What is there to learn? Well a lot as it happens

Simply Soweto Encha

Simply Soweto Encha

First of all I want to say a big thanks to Simply Soweta Encha because they did rock the crowd at Pear Tree and I believe that the bucket we passed round reflected how good they were. Not much but a big thanks to everyone who showed their appreciation.

Looking back on the video it’s clear we didn’t catch the sound properly which led to a great evening because we got asked back to someone’s home to where we were cooked the tastiest meal I’ve had in a long time. As we talked over dinner it became clear that I was in the home of someone who knew a thing about sound engineering. And their friends. I learned stuff about frequencies and how they are different in any environment and expected sound may not be what you expected. I got stuff to learn :-)

Simply Soweto Encha were very kind to us, I knew at the time it wasn’t good enough on the Hangout, they were more optimistic because they were brilliant, but I knew there was a couple of wrong decisions and despite it all they want to come back and perform again. The good news is that it will be towards the end of the month and we’ll be able to do them justice and produce some of their sound.

And I will say this, Music is best live, the video failed because you should have been there :-)

And as everyone who was there to pack the garden would say, Simply Soweto Encha wowed the audience into cheers for more who showed their appreciation by digging deep when the busking bucket came round.

So I met some new friends who explained how it should have been and who now want to get involved and teach us what we need to know about sound. How cool is that?

Something else which shouldn’t be forgotten in all of this is there was some good things to learn about the video we streamed in that I was really surprised by one of the webcams we used was definitely up for being of a good quality (for web) the other I would say never cut the mustard. The webcams in question? HP and logitech and HP won by a mile in my books. We really did struggle getting good cameras, which we have all got, to stream live and we went back to the default setup, lets use what we have which is a couple of webcams.

So next up we got Houndog Fraser at the PearTree, come along if you love blues and tapping your feet to a good tune and in the meantime we’ll do some ragged learning. Why don’t you come along yourself and get involved? we have all of July


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So what I have I learned so far?

Well firstly there are a lot of good solutions by way of hardware and software that we don’t have (yet) and as we’re doing this with what we’ve got and what we’ve got is free to use. I did stray into research thinking I had found a HDMI capture to USB device that was affordable on the day but turned out it couldn’t be used without propriety software. I am so used to thinking in Open Source that I had forgotten companies do that to their stuff and thought I would connect and go. However I would say that you can get, what is now old tech, that will capture analogue video to USB. It’s the lead that you would normally use to watch the camcorder on a telly and these cameras are still producing HD and they don’t have the hassle of a DSLR in that it will always want to turn itself off in case it overheats. A friend Fiona bought one for the project which I’d picked out not realising it was coming from China with an eighteen day shipping. Barring bandwith restrictions ideally you could do a set up like that pretty cheaply. You don’t have to worry what format it saves to and whatever compression it uses because you’ll just be monitoring the camcorder. Though you should record so that you have a better quality that what arrives out of YouTube as it gets uploaded and streamed.


The HP webcam did ok I was really pleased with it so I’m going to get another one the same and the cuts to and from each camera will be a bit more consistent, so that’ll be an improvement, something learned. You got try to these things and see how things pan and so far I’ve learned more about how to put a show on and looking forward to the rest. Now that we’ve had a run at I’ve got a better idea about setting up the webcams, yes it should have been done but I was sidetracked by the hope we’d be using DSLR and getting great video footage. However you’ll see the benefits of the ideas I got in the next show.

On reflection though through less critical eyes and they both did the job. Made it possible to stream and share the Ragged Edinburgh Fringe so instead of replacing one we’ll try three. 


On the streaming side of things we tried the WiFi in a vain hope it would work and we’ve been rescued by 4G every time and has been reliable. You can get a portable 4G called MyFi and you can connect up to ten devices all on 4G which doesn’t have the upload restrictions we get from our ISP’s. 4G costs money so we cabled into the router with a switcher which connected to the laptops with the webcams. It seemed to handle it so maybe try three camera’s which would even be worth reducing the image size if it meant three cameras could stream easily. The switcher balances out all the video being streamed and sends them all the the router evenly and fair.


And back to the sound. Well what we are definitely doing is doing it properly. We’ll use a feed from the mixer and mic everything that isn’t plugged in, level it all nicely and feed it into the hangout. Once the cameras are sorted it will definitely free up more time to ensure we’re capturing it properly and there’s no excuse all the equipment is there courtesy of George at the PearTree so we’re well on our way.


Simply Soweto Encha were a nice bunch of people you could want to meet, they arrived and we all worked together to get them ready to do their show and they delivered a brilliant set. I’m looking forward to them coming back.


Between us all we have all the resources we need between us without having to spend one penny. As more and more people are getting involved resources and skills are all there and by the end of the month I’m sure we’ll be feeling the benefit of that and never forget this is Pre Fringe, we still have the Fringe to come in August so yeeha. If you live in Edinburgh or you’ll be here in July then come down to the PearTree you will find us there all day on the days we have bands performing so drop in and get involved.

See you at the PearTree

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