Behind the scenes at Akash Studios by@nickalesandro

Behind the scenes at Akash Studios

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Nick Alesandro

Last week Overclock Labs released the next iteration of the Akash Network, a decentralized marketplace and deployment platform for cloud compute. This MVP iteration was pretty exciting for all of us because it is the first feature-complete version of the platform. As of now, the blockchain-based marketplace is fully integrated with the Kubernetes-based deployment platform — or in English, now this thing works end to end!

Please feel free to head over to our site or our GitHub repo for all the nitty-gritty details on what we do (or check out this article to learn why we’re doing it). This article won’t do any of that. Instead we’ll focus on the making of THIS, Akash’s very first demo video:


We’re a frugal startup with exactly 5 full-time employees, so when the time came to finally show off our pride and joy, we wanted it to appear as professional as possible while spending as little as possible. I’ll describe the tools and process here, in case others in a similar position might find it helpful.

The tools

  1. Microphone: Audio-Technica AT4050 with iD22 InterfaceCost: $0.00 (Borrowed from a friend. List price is around $1200, so I highly recommend borrowing)Reason for selection: A professional mic makes a huge difference in the sound quality. Your computer’s built-in mic gives output that sounds barely better than a Skype call.

  2. Screen capture software: Wondershare Filmora ScrnCost: $19.99 for a 1 year licenseReason for selection: You could use QuickTime for free, but it records your entire screen. Filmora Scrn allows you to define and record a selection and has some advanced capture options and basic editing tools (though I didn’t use them).

  3. Video editing software: iMovieCost: $0.00Reason for selection: I’ve used it before, it’s quite capable, and it’s free.

  4. Audio editing software: iMovieCost: $0.00Reason for selection: Ibid.

  5. Computer: MacBook Pro 15 inch, 2.8GHz processor, 16GB memoryCost: $0.00 (It’s my everyday computer — $2400 if you buy one just for your video project, but that would be silly)Reason for selection: It’s my everyday computer.

The Process

The Akash video is a fairly technical demonstration, with all the action taking place in 2 terminal windows. A GUI-based demo would follow the same basic steps, though with some modification

**1. Write the rough script**The rough script contains the basic sequence of events and the commands that accompany each. Here’s a sample passage from ours:


Written using iA Writer

2. Copy all the commands to a clipboard history managerI am a horrifically bad typist so instead of attempting to edit away my errors in post-production, I chose to copy each command into a clipboard buffer app called CopyClip (one of my favorite tools). Once saved there, I could paste them into the terminal with a keystroke.


3087 / 1744 = 1.77 (a 16:9 aspect ratio)

3. Set up the window(s) to be recorded and draw your video capture selectionYour windows should be large as possible to minimize resizing up when played on large/high resolution monitors. The aspect ratio should be 16:9 (width/height = 1.77 ) to fit neatly in a standard player.

**4. Record the video track**Start the recording, pasting/entering your commands into the terminal window in the order specified in your rough script. Don’t worry about timing because you’ll tweak that in post-production — just get the sequence (and the output of course) right. You’re not recording the audio track at this time either, so don’t worry about words.


Recording video: Don’t worry about timing, just type the right commands in the right order

**5. Take a rough pass at editing, and add markers.**Because you didn’t pay attention to timing, you’ll inevitably need to cut out large sections where nothing happens (say because you stopped to say hi to a coworker), insert freeze frames where you know you’ll need to say a lot later, or cut/cover mistakes. This first pass makes later fine-tuning more manageable. Your life will also be made easier if you drop markers at each point where you want to add commentary (one marker per command/explanation pair).


Those purple markers are your friends

**6. Write the final draft**With the video track (sort of) in the can, now you can write the final draft with the exact words you plan to say during your audio track. Here’s the final draft version of the rough draft passage above. The “M — — “ notations represent marker positions, which will help when you match audio and video tracks later.


All the words, in the correct order

**7. Set up your recording studio**Here at Akash, we use a walk-in utility closet with fabric panels covering the door hole. The point is to minimize external noise and sound bouncing around a hard-sided room. Also, note the pop filter on the mic — very helpful. Record and play back a few test tracks to get your settings correct.


Where the magic happens — professionalism all the way.

**8. Record your voice tracks**Relax, breathe, and record your voice track in short passages. Doing it in iMovie makes it simple — just set the playhead where you want the track, press the record button, and speak as the video plays. Recording it in small chunks is much easier on the nerves and (for me) easier in final edits.

**9. Perform your final edits**Now you can manipulate (cut/freeze/slow/speed) the video and audio track so that everything lines up perfectly and to remove any remaining imperfections in either track. Be sure to play your audio tracks back through headphones and adjust audio levels if needed for best sound. At this point in the process, you will also add title slides, transitions, text, and any other effects needed for the final video.

10. Export, upload, and shareRun through the whole video a couple more times as a final check, then you’re done! Now just export the video, (we use mp4), upload it to the video sharing platform of your choice (we use Vimeo) and share share share.

A final word

While I’ve given countless live and webcast demos in my long career, this was my first attempt at a recorded and edited demo. I’ll let you judge the results for yourself, but at the very least, I was actually able to do it despite my inexperience (full disclosure — I had messed around with iMovie already, so had some familiarity).

The entire process took me about two and a half calendar days, or about 8–10 hours of total work, so if you have a Mac, access to a decent mic and 8 hours to spare, give it whirl!

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