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.

Speed Sketching at Starbucks

Don’t know about you but as an artist I always wonder who draws the pictures on blackboards and signage at your favorite hang outs. Today at Starbucks it was Amanda and she was kind enough to let me set up my Kodak Zi8 and video her while she worked. So here’s a quick look at how some of that art gets made. Nice job! It’s always fun to see someone working their craft.

Pardon the bumpy camera. It’s so small people didn’t see it sitting there.

Thanks Amanda and the DM of Starbucks for letting me shoot it. Just another reason I enjoy doing some of my creative thinking at Starbucks!

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.

IMG_0887
Be sure and get the large rings if you order them separately most Lens kits come with the right size that matches the lens.

IMG_0885
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.

IMG_0887
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.

IMG_0891

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.

The Future of ENG and EFP

This is just like “2001 a Space Odyssey”. Not sure if you remember the scene with the reporter taking pictures. But his camera was very small, well guess what the future is finally hear. I love using my Kodak Zi8. It’s actually a nice little production camera.


Stephen Knapp in the photo. Photo taken by Tony Gasbarro

I think all filmmakers, content creators and bloggers should have one in their bag of tricks. Well filmmakers should have 2. Why should a filmmaker have two? I’m sure there’s many times you have extra hands on set helping you out. This is a perfect time to hand them a camera and have them get behind the scenes footage or do a quick interview.

It could be used in your extras, blog or promotional material. The image quality will come closer to the look of the film you are shooting. Plus it won’t look like a completely different format which tend to make extras look like a after thought. IMHO

If you’re a hyperlocal news person or blogger this camera and future cameras like this will be the future ENG/EFP cameras

What makes this camera a great ENG/EFP camera?

  1. HD Video, already off to a great start with full 1920×1080 HD resolution.
  2. The mic input. With this adapter you can plug in any kind of microphone. Like a reporter type mic, shotgun(that’s the one I use), even a Lavalier mic (you could even plug that in to a wireless system). Don’t forget any extension cords you might need depending on what kind of mic you pick up.
  3. Replaceable battery. If you do a lot of shooting you’ll want extra batteries. Get at least one extra but 2 are always a better bet. Here’s a charger for when the camera is in use. Want REALLY long life? Check one of my earlier blog posts.
  4. SD Cards. Need more recording time pop in another card, up to 16 gigs!
  5. Still images. Check out these, at 5 megapixel they are great for any broadcast situation

964_0211
Macro setting

964_0216

964_0221
This one was aided with a wide angle lens, more on that in a later post.

Here’s a tip need to do a V.O.? Set the camera to a lower video resolution and use your external mic to do your V.O. That way you get a make shift audio recorder since you don’t need the video track it will just make it more manageable.

Kodak the only bit of advice I have is make the door easier to use to get the card out and you can drop the USB port. I’d never dangle that thing from my computer unless I was desperate.  Oh and maybe make an audio mode.