Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ideas for Video Equipment Packing List

I beg of you, keep it simple. Take what you need and no more than that. I have packed skimpy. Not by intention. I left the camcorder home and brought every else. I had to buy a new camcorder in a city I didn't know. I have also packed heavy and didn't use half of the stuff.

So I have a short travel packing list of what to consider taking and what to remember to bring back home.
  1. Camcorder with charged battery and power cord.
  2. Extra batteries as back-up or bring the camcorder charger with you. There are universal power adapters that can recharge a wide variety of devices. They range from $20 to $90 depending on what you need. Either way, make sure you have the correct adapter for your device.
  3. An extension cord because your camcorder battery will die in the middle of an important point made by a panelists. My motto is plug in whenever possible.
  4. Lens cleaning cloth because you have no idea where that finger print on the lens came from.
  5. Multiple cleared memory cards or space on the hard drive camcorder. You don't want to buy memory cards near a tourist area because the prices will be jacked up. If you are near a office supply store or a department store you might have better luck but try not to put yourself in that situation.
  6. A tripod. It doesn't have to be a big heavy thing. A table size tripod works if you will be sitting most of the day. If you know that you are going to be using the optical zoom consider getting a 50" tripod that collapses down to about 18", enough to fit inside a backpack or shoulder bag.
  7. Microphone if you have an external mic jack on your camcorder or external digital recording device with batteries and memory card.
Optional Items
  1. A laptop, tablet or iPad that is updated with the current operating system, browsers and malware protections. Don't forget the power cord.
  2. A comfortable camera bag or purse to carry your gear during the day.
  3. If you are on a swag hunt bring something that has wheels. Your shoulders will thank you.
Just A Few More Things:
  • Pack a few days before your trip because panic packing leads to trouble.
  • 3x5 cards are great, stick them in the carrying bag to remind you if you have everything.
  • Speaking of bags, please recycle clear plastic bags and use them to help pack up your stuff. Makes it easier to take items out of your shoulder bag during TSA inspections too.
Related Posts:

  1. IJNet On Basic Video Tools
  2. Q10 SwitchGrip Camcorder - The Left Rejoices
  3. Have Shaky Video? You Might Need A Tripod

3 Not So Important Things About Making A Video

I have so many ideas and things to say that they are fighting for control of the keyboard. This produces mental grid lock. I now need to switch to the Annie Lamott Bird by Bird school of writing.

Number 1 - You Will Not Get Rich Making A Video

I feel the need to say it. You will not get rich making a video, writing a book, singing or anything else without curiosity, practice, skills, resources or the desire to at least give it a try.

Yes, there are people saying you can do rake up the bucks it if you do A, B and C . That is more about gaming the system of search engine optimization and making money for money's sake, not creating a quality video product.

I am not against making money. I am not against making money using video as a promotional tool for a business or service. I have no beef about that.

That can be done. Look at the cooking videos, how-to and other types of demonstration videos. That is my point. There is a body of knowledge that is being demonstrated using video. Or a story. Or entertainment. There is substance and the video is the carrier of that substance.

Not the fact that a video is being created to make money. Not the same thing. I am totally against people selling craptasitcal advice on telling folks erroneous information and being proud that they snagged another sucker.

Number Two - Fear of Starting

The biggest block will come from inside your head. You will need to chip away at that sucker to clear your path. Yes, depending on how you do this it can be a learning curve. Learning is a good thing, it helps to extend to your thinking abilities and your life.

Never stand in the way of developing your brain.

Number Three - I Don't Have Money for A Camcorder

No longer a viable excuse! If you have photos you can use a service like Animoto to make a video. Don't have photos? Then you can use services like XtraNormal and Go Animate. There are other ways to make a video without a camcorder so don't be so locked into what you can't do and start looking at what you can do.

You can do this. In the next few posts in support of the BlogHer11 Geek Bar I'll post resources that folks can use to help them get started.

Related Posts:

  1. Plug-A-Matic Buying A Family Camcorder
  2. Camcorder Guide - You Know You Don't Know Jack
  3. Camcorders for Hair and Make-up Tutorials

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Deep in the Conjuring Lab

I'm going to be busy for the next few days preparing for the BlogHer 11 Geek Bar session.

I'll be Geeking Out at BlogHer '11!

I'm supper jazzed because me and my fellow Geek Hers and Nerdettes are going one on one with folks with video related questions:

  • Basic edits
  • Adding text and captions
  • Embedding video on your blog
  • Uploading to a video web host
I'm going to put up some of the most common questions and resources but the great thing is to be able to talk to folks and find out what they need. This means I need to do a pound of writing and resource sniffing, maybe dig out sample videos for demos.

I get to let my video geek flag fly and talk as much as I want. The joy, the rapture.

I'm late, gotta go.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

7 Tips Before You Download Video Conversion Software

Please be careful. There is so much crapware. This is especially true of video conversion software. I have seen pseudo freeware that is chocked with toolbars, tracking software and other advertising crud. There is straight out malware presenting itself as a video converting program.

I strongly suggest that you download software directly from the vendor web site and not a third party "free software" type place. My limited exceptions are CNet's and Major Geeks. These sites have been around a long time and have my trust. I use them but I always look at the vendor site before I download.

As I am going through the web site this is what I am looking for:

Who created the software?
Yes, the product has a name but who created the software? There is a difference between those that create and those that just sell it.

What exactly will be installed on your system?
In addition to the software what else will you get? A toolbar? A nag screen to pay to upgrade for a more advanced version? Advertisements? Does the site inform you of that fact on the download page? Is it any place on the web site?

You did look before downloading, right? Know the difference between free, trial, ad-supported, adware, and shady backdoor installations.

Where are they located?
Can you easily find that information on the web site? Is there a phone, mail, e-mail address at the stated domain? What country are they in?

How do you contact them?
Is it by e-mail only or is there a phone number? Contact only via a web page? Do you have to pay to talk to them about a problem with the software?

Is there a Help/Support Page?
I don't care how simple the software is there should be a help or support page. An FAQ would be nice. Screen captures are very helpful but honestly, I do expect to see a photo demonstration of how to use the product or a video from the vendor.

What do other people say about the product?
You want to check blogs, forums or user responses from video nerd/geek sites. Beware of Answer type sites. This will be chocked full of people paid to stink up the answers with links to dicey programs.

Is there an affiliate selling program attached to the product?
I can be on a video or film site. Any time there is any mention of a camcorder or video software you can bet that you will see a comment clucking up the conversion software with a link back to the vendor with their selling code attached. Which is another reason to be cautious around Answer type sites and open comments on retail vendor sites.

No other words for them but selling trolls. Well, I got other words, just can't use them. No matter what the question is they will toot how the conversion software will solve their problem. Even if it is a choice between Pampers and Huggies diapers.

My additional pet peeve? Big honking flashing banner ads. I will never purchase anything from any company that still uses icky 1998 flashing banner ads.

Honestly, there is good free, open source and commercial video converter software. The goal of this post is to keep you away from the bad stuff.

Related Posts

Monday, July 25, 2011

Steve Garfield Using Google Plus Hangouts

I have been messing around Google+ but I actually found out about this on Twitter. Long time videoblogger and social media expert Steve Garfield is using the Hangouts feature to create a multi-person video podcast.

Steve Garfield On the Plus Network
What the heck did I just say?

Let me back up a bit. Google+ Hangouts allows you to set up a video chat with not one, not two but 10 people at the same time.

Steve took it a step further. In addition to the actual video chat he is recording it is then streaming it via The Pulse Network.

So basically he takes it out of Google+ Hangouts and can share the video chat via this particular network. I would have embedded an episode but all of the shows are in the Flash video format that does not allow that to happen.

Understandable. Not allowing sharing your content keeps less than honorable folks from using your content without permission.

This is the time of experimentation. If he could do it that way could I do it this way?

Google+ Hangout Specs

You are going to need some juice to get started. This is just an overview but you can get the full details on the Hangout Specification page.

  • You have to have a current browser meaning the most updated version of Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. I gotta show love to Opera but it isn't on the list.
  • Updated operating system but a shocker, it will support Windows XP and those of the Linux persuasion.
  • You should have a really fast Internet connection, 900K up or down. Standard consumer DSL/Cable is not going to cut it. If you plan to do this you might have to buy the next level up from your ISP.
The exciting thing is that you really could set up a class, affinity group or social meeting or what ever you can dream up.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011 Metro's Transit Flicks Video Contest

It is that time again when all Los Angeles area transit riders need to hit record and tell the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority aka Metro why the system works for them.

Now, I do feel the need to remind folks that this should be positive, transit affirming video and not a plea to bring back the #485 on weekends. If you are over 18 years of age and don't work for any mass transit system in Southern California then you qualify to enter into the contest.

This is one of the winning videos from 2010, Staycation by German Oliva

For contest details swing on over to the Metro Transit Flicks page.

You'll need to get busy. I only found out about the contest via a flyer on the bus. Apparently it started on June 20th and the last day for entry is September 2, 2011.

You think they could have slipped a commercial on Transit TV or something?

(For the out of towners - there are television monitors on the buses that have news and mind puzzles of the day. It is called Transit TV but it is not owned or programmed by Metro. However, it does run commercials encouraging people to ride Metro.)

I do strongly encourage you to read the fine print; this is from the Entry Form page:

Entry of a video into this contest constitutes the grant to the Sponsors of an unconditional right to use entrant’s video, name, voice, likeness, photograph, biographical and prize information and/or statements about the promotion for any publicity, advertising and promotional purposes without future compensation, except where prohibited by law.

LACMTA reserves the exclusive right to interpret all conditions relating to this promotion, and LACMTA’s decisions are final and binding on all matters relating to this Contest.

The Sponsors reserve the right in their sole discretion to disqualify any individual that the Sponsors either find to be i) acting in violation of these Rules; ii) acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner; iii) acting with the intent to threaten, annoy, abuse or harass any person or to disparage any goods or services of the Sponsors or to erode the goodwill of the Sponsors; or iv) exhibiting conduct that the Sponsors find inappropriate, immoral or otherwise objectionable.

The prizes this year are a full year EZ Pass valued at $1,008, a six month EZ Pass valued at $504, a three month EZ pass valued at $252 and five honorable mentions get a month EZ pass valued at $84.

No details about video quality or file format so use what you got and have fun.

Cristina Cassidy on Recording Video Overseas

It often happens that I'm looking for one thing and I find a gem along the way.

In this video, Christina Cassidy talks about the reality of recording videos in another country. She brings up good points about the weather, power supply concerns and being realistic about what you are getting into.

This is part one of her explanation and you can visit Chrstina's Vimeo channel to catch up with part 2.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Video Post Mortem 2 or Wow, That Is A Lot of Yellow

Today it is a look at a video I recorded that has a problem that I needed to solve. I have color issues.


I did have my Canon Vixia HF R100 but the battery was empty and there was no electrical socket or extension cords.

Dear hotels that have tech or social media conferences. One extension cord on the floor does not cut it in a roomful of tweeters, camcorders and laptops. We need a bank of extension power strips.

I brought my old Sanyo but it decided that it wanted to format the SD card. I don't know what was on the SD card so I couldn't take the chance.

That left my Kodak Z1280 that I planned to use just for photos. It can record video but lately it has been doing auto zoom by itself without any invitation from me. I had to go with it and hope for the best.

Oh Snap, I've Got Problems

Yellow cast to video

In the photo you can see the problems, well, I can see them. The chairs were blue, not green, the table cloth should be white and folks look a little green.

How It Happen?

There are different color temperature systems. I might have had the camera set for daylight and I was recording in a florescent or tungsten room. It might have been a setting on the camera that I switched and didn't pay attention to, I don't know.

I should have checked but I am human.

How to Fix It

This is when I lean on my photography skills. I know that I can reduce one color by adding more of another. If I could have lays eyes on a histogram or color levels graph I could have yanked it to where I needed.

I have consumer level software, not Fina Cut Pro or After Effects. The good news is that most consumer video editing programs have some form of color correction.

In Serif MoviePlus X5 this is the Effects Screen:

Serif MoviePlus X5 Effect ScreenThese are the settings I could select for correcting the color; these are the baseline setting. You don't see the effect until after you select what you want. However you can customize and tweak it in the properties area.

I selected Color Balance and then reduced the amount of Yellow/Green in the video. You can do a lot but you can't make a bad video perfect. I was aiming for acceptable. This is the result.

For Next Time:

  • Check all of my equipment that I plan to take for color settings
  • Need to by an extra battery for the Canon HF R100
  • Do the best I can, breath learn and move forward.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quick Look At Tout iPhone Video Recording

This really will be a quick look at Tout because that is all I can do; I don't have an iPhone.

Tout Video Recording
You say 140 characters is 139 too many words? Or you feel this is something folks need to be seen and hear and all you have is your iPhone. There is an app for that and it is called Tout.

Those of you that remember the late lamented 12Seconds will understand what this is about. Point, record and upload what you have to say or show.

Video quality depends on how stead the person is while holding the iPhone. Yeah, it can be kinda rocky. Then again for real time "You gotta see this" action this could work for some folks.

Other Posts of Interest

  • Copyright and Fair Use
  • How To ...
  • Equpment, buying camcorders, tripods and other do hickeys
  • Friday, July 15, 2011

    iPhone Video Penny De Los Santos by Diane Cu

    Never let it be said that an ad can't fuel a huge discussion. Olympus Australia has a new add about the quality of mobile phone photos with an invitation to get a "real camera."

    The implication being that if you are serious about photography you would step up to a quality piece of gear. For the record, if I got my hands on an Olympus Micro Four-Thirds camera I would be very happy indeed. That is a nice bit of kit with an HD video option. Love those pancake lens.

    But the implied meaning is that only the lessor beings would have or use the stuff on our mobile devices is not a good meme to be spreading.

    I'll repeat this statement until the beginning of the end times; is not the equipment it is the person and the skill level of the person behind the device.

    Which leads me to share this video with you. Penny De Los Santos is a photographer. The video you are seeing was recorded on an iPhone. I don't know if it was editing on the device but there is software you can download to edit videos.

    Diane Cu knocked it out of the park with the video by recording Penny and the environment. If I didn't know it was an iPhone video it still would be a great video.

    And that is the point. More folks who have been locked out of making videos and documentaries now have the opportunity. I don't care how they do it so long as I can view the results and judge for myself the quality.

    If that means doing it on a $40 camcorder then so be it. Yeah, I know the iPhone is more than $40 but some day some kid will make a terrific video and the production cost will be very low.

    We will still marvel at the craft. Not the equipment.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Good Explaination of 720 and 1080 HD Video

    This is a dang good video that defines the terms interlace and progressive video and what the hubbub is about concerning 720p and 1080p HD videos.

    It is spot on about helping you understand what your camcorder can record and how it does it.

    This video was created in 2007; at the time there were limits as to the length of what you could upload to YouTube and the type of videos you could upload. Although he is talking about high definition videos the actual YouTube video displays at 240p.

    I went looking for more about but it seems that everyone have left the building. The site is on hiatus and the principle writers have gone to new projects.

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Audio Cleaning - iZotope Music & Speech Cleaner

    I'm not a Mac user so I can't use this product but if you are and need help in yanking out the air conditioner whammy this is a product you could consider. (Update 2011, this software is available for Mac and PC users.)

    iZotope Music and Speech Cleaner helps Mac users remove hum, clicks and all kinds of audio gotchas.

    It looks like it is even easier than Bias SoundSoap 2. At $39 the price isn't bad either.

    I still haven't found my solution for removing air conditioning noise in my videos. I got it bad, really bad.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Checking Out Bias SoundSoap 2 Audio Cleaner

    I have four videos with wicked air conditioner hum. I really want to post the videos but the air conditioner has me in a mighty battle. I found one solution but it isn't perfect. You can't make bad audio crystal clear but there have got to be more options than to lay a bed of music under the voice.

    The thing is, I'm am not an audio engineer. The answer could be in front of my face and I wouldn't understand it.

    In my search for solutions I came upon this demo video for Bias SoundSoap 2 that works on the Mac and Windows operating systems.

    This might cause my computer to groan in agony at yet another CPU intensive program that could be installed but I'm need a solution ASAP.

    I am seriously thinking about buying it. Downloading the demo as I type.

    Will let you know how it goes.

    The Pain - I've Got Background Noise In My Video

    I had the great pleasure of attending the Blogging While Brown Conference 2011 here in Los Angeles.

    The session rooms were large. The microphones set-up either worked, half worked or didn't work at all. And the hum of the air conditioner was everywhere.

    This is not a good thing for giving a presentation. It is worse for those that are recording them. To add to my misery, I left the Zoom H1 at home. It would not have helped with the wicked background noise but it would have given me better sound quality.

    I can sit as close as possible and encourage the speakers to amp it up but there wasn't much more I could do.

    Camcorder Options

    On some camcorders there is a feature that allows you to have the microphone follow the focus. Flip that bad boy on if you have it. I don't.

    You camcorder might have other audio features like adjusting the gain or monitoring sound levels.

    Reviewing the Videos

    This is a one time only event. I have good content but bad audio in a video really irritates people. I'm one of them.

    The hum in the video is bad. Two of the speakers are not projecting; one person is a naturally soft spoken person. I 'may not be able to use any of that footage. The other folks are salvageable if I can get rid of the of the noise.

    The choices come down to:
    • Add captions. I have friends that strongly encourage me to do this anyway but I still have to make the audio less annoying.
    • Not show the videos. The world will still turn if I do not upload them.
    • Fix the audio as best I can and upload. I have really good moments and I don't have to meet broadcast television standards. Still, bad audio is not desirable.
    I'm trying out the various answers. The problem is that I'm not an audio engineer. I need accessible answers that do not involve purchasing a $600 audio suite.

    This is what I have so far:

    • Masking the background noise using music
    • Using Audacity's Noise Reducing filter
    • Understanding and using High Pass and Low Pass filters
    That is in addition to some of the software products I am discovering. I'm on the hunt for plain English usable suggestions on reducing background noise in the videos.

    I'll keep you posted on what I find.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Finding the Story at The Ladies Market

    Kai Wong is the host of DigitalRevTV and he is photographer. What interest me about sharing the video below is the unintended travelog he and his videographer Lok created about the Ladies Market in, I believe, Hong Kong.

    There is more than one narrative going on in this video. Kai is certainly talking about the lens for the Nikon camera but you also get a sense of the environment and his connection to that place.

    I loved it when he stopped to point out that there was fungus on a collection of old 35mm film cameras or that there was a huge collection of remote controls for sale.

    I've seen other videos in the series. A minor quibble is that the videos tends to go long, but most of the time I don't mind. Kai can get silly but that is part of his charm; you are getting the authentic person and not a smoothed over manufactured presenter.

    So what did I learn?

    Don't just record the environment. Actually look at where you are and find the story that is waiting to be told. There may be more than one story, the one that you intended to tell and the one that you find.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Researching Buying A New Computer

    My poor PC is grunting, cycling and otherwise showing signs that the end days are near. This is not a good thing when I have to crank out a bunch of work, both text and video.

    I have a back-up laptop if things go bad quicker than I expect. I have been checking out possible new video editing PC specs.

    The frugalista side of me is in conflict with the nerd/geek girl who wants what she wants. That would be a $2,900 Maingear's Vybe Super Stock.

    Naw, babe, ain't gonna happen.

    My budget is $1,000 and under. As much under as I can get it. This is what I have identified so far as my minimum PC specs:

    Intel 2nd Generation Core i5 or higher or AMD Phenom II 4 or higher

    RAM Memory:
    6GB or higher

    Hard Drive:
    1 Terrabyte

    Video Graphics Card:
    Looking at separate video graphics card on the motherboard or the ability to install one later.

    DVD or Blue-Ray Drive:
    Not really an issue. If the new system comes with a Blue-Ray drive that would be nice but I'm not seeking it out or paying extra for it.

    Operating System:
    Windows 7. I need to decide between the 32 bit or 64 bit version. Some of my existing software will not run on a 64 bit machine. It is still functional software and I hate to kick it to the curb.

    Then again, it might be time to do so.

    Memory Card Reader:
    Prefer that it is built-in and capable of accepting SXDC cards. However, I could buy an USB external reader.

    My Current Buying Information Sources:

    Consumer – I have a subscription to the on-line version
    CNet Desktop Reviews and Buying Guide
    Videoguy's System Recommendations for Video Editing

    The new computer has got to last me at least three years so I have to choose wisely. But I do like the look of the Vybe Super Stock.

    Be still my heart.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Event Video Tips by Zennie Abraham

    Zennie Abraham is a long time videoblogger that I know from the Yahoo Videblogging Group. There are a lot of events happening this summer and cameras and camcorders are out in the wild.

    This is one of Zennie's videos at an Atlanta blogger meet-up:

    Zennie has a good post about how to conduct your camcorder's behavior at ComicCon which is happening in San Diego on July 20 through July 25, 2011.

    And by camcorder behavior I do mean the owner's control of the camcorder. Anyway, just exchange ComicCon with whatever event you are attending. Good manners can pay rich dividends.

    Other Posts of Interest

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Making A Decision on Getting A New Computer

    I keep putting this off but it is time. Old faithful is telling me that our days together are numbered. I have a CPU widget on my desktop. It doesn't take much to lock it up into the red zone. Once that happens I can either find something else to do or enter a meditative state of being.

    The reality is that upgrades to Firefox, IE9, iTunes and new versions of video editing programs are giving my poor baby fits of madness. I just dread the thought.

    It isn't just the cost but the transfer of software, licenses and assorted thing-a-mobobs. I now also have to figure out what is a 2011 video editing computer.

    What Do I Need Versus What I Want?

    • Power. Pure unadulterated power. I want stuff to happen in a half of a blink of an eye. I can just about afford a batting of the eye. This translates into I would like to have an i7 CPU but I can just about afford an i5.
    • I must have more RAM, I'm thinking at least 6GB minimum.
    • 2 or more Terabytes for the hard drive. I do have external drives so if I can get the CPU up to snuff then I can always install another internal drive later.
    • A separate video graphics card with memory on board would be nice but that is going to up the cost. This time it might be worth it.
    • Another thought is that I might consider getting a laptop that is used only for video editing.
    For the record, I have to stick with the Windows operating system. I dallied for a moment about going Mac. The new Final Cut Pro X is a tasty bit of kit but the way the Pro/Am video circuit has been wailing about how bad it is put me off of it.

    I don't know. If I got my hands on it I'd probably like it just fine but I'm not liking the whole cleave under me for everything Apple is proposing.

    Still, it is all I can do to stay out of the Apple stores. I keep thinking that if I get an iTouch that will let me edit video on the fly that would solve my problems. No, it wouldn't. It would be the start of the iCash Register. I have to stay away from the Siren.

    So yeah, I gotta do this and soon. Oh, one more thing, I am not opposed to getting a refurbished, overstock or new computer. My new gizmo will be the computer that meets my needs and budget.