I had the idea for HowToChinese.com mulling in my head for a while but finally the circumstances were right to give it a real go. I just did some major software upgrades for my other site, WoodMarvels.com and really wanted to put it through its paces and get into green screening. 3D is great fun, but doing only one thing over and over again doesn’t lead to much growth over the long term, you need to infuse some new knowledge into the fold.
How it began
I bought a camera a little over a year ago for the sole purpose of doing some video, so I made damn sure it was able to film at 720p. The camera cost me about 300$US – for a point-and-shoot, on the high-end but I really needed something very compact yet able to take both pictures and video at the highest quality. I did have a DSLR camera, Nikon D-40 which took AMAZING pictures but I also missed a lot of pictures due to its bulk and inability to do video.
300$US point-and-shoot camera… check!
I already love photography after working on a large body of work for another site, DreamClue.com – yes, I took ALL those pictures along with the description. Over 1200 before I needed a break… taught me about SEO and how to take a decent picture through trial and error.
Photographic knowledge and portfolio to dip into for the video… check!
Music production is something I added to my WoodMarvels.com videos for fun and really enjoy it, so I made sure to write a little tune for this video series, not only to break-up the teaching segments into manageable bites but to also allow me to show-off some photography! The “picture breaks” idea was born.
Music production… check!
The gf was a bonus, I never planned on doing the videos myself, I’m a more “behind the scenes” kind of guy but when I approached my gf about this idea… she jumped on it and I’m very happy she did! She was a teacher as was/am/was I so lesson planning and making classes fun came second nature to the two of us. She writes the script, I edit and then we review one last time.
Superstar to head the videos… check!
Using a green screen is great fun, but up until a week ago, I spent about 50 cents (Yes, China is that cheap to live in) and glued some green “paper” to the wall. That was the greenscreen! Headaches with lights, reflections and size… only 2 meters wide, about a meter high.
Suffice it to say, that was upgraded big time about a week ago… the number one headache gone! You can REALLY see the difference in production quality, just compare the videos BEFORE #10 to the current crop. Incredible! New screen is 3 meters x 3 meters (yes, it’s HUGE, folded in two the picture below) but now we have the flexibility to do whatever we want. Total cost about 35$US but well worth it.
The importance of a greenscreen can’t be overly emphasized… it’s what allows Lucky to have any background (static and animated) behind her… far more interesting than just a wall.
That’s all folks!
Other than teaching myself for many years about various production methods, softwares and visiting lots of studios, that is basically how to launch a start-up with little to no investment other than time and passion.
What’s in store in the future?
A lot, suffice it to say, like WoodMarvels.com is bringing woodcrafts into the 21st century, HowToChinese.com plans on doing the same with language learning methods. Most teachers are boring, as are their course material… something that HowToChinese.com never plans to be.