Monday, January 30, 2012

I Got The Data Plan Letter and Encoding Videos

I was feeling a bit smug telling folks that I had unlimited data for $25 a month. I've had it for years and in that regard I was a happy camper. Nope, I could see all the AT&T, Sprint and other users gnash in pain as the balanced what they could do in a day or month.

And then I got the letter. Actually an e-mail. My phone carrier is going to place a 2.5GB cap on what I can access via my phone.

I do watch videos over the phone but I mainly use it for a podcasting back-up. I can, if I want upload videos but I haven't found a video editing/trimmer that I like on the Android side of the fence.

Let this be a lesson to you, don't be so smug. Another implications is that we may have to go back to a time when we consider the bandwidth issues of our viewers.

Back in the day, you did need to make sure that your video was viewable for viewers who had 56k modems. That is one of the reasons vidoebloggers made videos at 320x240.

This is an old video of mine from 2006. In addition to bandwidth issues you had to be aware of what your video host ISP could do to your video as well; such as additional compression.

My Point?

You might not want to just slap anything up and hope that your viewers can see it. In this time of high definition videos and reduction of unlimited date plans for mobile devices you might have to consider making a mobile friendly version of your work.

It is a balance between quality and accessibility.

For some of you that decision means that you want to produce videos that look good across devices and can't and will not sacrifice video quality. Those that can will and those that can't will wish you the best but moving on.

For others you want the widest audience possible and your are willing to take the time to edit, apply the proper compression and upload in a video format that is compatible with your web host.

That would be mp4. Blip.tv, Vimeo and YouTube all have pages that tell you the specifications of that export format.

So until we Americans actually have a full nation data network without the threat of a lock down on usage we'll need to adjust.

Think positive.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quick Look at Kodak PlayFull Dual Zi12 Camera

Ever since I’ve been on the planet there has been Kodak. Brownies, Instamatics, 110s, you name it and I’ve had my hands on it. It took them a while to dip into digital and when they finally got in the game with the DC 290 it like to drove me crazy not to have access to one.

That was a long time ago. Sigh, I wish Kodak luck because bankruptcy is not a good thing. So let’s see if we can make a love match between a person who is Flipped out and a camcorder needing a good home. 

This is a quick look at the Kodak PlayFull Dual Zi12 Camera.

David Snooks is an employee at Kodak so I'm thinking he has an interest in sharing the word about the Zi12. So this is some shots of the Zi12 doing that Slo-Mo thing.



Mercy. Let’s look at the specs:

Sensor type 1 / 2.33-type, 12 MP CMOS
Lens 4.7 mm F2.6 AF lens
Video and Still Wide Angle Lens 31 mm (4:3), 35 mm equivalent 31 mm @ 1080p with Digital Image Stabilization (DIS) 31 mm @ 720p with DIS 31 mm
WVGA with DIS 26 mm @ still capture.
Zoom Optical None Zoom 4X digital
Storage 20MB internal SD/SDHC memory cards up to 32GB
Video formats MPEG-4, AAC LC
Editing In Camera Trim
Capture modes 1080p (1920 x; 1080, 30 fps)
720p /60 fps (1280 x; 720, 60 fps)
720p (1280 x; 720, 30 fps)
WVGA (848 x; 480, 30 fps)
Microphone Monaural w. level controls External Mic Jack
Speaker Monaural Headphone jack
Film effects EktaChrome, KodaChrome,
T-Max,TRI-X, Sepia

All this for $199? I could be persuaded.

So Who is the Camcorder For?

Broke folk filmmakers. Artists. Reporters and Journalists. Serious hobby folk. Videoblogers. Coaches. Performers. I could go on.  Food bloggers, travel bloggers, tech-a-holics of all persuasions.

For Mac users wanting nothing to do with AVCHD this could be of interest.

If you care about video quality and you have limited cash funds I can see going with this. If you had a deep love of the Zi6 or Zi8 and you are ready to step up this is for you.

If you are a beginner I think you would be fine. It does have simple controls but the juice seems to be in the menu. It has more features than a standard point and share camcorder.

On the surface it looks like a keeper but the device will not be released for sale until April 2012. CamcorderInfo.com has a review of the Zi12. 

It is has got my attention but until I can lay hands on it in a retail store this is just a dream.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Tripod Alternatives for Your Videos

It doesn't matter what you are using to record video, there are times when you need to be still. As in motionless. This is going to be harder for table users and those recording on other devices but it can be done.

The old school ways of holding a camera or camcorder without a tripod still apply. I recommend checking out the post at Digital Photography School about how to avoid camera shakes.

Another way is to find a tool or resource that can help you out. This one is so simple it is brilliant. The Not A Pod anchors two cords to belt loops. The tension holds the camera or camcorder steady. And bone cheap too. If I wore pants that had loops I'd be all over this.

Alas, stretch tights only have loops at the feet and those didn't work out so well either.


Another options is the SteadePod which is also a simple device. You screw one end into the camera/camcorder and there is a cord that can be dropped down to your feet. You adjust the tension and bada bing, you have a form of stability. You can find the SteadePod at Adorama, Amazon, B and H Photo and other photography retailers.

The DIY folks want it to be known that this has been around forever in various forms. A screw, washer and a taunt string are apparently all you need. If you have those things around the house more power to you.

If I'm fishing around in my purse I think I'd rather have something like the SteadePod.

So if you don't have a tripod when you need one consider one of these as back up stabilizer.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Audio Sound Effects for Video - Free Sound Effects

There are times when you do need a knock at the door. A certain kind of knock. Like a fist on a wood door which is different from slapping your hand on a metal door. It matters and you can spend more time searching for the right sound than you ever thought you would.

You can make you own sound effects, if you have the time.  There are places to obtain sound effects. Some of them are free for use in any project if you meet certain conditions and understand about licensing.

Sound effects can be recorded in mp3, wav and other audio formats; these two are the most common but not the only file formats.

Mp3 audio will give you a smaller file size to download and almost all of the video editing programs accept this format. Wav audio will give you better quality but the file size will be larger.

Remember, Safety First

Before you get to downloading you do want to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable web site, that you anti-virus, malware and cootie detection software is at full power.  There are a lot of crummy web sites that are not safe to visit that offer free software.

You also want to print out the page of the place where you got the sound effects. The way things are going with the abundance of lawyers and congressional activities you might have to prove where you obtained the resources you used in your video.

A project binder or file folder is a mighty handy thing to have and to hold. 

Understand and Read The Fine Print

Before you download make sure you understand the web sites terms of use of the audio file. Just because you see the word free does not mean it is free for you to use any way you want to.

For example, you can’t go to any audio site, snag the content and try to sell it as your own.  That is stinky. It should be understood that you don’t do that.  Yet there are people who don’t gronk this concept.

Sad, really.

Free to Use in Personal and Commercial Video Productions

There are kind souls that will let you use the sound effects found on their web site for no charge. One of those places is SoundJay.com. You can use their audio with or without attribution but the folks wouldn’t mind a shout out on where you got the stuff. A donation wouldn’t hurt either but that is up to you.

Media College has a small but tasty group of sound effects. They have recordings that are in the public domain, recorded by staff members that are available for personal and commercial use. Double check the license and permission page to understand the usage rights.


Another place to find sound effects is good old FlashKit.com.

For some reason in Chrome and Firefox browsers you will have to move to the middle of the page to see the recordings.  It an old web site, it hasn’t been shown any love in years. Yet there is much goodness in that musty old house.

At FlashKit there are Freeware, Shareware and for purchase sound effects. You can test out a sound effect before you select it.  If you like the effect then and, you have made sure that it is freeware, then proceed to the download link and save it on your system.

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Audio Sound Effects - What Is Royalty Free?

A royalty free sound effect means that you pay for the right to use one specific audio file or a subset of similar files. The terms can vary from a yearly subscription or in perpetuity. It depends on how much you pay and the nature of use.

There are advantages in purchasing a royalty free sound effect for your video. For one thing, you could have a higher quality sound than what you find at the free sites. It depends on the vendor. The site might have various audio lengths that meet your needs or a wider selection of effects.

If your video is being used for commercial purposes it might be safer to use a royalty free service.


BeatSuite.com

BeatSuite.com does have a specific type of sound effects for sale. I'd describe them as futuristic, steampunky or functional. I could imagine that these effects could find their way into an audio drama or podcasts. The standard license covers use for Internet use, web videos and podcasts.

The quality is very good and the price of the tracks reflect the quality. Start at $50 and work your way up. You can sample the tracks before purchasing.  You might want to review their guide to royalty-free music so that you are clear on their approach and definitions.

Music Bakery

The Music Bakery has sound effects for sale starting a $1.98. I just tried out their squeaky door and it gave me the shivers. The audio files are available in mp3, wav and aiff use for you MacUsers.

Under their terms of use the sound effect can be used under a lifetime license for everything but theatrical movies or retail businesses. You would need another type of license for those activities. They are also asking for a title card in your video; in my opinion that is a bit much to ask.

It is your call if you want to do that kind of thing. The point of royalty free is to be able to use it they way you want without attribution.Be sure to read the web site's legal notice as well as the terms of service.

RoyaltyFreeMusic.com

RoyaltyFreeMusic.com has sound effect albums for purchase. They also have individual effect audio for sale but this is where it gets tricky.

You can buy an individual track for around $5 or get a whole album for about $100. Sounds about right.

For personal and non-profit use they are free with required attribution of where you got the sound. For commercial use you must purchase a license. The free sound effects are short and are in the mp3 audio format.

These web sites are easy to use, you can review the tracks before you purchase and they make clear what you need to understand before you buy.

I'm not a musician or sound effect expert. I do know with the growing evolution of media consumption that there are hybrid products like books that will have videos embedded in them or textbooks with practical exercises with beeps and clacks a plenty.

If you think that you might need a creaking door or a metallic zapper you might want to check out these or other vendors.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Playing With Type - Research Is Scary

I have been dogging the kinetic typography sites and other resources to get a better handle on the process and structure on how to create these types of videos. It is the early stages but I'd have to say that most of them focus on the software and not the process of creating KT type videos.

The other thing I am learning is that I might have bitten off more than I can chew. I'm not a designer or motion graphics expert. But as I travel through some of the web sites it does seem more about how to move the word instead of being in best service of the text or audio source.




Like the above video from Chris - does the video work because of the association with the movie? Or does it work as it own creation? You could understand it even if you had never seen the movie.

I don't know.

Anyway, I have been finding a lot of good sites that have my brain on overload:

and a bunch more but I gotta go.

YouTube Your Film Festival Call for Videos

People keep talking about the importance of story. Well, if you have a story that you have on video you might be interested in the YouTube Your Film Festival. You might be more interested in the prize money but first, a bit of inspiration:




Here is the short version. You have a narrative video that tells a story. The video needs to be under 15 minutes in length. It can be a web video, movie or whatever but it still has to tell a story.

You will be competing with YouTubers from around the world. Remember Life in A Day?  Yeah, that many.  You can submit your video starting in February 2nd and you have until March 31st, 2012 to upload it.

There is no entry fee. What else? You do have to be over 18 years of age to participate or whatever the age of adulthood/majority is in your country.

The Grand Prize is $500,000 U.S. and a trip to Venice. Not the California one, the one in Venice, Italy where the Venice Film Festival will be occurring at the same time.

Nice. If you want more info go check out the FAQ, and more importantly the official rules.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Playing With Type - First Steps

The cool kids are going to town with kinetic typography. Kinectic typography tells a story with words or can re-enforce the power of spoken words and music.  I feel like the unworthy when I view some of the animations being done with Adobe After Effects.

I'd love to give it a go but one thing is stopping me. $990.

I purchase software. I just do not purchase software that cost enough toward a down payment on a car.

The software is certainly worth it. Plus the add-ins and doodads. I'm misting up just thinking about it.  This is an example of kinetic typography using the famous speech from the movie Network. The video was created by Geek180.



Adobe After Effects make it easier to create motion graphics and kinetic typography. It isn't the only way. Okay, yes it is if you are a professional motion videographer or in the business.

But for the rest of us that want to experiment and push what we can afford a bit farther maybe there are other ways to create kinectic type videos.

Searching The Old Kit Bag

Off the top of my head I can think of a few software programs to play with as a starting point.

One of them is Swish Max2. This is (or was, they are up to version 4 by now) a program that makes it easy to create flash animations. Now I don't want to create flash animations but the program also exports animations out to an .avi file.


So that is what I'll be up to for the next couple of posts.

Now creating type videos might not be your thing. I understand. But the basic skills of working with type in video are the same for most other kinds of videos. 

In addition, a motion typography clip can work well as a transition or a bridge from one video to another.

It is all how you look at it.  In the meantime if you want to spark up some ideas on using type in movies and videos I have a possible starting point for your. Smashing Magazine has a good post on The Art of the Film Title Design Throughout Cinema History.

It is very visual and you can get a lot of good ideas just from observing how it was done in the past.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quick Look at Serif Movie Plus Starter Edition

There came a time when I could deal with Windows Movie Maker no longer. It was free but the crashes when I tried to do anything more complicated than a simple edit were too much to bear. There were tears involved.

True, this was in the past with an old computer and software. There will come a time when you will want to move on. If you mess around with web video and editing at some point you will want to know if there are alternatives. Serif MoviePlus Starter Edition might be what you are looking for in a simple video editing program.



There are people that keep asking if there is a free video editing software and the answer is yes. A qualified yes if you can live with the limitations.

Operating System:

Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 computers with a Dual Core or higher CPU

Computer Skill Level: 

Comfortable with using menus, file folders and Windows Explorer

I use the full version of Serif Movie Plus X5 and the prior version X3 so I'm really familiar with the program. For folks that might have had prior experience with a computer videos editing program this is a great alternative for the price; which is often at a discount for the full program.

The Starter Edition is free but I would only download it from the vendor web site for security reasons. Security means you don't want to download malware cooties.

This Starter Edition (SMPSE) is a limited edition of Serif Movie Plus X5. The software is free to download and use but there are limitations. You need to know about them ahead of time before you invest in using this program.
SMPSE imports and exports .avi, .wmv, .mov videos. If you camcorder records in H.264, mp4 or ACHVD then you might be out of luck. There are mp4 videos in the .mov format so that might work. Or not. .
For the record, there are almost no camcorders that record in .wmv. There are however Smartphones and tablets that record in .avi or .mov, in which case you score and can give this program a bit more consideration.

Some of the advanced editing features MoviePlus X5 are disabled in this version of the program. Or if it the feature isn't disabled you might see something like this:


That is correct, you are seeing a logo for the product in the upper left corner. You can't remove it or prevent it. Consider it the cost of using the program. You can view the full test video by Taykslav so you can see the logo for yourself.

Checking the Serif forums it seems that the watermark logo can appear if you export the video so yes, you need to be aware that this can happen.

You also might see a nag screen to upgrade to the full program. 

Still With Me?

Ok, if you have a Dual Core computer and video that it will accept we can talk.

It is good program that makes it very easy to trim, edit, add audio and photos to get a good video. It exports the videos quickly and I haven't notice any artifacts or gunk mucking up the videos, even with my glasses on.

There is a good helper guide that you can use to learn the program as well as a tutorial section on the web site. In addition, the company does have YouTube videos that you can view for help. Keep in mind that they were designed for the full version of the program.

I do like that the render times are generally quick. There are some software that take forever and a day to export the video out in a particular video format.

Again, if you have an older computer this could take much longer than you find comfortable. 

I would recommend giving this try if you can live with the limitations.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Quick and Easy Storyboard Part Two - A Little Structure

Still not gronking on the 3x5 cards? You say you need something a bit more structured? You are trying to demonstrate a concept or task? Let me see what I have in the old kit bag.

Ah yes, this will do it.


I create a simple template for myself so that I am clear on what I want to explain or show in a video. 
This is a reproduction of the storyboard that I used to make the PSA Fannie Lou Hamer PSA

Why Would I Want to Know This?

A restatement of the reason why other people would be interesting in the video. I know why I want to do it however the video will be watched by other viewers. What benefit will they get from the video?

My Storyboard

Item
Audio
Video
Title Card – Intro Fannie Lou Hamer speaking before Congress Comment About Black Women
Fade Into Comment Card Ignorant Comment Card
Cut to Congress Fannie – Congress
Transition Image 3 Fannie – Speaking
Transition Image 4 Fannie – Sad
Transition Image 5 Fannie – Older
Title Card – Fannie 1964 Fannie 1964
Title Card – Know Your History Know Your History
Title Card – Stop the Verbal Violence Against Women Stop the Verbal Violence Against Women
Closing Credit PSA…

I made this in 2009. I should try again because I didn’t leave enough time for the reading of the card and I would like to have a better mix of text to images.

You do, you learn and then you do some more. But without this really simple outline I might not have gotten as far as I did.

This is my storyboard; it could be much better by adding start and stop times and making decisions about removing photos to strengthen the point.

In the other hand Mrs. Hamer was a very powerful speaker. Nothing I could do can draw attention away from her voice.  A great lady.

It doesn’t have to be complicated but if you want to get a message or idea across you might need to plan it out.

This is just my two cents on the matter.

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Quick and Easy Storyboard or Planning Is Good

Diving deeper into what makes a good video. I have the point and shoot aspect of it down pat. Maybe too down pat. I don't want to make boring videos. But to make better ones takes planing.

One of the oldest and cost effective ways of making a good video is by using 3x5 cards.


Paper cards. The kind that come 100 to a pack. You will also need a ink or pencil writing instrument.
An acceptable substitute is a post it note type paper. I don't know what the generic name of it called so the trademark enforcement might be after me.

Why should you invest in 3x5 cards?
  1. They are portable.
  2. They do not depend on an electrical source.
  3. Allows for experimentation.
  4. They are cheap.
You don't have to be a creative artist. You can do this anytime and just about anywhere. 

You say you don't do anything that complex Good,then you can think of this as coverage protection. For example, say you know that you are going to record an event.  People getting up to speak or show a skill.

Before the event you could plan on taking video of the location, the seating, the equipment. You could have a planned shot list of "stuff."

You want that stuff. Why?

Because aiming a camera at a speaker for long periods of time can be boring. Or you have a boring speaker and you have to give your viewers a visual break.

You might need a transition from one person to another. Storyboarding can help you set up the structure of your video so that you can allow for something new and interesting to be inserted. 

It helps to ensure that you record what you want or need to have in the video.


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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Samsung HMX W200 Mini-Review and Video

As promised, this is my test video and mini review of the Samsung HMX W200. I’ve been using it as a video and still camera and I have to say that I like it a lot. I even like that it is red, I can find it quickly in my handbag.

If you knew how much stuff is in my bag you'd know that was a selling point.

Positives

The device turns on quickly and is ready to record in about three seconds. I can quickly switch between photo and video and know which mode I’m in with a quick glance.

On a 4GB microSD card recording at 1080p I have 44 minutes of video. At 720p I can bump that up to 66 minutes. There is no VGA mode. For spontaneous vides that is fine. I have other camcorders for longer recordings.

If you do need to record longer you need to know that the W200 has a non-replaceable battery. One the battery kicks you will need a computer to recharge or an USB A/C plug.

It does have digital image stabilization but I tend to forget to turn it on. It does have a tripod socket at the bottom left of the camcorder.

The camcorder has a F2.2 lens that ain’t to shabby in low light situation.



Surprises

This is a first for me. The supplied video catalog/editing program Intell-Studio does not totally suck. I should mention that the software is for Windows users only.

The camcorder has the installation software, that is why there was no installation CD. Once you attach it to the computer it will install the software.

You can preview the photos and videos in one place and there are simple photo and editing tools you can use.


If you are a total novice users you might have problems. There is no guide to how to begin. If you have used a program like Windows Live Movie Maker or Windows Movie Maker for XP then you will feel at home. You can use the storyboard mode or switch it to timeline mode.

It is a basic trimmer/editing program.  On a netbook or laptop I think this could work fine IF you have a dual core or higher CPU. You do need a post 2010 computer with some juice to get this to work.

I’m telling you,  your old pokey will have issues with this software. The application does show a message upon opening that states it does need a Core Duo, Athlon X2 or Dual Core processor to operate.

If you know how to access the camcorder as a storage device you can extract the videos and use the software of your choice.

Other Operating System Users

For Linux Ubuntu users – you can actually connect the camcorder to your computer and access the videos. You cannot use the software but if your editing program can read H.264 videos your are good to go. 

My tip for you, and it does seem obvious but I forgot to do it, is turn the camcorder on after you attach it. It will show up as a storage device and then you can retrieve the videos.

For Mac users – Y’all know the drill. Can’t use the Windows software. . Like Linux users attach the camcorder to the computer and copy the photo and video folders to your hard drive. You should have no problems with H.264 videos

Hidden Costs

1. Charging the battery. You will need a USB hub or a port on your computer to safely connect the camcorder. Another option is to get a USB plug to connect the swing out USB arm into the plug and then use a wall socket.

2. If you want to connect the camcorder to a television you will have to purchase a HDMI cable. It does not come with the camcorder.

3. On the box a Class 6 microSD card is recommended. It seems to be okay with a Class 4 card but I wouldn’t go lower than Class 4. Beware of vendors jacking up the cost, you should be able to find a good price for a Class 6 or 10 card for around $20 to $40 from vendors like Amazon, Adorama, B and H Photo, NewEgg or TigerDirect.

I’m not going to take the microSD card out of the camcorder. It is too easy to loose or misplace. I’ll transfer the videos using Windows Explorer after I am sure I have my back up copies.

You might want a microSD card reader but that is another choice and cost to consider.

Bottom Line

The camcorder is dust proof, shockproof to 2m/6ft and should I find myself in a rain storm or a boat I am all set.  The video quality is good and I enjoy using it as opposed to fighting with a device to get it to function.
It isn’t for everybody. It is a specialty type of camcorder.

I wish Samsung had used a standard SD card. That is now a small quibble.

For a day to day camcorder that records quality video even underwater I think it is a keeper.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Learning About Demo and Screencasting Videos

I really want to know and understand how to communicate information better. I am currently taking informal courses in how to make a demo movie and one in screencasting techniques.

A demo movie is when a company wants to introduce a product or service to potential clients. How do you get the word out? What does the product or service do for the consumer?

Screencasting is embraced by educators, tutors or folks like me that want to show you how to do something that is generated on the computer or by photographs and screen images.

Some of the commonalities are:
  • Knowing your audience
  • Having a good script
  • Be engaging and not dull
  • Keep it brief
The screencasting class is free to access. I'm checking out P2PU.org section by Avi Soloman

The demo video class is a fee based kind of deal that I found via GrumoMedia with Miguel Fernandez.

Related Resources:


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Samsung HMX W200 Part 2 - Charging It Up

One of the concerns that I had about the HMX W200 finding a safe way to charge the camcorder, it does have a USB arm that can be inserted into a USB port. If you are a PC laptop user, score.

If you have a desktop computer then there is a small issue. There is nothing to support the camcorder as you attach it to the port.


Samsung HMX W200 Camcorder
The USB arm is at the bottom of the device so, yeah, the weight of the camcorder will stress out the port or the USB arm over time.

Charging Options

A USB A (Male) to A (Male) cable will do the trick. Not expensive but you might want to shop via a known on-line vendor for a good price. You might even have one around the house. Hook this up with a USB hub and you are good to go.

There are monitors that have USB sockets on the side. If you have one of those it might be an easier access solution.  You still would have the camcorder sticking out at the side but if you have DVD cases on your desk like I do you could pile them up for support.

If you have a USB Hub you can attach the camcorder to the hub and then connect it to the computer. I actually had one that I got from the 99Cents Only store and it works fine.

Another option is a USB Plug. I've had a number of mp3 players over the years and some of them had a USB charging plug that  has a slot to attach the camcorder.  I had about two of them that I forgot about around the joint. I can charge the camcorder at the office or wherever I can find a socket.

I've seen USB chargers at office supply stores as well. These would have the plug and a number of connectors for various media or phone devices. They don't have to be expensive; I've seen them for about $15-$20.

The more I'm learning about the camcorder the more impressed I am with the features. I have been recording but, I don't know how to say this, I can't find moving objects. I think I've got that licked so hopefully there will be test footage soon.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

My Samsung HMX-W200 Camcorder Part 1

When a very nice person gives you a gift card to a retail electronics store what is a girl supposed to do? Just one little tiny problem. I only buy retail when I have to or need it right away.

Places like Best Buy frustrate me. I don't have one really close to me. I have to make an effort to get to the store. When I get there I am either overly helped on can't find a soul. 

Like I was thinking about buying a USB to Ethernet gizmo. It wasn't there. The Kindle Fire and iPad tablets were in plan sight but some of the alternative Android tablets that I could afford to purchase, not so much.

A retail store can only hold so much stuff. I walked around that store and I was sad. The CD and DVD section were ignored and a lot of that stuff was over priced. I'm still looking for a desktop computer but all I saw were laptops and tablets.

That Kindle Fire was calling my name again. I had to keep repeating the mantra, "Do not buy first generation." Thought about getting a Pandigital e-reader/tablet to play with but then I laid eyes on the Open Box table.

The frugalista in me led me to a happy place.

A lot of Sony's and Samsung cameras and camcorders were on that table. The Samsung was like a little red corvette. There were a lot of models but since I had the gift card and I really didn't want to make another hike to the store I looked a little closer.

Carrying a camcorder everyday in my handbag is rough on a device. I got books, pens, projects and 10 pounds of necessities. Having a water and shock proof device is not such a bad idea. The Samsung HMX W200 was $87 open box and my cost came out to be $37.

This is a commercial for the device:



I didn't know anything about the camcorder in the store. Hence, I have violated Rule 1 - know what you are buying and make sure it meets your needs.

My need at the time was getting the heck out of the store. Making a good purchase and not wasting a gift from a friend. I also had that fear about the gift card scamming that is going on so I just wanted to be done with it.

I bought it. Even though I was still wondering why there were a bunch of returns for this camcorder.

The Unboxing on the Bus

I couldn't wait so I peeped in the box as was heading home. It was just the camcorder and the strap and nothing else. No DVD, manual, A/C plug. I took at look at Sam the Geek's video to see what I was missing.  I have downloaded the manual and I don't need the editing software but I can get it if I want.

Might do that for testing later one.

Class 10 microSD card
What I did discover is that it uses a microSD card. It would like a Class 10 micro-SD card. That could be one reason folks brought it back to the store. I was surprised. It makes sense but I have a bunch of standard size SD cards. I'm not going to easily find a Class 10 microSD card and if I do that is going to cost some bucks. On the quality vendor low end at least $40 and I'm seeing prices up to $75 from no-name brands. Stick with known memory card vendors.

I'll do the testing on a $9 Class 4 microSD but that could serious affect performance. It isn't going to record as fast as a Class 10 card. It could affect the video quality.

Internal Battery
There is an internal battery that is charged via a swing out USB arm, like The Flip (RIP). There is no USB external connection point. You can't have one in a submersible camcorder.

My problem is that I have a desktop computer that sits on the floor. I will have to stack books on the floor so that the camcorder can reach my front USB port. Instead, I hooked it up instead to my Unbuntu Netbook. It charged it just fine but did not recognize it as a storage device.

It is not a deal killer. But when I run out of juice that is it. I can't exchange it with another battery.

Buying Reflection

I really wasn’t going to buy another camcorder in 2011. Very happy with what I have. I could have waited and purchased via the Best Buy web site. There was a tablet that I did like and could have saved up for it.

Truth is, I really had concerns about gift card theft. If I had taken a closer look at the card (it was still in its original package) I would have seen that the security code was covered and thieves would not be able to use it.

I had options. I could have walked out of the store. I could have bough a DVD collection of cable shows I’ve never seen.

The Samsung is a specialty type of camcorder. I’m not going underwater anytime soon but I do put a lot of stress on the objects in my handbag. This is going to be able to withstand that stress. Not a great reason to buy a camcorder but that is mine.

I think this is gonna work for me but I'm learning about my purchase. You should know before you buy but life happens. 

Going to give it a shake out test soon.

Related Posts
  1. Buying A Point and Share Camcorder
  2. Does Your Memory Card Have Any Class?
  3. Lessons on My Journey

Laying Down Audio for The White Hut

I want to try new things in 2012. I want to do a form of essays/documentation where I connect a memory to my current life view. Sound a bit pompous to me but that is part of the joy of trying to be creative.

You can be pompous and then reality sets in and shows you what you intended to do and what you have created is a world apart. Then the humble phase kicks in.

I've had this idea for The White Hut a while and finally got a chance to put it together. I want the words to be important. I'm going for a prose piece kinda thing.

Process

Script

I had to write out a small script. Nothing complicated but I planned out what words would appear with an image. It seems like that should have been a no-brainer but it saved a lot of time.

Recording
I tried a number of programs but I came back to Audacity for control of the audio file. I first tried something simple with Microsoft PhotoStory. PhotoStory didn't want to play nice with my USB Snowflake microphone.

It would record but I had to cancel a dialog window that keep popping up about not working with the microphone. The audio was low and it wasn't worth the hassle.

Next tried to do in in Serif MoviePlus X5 - There was no problem in recording the audio but I lost time trying to line up the images before I recorded the audio. It occurred to me 50 minutes later that I should lay the audio down first.

Audacity allowed me to do as many practice takes as I wanted and I could see that I wasn't talking loud enough. What it couldn't do was get rid of me being hyper critical of my voice and delivery. That will take more time.

Editing
Once I placed the audio track in the timeline it was a lot easier to compose the video. I thought about adding music. One of the reasons I like old movies is that you can hear people talk. You don't need a musical accent for every movement or action in a video.

I didn't want the music to be more important than what I was saying. That isn't going to be true for other works in the project but for this one I just didn't want to spend time trying to find the right bit of music.

So, yeah. I got it done. And it does not look like what I wanted. In fact, it looks like a bunch of my other videos. I know the look I'm going for and this ain't it.

But it is a learning curve. I got no where to go but up.