Reviewing Blu-ray: The Videos

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Roughly my perspective when recording

Last year over Christmas break, I took readers on a tour of the text review process.  Most of that remains true, although switches to WordPress’ back-end and swapping to LibreOffice have changed things ever so slightly. But, there is more to DoBlu than text. We also have video through a handy YouTube page. How does DoBlu do video? Archaically. Follow me as we chart the pathways of outdated technology and zero budgetary power to record video for Big: 25th Anniversary Edition.

1. Selecting the disc

What turns DoBlu from a simple output of text into video? Anything of merit outside of basic Amaray cases: Special edition box sets, discs with trinkets inside, or in Big’s case, it plays a tune when the slipcover opens. In other words, material out of the ordinary which doesn’t comes across well in text becomes fair game for video. Images could do the same in many situations, but these would mingle with screen shots and are nowhere near as interactive. Having a YouTube page also expands DoBlu’s reach as with any additional social media presence.

Note studios rarely send these lavish box sets for review. They are typically paid for out of pocket as I enjoy having them.

The recording "studio," a makeshift bench, shirt from the closet, thrift store tripod, and Flip camera.

The recording “studio,” a makeshift bench, shirt from the closet, thrift store tripod, and Flip camera.

2. Shooting video

Camera? An out of date Flip Video Mino camera. Tripod? Purchased from a thrift store. Microphone? It’s embedded in the camera. Background? A shirt. Lighting? Some low cost overhead fl0urescent ceiling lamp. Budget? About $40. If that sounds menial, it is. When I bought the camera, Flip was the “in” thing, but mobile video became dominant. Flip was sold and finally disbanded. That said, despite owning a phone capable of shooting 1080p footage, I continue to find the Flip easier to use. Setting up is only a matter of locking the camera onto the tripod and hitting the giant red button. Idiot proof cinematography for the internet! I shoot on a footstool looking down at the disc in question without a script. I know what I want to cover and will occasionally do more than one take for botched dialog, but most of these are done on the fly in one shot.

Funny side story, the first ever video review on the site was for the Mel Brooks Collection. I didn’t have a full size tripod, only the miniature one which came with the camera. That was shot flat to my bare floor on a bath towel with the tripod embedded in my Blu-ray collection’s shelf to keep it stable. It was the only way I could figure out how to get the angle and keep the camera from tipping over. If you notice, it is the only video where my hands come from the top of the screen as opposed to the bottom. I did the entire thing upside down.

First screen post-recording.

First screen post-recording.

3. Editing… sort of

There is no editing for DoBlu video. Why? Flip Video does not allow for it. The camera uses a proprietary video format which cuts out products like Windows Movie Maker, so I simply never bothered to fight with it. YouTube’s suite has grown over the years, but at best it remains applicable to basic trims and color/contrast adjustments. As such, Flip’s Studio remains king where in slapdash titles are drummed up on a plain black background and closing credits point people toward DoBlu itself. Processing takes roughly 30-50 minutes depending on length, with another 30-50 for uploading to YouTube. For one video, I added music (Jurassic Park) as I happened to own the soundtrack. Otherwise, it’s just me chatting, removing the need any sound editing.

Flip's custom back-end as titles are added.

Flip’s custom back-end as titles are added.

4. YouTube back-end, DoBlu posting

Once the video is uploaded, YouTube handles the rest. Videos are tagged with Amazon links, DoBlu’s review, and any other necessary details. YouTube subscribers will see the video first as always and then (in varying amounts of time), the video review will go live on DoBlu. Descriptions are quick and painless and work as any other text item on the site.

This is a simple process. It’s fast, it’s pretty painless, and my technical troubles have been next to nothing. Kudos to the now defunct Flip and those who watch (and read!). We could never thank you enough.