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Nathan Warner, Learning and Development Consultant of Garland Technology, is the interviewee in the latest episode of the Smarter Business Podcast. In this episode, Nathan talks about the benefits of live producing versus the traditional editing setup, using OBS technology, that creating video can be a "one man band", how his business had to pivot because of Covid-19 and how to improvise, adapt and overcome.
Here is Garland Technology website: https://www.garlandtechnology.com
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(upbeat music) - Welcome to this episode of The Smarter Business podcast. This podcast is a place where you can get business advice with a video bent. We like to talk to folks that are using video in interesting ways within their business. And this month, we're gonna talk to Nathan Warner of Garland Technology. Nathan it's good to have you. - Yeah, thanks for having me, looking forward to it. - Yeah, I think this will be a great one. We're gonna talk about, well, your crazy backgrounds and everything that goes into that. And kinda just, yeah your career/business journey a little. So, why don't I give you a chance to introduce yourself. How do you think of yourself? What title would you give yourself and so on? - (chuckling) Sure, I don't know, I mean by trade right now I guess I'm a learning and development consultant but, I have spent since 2007 working in online education and various technologies to help corporations and colleges figure out how to use technology to do better and more effective work using the series of online tools. - Excellent, and you've got a couple of gigs really. You do some adjunct teaching in addition to the.. - Yeah, so I've been teaching online for five years. But it's all the same technology, just figuring out how to reorganize it and use it for different purposes and I think that helps me see it from different angles and different lenses. - Sure, and as you mentioned, no stranger to sitting in front of a webcam all day, right? - Generally talking to myself for the better part of a decade so I'm more comfortable than most or anybody should be in that situation. - It's a good skill to have right now right? So, I guess, the question I typically ask people as a follow up there is, if you had to boil down what you do to one sentence, what would it be? I think you answered that pretty well. Yeah, you use video and online as a kinda tool for people to develop learning systems and so on. - Yeah, right, I use learning as a tool to develop people and grow businesses. - Okay, an even better answer than I'd give. - The one sentence things am never good at those. My dad is a pastor, I could talk for hours. - (laughing) Excellent, so we kinda brought up a little bit one way that you were probably better prepared for kinda what's been going on this past year than a lot of other folks. Yeah, you were comfortable in the virtual space. Everybody, a lot of other folks got thrust into it due to Covid. How has I guess your work life changed compared to what it was a year ago. - It's turned upside down. I think for me like first and foremost I'm a hardwired extrovert. I'm you know, gregarious to the core and so, I think there's natural challenges in isolation. Also I just started with Garland, you know, three days before the world stopped turning. And I started in the middle of the week. I think I worked three days and then I got a text on Sunday, Hey, we're closing the office. Come get your stuff Monday morning. And so I was three days in the office and now you know, 10 miles from home. I feel like I'm still getting to know many of my colleagues, cause we haven't had that time, you know a lot of that organic conversation and relationship building. But it's also kinda fun, I like creative problem solving and this has been well, then 2021 certainly is the continuation of the year of the creating problem solve, the pivot. And so, we have to, like everybody, we had to rethink how we do business. Everything we knew about our operations and the way that we engage with each other, with our customers, with our vendors, the way we hold events, where our budget goes. The kind of technology and gear we invest in, all of that stuff, we had to sit down and rethink it. That, I guess kind of classic sort of unofficial Marine Corp slogan? It's like, how do you improvise, adapt, and overcome? For us we had our sales kick off, our large, all company, annual meeting last week. And first time it's been virtual. Historically everybody got on a plane and shipped off to Buffalo. Obviously with this case, this year we went go Meeting. And we had one of our vendors, a third party cancel on a presentation on like 24 hours notice. And she sent us a, some kind of, pre-canned, pre-fabbed bit. and it came across my desk and it sort of was, how do we make this a little bit better? Right, we have this time blocked out on our calendars and everybody's planning to be here. The best use of our time together is not to all watch a pre-recorded video. And, so I reached for my sombrero yes know I actually do keep a sombrero by my desk unit. You definitely should have one of those. - (chuckling) - A man of many hats, you also gotta have your Bills hat, and have your company hat you know. - (chuckling) - So I grabbed my sombrero and I shot this ridiculous video. I created this stricturization of a character that shouldn't have even existed. And I shot this really, really, gimmicky introduction and I told everybody to watch the video, before the scheduled time, and then when we got together, I had coordinated with our HR staff to do a live, online game show. First one the company's ever done to the best of my knowledge. And truth be told, at the end of it like we took what would have been a really I don't know, a really kind of passive session where people were just sitting back and sort of listening, and hearing and maybe paying attention. And we turned it into an active participant situation where we used a program called Cahoot Online to do you know, online trivia and it was great. And so like, there's a hundred of those stories how, if I look back over the last year of, how we've had to just get creative. Say, what do we have, and then sort of this, we're calling it the "So what, now what?" So what, so this is what's going on, it is what it is, now what? How are we gonna move forward? And then we do it. And I think that's what, that's what keeps you going. That's why it's challenging as the year change has been for everybody. That's one of the things that kinda motivates me and continues to push me. It's just, there's always problems to be solved and there's always creative solutions. - Right, it's fun, solving problems that don't get heavy solutions that can be really energizing for some people. I'd put my self in that camp too. I love the, and well get to some of it a little bit later. But, that was I found myself in a weird, "What do we do next?" "Or how do we keep it moving type of spot for my own business?" And I developed that kit that that I'm on now and you're on a modified version of and in the creator network itself. So Alright, I'm gonna back it up to we first chatted, I was putting out there that I was willing to do kind of webcam consulting sessions, and you took me up on that offer. And I got to yeah, I get to see your kind of beginnings of your studio. And it was ambitious then. Like you had a lot of good stuff going. You had the green screen going what you're still rocking Well, maybe a different one but.. - We've moved from a cloth green screen, to we went Holland, we're.. - painted wall right? - We painted the wall, yeah. - So you had the first version of the green screen and a couple of different things. You had a little bit of a studio, was that all planned before COVID? Were you gonna be doing any work at home, or was that all meant for the office and you had to make that hard pivot in like a really short timeline? - If by plan do you mean we had an extra guest bedroom and, no, I mean, not in a million years. Even I've been teaching online for I shared for years but even that it's just, find a table, find a desk, find a couch and sit down with a laptop. And so, this was the first commitment of like okay, let's, somebody gave us a desk. I had a friend who said, hey, I'm getting rid of a desk, we're cleaning up our living room. And I said, I love a desk. And that was a few months before this all came about and started goofing around with lights, a hat around the house and trying to throw sheets over them and trying to find a way to properly light things as much as possible and digging through old bins of technology for old webcams and am all in. - You kind of done. (laughs) - Yeah, there's this like old thing that, "To whom much is given, much is required or expected." In organizations like, there's a lot required of you regardless of what you're given. So they're gonna give you, you know as a starting point, I was given nothing, and the expectations were high. And so I found a way to sort of deliver with what I had and prove that we can invest more and as we've continued to invest more, the production value has gone up and up and up. But, I started with with just a really ambitious plan and hope and a dream I guess. - Nice, nice. Yeah, and that's actually a great kind of segue into the next thing that I was gonna chat about which is tied to the Vidwheel creator network. So this month, the month of February, our monthly theme is OBS in live production. And you are gonna talk about some of the things that you just touched on, kinda like making it work with the gear that you have, our tentative, our tentative title for your talk is, creating video is a one man band. And that's gonna be on February 4, that you're gonna be speaking with the group. I know, is there a good example of like, I had to make it work, didn't seem like it was going to but I'm still using it today. Or worked that one time and now we're broken (laughing). - Oh man, if you could see the mess of my office around here. - We can't, because of the green screen setup, it's nice. - Yeah, I have a box right over my shoulder that has parchment paper from my kitchen, that's, clipped on with an an office alligator clip to get it at just the right angle to deflect the light in the direction it needs to go in. You know it's held, right, it hasn't moved. My laptop is still sitting on unopened Settlers of Catan board game that I have to get the right height. You know its good to roll with it. - Yeah, you gotta make it work with what you have in house. That was even more true, like you know back in May or something, but, still true now, right? - The whole thing took a really incredibly sideways turn when we were started to talk about video and my boss said, what about a green screen? And I said, I don't know anything about green screens. And so I went on Amazon back when there were still green screens to be purchased on there for less than $5,000. I got one for 20 bucks, but the problem was, I ended up in green screens, because I'm on the second floor of my house, and the ceilings are too low. So originally, I was thinking, well just get one of those stretchy fabric banners, you know, one with the pull ons' and I'll just get it pre framed, it'll get shipped to my house, be a black background, the company logo and then, after this pandemic's over in you know, 30 days, 60 days. Then we'll just take it, we'll start running, we'll use it for trade shows. What I forgot was that my ceilings in the office are seven feet tall. And so none of those prefab, cheaply priced items were available. And so then we pivoted to a green screen and I built a PVC frame out of pipes from Home Depot. - There you go, yeah, making it work again. That's awesome, that is excellent. So, because you're gonna be talking in this one man band presentation is largely gonna be built around OBS and making it work. I wonder if you wanna show off a little. You got a lot, a lot of stuff going on in the background. I will pin you and we'll see if that gives us any quality increase here on Zoom see what happens. - Yeah, let's take a look. I have so many experiments here inside of OBS, even this scene I'm using right now, I have a looping, a 4k video file that I got for free from Pixabay. And a little social animation that I modified in After Effects from Storyblocks. And I mean always stuff but let's see. Here's a fun one, (chuckling). So, when I was shooting this bit, someone threw me a PowerPoint deck and they wanted me to record it. It was called a competitive overview. And it started, the scripts representing about a 30,000 foot view of our competition. So naturally, I created this view of an airplane cockpit with an actual video of a takeoff. And so I started to the video and I say, hey, this is your captain speaking. And then at some point is I abruptly end I say, "I'm sorry, I gotta run" it looks like I left the cruise control on and we're about in the air. And it's just like, those kind of ridiculous things and you can do on the flight. Let's see, for our company Christmas Happy Hour. See my, where is my camera? There it is. So the camera is kind of out of frame a bit right now but, yeah, you just set something up and it's cheesy, and it's ridiculous and then, suddenly you find this picture of a Santa with a (mumbles). - And you shared that dancing Santa on the crater network. I took you up on that, I had that in a couple of spots myself. - Yeah, and then there's also a, there's also, I also have a Santa with a grenade launcher that just comes out and shoots missiles at me. I'll just random in the middle of meetings kind of duck out of the way. And so you have stuff like that when you're like really practical and reasonable stuff. I think one of the things that I like actually has been using OBS for some basic animations. And so if I look at, I think it's over here. Let's see. So I used it to create animation. So, here's a background running, passing information, it has some social call outs, has a countdown timer, something that we could use before we launch into a webinar. OBS is kind of like, my wife got me one of those insane instapot airfryer combos for Christmas (indistinct) functions. That's kind of what OBS is for me. It's just, there's so much you can do with it. And, you can make it different every day. I can use it for 1000 things. And once I pre-set it, I just kind of set it and forget it, it does its thing. There's a lot of work in sort of creating these animations and backgrounds but, once you've actually done all that pre show work, you can move it on the flyer as that one man band. - Yeah, and that's one of the things that's, I think, really interesting about it, which another good segue there Nathan. Because like the, we're gonna talk a little bit about live producing this next month on the creator network. And it's a little overwhelming I think to a lot of folks, cause there's a lot of bits and pieces that you have to set up beforehand, so that you can go through and just kind of record and go forward. I've taken the live producing, the talking head videos that I put on LinkedIn, and I didn't use to do that early on. But it's just so much more time effective and efficient for the amount of time I have to create things. So, what do you think, why do you think live production is maybe the best option for a one man band type of a production situation? - Yeah, I like OBS cause I can use it for multiple purposes, So I get comfortable in the software, I can use that same software for recording those talking head videos that I do just as well, I can use it for some basic animation clips I'm building that are gonna be way faster than they're gonna be to do in After Effects. Ad free, and I can also push out to a webcam source like I'm doing now. So I'm able to use one tool, that then can be broken down three different ways to create three different end products. And, I think that's, important for me. I think that, you and I talked before this shoot about using OBS to do interviews. So I've been able to use OBS to shoot two live presenters, and then bring that into a scene that I created. And then be able to create a really simple, polished, two person live interview video using OBS as the backbone. - Right, yeah, and that is like we talked about before, there are a lot of different ways to up the quality of interviews, and so on and OBS is a great tool that kind of help make that happen. - It's like a unique situation that you're in now because you like in this OBS sort of one man band environment. You are the camera and lighting and sound crew, you are the on air personality, you are the post production team, you are the graphic designer, the animation, builder. And so like, and I'm, I don't know about you, but I'm not great at all of those things. There's some of those things I'm good at, maybe one of those I'm great at, but I'm just trying to find my way through. And so, that's I think the juggling act. And so for me, like on camera is all about confidence, like how can we, you and I be sitting here meeting and I'm fully focused on the camera, and fully focused on you, engaging with you, while there's animations bouncing off behind me and things going on. You know, OBS empowers that, OBS allows me to sort of pre create all these items, all these lower thirds and animations and then be able to trigger them with hotkeys, with simple keyboard shortcuts that I maybe have to glance at my number pad maybe I don't. - Yeah, it's a, I mean it's an incredibly powerful program, and really looking forward to having you chat about it on the fourth. My next question that I have here is, the difference between live production and like kind of the traditional editing setup. What do you think the main advantages are? I touched on a few but I'll let you put in your own words, yeah, let's hear what you have to say on that. - I think I would echo what you said, for a lot of us it's about speed and efficiency. They're critical, we have to move forward. We have to move on to the next project and, you know, as a recovering perfectionist, OBS helps me, it protects me from myself. Left to my own devices, I will record and then I'll spend half a day in HitFilm or Premiere Pro, working on editing and post production, perfecting all these little sitting there with this stupid little audio waveforms, perfecting the up and down of my audio game. And so I'm gonna spend half a day to make a video 5% better. Okay, like let's just be honest, let's call it what it is. I'm gonna spend half a day in post production to make a video 5% better, when I could be half a day into the next video. And that's why OBS works for me and that's why, things are rolling as well as they are over here. - And so you've uninstalled HitFilm and Premiere so that you can't go and start tearing right?(laughing) Now that's a great point, I hadn't even thought about that. So like from that perfectionist kind of viewpoint, you kind of get what you get. And if you're comfortable kind of just setting up, going, moving forward based on that, I mean, I think that's perfect because, that's such a sticking point for folks, especially folks who are just starting to do some production work, right? - Yeah, and especially people who are doing it on contracts and an hourly situation on billable hours. And they obviously, you know, we all wanna make as much money as possible. But at the end of the day, they wanna be able to deliver to the client in the shortest period of time and have the client realize the return on that value and get to repeat business from it. And it is time in the OBS, it's just much as it is this idea that like, one man band video production, there's other tools that truly you could use to do it. But OBS is great because it's open source, there's so much content and information and plugins. And I've learned, I've consumed way too many hours of YouTube videos, but it's funny cause it's this interesting combination of like twitch game streamers, the people who are streaming their games online, and then churches. There's like two worlds colliding with people who are kind of thrust into OBS and figuring out, you have churches learning from gamers about how you do a live production on a budget? - Actually, that's a great point, cause we've had that discussion a couple of times before. A great example of the one man band, is the church that's trying to go, say go virtual because of COVID, or the one that just got, kind of a guy or girl, but a person who is, - One volunteer who's got like slight technology background. - And they're not getting paid, and it's just like, all right, make it work, you got no budget. Like that's, a it's kind of a perfect example of just trying to have to make it work. And you end up in that similar space, and you can end up with some really high quality stuff. So, all right, I'm gonna ask you the main question that we ask on this podcast when it comes to anybody who's been on, and that is, what is one thing that you have done to make your business, or a client's business smarter. - I'm a hardwired learner by nature, and which unsurprising has lead me down a path of teaching and training and developing employees. And so when I'm learning things, I'm always learning things so that I can teach them. It reinforces the learning for me to make sure I understand it cause, complexity is easy, simplicity is hard. So if you can understand something and learn it to the point where you can distill it and teach it to someone else, you really actually get it, you really truly understand it. And so, I spent nine months trying to figure out how to do video from home in a way that was, meaningful and impactful. And, at the end of the day, a couple weeks ago, I taught it back to our staff. So I sat down with our individuals on staff who'd be presenting at sales kickoff, and I talked through the basics of how to make the most of what you have around your house to be a great presenter. So we talked about using the lighting sources, using your windows, using cell phone cameras and headphones, and putting your laptop on a stack of board games or books to get your camera angle right. We talked through all that stuff and so, I would say for me that that one thing has always been to continue to teach and share whatever it is that I'm learning at any given time in any season of life. Yeah, and you're into one of those spaces too where like, from your experience and so on a lot of it's probably simple, or common sense, because you've lived it for so long, but when you start rolling out some of those kind of, those tips and tricks about like you brought up the lighting that's what I found when I was doing those webcam coaching sessions, was like simple lighting changes that could like would blow people away sometimes. Because it's not something that everybody's taught. It's something that like is second nature once you're making a lot of video and like, yeah, you're there now, you had a lot of good lights. I remember way back when we did that and it's just something that can be super valuable. But that's a tip from you just as well you know. I observed you giving people coaching on how to use blankets they have in the back of their couch to deaden sound that was echoing behind them. It's always like, how do you make the most of what you have around your house? And it's, hilarious. - Well that was (laughs), That was especially important early in COVID. (chuckling) like nobody was leaving their house right? Yeah, but yeah, great point. And like the reality is, a lot of people have a lot of stuff just in their possession that can help with that type of stuff. All right, I am going to ask you our last question of this interview. And it's the last question I ask in any interview. Just open ended. I always ask like, did we knock anything loose by our conversation? Some folks have just brought up a book that they're reading or piece of software they just started using, but just to open ended, is there anything else? That's the question. - Yeah, if there's one thing, go to LinkedIn and follow Jesse Cole. J-E-S-S-E C-O-L-E Jesse Cole owns a minor league banana, a minor league baseball team called the Savannah Bananas. And Jesse gets it. He understands how you do business differently. How you adapt. I mean the man, he named the team the Bananas. He wears a yellow tuxedo to every game. He's got people dress up in penguin outfits and meet people in the parking lot. He's got, he used to have banana shaped banana cratch and sniff tickets for the games. He totally gets it. He gets this sort of, you know, this improvise adapt, overcoming mentality. And he actually I'll show it to you, he created an exhibition game called Banana Ball, which is, he says that the reason that baseball is slowly dying in his opinion is because it's boring, which is a great thing for the owner of a baseball team to say. - (chuckling) Yes, an interesting take. - He set the rules for banana ball. They're like two hour time limit. No bunting. If a fan catches the ball, it's an out. Batters can steal first space. It's like this is totally like ridiculous, insane mentality of first break all the rules. - Well that I remember, I think it was in Arena Football. Wasn't there a team, maybe it was like Colorado, The Denvers or something. But they were letting fans call their plays like through an app. Do you ever hear that, like and it's maybe not gonna win you championships, but it is a fan interaction thing, that in a sport that's maybe knockout the popularity of the major leagues would be the difference between somebody becoming a fan or buying that ticket or not. - That was Jesse's big pivot this month. So the MLB just went through a major reduction where they eliminated 42 minor league teams, so they cut down like 90% of recruits for next year. And so you got I mean literally thousands of players who thought they were gonna go play single leg ball, who are now looking for a job. And so Jesse is holding open tryouts down in Savannah. And, so the invitation is can you dance? Like we want just not just players but entertainer? - (laughs) Yeah, all right. - And so, like, yeah, it's just that constant question of like, so what, now what? This is the cards we were dealt, this is our current reality. And, what are we gonna do with it? - Yeah, yeah, well, I think on that note, we've, I mean, we've never talked about the Savannah Bananas or I guess, yeah, kind of, yeah, sports theory in general here. So are the future sports. I think we'll wrap it up with that. It has been great having you on Nathan. I really look forward too on February 4, we're gonna chat with Nathan 8pm Eastern. If you reach out to me or find me on LinkedIn, you can get an invite to that presentation on the creator network. If you like what you hear on this podcast, please share it with your friends, subscribe. We publish in both video and audio formats. You can find it anywhere you download your podcasts. Nathan, this is where we would have one shaking hands, but we'll just wave goodbye. - We gonna have virtual meeting wave. - Right, unless you have some sort of, kind of, I don't know, something you could do to liven it up in OBS, an explosion, fire works, something like that. - On the spotlight, let's see what we got here. - Oh, there you go. - Just a beach scene. We'll just keep it classy. - Going on vacation, got it. Alright, have a good one. Thank you. (upbeat music)