Thursday, 23 July 2020

Bumblebee, Autobot Transformer in Beetle form [Video showcasing the Fully Painted Interior and Engine]

Amidst a slight lull in the assembly and painting of existing scale model kit or miniature figurine projects, I decided to try my hand at producing and editing a more professional looking hobby-related video. And despite being generally okay with the results of my maiden attempt, there are admittedly a lot of areas that require improvement as I'll touch upon later in this post. By chronicling my initial effort here, I hope to highlight some of the potential issues a hobbyist is faced with during the video shoot as well as post production. Some things you aren't aware of, until you actually try doing them.

Tamiya 1/24 scale Volkswagen Beetle; Bumblebee proxy: fully painted interior and rear-engine

Conscious of keeping things within a small budget I made use of existing equipment whenever possible. So that meant using my mileage-heavy iPhone 7 Plus as the visual recording device. Early videos had been shot using an even older Canon EOS 650D DSLR camera, which remains my primary photography equipment. But sadly videos taken using the camera couldn't match the quality generated by the iPhone, even an out-of-date one, hence the switch. In terms of technological age, the Canon 650D hit the market at around 2012 while the iPhone 7 Plus came out four years later. 

Recording setups for videos (left) and voice-overs (right) of FourEyedMonster Vlogs

On the software side of things, I needed a wireless solution that enabled me to see in real-time what I was recording on my laptop as I was recording them with my iPhone. Because my iOS-based iPhone didn't play nice with my Windows-based laptop, I couldn't do a simple screen mirroring of the video images. Instead, I found myself having to purchase a third-party software that lets Windows and iOS talk to each other remotely. I'm pretty sure tech gurus out there are aware of a cheaper solution but for me the best option available was a wireless screen-mirroring application called Reflector 3.   

Screen-mirroring software that displays video being captured on my iPhone, in real-time on my laptop

Meanwhile, to record better quality voice-overs I plumped for a locally branded low- to mid-price range USB condenser microphone namely the Gaming Freak Chanter Nano. This product has since been discontinued so if you looking for one in Malaysia it might not be as readily stocked as before. Anyway, this cardioid pattern (i.e. highest sensitivity to sound is from the front) microphone has a respectable sampling rate of 16 bit / 48 kHz. All in all, I found this microphone not only easy to use (plug and play) but also provided a decent enough voice-over quality. For someone not blessed with the narrative qualities of Morgan Freeman or David Attenborough, I need all the help I can get.

Chanter NANO is a locally-branded USB condenser microphone at the low- to mid-price range
This budget microphone has a cardioid pickup pattern with a 16 bit/48 kHz sampling rate
Solidly build, the Chanter Nano isn't the best on the market but it's a great choice for beginners

So how did my first 'proper' video production turn out. Well, more misses than hits to be honest. The following is a long list of things, if time had permitted, I coulda woulda shoulda done better:

a) Most noticeable is how fast I seem to be talking in this video. A simple explanation for this is that the hurried voice-over is directly correlated to the extremely short length of the video. When I first shot the video, I hadn't considered what I was going to say in detail hence no script was prepared beforehand. I was essentially stuck in my old mindset of thinking the video would be accompanied only by background music. So when the time came to do the voice-over, I found myself speaking extraordinarily fast to fit a specific narrative within a scene that was too short in length.

b) An inability to autofocus on my iPhone resulted in an irritating visual abberation. Each time the less than ideal manual focus was engaged, the video would brighten up exponentially. Going forward, I might've to find a way to shoot around this and edit the abberation out.

c) Time constraints during video production/editing meant there weren't any visual indicators to point out parts of the scale model kit being talked about. Obviously this can be a problem if you are either new to the hobby or unfamiliar with the kit in question. Thankfully, this is one issue that can be easily rectified without having to resort to lengthy post-production video editing. In the future, all I have to do is use a toothpick to physically point out what I'm talking about. It's that simple.

d) Technically my iPhone keeps heating up and shutting down in mid-shot. Whilst I do not know for sure, I suspect there are two possible culprits in this issue. Firstly, my iPhone is very old and its battery is perhaps no longer working at an optimum level. Secondly, the screen-mirroring software isn't syncing the laptop and phone as seamlessly and effectively as I would've liked. Both could be causing the battery to drain quickly, also implying the phone is being utilized too aggressively.    

e) And because I'm still adpating to doing videos that are more than a 360 degree shot of completed projects, I frequently found myself blocking the lens with my hands. Although it wasn't too much of an issue for this particular video, it became disconcerting in videos that I was doing assembly work. Hopefully this is one problem that will go away with increased experience.

To view the video showcasing the fully painted interior and engine of the Tamiya 1/24 scale Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (1966 Model), please click on the image below:

Notwithstanding all the issues, there are still nuggets of useful footage to be gleaned from the video above. At the very least, it should give you a glimpse of the potential inherent in this kit. Thank you for taking the time to view it and I'll certainly try my utmost best to make better ones in the future. Again many thanks if you had spent your precious time in viewing my video. Please do not hesitate to leave some constructive criticism if you have any. Thanks again, and have a great weekend ahead!

FourEyedMonster Miniatures YouTube Channel


  1. Love this gorgeous Beetle!

    1. I think the Beetle has the most gorgeous car design ever :)

  2. Amazing progress and enjoyed the video too!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to watch my video. Much appreciated :)

  3. Great progress ! Looks fantastic !

  4. Interesting read. So this is the fabric of true magic...
    Seriously, I love to learn about the whole holistic process involved

    1. Thanks Suber :) I too wish I had started this series of videos from the beginning. Sadly my setup is still too unstable to be able to take videos for long stretches. I had learned so much from other painters and modelers videos that I wanted to give something back to the community.


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