The Ukulele Teacher is the person behind Grab Your Uke. He gives you advice on the best ukuleles, ukulele accessories and YouTube equipment. Here you'll find the best free ukulele lessons on the Internet.
Check out the above video for an example of how a green screen can liven up your YouTube videos!
This humble green screen can transform even the most humdrum of YouTube videos into something a bit more lively!
But how does it work?
Adding a large swathe of a bright colour to your video that is ‘unnatural’ (i.e. doesn’t really appear much in the real world), makes it incredibly easy for your video editing software (Final Cut Pro X in my case) to remove this background. And from there, you can add in whatever you like!
This could be a spaceship, an ocean liner, a desert, a freeway - really, the only limits are your imagination... or your ability to source a copyright-free background from Google!
It’s pretty easy to set up a green screen in your own home - here’s how I did it:
1. Purchase a green screen. I visited my local camera store and was spoilt for choice, however there are several good kits on Amazon. This one seems to have everything you need to get started.
2. Set it up in your recording space. You will need to keep the screen nice and tight so that it doesn’t get crumpled, so try and get a green screen with a stand if you can afford it/have room.
3. Light the screen. Obviously you will have to make the best of what you have available to you, but as a rule of thumb, it’s best to have one main light shining directly at the green screen, and two lights either side of where you’re going to be filming. The important thing is to light it as evenly as you can, so that the colour remains consistent. That makes it easier for your editing software to remove the colour.
4. Set up your camera. Make sure that your camera can capture lots of the green screen behind you. A wide-angle lens is NOT SUITABLE for this sort of thing, as it will distort the green screen and make it appear a lot smaller than it actually is. Probably a kit lens (i.e. the one that came with your camera in the first place) is ideal. Make sure that if you are going to be moving about, your arms and legs will not stretch beyond the green screen. Otherwise they will get cut off when you’re editing!
5. DON’T WEAR GREEN! Unless you are making a video about The Invisible Man.
6. Film what you want to film.
7. Once you’re done filming (and have packed away all your gear!) now comes the fun part. Upload the green screen footage to your computer and use your editing software to remove the green background. This used to be incredibly difficult to achieve but now software like Final Cut Pro can do it with pretty much a single click of a button: In the Effects tab, select “Keyer” and if you’ve lit your green screen properly, it should be able to remove it all almost immediately. You may need to touch it up a little to get the desired effect but generally it’s as simple as clicking a button!
8. Now you need to add a background to your video. this can be something you’ve found on the internet (although make sure you have the copyright to the images if you’re going to be uploading it to YouTube) or it could be one of the many royalty-free backgrounds that your editing software comes with. However for my video, I wanted to shoot my own backgrounds, so I got on my bike and cycled around Santa Monica shooting cool background shots of beaches, fields and street corners to use.
9. Once you’ve added the background to your video, the job is complete! Edit it as you would normally and upload it for the world to share! Here's a playlist of some of the videos that I've used green screen in over the years. Some of them are better than others, but it's always fun to see what you can come up with!
10. Have fun! There's no point doing this if you're not going to enjoy it!
TOP GREENSCREEN HINTS:
Keep the screen smooth and taught! (Wrinkles will show up on your video.)Keep it evenly lit (The more evenly lit the screen is, the easier it will be for your editing software to remove it)Don't wear green! (Unless you want to make a video about The Invisible Man...)
Please check out my Amazon Store for all sorts of ukulele and ukulele-related recommendations. I update it regularly
This week I went to the NAMM expo at the Anaheim Convention Centre in California.
It’s basically a big - and I do mean BIG - trade fair for people in the music biz.
Thanks to my association with Kala, I was able to wangle an invite to the event and I had a blast!
As well as having a go on just about every single type of musical instrument you can imagine, I spent a lot of time checking out some very cool ukuleles.
I even bumped into my fellow online uke teacher, the very talented Cynthia Lin, and we performed an impromptu duet.
I saw ukuleles that were literally every colour of the rainbow.
And got to try out some of the Elite brand Kala ukuleles (their super-expensive range!).
I also killed two birds with one stone by filming a live Win My Uke giveaway for my $10 Patrons!
Even though I easily hit my 10,000 Fitbit steps on both days I was there, I feel like I only saw a fraction of what was on display.
As well as multiple ukulele stands, there were also live demos and performances of just about every musical style and genre imaginable, as well as all kinds of gadgets and gizmos that I didn’t know I needed until I saw them (and now can’t live without) such as the Pub Prop - a plastic clamp for keeping your ukulele safe should you decide to take it down to your local boozer!
I was exhausted at the end of my two days there, but I also came away energized and excited about the upcoming year - and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!
Please check out my Amazon store to check out all of my ukulele and ukulele-related recommendations. I update it regularly with new suggestions and ideas!
Today I heard that Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries, had sadly passed away. Although I'm meant to be in bed taking it easy - and in truth can barely speak because of the painkillers I'm on due to the dental work I've just endured - I felt like I couldn't let this go unmarked.
The Cranberries were one of the very first bands I ever saw live, all the way back in 1995 as one of the support acts for R.E.M. in Milton Keynes. And although I was of course excited to finally be seeing Michael Stipe et. al.
in person, I also couldn't wait to hear The Cranberries too.
I'd been given No Need To Argue as a Christmas gift the previous year and been enchanted by her incredible, beguiling and unique voice. I was probably too young (or, truth be told, just not interested) to really understand what the songs were actually about, but something about their raw nature moved me anyway, especially Zombie which just rocked in a way that a lot of other music around that time didn't.
So this afternoon, after reading the sad news of her passing, I got out of bed, whipped out my ukes, and put together this small tribute for her.
It's far from perfect and listening back I realise that there's a lot of timing issues which I would've corrected if I'd had more time. But I just really wanted to get this out there as soon as I could, in order to pay my respects.
Dolores might be gone, but her music will live on.
To help support this blog, please check out my Amazon store for my top ukulele and ukulele-accessory recommendations!
To help support this blog, please check out my for my top ukulele and ukulele-accessory recommendations!
Today I went to the dentist for some work... as well as being extremely expensive, it will also keep me out of commission for the next week or two - in fact, in the aftercare instructions, it actually forbids me from doing any cardio at all for at least two weeks, so I guess the Couch-to-5k will have to wait just a little bit longer!
Although I have to admit that there is a little bit of vanity behind getting my teeth sorted, it has also become quite a medical necessity in recent years.
I visited a number of dentists in the U.K. about ten years ago when I first noticed that my teeth appeared to be going crooked and was told again and again that there was nothing they could do for me, and "they could only help me when my teeth actually fell out"!
Since that time they've got worse and worse (it's genetic, sadly - my Dad is currently undergoing the exact same series of operations that I am) and it's caused me a lot of problems both mentally and physically.
After moving to the USA last year and signing up with my wife's excellent dentist, they took a much more pro-active approach to my teeth and - rather than wait for them to just fall out - have decided to take matters into their own hands!
The plan was to remove the lower two front teeth (this part was actually done last year) and add implants. However, it turns out that my gum had receded so much that before implants could even be considered, the gum would have to be built back up with a series of bone grafts that would each take several months to heal.
Today I had the worst of these bone grafts where - and this is not for the squeamish - bone was removed from the roof of my mouth and then surgically inserted to build up my lower gums. Sound painful? Well, it was!
Not only that, but it means that I have stitches in both the top and bottom of my mouth, meaning that I'll be living a largely liquid diet for at least the next week, as eating anything solid would run the risk of undoing the 3-hour dental procedure I've just endured.
I'm not even meant to speak much for the next couple of days to give everything a chance to heal!
Luckily I managed to pre-record several videos before I went in, so I will be editing them from my sick bed and posting them when I can, so hopefully you won't notice too much of a disruption to your weekly service.
This was the worst procedure I've gone through so far, but I'll be going back 'under the knife' in about 4 or 5 months when everything's healed to have dental implants inserted, which could be even more painful! Yikes!
To help support this blog, please check out my Amazon store for my top ukulele and ukulele-accessory recommendations!
This year I've decided to make some changes to my life!
1. Write (at least) one song a month
This is a really personal one for me - I learn several new songs that other people have written every single week... so surely I should be able to write one or two of my own? Yet, over the last ten years I've probably written a total of about 3 of my own songs... So this year, that changes! Whether or not anyone else will ever hear them is currently undecided, but I'm at least going to try! Might need to find a singer to help me with this project, though...
2. Update my website at least once a week
I created this website last year with lots of fanfare, truly intending to keep it updated with lots of great ukulele news and info... But it's a lot of work, especially with a YouTube channel to run. I'm pretty much a one-man band when it comes to all of The Ukulele Teacher stuff, so everything from filming, editing, uploading lessons to all of the various admin that comes with it is all me at the moment... And building/running/updating a website might be a bit more than I can chew at the moment. But if I at least try to aim for one blog entry a week, maybe that's a manageable way to start.
3. Read (at least) one book a month
I love reading - but since the advent of the iPhone my concentration span has become totally ruined! Last year I probably read less than a handful of books, so this year I'm at least going to aim for one a month. It's so easy to just waste hours and hours browsing Facebook, scrolling through Instagram or watching Netflix, so I'm going to try and make a concerted effort just to read more this year.
4. Do couch-to-5k at some point this year
I did something similar to this back in 2015 and got into the best shape of my life - and I really enjoyed it (once I got over the initial shock, anyway)! Since then I moved to America and put on a lot of weight - most of which I've now lost, luckily. But I live a very sedentary lifestyle, being a YouTuber, so again I need to make some time for me, and start moving more. Might wait til it's less cold outside though!
5. Don’t put all the weight back on As above, I've been struggling with my weight for much of my adult life, but after starting Weight Watchers around the start of last year, I've managed to slowly drop around 35 pounds... and this time I want to try and keep it off!
6. Be kinder to others
Hopefully I do a good job of this already! But I'm pretty sure I can always be kinder, especially to people I know. Especially as people have been so kind to me!
7. Only regret the things I have done not the things I haven’t
This is a big one for me! I don't want to look back on my life and think "What if...?" - so if I get any crazy/awesome/exciting/scary opportunities, I want to grab them with both hands, even if it might be easier to just carry on as normal!
8. Become more of a morning person The fact that I'm currently writing this blog post at 2.50am should tell you all you need to know about this one...
9. Learn to drive This one is a big one for me. I lived in London for most of my adult life, and generally got around just fine by walking/cycling/busing and tubing everywhere I needed to go. But now I'm in L.A. things are very different, and I'm spending a small fortune on Uber every time I want to leave the house. Also it's not fair on my wife, who currently has to do all the driving for the both of us. So hopefully 2018 is the year I finally learn to drive! I have to admit though... I'm pretty scared!
10. Learn to put my contact lenses in
WHY can't I do this?! It would make my life SO much easier if I could put contact lenses in. I vow to give this another shot in 2018! I'm fed up of squinting/wearing glasses. Sadly, my prescription and the shape of my eyes mean that laser surgery is not an option for me, otherwise I'd be all over that!
So, those are my 2018 New Year's Resolutions!
Will I stick to them... check back in a year to find out!