Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian

Media critic, creator (Feminist Frequency)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a media critic and the creator of Feminist Frequency, a non-profit video webseries that explores the representations of women in pop culture. My work focuses on deconstructing the stereotypes and tropes associated with women in mass media, as well as highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. All my videos are available for free online and viewers are never subjected to advertisements or paywalls. I'm regularly invited to give talks and facilitate workshops at universities, conferences and game development studios internationally.

Currently, I'm working on a multi-part video series called Tropes vs Women in Video Games which explores the role of women throughout the history of interactive entertainment.

What hardware do you use?

On the video recording side, I have a small studio space set up with two Nikon D7000 SLR cameras and power supply adaptors so I don't have to stop shooting to recharge the removable batteries. I primarily shoot with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens and a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. I record audio with a Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone that feeds into a Beachtek DXA-SLR Pro HDSLR Audio Adapter, plugged directly into my camera. If I film outside of my studio I often use a Sanken COS-11D Miniature Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone. My main lighting rig consists of two Kino Flo Diva-Lite 200 Fluorescents with both daylight and tungsten lamps. The newest addition to my filming set up is IKAN's Elite iPad Teleprompter Kit. I use a 3rd generation Retina Display iPad running the Elite iPad app paired with a Bluetooth remote to display and control my transcripts while in front of the camera. The teleprompter kit is fairly top heavy and ends up putting too much pressure on the tripod's removable faceplate so I use a heavier duty Calumet tripod with an attached faceplate camera mount. The studio itself is a bit DIY with acoustic foam stapled to the walls to act as insulation and soundproofing. We also use a few pieces of black-out fabric to seal any light that might be coming in from the windows. My video backgrounds are also homemade, consisting of two Impact light stands with a long piece of PVC piping sitting across the top and then draped with fabric in various colors. For the backdrop itself, I use a sheet of coloured poly-blend fabric because it can be pulled taught with clips to hide any creases or wrinkles.

My work desk set up for writing and editing consists of a hacked together standing desk (made from two IKEA LACK TV stands and some shelf brackets). My producer and I both have Retina Display MacBook Pros with 16GB of RAM. I plug mine into an older 25" Samsung flat screen external display. I use the Logitech Solar Wireless Keyboard and Wireless Mouse and occasionally the Magic Trackpad. I have at least a dozen Western Digital external hard drives (desktop & portable). Drive crashes have already been an issue during my current project so for editing video I now use the Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt Duo 6TB Dual Drive set up in RAID 1 to protect data and footage.

For research and recording video game footage I use the El Gato Game Capture High Definition Game Recorder to collect gameplay. I have a number of systems including the Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation 2, Wii, Wii U, Sony's Playstation Vita, a Nintendo 3DS XL and I plan to buy a PS4 when they are more widely available. I also use the El Gato box to capture iOS games on my iPad and iPhone with an HDMI adaptor. I hook up the ViewHD Premium 3D HDMI 4x2 Matrix (an HDMI splitter) that lets me instantly switch between most of my game systems on my television (55" LG LED 55LS4600) and on my capture box without plugging and unplugging cables. My capture box software runs on a separate older MacBook Pro which I use for capturing gameplay and running my PLEX media server.

Some other miscellaneous hardware that I use include a Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Router, iPhone 5S, Apple TV, Karma 4G Wireless hotspot and NeatReceipts mobile scanner.

And what software?

The bulk of my work is split between research, writing and video editing. Much of the writing and research is collaborative so I use programs like Google Drive, Evernote, Trello and Springpad to collect, organize, record and share research findings, notes and script drafts. I use an older version of LittleSnapper (before they rebranded) to screen cap, tag and organize images. I also use ScreenFlow for video capture from the web as well as Valve's Steam gaming platform. Dropbox and Apple's Airdrop are used often to share files quickly. I use both the Firefox and Chrome web browsers but the Search by Image extension for Chrome is extremely helpful in finding the highest res versions of images on the web.

For production and post production I still (begrudgingly) use Final Cut Pro 7 to edit my videos, but I'm weighing a move to either FCPX or Adobe Premiere Pro CC. I transcode my video recordings and my media footage with MPEG Streamclip, Handbrake and Miro Video Converter. (Note: MPEG Streamclip does not interface properly with Apple's Retina display so I had to use the QuickRes app to change my screen resolution in order to get the app working correctly). Images and graphics are all made with the latest version of Adobe Photoshop and organized via Adobe Bridge.

I use the web based video-translation platform Amara to create English captions for all my videos. Because of its built in crowd sourcing options, volunteers from around the world have joined the Feminist Frequency translation team to help make my videos accessible to a much wider audience.

I use the simple f.lux app to help ease eye strain when working after dark and Caffeine to keep my computer awake even if I step away for a few minutes or during the presentations and workshops I give. To stay up to date with all the internet has to offer I use Feedly as my RSS reader and Pocket to save articles to read later. I regularly use Skype and FaceTime for remote video meetings with my team and project consultants. VLC is my primary media player but I also use Plex Media Center with the Plex Home Theater app to organize and watch videos, TV shows and movies. I use Donor Tools to organize, track and communicate with Feminist Frequency donors and sustainers.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm pretty happy with my setup but there are a few things I'd like to add such as a motorized standing desk with a lot of surface area. I would prefer to have dual 27" monitors (either the Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM or the Apple Thunderbolt Display) and a dedicated Mac Pro desktop set-up for video production. I've also been eyeing the Desk Rail to organize all the items floating around my small desk space. I could also use a robust wireless networked RAID system to organize and share large files, like HD video footage, quickly and easily in the office.