Royalty Free Music Library from PremiumBeat.com

One of the hardest things for videographers is finding reasonably priced and good quality music.  Premium beat is one of the best websites I have ever used to find great audio tracks.  The prices are very reasonable and once you purchase the music it is royalty free.  They also offer loop packs to allow you to make transitions and complimentary passages within your edit.  It is extremely easy to preview music with their built in web player and you can even start a “wish list” or a collection of music you like for easy reference.  If you’re struggling to find just the right song try them out!

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 10.54.23 AM

Source: Royalty Free Music Library from PremiumBeat.com

Final Cut Pro X Plugins and Effects by Pixel Film Studios

For All the FCPX editors out there you may want to check out Pixel Film Studios.  They offer a wide range of editing effects, tools and transitions all made to work directly with FCPX as well as other software.  Most plug-ins are reasonably priced and some are really powerful.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 11.04.13 AM

Source: Final Cut Pro X Plugins and Effects by Pixel Film Studios. FCPX Plugins and Effects

Germany – My Visit – Part 1

My daughter was awarded a great honor.  She received the scholarship for the CBYX program.  This scholarship is awarded by U.S. Congress, called the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program.  This allows a student to live with a host family and attend high school in Germany while becoming fluent with the language and having a culturally immersive experience.  Needless to say she jumped at the opportunity and now my second oldest is signed up and getting ready to go as well!

My family decided to go visit with my daughter, in Germany so I wanted to share the experience so anyone traveling there for the first time would have some perspective from this “first timer”.  This was my first trip to Germany and my first trip to Europe.  I am not a worldly traveler at all.  I am sure I will get few things wrong but I will do my best.

16847531669_c6e32aa43c_b

Getting to Germany is expensive.  Flights ranged from $850-$1500 round trip so to get 5 people to Germany is about the price of a used car.  You have several choices of airlines and they all run specials at various times.  I think that if you’re like me and going for “best price” you’ll end up on Turkish Air or SAS.  We chose SAS.  The flight was about 8 hours to our connection and then about 1.5 hours once we made our connecting flight.  Our flight was delayed 2 hours upon arriving to the airport.  People told us that this is not uncommon with international flights.  Other than hanging out in the airport a little longer this was not a big deal.

Germany is 6 hours ahead of the US (east coast).  My friend said the quickest way to adapt to the time shift is sleep on the plane and to just stay up when you get to Germany and “push through” and go to bed at your normal bed time in Germany.  This would mean you have to endure one hell of a long day but it’s not too bad after that.

Upon arriving to Düsseldorf airport, in Germany, it was a little confusing.  It probably didn’t help that I was tired but it wasn’t clear where our baggage was and no one really told us.  We finally found it.  Luckily my daughters CBYX program liaison (Bianca) met us at the airport and took us under her wing.  So getting the rental car and getting to my hotel was easy.  We can’t thank her enough for all of her efforts.  We really appreciated her!

16858034010_718310283d_z

Hotels, Rentals and where to stay.  Traveling to Germany is expensive and everything in Germany can cost a bit more than the US as well.  We found most things to be comparable as the Euro and Dollar exchange rate was working to our advantage on this trip.  We stayed in our first place and coordinated it through HomeAway.  HomeAway is a house rental site where individual property owners advertise and rent their personal properties.  It was a good alternative to hotels for us due to the size of our family.  You need to be careful what you choose and do a little homework but you can find some really nice places.  I think we lucked out.

16411342794_834e83bdc3_z

The first thing you’ll notice is the general size difference…of everything.  The cars, the streets, the stores, the houses, all are smaller.  Not a bad thing just a fact.  The byproduct of less space and smaller things is that you’ll find some pretty neat innovations.  Some are so cool you’ll think  “why don’t we do that, that makes so much sense”.  Example…all residential toilets have slim tanks or wall buried tanks mounted in the walls and have a small and large flush button.  Saves space, saves water…why not?   One of my favorites was the windows.  They have windows that are full panes of sashless glass unlike our typical double or single hung windows.  The view out of this type of window is unobstructed by grilles and sash frames.  They are double hinged too…you can tilt the window in at the top allowing a breeze while being kid safe or change the handle position and the whole window will swing in allowing for max breeze.  Opening windows in Germany is important because there aren’t as many places with central air conditioning so the air exchange is not like our homes.  Opening windows becomes necessary to freshen up from time to time.

16411341244_5e93f68a8a_z

Germany is old, real old.  We in the US consider our country history…independence, civil war etc. “a long time ago” but the US time scale is like a few hours relative to Germany’s time line in history.   Not making our history any less important but what you’ll notice is this age and historical character oozes from all areas of the German surroundings.  Architecture, monuments, churches…its a real eye opener and really quite an experience. Have you heard of the Neander Valley?  No?  Neanderthal Man?…yeah, that’s Germany.  Pretty cool.

17074625015_3fb00124a4_o

Just a sample of the “Age” you feel while walking around the city.  A simple window sill that you can tell has been there a really long time.

16866142567_0fb3e75014_z

On Easter Sunday I took a walk in the city and while the Church bells were going like crazy I snapped a picture of this church.  I am sure the people of Essen don’t even notice it but I really found it incredible.  This type of building and architecture is everywhere.

16887248039_ab84f4d12b_z

We were welcomed by my daughters host family and even invited to an Easter bonfire that is an Easter tradition.  The community will gather, socialize, eat and yes…drink a little beer.  🙂

17071035272_2b284abf3c_z

We thought we would bring a little USA to the event and had brought Smores makings all the way from home.  So out came the graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.  It was so funny to see the locals with marshmallow stuck to their fingers but the German children really appreciated the sugar.  We were introduced to our own new campfire treat.  The Germans place uncooked dough on a stick and actually bake bread on a stick at their campfires.  It is less mess and more filling, so cool!

16884552050_73ae24f51d_z

I would say one of my favorite features of Germany that stuck with me is the stone work in the streets and sidewalks.  Even in modern cities they use stone for streets, walkways and various areas that really give the city a unique character and texture that’s hard to explain unless you’re up close and can see it.  My photos don’t do it justice but gives an idea.

16883496600_41301d5d65_z

The photo below is actually from a Schloss (castle) that we visited.  The modern city stone work is not this rough  but you get the idea.

17048531486_a1fd43d58b_z

The other feature I like about the German mind-set is that they are willing to walk.  People walk a mile or two like its nothing.  Go to the store, grocery shopping?…just walk.  Mass transportation is readily available too.  It’s not uncommon for Germans to catch the bus, jump on a train, go to a city an hour away and then back.  This is an area where I really think the US could improve.  Then again we have such immense land and space its a harder thing to accomplish this network for travel but our cities and surrounding suburbs could certainly benefit from better mass transportation.

17073636765_c41d0575d1_z

Lets talk Castles…”Schloss” in German.  I think Germany has more Schloss’s than the us has 7-Eleven’s.  All kidding aside there are literally too many to visit.  We started our trip in Essen visiting my daughter in a nearby city.  While there we branched out to neighboring towns and visited a couple of Water Castles surrounded by water motes.

16886593748_9fbf49054c_z

The two water castles were very different but equally beautiful.  From old statues and monuments to a guy offering paid drives in his Lamborghini (no I didn’t drive it…) there were plenty of things to see.

17048167886_304cd43abd_z

I really wanted to take this Lambo out on the Audubon!

16886277078_9641dd2126_o

You will see some interesting vehicles in Germany.  What I like most are the many models of the car makers that we have in the US.  It’s interesting to see a Mercedes hatchback diesel that’s smaller than a Volkswagen Golf.  I wish we had a wider range of models for BMW and Mercedes in the US like Germany, they certainly would sell more cars.  Also its fun to see the cars you have never even heard of.  My son and I were constantly asking each other “whats that?” as we walked the streets.  I still don’t know what the car is in the picture below but I want one!

IMG_9727

Driving in Germany is not too bad.  It’s important to know what german words mean “one way” and “do not enter” as there were a couple of those incidents on this trip.  Ha ha.  The driving location/position for the cars and streets in Germany is the same as the US.  Road rules are more or less the same too.  Two road rules that stood out…if there is a person even thinking of crossing the road you had better give way and you never turn on red, ever, not even a right turn.  They also have an “almost green” light.  Our traffic lights go from green (go) to yellow (stop if you can) to red (stop)…but the germans add one more sequence…after a red light you will see a RED and YELLOW light at the same time which means “it’s about to turn green” .  Not sure why but I think it’s allowing those standard, stick shift drivers to get in gear and get their foot on the clutch.  There are far more diesel cars and manual shift transmissions in Germany.  It would be wise to make sure if you rent a car to let the rental car company know if you are unable to drive a stick shift.  I actually drove a VW Sharan, diesel, stick shift…that’s a stick shift mini-van!  Took a little getting used to.

17092228451_a60ecf276c_b

Ok, I know you’re wondering about the Audubon. Yes I drove it and contrary to popular opinion it isn’t always “speed limit-less”.  It ranges near cities from 80-120khr that’s 50-75mph approximately.  On the country side while driving in more rural areas it was time to rock though.  I would drive on average from 100-115mph and there were cars passing me like I wasn’t even moving.  The best thing about the German highway driving is that people live by a rule…if you drive slow stay in the right.  You can pass on the left but if you see a rapidly approaching vehicle in the rear view mirror you better move over!  They take that rule very seriously and I have to say it works well and traffic moves along nicely with this simple concept.  You can actually get a ticket for driving too slow in the left lane.

Check back in a few days as I will outline my trip and list all of the places I visited and share many photos of the journey.

Stay tuned for Germany – Part 2

 

 

 

Spilled Bleach…How to fix

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-laundry-bleach-image7310015

 

This is a little off my normal topic of cameras and gadgets but I thought this was interesting.  Yesterday, my wife purchased bleach at the store, dropped the container and cracked it.  She was unaware of the crack and placed the jug in my car.  It leaked all over and through my carpet.  Interestingly the carpet did not discolor (props to Ford).  Its a 2004 Ford f150 by the way.  But it did burn my nose hairs right out!  I thought it would be days before I could drive the car due to the smell.  After a little research I found out that peroxide is a neutralizer for bleach.  So I purchased a bottle of 3% peroxide at the store and poured it all over the spill location.  They recommend a 1:1 ratio for spill vs. neutralizer.  The oder immediately started to subside and this morning it seems all good.  Anyway…

Tip of the day.

 

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.

 

F-Stop for Mac- A good way to upload your photos to Flickr

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.40.47 AM

This is a nice program if for nothing else to use as a vehicle to upload your photos into Flicker.  If you don’t already know about Flickr’s free 1TB of storage for your photos and videos then go read my previous blog HERE.

There are several ways to get your photos to flickr.  You can sync from your iPhotos library but I don’t like that method.  If you delete photos from your iPhoto library when it “synchs” with flickr it will also delete the photos from Flickr.  (not good for me)

You can use the Flickr app in the iPhone or iPad and have the “auto upload setting” enabled but you need to make sure of two things… 1-You are in wifi so you don’t use up data (this is a setting you control) and 2-You have the app ON when you are in wifi…otherwise it won’t work.  Ultimately this only backs up the photos on your phone or iPad.

When it comes to uploading and backing up photos I like to have my photos in two places. A hard disk or server (on site) and on Flickr.  That way if there is a major catastrophe at my house there is an off site backup…Flickr.

F-Stop is a program or app for the Mac.  What I like about it is the ability to mass upload photos even if they are in folders and it sets the set name to that folder name.  So if your folder is named “2003 christmas” then it will create a set with all of that folder’s pictures named “2003 Christmas”.  Nothing super special but saves you a step that you would normally have to do.

How it works.  Download the app and upon set up it asks to link to Flicker.  It will take you to the flickr page and you click on “yes” allow control and then Flickr gives you a 9 digit access code which you then paste into the f-stop app set up window.  Hit enter and you will see your sets and Flickr info load.  Mine looks like this…

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.39.06 AM

 

Once on this page you can select the UPLOAD button on the left…

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.39.06 AM

 

That will bring you to an upload page like this…

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.39.21 AM

 

Now you will open the location of the pictures that you want to back up and drag them into the area that says “Drag Images or Directories here”.  You can even drag in whole folders.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.39.43 AM

 

Pick the folder or pic you want and it will populate the “drag pictures here” area and then go to the right hand side of the pane and choose if you want it to be private, friends or family only etc and hit start batch

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.40.07 AM

So yes you can keep adding as much as you want and the batch will run until complete.  It is also a one way trip meaning that it won’t delete the originals so you will be duplicating your photos which in my case is the desired result.

Once your photos are on Flickr you can use an app on your iPad or your iPhone called FlickStackr which in my opinion is the best way to look at the photos on Flickr.  Its fast and super intuitive.  Take a look and good luck.  Don’t hesitate to email with questions!

Tutorial

This is FlickStackr on my iPad Mini in Icon view.  Very Cool!

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 9.19.38 AM

 

 

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.

 

Free Video Editing Tutorials

izzy-video-header

Today it is very easy to find videos and tutorials to teach you how to do just about anything from changing the oil on your car to knitting a sweater.  The other day I was listening to a podcast called The Final Cut Grill, by Chris Fenwick and stumbled into a great tutorial site for Final Cut Pro X and iMovie.  The site is produced by IZZY VIDEO.  The thing I really like about this tutorial is that sample media is provided, instruction is easy, organized and clear.  Oh, and its free!  So if you are just getting started and want to learn how to edit, this is an awesome place to start.

NOTE:  He has not yet updated his iMovie tutorial to the latest version of the app, I am sure he is working on it.

ad02_200px

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.

SPOTIFY IS FREE

Good news…the popular music app Spotify is now free.  They offer an app for your PC/Mac, iPad and iPhone.  The one thing I like about it (better than Pandora, Groove Shark and 8tracks) is that you can search an artist and only listen to THAT artist!  No more forced playlists or random artists that show up and don’t really go with the type of music you originally picked.  It also offers playlists and pre-formatted radio stations too.  There are still a few hassles…you have to play full albums and their tracks in random order, there are ads that pop up and some content is still missing but really not too bad for a free music app.  You should check it out.  Screen Shots below.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.59.02 AM

 

Application for PC or Mac

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.59.20 AM

 

List of tracks that resulted from the search “Rolling Stones”

 

 

 

 

IMG_0636

 

iPad App

 

IMG_5113

 

 

iPhone App