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!

Lighting Pucks

I found these lights at The Home Depot the other day. Hampton Bay White Under-Cabinet Linkable Fluorescent Lights (3-Pack) We actually used them in a shoot inside a van to add a little warmth to the shot. It also helped boost the glow from the dashboard.

Yes these fluorescent lights are a little on the warm color side but they came in pretty handy, their small and we use 12Volt DC convert to plug them in. Their 110 volt but because they are so small and fluorescent they didn’t use much power and they stayed pretty cool. But as you can see from the video they could be a used as a fill light in a pinch. This was shot with a pocket camera and we didn’t color correct.

You’ll have to come up with a clever way to mount them depending on your use but where we were using them, in a van. They easily stuck to doors and other surfaces with gaffers tape.

I’ll have another post where I’ll talk about their use when we post the final video.

Thanks Tony for being my subject!

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.

Behind the Scenes

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the kind of stuff I do all day, well when I’m not drawing spaceships or doing a podcasts.

I shot most of this video in-between set up and during the photo shoot. You never know what you’ll get when you’re doing this sort of thing you just have to have the camera with you and ready to get moments when you’re not helping with lights or moving props around.

This was the last video I shot with our Sony VX-2000 before we moved to HD. Still love that VX-2000 that was a sweet camera! Ellen Morris the editor that went through all my tapes and did a great job editing this project told me she didn’t even know I was shooting this stuff. I think that’s a compliment because I don’t really want people smiling and making faces at the camera, you want real action shots. Not only that it can get in the way if people notice you too much. Then they can’t focus on what they need to do to get the job done.

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

Crazy Old Bag

Need some bags to haul your grip tools and film gadgets around on set but would rather spend your money renting lens or a great camera?  Check out Harbor Freight Tools for their assortment of tool bags.  These bags are perfect for your production needs and at more reasonable prices than what you might find at your production supply place.

This bag is 10 bucks! I picked up 2. They have a lot of pockets on the inside and outside for all your tools and stuff.  Maybe I’ll go to Home Depot today to pick up some Spring Clamps to fill up my other bag.  I get my C47’s at Target… some things you just can’t bend on.

If you don’t have an Harbor Freight Tools near you go here to see their selection of bags, maybe you can find one that will work for you.


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