Thursday, May 31, 2012

Serendipity and Jesse Desjardins

Serendipity is what happen to me as I was looking for something on Slideshare.net. Sometimes folks present a text based tutorial that can be helpful. I didn't find any but I'm one of the goofy people that will actually go and read a web sites About page.

Anyway, I'm reading about Slideshare and one of their users, Jesse Desjardins, had posted a video about how the service has helped him improve his skills and other stuff.



That isn't why I want to show you the video. Take a look at how the video plays with the concept of the talking head. The use of color. The use of retro-style photos to accent a point.

For me, I guess the video is an idea generator. I have to say I almost bugged out of the video but Jesse's voice engaged me and then I made the time to listen. Once I caught up with what was going on I liked it.

Related Posts

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Think Before You Click That E-mail YouTube Link!

I’m plowing through my e-mails and I see one of them in the spam folder. It is a message from YouTube. Or is it. I move my mouse pointer over a link and find out that it is not. Diggum the example below:



For a moment I almost took it out of the spam basket because I did recently upload videos. Which is what the stinkers count on.

I have change the name of the offending site because I don’t want you to catch cooties and I’ve reported them to my ISP. I can tell you that I looked up the words used in the links in the e-mail. Turkish as in Turkey not as in gobble gobble.

Here is what stopped me and can help you from getting your account hi-jacked:

Read The E-mail.

I did uploaded videos but not on the date stated in the e-mail.

Always Hoover Over The Link.

Every link each time. I don’t care how many times you have seen the logo just take a moment to make sure you have a legit e-mail. In this case, each link lead someplace other than YouTube. YouTube does a lot of things but I don’t think they have opened a rib joint yet.

What this probably refers to is the skin that they placed over their website that will look as much as possible to the real site. It is not. I have no doubt there would have been a confirmation request for a user name and password.

Is It the Correct E-Mail Address?

For additional safety set up a specific e-mail account for a service and use a unique password. This crap appeared in the right and wrong e-mail account. They are spamming everybody in the domain.

Approval? There Ain’t No Freaking Approval!

Some things are more subtle. Or not. YouTube does not approve videos. Really. There is a very good reason why they do not. Placere considerandam actuariorum notitia a fistula
  • 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute, or one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second.
  • Over 4 billion videos are viewed a day
  • More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the 3 major US networks created in 60 years
Yeah, that is a lot of video. And no computer algorithm can evaluate or “accept” every freaking video pumping up into the electrons. YouTube would not be in court fighting copyright charges if it could evaluate each videos after an upload..

I have been using the Internet since before web pages. I’m talking Compuserve. I still can get trapped and have almost fallen for the maleware floating past the stream. It happens when you are tired. Bored. Trying to clean out you backlogged email.

The crooks are growing in number.  There is nothing to indicate to me that the international governments are taking spam and identity theft across borders seriously.

We as users have to step up and at least be aware that there are people in other countries really trying to get their hands on other peoples’ money and identities.

Be safe.

Extract Audio From Video Using MPEG Streamclip

There we go, running after the shiny new kid in town when the older but wiser girl is sitting on the porch. MPEG Streamclip from Squared5.com has a lot of advantages, it runs on both Mac and PC platforms, small installation and can export audio from your video.

Android folks are welcomed to the party if you know how to copy video from your device to your computer.

The software has a lot of features, it can trim video, extract still images and has two ways to extract audio. Here is the rub. MPEG Streamclip can import many files formats.

From the web site these are:
MPEG, VOB, PS, M2P, MOD,VRO, DAT, MOV, DV, AVI, MP4, TS, M2T, MMV, REC, VID, AUD, AVR, VDR, PVR, TP0, M2V, M1V, MPV, AIFF, M1A, MP2, MPA, AC3
The truth is there are all kinds of variants of .avi and .mp4 videos out in the wild. Your version may not work. Those of us that have .mod videos are good to go, those souls that have .mts are locked behind the gate.

Extracting MP3 Audio


MP3 audio files are a compressed audio format. Think of them like freeze dried coffee. It has the flavor and essence of the original source but not the full rich texture. If your video editing program does not accept other audio formats go with this one.


Step1 From the File menu select Open and latch on to the video file that you want to use.




Step 2 Go back to the File menu and select Export Audio.



In this window, you will want to select the .mp3 option. Then click the OK button.




Step 3 This will move you to Saving file window (different depending on the operating system). Give the audio file a new name and be aware of the saved location. Click the Save button. You will see a progress screen as the conversion takes place and then your are done.

Extracting WAV Audio

Wav audio files have more audio data from the original source. You are going to get a better sound quality out of a .wav file but you will also get an increase in file size.  This should not be a deal breaker. Go with .wav when possible.
 
Step 1 From the File menu select and select Export To Other Formats

 

Step 2 There is a drop down menu at the top of the screen, click the down arrow and the full menu options will appear. Select Wave. There is an Options button next to the menu if you need to change the audio settings.


Step 3 Hit the OK button in the lower right corner, give it a name and you will have .wav audio copy  video soundtrack.  

Audacity Audio Editor is a free, open source to program that you can use to clean up the audio. Audacity is available for Mac, PC and Linux users.

Please be careful where you download software programs. I would suggest that you only go to the original vendors to avoid the Internet cooties.

Other Posts of Interest

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Microplant Adapter for Extracting Audio from Video

There are times when you need to fix bad audio in a video. Most video editing software has some type of audio correction features. If you program does not then you will have to extract the audio from your video and import it into an audio editing or cleaner software.

Ideally you should strive to record good audio. It would make your life easier. But who said life was easy?

Before you touch a third party conversion or extraction program check to see if you can export the audio from within the editing software.  It might be as simple as saving to an audio file. If you don't have that ability then there is another option.


Microplant Adapter works on both the Mac and PC platforms. It is currently freeware and I haven't notice any mischief with spyware or any other types of malware. It is a video converter software that can import .mov and most .mp4 videos.

If you record in other formats such as .mts, .mod, or any permutation of ACVHD you probably will have to do convert the video to an acceptable format before your can use Adapter.



Step1 Drag your video clip onto the conversion area or click the Add button to select the video and then select the file export type of conversion. You'll want to select .mp3 Audio.


The next thing to do is choose a location.


Step 2 Check the output location where the audio file will be created. You can change it if you want but pay attention to where you are saving the file.

Step 3 You can accept the default name of the audio clip or change it.

Step 4 Accept the default audio settings.

Step 5 You have the ability to select a section of the audio instead of exporting the entire file. You can move the sliders to the starting and stopping point of the audio you want to extract.

Step 6 Hit the green button in the upper right corner and in a few moments you will have an audio copy of your video soundtrack. 

Once you have your audio file copy you can use Audacity Audio Editor to enhance audio, add effects or remove noise in the file. Audacity is available for Mac, PC and Linux users.
Related Posts

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thinking About vReveal for Smartphone and Tablet Users

I could be suffering from serious iPhone/iPad envy right now. On the video editing  side of the fence there is stuff going on over in Apple-land that makes an Android girl kinda sad. vReveal can kinda take the sting out of waiting for a good Droid video app.


For Windows users that have Android recording devices, vReveal could be just what we need. The software is designed to remove the shakes, clean up the color and other fixes. You don't have to be a high tech cadet to use the software.

Don't have a smartphone or tablet? No worries. It can handle camcorder video as well. 

System Requirements
  • Operating System: Windows 7 (recommended). Windows XP/Vista compatible  
  • Processor: Dual-core CPU or better, with at least SSE2 support  
  • Memory: Minimum 2GB RAM  (Honestly, you need at least 4GB to function on Windows)
  • Hard Drive: At least 60MB of free space 
The other requirement is that you are comfortable transferring your videos from your device to your hard drive. If you have a USB cable (and you do), know how to copy and paste and create file folders your are good to go.

You also might want to consider installing the standard QuickTime player on your system if you don't have it already. If you are an iTunes user you might have installed QuickTime as well. This will place certain codecs your system might need to render certain types of videos. Trust me, you don't want to go into the tainted waters of codec hunting.

The free ad supported version of the software, if I remember correctly, saves in standard definition 640 x480. This might be enough to test the software to see if it runs on your system and you like what it can do for you.

The $49 version saves video in 720p and 1080p, contains no ads and has other stuff as well such as stitching a panoramic photo from a video recording.

This could be good option to rehabilitate a shaky or super grainy video from devices that are not that flexible when it comes to working with video.

Related Posts

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Waves of Change and Michael Wolff Video

I have been writing a lot about storytelling and narrative lately because another wave of change is about to embed itself into web video and media. There is a focus from web distributors and traditional content providers to change the landscape from amateur to professional content production.

This means to me a constriction of voices.  It also mean that good talent and alternative content will be harder to find.

This video from Intel on Michael Wolff isn't exactly alternative content. It is a form of a mini-doc. It is a form of presenting people of interest to a certain community.  I share it with you because it is good. It does the job of creating a world we peep into.



We have seen docs like this before. I like it. Shot beautifully. Yep.  No question. But as the old content media moves in they will reflect what they have done before. They will not innovate. They will not seek out new thoughts or ideas on presentation.

Or they will fight like hell to tap down those that do. History will back me up on this. My example? The career of Orson Wells.

Content corporate media will play it safe. They will churn out gunk on the web. I don't want to see gunk. I left traditional television because it insulted my intelligence. I will not watch gunk on a tablet, media player or smartphone.


Are we ready for that?

Monday, May 21, 2012

My LAT Book Wall Revised Video

I thought about what worked and what did not in the rough edit version based on the 5-shot method. The general idea of adapting it to an edit decision list I worked really well for me.

I didn't have that sinking helpless feeling. This is the revised video:


In Service of the Story, Not the Tools

I could quickly pick out those clips that matched the requirements of items to focus on in a news like or event video. I felt  the video needed a focus point. I selected a clip I recorded of the Book Wall where folks wrote the name of there favorite books.

I used that clip as the foundation or establishing shot. I didn't have a close up of a hand so I went with someone using her had to write on the wall.  Everything else fell into place once I had a feeling the narrative embedded in the video.

It ain't perfect. If I had recorded video in mind with the method it might have been a bit stronger but hey, you do what you can where you can.

I don't want to be a master of a technique and botch the narrative. I don't think that is the point. Having a structured approach to making sure you get the story ain't a bad idea. Better to have and not need than to need and not have.

What Did I Use?
  • Camcorder - Kodak Zx10
  • Video Editing Software - Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD 11
  • On its last legs HP Pavilion Dual Core Desktop Computer

Other Posts of Interest

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How 5-Shot Method Helped Me Make A Editing List

I understand the concepts about Michael Rosenbaum's 5-Shot method and want to put them to use for event videos.You can check out more info about Michael at his NYVS site or the YouTube channel.

He is legit and I have no financial interest in his company. Might be a student one day but the 5-Shot method is all over the joint on the Internet. All current sources point back to Rosenbaum as the creator/codifier.

As a refresher, the 5-Shot method is:
  • A close-up shot of the hands
  • A close-up shot of the face
  • A wide shot
  • An over the shoulder shot
  • A unusual or alternative view of the subject.
What if you have a bunch of videos and photos on your hard drive that you want to work with but can’t seem to whip up a video? (More to do with time constraints than lack of desire.)

Analog EDL

Back in the analog days of film and linear video there was and is a concept called an editing decision list or EDL.

The first stage is to review all of your content and log it down. Then you go back and write down the start and stopping point of the video clips that you want in your production. That is your edit decision list.

You then went back a third time actually get the video to make a rough edit. Then you modified and worked on it to get the final edit.

Whew!

Now with non-linear editing you can bypass a lot of that work; just grab what you want and get busy with it. Yet, I’m thinking that if we do a modified version of an EDL it could be of help to the time and equipment challenged person.



Video
Audio
Notes
Close-Up Hands 106-0014
106-0029
Music
3:32 Girl write
Close Up Face 106-0013 Music
Wide Shot 106-0010
106-0024
Music
Over the Shoulder 106-0029 Music 4:09 little boy
Unusual/Alternative Photos Music The Banner


On that first run through I could focus on just looking for hands or what I need. I jot down the start points of those clips I really want to pay attention to for the video.

If the first clip doesn’t have what I need I can go on to the second clip.  I had about 10 short videos and I found what I wanted in about five of the clips.

I was able to compose my video on paper in about 20 minutes. I know what to do and roughly how it is going to look.  This is the rough edit inspired version:


Remember, this is after recording the event and I'm trying to match to fit. Still, it went a lot quicker than my normal process.

I like that. Well, I like that it went quickly. It isn't a good story video about the festival. I'm going to do a little tinkering and see if I can still use the method in better service of telling the story.

Other Posts of Interest

Ken Burns On Story from Redglass Pictures

Without a doubt, Ken Burns is one of my invisible video producer mentors. I fell in love with photography as a teen and when I saw his production about the Civil War as a young adult it validated what could be done with images and narrative.

It isn't about the tech or the device it is the markers we leave behind to tell folks that come after us, "Hey wait, it wasn't all like that. Let me tell you this my part of the story."

This is Mr. Burns talking about what he does. It is also an opportunity for some reverse engineering on how did the producers make the archival 2D photos appear 3 dimensional?  




This is a video from Redglass Pictures. The production company works on short form documentaries, commercial advertisements and I guess you could call them site studies or invoking a moment.

Check out the video Sub City in New York. No focusing on the hand or five shot rule but seeing the place as it is in their experiences. 

I'm still afraid of going down into a New York city subway but this a story about the possibilities if I do.

So much to do, not enough time.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Professor Lih's Five Shot Checklist

So you know you are going out with your recording device (camera, camcorder, phone, tablet, sunglasses, etc.) today and you desperately want to come home with something useful that you can either upload or edit quickly.

Like most things there is a process. This is one of them that I found on Slideshare. Andrew Lih is a professor at the University of Southern California.Checklist: Five Shot video method
View more documents from fuzheado
This is his slide checklist on making sure you record the video you want so that you can present the story  you intended to tell. I do like it but I wish I could get a printable version.

You may or may not see an ad at the bottom of the slide. If you do it is a pain because if you click it off to read the bottom of the slide it just comes back.

You can make the slide full screen by clicking the four sided arrows at the bottom right of the slide menu bar.

I wanted to print it out to take with me. I tried the print preview in Google Chrome to see what it would look like if I printed the checklist. No, not going to happen.

9:03 a.m. Update: I found a pdf version on Professor's Lih's blog.

In the meantime, charge them up and move them out. There are stories to be told.

Other Posts of Interest

Friday, May 18, 2012

It Need to Be Repeated - Never Quit Learning

I feel rushed. I feel like I am 17 different places at the same time. My, my the times in the day is never enough. I am not so egotistical to think that I know it all. I never want to be that person.

I love the character of Sherlock Holmes but in the current BBC characterization he suffers from thinking he is better than the mind blanks around him. This is a neat video exploring Sherlock's potential markers of narcissistic disorder.



 I was over at Fresh DV and I saw the post 10 Resolutions for Filmmakers in 2012. Item number four is closer to my number two:
When I first started in production an old school film guy said, “Never quit learning, I don’t care how long you do this. The moment you quit learning you are dead in the water.” Wow, what an absolutely true statement. Never be so arrogant as to think you can’t learn from someone beneath you. 
Beneath you, above you, around you, in a different field than you but there are parallels or somebody long dead that is speaking to you via a book or old movie.

We call could do with a bit of shutting up the ego. We need to listen for just a moment longer than we can stand..


I am a vidoebloggers and a hobbyist who wants to make better videos. I am also a person who would like to move into educational media or whatever it is going to evolve into one of these days. I see opportunities where other people see chaos.

Not to mention that I am a creative person who chips away when I don't express my powers.

I cannot access any of those states of being staying in a predefined puddle.

Neither can you.

Oh, one more thing. Remember to have fun.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Data Journalism Handbook - Web Edition

I am not a reporter. Never claimed to be. But we have all found ourselves trying to bring facts and information into our social circles or media discussions. Me? I do try to talk to real people.

But for those times when it is just the electrons flowing back and forth between carbon based units it is good to have a resource you can flip open when you have a need.

For you citizen, advocacy and life long information gatherers you might want to swing over to the Data Journalism Handbook web site.

http://datajournalismhandbook.org
 You can tell a story with numbers, figures and reams of data. There is a way to do it without it being a snooze fest. For those folks interested in advocacy, citizen journalism or communicating difficult subjects this book might be of help.

Skimming through the visualization section and a few ideas popped into my head. I am not a graphic artist but I can see the possibilities of animating numbers with images or a data collage.

The handbook is free to look at via the web or you can order the actual paper based book when it comes out from O'Reilly. 

So much to learn and not near enough time.

Other Posts of Interest

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mobile Video Tips from Vimeo Video School

I am looking forward to my SlingShot getting here in June. I was taking photos and video this weekend and I wish I could have had it with me. I had another friend tell me about another mobile device stabilizer but I can't find it as yet.

People do want to shoot mobile video without the shakes and dicey quality.

The good news is that there is help. Vimeo has a tutorial page that spells out the things we need to know as mobile video recorders.

I really like the idea of a 5 by 5 video. Been meaning to try it for months. Super easy to do no matter what your recording device you use. This is a good reminder of just make a simple movie using five second sequences. Snip, trim and you are done.

Yeah. Because 25 seconds is all I seem to have time for these days.

Related Posts

Monday, May 14, 2012

YouTube Partner Support Tutorials

If you don't know but YouTube is moving toward a cable-ish production/distribution model I don't know you could have missed it. They want better content and production values from the members.

The site has and continues to have various ways to get the quality of the videos up to snuff. Why? Because everybody's broadcast, cable and independent distribution company is looking at the future.

That future includes Internet distributed content that will be displayed on high definition televisions and mobile devices. There is money blowing innovation but only those that are ready will capture it.

Via the Google Hangouts page; there are tutorial sessions. You might want to check in from time to time to see what they have going on.

The video below, if it hasn't popped out of existence, is about Importing and Exporting video to the channel.


Not all of us can make it to a Google hangout. You can also visit the Partner Support channel and look at recordings of the presentations.

The videos can run long so make time if you want to see it. There are other videos that are shorter and more task focused. There is some good stuff to review.

And one more thing.

I gotta stop reading the YouTube comments. There are people who comment that make a door knob look brilliant.

These videos are hangout recordings. No editing, no cutting out the boring parts. You will see them as presented. There are people cackling about how the need to be trimmed or prettied up.

The video is being recorded as a real time presentation. I'm wondering about the decrease in critical thinking skills. If you think the topic will interest you watch. If you get bored, stop.

Too hip, gotta go.


Related Posts

Friday, May 11, 2012

Adobe Story Free for Anytime Script Writing

My brain is fogged. Cognition dubious. I'm digging into the possibilities pile. This application has been out for a while now. Adobe Story Free allows you to create and work on scripts any place and any time with an Internet connection.

This is an overview video of the software by Karl Soule:

This is more than I need in putting together a script but one module did get my interest. The multi-column script feature would be a good match for me.  I do like putting images and other media in a script to visually remind me of the structure of what I want to accomplish.

I can see it being useful for tutorial type projects than free flowing. I would take a look at the Adobe Help page for Story to get a glimmer if this would be of interest to you

Anyway, it is free with Adobe registration. If you have a consistent Internet connection and a willing mobile device you might want to give this a look.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Camcorder Safari - Ben's Outlet

One of the ways to score a deal on a camcorder or camera is to keep an eye on the refurbished/overstock vendors. These are the folks that will buy a vendor's model close out or refurbished returns and sell them at a discount rate.

You should keep Ben's Outlet on your radar. The stock changes rapidly but you can snag a good deal if you know and understand what you are purchasing, what you can and what you have to loose.


What You Will Need To Know

Ben's Outlet buys stuff from vendors who want to disperse their prior generation stock, models that didn't sell well, customer returns and other stuff.  The Kodak Playfull Ze1 being sold is a factory refurbished being sold. There may or may not have been a problem with the device.

The camera could have been returned because the user didn't like it or it was too small to operate. It could have been returned because of a known structural defect. In any case, it cannot be sold as new. It is cleaned up and repackaged for sale.

A place like Ben's Outlet purchases a certain number of these types of items and sells it to their customers at a reduced rate. If it is a popular item it will go fast. I like that I can quickly see what they have in stock.

You have to set up an account at the site before you can make a purchase. You buy, they ship via the U.S. Post Office or UPS.

Before You Buy - Your Responsibilities

Reading the specs on the camera it seems like a deal to purchase. Well, hold up a minute. Just because it is a great sales price does not necessarily mean that you should buy it. You need to check out if there were problems or issues with the camcorder.

From a quick review scan the Kodak Playfull Ze1 get positive reviews for operation and video quality but the screen size is a downer. It is a 1.5 LCD that some folks just can't deal with squinting at such a small area.

Me? I could live with it because this camera/camcorder takes full size SD memory cards. I don't like paying more for miniSD cards. You have to know what you can accept or not accept before you make a purchase. That is true with most of the overstock and refurbished vendors.

You buy it and it is your headache. The warranty is with the producer of the product, not Ben's Outlet.

The deals change at Ben's Outlet so expect that some days there is no camera or camcorder for sale and other days there are oodles of them. Before you engage your camera/camcorder lust check the device out before you buy.

Related Posts

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Video Editing Computer Hunt - Retail Fishing

Folks, I need to go deep with this involuntary buying a video editing computer series. I know many of you don’t care and I understand. I’ll continue to add alternative content on other topics as I work this out of my system. I gotta do what a woman has got to do.

I want this misery purchase process to end. I never expected desktop shopping to be more difficult than it was in 2004.

Many people will walk into a retail establishment and purchase a computer. That place is not necessarily a store like Best Buy or Fry’s. There are desktop computers at office supply stores and warehouse/big box stores.

I am of the mind that you shouldn’t buy a computer the same place you can buy a pair of bra and panties but that is just me.

There lies the problem. If you need help or assistance you are stone out of luck. You might get lucky having assistance to make the purchase. You will be very lucky to obtain help to make an informed purchase.

If you need to shop brick and mortar retail stores you must prepare as if you are entering a combat zone. One of the things you ought to know about is model number and tiers.

The Same Fish with A Different Name

Remember that touching life lesson Circuit City commercial where the little boy went back to the tech store to get the percentage purchase refund because another store sold the same item for less within a certain amount of days?



And how all the other stores pledge to do the same thing? Giggles. Because what really happens now days is that some stores have exclusive agreements with computer vendors to produce models for their customers.

Best Buy. Costco. Wal-Mart. Office Max.. Can't shake a stick without hitting a vendor who doesn't ask for or have a store specific version of a desktop computer.

Product Models and Tiers

Let me put it this way. You have a base line model of computers. Within the model number there are variations according to price, parts, quality and user needs.

There is home and office, entertainment, gaming and business.  Within each of the different models there are tiers from the cheap model to the most expensive in the model line.

  • Economy
  • General Users
  • Performance
  • Bleeding Edge

Now add the option that retail vendors can ask for a special version of a desktop in a particular model.


Sometimes there are advantages. The system might have additional memory or hard drive space added to the computer. Or a price break if an item is not included. In the Office Max example above it is 6GB of memory and the styling of the case is a bit different. Same machine.

You can purchase a model for $479 at Sam's Club with 8GB of memory, essentially the same model. The case is more shiny and the logo has been moved to the center. Inside where it counts I'm thinking this was on the same conveyer belt.


This explains why when you try to bring that Sunday paper ad into your local store the young clerk will barely look down at the ad. He or she will say something to the effect. “That isn’t the same model number. We don’t have that in the store.”

Technically, the clerk is correct. It could be the exact same computer or one with stylistic variations but if the parts numbers or features don’t match, and they won’t, you don’t get the price difference.

The above examples don’t seem so bad but there are differences in the quality of the computers depending on where you shop.

And believe me, Best Buy, Fry’s or your local electronics store are in on the game as well.

The takeaway is you might get a better price or computer by moving up a product tier and being able to spot that computer at the retail level.

You will not be able to do this research in the store. You have to investigate this on-line by going to the retail vendor's web site and the computer makers web site..

Related Posts

Monday, May 7, 2012

HP Learning Center - Business Video Classes

Way back in the day you could find many a company offering "classes" for their customers. Not a new concept but there were a bunch of them. Barnes and Noble U, I think CNet did it for a time and a few others.

The HP Learning Center reminds me of those days. It is primarily text and photo tutorials guides on how to get the most from HP products. No heavy selling but that seems to be the implication.

At one point HP did have a camcorder for sale. HP certainly sells computers.

Classes in this case means that you can move though the material at you own speed. There are no forums or instructor feedback but the content is simple to understand.

For some of the classes you can click and read the entire text. For others you might only have access to the introduction and then have to register to read the rest. Some of the lessons have assignments and a quiz.

What I Found

There are no videos tutorials at the site – very reminiscing of the old way of doing things but then again it is accessible. This is what I could find that you might want to explore:

What Makes a Good Business Video – this is just one lesson but it has excellent information about the process.  You don’t have to register to read it.

Here is a sample:

The following are general guidelines for your video project:

  • Use a conversational tone: Keep it real and authentic. Spoken words are written differently than online or printed words. If you're not familiar with how to do this, hire a good scriptwriter.
  • Don't insult their intelligence: Because you know your audience well, you know their reference points well. Don't over-explain something your audience is already aware of, and don't speak to them in a condescending way.
  • Get to the point: Today, attention spans are short and interest levels are low. Tell your story as concisely as possible, including only the most pertinent information for your audience.

If you decide to enroll you can download a PDF for off-line reading of the topic.  These are two of the classes I am checking out:

Shooting Great Small Business Videos. 4 classes that guide you through the process of creating a basic business video.

Editing Great Small Business Videos is another four classes that start with prepping the computer and understanding editing options.

I had a concern about the class being up to day. They do focus on Windows 7 users and they are suggesting Microsoft Movie Maker products to get started. Not unreasonable.

Oh my. The next page let me down. Aggh. It hasn’t been updated in a while. Pentium III? Nobody should still be using Pentium III computers for video editing. That is self-induced torture.

Look, cruise through the offerings and learn what you can. There is good stuff at the site. Some of the offerings may have a bit of yellow around the edges. Take what you can and leave the rest.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Checking Out EzVid Movie Editing Software - Part 2

For a free photo to video assembly software EZVid isn't necessarily bad. Notice I said assembly. I'll get to that in a moment. EZVid is a free to download and use photo and video editing software.

Installation was okay but when I tried to open the program it kept telling me that it was already open. I pressed Alt+Tab to check my sanity. It wasn't.

I walked away and came back and there it was. This is an example of the main screen after I have selected some photos:


I don't want to say it is advertising supported but in the lower left corner of my screen I do see a logo of a company.  I've cut it out of the screenshot but when I clicked the logo the software will take you to another vendor's web site.

Inflatable hoodie jacket that can be pumped up as a pillow? If the vendor lines the jacket with Kevlar I might be interested.

I digress. I'm back.

It is fairly simple. Adding photos was easy, you just click the movie/video icon on the right, navigate to the folder that has your content and select the photos.

Adding videos is the same process. However, for those of us that record in high definition you want to be aware that the program will convert your videos, especially if they are in the MTS format. Depending on the length of the video this could take some time.

You can snip your video or shorten it by moving the handles at the beginning and ending of the video file. You also have a keyboard short cut.  You can change the order of the photos, videos and title cards.

Hence, assembly not editing.

There are no effects, fades, cross fades or dissolves. There is no real editing but for a simple program this might be all that you need.

You fill in the title field and description of your video. Then you can select the music from the list.


There is new-ish kind of music, stuff for the sad times, happy times and life in between. You have to have music. You can't select "None"

If you add voice narration inside of the program you can turn the music down so that it is under your voice. But you can't eliminated it or chose your own.

Video File Format Problems

All the video imported were converted by the application. There was a black and white placeholder for a few moments. Eventually a color copy appeared in the timeline.

AVCHD

A video shot with a JVC camcorder that records in ACVHD lite had a lot of blocks and breakup in the image. The video would stop and start and never played smoothly.

MP4/H.264

A 45 second video that took about two minutes to convert. The appearance was fine, I believed I recorded it with the Samsung HMX W200 at 720p H.264.
 
I tried an MP4/MOV video, the conversion was quicker. There was audio on the video. The music completely masked the voice of the speaker.  You can't turn the music down or off.

WMV

I used an 114MB WMV video. If the video exceeds 10 minutes you will see an alert that informs you that it will crop the video.  I clicked okay and the video did appear. It looked grainy but that could have been that I used an old WMV that had already been compressed.


Audio Issues

I understand completely about not allowing users to select their own music. If this doesn't work for you don't use the software.

I disagree completely about not allowing users to select their own music or allow a voice track in the video not to be heard. Especially in the video I used where the speaker is relaying a story about an experience.

One Way Export

The application saves the project automatically. You cannot save a video to a file. You can't save it to DVD. You can't save the video at all.

The video has to be exported to a user generated site, like, I don't know, maybe YouTube? Yes, YouTube. I think they are working on getting Vimeo but they don't have it yet.

You have to use their upload window to access your YouTube account. That was the point where I drew my line in the sand.

Paragraph one, no problem, I try to the best of my being not upload other people's content. There are legal exceptions.

Paragraph two, ditto.

Paragraph three. I confirm that it is free software. There have been no nag screens to buy a pro version or flashing link bait ads.

If I had a choice I would not use the music. There is no choice. For my test video I selected a snappy tune that fit the photos.

What do they mean "if" the music is claimed by NATOArts. It will be. And if I survive the process of being told by YouTube that I am using copyrighted content; which I had not choice in the first place, then if an ad appears on the video and generates money I don't get any.

Not even 50% because all of the photos and videos are mine? And EZvid can and probably will overlay videos on their users who generated content with their software. Which is probably why they use Google Analyitics.

No thanks.

Ahhh....

Clarity. All questions are answered in time.

For a photo to video application it works as stated. You can see a test export in the playback window and for photos it looks very good. I think there are other software that does it better. You need to pay for that software.

For video, it seems to depend on the file format and how it renders the conversion. Sometimes, not to good.  That should be cleared up in future generations of the program. Seems to me it likes mp4 video the best.

One of the reasons I wanted to pay attention to this software was because they were talking about porting it to Android and possibly Android tablets. Yet, the music issue would be the reason I would not use the program.

If I can't select my own music and take the responsibility for my actions then what is the world coming to?

Again, I don't want to bash this application or the vendors too hard. EZVid was honest and clearly stated what going to happen if I clicked the I agree button.  I read the Terms of Service. Didn't care for some of them.

My path is in another direction. I'm not the intended user. I want more control over my videos. If you are or would like to be a user of the software, if it works for you that is great. Just understand what you are signing on to when you use the application.

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Checking Out EZVid Movie Editing Software - Part 1

This shopping has me exhausted. I need to take a curiosity break. Spotted EZ Vid in the wild and I'm taking a look under the hood.  This software is designed for novice or casual users who want a quick way to create slideshow or photo/video movies.

It has some quirks but it does seem to do what they say it can do. This is a tutorial video from the vendor.



I have some concerns like I can't find a complete breakdown on what you can and can't does with the software. Now they do have a more information page.  They are forth coming with what the product is and what you can do.

Let me try to show you what I am getting at:

Supported Computers: Unknown, it seems if the software will run under Windows XP then it should be functional with Pentium level computers. I would think that having a Dual Core computer and above would be the proper level for operation.

Supported Operating System: Windows XP Service Pack 3, Vista, Windows 7

Memory Requirements: 1GB of RAM

Hard Drive Space for Operation: 5GB

Supported Video File Types: MOV, WMV some forms of 3GP, maybe MTS (?)

Supported Photo File Types: JPEG, PNG

Supported Audio Types: You cannot import your own music or audio files. The software has a bank of preloaded music from NATOarts that the user can select for their videos.

You can record your own narration through the software and then adjust the music to accompany the voice.

Something else you should know about the music. If you create a video using the music provided you might get a copyright flag notice from sites like YouTube. In the Terms of Service before software installation (Yeah, I actually read the Terms of Service) it states:
16. MONETIZATION ON UGC NETWORKS. Ezvid has licensed the Bundled Audio from NATOarts. Any uploads you make to UGC Networks (e.g. YouTube) may result in an automatic “claim” of the audio portion of your upload by NATOarts. This “claim” will not lead to strike against your account, however, you will be unable to claim and monetize this upload for yourself on the UGC network.
So loosely translated, it is possible that the automatic copyright sniffing robot on YouTube will detect that there is another video with this exact same music. You might get a notice from YouTube or the audio might get blanked out or something. Or nothing.

Wait, Monetization?

Not so fast. Also in the Terms of Service is the statement that you can't use this software for commercial purposes. And if an ad appears overlaying your video my understanding is that you don't get to profit because you used the software and/or the music that you had no choice in using in the first placed.

You own your own content. They own the software and NATOarts owns the music. I said it once and I'll say it again, free is not always free.

Didn't I mention that this is free software? Oops. Yep, it is.

More Questions

One more bothersome item. I don't like it when I can't contact a vendor other than an email form.
Gives me the willies. There is no alternative contact other than the forums, which do seem active and EZvid is currently responsive to questions..

From the Terms of Service I gather that it is a Los Angeles, California company.  If there is a legal problem or concern you might have to venture to the City of Angels to resolve it.

Another item is a line in the Terms of Service about Affiliates. What kind of affiliates are we talking here? NATOarts? Folks on commission pushing the software for side money?

I don't know.

Last question is about Google Analytics.
24. ANONYMOUS USAGE REPORTING.  Portions of this software use Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. (“Google”).  Google Analytics uses occasional HTTP requests, which are small packets of data sent from your computer to Google, to analyze how users use the Software. The information generated by the HTTP request will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers. Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of the Software and compiling reports on software activity for Ezvid.  Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google's behalf. Google will not associate your IP address with any other data held by Google.
Now if you are a Google user you know full well Google is tracking your data for their own monitization goals.

I can understand a company wanting to know how users are doing with their software. What has me itchy is how many hands are in the soup. It could be EZvid, Google, law enforcement, RIAA, MPAA and who knows with the laws folks are trying to enact in Congress.

I ain't feeling the warm fuzzies about this. But I won't be using this computer too much longer so I am going to give it a go.

I should say that I have MalewareBytes and other antispyware detection. I didn't have any alerts so I'm going to give it a shakedown.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

My Baseline Video Edting Computer Specs

I have searched for voices of reason. I would have never expected having trouble finding decent articles and legitimate posts on 2012 desktop computer purchase advice. I wanted a perspective on what to be aware of; instead I found a lot of old posts from so-called tech sites that had not been updated since 2010.

Damn disgusting if you ask me. I put the thinking cap on and this is my baseline road map to finding the system that I want.

My Specification Sheet

These are the categories of desktop computers that are in the wild. I added the Gaming computers because many of the specs in a gaming desktop are similar to video editing desktop requirements.


Broke Folks
Retail
Gaming
Operating System Windows 7 64-Bit
Vista 64-bit
Windows 7 64-Bit
Vista 64-bit
Windows 7 64-Bit
Vista 64-bit
CPU – AMD Phenom II x6
Fusion FX 6 Core
Phenom II X6
Fusion FX 8 Core
Gamers don’t seem to do AMD
CPU – Intel Core i5 2nd Gen 2400 or higher Core i5 2nd Gen 2400 or higher, Core i7 current generation Core i7 current generation
Memory 4GB to 8GB 8GB+ 8GB+
Hard Drive 1TB at 7,200 RPM or higher 1TB/2TB at 7,200 RPM or higher 1TB/2TB or higher 7,200 RPM or higher
Optical Drive SuperDrive DVD SuperDrive DVD or Blue Ray SuperDrive DVD or Blue Ray
Graphics Integrated Graphics Integrated Graphics but AMDs have Nvidia graphics cards Separate graphic card.
USB Ports USB 2.0 but some have USB 3.0 USB 2.0 but some have USB 3.0 USB 2.0 but some have USB 3.0
Power Supply
(Watts)
500w+ 600W+ 750W+

These are my ideas on what a fiscally challenged individual can do to get an affordable machine. As my search continues my ideas might change.

My Specs and Retail Shopping May Not Match
My specs for a desktop video editing computer are at best, conservative and frugal. I would not mind at all an Alienware or Origin computer but I don’t have that kind of cash. 

As of May 2012 Ivy Bridge processors are about to ship. If I was a laptop user I’d wait for them to get into the market place before I’d drop cash. I’m a desktop user but the market is focused on Ivy Bridge CPUs.

Another issue I’m facing is the hard drive shortage. Manufacturers have taken to install 5,400 RPM hard drives into their computers. That is fine if you are a basic web only or Facebook user. (No disrespect intended.)

You cannot use 5,400 RPM hard drives for video editing. Your video editing software will not support it. That is an instant deal breaker unless you are willing to pony up and install a 7,400 speed hard drive.

And you might have too.

The power supply issue is also a concern. I’ve seen a promising candidate only to get to the power supply and see the joke of the day 180w? 250w? 300w? I’ve also seen spec sheets on a vendor site that omits the information on power supply.

Installing a new power supply isn’t that tough but vendors have all kinds of case configurations. The off the shelf power supply you might want to use might not fit in that vendor’s case.

It is a pickle.

What’s Next?
 
Now that there is an understanding of the costs, the software requirements and the specs I think it is time to go shopping.  Or not.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Video Editing Computer Software Considerations


Yes, software. You ain’t just buying a computer. You plan to use it right? So we need to know the minimum hardware requirements for the video editing program you plan to buy.

Operating System

For XP Users Only

Sweetie. Babe. You got to let it go. I know how you feel about XP. I respect that kind of loyalty. I do. You have to let go now.
  • The operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft. Support for Windows XP is ending on April 8, 2014.
  • You are limited to 4GB of memory. 
  • Vendors are slowly cutting XP support from many software products. Yes, I know you still can buy software that support XP but you are excluding yourself from being able to access increased memory and processing options.
  • Honestly, it is time to move on up to 64-bit computing. You will be five generations behind when Windows 8 hits the market.

 For 32-bit Vista Users
  • You need to move on over to Vista 64-bit or preferably Windows 7 64-bit operating system
  • Windows Vista Home Basic users can install up to 8 GB of RAM
  • Windows Vista Home Premium users can have up to 16 GB of RAM 
  • You will have additional support for hyperthreading and all the Core CPUs your heart can stand or afford.
Once you have your operating system straight you need to look at your video editing program. This is an example of the specs for Adobe Premier Pro CS6

Now do not be fooled. These are the minimum requirements. Double the CPU and the real truth is that the software wants at least an i5 or Phenom II x4 or better.  You will want 8GB of RAM or more. 
  • Intel® Core™2 Duo or AMD Phenom® II processor; 64-bit support required
    Microsoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1 (64 bit)
    4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 1280x900 display
  • 7200 RPM hard drive (multiple fast disk drives, preferably RAID 0 configured, recommended)
  • Sound card compatible with ASIO protocol or Microsoft Windows Driver Model
  • DVD-ROM drive compatible with dual-layer DVDs (DVD+-R burner for burning DVDs; Blu-ray burner for creating Blu-ray Disc media)

I have no plans on purchasing Adobe Premier Pro CS6, not in my budget or skill set. But if your new heart's desire in a retail desktop computer is packing a 5,400 RPM hard drive and your software need 7,200 RPM then you need to reconsider.

Let's try another, Serif MoviePlus X6
  • Microsoft Windows® 7, Vista or XP (32 bit) operating system Windows XP Service Pack 2 (for HDV video capture)
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1024 x 768 monitor resolution (1280x1024)
  • Non-SD Video Intel® Pentium® 4 Hyper-Threaded processor or AMD Athlon™ XP processor
  • For use with HD video (optional proxy support):Intel® Pentium® 4 Hyper-Threaded processor or any Dual-core processor
  • Fast hard disk (7200rpm drive)
  • For use with Full HD video (native AVCHD 1080): Quad-core processor  2GB RAM
Again, you have to adjust the vendor speak to what works in reality. Microsoft states yes you can run Windows 7 with 1GB of memory but in reality you need as a minimum 4GB of RAM.

I have a prior version of the Serif MoviePlus X5. I have a dual core computer. It is choking on the HD video and the newer versions of software.

You have to look at purchasing a multi-core CPU to be long term functionally effectively.

The Takeaway

When you are searching for your new computer you want to aware of the operating system. Most of the manufacturer are including Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit or Windows 7 Professional. 64-bit. I hate to type this next sentence but Windows 7 Professional does have an XP mode for older software.

Having said that you might have to buy replacement software or hardware if your stuff is really old. If you haven't bought a computer in 7 or more years or you are using prior versions of software that do not support modern codec or devices then it is time.

You certainly have to double check that the CPU has the power to support your software programs. You want at least a quad-core or higher processor.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Inside The Story and Doing Good

Taking a brief pause in the search for planned consumption to give a shout out to an inspirational e-book that is also a way to help folks that really need it.

More Info About Inside the Story
Adam Westbrook has asked working creatives and journalists their ideas and philosophies about telling a good story. He has gathered the advice in an e-book that will be on sale for a limited time.

The proceeds of the book will be donated to Kiva, which is a non-profit crowd source micro financed organization for broke folks that have an idea and want to start a business in countries like Africa, Asia and South America.

The book cost U.S. folks about $6.60 or there abouts but the sale will be £3.50 GBP cuz the dude is in England.

I got a copy and it is a good shot of inspiration and advice. It is not exactly a how to but ideas on how to get it done. Anyway, if you want it get a move on because it is only available for about four weeks and one of them has slipped by.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Consumer Video Editing Computer Cost Considerations

That title is a mouthful but I rarely see the real cost of buying a computer in a tech article. People seem to assume you can just knock around a grand here, $495 there and folks don’t have an issue with it. 

I love buying tech but I also love a roof over my head, food and clothing. I can’t have it all. I have to plan for what I want and need.

I want a decent desktop computer. My purse is my guiding light and my needs are adjusted to what I do and don’t have to spend.  I’m frugal but I am not afraid to pay for value. 

Looking In My Purse of Possibilities

I have a ceiling of about $1,000 and that has to include sales tax, shipping and incidentals. I don’t want to go past that line if I can help it.

Entry Level
Mid – Range
Premium
Computer Price $689.99 $1,299.99 $3,999.99
Sales Tax 8.25% 63.44 107.23 329.99
Shipping 20-50 20-50 20-50
Miscellaneous 200 200 200
Software Replacement 150-300 150-300 150-300
Re-shipping to Vendor 50 50 50
Total
$1,353.43 $2,007.22 $4,929.98

Sales Tax – Depending on where you live in the U.S. you may or may not have to pay sales taxes on your purchases. That is changing. Many a state and local government are hounding on-line retailers to cut a deal.

If the online vendor has a physical presence in your state you pay sales tax.

If the vendor has cut a deal with a state government that on-line sales generated from state residents will be taxed (Those of you in Texas that shop Amazon, you have until July 2014 to rack up sales tax free purchases.)

California, has on their tax books that consumers are supposed to keep their on-line receipts and then send in their equivalent sales taxes money. Many Californians are unaware of the California Use Tax. Per the web site, it has been in place since 1935.

One more thing about California sales tax. Depending on where you live it can be as low as 7.25% or as high a 8.75%.  No fooling.

Many states have a Use tax in place but have not enforced it. Let’s say that it isn’t going to happen in an election year. It is easier to go after the vendor than the consumer.  

Cost of Shipping. Don’t think free shipping doesn’t cost you anything. It cost you time. If you don’t have free shipping most computer desktops weight between 23 to 45 pounds so figure at least a dollar or so per pound.

No worries you say, you shop at Amazon and have Amazon Prime. Yeah? What that set you back? $89 upfront right?

Miscellaneous. You have to buy the missing cables that hook up your HDMI television to the computer. Or you decide you cannot tolerate the integrated graphics so you purchase a video graphics card.

Here is another scenario. You can’t get your vendor’s customer service on the phone, you can’t afford a 40 pound paperweight so you take it to somebody to fix it. 

Ch-ching!

Software Replacement. You have bought a computer with the 64 bit version of Windows 7. You have 32 bit software. Most applications will run just fine under the various versions of Windows 7. Some software will run in an emulation mode; if you have the correct version of Windows 7.

There will come a time when you have to buy new or upgrade your software. You should allocate money for that purpose.

Re-shipping to Vendor. Yeah, it was supposed to be free.  If your vendor gives you a hassle and you can’t get them to budge then you will be paying for return shipping.  It happens.

My Re-Evaluation

Now just by doing that cost table I can see I need to up my spending budget.  If I don’t, I am going to be clenching my teeth as I peel off more dollars than I intended.

Denial is costly.

Now sure, if you walk into a store you will save money on shipping. Or if you order on-line and pick up in the store.  There are all kinds of variables. Just be aware of what it could cost you up front and be prepared for it.

My budget just got adjusted upwards of about $1,200 to $1,400. I don’t intend to spend that much but I’m am prepared if I need to do so. 

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