Monday, March 26, 2012

Motovlogs - The Wheels Are Turning

We are linked and interlinked.by the people we know or have a connection. I was looking at my YouTube subscriber list and saw an acquaintance from vlogging days gone by. This is David Howell from way up north, in Vancouver.

Eh, David can be a little salty with the language. If F-bomb bothers, you don't watch the video.



I love the diversity in how folks use video. I'm equally awed by the communities that are created to support the different kinds of users.There is a strong, active Motovlogging community.

How do I know this?

Because after checking out other videos I found my way to Motovlogging.com. It is place where you can find answers to questions like the right camera for mounting on your helmet, the right editing software, finding the road less traveled and the first, that I know of, mobile phone dual vlogging motocycle ride between Texas and the UK.



This is Spicy110 and Thegardensnake taking a ride together 4,732 miles apart.

I look on in deep envy. I'm just not tall enough to hop on a motorcycle. Well, that and a huge honking amount of fear. But this is such a cool niche that I'll keep popping in their world from time to time to check out the action.

So, if you want to know more about riding and recording safely on your cycle then you definitely should check out Motovlogging.com. In addition to the YouTube community you can also find motovloggers on Vimeo as well.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yes, We Still Need Camcorders

The number of recording devices has grown in the past couple of years. I truly think that is a good thing. I read a post at CNet by Rick Broida called Does It Make Sense To Buy A Camcorder? that makes me kinda nervous.

It is a good article and it brings up valid points; for most people they do not want or or perceive that they need a dedicated camcorder. That is true and I have accepted that most folks will never touch a dedicated camera or camcorder.

If you ask me, I think that many of them do need a camcorder and don’t know it.

Yes, you can whip out your Droid or iPhone at a sport event but the technology still does not have a decent optical zoom on mobile phones and tablets. levels. A dedicated camcorder can have that 30x zoom or greater for distance recording.

You can add all the filters you want but that can’t compensate for a lousy photo or video. 

The consumer camcorder allows a lot of people to experiment and get to know basic camcorder and editing skills. It also lets folks who wanted to be creative with video to try new concepts, ideas and storytelling paths.

I am not saying you can’t do that will mobile devices. I am saying on this day the functionality is limited.



This is an example of a pathfinder, Vi Hart. Vi is extending what we thought we could communicate with a camcorder.  I want more recording devices to be available to all who want the opportunity to expand what we know. 

And that is the point. It isn’t the device; it is what you do with it. But having the right tools can make it easier to get your message across. For some, a smartphone is all they need.

Me? I want a camcorder.

The remaining camera vendors are looking for the next gimmick. There are camcorders that are now allowing for uploads via Wi-Fi memory cards. I’ve even seen the prototype of an Android camera. Not ready to use a dedicated camera as a tablet but you never know.

I believe if you find the right device that works for your needs then it will make it that much easier to create and share your work. So quit messing around and get to it.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Basic Web Video Recording Device Round-Up 2012

I want to revisit an idea I first wrote about in 2009. Trying to get a better understanding of what folks are using to create videos. A lot has changed.

In 2009 we were not talking about tablets or smartphones. There were apps but not as we know them today.  So what do we have to record with in 2012? Let me try to count the ways.
  • Web Cameras and camcorders, external and internal.
  • Cell, feature phone and smartphone cameras.
  • Tablets from iOS (Apple) Android and soon to be Windows tablets that have one or more cameras.
  • Media players that have cameras.
  • Digital Still Cameras with Video Recording
  • Entry level/inexpensive camcorders
  • Consumer Camcorders
  • Specialty and novelty camcorders like pen cams, eyeglass cam and any device that can be tracked back to or influenced by a James Bond movie.
I know I’m leaving something out but those are the broad categories of what people are using to create video.

You don’t need much.  You don’t have to pay a lot of money to get started. You can get started with what you have.

The point is to start. We need all hands on deck.

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Vidly Viewer Graph - Trends In Video Consumed

I was looking around and happen to see this infographic at Vidly. Vidly is a web host that allows you to customize how you want your audience to view the video. According to their FAQ, they can prepare your video into various formats for the thousands of devices romping around the planet.

This is an example of what people are using via mobile devices to view videos.
 Vid.ly Single universal url

I told you, really can't ignore the mobile video aspect. I am a little surprised that there is less viewing on an iPad but that might change with the next generation of iPads and that retinal display goodness.

Hmm. This might be an older graphic because I wonder if the Kindle Fire is accounted for in the Android numbers? Truly questioning those Blackberry numbers but they are a loyal bunch.

 Anyway the take away is to make sure you follow the upload specifications of your video web host. You video will look good across multiple devices. If you don't have the time or tech for that you might want to consider a service like Vid.ly.


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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Quick Look at Canon VIXIA HF R300

I have a Canon camcorder and I'm happy with it. No complaints. No need to update either. Actually, I can't. I have exceeded my allowable camcorder purchases to X = 3. I got the Canon, the JVC, the camera on my smartphone, the Samsung waterproof and the camera on the Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0.

Oh, yeah. forgot to tell you all about that one. For another time. Anyway, having all of the above for just about any recording contingency kinda puts a damper on the justification of running to the camera store.

Moderation in all things is a good way to go. But if you haven't upgraded in a while and you are on the frugal side of the fence I would take a look at the Canon Vixia HF R300.


Who Is It For?

Well, looking over the specs I'd say that if you are a full time vlogger on a budget, activist or have a journalism bent this could work for you.

Tech savvy parents with kids at sporting or dance events would also do well with the 32x optical zoom. 
Yes, I know it says 51x advanced zoom on the camcorder but that is some finagling mixing the optical with the digital zoom which is crap and you should never use the digital zoom.
Recording Format

This is going to be tricky to explain but I'll give it a go. This camcorder records in AVCHD/MPEG-4.That is a high definition format. You'd want to uses this format if you are going to project the videos on a HD television, you want to make DVD/Blue Ray copies or you want to create a professional video for education or business purposes.

You want to be sure that your video editing program can handle this specific file format. Mac users, this definitely mean you have to check it out ahead of time before you buy. Most of the current video editing program support AVCHD/MPEG-4.

This camcorder also records in MPEG-4 aka MP4. Straight MP4 doesn't have to be high definition; it can be but I have two camcorders that record in MP4. One is high def, the other isn't. Folks might want to use MP4 if you know you are going to upload to a video web host or if you are going to watch videos on your mobile device.

Straight MP4 will give you more recording time and greater compatibility with various editing programs. But there is a hitch. Per Canon, you can't record longer than 30 minutes or 4GB at a time.  I can't determine if this is standard definition MP4 or the HD version. I'd have to dig in to confirm.



Other Specs of Interest

  • F/Stop: f/1.8-4.5 - this bad boy is going to be okay in low light situations. I'd would have a tripod or some kind of support handy but yeah, f 1.8 does a camcorder body good.
  • Manual, Automatic Exposure and a Cinema filter
  • Optical Zoom: 38.5-1232mm You are so going to need a tripod.
  • Can accept up to 64GB of SDHC and SDXC memory card. 
  • External microphone jack and headphone jack.
  • Able to transmit via Wi-Fi SD memory card.

Wi-Fi You Say?

Yep, you can record video and send them to a location on your home network or presumable to a cloud service. Some of y'all are going to get yourselves in big trouble. All I can tell you is to make sure the Wi-Fi is off or password secure your network

What you will need is a Wi-Fi SD memory card. These have been around for years. If you find an open access port you are good to go. if you have an iPhone/iPad you can use that as well.

Bottom Line

This is the entry level version of the current Vixia series. You can have a much or a little control as you want and the video is going to rock. If you need pristine HD you got it. Want good enough and small file size you can have that too.

(Eh, this really depends on your needs. For some of you recording in HD is the way to go and then later if you decided to knock it back to MP4 that is fine. You can't record in standard definition and then change your mind later.)

For a list price of about $350 it could be a good investment for the right person.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Video Advocacy Resources at Witness.org

For those of you that need to document the astounding things that are happening in your communities, special shout outs to Virginia, Kentucky and, god help you folks living in Arizona, there are a bunch of good stuff at Witness.org Training page.
 I have a copy of an earlier addition of the book, Video for Change and there is much goodness in it. You can download a pdf version. I haven't check out the version posted on the site; if it is the early version you might have to adapt what is presented for current technology.

This is the full deal on planning, shooting and getting your message out to folks.And from the looks of it we are gonna be up to our necks in content.

Seriously, it is like standing in front of an information bazooka or something.

Prepare now.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Firefox Flick Global Video Contest

The Firefox browser needs you or, more to the point, your video skills to help tell the story. The contest is now open for everybody on the globe who isn't on Internet lock down to make a video.



This is what I can scope out so far:
  • You will be creating a public service announcement aka a PSA. 
  • The video can be as short as you want but no longer than 120 second/2 minutes.
  • You can work on your own, with a team or if you can talk you teacher/professor into it as a class project.
There are four categories to choose from; best 30 second spot, best animation, best use of new technology or best public service announcement.

You got a shot at this, check out the competition. Really, you can do this.

Now you could do this out of the goodness of your heart but there are prizes, check out the Rules for more information.The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on May 1, 2012.

Go forth and make magic

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Action Guide from Freepress.net

One of the speakers at Media for the 99% Summit was Craig Aaron from Freepress.net. He spoke about the need to pay attention to mainstream media and corporate influence on consumers.

The topics ranged from Net Neutrality, urban low powered radio and the influence of lobbyists. There are a lot of lobbyists from cable, media and phone companies all trying to stake multiple claims to the airwaves.

http://www.freepress.net/resources/activist_tools
I bring this up because I got a copy of the Media Reform Toolkit that I've been flipping through. You might want to check out the Action Guide that has suggestions on how to change or contact mainstream media.

This could work if you live in a community where your local paper or television station is still viable and has influence. To me, much in the guide is old school activities that may or may not work.

Writing a letter to the editor can work for a small newspaper like the Pasadena Weekly, that has a stated policy about printing letters to the editor.

The L.A. Times?  Eh, no comment.

There is a section in the guide on making a video.that does contain good advice; get the right camcorder/recording device for your needs, have a plan, record and upload. There are no specifics but for newbies that really is the gist of what you need to do.

Look, a lot of the information in the book is good but I think those of us that use the Internet can adapt what is in the guide for our current needs.

Here is the thing. Not all of our friends and relations that need to know this stuff is on or has access to the Internet. Those of us on the Internet don't always know about techniques for activists communication. We all can stand to learn how to communicate our concerns more effectively.

When in doubt read the guide, take what you can use and then reboot into the new.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Yes, Get You Cameras Out

This is a portion of the arrest of protesters in the state of Virginia. They were sitting on the capital steps. This was a Women's Rights action concerning reproductive health and access.



Bringing your grievances to your government is protected under the Constitution. Which does not seem to apply in the state of Virginia.

Anyway, yes, get your camera out when you see law enforcement taking action against protesters. For the protesters safety. To identify the injured. To prove what was provoked and unprovoked.

As always, I encourage maximum attention to safety when dealing with law enforcement.

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Opening The Tent of Participatory Media

I attended an all day workshop on March 3 called Media for the 99%. I didn’t know any of the folks running it and I didn’t know what the focus was going to be but I needed to check it out. Over the next few days I’ll share some of the things I learned and observed.

Background

There was a point in a panel discussion where a woman rose and talked about going to the Los Angeles Times web site on the night of the Oscars because she wanted to find out information about Greece.

She talked about calling the web editor and asking why there was no online coverage of the problems in that country but over saturation about the Oscars. The woman was told that this is what people want. That the Oscars is about the entertainment business of the region.

Folks got a little lit up. The panel, by the way, had nothing to do with the Los Angeles Times.

There was confusion about wanting to hold traditional media responsible for current sins. Other were saying WTF are we talking about mainstream media when we can grow our own?

Many people wanted to talk about positive, pro-active steps that people could take to improve what they do to get the message out to their respective communities and affiliations.

And it was five minutes before lunch.

I am all about the education. I want folks to understand what is going on in various parts of the new media landscape. I tend to forget that there are chunks of people who are bonded to traditional media. They don’t perceive that there is anything else.

There is a generational disconnect that is exploited every day because what folks are talking about on Twitter, Facebook or blogs does not translate into their experiences with mainstream media.

Mainstream media is changing and it doesn't seem for the better.

I have no reason or incentive to help the Los Angeles Times be a better newspaper. I only read it when there is a story that I truly cannot get from another source. The closing of Los Angeles school libraries was one of those stories in 2011. The reporter did a fine job.

That was some time in 2011. You get my point?

The Los Angeles Times has so many factual errors, focus on entertainment industry PR plus the fact that the newspaper has damn near fired experience reporters and staff for the sake of balancing a budget make me not inclined to pick up a copy.

So in a way I support folks wanting to make their local media more accountable to their communities. How could I not want that to happen? But I ain’t holding my breath on it. Not in Los Angeles.

What I do want to see happen is more people become aware of other resources. Why didn’t that woman go to the BBC? Search YouTube for videos coming out of Greece? European financial blogs and resources?

Because she did not know those and may more resources are now present and available to her.

We who are creator using web video, audio and other new media tools have got to do a better job of outreach.