Friday, August 30, 2013


  Most of us have experienced the problem of shooting video on windy day.  You're using a camcorder that doesn't have any wind protection for the microphone.

  When this happens you end up with low-frequency rumbling in the resultant audio channels.  Although with some amount of low-frequency rumbling can be removed in post with audio filtering programs, the result is usually not very satisfactory.

    The problem is most likely to happen with one of the smaller "palmcorders" or a digital still camera that also has a video mode.

  I was recently shooting some thunderstorm activity on nearby Mt Lemmon with a camera mounted on the window of the ClamCamVideoMobile.  Although it wasn't particularly windy there were light breezes.

  When I returned home and played the video I found it was filled with that dreaded rumble that pretty well ruined the great thunderclaps that were also recorded.

  I decided to try a wind-protection "trick" on two of my cameras - the Sony HXR-MC50 (using its built-in mike) and the Sony RX100 still camera that has a video mode.

  Two photos below show the microphone ports on the two cameras.  I decided to try covering them with some open foam about a quarter of an inch thick.

  The photo below shows the small pieces of foam that I crafted to cover the microphone ports on the camera.  The notch in the RX100 piece is so it won't cover the RX100's power button.

After carefully gluing the foam pieces on the cameras using Elmer'r rubber cement, they look like this.

  Here's some audio from both cameras with and without the foam applied.  The background noise that you hear is the fan that's providing the "wind" for the test.

  The foam on the MC50 obviously to do a better job than that on the RX100, even though there is some wind noise reduction for the RX100.  I attribute this to the fact that there wasn't enough room on the RX100 to cover much beyond mike port's themselves.  I may try a larger, thicker, piece of foam on the RX100.

  The foam wind protection got a good field test recently.  Here's a clip with, as you can see from the video, lots of wind.  

There was no attempt to capture the audio of the participants but you can hear an orchestra in the background without the severe wind noise that would have been present if the foam had not been applied.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


 [Note:  this is another in a series of postings that were originally hosted by Apple but went away when Apple cancelled]
  Second only to gaffer's tape, this silicone repair tape product is a real "jack-of-all-trades".  You can use it for everything from sealing a leaky hose to wrapping the handles of your tools to lashing things together or in place of electrical tape.  

  The interesting thing about this self-fusing silicone-based tape is that it uses no adhesive to bond to itself.  You stretch and wrap the tape around the object and it bonds tightly to itself but not the object.  I use this stuff in a variety of applications and it is really amazing.  

  You can read more about Rescue Tape it here.

  If you purchase it here I get a small consideration.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

GO WITH THE FLOW (repeated)

 [Note:  this is another in a series of postings that were originally hosted by Apple but went away when Apple cancelled]

  Many of us have acquired flashcard-based camcorders.  Some as a complete replacement of our tape-based cameras and some as additional cameras.  Now we are faced with adapting to a new workflow in using these card-based cameras in addition to, or instead of that used with tape-based cameras.  In this posting I will discuss the workflow that I have evolved after using a card-based camera for awhile.  This workflow assumes that one is primarily using the flashcard-based camcorder for high definition (HD) collection.  The figure above shows my workflow elements which I discuss in the following paragraphs.

   Virtually all these cameras use the AVCHD or MPEG-2 method of encoding the HD video before recording it to the card.  The most frequent type of card used is the "Secure Digital High Capacity" (SDHC) card but some video cameras use the Compact Flash (CF) cards.  Also, some Sony cameras will use only the Sony Memory Stick cards but recent Sony cameras have the ability to use either an SDHC or Memory Stick cards.  High-end Sony and Panasonic cameras use proprietary cards - SxS and P2 respectively.

   The files recorded to the cards come with a variety of extensions depending on the specific camera and manufacturer.  File types include: .mov, .mx4, .mxf, .mts, and .mp4.  The files are created using the various digital codecs and have different file type "wrappers" applied before recording which results in the different file types.  Fortunately, Gen3 Cassies (S-2000, S-4000, and S-4100 all running Bogart 3) and most pc-based editing programs can read all of these file types directly.

   I break the workflow process into three general stages - initial download, intermediate storage, and long-term archival storage and retrieval.


   This stage is pretty straightforward.  I can connect the camera to either the Gen3 Cassie or PC/Mac via USB and download the files directly from the camera.  Or, I can remove the recording card from the camera, insert it a card reader and connect the card reader to either the Cassie or PC via USB for off-loading the video clips on the card.  If off-loaded into the Cassie I'm ready to start editing immediately.


   I use an external hard drive connected to my PC via USB as an intermediate storage device.  By "intermediate" I generally mean that I use it to store the source video until I'm finished with the editing process and I've collected enough video on the hard drive to fill one or more DVDs.  By using a USB-connected hard drive I can actually disconnect the hard drive from the PC and connect it to the Cassie for loading files from it directly into the Cassie.

   I can also use the PC to load video file from the PC or intermediate hard drive onto a "thumb drive" for transfer to the Cassie.  Of course, the Gen3 Cassie can be used to create output files within Media Manager than can be recorded out to either the thumb drive or hard drive.


   I personally like to keep most of my source material in some form of long-term archive from which it can be retrieved if needed.  The cost of the card recording media is too high to use the cards themselves as the archiving media.  Although hard drives have a high capacity-to-cost ratio, I don't like them for long-term storage for a couple of reasons.  First, they are complex electro-mechanical devices and therefore more subject to failure than other methods.  Secondly, they are relatively hard to store.

   Therefore, I have adopted DVDs as my method of long-term storage and retrieval.  Although standard DVD-Rs (red-laser) could be used I opted to use Blu-ray BD-Rs.  The Blu-rays have some five times the capacity of the DVD-Rs and are purported to have a longer lifetime than DVD-Rs.  I cannot verify their longer life but I do prefer the higher capacity which is some 100 minutes of HD video.  The specific amount of HD video that a DVD-R or BD-R will hold depends on the specific HD mode recorded.  Many of the card-based cameras can record HD video at different bit rates.  One Sony camera, for example, can record HD video at bit rates from 9 to 24 Mb/sec.  The 100 min capacity mentioned previously refers to the 24 Mb/sec data rate.

   When I've collected enough intermediate storage video to fill one or more DVDs I burn the files to the DVD for long-term storage.  If I need to retrieve the files from the DVD I can either read them back into the PC or directly into my Blu-ray equipped Gen3 Cassie.  If one has a Gen3 Cassie but without the Blu-ray burner then use DVD-Rs for the long-term storage and they can be read into any Gen3 Cassie.


   Unfortunately, Gen2 and earlier Casablancas do not have the capability to load AVCHD and MPEG-2 files via USB connections.  And the Ethernet-Transfer application that is standard on Gen2 Cassies running later versions of SmartEdit only works for standard definition (SD) projects.  If you are editing in HD on a Gen2 Cassie and have acquired a card-based camera you have a couple of options.  If your PC has a Firewire output you could use a PC editing program to convert the files to HDV format and transfer them to your Cassie via Firewire.  Or you could convert the files to AVI format and record them to a DVD and use Disk Transfer on the Gen2 Cassie to input the files.  A DVD-R will only hold about 20 mins of HD video.

   But you could still use the PC-centric archival method described above.  (Or, upgrade your Cassie to  a Gen3 model.  8-) )

Sunday, April 7, 2013


  This year's show is starting this week.  The exhibits open tomorrow and I plan to be there at first opening.  

  I usually have several things that I want to see but this year's list is pretty slim.  The "hot tip" seems to be "4K" cameras and the associated gear to support them, including displays.  There is an official name for such resolution - Ultra High Definition TV - UHDTV.

  One thing that I do want to look at is a new electronically-stabilized camera mount.  Although quite expensive, it is intriguing because it uses a totally new form of stabilization.  This is the Movi M10.  Here's a video made using it:

  Here's a "behind-the-scenes" of using the Movi M10 to make the preceding video:

  There will undoubtedly be other things of interest popping up while I'm here.  Let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like me to investigate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

DO THE LOOP DE LOOP (repeated)

 [Note:  this is another in a series of postings that were originally hosted by Apple but went away when Apple cancelled]

  Do you ever need something with which to attach tags to your equipment or bags?  Here's an inexpensive item that I use to fill that need.  They are 1/16" diameter stainless steel cables that have screw-on attachments on each end so that you can create a loop with them.  

   I use the 6" versions to create loops that hold my video checklists together and to attach name tags to my equipment bags and suitcases.  They come in different lengths and can be connected together to make longer versions from shorter ones.  You can even use them to keep your keys together.

   Here's the source for them: