What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving? For me, it’s the fact that with twenty minutes and tools you find in a modern living room (an iPhone, cable, and a mac with Quicktime), you can make a stop motion movie! While others slept off their sleepiness (not actually induced by tryptophan), Brock and I decided to chase some candles around the table!
Archive for November, 2009
This applies to almost everyone, as I guarantee there is a place for quick and cheap web video in almost any task:
A friend of mine runs a weekly meditation research group that brings in guest lecturers and other sorts of presentations, and recently asked me to recommend a way to post audio of the presenters online for those who cannot make the meetings. Audio? I scoffed. There’s almost no web use for spoken word audio that wouldn’t be enhanced by adding video as well. But people don’t care about pretty pictures, he said.
Everybody connects better to a speaking face than an audio podcast, and if you’re going to put something out why not make it a whole experience. There’s no reason it need take up much of your time or be a hassle. I did a lot of research yesterday into the options out there, and I’m sharing my findings here in case it will help others. You can have a truly decent and compact recording setup for only $194!
My recommended solution
At the moment, the two major contenders are the $160 Flip UltraHD and the $150 Kodak Zi8. I ended up choosing the Zi8 because it has better image quality and an external microphone input. That way, if you decide the audio is not good enough for your needs, you can always upgrade. They both are super intuitive, fit in the palm of your hand, and make it easy to edit videos and post to YouTube. They also both have mini-HDMI outputs, making it easy to plug them into an HDTV and watch your footage. The Zi8 comes with a free extra battery on Amazon right now, whereas the Flip comes with two extra accessories on Amazon. Consider the Flip if you want Mac support (Zi8 will work with mac but their nifty youtube and editing software won’t.)
The Zi8 has replaceable memory, where the Flip does not. This has the downside that you need to buy a memory card, but the upside is that you can swap cards out and get a lot more memory if you want. 8GB will match the Flip’s 2 hour limit, and you can go up to 32GB.
I also found the following accessories:
- A cheap full-size tripod or a sweet tabletop Gorillapod, depending on your preference (about $17.)
- A $14 wireless lapel microphone (but no guarantees this will work well–I’d pay more like $147 if you want to get great audio. This is optional, and the two cameras get passable audio already.
So with the Zi8, an SD card, a tripod, and optionally a microphone, you’ll find that putting videos on the web is easy. Just push a button (they both have a big record button and not much else), and you’re recording. Two clicks sends it to YouTube. Next year Flip comes out with another contender that supports WiFi, so you should be able to upload very quickly and easily.
Power in the hands of the people. The times, they are a-changing!
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”
“Let’s hear it for New York. I made you hot nigga.”
This is my 100th post. 100 posts, eight months in New York – 245 days, one city. Three scripts, two feature and one short. Eight TV episodes. About a dozen things you could call internships and several dozen more new friends. Maybe one day I will get over myself and these will be the last 100 posts, but for now I’m pretty happy that this blog has come this far. But these numbers don’t tell a story.
My story begins with the flight confirmation I received before my trip, with a return flight to Los Angeles planned a month after arrival just to be safe. If I want to come back it will be easy, I told myself as I packed three suitcases and got a bed. By the time the return date arrived, I knew that I was here for the long haul. The story ends, for now, when I sat in a quiet room watching Captured (watch free on SnagFilms!), a collection of videos of the Lower East Side, and saw the history of the place I inhabit. The tremendous creativity that comes out of New York owes as much to its people as its uniqueness as a city. At that moment yesterday, it dawned on me (in the way it tends to, when it has been obvious to others for some time) that it will be a long time before I leave here.
New York has proven to be everything to me as it is everything to others. I have found energy that is synergistic and artistic, overwhelming crushes of people, private moments snuck with friends and regal majesty of enormous scale. Hiking in the forest is mere miles from trading on Wall Street, as is heartbreaking poverty from extravagant privilege. I’ve learned over and over again that we do not live in a meritocracy (nor a democracy,) that the film and journalism and music industries are dying with uncertain heirs, and that it is possible to experience extreme isolation and overwhelming connection at the same time.
I’ve witnessed the passion of my friends in innumerable endeavors: some striving to make a difference and others a living, but all working to be the best in their lives. I’ve seen in a single year nerds become not just admirable but genuinely cool. This city is awash with potential and failure, which in so many ways are the same thing. It’s a wild storm that we strive to surf more ably. Where an idea can spread like lightning and grow in a collective mind. The greatest tragedy of New York is that none of us will ever experience it all–laughably, not even close. In this city, everything is so much more everything than everywhere else. And everything is possible.
It’s difficult to quantify what I have learned, but I know it’s been a lot. The awareness of craft that comes with practice and the emotional osmosis that comes with personal experience are lessons I am grateful for.
And what else could my retrospective have been but a love letter?
“I dwell in possibility.”
keeps on slipping into the future…
I apologize for the dearth of blog posts recently; it’s for good reason. My friend Tucker always liked to say to me that busy people discover they have more time in the day than they’d though, and that’s been very true.
Between working two internships for a total of 10a-6p Mon-Fri, editing the next episode of DdTv (my favorite and the most powerful one yet), looking for a job, planning for (possibly two) music video shoots, a shoot with a nonprofit, juggling about five business plans in my head, quitting caffeine this week (again,) my mom visiting this weekend, and a bunch of social engagements, I’m partly going insane and partly getting great practice and riding the waves and not stressing the to-do list.
And I just started using Remember the Milk – let’s see where that goes.
I hope this finds everybody happy and healthy, and I hope to update the ol’ blog more soon.
UPDATE 2: Thanks to some requests, I’ve made a three-person and two-person version of the tab (the two-person is really easy to make.) For bonus points, does anyone want to make a five-person version?
Also, I’ve gotten some questions on the sharing numbers. They are robust and you can use them for proportions, so putting 2 as a number will count that person as owing double.
UPDATE: Awesome, Lifehacker likes it! I’ve gotten request for two- and three-person versions of this beast. Anyone want to help out and build one in exchange for a link?
I’m one for efficiency and productivity tools, and I prefer the lifehacker mindset: spend a long time on solutions that will save time. Even if I end up using more time than I saved, I’ve learned something and created a product as well.
I know that there are many web- and iPhone-based solutions that look pretty cool for this type of thing, but I wanted to make one using Google Docs. The version I came up with has four people in it and allows you to enter up to 100 transactions per person. Under a transaction, enter the amount spent and a 1 under the column of every person who the amount should be shared with. You can use it to share something four ways or for 2- or 3-person splits or loans. Now that we have it, we will regularly pick up dinner for each other and “bill” each other on the tab system. This version also calculates how to settle the tab.
Try it out here, and if you like it, open the read-only version here and go to File -> Make a Copy to copy it to your own Google Docs. And please, let me know if you end up using it or making any improvements!
How to customize it
To modify the app to use your names, expand the AH column, which stores the names that are used elsewhere.
A quick run-down on how I created the app: The thick black bars to the right of each person are actually two columns of formulas. The first one calculates how much that person owes to others; to do this, it looks at each other person’s spending in that row, divides it by how many people are sharing the item, and adds it to the tally if that person is marked as sharing it. The second column calculates how much is owed to that person based on how many people they are sharing with.
The thick black bar on the right edge of the spreadsheet does some Google Docs magic, which you should be able to figure out pretty easily, to calculate how to settle the tab.