Tag Archives: record

How to Convert Cassettes to MP3

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One of the first pieces of hardware I ever remember lusting after was a cassette player. I was pretty young back then, and a cassette player was innovative! As I got a little older, making “mix tapes” for girls you liked was all the rage. I enjoyed being able to record things, and play them back. These days, we take audio and video recording for granted. Back then… it was really high tech stuff!

I still have several of my old cassettes. I want to start archiving those memories into MP3 format, so that I can save them. There’s a few different ways that you can accomplish this, using various pieces of hardware. The folks at ThinkGeeksent me something that will help me do this easily… the ION USB Cassette Deck. It works with either Windows or Mac OS X, and comes with its own software. I have to warn you, though. Even though the hardware is an excellent device, I don’t recommend using the software. It’s not so great.

It’s a dual cassette deck of sorts. You can dub from one deck to another. Or, I can use a USB connection and play it back on my computer… and record it from there if I wish. I recommend downloading the free version of Audacity in order to record and edit your audio files.

Pop open the cassette deck and throw your tape in. I still have the first cassette I ever purchased – Twisted Sister. Tell me you remember the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. It’s a classic that’s still played often today! Hey… I loved them back in the day. What’s wrong with liking the song now?!

The ION features LED Audio Level Indicators to let you know when it detects music on one side or the other. The “A” deck is for cassette playback only. The “B” deck can be used to play and record. Copy your music from one cassette to another at regular OR high-speed. There are several nifty little add-ons for all of you cassette junkies!

I do like this gadget, and will be using it quite a bit. I am having a great time going down memory lane and putting faces, names and memories with each song on the tapes.

What’s the first piece of hardware you remember lusting after?

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Will TV Ever Die? No!

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I never thought I’d see the day when a USB device worked on both OS X and Windows to allow me to record video signals, including digital cable video signals! I can also schedule recordings, even remotely from my iPhone! There’s also the ability to chat with others, and see what other people are watching.

I’m talking about the TubeStick. With TubeStick you can stream live TV directly from your computer to your iPhone and remotely schedule recordings, ready to watch them later on your computer – or even on the go. The TubeStick works out of the box. Everything you need is there: a TV receiver, the matching white mini-antenna, an adaptor for external antennas and a USB extension cable.

Do you know what the best thing is about the TubeStick? You can win this one in my hand for yourself!! Simply log into Twitter, and tweet the following link: http://go.tagjag.com/tubestick. Add anything else you’d like to the tweet, as long as that link is in there. One of you will be a winner!

I’d be interested in seeing what shows all of you watch, so I’m looking forward to seeing you get signed up. It’ll be fun to see if I’m watching the hottest shows out there, or the lamest!

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How to Record Live Performances (Concerts, Plays, etc)

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Jon writes: “My friend and I like filming shows at local venues. After a while there are some things you seem to focus on while recording these. Here are my tips for recording live performances, shows and concerts.”

Equipment – Always prepare your equipment before hand. Nothing is worse than showing up on a scene without your necessary things. Here is a list of useful or necessary things you should bring along:

  • Camera(s) Always make sure you have properly packed your camera(s). Nothing is worse than showing up on a scene to find that your camera is damaged or even lost due to improper packing. Multiple cameras and cameramen(or camerawomen) are always recommended for any production, no matter how small. It’s always better to have a second angle to switch to if your shot gets disrupted or even too boring.
  • Batteries and tapes Having extra charged batteries and tapes are a must. Besides the people behind the project, the battery is the part giving any power to your operation. The tapes are your canvas (for now). Without either of these, you can’t record your event, and they are 100% necessary.
  • Tripod or Steadycam Nobody wants to watch a shaky video, even if the talent is amazing. Try a Tripod or Steadycam. Tripods tend to cause for a boring shot, but are more stable. A simple Steadycam, however, can be made easily and cost pennies. A cheap Steadycam like the one I made can serve as a Steadycam, a Bipod, a camera boom, and many more things. A ‘bar’ Steadycam, as I like to call it, is the perfect filming multitasker for the budget filmer, and will come in handy more than one would imagine.
  • Lights Like a shakey video, nobody wants to see a dark, unlit video. Even if you can’t find a professional, yet affordable, portable filming light, you can still bring along a compact halogen or such light. You would be amazed by how big of a difference a single light can make, never mind a second or third. I picked up 2 halogen lights for $10 each at a tool expo that came by town, and it works great, especially for its price and size. Just remember, anywhere there is a performer, there will probably be electricity, and someone more than willing to let you plug in to help film and promote their event.
  • Audio Many cameras have decent onboard mics, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. If you can get your hands on a different audio device, use it. Its always better to have too much instead of too little. A mini disc recorder works well, is compact, and is relevantly easy to transfer to a computer. If you can get a high quality digital recorder, that’s even better. They should have more recording options, allowing you to compensate for recording time, quality, whether or not you need phantom power, and many more. Also think about an audio source. It could be a soundboard from the attraction or venue, or just a quality condenser mic that you bring along. Bring everything into consideration for your audio.
  • Storage/Tote Always bring a proper means of storage for your equipment. Bring what you need, leave the rest in your car. Just because your bag can carry 250 lbs of equipment, doesn’t mean that you can. There is a difference between over packing and over preparing. It is clear which is good, and which is bad. Keeping your eye on your 4 extra tripods are going to be a bigger burden than if you didn’t have any tripod at all.
  • Crew Always pick a good crew that you can trust and know possess the skills you need. A crew doesn’t need to be 25 people, consisting of directors, boom operators, dolly pushers, etc. In most cases, you’re only going to need a director (who will probably work camera or audio as well), first, second, and third cameraman (fourth fifth etc depending on how many shots you have), audio technician, and someone to watch your stuff. A crew of 3 or 4 people is ideal for most low budget productions, and can be easily communicated with and transported. Does your car seat 4 people or more? I thought it might.
  • Extras This includs any useful lenses you have (love my fisheye), cables (a must), pen and paper (these have been handy for centuries), or anything you might need. Always keep these neatly packed and ready in case you might need them.

Once all of these things have been thought of and taken care of, you’re ready (hopefully) to get onto your show. When you’re at this event, there are a few tips I think might help you out:

  • Don’t be shy Talk to the talent, band, or whomever before the show and get their permission. Be sure they don’t mind if you try for a more creative shot in case it might ‘invade their space’.
  • Get creative After all, it is art! Don’t be afraid to ‘exploit’ your equipment for every fun shot you can. I use my Bipod Steadycam to get boom shots above guitarists, and I even tip it upside down and get an upside down shot from someones’ feet. It sounds like a bad idea, but you can always flip the image without losing any quality later, and the shot looks amazing and creative. Always try new things and new angles to film from. If it looks bad, you can always switch to a different camera. But, if it looks good… you will be switching to this shot.
  • Keep Safe No matter where you are, there are risks to you, and your equipment. If you’re filming in a studio, there is always the possibility of tripping on a cable or something falling over. At a rock concert, filming from the crowd means you could get bumped into by somebody, or even somebody coming out of the mosh. Always be aware of your surroundings. The only thing here worth more than your equipment, is you.
  • Setup Get ready as quickly and smoothly as you can. Keep organized… and out of the way. If you’re a nuance to the staff, they’re not going to let you film here. You must be respectful during setup and overall production.
  • Setting When preparing to film something, you must think about the size of the stage, crowd area, or any place you might use for your video, whether its going to be filmed, or going to be filmed from. Always take into consideration the size of the crowd, the size of the talent, and the sound levels as well.


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