Thursday, January 1, 2015

When The DV World Was New

In 2003 I saw my first non-tape digital camcorder at a DV convention in Los Angeles. My brain is fuzzy on it but it was an attempt to reach out to industrial and corporate videopeople.

They made a token effort to reach out to "those Internet folks". Many of the exhibitors were not interested in talking to people from the new disruptive wave. The exhibitors were there to make sales to their traditional markets. They had no use for the computer people.

I walked around, got as much swag as I could to justify my admission fee.

Then I saw this:

It was one of the first digital video camcorders. There were two guys running around in white lab coats talking up a storm in either a British or Australian accent. I couldn't tell you which because I was drawn like a bee to honey about that camera.

Running off an 2GB SD card and recording AVI (I think) video. Could have been Motion JPEG. It might have recorded 320x240 video.

It was affordable. $199 in cold hard cash or credit card. Accessible. Golly gee did I want to buy it right then and there. Which meant that I didn't. Not enough cash and I had limited options on uploading and posting videos.

I knew it was a game changer. I knew other camcorders were coming that would be better. I did not known that it would start to pave a path that transformed an industry. Digital video created new opportunities for creatives and non-Hollywood type innovators.

That is the thing about the future. Sometimes you can see a wee bit ahead but you'll never know until you step into the void.

Twelve years later I own different kinds of devices. The most recent being a Pivothead eyewear recorder. Everything old is new again.

Smartphones have replaced dedicated digital recorders. Action cams like the GoPro are transforming movie making and gaming.

Corporate media is busy locking down new talent and production companies to get rooted in the future yet to come.

And hotels are trying to keep you from using personal Wi-Fi and smartphone usage in their buildings.

What has this got to do with video?

Well, if this industry gets the right to block personal Wi-Fi usage then other companies will follow. Some of those companies could be people in the broadcast television industry looking to suppress any form of innovation they don't understand.

Or police departments wanting to stop people recording and uploading video of certain activities.

Or a religious group that thinks you should not have a voice to express your views and actively stops transmission.

How shall we go forward?

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pivothead Kudu Initial Impressions

Howdy. Having some technical difficulties as well as bandwidth issues. Not resolved but making progress. Anytime it takes 222 minutes to upload a 87MB file there is a problem. For the record; the video crashed just before final acceptance. So no video.
On to more important matters. I was tempted by an ad for a pair of Pivothead Kudu video glasses, eyeware what ever you want to call them. The $199.99 price was right and I went for it.

Quick Specs

  • 1080p video with options to downshift to 720p at 60fps or 720p at 30fps
  • 8GB internal storage for about an hour of video
  • Field of view is 75 degrees so no fisheye effect; to some that is a deal breaker but not for me.
  • Can take stills at 8MB, 5MB and 3MB
The photo shows light lens but mine are dark and that can be an issue if you want to record inside. Questions will be asked like "do you have an eye problem?" I believe I can swap out the lens for clear glass but I'll need to hip hop back to the website to make sure my model can do that.

Recording is easy. Very simple to operate. Walking while recording is challenging. In my first attempts I learned that I move my head a lot. I finally got some decent video to show and then crash, boom, no ability to upload.

Oops, gotta go.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Keep It Simple - Digital Storytelling Chart

Well, I've passed the class and I'm in recovery mode. Lot of catching up to do and decisions to make.

In the meantime, I've been using Canva to create simple artwork. I like that they have a tutorial process to help users create better charts and social media signage. They also have free and paid templates.

Kinda cool.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quick Look at The Noun Project

How do you express a universal concept? The Noun Project is trying to create pictograms that can express a concept without the use of written or spoken language.

So, back to the question and inspiration for my project; explaining how to take medicine when the other person can't read or doesn't understand your language?

This is a video about the project:

Now, here is where it gets interesting. Researching my project I found out that many countries use pictograms in addition to written language to communicate medical concepts. If you are thinking of a rural African village, think again.

The pictorgrams concept is used in Ireland, India and in the Americas. Hopefully it will pick up steam in the U.S. but it is a process. So, how do you get your hands on them?

There are a number of ways. If you have Adobe Voice you are good to go, this is the service that provides the art work.

If you are on Android or another operating system then you can register at the site for a limited free account. On the free account you are limited to Public Domain images. You will have to hunt them down; they are not easy to find.

I was only able to download three a day but I wasn't trying to load the whole image bank. There are low lifers that would download and sell the images so I completely understand the restrictions.

If you need more you can purchase individual images or access the creative common images that require attribution. The pricing plan that starts at $10 a month. If you only are need an pictogram occasionally this could be a keeper.

Images seem to scale well in my video editing programs. You have to see if your software or app is accommodating to it.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On the Jazz - Making the Rx Video

No, I haven't punked out again. I'm actually on a deadline that I'm very excited about and it fits in with storytelling. Some of you know that I have an interest in making explained videos.

Well, I got the opportunity to take a health literacy class. For my final, I'm making a video on how to read a prescription label.

I've been knocking out the script and starting to gathering assets.  I will be using some of the pictograms that I have acquired  to keep it as simple as possible.

And yeah, I have a backup plan if I can't extract video from the software. You must have a back-up plan if you promise to deliver something to somebody else.

What else?

Even if I can extract the video from Adobe Voice I'll still be tweaking it up with other software; I'll need to add captions to the video. I'll want to add a resource page and a disclaimer notice.

So I may need to use a video editing software. I just upgraded to Sony Movie Studio Premium and got a bunch of other software like Boris and Hitfilm FX Home. I lack for nothing but time and sleep.

Actually I want to try three things; making the video with Adobe Voice, using Powerpoint as an animation tool and maybe making an explainer animated gif. I have no I'd how to explainer animated gifs but I do know that I have to turn in my project by next week.

Mind is going crazy with possibilities. Will keep you posted.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Quick Look at Com-Phone Story Maker for Android

Com-Phone isn't designed for people like me but I'm taking a shine to it. It is an Android app for storytelling that is designed for older smartphones and devices. It is simple; you can take a photo; add audio and text and then transmit the story to YouTube or via e-mail.

Now I really need to stress that this app was designed for folks that do not have computers, high end tablets and other types of gizmos. I installed it on my old Samsung MP3 media player that has Android 2.23 on it.

I think there is a place for people that want to compose creative projects but need to keep it really simple.

Twitchy but Ok

In Photo mode I was a little confused that the photos were reversed. They recorded normally on the device but when you take the photo the image was flipped.

I recorded audio using the app, it was ok but occasionally heard scratching. It might have been the quality of the mic or this might be more I was moving around. I'll need to do more testing.

You can export video out as a .mov file. I did a test viewing using QuickTime Pro. It seems that the display size is 640x640 and the audio is recorded at Mono at 8kHz; it does sound like old school phone. Well, that explains the scratching sounds.

Viewing Issue

I tried to view the video on my device and it wasn't recognized. It doesn't seem to be a variant of mp4 but straight up .mov. I saved it as an HTML file and tried to open with a web page. The plain vanilla browser would not let me do that so I need to install Opera on my player.

You certainly can export the video and work on it in your video editor of choice.

Before some of you get you panties in a bunch this software can be of advantage to folks that have limited devices and want to tell a story. It is also of value to those artists or poets that want to compose a work in sequential order without editing.

This gizmo has possibilities. More testing is required.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Creating Digital Stories - Essential Shots to Record

There are times when it is very compelling to stand in one spot and record what you see. There are other times when you have to change it up a bit. What can I say, people like variety.

In the spirit of the holiday known as All Hollows' Eve aka Halloween, and the necessity to re-new, re-use and recycle,  I bring you a visual reminder of some of the types of shots you can make with a mobile device or any camera.

A long shot to lead the person into the video; to give a hint or sense of what is to come. 

An establishing shot to help your viewers know where they are in the video. You can be off to the side or a bit above or below; fee free to change up on the angles.

A  medium shot to get in just a bit closer to your intended. Adds a bit of focus to what is going on and that hand coming out of the lower left tells a story of its own.

A close up is intimate, forces a connection. Use cautiously with the un-dead because there may be things you don't want to see.  Again, shifting angles might help but in this ghoul's case; not so much.

The pumpkin? Ew, sinister.

The extreme close up puts your viewers nose right in it; make sure you have a very good reason for doing so.

The cutaway is a handy dandy way to use as a transition point. You can edit a cutaway into your video when you need to narrate a passagea and you need to get from one shot to another.

You want to get as many of those as you can that is appropriate for your video.

And if you mix and match well you will also have the making of the 5-Shot Method for getting the story:
  • A close-up shot of the hands
  • A close-up shot of the face
  • A wide shot 
  • An over the shoulder shot
  • A unusual or alternative view of the subject.
You get three out of five of these rascals and you are doing better than 80% of most videos. Be a 100% trouper and you will have story.

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