Friday, September 30, 2011

Thoughts about Amazon's Kindle Fire

All the nerds and geekettes were waiting in anticipation for the Kindle Fire. This is a good summary by Consumer Reports:



Let me say that I've been waiting a long time for somebody to get a clue and design a device for users. This is a good start.

I knew that it wasn't going to be an iPad killer. Not the intent. The intent of the Kindle Fire is to drive sales to Amazon and make it easier to access content that users want to purchase.
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Music
  • Games
  • Limited Access to e-mail and other parts of the Internet.
Folks, we are seeing the establishment of another retail vendor becoming a communications distribution network. You want to target Amazon users? You have to speak nice to Amazon. They have contracts with many mainstream broadcast vendors and publications that might not want to pay the Apple piper any more than they have to.

Is there a space for user generated content in the Kindle Fire Cloud?

Yes and no.

You can upload audio content for sale on Amazon. I know some of the San Gabriel Valley Poets and others creators have albums for sale. Musicians can do the same.

At the Kindle store you can upload self published books. The Internet marketers and spammers have damn near wrecked the joint. Yet there are actual authors making money via their own promotional efforts using blogs and web sites as promotional tools that sell in the Kindle store.

Could video creators offer their video work for sale? Would Amazon consider contracting with places like Blip.tv and other web video distributors for video web content?

Will Amazon offer a content creators the option to sell their videos?

I don't know. It goes back to the vetting process.

They did not do a good stopping the book spammers invading the Kindle Store. I can't see them wanting to face that again with video content. It would be easier for them to deal with the broadcast networks and cable companies.

The very people that don't make innovative content or continue to do lowest common denominator television.

So. I guess the thing to do is prepare.

Start thinking about what would we have to do to make videos Kindle Fire compatible for sale?

This is leading to other ideas. I gotta go. I'm having an idea explosion.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Magisto Web Video Editing - It Does It For You

The list of cloud based video applications is growing. Magisto is a little different from the other cloud applications. For people that shoot video and truly do not like to edit but want to have a watchable video this might be you cup of tea.

Check out the video:

Yes, you upload and Magisto takes out the boring parts and allows you to upload to Facebook or YouTube.

I am conflicted about this - there are some really bad videos that need help but I do not feel good about  a software program can edit better than I can. 

From what I can see Magisto is free but there are things to know.

Upload Limit

There is a limit of 600MB or 16 videos per upload. High definition recording camcorder and mobile devices can crank out 1GB videos in a heartbeat. You would have to make an effort to stop and start the videos so that you could upload under the limit. If you are doing that that is a form of in camera editing. 

Then again, for tablet users this could be a very good thing.

Data Plan Usage

Another thing to consider for mobile users is your data plan. As I have said before, there is a bum rush by the carriers to reduce or eliminate unlimited plans.Uploading 600MB of video might cost you big time if you go over your allotted minutes.

Privacy Policy

There is no free lunch and just because Magisto is free to use doesn't mean there isn't a cost to you. Please read the privacy policy. There are items I am not comfortable with such as the amount of information I have to fork up to use the service, third party involvement and other squicky items.

I'm not saying this policy is good or bad, I appreciate the disclosures. I am not comfortable about giving out chunks of personal information for the use of a service.

I don't know. On the surface it could be an option for folks that want a simple way to edit video. I just don't like the idea of turning everything over to software. There is a human quality about editing.

I'm just not ready to give it up to an algorithm.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Be Safe When Recording Police Officers

Recording police officers stepping over the line is necessary. Very necessary. This is a prime example of why folks needs to have a recording device in their possession:

This is a video of the Wall Street macing by a police officer.



This is a slowed down version where you can see the officer mace the women



Make no mistake, it can be dangerous. It can also be illegal depending on which state you live in.

You should read this post from Mia Watkins at Medill University. In Illinois a person can be sent to prison for 15 years for recording a police officer. Many states are working hard to have have public recordings of police activities made illegal and punishable by prison.

Those of you in Maryland and Massachusetts need to be very concerned.

These laws are being challenged and various courts are tossing out convictions and prohibitions. That will not stop a police officer from trying to take your cell phone or camcorder in real life but it might help on the back end of things.

So What Can We Do?

We record.

Because as Americans it is our 1st Amendment right. You can choose to use it if you want or not; but it is our right of exercising our free speech and our right to defend ourselves and others.

Having said that, your safety is the most important thing. Folks are having their mobile phones and camcorders taken away, have been beaten or harassed. Understand the risks.

Know the rights in your state or location.

Make sure that you observe where the police are in relation to your body. Keep a proper distance, if you can, so that you can leave at a high rate of speed.

The American Civil Liberties Union has information on what to do when confronted by police or other law enforcement officers.

Other Resources and Readings

Monday, September 26, 2011

More Info on Video Blogging Basics

A few days ago I had some questions and concerns about a Google+ Spark that appeared.. It was about the web site Video Blogging Basics. I asked more questions, did some searching and this is what I found.

It seems to be okay. The first thing I did was find out more about Chris Garrett and Ben Eadie.

Chris Garrett is a marketing consultant and teacher who writes about blogging and new media. His focus is on supporting individuals and small businesses learn how to use new media. He co-wrote a book that I own, ProBlogger with Darren Rowse, who I am aware of via Darren's Digital Photography School blog.

So I feel comfortable with what this guy has to say about blogging and giving responsible advice on how to build your business using blogging and the Internet as tools to achieve goals.

Ben Eadie is a little harder for me to get a grip on; I think I have the right person based on his photo in Google+ and his web site. He is a mechanical designer and builds human powered vehicles. He has done screenscasts on modeling software and computer aided design issues.

I do appreciate that Ben did respond to my questions via Google+ and that he was honest. They are presenting free information and they hope to obtain some consulting gigs and clients.

Lord knows, I have downloaded many a free guide. I only do it when I can check out the site, it meets my needs and I am clear on what is expected of me. It can be an effective form of building a client or member base. It is a mutual building of trust that happens over time

Ben also explained that that they were trying to keep out the trolls so that is why they had a sign up page first. I don't have a problem with that if I know it up front.

Now I can make a decision if I want to go forward or not.

I do think the web site could be better designed to convey that information and not to look like some of the base level, no good, devoid of ethics, bottom feeders known as Internet Marketers whose business is only to make money by any means necessary.

Yes, there is a difference between using the Internet and social media to market goods and services and Internet Marketers.

That is why I was initially confused and cautious. I have to be  honest and say that I am hyper sensitive to flim flam. I've been a victim of it so I am leery about being suckered or have anybody else fall into grifter-land.

Stumbling Into Communities

It happens that a person from one community on the Internet stumbles into a whole separate neighborhood. Chris is well known in the Internet marketing side of the fence. He has a community of people who like what he does and want to invest in his products and services.

I'm from the other side of the videoblogging community. Chris and Ben might have been speaking to their communities and I just happened to lay eyes on the post.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Video Blog Basics - What Is the Catch?

I'm checking out my Sparks on Google + and I find this mention about Video Blog Basics. Those that know me can see me sniffing in caution. I have nothing to loose but time so I click on over.

The brow is furrowing. When I clicked on the "Click Here" button it took me to a membership sign in page. Without a clue about what I was signing in for or about or what I could expect.

Hmm, yet there is no usual pitch to fork up $199.99. Perhaps I should view the video for clarity. I back out and watch the video. I'm not going to post it here. You can go to the site.

I'm good with the content. I agree. No hard sell or promises of reaching millions of dollars in a week and a half. That is a good sign.

But I'm not sure.

Here Are My Issues

I don't know Chris Garrett or Ben Eadie. All I have is that they are speaking at BlogWorld coming to Los Angeles in November and a couple of tweets from others saying to sign up.

All I can find out from the site is the video and the sign up page.

At this point I'll need to do research to find out who Chris Garret and Ben Eadie are and what is their focus on video blogging. Is it just the talking head version? Will they give examples of the diversity of using web video? Is is just about basic techniques and explainations?

Or is it leading folks down to the path to buy more tutorials, products and services?

I don't know. So, this being social media kind of world and all I'll go ask them questions.

I'll let you know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Possible Tablet PC Video Process

In a prior post I wrote about a very basic process that people use to upload direct from mobile device videos. So what would that mean for Tablet PC users? The current crop of Tablet PCs are working hard at being cookie cutter limited devices. The manufacturers are stuck on "sell like an iPad but don't innovate like and iPad." mentality.

Many of the inexpensive Tablet PC or PMP (Personal Media Players with Internet) are shoddy at best and only seem to be good for operating system rooting (ditching the operating system to one that works better) to make them functional.

The expensive ones are so busy trying to clone/not clone the iPad that they are not offering much in functionality but they do have a bit of power under the glass.

I can see what could happen. Here is an idea of a possible process workflow:



What You Need

The requirements are the same as the mobile device recording options: 
  • A Table PC that has a recording camera 
  • Storage space for the video on the device or able to use an external memory card, 4GB+ and up.
  • An unlimited cellular data plan or stable wireless connection 
  • An account with a video web host. 

What You Can Do
  • Direct upload and cloud edit to companies like Jaycut or similar companies
  • Direct upload to regular YouTube for their enhanced editing options
  • Use an Android application to edit directly on the device, I did a survey round-up a few weeks back.

What Is the Cost? 

After you take the hit on buying a Tablet PC/PMP maybe not as much if you can afford the unlimited data plan. And that might be your biggest problem. Trying to obtain consistent bandwidth that will make virtual video editing possible.

There are some mobile phone companies and certain telephone/cable carries that are looking for ways to throttle or keep usage in check. Which is crazy making if manufactures, software developers and users want to work in a virtual work space.

It is a matter of infrastructure. In the U.S. we don't have complete mobile or Internet access across the country. Leaving it up to the private sector has left access gaps in coverage. You can have a great device and no way to access the Internet via a mobile or wireless connection. In 2011.

I'm sure the New York and San Francisco customers of AT&T also would like to chime in on spotty coverage. My point is that you'd have to check out your access options before you start flicking up videos.

Another part of the equation is that you are going to need a Tablet PC with a decent CPU/RAM combination. Right now that combination only exist on one manufacture's device - the Apple iPad.

It does what I want it to do and there is software to back it up. There are videos and movies being created on iPads.

The cost is the killer. I can't do it. I won't do it.

Is it Worth It? 

Gosh, I wish I could say yes. I can't.

I have been snooping around for a mid-range Android tablet to test it out. I can buy a crappy Tablet PC or hold out and see what Amazon is going to do with their entry into the game. I'm also curious on how they are going to implement a data plan for the Kindle Tablet.

I also want to see what the new Windows Tablet can do.

Until there is a manufacturer willing to innovate in this space I'm going to be on the outside looking in.

Jaycut Purchased by RIM Is MIA

There is an on-line video web application known as Jaycut. I was thinking about it a lot lately because it could be possible for upper level Android tablets to access a video editing site portal and rough out or complete a video edit.

So I mozy on over to the site to do some research and find out that Research In Motion aka RIM, the owners of the BlackBerry and other properties, purchased Jaycut in July, 2011.

Oh, my.

It could be a good fit. RIM has the BlackBerry PlayBook. There could be some serious de-kinking of the video editing process for Android and other tablets users.

Yeah.

The fellas must be working hard in the lab because there is no access to the original web portal other than the announcement. The video editing demo site is still up and I was able to get into it.

I'd feel better about this only I do watch Tech News Today and the way they talk about RIM doesn't inspire long term hope for better days. I want to be wrong. I hope I'm wrong.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Basic Mobile Video Process


I want to make understanding certain concepts easier so this is an experiment. I know that having an understanding of the process can shorten the time to create videos and keep us from getting crazy or frustrated that creating video is not happening fast enough.

So this is an experiment on getting a grip on explaining a changing technology. Especially when things are changing month to month.

This is the most basic as it gets, direct upload from a mobile device.


There are now three devices and counting that are not camcorders that can record video. iPhones, Smartphones, and now Tablet PC/Personal Media Players/whatever they are being called this week.

Yeah, I know that iPhones can be thought of as a Smartphone or Tablet but it does belong in a category by itself.

What You Need
  • A device that has a recording camera
  • Storage space for the video on the device or able to use an external memory card
  • An unlimited cellular data plan or stable wireless connection 
  • An account with a video web host that has mobile video access and uploads.
  
What You Can Do

What Is the Cost?

Buying the device and paying for a data plan can cost a lot of money. Keep in mind that you are buying a multifunctional device and it will do other things much better than record video. I have a $150 mobile phone that records 320x240 video. It is not the greatest looking video in the world.

You'll have to shop around to find that sweet spot of phone quality, service, and recording capabilities.


Is it Worth It?

Yes! If it was not for mobile video users at an Oakland train station a lie told by transit police would have been accepted as the truth. An assault by a New York police officer on a bike rider would have been just another story of police abuse.

Not all of the reasons are that dramatic but my point is that for spontaneous news, events or personal narratives there is the ability to show that story. That ability is in the palm of your hands.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bits and Pieces from Around the Block

There have been a lot of conferences this past week that I am finding out about after the fact. The good news about that is that I can track goodies via the Twitterstream.

Future Marketing conference #FutureM wrapped up a few days ago but the tweets keep a coming with great advice and tips and people to check out for more information.

The American Society of Newspaper Editor #ASNE is having a Leadership in Diversity shindig at the New York Times on September 19 and 20, 2011. Now I am not a journalist but roaming around the joint I did find a 50 page pdf guide on what newspapers think are the best practices for social media.

The Online News Association #ONA had a gathering this past weekend in Florida (I think) and there is going to be one in Boston on September 21, 2011.

The reason I peep into these kinds of things is that I often find people I've met or know and I get hipped to concepts, technologies or places I should be aware of or can pass down the line. I wouldn't want all that thinking and speechifying get bottled up into information silos.

Nope, have to spread it around so all can be informed and participate if they choose to do so.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Testing Converting MTS Video to MP4 Using Miro Video Converter

I would like to get out of conversion hell but somebody has got to pave the way to simplicity. Mumble, mumble, mumble. Anyway, my new JVC camcorder records in the .mts video format, the same as my Canon Vixia HF R100.

Let me say that most of the consumer video editing applications now seem to support importing the .mts video format. All you have to do is bring the video in and get started editing.

I have opened .mts video with:
  • Corel Video Studio Pro X4
  • Serif MoviePlus X5
  • Windows Live Movie Maker (Vista/Windows 7 only) which shocked the heck out of me but it did imported the video without any problems.
So if you have access to a current video editing program try that first before you fiddle with the conversion software.

But if you have older software or you can't update your system you are going to need to covert the video.

This is my test of the free/open source Miro Video Converter software that is now available for both Mac and PC users.

Really simple to use, you can drag and drop the video onto the player or choose a file. In the drop down menu is where you can select you export format.



The good news, Miro did the conversion.


The bad news came a bit later when I used the QuickTime Movie Inspector to get a glimmer of what the exported video specs are. The movie was exported at 20 frame per second. That is not how I recorded it.


There is also a wicked tinny audio sound throughout the video. At the very end of the video there is a lot of pixel breakup:

Yellow Caution Tape Extremely Pixelated

So there you have it. I can't recommend using Miro for converting .mts videos using the .mp4 option.

Yes, it can convert the video file but the audio will get trashed with a serious tinny overlay that you would have to spend time removing. It is so bad that I don't think that you can pluck it all out.

Not to mention that the is the loss of about 10 frames per second which is going to affect how your video is going to look.

To be fair to the Miro Video Converter, it is designed to convert to various media player and smart phone devices. I used the generic .mp4 selection. It might be that there is a device setting that might be better than what I selected. 

Sigh, back to the lab.

Related Posts

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mini-Documentary by Lost and Found Films

I have been viewing videos from a web site called Lost and Found Films Sometimes on their own or through an commission with another company they create narratives about people and places.




This is an interview with an artist that lives with and is possibly possessed by his art. This is New York multimedia artist Byum.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Five Things to Know About Lightworks NLE Software

A few months ago there was a bum rush to download Edit Share's Lightworks video editing software. The software seems to be coming out of Beta on November 11, 2011. The good news is that there will continue to be a free version available to anyone that wants to dive in and learn the software.

If you need more you get the opportunity to pay for a yearly subscription license to the software. Mac and Linux users don't bail just yet, there are versions for your operating system coming soon.

For those that want to take a look at the program before downloading check out the video below. Blessings go out to forum member ShaunTheSheep for this basic introduction to Lightworks NLE:



There has been some changes that folks need to know about before they get too deep into the program.

1. This Ain't Windows Movie Maker.

This is a professional non-linear editing software that is used by professional videographers and filmmakers in the UK and parts of Europe. You will need to understand or be willing to learn filmaking concepts like bins, frames, time code, and workflow.

If you don't understand or do not want to be bothered this is not the software for you. Not a lot of hand holding here. There is help in the forums but you are on your own unless you want to pay for it.

2. There Are Now Three Levels of Users, Now Called Members. 
  • Free members get access to the forums for support and limited codec support. If you have download the software you are automatically converted to a free membership. 
  • Folks who are in school/educational settings can get full support and access to all of the software's features for $30 per year. 
  • Professionals and those that aspire to be in the game need to pony up $60 year. That's right, if you want or need anything more that the basic core features of the program you need to fork up the loot.
3. Where is the Codec or My Video Format?

Yeah. I hate to break this to you but there are license fees for the use of certain codecs. The owners of those licenses either get it on the front end (you) or the back end (software vendors) or both.

The codec many consumers camcorder users encounter, AVCHD/H.264, is not currently included in the free version. It is concidered a professional codec.

So if you have an camcorder that records in AVCHD, AVCHD Lite, MTS, MT2 or any other permutation then you might have to convert the video to an acceptable format. Or pay for a higher level of membership

4. Limited Export Options

If you were planning on using the free version to burn DVD or Blue Ray then I regret to tell you, no, you can't. And there might be a few more export options you don't have. You will have to dive into the software manual or guides at the bottom of the Download page.

5. Limited Support for Free Members

Free members will have access to the forums and groups but not to live chats, company specific training videos or have a say in development and feature issues. If you really need support you are going to have to purchase a support contract.

It is not cheap. All I can tell you is to be very nice and respectful to people like Shaun.

I have been holding out on installing until I can get a new computer.I have a feeling that there is a need for speed and power and a honking good graphics card before I even install the software.

The adventure continues...
Other Posts of Interest

  • Copyright and Fair Use
  • How To ...
  • Equpment, buying camcorders, tripods and other do hickeys
  • Monday, September 12, 2011

    Mini Documentaries by Lynda.com - Stefan Bucher

    There are days when I need a dose of inspiration and I don't care where it comes from. In fact looking over the fence at other disciplines can give you ideas to adapt and grown into.




    This is a segment of a documentary on Stefan Bucher by the folks at Lynda.com. They seems to be branching out and including narrative storytelling about creatives.

    Which is the other reason I watched the video because how do you give a glimpse of another life without having a memory recitation? This video gives me some wonderful ideas.

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Understanding Old School Drive Letters to Move or Copy Videos

    Finding videos can be a pain if you don't know your way around your specific operating system. If you want to copy videos a CD/DVD or store them on a different device you first have to know the correct location.

    Think of it this way. You have a cabinet that contain files. You want to move them from one place (the camcorder or memory card) to another place (the computer).

    On Windows computers the cabinet are disk drives that have specific names and drive letter designations.

    The Naming of the Disk Drives

    Back in the day computers were simple and identification made sense in a Microsoft DOS kind of way:

    A: First floppy drive (On new computers we don’t have that anymore.)
    B: Second floppy drive (Ditto)
    C: First hard drive, usually the primary storage drive that has the operating system, application and program files.
    D: CD or DVD Drive.
    E: External hard drive.
    F: to Z: any additional drive that are attached or a virtual or network drive.

    That is (was) the traditional standard disk drive structure. With the addition of memory card drives, 2nd internal hard drives and USB devices that can be added and removed you can have an alphabet soup of drive letters.


    On my system that looks like:

    C: First hard drive.
    D: Factory_Image A virtual restore drive set up by the manufacturer.
    E: DVD RW Drive
    F: Removable Disk (SD Memory Card slot) that currently has an SD card in it.
    G: Removable Disk (CF memory card slot)
    H: Removable Disk (MS memory card slot)
    I: Removable Disk (XD memory card slot)
    J: External Hard Drive
    K: 2nd Internal Hard Drive that I have re-named Pookie

    Your system will be different but if you can identify the C: drive you can find the other disk drives.

    If you have removable USB devices like external memory card readers or you are using the camcorder as a drive device (you can do this if your computer has the correct drivers for the camcorder) then a new drive letter will appear when the device is connected.

    It could be L: M: Q: it depends on what you have on your system.

    You can take a look at your system by using the Start Menu and then selected My Computer or Computer to enter the Windows Folders file system.

    Practice this before you decide to transfer videos so that you know exactly where your files are located and where you want to copy or move them to a new location.


    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    VidGeeky Word of the Day - MP3

    MP3 is a compressed audio file format use store audio information. For video editing use it is one of the common formats that you are going to encounter.

    It is a compressed audio recording. You are not going to hear all of the nuances of the music or audio but you will have the basic structure of what is being recorded.

    Think of it like freeze dried coffee. Really compressed into a small format but when reconstituted you hear the recording in not quiet but pretty darn close quality.

    Almost all video editing programs can accept audio in the .mp3 format.

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Guideline Chart for Uploading MP4 Videos

    You have edited your video and now want to upload it to a video web hosting service. MPEG 4 also known as .mp4 is the preferred standard for uploading video to the various web hosting services.

    This is a generic chart that I created that is compatible with the majority of distribution services such as Blip.tv, Viddler, Vimeo, YouTube or other hosting/distribution web sites.

    There are exceptions. YouTube will still accept videos in the .wmv format. Blip.tv will not. You will need to check with your hosting company to make sure that your video is compatible.

    In the current versions of consumer video editing programs there is a preset that you can select to render a version as a .mp4 video. If you have one for your video web hosting company you are all set. If not, these are the export settings that you can use.



    Requirement


    Setting


    Note

    Compression Codec H.264
    Video Format MPEG 4 aka .mp4
    MPEG 2
    MOV
    Check with your video web hosting service.
    Frame Rate 29.97 fps or 30 fps for NTSC video

    25 fps for PAL video
    The more frame per second the smoother the video.

    If your video is at a different frame rate than what is listed use that instead.
    Video Bit Rate SD 2000 kilobits per second (kpbs) For standard definition video
    Video Bit Rate HD 5000 kilobits per second (kbps) For high definition video
    Frame Size SD 320x240 (mobile devices)
    480x360
    640x480
    Standard SD sizes of the video frame.
    Frame Size HD 1280x720
    1920x1080
    Standard HD size of the video frame.
    Aspect Ratio 4:3 640x480 video is in the 4:3 aspect ratio
    Aspect Ratio 16:9 1280x720 and higher video is in the 16:9 aspect ratio
    Audio Format AAC preferred but .mp3 generally acceptable
    Audio Sample Rate 44.1 or higher


    If you have an older version of an video editing program you will need to find an alternate method of converting the video into the correct format.

    Again, don't panic if you don't understand what all the terms in the chart mean. Your video editing program could be set up to have everything set up; all you have to do is click the correct preset that is probably named, .mp4, YouTube or something similar.


    Other Posts of Interest

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Solar Powered Recording - Riding the Rapids

    You have to mean it when you decide to power your camcorder with solar power. You truly walk the walk when you use that same camcorder to record your adventures while you are bouncing up and down water rapids.



    This is a video by Five2Nine Productions in Canada on a kayaking trip that was powered by the sun and devices from a company called GoalZero.com

    Many years ago I took a standard whitewater rafting trip. Scared the hell out me but it was so much fun. Gotta put that as a do-over for the bucket list. Anyway, I am interested in alternative power sources because I do want to keep recording when the power goes out.

    I'm silly that way. So yeah, besides this is a rocking video.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Mindy McAdams Slide Tutorial on Windows Live Movie Maker

    Mindy McAdams is a journalist and educator who has a blog called Teaching Online Journalism. She also tweets up a storm about the journalism and journalism education.




    She has created a number of tutorials including one for those of you bone set on using Windows Live Movie Maker. This is her Slidehare presentation on the basic steps of using the editing software. 

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    First Impressions on JVC Everio GZ-HM30

    I just got it a few moments ago. This is one of the smallest camcorder I have ever handled. To recap, a few days back I was at a weak moment I head on over to Woot and there appears before my eyes doing the screen version of "I wonder if you'll take me home."


    I did.and eight days later I have my own personal un-boxing moment with the GZ-HM30. If you have seen one un-boxing video you've seen them all.

    If you have to see the un-boxing then check out this video from Woods72. He is un-packing a new camcorder. I bought a refurbished model. No memory card, no case but everything else was in the box.



    Grip and Handling

    I do not have big hands but can get a good grip on the camcorder body. My right thumb lands on the record button. The strap that comes with the camcorder is adjustable and allows for cinching a secure connection with the body.

    Controls

    When you open the LCD Monitor you can see the buttons/controls. Let me tell you the buttons are small. Really small.  And they only work one way. The Up buttons move through the menu choices one way. You have to pressing the left side of the button to navigate.Pressing the right side of the button does nothing.

    This is where being a girl person comes in handy. I have enough of a finger nail to activate the button Using the pad of my finger required more effort.

    The menu choices are clear but you do need to consult the manual to figure out what they mean with the JVC terminology: They don't use HD and SD except in the manual.

    For your edification, this is what I can figure out using the recording times on an 8GB SDHC/SDXC Memory Card:

    LS = 1280x720 High Definition with a recording time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
    LE = 1280x720 High Definition with a recording time  of  3 hours and 40 minutes.
    SSW/SS = 720x480 Standard Definition with a recording time of 2 hours and 50 minutes.
    SEW/SW = 720x480 Standard Definition widescreen with a recording time of 5 hours and 50 minutes.

    The battery that comes with it only last for 40 minutes. Funny how that always seems to be the case.I'm going to have it on a tripod and plugged in most of the time so no worries about running out of space.

    No promises but I'll try to give it a shake out soon.

    VidGeeky Word of the Day - Crossfade

    You sit at your computer editing software looking at all of your video transition options. Crossfade is one of those options. Basically it is an visual effect that you can add to a video.

    As you the end of one video it starts to fade out and another video starts to fade into view. You can also crossfade audio so that as the music fades out an audio narration begins.

    As with any video effect or transition you should use it in moderation.

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Camcorders for Hair and Make-Up Tutorials

    I really like how there are so many types of tutorial and resource videos. The hair and make-up resource tutorials have specific needs for recording video.

    Many of the hair and make-up videos are recorded in cramped spaces such as bathrooms and bedroom tables. There is a lot going on but it can be managed. You can get a better quality video with the right equipment and preparation.

    Hair and Make-up Tutorials Camcorder Requirements
    • Camcorder with a fast lens meaning f/2.8 or faster. The wider the lens opening the more light can come to the sensor.
    • Able to record in incandescent (regular light bulb) or florescent light. Most camcorders now days can change the type of light source.This can help you from appearing orange or green.
    • A tripod that is appropriate for the space. You can buy small tripods that will fit on the sink or counter top. Please consider getting one
    This really is just an idea generator of what the extremes of hair and make up vloggers would need to create a video. If I had to pick two camcorders that I think would be helpful to this population I'd suggest the following.

    Frugalistas Who Will Spend $50 on Shampoo But Cringe Paying $200 for a Camcorder
     
    Kodak ZX5 Digital Camcorder
    Retail price between $140 to $180 depending on where you shop.
    It is a high definition camcorder that records in the .mp4 QuickTime format.
    This will be an issue for Windows Movie Maker and Windows Live Movie Maker users, you will need to convert the video.

    Mac users will have no problems bring the video into later versions of iMovie. 

    Advantage of this camcorder is that it is small, waterproof and shockproof.
    The disadvantage of this camcorder is that records in monaural which is not that big of a deal if you can find it  around $150. (And I did at a reputable store.)

    Stylistas That Know You Get Quality When You Pay for Quality

    Panasonic's HDC-TM90
    Retail price between $450 to $699 depending on where you shop and if it is new or refurbished. 

    Advantage of this camcorder is that it has a f1.8 lens, This would allow a heck of a lot more light for recording.

    Another bonus is that it has 16GB internal storage in addition to having an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot. This bad boy has got an external mic jack but no headphone jack. It can record in full high definition but it seems to have an iPad compatible recording mode as well. Interesting.

    This HD camcorder has a wide angle lens that will expand the viewing area of the shot. 21x optical zoom in this size of camcorder is just dandy with me.

    I think I’m in love.

    The disadvantage? Well, the on-camera microphone is located under the lens barrel. You might pick up sounds from the camcorder if you use the zoom function. You shouldn't uses the optical zoom if you are talking. Never use the digital zoom.

    It is a small camcorder so folks with large hands might have an issue with it.

    Mac User Issues

    The software that comes with the camcorder is PC/Windows only. Video format is .mp4 AVCHD so early iMovie users with the prior versions of the program will have to convert or find a work around. Current users of  iMovie or Final Cut Pro X should be fine.

    Summary

    The folks who make these kind of tutorials spend good money on hair care products and make-up but can be a little too frugal when it comes to getting the right camcorder for the job. It doesn't have to be expensive. You really can get quality camcorder for a good price now days.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    Thoughts on Windows Live Movie Maker Issues

    You have Microsoft Vista or Windows 7 on your computer.You say you want a video editing program and you don't want to pay for it. The good news is that depending on your operating system you have options from Microsoft.

    Here is the skivvy on what you can do to get a better understanding of your software options and limitation.

    XP to Vista Users:

    If you have upgraded from Windows XP you should have an existing copy of Windows Movie Maker on your computer. The editing software is functional but see my prior post on the advantages and disadvantages of using this version of Movie Maker.

    Native Vista and Windows 7 Users:

    You will have to go to Windows Live web site to download the program.

    Ding Ding Time

    This is not the same application as Windows Movie Maker. It has been re-designed with features that a rookie/novice user would want to use to combine photos and videos.

    It is more of a storyboard with some timeline features editing program. This is a video from Microsoft giving a get started tutorial on using the software.





    Advantages:

    One of the advantages is that there is the ability to upload the finish video directly to Facebook or YouTube. You have other saving/export options as well.

    The program remains very easy to use once you get the use to the layout. It is extremely visual; so visual that you might not see the feature you want if you are doing something else. You will have to get use to layout.

    Disadvantages:

    Oh my. There are some disadvantage. To me it is not a deal killer unless you are a prior user of Movie Maker.

    Microsoft totally revamped the editing software. It uses a ribbon interface that is now standard on programs like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. For those of us raised old school menus and toolbar it is an adjustment.

    There has been passionate discussions about this change. It is what it is; deal with it or purchase another editing software program. 

    You still cannot import any video recorded in the Apple QuickTime .mp4 format. If your camcorder records video in a .mp4 format that uses QuickTime you will need to use a video converter to get the video into Windows Live Movie Maker.

    Here is the thing, you have to look at the camcorder manufacture's web site or look at the camcorder packaging. If you see the Quicktime logo you can't import the video into Windows Live Movie Maker.

    If you see H.264 .mp4 chances are that you can't import the video into the software. But you might.

    I know. It is confusing. I've tried to explain before about the variations of .mp4 video and it is an acid generating problem. So at the risk of repeating myself, you will need one of the following safe and free or open source video converters:

    Update 07/22/2013 There has been changes to WLMM - there are now more export options. Please view the current post on the new export menu.

    • Adapter  is currently in Beta but I like how it works.  Good for novice users.
    • HandBreak Open source video converter for those who have tech skills.
    • MPEG Streamclip by Squared5 The bomb diggity of free video converters but has trouble with AVCHD .mp4 type videos. All the cool kids use this program when they can.
    • Miro Video Converter Open source video converter, you might have to look or test out the right mode for export.

    Resources:


    Other Posts of Interest

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Thoughts on Windows Movie Maker Windows XP Issues

    The proud. The faithful. The "I can't buy a new computer anytime soon" XP users. I understand. Really. I do. But if you obtain a new camcorder you are going to have video editing issues and problems.

    End Of Life

    You do known that the Windows XP Operating System has entered the end of life phase? You can't officially buy it retail.

    You should have updated to Service Pack 3 which is the last official Microsoft update for the OS. You might find some documentation on the Microsoft web site but don't count on it being there forever.

    As far as video editing is concerned, you have Windows Movie Maker installed on your computer. You cannot install the newer version of the program called Windows Live Movie Maker; that is only for Vista and Windows7 users.

    Advantages

    Windows Movie Maker is easy for a novice person to use. If you are comfortable with pointing and clicking in Microsoft Word you will do fine. The menu is clear and, in the Timeline mode, you can have even more editing choices. 

    Importing video from camcorders is a breeze if the program accepts your video format.

    I used the program for two years way back in the day. What I can tell you is that if you keep your edits simple you will not have any problems. Simple in this case means not a lot of cuts or effects.

    If you make one too many snips it will crash. If you don't have enough RAM or hard disks space it will crash. If you are running other software programs in the background it will crash.

    Maybe I should move on to the disadvantages.

    Disadvantages

    The software wasn't designed to view or process certain video file formats. If you have a new 2011 camcorder that records in:

    • .mp4 QuickTime, ain't gonna happen
    • .mp4 h.264 AVC
    • .mp4 h.264 AVCHD Lite and AVCHD
    • some other permutation of .mp4 that doesn't play nice with the software
    There is a good chance the software will not import the video. You might see a message to that effect stating it does not know how to or is unable to import the video format.

    There is no YouTube format or upload assistance.

    Windows Movie Maker uses generally export to the .wmv video format. YouTube will still accept .wmv files but many of the other video web hosts no longer accept the file format. They want .mp4 video.

    Did I mention that sucker will crash on you? Save every other command or task. Seriously, do not trust it. I speak from experience.

    You might have to render the video as an .avi video file or find a way to convert it to an acceptable video format.

    Options

    It might be time to get a new computer. You can check to see if you can upgrade to Vista, if you can find it. Microsoft says that the end of retail sales for Vista was October 2010 but something tells me you can still buy it.

    If you have to stay on Windows XP then these are some of your other options:

    In order to use video from the camcorder you will need to convert the video into a format compatible with Windows Movie Maker. You have to be careful, there is a lot of spamware, malware and crappy products just waiting for n00bs to download it. Download directly from the vendor's web site or use Major Geeks.
    • Adapter in Beta (currently free to use but there may be a pro version)
    • HandBreak Open Source Video Converter
    • MPEG Streamclip by Squared5 The bomb diggity of free video converters but has trouble with AVCHD
    • Miro Video Converter Open Source Video Converter
    If you are looking for an easy to use program I'd go with Adapter or Miro.
    If you need to tweeks settings or want to customize go with Handbreak or MPEG Streamclip.

    You will also need additional storage or hard drive space. And patience. Converting video can take a long time. You may not be able to do anything else while the video is being processed.

    The other option I have for you is to purchase commercial video editing software that is still compatible with Windows XP. You should know that as technology moves forward support for older operating systems diminish. Check the vendor's web site to ensure that your computer meets the requirements of the video editing software.


    I salute you in your struggle to use Windows Movie Maker in XP. Solidarity!