The iPhone is the most widely used digital camera on the market today, and with the phone currently pushing 8 megapixels with the 4s, image quality is getting better. The one problem though with this phone, and most camera phones in general, are the difficulty in which they sometimes can be hold to shoot an image. Let’s face it, the iPhone form factor isn’t all too conducive to shooting photos or videos. It is cumbersome and can get unwieldy just trying to hold the phone to frame a shot. PhotoJojo has come up with a solution that helps photographers (did I just say photographers? using an iPhone?) and videographers to better get a handle on their phone to shoot better pictures with a device called the iPhone Shutter Grip. The iPhone Shutter Grip is a piece of hardware that attaches to your iPhone 4S that puts a shutter release button in its natural place, right where your index finger would go if you were using a regular digital camera. You connect the grip via the iPhone charging slot that also acts as the communication port to the release button. No more tapping the screen to get the shot or to start the video, And the grip expands to accommodate most iPhone cases, so you don’t have to remove the phone from your case. Plus, there is a tripod mount built into the grip as well. $40. Get it at PhotoJojo.com. Get it. Use it.
24 Mar 2011 Leave a Comment
View your photographs on your big screen TV with a Nintendo Wii and WiiPhoto 1.1
Belgium based Galarina’s WiiPhoto 1.1 for the iPhone enables you to view images and photographs from your iPhoto library to a widescreen TV using the Nintendo Wii as the connection device. It supports photographs on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It also can view Flickr account photographs, Facebook photographs, photos from any folder on your Macintosh, iPhoto library (v. 8, 9, and 11), as well as SmugMug photos.
Requirements are a Wii console connected to the Internet, and the free Wii Internet channel, an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad on the same WiFi network as the Wii console, iPhoto 8 or later. It is priced at $2.99 and is available from the App Store in the photography category.
available for download at the iTunes App store
21 Mar 2011 Leave a Comment
Roxio Toast 11 Pro Review
The last time I used Roxio’s Toast, DVDs ruled the media world and YouTube and the iPhone didn’t exist. Today, YouTube is the video king, many folks have an HD video camera in their pocket, and Toast goes to 11.
Now under the name Rovi Software, Toast 11 is a media conversion application for the Macintosh that originally was developed for burning CDs and then DVDs. The application sports a host of features that enable you to archive, convert, copy, and create audio CDs and video DVDs in a variety of formats, as well as video for playback on portable devices such as the iPhone and iPad, and via the Internet on such sites as YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo.
Toast 11’s interface is centered on project tabs. When you launch the application, you are greeted with a screen with six project tabs: Tutorials, Data, Audio, Video, Copy and Convert. In this review, I will cover each of the tabs and how they can enhance your workflow.
The Toast Assistant tutorials tab features tutorials on how to use Toast 11. They include an introduction on Toast 11 that includes a quick tutorial on how to create a DVD disc; a tutorial on sharing video online; converting video for iPad and iPhone; backing up your data; and creating audio CDs. In addition to the video tutorials, the same tutorials are included as PDF files for those who would rather read and follow along. The tutorials section should be the first place new users such as myself should go to learn how to work with Toast 11.
The Data tab is where you create data discs for archiving or backup. Here you can create Mac only discs, which are readable only by a Macintosh, Mac and PC compatible discs, DVD-ROM, ISO 9660 compliant discs, and Photo Discs, which enable you to use your full resolution photographs and create slideshows. Double click the format you wish to create and select the files you want to burn to disc. If the files are too large for a single DVD, you can choose to span the files over multiple discs.
The Audio Tab enables you to create a variety of audio discs, including audio CDs, Music DVDs, MP3s, and Enhanced Audio CDs. Once you click on the format of choice, the way in which you select the audio files are the same. It is a simple drag and drop. You select the Audio tab, which then locates your music files from your iTunes library. A bar at the bottom details how much disc space your file selections have used as well as how much disc space is left. After you’ve selected the audio files, you select the device you wish to burn to, how many copies, add your media, and then click the burn button. The software will do the rest, and after the burn is complete, the software will chime.
The Video Tab is where you can burn DVD videos, Blu-Ray, high definition DVDs, Video_TS folders, Video_TS compilation, BDMV video discs, and an AVCHD discs, which acts as an archive of the videos captured from your AVCHD camcorder. While importing your video into Toast 11 is the same as importing audio or data, you can preview your video and perform simple cuts in Toast. You can also add more text information (via the Info bars) to the clip before you click the burn button, and add audio effects.
Copy enables you to copy non-protected CDs, DVDs, and Blu Ray discs, create disc image files, and merge two disc images. This is fairly simple stuff here with no surprises.
The Convert tab enables you to convert your video to different video file formats. Your choices are fairly wide and include conversion support for Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, and video iPod, PlayStation 3, Sony PSP, Xbox 360, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Android phone and other mobile devices, as well as all the popular video file formats, including DV, HDV, MPEG-4, QuickTime MOV, DivX Plus HD, and MKV; and the popular internet formats, including YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Flash Video (F4V), and Flash Video (F4V with player). You can choose each format’s varying levels of quality, where to save the files, or if you want a direct upload to the video sharing sites.
In addition to the main Toast app, the suite includes Spin Doctor, a tool that enables you to capture audio from your computer, via the built in mic, streaming from a website, or via any other audio source that can output from your Mac; Tivo Transfer, which enables you to convert your Tivo’d video for playback on your Mac, Mac2Tivo, which lets you stream files off your Mac to your Tivo for playback on your TV; Get Backup 2RE, a backup tool that lets you back up your Mac, including your iTunes and iPhoto library, your mail, address book, and any other data/documents that you create; and DiscCatalog Maker RE and DiscCover 3 RE, a CD/DVD label application that enables you to print custom labels for your CD/DVD creations.
Toast 11 Pro adds the Toast 11 High Definition/Blu Ray authoring plugin, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, Boinx PhotoMagico 3RE, BIAS SoundSoap 2 SE and Toast audio plugin, and SmartSound Sonic Fire Pro. Toast 11 Titanium is priced at $99, which is a fair deal for what you get. For $50 more you get Toast 11 Pro. In my opinion, and especially if you don’t have a nice collection of media creation tools, Toast 11 Pro is the deal, as you get the media creation tools, and when you are done creating the media, you use the tools in Toast 11 to distribute and archive that media.
That is the core of what Toast 11 does. The question is, who is still burning CDs and DVDs at any speed? It seems that optical media, at least here in the United States, may be on its way out. It has been a few years since I burned a CD, let alone a DVD, with the exception of burning media for this review. One of the better draws, at least for this application, is the tools for converting your videos for playback on mobile devices such as the iPad or iPhone, as well as for uploading to the social media sites. Optical media drives will more than likely be gone on the Macintosh very soon, given the popularity of the Mac App store, as well as Steve Jobs’ disdain for any optical media formats, or any format that can’t be sold via Apple’s online stores. This scenario has caused Rovi to at least hedge its bets with regard to the other features of the application, keeping the application somewhat relevant for the near future.
For more information, visit www.roxio.com
Roxio Toast 11 Pro
16 Mar 2011 Leave a Comment
12 Jan 2011 Leave a Comment
During the mid 1990s Sony Electronics unleashed a miniDV video camera that brought moviemaking capabilities to those aspiring filmmakers with the dream to make it happen. The Sony DCR-VX1000 was a camera that offered a lot of capability for an inexpensive price, and changed the way aspiring moviemakers practiced their craft. The capabilities of this camera combined with relatively powerful desktop editing systems with Hollywood-style effects, enabled an entire generation of digital storytellers to hone their craft.
The tools were there and many of those who took advantage of those tools continue their craft in Hollywood, Bollywood, and other locales around the globe.
Today, the passion for movie making, short films, Webisodes, and episodic cable television on shoestring and limited budgets has been ignited in the last few years by a new tool, the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. These cameras shoot video in high definition, capture that video to easily accessed Secure Digital and Compact Flash cards, and are relatively inexpensive, with many priced at under $1,000. Not since the VX1000 have imaginations and story ideas been sparked and acted on, and the DSLR shooting in HD has rekindled that fire to a whole new generation of storytellers. Add a variety of hardware solutions to make it easier to shoot video with a DSLR, even cheaper yet still powerful non-linear editing systems, and super inexpensive storage solutions, and the door to digital filmmaking has been busted wide open. Digital story tellers are taking full advantage of what the DSLR has to offer in terms of getting the shots to tell the story.
One such storyteller is Casey Faris, executive producer of Graveyard Carz (described as a blend between American Chopper and American Pickers, and the first reality show shot completely with DSLR cameras) which is shot using Canon’s 5D Mark II and Canon 7D DSLRs. Graveyard Carz was initially shot on Canon’s XL2, which was then replaced with Panasonic’s HVX 100 because of that camera’s high definition capabilities, and then, for the pilot, three Canon Vixia HD consumer camcorders were added to the mix because they wanted to go multicam in HD. It was the DSLRs that they ended up going with for their show.
“After hearing about the 5D MK II and the 7D, and seeing demos on the web, we fell in love,” Faris said. “We loved that they can use just about any lens (with adapters) and that they use CF cards, which is a lot easier than logging a tape, waiting for it to ingest, and then finally going through and being able to edit. It’s as easy as drag and drop, and we like that. Another huge plus to the DSLRs is their low light performance. We can shoot in near darkness with very little noise. We are often walking through a field looking at prospective cars, and then go into a shed with no lights. What used to take us half an hour to set up lighting, now takes a simple change in ISO settings. And the shallow depth of field looks awesome.”
Faris looked at several DSLRs from all the manufacturers before deciding on the 7D, in part due to its specifications that were lacking at the time in other video capable DLSRs.
“At the time we got the 7D it was about $1600 for a camera that shoots full HD 24P out of the box. It also does 1280×720 60P and lower resolution movies. It also does amazing stills. It’s hard to find a camera that will do all of those things for the price. Most of the others didn’t do 1080, or they could only do 60i, or some other major drawback. The 7D was an obvious choice.”
Graveyard Carz is shot in 1920 x 1080 resolution at 24P. The slow motion shots are in 720p at 60 frames per second, and the timelapse footage is comprised of high resolution still sequences rendered as a movie at 2K resolution. Most footage is captured using the Nifty Fifty, the diminutive but highly regarded Canon 50mm 1.8 lens.
“We use a variety of lenses, however we have found the little Canon 50mm 1.8 lens to be great for what we need,” Faris said. “It’s fast, looks sharp, and is cheap enough that we’re not afraid to get into the action a bit. We’re also looking into getting some nice wide angles as well as some variable focal length lenses.”
Because a DSLR is not really amenable to movie making, Faris’ crew has improvised to give the cameras a bit of heft to help steady the camera when shooting. They also use the Steadytracker, a video camera stabilizer designed to help steady the shots.
“We learned early on with the Vixias that shooting handheld, regardless of how steady it is, just plain looks weird when you have a little camera. We will often use shoulder mounts with weights to make the cameras feel a little bigger.” Faris said. “For most shots, especially walking shots, we use a Steadytracker (http://www.steadytracker.com), which is basic version of a Steadycam. The Steadytracker is great for just about any type of shooting where we have enough space. We’re still trying to figure out a really good solution for car/travel shots, so right now those are handheld, usually pressed against the seat to stabilize a bit. With our 5D, we use a shoulder mounted rail system (Redrock Micro) and a follow-focus.”
Graveyard Carz is assembled in Final Cut Studio 3 with each episode averaging 30 hours of footage with some averaging twice that. All that footage and the crew are very pleased with the output of the Canon DSLRs. “We have never experienced anything but amazing footage while shooting on the 7D,” Faris said. “The only downside to the camera is the audio. We can’t turn off Auto Gain Control, making things sound really bad; however, we usually record high quality dialogue into a recorder or a computer interface that is later synced to the video, so it’s not much of an issue.”
To view an episode, visit http://shotondslr.com/post/2052478662/graveyard-carz-the-worlds-first-reality-show-to
For more information, visit
10 Dec 2010 Leave a Comment
Robotic little creatures provide fun for kids 3 and up.
HexBugs are little plastic robot-like toys that provide for short bursts of meaningless fun for children ages 3 and up. Really they are just a small battery wrapped in plastic and rubber to emulate various insects.
They actually work quite well for what they are. The HexBug nano even has its own little track in which you can play with them. They will run aimlessly around the little track and even go through a gate that you can open and close. The track can be further expanded with additional components for even more meaningless fun. Each nano is priced at $7.99 for the holidays, $2 off the regular price. You can also purchase other robotic creatures such as spiders, ants, crabs, and inchworms, as well as the original model. Each Robotic creature includes an internet code that, once upon registering, gives you access to various games on the hexBug website where you can earn points. Pricing varies, and bundles start at $79.
For more information, visit www.hexbugs.com
19 Jun 2010 Leave a Comment
Below are links to more articles I’ve written over the years.
First Look At Nintendo DS
ExpoDisc: White Balance for Digital Cameras
ElementFX creates penguins in puddles for the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Effects of John Gaeta’s Homeland demo’d at NAB 2006
CustomFlix Enters 2nd Year of On-Demand DVD Publishing
DEMOfall showcases Future Products
DP James Mathers Speaks on The U.S. vs. John Lennon
DVD RAM Update
DVD-RAM Update: Steady growth predicted for U.S.
Digital Film Tools Light! 3.0 http://corporatemedianews.digitalmedianet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=35757&afterinter=true
Digital Imaging Essential Skills Third Edition http://corporatemedianews.digitalmedianet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=34900&afterinter=true
Mixing Music at the Grand Ole Opry
Director of Photography Michael Caporale Speaks on Brannen’s Boom Baby Boom http://finalcutpro.digitalmedianet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=75161&afterinter=true
Director of Photography Phil Parmet http://creativemac.digitalmedianet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=30342&afterinter=true
Disrupting the Snowboard Industry
Do We Accept The Truth? http://vegas.digitalmedianet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=78744&afterinter=true
Dogtown and Z-Boys
Edges in Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006
19 May 2010 Leave a Comment
The articles below are just a sample of the work that I’ve done over the last 10 years. These were all culled from several different Google searches using various keywords. I have more articles out there. More searching will be required to find them.
Stock Footage Resources
The Crew of Two Creates Dueling Darths on dual 500MHz PowerMac G4s
Sony VAIO PCV-LX910 Slimtop Pen Tablet
OS X: If you build it, They will come
Workstations 2001: Mid-Year Reflections
Max Ink Cafe Breathes Fire into Dragon Rage for PS2
Pixel Magic does Aerial Dogfight Sequence in Hart’s War
Apple’s Acquisition of Nothing Real? Insanely Great? or just plain Insane?
What will we see in 2003?
DiscMakers ElitePro 2
What about the Mac version?
Compaq Evo n800w mobile workstation
Canopus ProCoder Express
USB Instant DVD for Mac
DiscMakers ElitePro 2
Sorenson Squeeze for QuickTime
Sorenson Squeeze 3 Compression Suite
IBM IntelliStation M Pro
Canopus Let’s Edit RT+
FEATURE: Home movie editing on the computer
Girl(Boy) Retold: The Making of a Teenager’s Award winning film
Shooting Montana’s West Glacier Fire
FEATURE: Designing Lance Armstrong’s Racing Bike
NAB 2004 Day 1: Ulead Demos HD plug-in
Canopus VideoFX Transitions
Using the Warp tool in Photoshop Elements 3
Stacking a Photo Session in Photoshop Elements 3
Working in the Photoshop CS camera raw dialog box
Exploring the Automate Feature in Photoshop CS
Can you make the Cut?
Getting Started: Adding Photos to your DV Projects
Shooting the US Open of Surfing
Slideshow Creation in Photoshop Elements 3
Searching by Metadata in Photoshop Elements 4
Using the Magic Extractor in Photoshop Elements 4.0
Pan and Zoom in the Photoshop Elements Slideshow editor
Ashton Digital AirDash Wireless USB Stick
Concord 5340z Digital Camera
Bruce Brown’s On Any Sunday DVD
muvee autoProducer 6
Matrox DualHead 2Go
Olympus Stylus 710 Digital Camera
NVIDIA DualTV MCE TV Tuner
The Making of TechnoStorks
Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0
Surf Filmmaker Arsen Brzostek
Mixing Music at the Grand Ole Opry
Lenovo ThinkPad X60
InFocus IN72 DLP Projector
Acclaimed Pilipino Filmmaker Aureas Solito
Five Point Productions’ Doritos Entry “Live the Flavor”
Wedding Photographer Crashes Superbowl
Telestream’s FlipFactory integrated into Getty Images Media Manager Services
Corel VideoStudio 11
CEN’s top ten products of the year
Canon Shows range of camcorders at CES 2008
Pinnacle Studio 12 Ultimate
Kodak EasyShare M1033
Seagate 1TB FreeAgen Pro External Hard disk drive
Serif MoviePlus X3
Lenovo ThinkPad W700
Lenovo D10 ThinkStation
Lenovo S10 ThinkStation
Bond Edits RED Footage for Barack Obama Spec Spot
Corduroy Lines-The Making of an online Surf Magazine
Boardroom: Talking Story with surfing’s legendary surfboard shapers
Pinnacle Studio 14 Ultimate Collection HD
$15 HDMI cable or $120 HDMI cable?
An Afternoon of fun, NFl football, and the Canon 7D DSLR
Eviant T7 portable Digital TV
BenQ Joybee GP1 mini projector
Lenovo D20 media workstation
HP Z400 workstation
Lenovo ThinkStation S20
Unfiltered Entertainment’s Wake the Witch
JVC’s Dave Walton talks company’s latest HD cameras
Speeding Premiere Pro CS4′s h.264 encoding with NVIDIA QuadroFX and Elemental Accelerator
i.TECH Solar Charger 906
Novothink Surge Solar Charger for iPhone
Dexim P-Flip Power Play Dock
Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3
Flip Slide pocket Camcorder
Dazzle Video Creator Plus HD
WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe
iFunia Video Converter Pro
Dell Precision M6500 mobile workstation
Monekyhead Completes four spots for Red Bull BC One Competition
Adobe Premiere Elements 8