SEANFX

Design, Art, Film, Ideas

Plug Ins

I’m not talking about software I’m talking about real things you can plug in. I’m lucky, I have a wife that must love me a whole lot because she gave me an iPad for Christmas. I’ve been putting off getting any kind of tablet because I wanted an SD card slot and USB connection in whatever device I was going to get. Android devices certainly have those features that I’m looking for but they lack the artistic and video editing apps I really want. Not sure what the hold up is but snap to Google because you just lost a sale to Apple.

I’m sure what I’m about to say isn’t news to any iPad user but it might be news to anyone wanting to buy a tablet that’s thinking about an Android device. If you’re on the fence about getting something that will let you import your creative material from outside sources you might want to take another look at the iPad. The speculations of what the features of the iPad 3 will be might influence you but after toying around with the iPad 2 I’m confident that this was a great buy.

$29 and worth every penny!

I put off buying an iPad for those exact reasons of not having a SD Card slot or USB port. But it’s funny all my iPad friends never told me that these little adapters ever existed! I’m guessing they didn’t know either. The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit lets you connect a USB camera or use an SD card slot. The kit sells for $29 and is worth every penny!

I was able to import video from the SD card from my Zi8. Any camera recording in an h.264 format should work just fine. Even video recorded at 1080 can be edited in iMovie on the iPad. I connected my Canon 7D to the USB connection on my camera. It also seemed to import the RAW images as well. Well I’m not completely sure how to check the RAW but I’m sure I just don’t have the right app yet. The iPad also imported the 24p movie footage from my Canon 7D, which played GREAT!

I was also impressed when I imported the video files into the iPad how quickly I could bring the footage into iMovie and cut some clips together. Okay just so you know I’m NOT going to stop using my Adobe Creative Suite anytime soon. But as I’ve mentioned before in other post any tools that lets you get the job done faster is a good tool to have. This won’t replace Adobe Premiere sorry I’m not a Final Cut user.

iPad + Pocket Camera + iMovie

Okay you can pick whatever camera you want to use and yes you could even use the camera that’s in the iPad. I like it so far it’s nice. I just think you’ll look a little dorky shooting any thing serious with it. Unless you are using it as a controller for your 7D or a monitor of some sort or even a TelePrompter . Plus I really like the creative freedom a pocket camera or or even a DSLR can give you when you are running around gathering footage.

This would be ideal for on the spot news gathering or coverage of a convention of some sort. Like I mentioned in my Big Band Boom post. Just to add to the citizen reporter idea iMovie has an upload feature to CNN iReport. Yes I just signed up for some reason. So with this set up you’re set! After you shoot your ground breaking story head to your nearest Mickey D’s and edit and upload.

While I was showing my new media crew my new toy I spent a few minutes shooting some video, dumping into the iPad and editing it on iMovie. From shooting to upload 10 minutes tops. Well I might have stopped to snack on my doughnut. iMovie interfaced with my Vimeo account easily and made uploading simple. So now I can’t imaging my portable editing studio getting any smaller. Sure I could do this on an iPhone but I’d rather have the option of using another video camera and the much larger screen of the iPad makes less guess work out of trimming those video edits.

Now I think I might just pick up a Bluemic for my voice overs!

Big Band BOOM

The band is Big Band Boom! Yeah I’m friends with a sound guy that has a big band. He had been begging me to come down and see his show. So I brought some cameras with me.

The live mix was done by Jeff Powell.

I had 7 cameras there that night with one other camera guy Tony Gasbarro.

You can watch all 5 videos on the channel I made on VIMEO Check it out!

This video was shot with 5 Kodak Zi8s, a Canon HV40 and a Canon 7D. Even though you can see a difference between these cameras (well people on Vimeo will be able too) the average person maybe not but even if you do I think it doesn’t hurt the content of the video. I think they actually mix together very well. One of the things that helps them mix together so well is the audio mix. This is a great example that 50% of the picture is SOUND.

All I had to worry about was the picture that night and as I mentioned above Jeff worried about sound. I didn’t do anything fancy to make sure the cameras were all in sync. Just tried to start them all around the same time. I used this remote from Kodak which is about 12 bucks and should work on any Kodak pocket video camera. The great thing about that is if you have all Kodak cameras you can start the cameras rolling from far away. I had to point to several different spots but at least they all started.

TIP: Use the power supply that comes with the camera that way you can record all night. Also the camera will shut off after about 5 minutes so keep that in mind when stopping the recording. Because if your camera is an awkward location it might be hard to turn it back on. The remote doesn’t not have a wake up or power button, wish it did but that’s an easy thing to work around if you know about it.

During the edit the video files were fairly easy to sync up mainly because the pocket camera handled the audio of the loud band very well. No distortion, which made it easy to find the wave peaks on the time line. Once you find a good spot it’s easy to find the pattern. Depending on what editing software you use you might have to expand the track a little to get a better look at the waveform.

I also set all the cameras to recorded in 720p 60. The only camera that couldn’t do that was the Canon HV40 but it never slipped a note. If I learned anything that night I realized I NEVER want to shoot on tape again. Digital is the way to go. So if anyone wants to buy my HV40 just let me know. Seriously I’m selling contact me here I’ve got some nice extras I’ll include with it.

Before you say anything about my head room or lead room. I should explain most of the cameras were set up before hand and I was making a guess to the shots. The bar was like a sardine can and the 16 piece band took up nearly half the place. So even if I wanted to adjust the camera I would have to stand on someone to do it. Also the the camera were up against the wall. So even if would have taken a snapshot there would be no way to know if I would have put it back in the same place. I wish I could plug the Zi8s into an external monitor just to line up the shot but that functionality just isn’t in that camera. But hey they are $100 cameras shouldn’t expect the world but you can do some cool things with them.

On one of the cameras I was trying out a wide angle lens that Kodak sells for about $20. It worked out pretty nice an I’m buying more for the rest of the cameras. Whenever you see trombones that’s the wide angle at work.

They also have a Fish Eye and a Telephoto too! I’d like to try out the Fish Eye for sure!

As far as shooting goes we had 4 Kodak Zi8 camera locked down on various stands, tripods, mic stands and Joby grips, if you ask me JOBY makes the best of these flexible grips and if you buy anything else you’ll regret it I promise. We used one extra Zi8 as a free camera. The two other free cameras were the Canon HV40 and the Canon 7D. After shooting this I’m convinced now that I could have just shot all this with 10 Zi8’s. My Dream set up would be 8 or 10 pocket cameras and 4 hand held cameras. But even with a minimal crew we managed to pull off a lot.

Because I have an older Adobe Suite I really couldn’t bring in the footage right into my timeline. But I use TMPGEnc Encoder to convert my h.264 footage to MPG2 which works great in my CS3 Premiere Pro. As you can see I had no trouble syncing the video. TMPGEnc Encoder has been a life saver mainly because if you’re like me and haven’t upgraded your Creative Suite to 5.5 you will need something like this to enable editing your h.264 footage. The great thing is you can keep the original footage because the files size are so small. TMPGEnc Encoder gives you many settings to really dial up the quality of the video. Once converted to high bitrate MPG2 file CS3 has no trouble at all scrubbing through an HD timeline.

Matt the band director had the idea to make use an old record as the title video, I thought I better make it move and so I did. I recreated the old record label in Photoshop and brought it into After Effects. After doing this I had the bright idea that I sell it on Pond5. I’m sure there are only about 3 people out there that might need it so I hope they find it… If you’d like to purchase that graphics project you can find it at Pond5.

Let me know what you think when you get a chance to watch the videos.

My First Longtail

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As a teen I spent so much at Radio Shack they offered me a job. I learned a lot about customer interaction and building a reputation. One of the most important lessons I learn back in 1986 was my first “Long Tail”.   I wish I would have understood the importance of that day back then.

I think back to what the 80’s brought us, that miracle technology that now fits into our pockets. That’s right the cell phone.  Some of you might not remember back then they were as big as cinder blocks and weighed as much.  It would have been hard at first to have envisioned what they would become.

So what does “The Long Tail” have to do with Radio Shack?  While my Manager spent the entire day working on a big sale. Know this, one cell phone back then that was a big sale. About $1500 worth. Not to mention the cell service, installation and all the add ons! Well, while my Boss was working on that sale he kept taunting me with the idea he was going to break the sales record that day. While I toiled away on the writing sales tickets for capacitors, solder and blank tapes and the occasional free battery, he was full of pride at what this sale was going to bring him.

Here’s where the “The Long Tail” comes in. While we sat there counting the days sales I had a very large number of tickets way more than usual. The whole time the boss was entering the data the taunts became less and less as those tickets started adding up…  Well…

Clicking away he soon realized that I beat him by about 20 dollars. I know that’s not a lot but by the end of the day I had made more connections with people and moved more items. While he spent the entire day with that one costumer. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. You have to nurture those good customers and hold their hands sometimes. That’s what keeps them coming back for the big ticket items.

But while I thought it was cool that I sold more, it didn’t really make an impression on me till about a 2 years ago when I read Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail” and I started using iTunes extensively to start consuming media that really focused on my interests.

As an artist and sometimes filmmaker I very much see the importance of this lesson. Back then in 1986 it was much harder for me to try to make an impression. I had to work the entire room to make things happen. That was very time intensive and a lot of hard work. But today it’s not that hard to work the room or the world for that matter. What’s hard is making a good or dare I say great product. But it’s not hard to get it out there at least not anymore. The more you can get out the more you will learn about making a great product.  This can be anything, photography, e-books, cartoons, films, webseries, insert name of your product here _____________.

To get my films out there back then I had to go through the system of gate keepers.  Now the system is wide open for content creators of all kinds any kinds.

One of my missions with this blog will be to convince other people like me, artists, filmmakers and the like to forget about the system. Sure it would be great if they see your talents and some how bring you into the fold. But I say forget it those day are fading away.

I had recently picked up an issue of IndeSlate. Which is a great magazine about the Independent Filmmaker.  I enjoy reading it. What I don’t like reading is story after story of filmmakers holding on to their films for years. I’m not talking 1 or 2 but 5 or 6 waiting for that right studio deal.  I got news for you it might not ever come but it’s well within your power to make it on your own with blogs, re-cutting your film to be a webshow, digital distribution through Amazon, Jaman or Hulu.  Soon it will be TIVO, Boxxy, your wifi enabled BluRay player. It doesn’t mean you will automatically or instantly make an impression with an audience.  But it’s got to be beater than setting in a box somewhere waiting for that right deal and run the risk of no one ever seeing it.

The time you took looking for investors, distributors and the right deal you could be looking for an audience. Today those are your investors.  They are the ones that will keep coming back to buy your product.  Just like the relationships I built when I worked at The Shack. Those people came back.  Back then customer services meant something if you know how to treat people.  It’s the same with audiences.

What are you waiting for now?

If you want some FREE advice and ideas I suggest you go here and download the audio book you’ll find in the right hand margin entitled what else?  FREE

What’s in my camera bag part 1

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So I got the new camera and I want to take pictures of people, places, and things. Places and things are easy, just take the picture. People that’s a different story.

I don’t mind asking for permission but I wanted some way to offer them a copy of it without giving them my regular card. Something less business like and kind of fun. I was also looking for a way to share the photo since they were nice enough to let me take their picture.

I ordered these cards from Vista Print for free and paid about 5 bucks for shipping.

If you have ideas share them here.

Starting a Podcast? Key things to know!

I have few friends that were impressed that I’ve put my shows up on iTunes. Let me tell you it’s easy. Believe me if I can figure it out so can you.

It’s really not that hard but if you have a few key pieces of software and a web host you’re almost there. This is just the basics for getting your podcast out there and into iTunes so other people will think your cool.

Here is what you need.

  1. Web-host
  2. FTP software
  3. XML editor
  4. iTunes
  5. An AppleID or iTunes account. They will want credit info, but nothing will be charged to your account. But heck once you have this you’ll be able to buy stuff from the iTunes Store.  You also need this account to submit a podcast and be able to review other podcasts in iTunes. If you already make purchases from iTunes check this one off the list.
  6. Starter files, a list of files you will need for iTunes to approve your feed.

I’ll explain each after this disclaimer.  I’m assuming that if you want to put your podcast out there you already have the tools to make a podcast, video or whatever, so we won’t be going over that here.  Making the content is a different subject.  Your podcast can contain just about any kind of media you can think of, video, mp3 and yes even a PDF for all you comic books artists out there. (hint to filmmakers, if you are doing a behind the scenes you could put PDF’s in your feed of various versions of your scripts for the true enthusiast!)

Back to the list.

1. Web-Host. Why do you need a web host?  Because iTunes does not actually store your files.  You can’t upload your content to Apple and have them do all the heavy work.  It’s really all on you. Hey it’s free. There are a lot of services out there but I prefer to have all the control over my files so I’m self-hosting all my content.

All iTunes does is point to a small XML file (this is just a Text file, like an html page, or word doc. You can even write this by hand.  But I don’t recommend that unless you can code and I wouldn’t do any coding since I have the perfect tool to do it.)

So this WEBHOST is the place where you would upload your files, videos, music or podcast.  In most cases you can put your site there and even install WordPress to make your life even easier. I recommend Lunarpages you don’t have to use them but they have the best price, bandwidth and storage capacity, plus I trust them.

Whoever you go with make sure you have the space you can store big files depending on your show and you have the bandwidth to support it.  If your show suddenly takes off and you don’t have the bandwidth your web host can shut you down. That’s not good news for your show or your fans.

2. FTP software. Well if you uploading content to YouTube or any place else you have a basic idea of what this is. I use FileZilla.  This is how you will get your content to your site.

Tips for Uploading your show: I recommend having one folder per show more about that when I get to the list of files you will need when you are ready to upload.

3. XML Editor. If you don’t code or can’t I highly recommend this $40 app FEED FOR ALL it’s money well spent.  Feed For All lets you create an XML file that iTunes ABSOLUTELY needs for your feed to work.  What’s great about this software is you don’t need to know any code.  If you do know some code there are other features that would make this even more powerful.

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It helps you to create the listing and all the supplemental data that can make your show stand out in iTunes.  You can put in show descriptions, tags, show credits and categories to name a few.  It’s just like filling out a form you would find on any website. The “help” in the app is useful and it comes with an example so you can get a pretty good idea of what you need to fill in.  You could bypass the FTP software using Feed For All too.  It has the built in ablity to upload to your web-host.

4. Install iTunes. If you haven’t already you should and you will need it!

5. Files you will need. Before you hit that submit button you will need to have these files in place.  If you don’t you run the risk of being rejected or worse it not working at all!

Make one folder on your web hosts called “show_feed” really you can call it anything you like.  I always like to put the word “feed” in it so I know what I’m putting in that folder.

  1. XML file, The text file that iTunes will look at to grab your shows and feed them to your viewers when they click subscribe. You created this with the Feed For All app I recommended.
  2. Album Image, This is what shows up in iTunes with that nice little reflection that makes everything look so cool and official.  This image has to be 144×144 pixels in size.  You can start off with any size you like but make sure your final is the 144×144. Feed For All even has a spot in the app so the art gets associated with the show.
  3. Starter file, You NEED at least want one file in your feed for iTunes to know your show is the real deal.  The starter file can be anything as mentioned above, PDF, JPG, mp3, mov, mp4 you get the idea.  I call this the “WELCOME FILE” I call it that because I’ve seen so many people do this.  The “Welcome File” for me is the start of everything.  It gives your viewers an idea of what to expect, when shows might be available, what the show is about or who’s involved.  Whatever you make of it.  It’s your handshake to iTunes and your future audience.

Note: this is where you can put your shows and any other content you want in your feed.  It will be nice to have it all in one place.  Eventually you will have many more files in this folder as you make new shows.

YOU’RE ALMOST READY BUT BEFORE YOU HIT SUBMIT!

Test the XML file and your path. Check where you put the XML file on your server and the path will look some thing like this.

http://insert_the_name_of_your_website_here.com/show_feed/your_show.xml

(You can use the above path as a starter path depending on your web host the / folders / will vary and might even be more folders inbetween.)

Once you figure out what it is you can test it in a web browser by just pasting it the URL window.  If the next thing that comes up looks like a bunch of code garbage well then you succeeded!  If you get a 404 or “file not found” the path is wrong.  You’ll need to get that right for iTunes to read it.

Now test you XML with iTunes.

Launch iTunes.  Along the top menu look for a button called “ADVANCED” select that and then choose “Subscribe to a Podcast”. Now paste the URL to the XML file in the little window that pops up and click OK.  If iTunes starts downloading your Welcome file you should be well on your way to having Apple approve your podcast.

I would now delete from that file from iTunes so when Apple really does approve it you can subscribe for real!

iTunes will say there’s a problem if something doesn’t work.  It won’t be specific, but in most cases you have the path to the XML wrong or you don’t have your “STARTER FILE/Welcome” there. This is why you need it itunes might say there is nothing in your feed.

Now that you have all that in place you are ready to HIT the “Submit A Podcast” button or click on PODCAST in iTunes and look for this icon, it’s in the middle.

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Paste in the path you just tested into the little window that iTunes provides.  Click “Continue” and follow the instructions from iTunes.  Apple will ask for you AppleID which is the account you just signed up for or the account you already have that you buy music with, SAME THING!

NOW it’s a waiting game.  I have to say Apple is very good at submission requests and in some cases only takes a few days.  But don’t be surprised if it takes 2 weeks.  There are a lot of podcasters out there.

Here are some other Apple links I find are useful when setting up a feed.  “FANFAQ” “Making a Podcast”

One more app you should consider is ID3 Editor. This nice piece of software which is about $15 enables you to add more metadata to your MP3 audio content.  This was a great software recommendation from Maggie McFee you should follow her on Twitter she knows things!

Please comment or ask questions.  If there are better tools out there let’s hear about them.

True Fans ECHO!

If you’re a filmmaker, artist, musician photographer or content creator of any kind you should read this post by Kevin Kelly. It’s a short version of The Long Tail and puts it into simple easy to understand artist terms. I’m not saying it’s easy. Look at my counter 5. I know one of them is me, just to make sure it works…

But it’s a start, and for me it’s more fun to come up with ideas and get them out there. I should have started this 5 years ago when but I guess I was watching too much TV.

For me posts like this and “The Long Tail” have made me think differently about what I’m trying to get out there and who I’m trying to get it too.

The tools that are out there now can make all this very simple and it’s getting better every day. There is a little bit of a ramp up but the waves are starting to settle for me. I’ll be posting my work, and projects I’m working on and my silly observations. Soon I’ll post my list of the basics. Like web host, web OS, various online accounts that are a must or for what I’m doing they are a must. But for now READUP! Oh yeah and create something?

Send me a link to something you made! I want to see and talk about it!

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

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