Lockdown Extended AGAIN I Start To Talk To Spider

The Prime Minister has just made a casual announcement that the Lockdown will not end, with no indication of how long it will continue to last. The stricter lockdown started on 7 May (Kuala Lumpur), with full lockdown implemented nationwide starting 1 June. It is coming to 2 months of me being stuck in my tiny bedroom. At this point, freedom is just a concept that seems quite far from reach. The little spider in my room is still alive, thankfully so I played with it (by playing I mean I took macro photographs). And I guess if this continues the spider will have to endure my pathetic rants. Who else is there to listen?

My trusty Macro gear - Olympus 60mm F2.8 Macro lens and FL50R fired wirelessly off camera, with a softbox

I took a much better shot this time. More about the shot setup below

When I wrote about the lockdown situation a few weeks ago, it was approaching a month of lockdown, and some people commented - "oh it has just been a few weeks, surely the number of cases will go down soon, just hang in there". Well, it is now 2 months. The number of cases has not come down that much, we still have almost 6000 new daily infections every day. It does not take a genius to see that the lockdown has lost its effectiveness. It may have worked before, but continued use will not yield the same degree of success. What the repeated cycle of lockdowns can guarantee however, is the irreparable damage it has caused to everyone. I am not an expert, but tell me this - the lockdown is placed to bring the number of cases down. So, if after 2 months the numbers don't go down, you still continue with the lockdown for another month. And another. And another. If you turn on the light switch and it did not light, and you flick it a few more times, you will soon realize something is not right with the switch. To continue to switch it on and off won't bring the light back on, you got to find another solution and fix the problem. Well, I am just a small peanut, what does my voice matter any way. Let's just all suffer and drown in silence here in the lockdown. 

Moving onto a more positive note, the podcast video series, #ROBINSPEAKS which I started a few weeks ago was a success. I did not expect this. I initially expected the long form video format to flop. I cannot imagine people would listen to me rant for half an hour long. The viewership of the podcast videos were strong, and seated at top of the recent 10 videos I released on my YouTube, though the recent videos have suffered a dip in viewership due to lower quality content made during the lockdown. Nevertheless, I still celebrate this small win, it is not easy making content given the current circumstances, and I am glad I can still continue to make something out of completely nothing! 

What most people did not realize was how much effort and time I put into these podcast videos. Well, not that I am lacking time, and it is a good thing I started this now, since I have extra time to burn. I spent about 4 hours or more to film each episode, though it was mostly just talking head shot in one location, with the camera mounted on a static tripod. For episode 1, I shot the whole session, then edited the whole video in 3 hours, so effectively I spent one full day to make one episode. The next day, I decided the audio was not good enough, because the microphone was placed too far, So I reshot the entire session and the whole process repeated itself, consuming another full day just for that same episode. Same thing happened with episode 2. I had no issue with the video part, but audio recording was quite new to me, and I never cared so much about audio recording before because my videos are usually about 10 minutes long. Now that the podcast video is 30 minutes long and to expect people to stick around with me that long, I do have to make sure my voice sounds better. Furthermore, I speak at length and in greater depths of the topics I cover, with no fancy B-rolls or nice looking images, just me speaking on and on, so how I sound was more critical. 

I was waiting for the spider to show the fangs. 

Finally got one with some details of the fangs. Though this image was heavily cropped. 

I tricked the spider to jump onto a wooden board, so I have a nicer background to work with

I like how the wooden grain matches the spider's color 

I am soooooo noob in recording audio. Been going through video tutorials and articles and I still mess up so much. From microphone placements, to speaking into microphone dos and don'ts, there is so much to learn and improve on. Then there is the editing part - I have never touched noise reduction, compressor, de-esser, expander, and all other fancy adjustments before. I did play with basic EQ for most of my videos previously. Maybe I am over-thinking but I guess this is also the right time to pick up a new skill, or improve my audio understanding and producing aspect of my content creation. I was not happy with all my current released 3 episodes. My issue is with consistency, as I moved a lot, and the microphone is sensitive to movement. Also I am not willing to fork extra cash for a better microphone, I made do with what I have, a shotgun microphone designed to be placed on top of a camera, which may not be the best solution for indoor podcast style recording. I guess I can complain on and on but I just have to finish an episode and just hit the publish button. I will improve slowly, for the coming episodes. 

Coming back to the spider - I don't think it is scared of me at all. Sometimes it would jump onto my table. So I decided to take a few shots. This time, I tricked the spider to climb onto a wooden board, so I have a nicer background to work with. I did not touch the spider, that's against my principles. The spider did not move much, and was very cooperative, posing for me. I guess the spider knew I was not a threat? I don't know. Since it was a flat surface, I can compose my shots better too, and get closer. I have shared my shooting techniques and my gear setup here (click) here if you are interested. 

Freedom seems further and further away. 

I don't know what I did to deserve this. Maybe the spider will understand. Let me talk to him. 

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  1. Having watched your podcasts Robin I can only applaud you for both the quality and the content. I have loved watching and learning from your YouTube videos in the past, they have been a great help. So my heart goes out to you and the situation you are in. Stay strong Robin. A PayPal donation is on its way, not as much as I'd like but hopefully will help you.

  2. Very nice work on the spider. Total lockdown is difficult. Here in the USA our state did not totally lock down. I was allowed out to the store or pharmacy once or twice a week in the early morning for about a year. Now we are almost fully open. I hope your country gets the vaccines.
    That is what really helped here.

    I need to watch your podcasts. There is one bright spot to lockdown, learning something new. I've been doing audio for over 50 years. I started when I was about 12 or 13. It is truly a specialty. If you move a lot, you may want to get a decent affordable wireless mike you can wear. Alternately use of a good omni-directional mike. In any case, consider a good automatic gain control preamp. I'm only guessing at what I might try. Since I'm not there, all I can do is guess.

  3. I watched and listened to your podcasts today Robin, nice work. Your audio sounds good. Maybe a bit boomy with the shotgun microphone, but really, it sounds good. Once lockdown ends perhaps you could borrow a microphone with a different response or pattern. Your levels sound good. Process enough so it sounds good to you. No processing is better than no processing. Level or gain control is always desired. Te Electro-Voice RE-20 is perhaps the most popular broadcast microphone for the past 40 or more years. I've used plenty of them. E-V is hard to beat. Expensive, but great microphone.

  4. To me the audio quality of the "new style" videos is already quite high, sure it's a good thing to always strive for improvement, but for me (and I guess most) the reason I watch #ROBINSPEAKS is what you say, more than the audio details.
    I also guess I was one of the guys who commented that after a few weeks lockdown cases would have started to drop & authorities would have started easing the restrictions, well it seems I was wrong and I'm sorry of my mistaken effort of being optimistic and lift you up. I had to spend 2 months of hard lockdown in a place I guess only marginally larger than yours, and sure it's hard to cope.