Wednesday, November 28, 2012

YouTube Space Opens in Los Angeles

If you are a serious or want to be serious YouTube content provider then you are about to fan yourself. There is a new production studio in the Playa Vista area of Los Angeles.  I'm talking 41,000 square feet of commitment and cash money on the barrel head of "Let's do this."

YouTube Space Los Angeles

This is serious business, with editing bays, equipment, studios, help and support. It is free but not anybody can stroll in the door.

You have to apply, be selected and become a member of the Partner program. If you can prove you got the chops you get to romp around the studio.

Another way you can gain entry into the production studio is by attending events, workshops and classes that will be held at the facility. Those types of events will be open to the general YouTube community and other folks.

For more information visit the YouTube Space LA page.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If I Had Just 5 Minutes

Making a video can be as easy or as challenging as it you need it to be. One of my goals is to make that process a bit easier to understand. If I have only five minutes to share with you how to make your video better this is what I would tell you at a high rate of speed.

I'm going to use the word device because people are now recording on smartphones, tablets, camcorders, still cameras and all manner of gadgets.

Be Aware of The Light
  • Make sure that you have the right light settings on your device. Automatic is fine if you are a newbie. When you get more experience you can use your devices setting to match the actual lighting types, Daylight, Incandescent, Tungsten. Hmm, I need to find out what class LEDs come under.
  • Don't shoot into the sun with people in front of you. 
  • Don't have them squinting into the sun either. 

Give Yourself Coverage

Once again, I will reminded you of the 5-Shot Method, it is not just for reporters recording quick video:
  • 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. 
This gives you choices when you edit your video. If a shot doesn't work out you have other choices you can plug into the void.

Stabilize The Shot
  •  Use a tripod when you can. For small camcorders there are tripods that you can carry in a messenger size bag. 
  • If you use a tripod don't forget to turn off the image stabilization if you have it.
  • If you don't have a tripod then learn the techniques to properly hold your device.

Master the Audio
  •  Know where the microphone is on your device. Sounds stupid to say but with pinhole mics on handheld devices it is easier than every to accidental cover the microphone with your finger.
  • If possible use an external microphone to record audio. Another option is to use a recorder like the Zoom H1 that will act as a primary audio recorder.
  • Be aware if you hear the sound of wind, air conditioners, electrical devices and any other audio killers. Deal with it if you can. If not, you might with certain software be able to control them when you edit the video. But don't count on it.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

GSA Guide to Making Video Accessible

It use to be a pain in the body to try and caption video. It still is an irritation but some video editing program make it easier to use the caption/subtitle feature.

Most of us don't do it because of time or habit. That is becoming an invalid excuse, especially if you are interested in creating demo, training or international sales materials.

This is a publication put out by the Government Service Administration. I will tell you now that it is not a quick read, even though it is five pages.

The guide is for those folks in government or who are producing materials using government funds how to make their presentations accessible. If you are in K-12 education you have to do this. College level as well.

You say this has nothing to do with you? Er, not so fast.

In the coming months, more of the content that you see on the web will have captions. Many of the online distribution providers are telling the cool kids to work it into their videos.

Look, all I'm saying is start to think about how captioning/subtitles could be of help to communicate your message.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Do It Now - VidCon 2013 Early Registration

I was a sad, lonely person last year. Thought I had my 2012 ticket. I did not. Tried to get one two weeks before the convention. Could not. I can't even speak of the pain that it caused me.
If you think you might remotely want to go to Anaheim in August buy your tickets NOW.  I am in no way affiliated with the convention.

I try not to pump conventions but this one can sell out via word of mouth alone. I am in a Twitter stream of people who went in 2012. Those rascals talked about it all of the time. That is a hurtful feeling being on the outside looking in.

The Super Early Bird sold out. Regular Early Bird is in full effect but unknown for how long.

Crunch the numbers and see if you can do it. If you can, then get going and reserve your spot.

Make sure you have your receipt. Put it in a safe place and put your mind at ease.

Monday, November 19, 2012

HTML Video Creation Software Sightings

It is finally beginning. I've seen two different applications to make it easy (so they say) to make HTML video and on-line video interactive storytelling.

Mozilla Popcorn Maker is now up and running with version 1.0; this web application allows you to re-mix audio, video and web pages. It is a re-mix tool. But is it a whole lot more. This is an example of a radio report by Radio Rookies combined with maps, text, animation and photos.

If you can't see the video below it you might have to update your browser or use Firefox. 

Mozilla Popcorn Maker uses a combination of HTML, Javascript and CSS to make the new visual experience. You don't need to know any code. It is a drag and drop experience.

Think of it as a modern version of old school Aldus Pagemaker. You assemble your elements and combine them on the screen. Once completed you have a new visual experience.

This things has profound implications. The good kind. The creative kind. There is no cost to use the software. It will charge up a number of imaginations. That is always a good thing.

The other gizmo I've seen is called FlixMaster.

What FlixMaster can do it allow you to create hyperlink on-line video branching, gaming, education modules, narrative storytelling, add-on to an existing television show or future sucky advertising.

You can learn more about it on the web site. It is not free. The pricing is going to be a barrier for individuals and educators.  Once it gets up to speed that can change but folks should check it out.

Not really for casual users but again, if you open up to the possibilities this could be disruptive. The combination of video inside of e-books is going to accelerate. Maybe some form of this would be used when you are using your television as a classroom and you want more details on a topic.

Anyway, just want to give you a head's up about it.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vivitar DVD 426HD Under $50 Camcorder Review

Yea, verily we go about as low (in term of price) as I thought possible. For the record, I don't think you should buy anything just because it is inexpensive.

There is value, there is frugality and then there is throwing money away.  I am against buying bad stuff. I am in favor of buying good stuff at a fair or good price.

I've seen this rascal in a circular or two. Off to the side trying to be inconspicuous. $19 for an HD camcorder. Regularly $29.99. These are gonna go quick no matter what I say but I gotta give it a try.

Once again, the name Vivitar is licensed from the original photography company. They have nothing to do with this item. In fact the company does not exist any more.

The Specs

It is small. The LCD display monitor is even smaller at 1.8 inches.
  • Video Recording in HD720p, VGA 640x480 and old school 320x240
  • Video Format AVI (what flavor of .avi is unknown)
  • Lens F/Stop 2.8
  • Photos up to 3MB JPEG
  • 4X Digital Zoom
  • SD type Memory Card up to 16GB
  • Runs on 3AAA batteries
This seems to be compatible with both Mac and PC operating systems.

My Thoughts? 

How can I say this? On the surface it seems like this should be a keeper. The price is right and golly gee it does HD. I've had prior experience with a cheap Vivitar camcorder. Mine worked for maybe a week or so when it gave itself to the hereafter.

Dig deeper my friends.

The camcorder is small. The sensor is even smaller. The shininess of the plastic does not mean it is a quality product. The plastic buttons may be hard to activate.You might not even be able to see the LCD screen in very bright light.

And that is the only way you are going to get a good recording; you will need to be outside. Indoors it is gonna be bad. Grainy at best.

Modern camcorder record in the .mp4 file format for a reason. It ensures a certain level of video quality in an acceptable file size. This device records in .avi video; which is an older video format. You are not going to get the same level of quality.

It won't be crystal clear. It won't have good color rendition. The sensor is so small there is only so much data it can accept. Not to mention a plastic lens. Or the very small lens opening.

A gentleman by the YouTube user name of Carolina Venom has much to say about the little darling. Heed that man's words. If you see a love one in the store with this in their hands lovingly take it away.

Buy It or Not?

Not. You can do better.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ematic eCam HD Under $50 Camcorder Review

You might think I like picking on poor innocent camcorders. In reality, this is an open marketplace. People are free to spend their money however they like. I just want people to spend it wisely.
If I was standing in the store with known Frugalistas I would tell them "No, no, heck no and hmm, let's think about that one."

I don't want people wasting money on crap. If you do your homework before shopping you reduce the amount of crap that enters your domain.

The next candidate is the Ematic eCam HD. You can find it currently selling for $70 or more. Work your way through a couple of web sites and you can find it at a legit retailers like or Sears selling it for $38.99. (At the day of this post on November 14, 2012)

To The Specifications:
  • Image Sensor 1.3 Megapixels
  • LCD Screen Size 2"
  • Records in 640x480 VGA and 1280x720p HD
  • Video format .mov
  • 4X Digital Zoom
  • Lithium Ion battery with est. 90 minutes of recording time
  • SDHC Memory Card up to 16GB. In the manual it appears to be a full size slot but on the web site it refers to it as a microSDHC memory card reader. It might be a model variation.
  • No Image Stabilization, no optical zoom and no ability to add an outside microphone

Those of you on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 who are planning to use Windows Movie Maker2, Windows Live Movie Maker or the new version Windows Movie Maker should know .mov will not play nice with that video editing software.

Those of you on the Macintosh side of the fence should have no problems.


I've been looking over the manual. On the included installation disc is the Xvid codec. According to the manual, "the Xvid codec and ArcSoft Media Impressions must be installed before you can work on your videos."

Mac Users, you see it coming right? You can't install that software; it appears to be Windows only. You might not need it if it is indeed a true Quicktime .mov video format. iMovie certainly supports the .mov file. But if it is a variation of that format you might have an issue.

Windows users, don't get smug. Even if you install that Xvid codec, you still might have problems opening the .mov video using any version of the Microsoft video editing software.

What Is The Catch? 

Well, for $39.99 it seems to be okay. For $70 I'd pass on it. The sensor is too small. The vendor seems to be moving toward selling tablets so you have to look under the Product list of mp3 players to find the camcorder.  It is a closeout.

As to tech support? It is web based. You ask a question in a little box. You get a response. No knowledge base. No "How Do I's." No phone. No e-mail. I'm not even sure of the country of origin of the vendor.

At this time I can't even find test or demo videos on the device. You are on your own.

Buy It Or Not?

For $39.99 I could kinda say maybe. I would encourage you to seek out reviews from those that have bought the device. I've done that and many are not happy with the sound quality.

I can't get a straight bead on the capabilities, the Emactic web site say one thing about the camcorder and the manual states another. On the plus side, there is an actual manufacture web site for the camcorder. Many of the cheap ones seem to spring up from the vapors. 

Other Posts of Interest

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Look at Bell & Howell Take1 Under $50 Camcorders Review

So you are in the store, walking around in a daze and can't believe the rudeness of people snatching stuff off the shelf. Maybe next year Buy Nothing Day will have more meaning to you.

It is too late for that; you see it on the shelf and you gaze at the bubble wrapped camcorder. It is a Bell and Howell Take 1. It is only $39.99.

Really look at the photo. Shiny surface, probably plastic. Small LCD viewer. The actual iris area is very small, which to me indicates that you'd want to use this for outside recording.

Old school legacy name but this is another instance where the name was license out to another company for camcorders. The Bell and Howell company still exist, but they are not in the media business any more.

The Specs

  • Recording mode 6480x480 VGA standard definition
  • Takes photos at 3.1 Resolution
  • 1.5-inch LCD display
  • 4X Digital Zoom
  • Accepts SDHC memory cards up to 16GB
  • 2 AA Batteries

I had to go to four different web sites to get the above information. The reason being there was no product web site that I could find for the actual vendor.

There is a big brother version of this camcorder that does have HD. It is also called the Take 1 but it will have the HD on the body of the device.

Should you have a question or problem (and the website is not on the package) you will have no where to go for help but to the store where you bought it. Who may or may not take the camcorder back or charge you a restocking fee for returning the item.

Depends on where you buy it and they will not be happy to see you.

Buy It or Not?

Eh, look this is a older model camcorder. I could see a use for it as a outside reference camcorder or you can't afford a GoPro and you strap this to your bike. I would not use it as my primary recording device.

At best, you are going to get a fair image outside if you have enough light. I have no idea of the recording format. It might be on the package. I'd want to know that before purchasing.

I'm waffling.

It comes back to knowing why you want to buy a camcorder. If you are one of the broke folk and want to just dip into trying web video and using this as a starter camcorder, then yes, if this is the best that you can do.

If you want a back-up camera for the office or creative experimentation then okay.

For the wedding, No!

For a recording the baby, No!
For a gift to your grandson/granddaughter, maybe.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

A Look At Loss Leader Camcorders

This is the dark, hopeless time of year when Americans are encouraged to perform mass consumption of goods and services. Like a siren's song the shiny bobble will appear in retail ads and on-line promotions.

There are deals to be found but only with information can you avoid buying a known crappy, barely functional device. Yep, I'm going long this week on camcorders under $50 or appear to be inexpensive.


A loss leader item in a physical store is a product that sells for less than compatible products to get you in the door. This year, I suspect you will see more loss leader tablets than camcorders but you will see camcorders selling for under $50 and in one ad that I glanced at I saw a camcorder for $19.

Location Matters

I shop retail only when I have no choice. When I do shop in a physical store I walk around to see what is on sale or of interest to me. I expect to see clothing in a department store. I expect shoes, home goods and perfume.

I don't expect to see camcorders. If I do see them I have questions. They are quickly answered as I read the packaging. Obsolete models, manufactures closeouts and there is a tier of vendors that sell inexpensive knock-offs camcorders at holiday time.

My expectation is that the camcorder will be at best functional and at worse crappy.  Your goal is to find the best camcorder at a decent price.

Price Range

Now I am all about being frugal but a $25 camcorder is a red flag to me. That tells me that it is either a closeout from a manufacture that is going out of business, a third tier vendor that deliberately makes cheap camcorders for the holiday season and markets them to non-tech retail stores or refurbished camcorders.

My concerns about of $50 and under camcorders would be:

640x480 standard definition or HD video? There is no shame in buying a 640x480 if you are just posting to YouTube or Vimeo, if that is what you want.  Most people want to have an HD video experience. Read the package, if you can't quickly determine the type of video that it records put it back.

MP4, MOV or AVI - the alphabet soup of potential trouble. If you are a PC user who plans on using Windows Movie Maker you do not want to purchase a camcorder that records in the .mov format. Mac users know that many video formats do not play nice with iMovie or the Apple iOS.

Most modern camcorders record in .mp4. That loss leader at the retail store may not be a new model.

Name Game

Do you recognize the brand name? Old people don't let the RCA fool you; Radio Corporation of America is long gone. That name was purchased by a manufacture for their contemporary products. Same deal with Vivitar. I'm not saying these are bad camcorders; I'm saying make sure you have a grip of an understanding that it might not be the best camcorder but it might be okay.

Kodak is going, going and just about left the photographic and video market. There have been sales on the remaining stock. A $40 camcorder from Kodak might be an excellent purchase, if you understand that there will be limited or no support for the device.

Think of the Children

If you are buying a camcorder for a child or teenager, stop. If you wouldn't not buy it for yourself why stick the poor kid with it? Just because it is cheap doesn't mean that it is necessarily easy to use.

I get that grandparents, aunts and uncles think it would make a good stocking stuffer or that your little Janie will be the next Spielberg.

Not if she can't get the thing to work because it is incompatible with the family computer.

There are child specific camcorders for the under 8 years of age group. Those would be a better purchase than something off the shelf at a department store.

Your teen probably takes photos and video from a smartphone. They would love a camcorder, sure. If it is the right one for them.

Other Post of Interest

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Create Graphics Lower Third for Google+ Using Hangout Graphics

This is a little something you might be able to use for Google Hangouts and want a way to identify yourself when you are in a chat or video hangout.

Hangout Graphics Starter Screen.

This is Hangout Graphics. Bone simple to use; you enter your name and your blog or web site address and the site creates a .png file that you can use when you need it.

Since it is a .png file you might find other things to do with it, like maybe use it as a watermark in your regular videos?

Other Posts of Interest

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It Is Not Camcorder Buying Time Just Yet

Well, the sneak peaks at Black Friday ads are starting to appear. The best of lists can't be far behind. In fact, I have been perusing Videomaker's Buying the Best Camcorder Guide. I'll be doing virtual window shopping but, honestly, I don't need another camcorder.

Not to say I'm not going to buy another camcorder but there is no passion in it. The innovations are happening on the professional high end products with 4K camcorders becoming standard and 8K just around the corner.

This is the only place I know where the trickle down theory works consistently. In the meantime, some of you want and need a recording device. Not necessarily a camcorder.

Assessing Your Needs

I've written about this before and I'll do it again. What do you need for your particular situation?

A smartphone or camera on a media player is just fine for day to day recording. If all you want is a quick video memory of what is going on then you have what you need. Unless you need a smartphone. 

There are mobile blogs more qualified than me to give you the heads up on that minefield.

The tablets are here and educators, trainers, sales people and those that want to compose on the fly are looking hard for the best options.  Yes it is a consumption device but it is possible to wring some productivity out of it.

But you might need more than smartphone video. If you are the one that records family outings, recitals or sports events you need a camcorder with a true optical zoom lens. Not digital, optical. And maybe a tripod.

The camcorder sizes have come down to where you can purchase a good camcorder with 10x or more optical for under $250. Sometimes, way under $250; depending where you shop.

How Is Your Money Flow?

Which leads me into how much do you want to invest in this? People will pay $300 for a smartphone but kick up a fuss when the price of a camcorder is $199.

You need to understand that you are not just going to buy the camcorder.
  • You might need to pay sales tax. I believe folks in the UK pay VAT.
  • You may need to purchase the right memory card for your camcorder.
  • And a tripod if you are going to use the optical zoom on a camcorder.
  • And maybe, if you really don't like Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie a new video editing program which you can purchase between $50 - $100; depending on what you buy and where you shop.
Time, Do You Have It?

If all you want to do is hit record and upload then you are good to go. The technology makes it easy for smartphone and tablet users to that and be happy.

If you want to edit and tell a narrative or experimental story then you need to find the 25th hour of the day. Or make room for the process in your normal work/play/maintenance day.

You have to make the time to transfer the video from the device to the computer. Then you have to sit butt in chair and do it., Export, Upload.

Two hours for quick and dirty and more if you really get to tweaking.

I feel like a granny trying to wiggle the finger at you whipper snappers. Think carefully about your actual needs, the amount of money that you truly can afford to spend and are you going to get a good return on your investment. That could be enjoyment, productivity or money.

Other Posts of Interest

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Social Media Video 2013 by Eric Qualman

Author Eric Qualman is a person that understands the relationship between social interactions, people and money. He also knows that video can inform huge groups of people with targeted information.

The Social Media 2013 video can help you understand and appreciate how many people are engaged in communicating with each other.

Mr. Qualman has a website called Socialnomics, it is about how social media is changing our buying and communication behaviors and the profitability of paying attention. 

This seems to be a credible site, there are facts, statistics that can be verified outside of his site and citations, i.e. "how does he know that?"

I generally shy away from people who state they are social media experts because the bad ones are trying to blow smoke up my ass.

If you have the time you should visit the website.

Other Posts of Interest

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

YouTube Analytics for Your Video

YouTube provides a lot of information about who is watching your videos. If you haven't checked out the Analytics page you are missing out on some free and valuable information.

This is one of my videos about a media player I own that also records video. In the above example, I have selected the lifetime views of the video as the range.

I've got viewers in Brazil and Turkey? Cool! The growth of mobile viewing is also important, especiallly if I want make sure content is viewable on mobile screens.

This is just the Summary page. You have the option to dive deeper:

The video viewership is broken down by country, gender and age distribution. This is powerful information. It provides opportunities for think about how can I reach a certain group? Can I present content more clearly? What did I do to cause folks to stop watching?

You want to ask yourself those kinds of questions.

Other Posts of Interest:

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Look At Using Comic Creator for Video

I have a life long love of comic books and graphic novels. When I was in Fry's I glanced at a software package called Comic Creator. The price was right, somewhere around $19; I don't remember but I got it.
Example of a comic book template

One of the bonuses of the program is that it will let you export your comic to a .wmv file. It is bone simple. You drag a comic book template on to the workspace.

You can use the built in assets of clip art, backgrounds or people or you can import your own photos or drawings. You can add the speech balloons if you want and make it look like a page of your dream book.

Anyway, after you construct your page you can then go to the animation section where you select the order that the screen pans on the page. You can change the order or overlap cells if you want. This can lead to a lot of interesting possibilities.

After you get the page the way you want it you can export it out as a Windows video file, a wmv. Now there are some limitations. One page is going to be a short video. You have choices to the size of the video but not to the aspect ratio - there are ways to get around that outside of the program.

One of the things I can see using the program is to populate some of the cells with photos and then bring it into a video editing program that will let you do picture in picture so you could have a video in one cell with the animated cells moving in the background.

Or you could save the page as a png file and use your video editing program's pan and scan feature to come up with some low rent motion graphics.

What I really liked was how quickly I could come up with a video. It was a short one but it worked. The animation was exported out as an wmv then I brought it into Serif MoviePlus X6 to add the titles and the audio.

From idea to video about 40 minutes. This software has possibilities.

Other Posts of Interest

Friday, November 2, 2012

Basic VloMo 2012 Skills

I think it is necessary for folks to know how to make a simple video. That is why I've been slugging at this blog for a while. I also think women should use video to get their points of view out in the public discourse. That can be risky but it is necessary.

So I hope that I can get folks to try to participate in VloMo 2012 as a way to test the water. No, it isn't going to be like the old videoblogging days. It can't be.

The technology has changed. The use of video on the Internet has changed. Pretty soon there will be an app that makes it easier for folks to collaborate via video and create a new type of video social networking.

There should be an element of fun and community but some days it seems it is the bum rush to monitization.

Yet, I feel like a cheerleader for a down team.

So let me break it down as to what you can do to participate in VloMo 2012. Honest, this will be quick cuz I gotta go to work.

  1. A recording device which could be a smartphone, digital still camera video, tablet or camcorder.
  2. An idea you want to express, an observance that is being missed by the naked eye or a memory you want to record.
  3. A video distribution service like YouTube or Vimeo to upload your video.
  4. Use hastag #vlomo2012 on Twitter or

That is all you need.

30 seconds is fine. A minute is groovy but it is up to you. Check out the VloMo 2012 Gallery to see what some folks are doing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

VloMo 2012 and Elsie Escobar

It is that time again when writers, pie makers and men with chins decide to their thing for thirty days straight. Videobbloggers are no exception so November has traditionally been (International) Videoblogging Month.

The goal is 30 videos in 30 days. They don't have to be great videos.  Or long. Short is good. I've set up a gallery page at

I'm not sure who is participating this year. Many folks have moved away, burned out or super busy. I have an idea on what to do if that happens. Perhaps a retrospective of what was or a look at people using video to communicate with other communities.

Not sure how this will play out.

One person I know is going to go it is Elsie Escobar.

She has been doing this a while and has excellent tips on just how easy it is with a smartphone or other tools.

It is early but no sittings as yet.

Other Posts of Interest