NEAT VIDEO…”Bring da noise!”

Ok, corny title.  Met a nice guy at my niece’s wedding this weekend.  He is going to produce the video for the event and we got to talking about Neat Video.  Ya see, with digital cameras and a dark event like a wedding its not uncommon to experience noise (grainy image) in the darker scenes.  Some of you I am sure know what I am talking about and have experienced this with your phone or even low priced cameras.  There is only a couple ways to get around this… add light or increase the cameras ability to bring in light.  Both of these options are limited.  I am sure if you cranked up the candle power on your lights at the reception you’d piss off the bride and the camera can only do so much to bring in more light.  In comes Neat Video.  Just like Dolby Noise Reduction used to reduce the tape hiss or “noise” of your old cassettes, Neat Video reduces video noise.  I know, I know not “just like” but its a simple way to look at it.  Neat Video is available as a plug in for many editors and the way it is used is generally the same for all.  It goes for $99 and it is available at www.neatvideo.com.  Take a look below at my sample of it being used in FCPX.  Its fairly easy and may help you save that shot.

 

Canon 70D vs T2i – Video Noise

All digital cameras when faced with dark areas try to artificially add brightness.  Some do it better than others.  To see what I mean take your iPhone into a dark room and it will get all grainy.

In a DSLR you increase your brightness by using a couple of settings but raising the ISO is the most common way.  ISO’s above 800 are considered fairly high in the Video World.

I recently upgraded from the T2i to the 70D.  I wanted to see if there was any significant improvement in noise levels at high ISO’s.  I did a quick non-scientific test of both cameras  of ISO’s 800, 1250, 1600, 2500 and 3200.  I would never use the T2i over 1600 but with the 70D I might just be able to.  Take a look at the video and see what you think.

You will want to view the video in full 1080P and on an iPad retina or desktop computer.  It will be hard to see any difference on an iPhone.

 

Hackintosh-How to get i-Message working on Mavericks 10.9

If you don’t build Hackintosh’s then this entry may be boring for you…

Its no secret that I am a total nerd and love to build computers but about 3 years ago I built my first Hackintosh.  Hackintosh is a normal computer with standard PC parts that will run the Mac OS and function just like an iMac, Mac Mini or Mac Pro depending on the parts you choose to build with.  Sounds easy.

It happens to be one of the most frustrating and tricky builds you can do.  There are so many variables from component to component there is no guarantee that everything will work.  Thats actually what I like, the challenge.

The only way to fix some things is to use other peoples ideas and fixes (forums, vids etc.).  I had my latest Hackintosh build working perfectly BUT my iMessage wouldn’t log into my Apple ID account and work properly.  Thanks to the fellow in the video below I have conquered.

Wanted to share with everyone because I know I am not alone.  It may not work for you but keep trying.

Enjoy.

Best headphones for the money…No question!!

UPDATE:  I have now had these for a few months.  After a run through the washer and dryer, sitting in my car in the freezing winter temps, I can say they still keep cranking out great sound.  Seem to be tough, wires arent broken so big thumbs up to durability.

Some things are worth an honorable mention and some things are worth raving about.  Well, these little guys are fantastic!…I am raving!!!  I bought the Panasonic HJE120 headphones off of Amazon because they had over 4 stars with over 8,000 reviews.  I have been using my Sennheiser cx300’s for 5 years and don’t get me wrong, they are awesome but I have to say these Panasonic headphones are really good, maybe better.  A little unusual with the shape and fit but once you snug them in you get deep rich bass (not overdone) and a wide open clean soundstage.  I couldn’t be happier.  Oh…Did I mention $5-$7 on Amazon.  Click the link below and buy direct from my page.  Enjoy!

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Available in a rainbow of colors too!

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Build and Set Up XBMC on a Raspberry Pi Computer

This is a quick tutorial on how to assemble the Raspberry Pi and where to buy some of the parts.  Take a look and let me know if you have any questions.

Lets Prepare a card for running RASPBMC (XBMC on a Raspberry PI)

Now that you have put it together lets download some repositories

Finally Set up XBMC on a Raspberry PI…this is long…

Configure your SD card to run Raspbmc on your Raspberry Pi

Hi guys.  I wanted to link my video tutorial that I have recently uploaded to help those who are trying to install Raspbmc on to their SD card to run the XBMC program on a Raspberry Pi.  It can be a little confusing so I made an easy to follow video.

If you are confused by what the heck I just said in the paragraph above don’t worry I will break it down.  The raspberry pi is a micro computer that many are using as a mini home theater PC.  The Raspberry Pi runs Linux, or other variants of operating systems.  Two that are popular (because they run the the XBMC interface) are RaspBMC made by a guy named Nazarko and Raspbian made by some other guy (forgive me I don’t know the developer).  I have only installed RaspBMC.

The RaspBMC operating system needs to be installed over the web with a live internet connection.  The SD card must first be prepped so when you first plug in your Raspberry device it will know what to do.  Think of the card as self booting and self installing.  Once you follow my video and install the RaspBMC software then you install the SD card into the Raspberry device, plug it in and it takes it from there and finishes the software install.  Believe me, its a lot easier than it sounds.

Check it out.

Canon T2i, Still a valid player for photographers and videographers

Canon Pic

Ever since Vincent LaForet rocked the world with Reverie, the video and DSLR camera world has never been the same.  Vincent picked up the Canon 5D MKII and made a quick film that showed everyone that the DSLR format was perfect for the indie film maker and hobbyists.  It also proved that you no longer had to spend $10k-$20k for the cinematic quality and look.

The only problem was that even the 5D MKII was too much money for me to justify.  The Canon T2i was the answer that guys like me were waiting for.  The T2i was less than $1,000 and had many of the same attributes that the 5D possessed.  Large sensor (not the same but still large compared to camcorders), good in low light, ability for great out of focus background and artistic bokeh.  Although it was a shaved down version it was enough to satisfy at 1/3 of the 5D’s price.  In fact, with regards to visual quality it was identical to the Canon 7D because it shared the same exact sensor.  The 7D was and still is one of the most popular sports cameras on the planet.

The Canon T2i is now like an old friend.  Its reliable, easy to use and still cranks out a great image.  I have purchased a couple of new camcorders for convenience and easier operation but have not been able to decide on my next camera for an upgrade.  I am not even sure I need one.  I like the looks of the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera at $1,000 due to the raw capabilities and the built in ProRes codec but it seems a little bit of a step backwards with regards to general operation.  The 5D MKIII is an option but $3,200 bucks is a lot of money.  Recently the 70D has come on to the seen, although not as strong as the 5D with its image it does have an excellent auto focus system.  So after much debate I end up going back to the T2i and remember what I have heard over and over by the Pros…”don’t worry about the tool, just go shoot something.  The more time you spend getting into the gear the less time you have to make great movies and capture moments.”  So, for now I stay with the T2i.  Its reliable, capable and oh yeah…its paid for.

A great resource for learning tips and techniques for the T2i is Dave Dugdale’s site www.learningdslrvideo.com.  This guy has logged his adventure from the day he unboxed his first T2i and years later still shares his moments of discovery with the world.  I bet he didn’t expect to become such a hit with the pro-sumers and amateurs but he is a “go to” when you need a quick answer.  He literally has hundreds of videos to help you along.

If you haven’t gotten into DSLR video and feel like trying something new…I would highly recommend a Canon DSLR as a first step.  Whether its a used T2i or a new T3i, T4i, T5i, 60D, 70D…Ok, yes I’m being funny!  There are endless choices but what I am trying demonstrate is no matter what choice you make they are all going to serve you well.  Its important to just get recording!  Happy Filming.

Remembering the Albums…

After giving my daughter her record player that she requested for her birthday I was drawn in while testing it out. Everyone was out of the house and I listened to an entire side of a Gordon Lightfoot album. It really brought back memories of easier times.

There is a tangible physical nature that’s hard to explain.  You held music in your hands.  Watched it spin and respectfully would not lift the needle to rush to the next track.  You would actually listen giving the song it’s due.  That’s what the artist wanted.  That went away somewhere along the line.  It was born of a slower time when we could spare the hours to share an experience never to be interrupted by the beep of a text or a ring of the phone.  I was young but do miss it a little.  Fire in the fall, thanksgiving dinners and easy times.  You only communicated with the ones you were physically with.  Engaged.  Not distracted.  Enjoying just being there, right then.  It was more NOW and less EVERYTHING ALWAYS.

Connect Your Camera and Pictures to your iPad

One complaint that I often hear about the iPad is that there are no ports or card reader slots. One device that helps with this is the Camera Connection Kit. The camera connection kit allows you to import pictures from either your Camera (via PTP protocol) or straight from the SD card. The USB adapter in the kit also allows you to connect other devices like a USB microphone. It is also possible to transfer photos from your iPhone to your iPad using the USB adapter and your iPhone charger cable.  Importing your pics couldn’t be easier. Just plug in an SD card or connect a device with the USB adapter and then connect it to the iPad.  The iPad then auto detects the photos and gives you the choice of importing all or just the ones you select. Once you’ve imported it also gives you the option to delete the pics from the card or device. If you decide not to delete the original pics from the card or device, during the next import the iPad automatically detects pictures that have already been imported and will not duplicate their import saving space.

** Special Note – You can also (if formatted correctly) import a video from an external card to your iPad and delete it once your are finished viewing it. Taking several videos on a card for a trip or vacation just got easy!!**

Priced at $25 this is an easy choice. Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (MC531ZM/A)

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Insert card into adapter then the adapter into your iPad:image

The iPad auto detects the photos:image

Once the photos are detected, you choose the ones you want to keep or delete:image

One trick that people have discovered is to use the USB adapter to connect a microphone and other audio devices that can be used with Garage Band and audio recording software. This opens a whole new world of potential especially for podcasters on the go.
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You can buy the camera connection kit here

Micro Media Center – Raspberry Pi and we’re not talking desert

An in depth video series explaining how you can make your own Micro HTPC is coming SOON!

raspberryIf you’re like me (your typical guy) then you love watching movies. Bluray is great and there is nothing like watching a hi def movie on an HD television or projector. When you need to move from one viewing location to another then the problems begin. You need multiple bluray players and you need to physically drag the movie around with you. With home networking now being fairly easy to set up, a good media streaming player will make it possible to view your movies at any location in the house. Now, almost all DVD players and TV’s have some sort of media playback solution integrated right into their circuitry. The problem is that some work well and some don’t. That’s why having an independent media player/streamer can make life a lot easier.

There are many players on the market…Roku, Apple TV, Boxee Box to name a few. While all of these have their strengths it seems like none of them can do everything. The Raspberry Pi comes close and at a size and price that is hard to believe…around $40, wow!

You can buy the latest Raspberry Pi release here: Raspberry Pi Model B Revision 2.0 (512MB)

The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer that was developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in the UK for educational purposes. This small computer with some slick software called Raspbmc enables you to run a full fledged home theater with the XBMC interface. I know if you are unfamiliar with some of these terms I just mentioned then your eyes may be rolling back right now but truly it’s so easy to set up its silly. I am going to provide a multi-video, step by step tutorial on exactly what you need to do to build a really cool home theater device.

This Kit contains the Raspberry board, the case, SD Card and Power Supply. A complete kit that you will need to follow along with my upcoming video tutorials.