Saturday, November 26, 2011

Searching for the Helga Type Camcorder Part 2

I have been scoping out the retail scene for Helga type camcorders. I researched a few days before Black Friday and again today. Dismal. Just dismal.  There was so much to choose from I had to set up new criteria for the ultra cheap camcorders.

First, the camcorder must function. This eliminates the entire line of the Coby line of camcorders. I bought one and the LCD is a Zombie. It dies and then tries to come back to life. This is not acceptable. I have numerous user comments and ratings to back me up on this.

No, no and your money would be better spent buying a used lotto ticket.

Vivitar DVR 510N Night Vision Camcorder

I got this one too. This one has Helga possibilities in that if you have enough street lighting it will switch to a black/white pseudo infrared experience.  You will have no choice or say if you want it to do that but that is part of the serendipity of buying this camcorder.

This is JC 71449's video and he is showing you the straight scoop on this camcorder.

The part where he mentions that the motorcycle cover is actually black but records as pink/purple. That is what I'm talking about, it has its own opinion as to seeing colors accurately.

This is well within the Helga specification set.

Speaking of the specs:
  • LCD 1.8-inch 
  • 640 x 480 pixels (30 fps) / 320 x 240 pixels (30 fps) 
  • Digital video resolution 640 x 480 pixels or 320 x 240 pixels 
  • Secure Digital card slot 
  • AVI and JPEG file format 
  • Infrared night vision feature 
  • TV out port 
  • USB connector 
If you can get it under $40 I'd say have fun. I wouldn't pay more than that because it is a little finicky. It might work just fine. Or it might decide that color you see is subjective and unnecessary at a certain point in time.

If you are going to use the night light feature bring extra batteries. You'll need them. And don't leave them in the camcorder when you are not using them; the 510N will suck them dry.

So as a Helga type camcorder I have to say at the head of the class, almost Teacher's Pet.

Prior Posts on Buying A Camcorder: 

A Look At the Clap Mini USB Camera

There is small and then there is too dang small. This is one of the smallest consumer camera/camcorder I have ever seen. It is currently only in Asia but some knock off master is going to bring them stateside eventually.

I saw video this in my Google Plus stream that lead me to the NextNewWeb site and I still don't believe it.  I believe the camera is real but, wow, it is really... well, see for yourself:

The web site where these can be found is called Superheads and you can get more information about the device. Here are some specs about the camera:
  • Lens: F2.8 = 3.2mm
  • ISO 100, in other words you will be shooting outdoors.
  • Video 720x480 at 30fps recording in .AVI
  • Photo 1280x1024 JPG
  • Records to MicroSD card
  • Charges via USB port
Dang. I can see them being used for good and for evil.  Wait, I'm not supposed to affirm the evil.

Yes, for good, definitely, for good.

For outside video only, I'm guessing there is no way you can have audio in something that small, compatible with Mac, Linux and PC and other operating systems this do-dad has possibilities.

I just know that I would lose it like I loose ink pens.

And I do that a lot.

Other Posts of Interest

Monday, November 21, 2011

Searching for the Holga Type Camcorder - Part 1

The Holga analog still camera is known as a toy camera with questionable construction quality. It is all plastic, has light leeks and all kinds of tribulations. I wouldn't by one but there are a group of artists and photographers that create art out of the limitations of the device.

I'm still going to do my annual screed about buying cheap, knock off camcorders.  Later. When I have time.

For the moment, I want to propose that for folks that know what they are doing, that have experience with shooting and recording video that there are Holga type equivalent camcorders to play with and find their inner goodness.

Let me emphasize that I really don't want folks buying crappy products. But if somebody gave you this crap why not play with it? You know, before it totally craps out on you. Or if is on a $5 clearance table then go for it if you REALLY UNDERSTAND THE RISK YOU ARE TAKING when you buy a cheap camcorder.

That said, let's take a look at a possible camcorder equivalent of the Holga. Hello Kitty Video Recorder, manufactured by Sakar International.

I have looked at the Sakar web site. There is no mention of the Hello Kitty Video Recorder. There are other Hello Kitty items listed but not of this camcorder. Keep this in mind if you run into problems. You are on your own.

  • Under $50
  • Records in .avi this could be an advantage for older Windows XP or Mac users who have trouble importing .mp4 video.
  • Standard SD Memory Card
  • Internal Mic with Mono Audio
  • LCD is 1.8 inches. That is small.
  • You will need to stock up on AA batteries and get a SD Memory Card in order to use the camcorder. A standard 4GB card should run you no more than $12 and you might even see them as low as $5.  
From the looks of the lens opening area I would say that you should only shoot outdoors on a really sunny day.

That is it. Part of the joy of buying a cheap camcorder is that you don't know what you are getting unless you look at the package. Even then it can be a mystery.

Prior Posts on Buying A Camcorder:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How The Stop Online Piracy Act Affects Creating Videos

I am not sure that I trust Congress to do the right thing anymore. SOPA is a draconian act that would be so overreaching in intent that it would seriously cripple free expression, exchange of information and reporting of any kind of controversial topic not generated by mainstream media.

This is no joke. Read some of the background information from the Electronic Freedom's Foundation (EFF) to understand what is at risk.

Or watch the video.

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

I don't use the word draconian lightly. From the Electronic Freedom Foundation:
Section 103 of the bill sets up a so-called “market-based system” which would allow individuals and companies to cut off financial support from websites — both foreign and domestic — simply by sending a notice to their payment providers or ad networks. In many cases, these sites are dependent on the revenue from those payments and ad networks for day-to-day operation
So let's say a snippet of music from a radio that is playing while you record a street scene. Anybody, a troll, a company or someone that does not like what you are recording. They can get you and your web host bounced from the Internet.

Or they can choke payments to your web host causing them to make a decision between freedom of speech and survival.Which one would you pick?

This act is bad because if it goes into effect you will have:
  • No warning
  • No process or procedure or redress
  • No legal support
  • No nothing.
Let's get closer to home. Vimeo has been sued by Capitol Records for aiding and abetting copyright infringement. Because some folks lip synced a song.

Yes, copyright holders have the right to protect your property. That is already in place. SOPA would go one step further by seizing money generated by Vimeo. It could shut it down.

As well as Viddler. Oh, yes and some joint called YouTube.

We need to be aware of what people with limited understanding of the Internet, these would be Congress people, that are being schooled by the RIAA, MPAA and others like minded agencies that really would like to turn back the clock to 1976.

For more information go to  

Related Posts

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Curating VloMo 2011 - What I've Learn So Far

I've learned a lot and my head hurts. This is a good thing. The VloMo 2011 Galley blog currently has 367 videos from participants from around the world. Here are some of the challenges of trying to keep up.

Time Zones. There are people in Australia, the UK, Bosnia and all across the U.S. and Canada. Day 14 for one person is going into Day 16 for somebody else.

I had to quickly accept that not all the Day 7 are going to be lined up perfectly. What I can do is tag the videos so that visitors who need to see the Day 7 videos can make that happen.

Let go. Seriously, let go of hoping folks label, tag, or hashtag their work. You can ask but don't depend on it. Let go of perfection, order, and any constriction that prevents folks from seeing the work.

Do Not Post without looking or listening to the videos. There are some creative and humorous folks uploading work. Don't assume that the title represents what the video is about. If it is a Benny Crime post watch the video.

Have multiple search techniques. Use Twitter search, YouTube Search, Vimeo Search and then go to individual blogs and web sites of folks.

Go with the flow. Some times there is nothing new to post. That is okay, there are 367 videos and counting.

The kids will be all right.

Gotta go.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Margot Paez Reporting Insight Out News

What do you do when your industry is not reporting the kinds of news stories you know to be in your neighborhood or city?

If you are a reporter like Margot Paez you might decide to cover those stories anyway using the technology and Internet as your broadcasting station.
Margot is doing front line reporting at Occupy Los Angeles and other stories in the area.

This is journalism.  At the moment it is a volunteer effort and you should go to her site to view the stories that are not being told. If you can help with equipment or donations that would  cool too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

LG Optimus Slider for Spontaneous Video

When my old mobile phone stoppled working I was ready for a replacement. I looked with deep envy at what folks could do with their Smartphones.

I did want the ability to shoot video for just in case situations. I also needed a unlimited data plan for connecting to the Internet. I could have purchased an Apple iPhone 4S or even a 3G.

What was not affordable was the unlimited data plan. $80 a month for two years? Doing the numbers over and over could not budge the frugal warden of reason in my head.

I was between a rock and a hard place. I wanted to try an Android experience, needed a phone with web capabilities. I just couldn't find a tablet that I liked and the Apple iOS is still not in my budget.

The Optimus Slider is the solution at the moment. It is $199 no contract and, because I had the prior service, my data plain is $25 a month. 300 minutes voice and unlimited text and data.

It runs Android 2.3.1 and has a 3.2 megapixel camera. I looked at the specs of one of my videos that I recorded:
  • Standard definition 640x480 MP4
  • Mono AAC Audio at 16,000 kHz
  • 12.99 frames per second, so probably a max of 15 frames per second.
For spontaneous video that is going to be uploaded  to the web it  is fine. I have been testing out Vimeo, which has a loading limit of 500MB per week for free users.  This has worked out great. I haven't tapped my limit with recording on the phone.

Battery life? Depends on what you have activated on the phone. I implore you to turn off the Wi-Fi and GPS functions. Those are the biggest battery drains. Once you do that your batter life will improve.

It makes a huge between "WTF" and "that is much better".

So the LG Optimus Slider was the most affordable, non-constricting financial choice I could make.
I'm good with it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Keek MicroVideo Service

It has been a while since the passing of The Microvideo services are popping out of incubation to be the next companion to Twitter and Facebook. Keek is one of those services.

Keek is a web service that allow you to record a 36 second video using your webcam, Android, iPhone or other mobile recoding devices.

Videos can be posted from those devices directly to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or to a blog. You can post as many videos as you want.  Those on limited data plans you might want to monitor your usage.

This could be an option for:
  • Checking in at an event
  • Videoblogging
  • Citizen Journalism
Keek is also a social network where you get to share and comment to friends videos. The service is currently free, however it is still in Beta so expect improvements, changes and features.

One Day on Earth Looking for Paticipants

I have four minutes to tell those of you not doing Vlomo 2011 that on November 11, 2011 about One Day on Earth there will be people recording the activities of their part of the planet.

From the web site;

On November 11th, 11.11.11, across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and other inspired citizens will record the human experience over a 24-hour period and contribute their voice to the second annual global day of media creation called One Day on Earth. Together, we will create a shared archive and a film.

You do need to register if you are interested in making a contribution to the effort.

Too hip, gotta go.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Working With Video Post In Tumblr

I have been on Blogger for years but I chose to try out Tumblr for the Vlomo2011 video gallery. I wanted something that would allow me to post quickly and present the video in an appropriate format.

The templates at Tumblr seems to accommodate a video galley style format without clutter. I want to take you behind the curtain to show the video posting aspect of  the service.

This is the dashboard screen. Tumblr has a separate posting area for each type of blog post. The video posting module is separate from the text module. This is different from Blogger where I only have one place to create a text but I can add any element. However, I need to know how to add a photo or video.

Tumblr makes it a little easier.The advantage with Tumblr is that you have to make a decision on what you want to do and then the appropriate posting area will quickly help you create your post.

Embedding a Video

The Embed a Video Tab is used for adding a video from a web hosing service. You have choices but sometimes you might have to figure out the best choice to view the video.

Using the URL of the web video host works about 98% of the time. This means copying a URL like into the embed box will take care of placing a copy of the video in the viewing area.

This works for Vimeo,, and YouTube. It does not work on Flickr. (Yes, Flickr now has video posting.)

Web video folks that have came up old school and copy embed codes may find some videos will not post. It depends on the style of the embed code.

I've had problems with and some but not all Vimeo embed codes.  Some of the other video services have very long embed codes, Tumblr does not like excessively long embed codes.

If I copy the URL or embed copy direct from the video I viewed I run into problems. One of the things you definitely want to do is preview before you publish. If  the video does not appear or you see a blank blue screen you have got a problem.

I have found that if I copy directly from the web host URL I have no problems displaying the video in the post.

Caption Not Posting

I can add text to comment or explain a video but I don't have the full text editing features. That is not a good or bad thing but for high verbals it takes some restraint not to load up on text.

The video is the focus.


Everything else is fairly straight forward, you can set the date of the post, add keywords and upload the post within minutes. For project based videos or maybe an experimental series that does not fit your main blog I think Tumblr is a great idea.

If you are a videoblog newbie it does make it super simple to create and upload a post.

For those of us experienced and time challenged it has real advantages.

Other Posts of Interest

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaPodPoMo and Other News of the Day

Yes. The podcasters are having their version of posting for 30 days. It is National Podcasting Posting Month.

There is a subset of that group that are video podcasters. The site is on Ning and you have to register in order to see the doings. Glad to know creativity is busting out all over the joint.

I hope to meet a few this weekend.

In other news, the Vlomo2011 Gallery blog is going really well, lots of great videos from around the world. We got Austrialia, China, Canada and the UK is representing big time. The U.S. is coming along, we are a little scattered but it is growing, once I find out where they are posting.

YouTube is planning on creating original content; per a story on MediaBistro's Social Times blog. So will it split into two parts or does one, user generated content, eventually goes away?

I gotta go.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vimeo Perks - Save Cash on DV Stash

This is just a quickie folks. Apparently Vimeo is offering a Vimeo Plus and Pro members the opportunity to buy certain electronic gear at 25% off. Keep in mind that Vimeo has a lot of Pro/Am videographers with the equipment to match.

We ain't talking Sony Bloggie here.

I'll check out the details and fine print later but for more info you can read the Vimeo Perks page.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Status Report and Other Rambles

Well, Vlomo2011 is off to a good start, the UK up and ready and Canada is doing it's duty. I'm going to be a bit fractured for a couple of days. It is never a good idea to rack up 5 things when you have space for 3.5 of them.

As always, I encourage anybody with a recording device to give it a go. Currently I am tracking the #Vlomo2011 and Videoblogging tags as well as the Yahoo Videoblogging group.

Like the song says, express yourself.