In one of my previous diary entries, I hinted at using the Surface Pro 3 for video editing. This is another area where the Surface Pro 3 has excelled beyond my beliefs. Prior to kicking off my journey to eliminate everything I use for the Surface Pro 3, I had a beefy Dell mini-tower with lots of RAM, great CPU, and plenty of storage. It did a great job for the video recording and editing that I do for work. And, this was clearly one of the areas where I had the biggest concern if the Surface Pro 3 could keep up.
Using the Surface Pro 3 as my only recording and editing hardware now has actually expanded what I can do. In the dock, I use it like normal. No issues, no performance problems. I don't have to do anything different, nor did I have to make any adjustments to the processes I already had defined. It just works and works famously.
A couple months ago I repainted my entire office in a horrid, green color so I could start using the Chroma Key feature (i.e., green screen foolery). If you're interested in the specific color, here's the specs:
Be warned if you decide to do this yourself. Even in a dark room this color green seems to glow. During the day, when the sun flows through my office window, it emits a radioactive glow seen clearly even from outside the room. I half expect to find the carpet outside my office stained from the intense radiance. Sitting in my office chair, deep within my own personal Chernobyl, I almost feel like Bruce Banner waiting for the gamma blast. You get used to it, though, and the effects are worth it.
So, there's that. The Surface Pro 3, along with my selected devices, provides the performance and capability of even the beefiest in-house studio equipment. I detail what I use for everything below. But first, there's more, and this is probably the most important piece of using the Surface Pro 3 as studio hardware. This is truly the sweet spot...
Since the Surface Pro 3 is a tablet, and it's portable, it means I can be highly mobile. I can grab the tablet from the dock and just go - wherever I want, and without losing any amount of functionality. The Surface Pro 3 does fine on its own as a mobile recording studio. It has a pretty decent built in microphone and video cam, but really, alone, it can't be compared to a professional setup. For that you need a bit more. So, I've pieced together a few items to make my video/audio recording and editing much more professional, particularly in the mobility area. Being able to take recording on the road, and then be able to preview and edit immediately – that's gold, Jerry, gold! (a Seinfeld reference). Who would have thought when I started this journey to attempt to replace everything with the Surface Pro 3, that it would expand my capabilities so much? The Surface Pro 3 has truly changed the way I think about computing. There are now no limits.
So, what did I cobble together for mobile recording? Here goes...
What I use
Video/Audio Recording and Editing Software: CyberLink's PowerDirector 13 Ultimate Suite. I've used PowerDirector since version 12 and it has worked great. Version 13 was released only a month or so ago and has really improved performance and added some more professional features. It's primarily a desktop app but also comes with a couple modern apps for using touch to edit recordings and photos.
Audio recording: Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone with the Dragonpad Studio Microphone Mic Wind Screen Pop Filter. I love the Yeti microphone. It offers some really rich features and audio output is amazing. The microphone has a dial that allows you to change recording modes quickly to capture audio from all directions.
Video camera: Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. This is probably my least favorite piece of hardware in my setup. Video recording is good, but not as good as I'd like, and the Logitech drivers and software are funky at times. I'll probably be replacing this in the near future.
In the office to hold the microphone: NEEWER Microphone Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand. I have the arm connected to my quad multi-monitor stand. Due to the arm's flexible construction I can reach up and pull the microphone down in front of my face when I'm recording, and then send it straight back up when I'm done.
On the go to hold the Surface Pro 3 and the microphone: ChargerCity Heavy Duty 4-WAY Multi Adjustable Joint Aluminum Alloy Pole/Bar Clamp Mount with a MS7701B Tripod Boom Microphone Stand and the Neewer Black Universal Microphone Shock Mount Holder. By combining these three items I can pretty much setup the studio anywhere. I can record outside, or in an event hall and have the Surface Pro 3's touch screen at arm's length to stop/pause recording or to just use it as a recording monitor.
On the go to hold the camera: AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripods with Bag. One good thing about the Logitech C920 is that it is has a standard tripod mount, so I can set it up anywhere and adjust it to capture just the right scene.
Connecting it all together: Plugable USB 3.0 10-Port Hub. I wouldn't be able to connect all of this together without the Plugable USB hub. I highly recommend it in any setting, office or mobile.
So, this is my setup. As I noted, I'm looking to replace the Logitech camera, but I'm pretty satisfied with everything else. You might find that different hardware (or software) fits your specific needs, or might work better for you than what I've pieced together. If you do find hardware that works better, let me know. And, I'd also love to hear suggestions on a Logitech camera replacement. It needs to be at least full HD 1080p, have good autofocus, able to handle extreme lighting conditions, and have tripod mounting capability. Also, let me know if I might be missing an important piece.