Category Archives: Video

Analog VGA Vs. Digital HDMI and DVI Video Connections

VGA has been an active video standard for personal computers for a very long time. DVI and HDMI (along with the newer display port standard) are making a tough case for the aging analog port, though you might be surprised to find out that VGA is still superior in some ways…

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How Do You Create a Good Vlog?

iFreakShow asked:

So I do videos, and I want to make better vlogs. I have a hard time “being myself” or feeling not awkward. Any tips on making better vlogs?

Why do you feel you have a hard time being you? That’s actually the biggest key to creating a great vlog: be who you really are. Act natural. Don’t try to stage things – especially funny moments. They always end up falling flat. Talk to the camera as though you’re talking to a friend… exactly the way you normally would. I do recommend, though, keeping your language family friendly!

Are you afraid that your normal YOU is boring? Think that you’re just not interesting? You’d be surprised, actually… I’ve seen many popular vloggers who let their nerdy/geeky/goofy/weird selves shine through and they’re wildly popular because they aren’t trying to be what someone else thinks they should be.

YOU are the reason people watch, right? Why would you think that’s not enough? Being in front of a camera can be daunting much of the time. It’s scary to know that people will see your every expression and hear every sound that comes out of your mouth (or body!). Let go of the anxiety over that. Take a deep breath, turn on the camera and forget it’s there. Just live your life and record as you go!

What about all of you? What tips do you have?

How Do You Create a Good Vlog?

How Do You Get YouTube Subscribers?

SolidSafety asked:

What is the best way to get over 1,000 people to subscribe to your YouTube channel?

There’s no sure-fire quick and easy way to grow your subscriber base. Trust me – I know. The key is to produce content that people will enjoy watching – and that you will enjoy creating. If you’re just doing something by rote because you think it’s the “right” thing to do, people will pick up on that. They will KNOW you aren’t passionate about your topic and they will not be likely to want to watch and subscribe. You have to believe in what you’re doing.

Find what you’re good at – what you’re passionate about – and THEN worry about finding your niche. What perspective can you bring to the table that no one else does? That’s where you need to focus.

Be sure to do things such as use tags and good catchy titles. Use funny thumbnails whenever possible (when you’re able to do them, of course).

NEVER use one of those “sub for sub!” scams. They’re just that – a scam. Do you REALLY want a bunch of fake followers who don’t actually FOLLOW what you’re doing?

Top Vlogging Software and Equipment

Jennifer Metts recently asked me:

If you are just beginning to vlog what do you think are the top 3 “must haves” as far as software and equipment go? I would guess a quality camera ( but what is the minimum quality you would want ) a video editing program ( which are best) and then what?? Tripod? Lenses?

There are a LOT of people getting started in the vlog world these days. Here’s my best advice:

Just tell your story – that’s job one. Audio quality is second, video quality is third. 😉 The video editor is only going to help you tell your story, but keep video editing as simple as you possibly can – don’t make this a chore or you won’t want to do it for very long. For OS X, iMovie is sufficient but Final Cut Pro X (while pricey) can improve import/export workflow dramatically. If you’re not comfortable/familiar with Final Cut Pro X, there’s a lot of help available to get you going.

I’ve yet to find a “true” equivalent for simplicity on Windows, however.

How Do I Start Vlogging?

Aaron Linson writes:

Chris, I’m thinking about vlogging — how do I start vlogging? What kind of camera would I need to get? How do you even hold the camera to get everything in shot? How long do you spend on editing every day? Thanks!

How is vlogging done? You pick up a camera that records video and record. I’m not being flippant! This is really all you need to do.

It doesn’t matter what camera you have. I use one of these, though your favorite modern-day smartphone should do, as long as you’re aware that the battery will drain quicker — which is largely why I choose to use a designated vlogging camera. You could keep it close to a power source, but that might limit your mobility if you have plans to vlog on the move. If you have a static space from which to vlog with electrical outlet access, this isn’t such a concern.

I spend between one to two hours editing the vlog, and probably the same amount of time recording or staging to record throughout the day. It takes a massive amount of time to do it the way we’ve decided to do it. You might find shortcuts that work for you — or longcuts, depending on how elaborate you want to make your vlog.

Good luck, Aaron, and please keep us aware of your progress! Maybe we’ll see you at VloggerFair? As you can see below, we’ve all got to start somewhere.

Lenovo Brings Dual Displays to the Mobile Office with USB Powered ThinkVision Monitors

This is a sponsored post written by Matt Ryan on behalf of Lenovo for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Being on the road doesn’t mean you have to put up with doing your work on tiny laptop screens. Anyone who has spent any amount of time traveling for work understands the limitations working from a single laptop can bring to the table. The alternative thus far has been to bring a bulky monitor in a bag that could never be considered carry-on only to discover that you need extra power cables, another outlet or power strip, and video cables.

Let’s be real here: No one wants to bring their entire home office with them on trips — even if it means sacrificing productivity in order to stay mobile.

Enter the Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 14″ USB monitor. This 14″ display has immediately become a key component in my home and mobile office during video editing, collaboration, and other tasks that are just too difficult to do on my MacBook Pro’s 13″ screen. Using a USB port alone, I’m able to extend my desktop to another monitor, giving me more than double the window space without adding a ton of bulk to my desk.

Here are some thoughts on the Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 14″ USB monitor, and how it changed the way I get things done.

Design

Lenovo Brings Dual Displays to the Mobile Office with USB Powered ThinkVision MonitorsThe LT1421 has a remarkably slim 13.2 x 8.6 x 0.85 inch design that provides its own built-in kickstand so it can sit on your desk and take up about as much space as a picture frame. The black bezel and matte screen don’t draw attention or reflect much light from the surrounding environment, making it blend almost perfectly into a professional workspace.

It comes with an included plastic cover that protects the screen when packed in a carry-on or laptop bag that doubles as extra support for slick or uneven surfaces. The kickstand can grip to most wooden desktops, though it’s good to know the lid can serve that purpose as well.

The entire screen is powered by a single 6′ USB cable that splits from a single microUSB port for the monitor to two full-sized USB ports for your laptop or desktop computer. Though two ports are provided, you really only need one to power it on most systems. The extra port is there in the case that your computer’s bus doesn’t provide enough power in a single port. Not that this display takes much power at all with just 4.2 watts of energy usage during operating and 0.1 watts during standby.

Image Quality

Lenovo has accomplished quite a bit with the LT1421. Not only are there 16 brightness levels you can adjust to using a single button on the back of the unit, but the image itself looks quite impressive. This 14″ 1366 x 768 display delivers excellent colors and a vibrant image that can be seen from across the room. I’ve used the LT1421 for a variety of things from video editing to article writing and found the screen remarkably easy to read and quick to respond.

With a contrast ratio of 400:1 and a response time of 8 ms, it outperforms the vast majority of USB-driven monitors in its class.

Compatibility

I’ve given the LT1421 a thorough test, adding it both as a third monitor to my primary Windows 7 system and as a secondary monitor to my MacBook Pro running OS X Lion. While Windows is the primary support environment for the Lenovo LT1421, a quick driver download from DisplayLink, the makers of the USB display technology backing the LT1421, allowed me to enjoy dual-screen productivity from either OS with ease. A driver CD ships with the LT1421 that works with virtually any version of Windows from XP to Windows 7.

Practical Applications

Having a second monitor is a great way to increase productivity while multitasking, allowing you to have more information in front of you at any given time, and eliminating the need for annoying back-and-forth application switching. I’ve actually found that using a second monitor while video editing allows for extended functionality including a better preview during editing, saving me some amount of hassle.

Working with spreadsheets can be a real problem with laptop screens. By extending your desktop, you’ll be able to see more without having to lug around a giant monitor that requires its own outlet, display port, and room for its stand.

I’ve also found a long-term use of the LT1421 as a chat and email monitor. By putting those applications on a smaller screen, I can dedicate more space on my larger displays to more productive things, like playing games or writing articles.

If you’re in a meeting and would like to demonstrate something without having a group of people huddled around your laptop, you can easily clone your desktop and face the screen to the group. This is excellent during face-to-face meetings where you would rather speak to someone eye-to-eye rather than from behind as they look over your shoulder at whatever it is you’re demonstrating.

Price

Price is one area where the Lenovo LT1421 absolutely impresses. At just $200, it is priced extremely reasonably when compared to the various other USB-powered monitors out there. Portability is an extremely important consideration for anyone traveling on business, and being able to recreate that optimal office environment in a hotel room with a single outlet and minimal luggage space is a huge plus.

You can save 10% on the Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 between now and March 31, 2012. All you need to do is purchase it online using the code LENOVOTECHIES (if your blog is tech-focused), or LENOVOMOMS (if you have a mom blog). Make sure you’re ordering part number 1452DS6.

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Final Thoughts

The Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 is a great addition to your mobile computing arsenal. It requires no more than a USB connection to operate, making it one of the most flexible external display solutions out there. Even if your laptop or desktop system doesn’t support an extra display through its own hardware, you might find the LT1421 an excellent solution.

I love this thing, truly. What at first seemed like just another monitor has quickly become that little extra something I needed to turn my desktop into a productivity center that would even impress Batman.

I’m actually looking forward to my next traveling adventure because I know that I have the ability to get things done without having to stare at a tiny laptop screen and constantly switch from one window to the next.

What is the Difference between LCD and LED Screens?

LED monitors and televisions are beginning to become cheaper and more budget-friendly. They typically promote much higher contrast ratios and lower power use than traditionally lit LCD screens, but they may not be the best option for video editors. Why is that? What is the difference between LCD and LED screens?

The difference between the two technologies actually lies in the way the screen is backlit. All LED screens are LCDs, but not all LCDs utilize LED technology. With an LED-based monitor, backlighting is spread across a grid of tiny lights (LEDs) that is spread from one side of the screen to the other. Unlike the fluorescent lighting behind a common LCD screen, LEDs cover the entire space in order to provide even lighting from end to end. The extra contrast comes from the ability the monitor has to detect areas that are intentionally darker and dim or turn off the tiny LED light directly behind the dark points. This creates what’s called a dynamic contrast which can create much darker blacks as the screen is essentially off in areas that are intentionally dark. This can become a problem in cases where you have a starry night sky and tiny white points of light need to be lit brightly while the surrounding mass is pitch black. Because of this, the stars may appear dimmer than they normally would as the tiny light is dimmed to compensate for the majority of the space being black.

Another advantage to owning an LED-based television or monitor is the ability for the screen to have wider viewing angles. With normal LCDs, you will notice a much sharper change in contrast and clarity as you look to each side. LEDs still drop off as you move to each side, but the change is noticeably different. This is due in part to the complete coverage of backlighting that isn’t present through fluorescent lighting schemes.

The typical lifespan of an LCD monitor or television before the lights start to dim and go out is 4-6 years. LED technologies last quite a bit longer, giving an expected 100,000 hours of light versus 60,000 hours provided by fluorescent lighting.

For the majority of users, an LED screen is a brilliant solution to that offers higher contrast ratios with a significantly lower energy usage. If you do movie editing or a lot of color-accurate detailed work, you may prefer to go with a more traditional LCD monitor.

What is the Difference Between Composite and Component Video?

Composite and component video cables are far too often confused with one-another due in part to their slightly similar name and purpose. LockerGnome’s Brandon Wirtz sat down with me recently too break through the confusion and explain exactly how different they really are.

Composite cables typically have a yellow RCA connector on either end that carries a video signal from source to destination with a single connection. Unlike component, the composite cable carries a single line-level signal that contains all of the video information in one go. You can often see composite cables paired with audio cables as they don’t carry an audio signal.

The signal composite cables carry is a combination of three source signals that are commonly referred to as YUV (or Y’UV). Y stands for luminance which carries the brightness settings as well as the information needed to synchronize the picture. For monochrome displays, this is all that’s really required. The U and V carry hue and saturation information which defines the color of the image displayed on the screen. The maximum resolution on a composite cable is 480i NTSC, which is commonly referred to as a standard definition image.

Component cables carry a significantly higher resolution image allowing for 1080p signals to run across them without issues. The types of signals they carry can vary depending on the scheme used by the equipment. For example, RGB connections refer to red, green, and blue signals being sent through the three associated wires that make up the component cable. In some cases, the green wire carries brightness information (Y) while the red and blue wires share the responsibilities of transferring the color information. This scheme is known as YPbPr and is commonly used in consumer electronics today.

To simplify things, one yellow connection is composite and three colored connections is component. Neither of them carry audio signals and you may see an audio cable attached in some cases for the purpose of saving you from having to run an extra cable from point A to point B. Component is capable of higher resolutions, and is used more widely today as most televisions sold are HD capable.