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Archive for 'Video'

The shift has happened and a brave new world is opening for the way I capture and tell stories. For years, I have been trying to find a new way that combines my love for digital images and motion into one platform for digital photojournalism.

I have always tried to purchase cameras that match the workflow where I was trained; ENG or electronic news gathering. The equipment I always purchased matched the tools in the television news realm of ENG. Remember, I used to be a television new photojournalist. Television news cameras, audio, and lighting workflows was one of efficiency regardless of the situation.

The cameras had to be versatile, able to deal with all the elements of capturing images including weather, and also effective under expeditious deadlines. The last camera I was using while in television news was a Sony HDCAM camera along with a Sony BetaCam SX camera. Both cameras were rugged, captured great images, and had quick workflows.

As I transitioned into my personal business life, I purchase cameras that matched similar workflows. The last camera I purchased before my newest set-up was a Sony HVR-Z7U. I have always used a Sony camera for video dating back to 1991 using Sony BVV-5 BetaCam SP with a Fujinon Lens. But, I always carried a Canon EOS camera for still photography. Also…the Z7U captured to tape and Compact Flash simultaneously for a back-up.

I AM OFFICIALLY GIVING UP VIDEO TAPE! YAY! 

You may be thinking…you should have done that a few years ago. But all ENG television news photojournalists are trained to ALWAYS have a back-up. The Z7U provided a back-up just incase the Compact Flash had a corrupt file. It has happened to me twice.

But now the technology is so much better along with advanced media from SD cards and Compact Flash cards. An now it is time to get with the program.

The Big Switch
Now…I have combined my passion for great storytelling, great production, great image acquisition, and a great workflow into one set-up. I am now using a two-camera set-up leveraging three interchangeable lenses between both cameras (Canon EOS C100 and 5D mkiii).

Canon EOS C100 – Great video camera with great sensor that provides versatile workflow for documentary style photojournalism. This camera is video first with ENG style technology to support the workflow I am accustomed to leveraging. With two XLR audio inputs with adjustable inputs, ND filter wheel, zebras, and ergonomics that fit the photojournalist on the go.

Canon EOS 5D mkiii – Great HDLSR that puts digital photography first forcing seasoned photojournalists to think about each image, each shot. I now think more about lighting and depth of field inside the context of each image. Now I also think about f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, and composition for each shot. But with the integration of seamless video recording that matches the C100 workflow and has impacted how I use the C100.

Lenses:
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

For years I was carrying two cameras for two separate functions. One camera meant for capturing images and the other camera to capture video and sound. Now both cameras have interchangeable purposes and allow me to capture stories as they happen from all angles.

This package allows me to focus not only on the quality of the story but also the quality of the image acquisition. This is lots of fun!

*Here is a great blog post by Dave Wallace, why he sold his Red Scarlet for a Canon EOS C100.  

writing for the spoken word

It sometimes takes a different viewpoint to write for the video and television medium. Many times translating our thoughts takes a different viewpoint. I sometimes have to get a coffee and cookie to work on a script.

I often find those I am working with on the project have a hard time seeing the words translate into the video medium. Specifically, each medium we use to communicate whether it be email, tweets, or video…the final written word is different for each medium.

I think and write as if I am writing for television, I write in the spoken word. I write as I imagine saying the words and find myself using the “…” as pauses or places for emphasis. Sometimes I use all lower cases to illustrate a soft tone, even not capitals for the word at the beginning of a paragraph for smoother spoken transitions. Then  ALL CAPS for emphasis of intensity or shouting.

I challenge those I am working with to sit back and read the whole script out loud. Speak it…say it…deliver it using your voice.

Listening to the script instead of saying it takes on a whole new medium. It is hard to write for the spoken word, we explain thing differently using our out loud voices. We pause for emphasis, we say words differently than in written format, we even omit words that are unnecessary.

Writing for the spoken word is like writing for a spoken conversation. You say a phrase and wait for a response, allowing your audience to adjust to your statement. You want the audience to not only hear your words but feel your words.

Writing for the spoken word still embodies the idea of telling stories. If you are writing a 30 second PSA for television, you do not want to share your closing thought in the middle of the script…unless that is the parenthetical design of delivery.

Or for that 30 second PSA or television spot…we do not want to cram 29 seconds of words into a 30 second final product…unless we do not want someone to breathe while listening. People need to breathe when listening, digest your creative thoughts, and store them in a way to remember your message.

I always encourage those who are writing for television or video to read the script out loud while recording yourself. Yes…then play it back and listen to the delivery. How about recording yourself with a video camera…reading the script to see the expressions in the lines of words, hear the pauses…feel the delivery. Many times…you will find the places to re-write and refine because now you see and her the script in the context of the audience.

Now it is time for a bite of that chocolate chip cookie!

So as I was sitting in the morning church service, there was a piano selection performed right at the beginning. As I was sitting there listening to this beautiful melody coming out of this grand piano; I thought this grand piano has been sitting at the front for a long time but I have yet to notice how beautiful it sounds. The soloist was playing this instrument in a way that brought out the tremendous musical range. The soloist was completely engaged with the piano, focused on the song, the notes, the stanzas. Why have I never noticed this piano before?

The audience was completely engaged in the music, tied to every note, anticipating the next stanza, watching as the soloist’s hands interacted with the keys, playing notes with methodical movements from one to the next. The piano has the potential to play that well…but it is the soloists interpretation of the music selection as she used this instrument to bring the story of the song to the ears of the audience.

About a week ago, I had someone question me whether the advent of Flip Video devices would create a drastic reduction in online video production industry? A great question. But as I listened to this soloist interact with this grand piano, I began to think about this question even more. My first response to this individual was simply whether I am using a Flip Video device, a high definition pro-sumer camera, or a $70K Sony HDCAM….it is not the device that tells the story…it is the practitioner who interprets the technology to create and deliver the story.

True practitioners, real storytellers know how to evolve with technology and maximize it’s potential to meet the needs of an audience. I think of a story I produced a few years ago about an Opera Singer on his way to re-merge as an Opera Sinder, my friend Ron Gattis.

When I first started working in video production (broadcast video production), I used what was called BetaCAM video devices. The camera weighed 30lbs and was the size of medium size briefcase positioned on my shoulder or on a tripod heavier than the camera itself. We would take the results of the video taping and use two large BetaCAM decks (Two large VCR’s) to edit between in a linear mode. One mistake and there was no going back…time to re-edit. Using that set-up, I won six Emmy Awards and numerous other AP awards for Television Excellence.

I tell this story…and many journalists before me endured broadcast video camera larger than this where the camera was split into two pieces.

Now, I work with a camera less than half the size, half the price, and edit on a laptop. I can deliver my stories to audiences broader than the DMA I was working in during my broadcast television days. I put the video into the laptop and can move the video around, manipulate it in ways that would take a major post-production house of 10 years ago tons of money and weeks of production.

The technology is changing, but I still have to use it appropriately to deliver a high quality story in a manner that allows the audience forget they are watching this story on a screen, remove their peripheral vision. Whether it is a theatre or a computer screen…I want to create that story within an interface that is interactive. You know what I mean, that moment when you are sitting in a movie and you are so involved with the story-line, you forget you are in a theatre. It is all about being in the “Zone” from both an audience perspective and a practitioner perspective.

Do you think that if the soloist was given a keyboard device that was no bigger than a laptop, she could render a melody worth sitting and listening too? Do you think Ansel Adams could render a beautiful landscape using a pin-hole camera that was created from a Quaker Oats cylinder? The ability for a practitioner to tell a story is embedded in our DNA, whether it is a Flip Video Camera or beautiful state of the art Grand Piano.

So next time you hear that beautiful melody/harmony coming from a Grand Piano…think for a minute, is it the Grand Piano rendering those beautiful notes….or is the vision of the soloist interpreting the potential of those keys and bringing you the audience into “their” world. I love telling visual stories!

Ok…so the image above was captured at 2:48pm Tuesdayand this article was written at 1:32pm Tuesday afternoon, EDT. Yes…

“The U.S. women’s team has won the gold medal in the gymnastics team final with a superlative performance and an overall score of 183.596. Russia scored a 178.530 to take the silver and Romania won the bronze with a score of 176.414.”

Ok…who cares other than the fact that this is the first time since 1996.

“Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman delivered impressive floor routines to clinch the first team gold for the U.S. since the ‘Magnificent Seven’ won in 1996.”

It is a big day for the US…well, kind of?

Of course, since the Olympics are broadcasted on NBC via tape delay…most Americans will not be able to see this victory until Thursday evening. Well, most Americans…I guess?

Since Huffington Post and most news outlets posted this huge announcement via social media…the Twitter-verse has been exploding with excitement and people complaining about it spoiling the fun Thursday evening.

Tweets from around 3:08 Tuesday afternoon…people still talking spoilers. And even have moved on from talking about the Women’s Gymnastics spoiler.

So here is my question…will you be interested to see the viewership statistics for the television broadcasts and compare them to the NBC/YouTube live streaming viewership? People have the option to watch it live during the day online or watch later on their television.

This world phenomenon is going to have to solidify the distinction between television viewership and online consumption. Also…how much social media has played into the reporting of the Olympics in real time via Twitter, Facebook, and other social outlets?

I am looking forward to Nielsen to release the viewership comparison between online and television and relevant  the impact from the social outlets. NBC Television scored big numbers for the opening ceremonies “with 40.7 million people tuning in for the opening ceremony, making it the most-watched opening ceremony for a summer or winter Olympics ever.” But what about days like today when something big happened in the middle of the day. It will be interesting to see the comparison!

Or will the social space sharing the results in real time turn into a tremendous marketing opportunity for NBC to capture viewership in the evening. People will want to see it with their own eyes.

You think it is a spoiler when Huffington Post and other media outlets posted immediately on their websites that the Women’s Gymnastics Team won?

Spolier alert…maybe people are moving to online viewing and social consumption for real time information. And maybe the networks and media giants have figured out how to leverage the social/digital space to attract audiences to watch on television? I am looking forward to seeing if people enjoyed the real time results via online versus waiting to watch the old tele.

***Image credit…HuffingtonPost.com 

I am continuing my thought process surrounding how we as organizations/businesses have to own our media. But this takes on a fundamental thought process and radical shift in how we do business…we have to truly own our media by building our team.

For so many years…large organizations have allowed agencies and firms to own the “brand’s” message. They were tasked and empowered to do the brand research, create the strategy, build the message, construct the media, distribute the media, and track the results. As we move into the digital world, ownership of media assets is coming more and more key to the success of organizations.  This is from ownership of URL’s (domains), website access, video content, and now social media ownership.

I have always advocated that organizations and business should take an ownership role in owning their media and communications. They should not be restricted by third party vendors how to access the online tools that support their brand. This goes all the way down to who owns the right to update social outlets, who can change the website copy, share a Twitter update, create a video message. Organizations (specifically brands) should own their media and how they share this message…but to support this philosophy, their has to be a staff in place to push this philosophy forward.

Large organizations like hospitals and higher education institutions are battling this issue. Who creates the Facebook updates, Twitter updates, video messages, blog posts, etc. Should it be the people that work inside the brand or the vendors that support the brand. I think the vendors should help brands create a strategy and create workflows for organizations to own their branded message and build a community.

1) You have to have a new media/social staff in place. These people inside your organization have to be able to not only understand the marketing/pr initiatives but also be able to have the skills to design, develop, implement, and share the content created. They have to be the ultimate brand ambassadors who not only help create the community…*but* empower others in the organization to share the message. A Community Manager is a good place to begin but you also need:
- New media staff that can create and update web properties (from design to programming).
– Video professional(s) that can create video messages and manage video content managements systems like YouTube, Vimeo, and other private portals.
- Creative writers who not only can create copy for online properties, but help write scripts for video content. 

2) Create an advisory team to support the organization. Hospitals are a prime example of this silo based organization. As a consultant, I spend more time working with service lines and departments that are creating social/web portals that do not meet the organization’s goals. This advisory team empowers, educates, and helps implement organization strategy so the online properties are successful. This team can be made up of representatives across the organization that directly interface with the part of the organization that manages these online spaces. Let them be a part of the strategy help empower them to build the community.

3) Have an senior new/social media team in place that builds community strategy goals and initiatives. This team is a part of the visual branding process and also implements strategies to track success for this online properties.

Owning our media has become ever important, one that is harder now is to wrangle a team together. So many times I walk into an organization and I ask, who updates your website, your Facebook page(s), domains, etc. How can we control our message and be a part of the community when we do not even have controlling access to our digital properties. The organization many times knows their brand message the best…why not empower the branded organization own the process, the media that is shared.

So last October, I was bitching and moaning about the concern that Final Cut Pro would not work if I upgraded to Lion. I did not want to switch over to FCPX…so I decided to figure it out.

Bottomline…I have been able to install FCP 6 on Lion OSX 10.7.3. How did I do it?  Well, I have a Mac Mini that I used as my little test case. I did not want to go through this whole installation process on a system that was critical to my business workflow.

So, I installed Lion OSX on the Mac Mini and ran all the updates. Then I pulled out my Snow Leopard installation disc and popped it in with the sole purpose of only installing Rosetta from the optional installations. Once I installed Rosetta from the Snow Leopard OSX installation disc, then this allowed me to install FCP 6 from the Studio edition.

I installed one program from FCP Studio disc…one at a time starting with FCP and Compressor. Then I installed DVD Studio and the rest of the studio programs one at a time. Then after running the FCP installation, I checked for updates from Apple Updates and completed the updated installations.

The result, I am running FCP 6.0.6 on Lion OSX 10.7.3…all of this on my Mac Mini. I have noticed lots of hits on my website looking for an update from my previous posts about this issue, so I thought I would give an update. So, I will be migrating this to my MacPro’s Lion partition, which is a dual boot system with Lion 10.7.3 and Snow Leopard 10.6.8. I am also going to be upgrading to Avid Symphony 6 on my Lion 10.7.3 Partition.

3DTV and Why??? Or Why Not???

Ok, ok…I have had more people ask me about what I think about 3DTV and the production of 3DTV. Mainly, people have asked me about two separate topics, first being whether I will be producing 3DTV projects and what do I think about 3DTV as a consumer based viewing option. OK, strap in and let’s go! This is a long post, so get a drink and a snack and maybe some Ibuprofen?

3DTV Production and Workflow?
First, let’s tackle my thoughts on creating 3DTV based productions. First of all, it is a whole new workflow to invest when the creation of content that has yet to find a true market. My customers have yet to show interest in this offering, mainly because the type of groups I work with do not necessarily have the target audience that consumes this type of offering.

Yes, we can go purchase a camera and the editing software and hardware upgrades to manage this workflow…but it would mainly have a purpose of forcing a market into this offering.

When we converted from SD video production to HD production, lots of the production skills changed and how we deliver this product. From the cameras, software, hardware, and the end consumer.  Then there was the creative element, what do we do with roughly 26% more screen real estate. A lot of people think this is not a big deal…but this is a huge workflow decision and how to creatively produce content to fit 16X9 screen resolutions in a still evolving 4×3 screen world (the old television screen size). Yes, more and more people have HDTV’s but it still is not the industry standard, yet!

Given this context…there is a lot to consider when producing 3D content. Do you want to make everything look 3D just to do it or do we want to produce content that leverages the style of 3D, exposing the audience to new visual cues. Also…do we want to produce content that requires people to take one extra step…put on some strange “looking” glasses. Yes…imagine the boardroom setting showing a video, hey…pull out your glasses to watch this video. Oh, I forgot mine…that is ok, just watch the weird colors overlap.

So on the production side…I will sit back and see how the market evolves *AND* when and if clients join the 3D TV conversation. Then I will decide if that will become a client offering.

Now…let’s attack the consumer side. Specifically…will I purchase a 3DTV for the home and what do I think about watching 3D content at home and in the theater.

First…let’s talk about how it effects the eyes.
I come from a long family history of bad eyes and those who have a “lazy eye.” I am the abnormal person in the family with 20-15 vision…I was at one time recruited to join the Navy since I had great vision, I am 5’9″ and my undergrad was in Mathematics. I couldn’t enlist because of my Asthma. But…everytime I watch a 3D production in the theater, I get a headache. Yes…I take the glasses off and my head hurts and it takes a while for my eyes to re-adjust.

In December 2009, Avatar was released in theaters in 3D…many people took to the “airwaves” to react to 3D production. The British Telegraph wrote this article in January 2010: “Do 3D films make you sick?“:

“But no matter how advanced the technology, a significant minority of the population cannot sit through a 3D film without experiencing discomfort. More than three million people in the UK have eye conditions that impair ‘stereoscopic vision’ – normal, two-eyed depth perception – making it difficult, or even impossible, for them to experience 3D.

When watching something in 3D, our eyeballs rotate inwards, with accommodation as the goal. But if that happened, the viewer would be left focusing on a spot in front of the screen, rather than focusing on the screen itself. But this confuses the brain because the eyes have converged without accommodation. Instead, the eyes oscillate between their natural inclination and the artificial state demanded by the film. This can cause extreme eye strain, migraines and nausea.”

During the summer of 2010, TechSpot.com wrote that Sony updated their Playstation 3 Terms of Service Agreement statement:

“Sony, no doubt preferring to play it safe, has issued a warning saying these problems are not to be taken lightly. The latest Playstation 3 Terms of Service statement advises that anyone who experiences ‘eye strain, eye fatigue or nausea’ should turn off 3D immediately. Players can begin using the technology again when discomfort subsides, however.”

But in January 2011, NYTimes wrote an article saying that many eye-specialist fired back by questioning Nintendo’s new warning.

“Nintendo said several days ago that children under 6 should not look at the 3-D screen on its new 3DS hand-held device because it could harm eye development. The admonition raised skepticism and eyebrows among a group that knows a lot about eye development: eye doctors.

Some of the world’s elite pediatric ophthalmologists said the Nintendo announcements surprised them because it seemed to have little basis in science. ‘The fact you’d watch 3-D in a theater or a video game should have zero deleterious impact whatsoever,’ said Dr. Lawrence Tychsen, a professor of pediatrics and ophthalmology at Washington University in St. Louis.”

Based on this research, it made me start thinking whether my little nieces should be going to watch movies like “Alice in Wonderland” which was released in 3D at the theaters, especially since they are showing signs of “lazy eye” and they are under the age of 6. Now this has nothing to do with Nintendo, but it does draw health concerns for me as an uncle and parent.

Now let’s talk about those gamers!
I have many friends that are gamers…I am sure you have friends that sit hours and hours in front of the television playing their Playstation, Wii, XBox, etc. With the advent of Playstation and Nintendo with 3D games, how can one sit with the glasses on and play games for hours. I would have a migraine and want to sleep for hours. As I was surfing around, doing some research on this topic, I found this blog post by Jason Weissman titled “3D Gaming is Doomed to Fail.” Hmm…that is a big statement, which perked my interest.

“The biggest barrier for this technology is that using it for more than an hour (or in some cases even less time) causes tremendous eye strain and headaches. If you are like me, you likely have lengthy game sessions. I tried several games in different 3D modes on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and while the games generally looked great, the experience was not one I’d often seek to repeat.”

So if people in theaters are feeling this way, and the gamers are sharing the same concerns…I am starting to wonder if this makes sense for the house. Once again, here is is Jason Weissman:

“Many people have asserted that 3D will never take off in the home because gamers would need to wear 3D glasses. That is why the 3DS is not typically denigrated in the same manner and why many people say they will wait for glasses-free 3D televisions.”

Now let’s talk about the glasses!
Yes…those pesky things that we have to wear to watch 3D content whether in front of a television or in a theater. I have many thoughts about the glasses. Why do I want to wear glasses in my house to enjoy content? Now I understand there is not a lot of content out there, and I would have to subscribe to 3D programming…but I am not sure I would want to put on those glasses to watch ESPN’s College Football in 3D for a 3.5 hour game.

I like to drink beer and eat food that usually is not healthy during these games…so imagine wearing the glasses, getting a headache during the 4th quarter when the game is getting good. Then proceed to the bathroom because the 3D effect has set-in and it is time to puke. I understand this is a bit extreme, or is it? Especially if you are like me on Saturday’s and like to watch HOURS of college football.

Good3DTV.com reported that in ESPN’s initial study/research with 3DTV, eye strain can be reduced with frequent breaks. Hmmm…interesting.

“The network has stated that a wide range of 3D TVs were used, including passive and active 3D TVs to conduct the study. Most of the complaints about headache came from the viewers watching active 3D television. Most people watching passive 3D TVs were almost not affected. Duane Varan, executive director of the Disney Media and Advertising Lab, further stated that the passive 3D TV viewing was much more pleasant owing to the viewers being able to interact with other people watching in the room due to the lighter set of 3D glasses they were wearing.”

Those glasses can be costly ranging from $25 to over $150 dollars. Ok, let’s buy a television for close to $1200 and then purchase glasses to watch the content. And then make sure you hit the Walgreens or CVS for migraine medication…oh do not forget the Tums.

Let’s wrap it up!
Another interesting note from the ESPN research study…“According to Varan, advertising for products in 3D is much more effective. The desire to buy a product that has been advertised in 3D format has increased from 49 to 83 percent compared to an advertisement in 2D.” 

Oh yeah, those ad dollars…we will get back to that in a second. Or, let’s tackle it right now. Television networks are in dire straight…need to find another way to generate ad dollars. Yes, just like when HDTV was originally created in Japan in the late 80′s. They needed a new revenue stream, so they gave the consumer a reason to buy a new television… because all content was going to be released in HD.

Bottom line, you have to buy the right television and wear glasses to enjoy the experience, and only for a short amount of time.  Maybe if this technology pushes into wide acceptance, more people will spend less time watching television, because headaches will detract from prolonged couch potato syndrom.

So, what will I do with 3D content? I will not produce 3D content quite yet…I will wait to see how the market reacts this year (2012). I do not think that 3D TV has a place in my living room, it does not make sense to watch content with glasses in the comfort of my home. The theater experience will remain the 3D experience for me. I do not mind paying to go watch certain movies in 3D, because I believe that the movie theater still has a place in our American fabric. The movie theater is a time to take the family to watch something special, and 3D content is still considered special to me, not everyday.

BTW, here is a GREAT article by TVPredictions.com called “10 Reasons Why People Won’t Watch 3DTV” and here are the list of reasons. Note, this article was written this past summer…so some of the reasons might be evolving. But, I found it interesting.

  1. 3D TV Interrupts Your Viewing Experience
  2. It Makes You Sick
  3. Millions of People Just Bought New TVs
  4. There’s Not Much 3D to Watch On My Cable or Satellite
  5. There’s Not Much 3D to Watch On Blu-ray
  6. People Hate the 3D Glasses
  7. The Glasses Are Too Expensive For a Family
  8. 3D TV Is Not HDTV
  9. 3D TV Is Not Easy to Use
  10. 3D TV Has Lost the Culture War

I would recommend reading the explanations for each point, I think you will find it interesting. CLICK HERE to read the whole article!

***Image at the top from Think Like Maxwell blog…CLICK HERE to read!

 


***Video is from GoPro’s YouTube account.

For years I have been shooting with wide angle and fisheye lens. Whether it is with my still image cameras or video cameras, I have always purchased wide angle and fisheye adapters. If you have ever worked with me, you will notice me constantly using this look whether for interviews or cool, interesting shots. I have purchased many different wide angle lens adapters for my broadcast cameras, prosumer cameras, and even my Canon EOS digital cameras. I am willing to spend more on the glass than the camera itself…whether it is Century Optics, Canon, or Sigma lenses.

From the earliest days of my career in broadcast television as a photojournalist, I have always used this perspective…to me this makes the picture warm, visually interesting, and intriguing. Most people react to the style with strong opinions…you either like it or you don’t. Trust me…I have many mixed reviews, regardless I love this style and look. These perspectives sometimes bring a sense of curvature to the image.

So I just purchased my first GoPro camera, which is a small compact camera with the ability to capture HD 1080p images using a standard wide angle lens. This perspective gives an 170 degree perspective. These cameras have taken on the extreme sport scene, providing a rich perspective as they are mounted in places like the front of a surf board or the wing of a plane. But…what you will notice are the wide angle perspectives in the videos captured, giving a complete viewpoint of the whole “subjects’” surroundings.

If you watch the video above, you can see all the different ways people are using these cameras…making the wide angle look and interesting, appealing, and widely accepted practice of capturing images.  I love this look and love the warmth it brings to the screen.

I also like what GoPro is doing on the digital/social media front. Their website is rich with lots of product descriptions, images, and YouTube videos showing how customers/professionals are using these cameras. They also have a place for people to submit videos they have shot with their GoPro cameras for use in future promotions. Even better, they have the Daily Giveaway where people sign-up to win their products daily.

If you go to their Facebook Page, it is nothing extravagent…just fans submitting videos and pictures shot with their GoPro cameras. “Simple” must work for them in the social media world…they have over 1.3 million “Likes” on their Facebook Page.

Bottom line…GoPro is making the wide angle and fisheye look cool, innovative, and mainstream. I am a fan of the look and the camera!

Do you notice these types of shots in videos? Do you like the fisheye look? Love to hear your thoughts!

This holiday season was filled with another round of cool gadgets. If most people know me…I love gadgets and love playing with new toys. So this year, the three presents that come to mind are the GoPro Hero2 camera, Olloclip lens adapter for the iPhone4(s), and the Kindle Fire. Sarah gave me the GoPro Hero2 and the Olloclip for my iPhone4s and I gave her the Kindle Fire. So here are some first thoughts after having this gadgets for a short period of time after the Christmas gift exchanges.

GoPro Hero2
This is a great little video camera for those of you video enthusiast. You can purchase this item anywhere from BestBuy, B&H Photo Video online, GoPro.com, or numerous other places online or brick and mortar stores. This will be the one gadget in my “Go Bag” for video shoots this year providing new perspectives as a second camera during interviews and/or when trying to grab interesting shots. GoPro is most famous for being used in extreme sports like surfing, sky diving, snow boarding, and even on planes for interesting shots.

What I Like:

  1. LOVE THE WIDE ANGLE – 170 degree view!
  2. This is a compact camera about the size of a D Battery and can capture video and still images.
  3. Records video at 1080p 30 frames per second and numerous other smaller resolutions.
  4. Captures still images with at 11 megapixels.
  5. I love the waterproof case (up to 197 feet), perfect for recording white water rafting.
  6. The mount with sucution cup…already used it on the front of my car.(CLICK HERE to watch)
  7. Comes with built in microphone.
  8. Has an audio input.
  9. Has a built in HDMI out.
  10. The digital still camera can take pictures in intervals over a period of time for time lapse.
  11. Makes for great second camera in video shoots for wide angle perspective.

Wish list for improvements:

  1. Wish the LED Screen was not an ad-on but a standard part of the camera.
  2. Wish the actual camera had a mountable connection, instead of having to put camera in case to be mounted.
  3. Low light is always going to be an issue with these small image processors. But it still does a decent job.
  4. The waterproof case does not allow you to plug in a a microphone into the audio input.

If you would like to look at the complete description of the camera, CLICK HERE.

Olloclip for iPhone
For you camera/video enthusiasts, the Olloclip is a great addition to your iPhone4 or 4s. This attachment allows you to take the iPhone camera to the next level. It is a wide angle and fisheye adapter that allows you to take images and capture video from a wider perspective. I have been searching for something like this, then I found it in my stocking this year.

What I Like:

  1. Easy slide on and off of the attachment.
  2. Two lens in one attachment. You can flip the attachment around from wide angle to fisheye.
  3. Clear images with this simple slide on attachment as a lens.
  4. Makes the iPhone4(s) a great second camera in video shoots since it acquires the image at 1080p.
  5. The wide angle lens can be removed to make provide a macro lens.

Wish list for improvements:

  1. You have to remove your case of choice to use this attachment. Love to see this company make a case where this attachment integrates as a part of a bigger offering.
  2. Easy to accidentally grab the iPhone in a way where you can get finger prints on the lens.
  3. The adapter slides around sometimes which can distort the image and/or create some artifacts.

You can check out the FAQ’s about the Olloclip by CLICKING HERE.

Kindle Fire
I bought this e-reader for Sarah this Christmas, she loves my iPad but wanted something smaller to read books. Bottom line, this is and e-reader built around reading books from Amazon. If purchase as a tablet like an iPad, you will be annoyed. The tech community might “root” this device and install the complete Android platform, but for the non-tech users…this is not built to be a tablet. I would say this is similar in size to the Samsung Galaxy Tab. So here are some of Sarah’s first impressions. By the way, many of her comparisons stem from my “original” iPad3G.

What she likes:

  1. Size – she likes the ability to hold it in one hand.
  2. Convenience of being able to buy/purchase book and read immediately.
  3. The rewards program – Her Amazon Prime membership allows her to “borrow” one book a month which they term as the “The Lending Library”.
  4. It is backlit to read book at night with no bed side lamp.
  5. It comes with install apps like Facebook, Amazon, and Pulse news reader.
  6. When you go to the “store,” it provides recommended books across the top…similar to the Amazon.com experience.

What she dislikes:

  1. Battery life seems to dwindle fast.
  2. The power cord is not that long (4 feet long). Need to be close to an outlet if the battery dwindles down fast.
  3. The power button is on the bottom, so unwanted bumps cause it to shut off.
  4. The power cord plugs in the bottom and can get in the way when holding.
  5. Not as responsive as the iPad when touching hyperlinks.
  6. Web browsing is not as responsive as the original iPad.

So there ya go…love to here your thoughts!

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