The Magic Crayons - Studio Gear for English Teachers
How to convert a Japanese Cupboard into a Studio Workspace
I spend a great deal of my non-teaching time in my studio at home creating. It’s important to be comfortable and use well designed and capable equipment. For those of you now working from home I hope you find some great ideas here.
The Magic Crayons YouTube Channel now has over 1,700 subscribers and over 881,000 views+. Can I make it to 1 million this year! This is amazing. Thank you ! Below are links to all the video camera, photography and software gear that I use to produce the videos, with brief notes on why I chose that item. Also, a video about how I made my studio and the equipment I chose to install.
A great many people have helped me over the years, so as a thank you please do let me know of what else you would find useful on this page via TpT or the Live Chat on this page.
I was so lucky with this ! The Ikea Bekant Desk (IKEA Link) (#Ad) is just the lovely birch colour I wanted and was 2cm narrower than the space I had in my cupboard for it. It has nice white trim and adjustable height. If you live near a store then collecting is straight forward, otherwise you will need probably pay an inflated reseller price in Amazon.
Video eats up storage and it all needs to be backed up. I use TimeMachine to look after my iMac. I use external drives for storage and back up, with ChronoSync (#Ad) for scheduling of backups. I’ve always bought Buffalo external hard drives and have 2TB and 3TB versions. I took an old 250GB one apart the other day and see they use Western Digital drives inside. Just recently 5TB drives have started appear at sensible prices so bought the WD HDD 5TB (#Ad) Elements Desktop USB3.0. This will do me nicely until I start getting into 4K Video I’d imagine.
Super comfy lazy dad chair
the VIVA Reclining Office Chair, High Back Bonded Leather Chair with Footrest (Viva0850). This is no longer available but I’ve listed the model that looks closest to the one in the video. and since writing this article the category of Gaming Chairs has developed. Better styling, colors (!), possibly better ergonomics. Linked below are two chairs that I would consider now. The Herman Miller is a classic the standard by which other chairs are measured.
If I was to buy a chair again now I would definitly look at gaming chairs (#Ad) . They look incredible. Or just buy a Herman Miller
The hard wheels of the chair began to scratch the floor. I could have bought replacement wheels, but felt better buying clear chair mat (#Ad) .
For the record box and printer, on the floor to the left I made custom wire shelving units (#Ad) . I measured the size of the box and printer then bought separate shelving parts to make exactly the size I wanted. I’ve no plans to move house and space is very limited in a Japanese apartment.
Look your best on MS Teams and Zoom
Look your best, even if you feel your worst, with a 3-color ring light. Mount this with your mobile phone, web camera or DLSR in the centre. Color 1) emulates tungsten house light bulbs, with a nice warm glow 2) the most important - summer sunlight setting evenly lights your face in flattering white light. Excellent for taking photos of crafts too. And 3) no idea don’t use it. I’ve also never used the adjustable power setting either so no need to pay extra for that. Just sit closer or further away
I saw how Casey Neistat uses his red boxes (#Ad) to store all his kit, and wondered how I as a more visual learner type could adapt his theology to suit me. I chose to use clear plastic storage boxes (#Ad) that were the same depth as the shelves, and can stack two high. I measured the shelves before buying these boxes. As the boxes are clear i can see what’s in them. Which does sound obvious of course but it means I don’t spaces ages digging through boxes looking for something as I can see the entire contents in one go. Make sure they are stackable, and can be kept tight shut with a clasp or handle.
MXL V67G FETMXL V67G FE (Amazon #Ad)
Large 32mm pressure gradient condenser capsule. Gold-sputtered, 6 micron density diaphrag. Solid state preamp balanced transformer output. MXL-57 isolation shock mount available.
MXL 70 Shock MountShock Mount (Amazon #Ad)
MXL 70 High Isolation Shock Mount for MXL 770, 990, or Body Sized 60MM/2.3 in
Yamaha HS5 SpeakersYamaha HS55 (Amazon #Ad)
Yamaha HS5 Pair 2-Way bass-Reflex bi-Amplified nearfield Studio Monitors with 5 inch woofers
Rackmount Power DistributionPower Distribution (Amazon #Ad)
Pyle 19 Outlet 1U 19" Rackmount PDU Power Distribution Supply
Audio and Outboard
The power supply in the US is the same as in Japan, plus they use they same plugs. Coming from England I was surprised and concerned that there was no earth terminal in my apartment. This is fine, so I'm told.
To make sure I or my kids don't send any nasty peaks to my mixer when recording, or to my speakers on playback I have use an Alesis 3630 Compressor Limiter Gate Processor (#Ad) . I like this so much I actually brought it with from England when I moved here some 10 years ago. It has been switched on for almost all that time, so the reliability speaks for itself.
I'm not sure how I will be using my studio in the future exactly, but foreseeably audio recording for YouTube videos, voice overs for animation, my kids playing piano, a friend playing guitar. For something in a 1U space and plenty of options I bought this delicious ART MX822 8-Channel Stereo Mixer (#Ad) . It is sooo nice and clear. I did incorrectly assume that the EFX return would act as a wet / dry dial. It doesn’t. It only controls the volume of the returned signal. Not the end of the world, I've just wired everything else differently to get the control I needed.
Another bargain from the used music stores of Tokyo was this Behringer Virtualizer Pro DSP1000P. No one really wants outboard these days so it is relatively cheap to pick up what you need. I have always wanted one of these to add silly effects to my voice. Sure, I could have bought software but I want shiny lights on my desk. I'm also a fan of using one tool for a specific function. It is also easier for my kids to adjust the settings for the Youtube voices overs than clicking things I’d rather they didn’t in software.
I bought this Behringer Ultravoice Digital VX2496 years back and is no longer available. I could replace with software, but it is a nice stand alone unit set up how I like it and ready to go.
Cables is cables, so I might as well get some XLR Cables in nice colours (#Ad) . Red for left, green for right.
Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 (#Ad) MkI DJ Controller (I have the Mk1, Mk2 is awesome). I should use this more.
Native Instruments Audio 8DJ Audio interface part of Traktor Scratch Pro 2 bundle. No longer available, sadly. It does the job it should and sounds fine with my speakers. UPDATE - not compatible with recent Macs. I now have the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD (#Ad) .
Rackshelf x210 and x150. I'm intending to make or buy a 4U rack shelf to keep dust away from from my outboard. All the outboard units above are shallow, so the shelf reflects the maximum depth. UPDATE: Decided not to waste my time trying to be clever and make a custom unit and instead bought two of the excellent Free Standing Desktop Racks from StarTech. Highly recommended. they sit snug on my desk. raked back at a nice angle too.
Very nice on my ears for prolonged sessions of editing are these Yamaha HS5 (#Ad) powered speakers. They are about 5cm away from the wall, at head height, and pointing just past my ears. Yes I bought them because of how they looked. And why not. They look lovely. They are about 5cm away from the wall with space either side.
Updated since I originally made this video and page. Currently using a 27” iMac, 8GB video RAM, 40GB Ram.
Thats the top end 27” iMac, to give 2TB Fusion Drive, and stick 4GB RAM, and 8GB video RAM.
Save yourself a small fortune by buying third party RAM.
32GB DDR4 2400 MHz SO-DIMM Memory Module Kit for Mac (2 x 16GB) (#Ad) , plus the original built 8GB provides a very ice 40GB,
I was so pleased with the Eliminator E10 Control Center S-Switch/ 60 I immediately ordered another one. In my last studio all the power cables where just a mass of spaghetti on the floor. Now there is just one cable from the wall socket to the desk. All the individual cables are hidden by the outboard units. I will make or buy a box to keep dust out. Most of my drives have power blocks, so it got a little cramped trying to plug them all in at once. The short extension cables below sorted that. I've had hard drives fail because they were left on all the time. It is so easy now to turn off what I don't need. Electricity use is down, and hopefully hard drives and all my other kit will last a little longer.
It got a little cramped trying to squeeze all the power bricks into the Eliminator E107 so I bought short extension cables (#Ad) .
UPDATE: It became a real challenge to keep the power cables tidy so I picked up a PYLE PC080.(#Ad). The is a really handy USB power slot on the front, plus three power slots for the time I want to quickly plug in a fan or ring light when I’m taking photos on my desk. And a ridiculous 15 slots on the back, so in 1U takes up the space required by an E107.
It is surprisingly difficult to find USB hubs that are capable ofsimultaneouslycharging everything that is plugged into it. The Pluggable Hub (#Ad) has 7 powered desktop USB ports. It did exactly as described and was so good I bought another. At times I am charging and syncing up to 4 iPhones and a camera. Sometimes I over do it, but there is a simple reset button on the unit. That button is on the back of the unit, which is why they face towards me in the video.
Excellent looks, superb sound, and wonderful build quality is the MXL V67G microphone (#Ad) with Marshall MXL-57 shock mount (#Ad) . It really is worth investing in a well built and great sounding mic. I use mine for podcasts, book reading, voice overs and more.
Really nice to get things delivered quickly so I signed up for Amazon Prime! Actually that’s not true. I accidentally clicked join without realising, but I’m so glad I did lol.
In the racks - 2020
I’ve acquired this gear over the past 25 years. All but mixer you will now only find in used stores
• Eliminator E107 (#Ad) x2
• Behringer Ultra-Voice VX2496
• Behringer Virtualizer Pro DSP 1000P
• ART MX822 8-Channel Stereo Mixer (#Ad) .
• Alesis 3630 Compressor
• Tascam MD-02 Mini Disc Player
• Tascam 302 Twin Cassette Tape Deck (#Ad)
Video Capture Devices for Streaming School Events
Video capture devices
For connecting your DLSR or Video Camera to your computer for streaming, typically with OBS as
I’m buying one soon. I shall let you know which. The Elgato seems permanently out of stick during the virus so I couldn’t consider it.
UPDATE: I bought the Bostin! It’s awesome. See my How to live stream a school graduation event blog post for details.
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