Behind the Screens is a weekly 9to5Toys series that takes you through our writers’ setups, be it mobile, desktop, gaming or home theater. Next up is Haye Kesteloo, the senior editor for DroneDJ.
Welcome to my office! My setup has been tweaked and changed over the years in an effort to create the ‘perfect’ workspace. As a writer and content creator for DroneDJ, my office needs accommodate different needs at different times. This varies from just a regular office desk where I write my articles to a photo/video studio and a place to edit the videos and record voice-overs. Of course, a fair amount of work takes place outside my office and I will talk about that as well.
My office space
When I work from my office, I prefer to work on my iMac (late 2015) with its large 27-inch, 5K screen in combination with the original wired keyboard, wired mouse (left hand) and magic mouse (right hand). Last time, I checked you cannot run to magic mice at once and I really like to switch from one hand to the other to reduce the strain.
Even though I like the keyboard on my MacBook Pro a lot, I do have quite large hands and I cannot do without the space that a traditional Apple keyboard offers. I do hope that Apple will come out with a large keyboard (including numerical pad), that will have the same keys as my MacBook Pro and will also include the Touch Bar. That would be very useful for editing photos and video.
One of my favorite office items has to be my custom-made Ikea/Autonomous standing desk. I used a countertop and two drawers from Ikea, just like Ben Schoon, in combination with the electronically adjustable frame from Autonomous to create this flexible workspace. Throughout the day, I alternate between sitting and standing behind my desk to keep the blood flowing. This arrangement did not break the bank and has worked really well for me over the last couple of years.
On my desk I have a couple of items, I cannot do without. First of all, my Audio-Technica headphones for listening to music but also sound recordings. Like Ben Lovejoy, I (try to) run a paperless office and my ScanSnap S1500M (link to a newer model) has served me really well over the years. I use the scanner in combination with DevonThink Pro to convert all my scans into searchable pdf files. I also use a variety of external hard drives. My favorite being a 9TB ThunderBay 4 (Thunderbolt, RAID 0) from OWC/MacSales that allows me to edit videos quickly. I use 8TB WD EasyStore external drives for backup purposes and some smaller ones for when I travel.
Talking about traveling, when I am out in the field, I like to bring as little as possible and my 13-inch MacBook Pro (2017) has proven to be a much friendlier travel companion than my old 15-inch MacBook Pro. Depending on what I will be doing I will bring one of these bags: Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7, MindShift rotation180° 22L Panorama Camera Backpack, or a Peak Design Messenger Bag.
I switched to Apple software years ago and can’t see myself switching back to Windows ever. Life seems to be so much easier on this side. Although I will say that Apple’s software used to be more stable and solid years ago. On a positive note, I really appreciate how much easier it is nowadays to continue working while switching from MacBook to iPhone to iMac. For me, this is a big plus.
The software I use most, apart from macOS and iOS, has to be the app Alfred. From launching apps, finding files and pasting snippets of text, I use this all day long. Alfred is one that I wanted to specifically mention. Other apps that I lean on heavily are, BusyCal, Things 3, Chrome, Safari, Tweetbot, JPEG-mini, PhotoBulk, DevonThink, Lightroom, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and others.
Photo and video
For shooting photos and video footage, I use a Sony A7Rii in combination with a 16-35mm, F4 Sony/Zeiss lens, and a 70-300mm Sony lens. For photos, I also use a Fuji X100 and X100F, a camera that is a joy to use (unlike the Sony). For recording sound, I use three different Rode microphones: small, large, desk. A Rhino slider EVO, a Manfrotto monopod 500 series, Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 tripod with fluid head and Joby 5K Gorillapod are also part of the outfit, as is the Osmo Mobile 1 and Osmo+.
For editing, I like to use Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Apple’s Final Cut Pro in combination with EditorsKeys. These are skins with all the important shortcuts that you can lay on top of your keyboard. Using shortcuts dramatically speeds up your work so I can highly recommend these.
Working for DroneDJ provides me with quite a large number of drones to choose from. The DJI Spark has always been a favorite drone to bring along in any situation. However, all the more serious work gets done on either the DJI Mavic Pro or Mavic Air. The Air is brilliant because it is so easy to pack and bring along and it has nice Quickshot flight modes. Most often though, I bring along the Mavic Pro, because I have 7 batteries so I can keep flying forever.
Another big reason for me to choose the Mavic Pro over the Mavic Air is the Waypoints feature of the Mavic Pro. Using Waypoints on the third party app, Litchi makes it really easy to pre-program your flight and while the drone flies from waypoint to waypoint in a nice curve, you can rotate the drone and get the cinematic footage you’re after. This does not work with the DJI Go 4 app, so please DJI take notice and upgrade the waypoints feature (1,700 votes and counting). Thank you!
A couple of things are next. I have pre-ordered the Fuji X-H1 and 16-55mm, F2.8 zoom lens, mainly because of Fuji’s amazing lenses, color profiles, 1080p @ 120fps and ease-of-use. Working with the Fuji’s will speed up my workflow tremendously, however, the Sony’s technical ability is hard to beat, so I’m looking forward to comparing these two cameras side by side. Furthermore, I am in the process of improving my video recording studio with sound-proofing, better lights, and improved sound-recording with my new Rode mic, etc. so that it will become easier to crank out videos for DroneDJ. Maybe once that has been finalized, I will share how my setup has evolved.
That’s it for me. Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!