SEANFX

Design, Art, Film, Ideas

Oi loa la `ula, Wider is Better.

I’ve been talking about my Zi8 a lot lately that’s just because I like the camera so much and I like thinking up ways to do fun stuff with it. This post is about tricking out your video camera with a wide angle lens! You can gets this nice little lens kit from Amazon or some other places if you Google Magnetic Lens Kits.  Below is the final product and how I attached it to the camera. Plus there are 2 video clips so you can see how much of a difference it makes.

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Be sure and get the large rings if you order them separately most Lens kits come with the right size that matches the lens.

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Remove the adhesive backing on the ring and attach it to the camera like I did here. Center it around the lens area. It fits right around the lens extrusion.

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One extra trick, I took one of the extra rings and cut off about a lower one 1/3 of it and placed it on the bottom of the ring.  There is a slight angle on the camera body surface and that extra little piece at the bottom really helps to level it out.

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Check out the video with and with out the wide angle adapter.  You should also be able to find a telephoto adapter as well.  But I think wide is best.  This will come in handy when you are the only camera person and the talent. It just gives you that extra little headroom or leadroom that you might need with out the normal cramped feeling you get when you’re shooting at arm length.

This is shot from the Zi8, half way through I add a 0.45 Wide Lens adapter. It’s magnetic so it just snaps right on.

This was shot at arms length, see how much more room you have if you want to do an intro or any kind of stand up for a video you’re working on and none of your goofy friends will help you out.

I’m sure I’ll have a few more tricks for modding out your Zi8 soon. Please Kodak make it so I can edit right on my Zi8 or how about an Audio only mode since I have a mic input, or just ask me what features I’d like to see in your Zi10.

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.

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.

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.

Hitting the high Seas

This was an experience of a life time! I spent a week with the Men and Women of the Navy. I was aboard the USS John C. Stennis which also happens to be the same ship in the upcoming “Transformers” movie.

We didn’t know what we would get when we went out there but I think we came back with a fun video. Not only did I shoot it but I edited it as well. I had 10 hours of video that needed to be whittled down into 8 or 9 minutes. We shot on MiniDV 16×9 Standard Def. I was there to document the installation of a Golden Tee aboard the Aircraft Carrier. I just want to say yeah, my job is cool. Not only do I make video games but I get sent out to make videos like this too.

Not only did I have a great time, but it was also a humbling experience and I met many talented people that are working hard everyday to make sure we are safe. I hope people think about their sacrifice on more than just holidays because their job is 24/7/365 and they do it pretty damn well!

There is a future for Content Creators

Here’s a must read for any content creator out there. Rebel Alliance by David Kushner at Fast Company. I have to admit I missed this the first time I got my issue of Fast Company. I got caught up in the “Ning” article because I was working on making a few Ning groups. Plus I was reading a few books that centered around “LOST” the very stuff they are talking about in the story! Oh yeah ands some stuff in Heroes, and Battlestar… whatever those shows rock!

A friend of mine mentioned this to me and was surprised I missed it since I pretty much talk his head of about this stuff and he tends to get a glaze over his eyes every time I talk about “transmedia”. I didn’t have a name for it so maybe that’s why he got a glaze… But, that’s what they call it’s just as good as any. Thanks Fast Company!

I think you could do this with just about any show. There’s no need for shows to really go off when the season is over. It’s just more opportunity to dig your fans in deeper. They could have done with Gilmore Girls. Yeah I watched that too. They could have had a website that looked like Stars Hallow Village website and you could go to town meetings and vote on things thing in the town, or tried to vote certain Councilmen off the Village Board, you know who I’m talking about. Anyway I’m getting off track.

This is a tremendous opportunity for show to reach out and find new audiences not to mention bringing up talent that is just chomping at the bit to get the chance to create this kind of stuff. I don’t want to just say “new” talent. Because there are a lot of people in places that don’t fit into the age range of “new”. They are just talent and should still be looked at as a resource.

I suggest though when shows want to make this leap they should reach out to fans of the show that have the production skills to pull this off. Not only would they treat the show with respect but they already know more about the show than most of the writers I bet. And these days it won’t take nearly as many people as you think.

But I’m just going to toss this out there. This works with anything like theme parks and nature preserves as well. I’m picking them because it drive me nuts that they are missing such a great opportunity. But I’ll just stick with a Zoo for example. Last weekend the wife and I were at the St. Louis Zoo. I know they like to sell you over priced food and plush toys for the kids but every time I look around I see plants and trees I think are fantastic. Why don’t they sell those too? I’m sure some of them are grown there or near by. How else do they keep the park beautiful? Just grow a few more and sell them see what happens.

Since I’m not buying the food or the toys, why not the plants? It’s just another great way to spread the Zoo’s message and give me something unique to talk about and share.

If you don’t think you can do it with your show drop me a line. Chances are I’ve seen your show. I’m kind of silly that way. I bet I would have some ideas.

Production Tip: Velcro Straps…

velcro_straps.jpgIt’s a simple rule when I find a cord of mine that needs a tie it gets it! No exceptions, yeah even the small USB cables. The great thing about these is they have a built in loop to keep it attached to the cable so you’ll never loose it.

This is a must have in every video makers took kit. I keep them right next to my trusty Swiss Army Knife. I always carry at least one roll of these in my book back and my camera bag. They cost around 5 to 7 dollars but having them on the roll is worth it.

You can find out more the brand here, or try to find them at Lowes. Even on their website they only list these. As you’ll notice you can buy them in a 5 pack for 3 dollars. I personally don’t care about the color codes. I just want my cable to stay wrapped. If you find them in the store buy everything they have because you’ll never see them again there. I mean why would they sell you 50 for 5 bucks when they can sell you 5 pretty colored one for 5 bucks.

Now I just wish the company that makes these would give me a widget to put on my site. So I could get a steady supply of these. Believe me you start getting to the end of the roll fast and you think what am I going to do?

Hello Lombard!

Well it’s time to start talking about one of my new projects. With a lot of my latest influences like podcasting and filmmaking, which has always been there. I decided I wanted to be more prolific and start making lots of videos. I just feel like I needed to get back to my storytelling roots.

After looking around a bit, I realized the stories were right under my nose. So I decided to start talking about the town I live in, Lombard, IL. I won’t get into it to much here because you can go to Hello Lombard and find out all about it. I’m going to try my hand at doing some documentary videos. Don’t worry; I’m still going to make videos with visual effects in them. The problem is they take so long to produce, their fun but it takes a while.

Hope you like my new channel!