Monday, September 8, 2014

Head Up on Kickstarter Film Festival 2014

If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area on Saturday September 12, 2014 and can't find stuff to do (which is dang near impossible, by the way) you might want to shimmy over to the Kickstarter Film Festival. Yes, those dollars do add up to actual goods, services and completed videos and motion pictures.



Not just about the films, there will be some crafting items, food trucks and the opportunity to meet others not digitally replicated by an avatar. But mainly about the community of supporters watching what creators promised to do and did it.

Not much more to say about that so if you can find the L.A. Zoo you can find the film fest.

Oh, one more thing. My use of the term social media is very broad. Bound to disappoint the purists.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Recording With ATC Chameleon Action Dual Lens Camera

Well, it has been a dry spell in the western portion of the United States. No water rafting around here. We have earthquakes but I'd rather not invoke an invitation to an earth thumping event. Don't have a bike or skateboard so that is out.

So I use what I have available. This is a test of the color quality from the ATC Chameleon Action Dual Lens Camera.




Recording Video

This experience is much like how people recorded photos and Super8 moves from years gone by; your capture a recording but you don't know what you have until you get home and process it. What I saw with my naked eyes versus the camera are two different experiences.

The camera has fish-eye lenses. I do not.

In the supermarket there is a mixture of daylight and florescent lighting. Product labels were really saturated with excess color. This was really noticeable with a bag of onions.  White label products were over saturated to the point of blowing out.

The video recorded outside in late afternoon; the colors were a bit more normal but still cranked up.

Editing the Video

The ATC Chameleon records in .mp4 so you'd think there would not be a problem editing the video. Depending on what you have it might be a challenged.

  • QuickTime Pro - no problem reading the file but I can only make straight cuts or join video. 
  • Sony Vegas Studio 11 - could not open the video. There was no designation for 1980x1280p at 30 fps. There is one for 60i but that isn't what I have. Didn't matter - refused or open the file.
  • GoPro Studio had no problem opening the video but in order to work with it the software converted it into an avi video. An 8GB video. The original file was only 78MB.
  • Serif Movie Plus X6 could read and edit the video but I again ran in to the problem of no designation for 1980x1280p at 30fps.  I could go high but not lower. I manage to get the above video but the black bars arrived for added decoration.
I'm looking for a workable solution.

Still in testing mode...

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quick Look at ATC Chameleon Dual Lens Video Camera

I just got this camera yesterday and I am recording video that I'll have up in another post. The Oregon Scientific ATC Action Video Camera (and yes, that is a mouthful) has the distinction of being a dual lens camera/camcorder. The camera record 1080p video at 30 frame per second. Split that two ways and you get 720p video from the front and back lens. That can lead to some really trippy videos.

This is not a new camera; it has been available since 2012.




Let me say up front that I got this on sale on Woot.com for about $40. It retails for $149 and I have seen ads for it around the $80-$90 range. I think under $60 is about right for this camera if you understand and can live with the limitations.

But first,

The Specs:

Video Resolution: Both lenses record separately 720p at 30fps On the camera you can select side by side or top to bottom recording. You would need to use software from the web site to do things like picture in picture or viewing video from a specific lens.

Audio: I checked the video properties using QuickTime Pro; seems to be Monaural AAC at 22,000 kHz per second. Remember, you aren't buying this for the audio quality. If you are near the camcorder it will pick up your narration but it will also pick up every gust of air or wind that the camera encounters. 

Focus and Field of View: This is a fixed focus camcorder. Keep in mind that it is also a fish-eye type lens. You manual adjust the lenses to record at the angle that you want up to 170 degrees. One lens records north/south and the other records left and right.

Storage: There is no internal storage. It can record on a micro SD card up to 32GB. The camera would prefer a class 10 card, I was able to record adequately on a class 4 memory card. 

Battery and Battery Life: Internal non-removable 1000mAh Lithium-Polymer Battery that should hold up for about two hours.

Body: Plastic all the way and that might not be a bad thing. While recording, I hadn't secured it firmly in the mount and it fell out. No harm done with no visible damage. The actual aperture is tiny, maybe F/16 or F/22. I can find no information about the size of the sensor.

It is also important to know what the camera doesn't have:

  • There is no LCD and no ability to attach one. 
  • There is no internal image stabilization. You find a way to hold it steady or you mount the camera on something.
  • There is no way to take a still photo; it is just video.

So, Why Would You Want This Camera?  

I can see a use for this as a supplemental camera for recording music events. It is a way to get the musician and audience in the same recording without swiveling from one to the other.

Perhaps as secondary camera for demonstration or training videos where you are trying to show someone how to do a task and you want an alternative view as you are doing it.

For the right price this could be your GoPro type camera for infrequent action type videos you might want to record.

And yeah, for citizen journalism purposes as well.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

More Reminders About Recording Police

Mercy the joint is jumping. There is a way to record police officers and this is an example of what we can do to counter the lies, official lies and soon to be codified police reports.

This is the full video of the St. Louis Police shooting and killing Kajieme Powell. It is graphic. This is not make believe this is real life.




I am not going to make any judgements about the content or what has happened. There are already people on-line that are spinning fiction out of the facts of this video.

Reminders

If you are on a cell/mobile phone please remember to turn it sideways when recording. A minor point but for citizen journalism mobile videos you might want to consider it.

One thing I want to point out is keeping your distance from the police. No need to get up close and personal. Record what you can and make sure you have a couple of escape paths planned.

You can get caught up in what you see but don't let PD catch you. The above video refutes some of the official statements made by the police spokesperson. It is important to get it seen. After you record what you can get to a safe place at high rate of speed. Copy the video, put that in a safe place and then upload it.

If your phone allows you to upload immediately after recording do it. You can set the video to private and take care of business later.

Copyright Consideration

You retain copyright to your video. You do not have to watermark or put a copyright symbol anymore but there might be good reasons to do so.

I'm sorry to say that broadcast, cable news, and other people will appropriate your video. Appropriate/steal same thing. If you have time, put a watermark on it so that there is no questions this is your video.

If not a watermark then at least a copyright notice in your video. Some TV stations might do the right thing by offering you a license to use your video. Or pay you flat out for it. Don't get ripped off -- take the time to think about it before you sign an agreement.

The YouTube parasites that steal your video and wrap ads around it? Not much you can do. You would think you could slap a DCMA notice on the offenders. You can, but there will be so many people copying the video and posting to their accounts you won't have time.

YouTube isn't that helpful about news content being stolen. 

Let me see, anything else?

Oh yeah. I feel silly for saying this but if you have a pocket camera, smartphone or POV recorder you might be a bit more safe than pointing a traditional consumer barrel camcorder. Ohio police shot a man with a toy gun. They see something that looks like a barrel and I...just don't want to think about it.

In the house, okay. Outside be a little cautious about it. Yes, way better video quality but not worth your life.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Safely Recording the Police Using POV Glasses

There really might be a good reason to wear your sunglasses at night. For example, there are a number of police cars parked in front of your driveway. With a pair of recording Point of View (POV) glasses you could be assured that what is happening can be confirmed independent of a police report.

Keep your safety in mind at all times. We all can search for ways to safely record police officers but there is no way to stop a bad cop from trying to stop you.

They have guns. Guns kill people. You are people.




POV recording glasses is not a new idea; it has been around for a while but as with many things the technology has improved quite a bit.

The Pros of POV Glasses are:
  • What you see is what you record.
  • You can take still photos and videos with a touch of a button.
  • With minimum tech savvy you can transfer videos to your computer. This means you know how to attach USB cable to the glasses or you know how to remove the microSD card and place the memory card into the computer.
 The Cons of POV Glasses are:
  • We don't notice how much we move our heads. You will have to practice on using the glasses to keep a steady and stable recording.
  • From a distance recording glasses are not noticeable. Up close they announce their presence.You will need to decide just how close you want to record without potential interference.
  • There is a wide variety of video formats using in POV videos like .avi, motion jpg, .mov and mp4. If you use Windows Movie Maker to view and edit videos and your video format isn't compatible (.mov) then you have a minor problem. It can be solved but if you are not a techie you might not want to solve it. You want to get a POV glasses that are compatible with what you use. 
  • However if you only use YouTube and the YouTube Editor you are kinda safe from worry.

Like their action camcorder cousins, the Pivothead brand glasses are designed for hands free recording.

You can take still photos or record video with buttons on the right side of the glasses. There is a choice of recording modes from old school 320x240 to 1080p and a bunch recording modes in-between. The POV glasses have a built in microphone. You can swap out the sunglasses for prescription glasses if you really need to see where you are going.

This is a commercial for Pivothead:




At $199 the basic model is fine for most people. However if you have or want the ability to connect to a tablet, smartphone or other devices you will want to check out the available accessories or the new models that are juicy to contemplate.

At $139 is the iVue Classic 720p is kinda sweet, not as discreet as you would like but a good deal at this price. 720p, 8GB storage, 140 degree wide angle lens with a functional one button on/off switch.
Another bonus is that you can change lens. The Classic 720p records in the .avi video format which should be compatible with just about anything.

The main drawback is that there is no memory card, the videos are stored in internal memory. You will need to attached the glasses to the computer to transfer the videos. Of if you glasses get snatched you are S.O.L. (Stone out of Luck)

There is another option with Google Glass which at $1,500 is not affordable for real working people. You might want to keep an eye on the Brickhouse Security site but their stuff is kinda expensive.

I wish there was another affordable brand name competitor. There are a lot of cheap knockoff POV glasses. Most are crap.

The knockoff POV glasses can cost between $25 to $100 but this really is a buyer beware area. You can find a ton of them on eBay and Amazon.

I implore you to read the comments and do research before you buy POV glasses from any store or on-line vendor.

Other Posts of Interest

Safely Recording the Police Using Action Cams

Let's get this straight, you do have the ability and the legal right as U.S. citizens to record police officers. You have the right to record video from your property or on a public street. As we have learned, some police officers have not read the constitution or are inclined to prevent you from countering their mythical view of events.

We need to protect ourselves and our neighborhoods. These are ideas to consider.

There is only one thing I require you to keep in mind. Your personal safety. It it dangerous. It is hunting season and those with a license are taking aim.

Action Camcorders

Action Camcorder are generally used by people doing sporting adventures or events. The most famous of these are the GoPro line of action camcorders. One of the things that makes action camcorders attractive is that the have the ability to a record wide angle view of a mountain, river or police action.

Pro:
  • Small, light and can be hidden from view.
  • Generally have a wide recording angle so that you have a good expansive view of the area.
  • Some models are WiFi enabled; meaning if they are connected to a smarphone, tablet or computer you could potentially upload video quickly to a web hosting service like YouTube.
Cons:
  • Most action camcorders do not have a viewfinder or you would have to pay extra to obtain one. Not a deal breaker because of the wide angle recording but you won't know what you have until you look at it later.
  • Action camcorders do not like being handheld. They are usually mounted on helmets, braces or tripods. There is no image stabilization so hand held videos can be really shaky.
  • You need to be minimally computer savvy to either connect the computer  to the camcorder or remove the memory card and get it to the computer. How savvy? Connect the USB cable to the camcorder to the computer and then transfer the video files.
  • Cost; decent action camcorders start about $180 to the $400 range. Knock offs can be found for about $100 on up but quality can be dicey.

So here are some options:




For affordability the basic $199 GoPro Hero3 would be a good choice, good audio, wide angle view and excellent video quality. This is the standard that the others try to meet. I'm thinking this would be good as a porch cam or resting on a window ledge. Again, Hero3 doesn't like to be held by hand, but if you have no choice this can capture a wide view of the situation.




Another contender is the Sony HD Flash Memory Action Camcorder. A bit more pricy than the Hero3 at $250 but it can record up to 4 hours before a charge and can record on Sony Memory Stick Micro or microSD cards to extend your recording time.

Need to be a bit more mobile? I think the Panasonic HX-A100 might be of interest. This is a wearable action camcorder that you could use like a Bluetooth headset. You'd have to purchase the Ear Hook and other accessories. Again, good video quality, fair audio quality and can be secured for on the street recording.




I know these are expensive options. These devices were built to be seen, be mounted in motion for more pleasant purposes. The way I am envisioning there use is that a home owner or renter sees an event from their property. They could use this type of camcorder mounted away from their body to record without notice of law enforcement.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vine Videos of Ferguson Police Actions and Know Your Rights

People who have read this blog long enough know that I have covered what to do when the police try to stop you from recording a public event. It is tough, it can be dangerous or in some instances potentially lethal.


A young man, Michael Brown was killed by a police office. We don't know why at the time of this post why he is dead. There is no dispute that his body was in the street for hours.

There is no dispute that citizens were angry, frustrated and used their profoundly American right to protest. The majority of the those people were peaceful protesters.

There is also no dispute that there were some people that looted and destroyed property.

As time went on the police became an attack force toward citizens, citizen journalists and mainstream media. And despite the intentions of the police in Ferguson there were people that documented the story using social media and mobile devices.




Alderman Antonio French was using Vine to record what he was seeing in his community. Mr. French was arrested and held in jail for a few hours before being released.





Six second tells much; in this clip there are young men and reporters with cameras who are being tear gassed by the police. There was no Marshal law or curfew.




This is more of his videos on the police excessive use of tea gas:




So yeah, it is real. As a reminder:

As U.S. citizens we have the right to record police officers as affirmed by the 1st Amendment. The ACLU has a couple of pages about photography and video recording. this is the one from the Pennsylvania chapter on Know Your Rights.

Read Reason's 7 Rules for Recording Police Officers which would have still gotten you f-up in Ferguson.

I need to update with new sources but also check out Jesse Halfon's post on Cop Block. I gotta go but please, please be safe and be careful.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thoughts on Video Via Yelp Phone App

The Yelp app will allow members of the review site to record video; up to 12 seconds and upload it to the site. Me thinks this is a new kind of Pandora's box but I need to provide a few details before quibbles.




 
This is a free iOS app for iPhones and iPads. It is a 30MB download so if you got bandwidth or lack of space issues on your device issues you should deal with them before downloading.  There is a promise for an Android version but, well...

I'll believe it when I see it.

This could be a really good thing or a really bad thing  Let me point out a legal thing. Many stores and restaurants prohibit recording photos and video in their establishment. You can be asked to leave if the owner, or their authorized representative, ask you to do so.

This does not stop the thousands of meal photos delivered to Yelp, Twitter and Facebook. I'm just pre-warning you some places will not let you snag a shot; no matter what your intentions.

There isn't a lot of info about where the video is stored.  I hope it is on the device in the Gallery but one never knows these days.

So, this could be helpful if you are a Yelper that wants to show your favorite store or lunch spot. It is nothing that you couldn't do with Vine or Instagram. Still, it could be fun if you want to do a review with a bit of video.

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