Sunday, April 20, 2014

Poet Christopher Merrill at the LAT Festival of Books

Last week at the Los Angeles Time Festival of Books went well. I found the slim tripod that I could carry in my handbag. That helps to stabilize a lot of the recordings.




This is Christopher Merrill reading at the Poetry stage on campus at University of Southern California. It took a while to find the poetry stage. USC is a big campus and there were a lot of people checking out the doings on a Sunday afternoon. My toe bones were aching but I found it.

Here is the thing; traditional poetry readings can be visually electrifying. Or contemplative. I'm a little bit sad that people think that every poetry reading needs to be a competition or delivered in a bam, bam, super slam means of getting into your head.

Do not miss understand me; I like the bam bam. I like the contemplative too.

Traditional non-juiced up poetry is hard to record. Especially if you are just aiming a camera at the poet. And you have one camera. And you only get one chance to get it right.

I have been told that you need to mix it up visually every 10 to 15 seconds. Keep the video short.  Find the story and use the tools to tell it.

The reason being is that modern video viewers have very short attentions spans. That is true.

Then again, poems don't always comply with short attention spanned people. You might need to listen more than see. Maybe the poem requires you to slow down. Be still. Listen.

Some would argue that audio only would be more appropriate. Or the use of an audio foundation with photography would better serve the poem. That could be true as well.

For me, this is a moment in time with a poet. This is how some people recite poetry. I did add a visual break in a section of the video but that was to hid my zooming into his space more than to give the viewer a break.

Could I have don't better? Yes, in hindsight I could have recorded more coverage of his face, hands and the environment.

Other Posts of Interest


Sunday, April 13, 2014

5 Things to Remember for Event Recording

It doesn't matter if you record on a smartphone or a dedicated camcorder user, you can improve the quality of your recording by making sure you have what you need to get it right.

I've made okay videos and I've made stinkers. This is a 2006 converted event video from the Blip.tv days of 320x240 web video recording.



This year I want to raise the level in an upward direction. I paid serious cash money to learn how to do better so this is the game plan:

1. Pre-Planning or What Are You Doing?

Are you going to the event to enjoy it and snag a memory or two? Are you going to give the essence of the event? Perhaps you are on a story hunt trying to find the central theme of the event?

You need to think about the kind of recording you want to make and those shots that would best represent your idea. You don't have to locked into a preconceived notions of what you think you will see; we ain't the news media. You do want to record video that capture the feeling of the event.

I'm actually talking about two things. Coverage - the crowds, the vendors, the performers, the sights and sounds. You want to bank those type of recordings to give yourself natural transitions and goof protection.

The other thing is the recording you have to have to make it clear to your viewer what they are seeing and why you think it is important.

2. Charge!

Make sure that your device(s) is charged (powered) and that you have backup power if you need it. If you have a spare USB charger and cord take it along; you never know if you have access to a spare A/C (Mains for UK folk) plug.

3. Got Room on the Card?

Yes, this is a gotcha. You might have a 32GB card in the camera but you only have 6GB of recording space available for recording. Back up your prior recordings and give yourself some recording room.

4. Stabilization

I really hate the jitters in my videos. Sure, I can turn on image stabilization but there are times when I need to use the zoom lens to see someone on stage. Using the zoom lens will amplify the jitters and the shakes.

Here is the thing. I have two heavy tripods. Hardly ever use them because they are a pain to take on public transportation. I use to have a thin travel tripod; I am in search of it but I think it broke a year or two ago.

So I am looking for a compact monopod that I can carry to keep the jitters to a minimum.  There are monopods that sell as low as $16 and as high as $250+.  Find your sweet spot and stick to it.

5. Hold Still

Count out ten seconds, hold your breath for ten seconds do what you have to do. Fight the whiplash. With few exceptions if you press the record button you aim for ten seconds before you move.

Yes, your subject might move out of the shot. Or the poet moves from one part of the stage to the other. Give them ten seconds to move back. Or compose the shot wider so that it doesn't matter where they move you got them.

Bonus Tip - Have Fun.

It is a process. It is a challenge. But in the end of the day you are outside, meeting people, being exposed to new things.

Event recording for a vlog or personal use shouldn't induce pain or cause you to be a jerk.

Take it easy.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Quick Look at Q4 Handy Video Recorder

I have got to learn not to look at Samy's Camera ads during tax time. There I was, trying hard not to look at the Canon T3i when I saw it; the Zoom Q4 Handy Video Recorder. I thought most vendors had given up marketing the smaller Point and Share Camcorders.

What has happened is that Canon, Sony and Zoom are making small camcorders for musicians. The are concentrating on quality audio recording with an video component. What is good for musicians is also good for storytellers, journalists and archivists.

This is a video from a vendor; Guitar Center, doing an advertorial about the device.




Looks kinda tasty to me. After getting seriously burned in my workshop project by sketchy audio, I am more than willing to trust Zoom to handle the audio for me.

I like what I see, good microphones, able to monitor the audio and a detachable LCD panel. There is another video from Sound and Gear that does test the features of the camera so you should check that out as well.

Quick Look at the Specs

  • MPEG4-AVC/H.264 recording HD up to 1920 x 1080p at 30 fps. Also record 1280 x 720p at 60 fps.
  •  Line-In/Stereo Mic Input Jack, Headphones/Line Output Jack
  • USB Port for Using Camcorder as a Webcam
  • SDHC/SDXC Memory Cards 128GB You are probably gonna want Class 10 cards with this device.
$300 plus tax? If you are a podcaster that needs occasional video, reporter or a serious videoblogger this could be a good investment. I'd need to see the video before plunking down cash money but it is attractive.

And small. This bad boy on weighs 1.8 ounces or 51.0291grams for folks on the other side of the pond.

I think I need to start a new penny jar campaign just to be on the safe side should I still want to check it out six months from now.

Other Posts of Interest:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Peep Look at The Shorty Awards

The Shorty Awards have come and gone. I meant to watch the live streaming but got caught up in a narrative spoken word piece by Charles Bukowski and became discombobulated.



No, it is not the Vloggies or the Winnies. There was a party, so there is something about tradition.

The Short Awards focus on the best use of social media which includes the use of Vine, Instagram and yes, Gif files to communicate a message. There are some representation of videobloggers and people that use web video.
 

Special shout out to the Grand Master of the Use of Social Media; Mr. George Takei who has dominion on Twitter, Tumblr and whatever the heck he wants to communicate with humor, grace or slashing focus on the truth.




Too hip, gotta go.




Monday, April 7, 2014

First Dabs with GoPro Studio 2.01

Ah, GoPro Studio 2.01. I think I'm in love. But I'm not sure. There are problems but I'm willing to work it out. GoPro Studio is a video editing program for the GoPro line of action camcorders. Camcorders that can shoot in 2k, 4k, 3D and Fish Eye.

Mighty fine camcorders that I haven't found enough justification to buy. I want a GoPro but most of my action is sedentary. But this isn't about the cameras. This is about the free video editing software that can be downloaded from the vendor's web site.




Let me make something very clear. This software is intended and designed for owners of the GoPro Camcorders. That being said, if your camcorder produces video that the software can accept this could be a very good thing indeed.

This program has templates you can use to quickly create a video. That is a drag and drop simplicity but for what I want to do there is no template to match so I am using the blank template to test the software features.
 
Step 1 - Import and Convert

If your non-GoPro camcorder records video in a high definition mp4 format you can import the video into the software.


It might (but not guaranteed) accept .avi video. In my brief testing, I can say that it couldn't import a few .mov videos that I have. I will have to dig up some old motion jpeg video but suspect it won't import that either.

With all the different flavors .mp4 there might be an issue in importing. You will either see a message or the video will not appear in the holding areas.

Import the videos you want to work on; you will have an opportunity to re-name the imported video. Take the opportunity! You can also select just the portion of the video you want to work on.

You can convert to a native GoPro .avi format or change to a .mov. (I know I said it wouldn't accept native .mov videos. but it will convert existing videos to a .mov format. IF you have QuickTime installed on your system)

Step 2 - Edit

On the surface it looks like a one trick pony.


You have one video track, two tittle tracks and two audio tracks.  It is what it is and don't forget it is free before you start turning you nose up at it. It is also simple for novice users to use without reading the manual.

Drag, drop set you in and out point. Done.
But wait, there is more.


I'm not going into detail with all of the controls but I want to focus on White Balance; if you record in the wrong light temperature say Tungsten instead of Daylight you can correct it with a jump to the left or right.

Many video editing software programs can do this but it is not always accessible. You gotta hunt for it. And this is what you see is what you get White Balance.



What got my heart pitter patter happy was the Framing controls. Let's say that you record a video and when you go to edit you notice that it is slightly crooked or tilted. You can fix that using rotation.

Or maybe you want to zoom in on a specific section of the video to mask the shakes. You can do that using the zoom tool. Want to adjust the horizontal and vertical?

You can.

Step 3 - Export

You have a number of options on exporting the video:



YouTube, Vimeo or export the video out to another program for finishing.  Or you can make your own custom setting.

Why I Can't Give My Heart to It

I'm was loving it until I realized that my audio was gone. As in it did not cross over after importing video into the software. I checked the website and there is page that describes what to do if you don't have audio.

I could not find the Sound icon in the lower left corner. I adjusted the audio levels. Nothing.

This is not necessarily a deal breaker for me. I still have the original video and I can extract the audio from that file and plunk it into another video editing program.

But it is a huge issue if you don't know how to do that. Again, it might be because I am not using a native GoPro video file, it could be I'm not seeing the icon or whatever.

Possible Uses

I can see this being helpful to Windows Movie Maker users who need to do a quick fix like white or color balance or fixing a slight tilt in the video. You could correct the problem in GoPro Studio and then bring the video into Windows Movie Maker for the final edit.

I know that I have video that I can't use that I might be able to resurrect. That would be such a good thing; except for the disappearing audio.

Summary

I need to go line by line with the manual. That requires time, of which I'm kind short off.

Still, there may be more goodies and an answer to the missing audio problem. If you really understand the limitations and the gifts this software provides then I think you will have a tool to help correct certain types of editing problems.

Other Posts of Interest


Sunday, April 6, 2014

SciFi London 48HR YouTube Storytelling Challenge

Stuff is happening all over the joint. This time it is in the UK but all sentient beings are invited to participate. The SciFi London 48 Hour YouTube Storytelling Challenge is you, your gear, imagination and talent making a story video of a Sci-Fi fictional nature.

Here is the lovely and charming Mr. Stuart Ashen to give you the details and an example of what you can do:




If you can't see the video you can get the essential information from the Challenge information page. Now, this is a London contest running on United Kingdom time. They gronk UTC and BST so if you don't want to be left out then you'll want to confirm entry time with a site like TimeAndDate.com.

1:00 p.m. London BST is 8:00 a.m. in Grist Fiord, Canada and 5:00 a.m. in San Diego, USA.

My understanding from the video is that it doesn't necessarily have to be a talking head video but since you only have 48 hours you aren't going to recreate Forbidden Planet either.

There are prizes but the really the good stuff is going to come from the videos and the creativity behind them.


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Friday, April 4, 2014

Thoughts About Videoblogging In 2014

When I have a bit of time I like to search a specific term to see if there is something new under the sun. It irks the heck out of me when a word is appropriated by a group that does not know or care to know the original meaning.

Twerking is one those words where the dominate culture slapped a meaning on to the dance and thought it discovered something new.

Videoblogging is not quite as physical as twerking but multiple meanings are being applied beyond what I believe the original generation of the term.

So let's look back and then move forward.

Text Bloggers

Content ranges from personal narratives, to instruction, outreach, creativity and yes there was advertising, marketing and a couple of folks doing a slow grind up against the wall.

Photo Bloggers

Then you had the photobloggers that just uploaded photos to their blog. Or those that uploaded and had a narrative about the photo. Or used photography to instruct, outreach, be creative and show exactly who or what was grinding up against the wall. I will not dismiss the impact of sexual content on the Internet and in blogs. It fueled a lot of innovation.

In the other corner, are the advertisers, marketers and profiteers.

Audio and Videoblogging

Both types of blogs arrived at roughly at the same time with the same processes and motivation of the two prior groups. There were talking head personal narrative videos, travel videologs, cooking vlogs, teaching vlogs, fashion and you name videoblogs it it appeared on Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Vimeo and YouTube.

And yes, there were advertisers, marketers, and profiteers using the name of videoblogging to attempt disguise a commercial or selling opportunity.

Not much has change expect there has been another word appropriation called storytelling. The fiction that is being spun is that if you get the viewer emotionally engaged and create a relationship they will give you money no matter if they need the product or not.

This is a commercial for Bell's Scotch Whiskey. For the record, I think this is a beautiful ad. It is loving shot and performed. I will stand behind almost anything that promotes literacy and reading. 




I'm not buying that liquor. One, I don't like whiskey or most hard liquors. Two, although I like and appreciate the commercial there is a part of me that feels manipulated. Not in a bad way but I know or sense that somebody is trying to influence me. I have to separate the intent of the ad (to buy liquor) from the narrative of the ad (a father's journey to read.)

Will I tell people about the ad? Yes, if it is appropriate (like right now.).

What does this have to do with videoblogging? Many people are being told that if they tell the story of their product or service in an engaging way they will reap profits with hand over fist money.

This is an excerpt from some instructions on how to use videoblogging for profit:

Now imaging your product parading in all it’s royalty through (sic) videoblog. You’ll get phone call orders in no time.

If your business is just starting up, you can create a videoblog right at your own home. All you need is your web camera, microphone, video software, and lights. For as long as you know how to use your camera, then you can create a videoblog.

Nothing untrue in that statement; you can have a videoblog in two shakes of a lamb's tail. It does not mean that you have the skill to sell your goods, services or product.

And even if you have skills that doesn't mean I'll come running with cash money to your site.

Because if the above ad can't move me to by a product that would turn my tummy sideways why do you think I would watch your one slide with audio PowerPoint video? Or your plea to buy, buy now, buy now or die knowing that you let this deal go by?

So. Here we are. The carpetbaggers are still running around giving misinformation. People who have a real product or service that they would like to promote using video will have to do extra due diligence not to be sold swap dust.

And videoblogging, in all of it various forms; including those that are adding new bumps to the grind, are doing just fine.

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