noticed without buying anything is placing the camera at eye level.

this lady here makes a good simple explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4jff5XwQSQ

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Loner »

@Alphavile - Yes yes, sorry, didn't mean to criticize your input, apologies if I sounded like that. I'm just thinking out loud here, maybe some of my thoughts can be useful to Jacob.

I'm aware of ERE principles, and I've rigged setups w/ minimal, non-photo gear. Just showing options. As you say, there's no need to buy anything. As I mentioned, if he planned on painting the wall, he can just paint it white and point a light on it. Boom, softbox. But on the other hand, if you get your stuff second hand, there's a capital investment at first, but there's hardly any depreciation on it afterwards (IME), so if you know what you want/need, that's not necessarily anti-ere neither.

As for using the window for keylight, yeah, maybe, although that'd give somewhat of a Rembrandt-ish, dramatic-ish look (it comes straight from the side), and if he plans on shooting exclusively during daylight hours.

But yeah, good reminder about understanding before buying. First step would be just to read a bit about lighting (colour temperature, light softness, light drop off and inverse square law). It's not physics.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by theanimal »

This is excellent. Well done Jacob.

I'd second the suggestion on lighting. Perhaps as Alphaville suggests you can figure out a way to rearrange things so that light can be best optimized. Otherwise I've found that "happy" lights produce good lighting. And they elevate your mood at the same time! Win-win. Of course there are plenty of other lights on the market like Ring lights etc that are more finely tuned for this purpose.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Alphaville »

@Loner

no worries brother, we're good, i just meant to clarify my approach, and you're right that 3 point light is indeed hard to rig--but it's still the basic shot grammar.

white paint can work, but maybe something approaching 18% grey works better as a backdrop? depends really on where the light goes. regardless, he shouldn't sweat this at this point, i say leave it untouched, "big rocks first" would be my approach here.

the window might be usable, but my issue here is that it's the brightest thing in the frame, just on the wrong spot. maybe just block it with some felt (cheaper than duvatene) and just use indoor lights?

nevertheless, a nice big window with a curtain can make a good softbox. just turning the desk around might help.

--

oh, another big rock, easily fixed: composition, & rule of thirds! early on in the video he's off the edge of the frame. negative space is important.

--

eta: without going into too much theory, this video explains composition for talking heads well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_0WNu-Vo0

eta2: very good short video on light too, without all the theory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBI-H9185Js

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Hristo Botev »

Well, what do you know, per Jacob's numbers I've graduated from something beyond a "Salaried Consumer" to an "Advanced Salaried Consumer."

ETA: I'm 30 mins in and well done so far! Every time I hear you explain the ERE thing (or every time I reread the book), I get something new out of it, and it clicks just a little bit more than it did before.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Bankai »

I really enjoyed it. Great recap of the key ERE principles in a more accessible way than the book. The slides were great - often people just have walls of text but yours had just the right amount of text suplemented with great charts, all aesthetically pleasing. Also, the presentation was great, excitement in your voice, gesticulation etc. I wouldn't worry about going a bit over time or trying to speed things up - I doubt anyone was unhappy about that. The only two small suggestions I'd have is to position the camera so that your head/face is in the middle and not on far side of the small screen, and also maybe having the door closed for cleaner background - both would help people who are hard of hearing lip read. But that's just tiny detail. Otherwise it was great.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by mathiverse »

Thanks for posting, Jacob! I also liked the yield/waste wave form. Actually I recall seeing the other version of those graphs in the ERE book with a dotted line that says "earns above" and "spends below." The waste/yield labels are better since, as you point out, "earning"/"spending" are mainly about money even though yields and waste can be a lot of different things.

Also it was a bit funny that you pointed out in the talk that a common complaint about the deliberate consumer and beyond models is about how, due to comparative advantage, it's not worthwhile to DIY when you could make $XX/hour at your real job, then buy whatever you need and then one of the questions was basically (paraphrasing) "Isn't it the case that due to comparative advantage there is no point in making soap (or whatever)?" :lol: You were right that it's a common complaint. I guess it's good you got to go into more detail on that since it can be a hard point to get past.
Last edited by mathiverse on Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Stahlmann »

Can you provide source pdf?

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Re: Stoa Presentation: A Systems Approach To Resilient Lifestyle Design

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:34 pm
low-watt CFL in a frosty glassed ceiling light almost right over my head .
mulling over your setup i think you might achieve the greatest pareto improvements just by blocking the window light completely and replacing the cfl with a nice 100w equivalent led or 100w incandescent.

leave the frosty on, that's a diffuser.

fluorescent unfortunately has too much green component and is around 4k color temp, which makes everyone look sicklier than your wall and nothing matches. some cameras have a special fluorescent setting to compensate, but generally you want something closer to the full color spectrum. indoor temp is 3200k (from incandescent days) and outdoor is rated about 5600k or so (there are small variations between products)

lower temp (warmer, lol) means more orange, higher temp (cooler, lol, from color wheel) means more blue (noon sky circa 10,000k?). k is for kelvin, hence temperature, refers to incandescent black bodies or something, the names warm/cool come from painting/art. confusing!

white people tend to look better with a warmer light (lower color temp) , brown people tend to look better with a cooler light (higher color temp), due to skin undertones, so maybe incandescent setting is better cosmetically for you. but everyone looks human in daylight, so i wouldn't sweat the color temp as long as all temps match.

leds are to the blue/cool side of the spectrum, computer lets you play with monitor color temps.

a high cri bulb should give you best results regardless of color temp, as it mimics natural light spectrum regardless of color temp. you want a bright bulb so that the monitor does not overpower but works more as an eye light, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch_light (doesnt need to be superdramatic, just a little reflection to make eyes "alive")
Last edited by Alphaville on Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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