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How I Record The Sketch Process

I am receiving many questions on how I record my sketches. I can't reply to all, so it's simpler to just write about it, here. No, I don't hold the camera with one hand. It sits on a Manfrotto tripod. I will do another article on how I work with this camera support. For now, I am talking about the camera and recording process. I use the Fujifilm X-Pro2. While I like prime lenses, I use a zoom lens here, the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS. Why a zoom lens? I need to zoom to adjust to the paper size (I know, I could just adjust the tripod legs and just use my either 23mm or 35mm if I really wanted to). The white balance is really important here, since all I do has a white background.

The manual control is really simple, since the white piece of paper is always in front of me, but any change in light color is visible immediately. During a sketch of just one hour, I need to adjust the manual WB several times, depending on the changes in the natural light. I moved away from artificial light. Even if more consistent in color, artificial light is not as contrasty and pleasant. I do like the FN button next to the shutter - it's customized to be the video button, so I can take video or photo without changing any settings.

I record the videos in 20 second up to 300 second clips. I rarely need to go over this limit. After all, I only need 2-3 clips of under 60 seconds from each sketch, for my social media. I never to timelapses - I think it's boring to watch. Besides, I rotate the paper too many times, so it would be a mess in a timelapse. I focus manually, once at the begining of the video, and leave it there.

X-Pro2 Pros: - manual control on dials, visible without looking at the screen (screen being away from me while on the overhead tripod) - compact size, simple shape (main reason why I abandoned Nikon) - precise autofocus (manual focus on a hard dial), even on white sheet of paper.

X-Pro2Cons: - No 4k yet (there was no 4k on Fujifilm when I purchased this camera in 2016) - no flip screen (so I can't see what I record without getting up every 20 seconds...) - no 3.5mm jack, as I record sound... I use a 2.5mm adapter at all times, and the camera has a hard time recognizing the microphone. I missed the sound many times, when the camera decided to use the internal microphone instead...

What about the sound? I use a simple Rode compact microphone. Rode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone by the full name. One trick - I lay the microphone on the table, so it catches the sound and vibration a little stronger than an aerial one, located at the same distance - under 24" away. A simple way to get strong sound, while overpowering the background noise.

Video Editing - I use Final Cut Pro, on a MacBook Pro 2016 Touchbar. I do little editing, except for some desaturation, bump up the highlights and lower the shadows. The goal is to get the white paper as white as possible, in a nicely contrasted video. I've stopped adding sound in the past few months, so I rely solely on the scratch sounds produced by the microphone. My videos are a simple collection of a few clips, in a 30-60 second long video for Instagram, or longer for youtube.

Photo Editing - Lightroom is really the way to go. I've been using it ever since Apple abandoned Aperture. I almost always maximize highlights and whites, just enough so the images do now look "burned". I lower the saturation halfway and increase the contrast. I almost always get the white balance wrong, so I adjust the color temperature to compensate. Sometimes I add a little, but just a little dark vignette. I am dealing with a white background, so any imperfection count. I do need to brush the image a little, to eliminate dark spots or dust from the lens. I usually don't need more than 3-5 images per sketch, so editing them is the easier part when compared to video editing. I never apply preset filters. All adjustments are on case by case. 

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