Michele Ong
STEAM Powered Kit

STEAM Powered Kit

👋️

Despite having all these lovely links to other sites where you can find/buy the tools I’ve mentioned, rest assured most of these I name-drop for free. I am an affiliate with a few of them though, and these will be clearly indicated.

If you would like to support my work with STEAM Powered, subscribe, tell your friends, or become a patron on my Patreon or Ko-Fi or buy your books from BookDepository with my affiliate link. Thanks!

Interested in being able to record your own interviews or panels? Sign up for riverside.fm with my affiliate link and use promo code STEAM25 to get 25% off the first three months of your subscription.

Current Kit

Administrative

Streak for Gmail

Integrated CRM for Gmail. I’ve set up a pipeline to track communications with guests with reminders and tasks for arranging scheduling (and re-scheduling). It makes the scheduling process more manageable.

Recording

Riverside.fm (affiliate)

To make and record conversations. This is a great service, and I’ll be putting together some guides/views soon. I have a Riverside.fm FAQ here.

📣

You can get separate recordings for up to 8 participants (host and guests) and have people join your video conversation as an audience member. A breeze for editing and perfect for panels or conferences. Use promo code STEAM25 to get 25% off the first three months of your subscription.

QuickTime

For recording my audio separately as a backup.

Rode NT-USB microphone

I was using my Bluetooth earbuds for recording, but I was not terribly pleased with the sound quality. The Rode is (mostly) forgiving of the fact that I’m recording in my fairly open dining area, though I do need to do a bit in post to clean it up. Still figuring that bit out.

Logitech BRIO webcam

This is overkill as I don’t need the 4K for remote interviewing, but it’s future-proofing. The webcam takes up less space, and I also had video and audio sync issues with the audio from QT or Riverside.fm with the video from the Sony A7. Over time, it would fall out of sync and it added processing time that I just can’t be bothered with despite how much I prefer the video quality (I have a thing about my camera glass).

Lighting

20”x28”/50x70cm Softbox Lighting Kit

Nothing exxy, just something serviceable off Amazon. The included bulbs were a little too harsh for the small space so I picked up a couple of

Philips Hue Tuneable White Bluetooth Lightbulb

It’s not the brightest at a max of 806lm, but it’s controllable via my phone and adequate for the space I’m in. It also gives me a bit of flexibility with tinkering with the setup and learning about lighting. These are irritatingly hard to come by now. Don’t know why, they seem far more useful than the multi-coloured ones, but what do I know about trends in smart-lighting.

Post/Editing

DaVinci Resolve

Bit of a learning curve, but the documentation, forums, and Google are excellent. I use this to create the YouTube video, podcast, as well as the clips that get posted throughout the week. It struggles a bit on my old hardware, but I recently upgraded to the paid version so that it would actually make use of my GPU and things are much better now.

Izotope RX Standard

I record from my dining room, and my guests are wherever they are on a wide range of microphones. Some of them use the onboard speakers ☹️️ so audio cleanup is A Bit of a Thing(TM). A very time-consuming thing.

RX8 is meant to be the Bee’s Knees and from what I’ve tinkered with it, it Isn’t Bad At All(TM). With the inconsistency of recording environments, it’s much more efficient than faffing about with knobs in Fairlight. It also helped that it was heavily discounted when I picked it up.

audio-technica ATH-M20x monitoring headphones

I originally used my bluetooth earpods for audio editing[3]. Due to sync issues, I switched to my standard iPhone headphones[4], but I wasn’t able to get the sound clear enough, and I also kept hearing crackles and things. Apparently, I’m the only one who can hear them. No, not like that. I tend to pick up higher frequencies. I thought I grew out of it, as you’re meant to lose that hearing range as you get older, but apparently not. Decided to just get some decent entry-level circumaural headphones to eliminate other external factors. They’re great, and as a bonus, my music sounds so much better. I still hear the higher frequency sound no one else can, but at least I can sort out the other issues. If you too can hear the higher frequency thing let me know, I’ll find out if there’s something I can do about it.

Promotion

Photoshop

For creating the title cards and all the other image assets I’ve needed to create for the primary content. I already have a license for my dev work, and it’s what I’m familiar with.

Facebook Creator Studio

For Facebook scheduling. You can use it for Instagram as well, but I use

Later

For Instagram and Twitter scheduling.

Vurbl

Vurbl is a relatively new audio platform with a pretty great feature that allows you to create snippets of longer audio for sharing. As a producer of long-form content with episodes averaging just under an hour, it’s exactly what I need to highlight bits of our conversations.

Also, I happen to be the Vurbl Ambassador for their Science content category. :)

Infrastructure

NameCheap (affiliate)

Well-priced and reliable domain registration and hosting, with free WhoisGuard to conceal domain contact information. Been using them for years for all my domains.

Netlify

For hosting the website. Ironing out some workflow issues like scheduling show pages to go out when an episode does, but it does exactly what I want it to. At least until I get some time to execute the next phase, then we’ll see.

Backblaze

Backup everything. It’s easy to take for granted how much storage content creation actually creates. Raws, project files and finals, extra assets, etc. It all adds up. I don’t want to lose any of it.

Past Kit

Kit I used to use, but don’t anymore.

Recording

Sony A7

Full-frame is overkill for this, but I have the original series A7 which was released in 2013. I use it with a Minolta 28mm f2.8 for no other reason than physical distance available for my setup. My favourite lenses can’t focus at the short distance I have available.

The Sony A7 supports recording at 1080 but has a video length limit of just under a half-hour and has a tendency to overheat. Due to its age, it also doesn’t have live view/tethering, which is why I also have an

Atomos Ninja Blade

It’s an HDMI monitor and recorder (circa 2014) that also records at 1080 which I picked up second-hand. Solves the aforementioned shortfalls of recording video with the camera directly. This older model that I picked up off eBay also supports standard SSDs which are more affordable with barely any budget.

Padcaster Smartphone Teleprompter

While I’d love to have the kind of memory where I can quote whole acts of Shakespeare at the drop of a hat[1], as a brain-fried parent this is not an option for me. This fits my phone and attaches to my Sony A7. Still need a few takes but allows me to turn around this part of the process much more quickly than having to learn a script by rote.

The companion app is slow to load and the UI needs a little improvement, but it’s serviceable.

I’ve had to stop using this because I’m no longer using the Sony A7 and I don’t have an adapter to use it with the BRIO (yet), but I plan to put this back into the rotation when I get the chance. My memory is improving without this as a crutch, but it still requires far more time to do my intros and outros without it.


[1] Working on it[2].

[2] The memory, not necessarily the Shakespeare.

[3] Don’t look at me like that. I know that’s a terrible idea.

[4] We’ve established how problematic I am with audio engineering matters. I’m getting better.

Published Jul 29, 2020

© 2021 Michele Ong.