Tag Archives: Video

My House Tour Video (2011)

A few years ago, I uploaded my first Home Office Tour after on a New Year’s Day “Subservient Chris” request. This exploration has since become an annual tradition, with me having skipped only one year (and being kindly lambasted for doing so).

For years, individuals from this community have been asking for a complete house tour – and I’ve been reluctant to give it, if only because I didn’t think it’d be all that interesting. Well, today might mark another annual tradition – a complete home video tour on my birthday.

While the home office tour was simply put online for immediate digestion, I decided to go a step further with the house tour and make it available for rental only. I did this for a few reasons: (1) to make it truly special, (2) because there’s a real value to it, (3) because it’s my birthday and I can.

For a fee, you can watch the house tour video on YouTube – though we’re still trying to figure out how to support the international community, so another viewing option should be made available soon. I’d like to (honestly) create a universal iOS app for the video and make it available at a lower price point, too – but I have no skill as a programmer / developer, so that idea will likely have to wait. We’re also going to make this available on DVD – and that link will be added to the viewing options in this post when it’s ready to go. I’m not sure anybody would really buy it, but… stranger things have happened.

Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HpEBmWrQzc

If you’re watching from outside the United States, you can find it here: http://movielocker.com/8108

If this effort isn’t seen as “successful” over the next year, it probably won’t happen again. I’d like to say I made enough from the idea to cover my mortgage for a month, though. That would be one helluva birthday present!

Is Netflix Worth It Anymore?

I’ve been a Netflix subscriber from damn near day one.

I’ve certainly appreciated having the service there as an entertainment alternative long before video streaming was a remote possibility. I’d have three DVDs out at a time and often forget I was holding onto them for months on end. You could say that I’ve wasted a lot of money on Netflix – far more than I would have spent at a local video rental store.

So, last year, I decided to drop the 3-disc option and go with the 1-disc plan plus the on-demand streaming – even though the streaming selection was seemingly stunted (though nowhere as bad as Hulu’s lackluster movie library). For the most part, that’s worked out well – but I still feel like I’m overpaying for media that I’m not remembering to digest.

This morning, news came down the pike (yes, pike – not pipe) that Netflix is staging new subscription plans for us. Yippee? Nope.

There are now 2 DVD-Only plans:

  • $8 a month for one disc at a time
  • $12 a month for two discs at a time

Now there’s a separate option:

  • Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $8 a month

They think that this change “is a terrific value.” I think it’s a load of shit. This is “forcing” me to drop their disc-only plan altogether (based on my patterns). When I want to rent a DVD, I’ll simply make an online reservation for my local Redbox station. I’d be tempted to drop the Netflix streaming plan if there were a viable alternative elsewhere – but judging by how many documentaries my girlfriend loves to watch, that’s not practical.

I guess at the end of the day, I’m going to be spending less money with Netflix (by $2). Thanks?

Five Things to Avoid When Producing Web Video

There are a million guides out there that will tell you what frame rate, bit rate, codec, and editing software to use. These tips are excellent and should be followed to create as professional a broadcast or podcast as possible. Unfortunately, there are some common traits among amateur web video that find their way in to otherwise perfect productions. Here are five things to avoid when producing web video:

If you’ve got a camera on you, it’s also on everything behind you. As a rule of thumb, everything the camera is or might be pointed at should be treated like a movie or television set. If you film out of your bedroom, take five minutes prior to hitting the record button to make the bed and arrange things around the room to look as open and uncluttered as possible. What may be a typical room to you will look like a terrible mess on camera. Viewers have a tendency to imagine the whole room based on the little section they see. If that little piece isn’t right, the whole space may as well be a cluttered mess.

Constant Movement
Video made for the web is compressed and compression does funny things to video. If you have a habit of holding the video camera with your hand and pointing it at yourself or your subject, break it. Invest in a tripod or mount that keeps the background as still as possible. This will not only improve the way your video looks after compression, but it will also improve your subject’s appearance. Each frame is given a certain allotment in terms of bits to generate the image. If little has changed from the frame before it, those bits can be used to make what is moving in the shot look smoother.

Bad Lighting
Lighting is essential to good web video. If you use a low-watt table lamp that looks alright in person, you can bet the video will prove otherwise. It’s better to have lighting that is a bit too bright than a bit too dark. Artifacts, which appear as colored specks or scattered snow, show up much more in a dark shooting environment. Give your subject some light, and if you want to make things look dark and dreary, you can do it in post using a video editing program.

Low or Inconsistent Audio
Most decent video editing programs out there will include audio controls. If you can’t actually affix a virtual audio processor and/or compressor to the audio track, take the time to normalize the audio to a reasonable volume. Audio normalization is one of the fastest and most effective ways to turn mediocre video in to something more professional. If you have the means, work out a system to mic your subject to get the best audio possible. Built-in microphones on smartphones and camcorders can work, but you are far more likely to get good results with an external mic. Because many viewers actually listen more than watch web programs, poor audio may be one of the most important things to avoid when producing web video.

Bad Camera Placement
The subject you are filming should be front and center on screen. If your web video has someone’s head at the bottom of the frame with a large space between the top of their head and the ceiling of the video, you should consider repositioning either the subject or the camera. As a rule of thumb, allow no more than 10% of the total height of the video to show space over the head of your host. If you film at a wide angle from across the room, make sure that it’s clear the person doing the majority of the speaking is the focus of the shot. No mater how cool your set is, your production will suffer if it doesn’t revolve around the subject.

Community Challenge: Put Words in my Mouth

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It’s community challenge time again! Here’s your chance to put words in my mouth. Download the raw video, open it in your favorite video editor, remix the sucker, then re-upload your video as a response to this video so we can all see the fruits of your labor. Create your own narration cards, create your own product demonstration in the middle, whatever. It’s your chance to play with me! Don’t have me unpaper the same envelope… BE CREATIVE.

What invention have you been waiting for all of your life? Which technology breakthrough (real or imagined) are you going to report on? Put on your thinking cap and fire up the tools you already have. If you can’t edit a MOV video file, you might care to convert it with your favorite video conversion tool – although, I’d be surprised if you creative types had any problems with this.

In order to create this video, I used the Silent Film Director app on my iPhone. The app is fun and simple to use. Slow down or accelerate your video speed to add dramatic atmosphere or make your creation even more hilarious. Choose from three built-in soundtracks, upload music from your iPod or from your computer to add sound to your video. Share what you’ve done instantly with your friends using the app’s built-in share features. You can even choose between six different video styles:

  • 20’s movie
  • 60’s home video (for the Hippie style videos)
  • 70’s home video
  • Black and White
  • Sepia
  • Vintage Sepia

The only limits to your creativity using Silent Film Director is your own imagination. The same holds true for your remix in this Community Challenge! You have the tools at hand – is your imagination and creativity up to the task? Do you dare?


YouTube Video Limits

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Someone asked recently what my thoughts are concerning the new limits that YouTube has placed upon content producers. They raised the length of video allowed to fifteen minutes for many of you. The problem is, though, that many of us don’t watch anything more than ONE minute.

Do you watch fifteen minute videos? Does anyone you know sit through clips that long on YouTube? I can understand the need to occasionally upload something longer than ten minutes – I’ve done so myself a few times. But realistically, I know that it’s very rare to have someone sit through the entire thing.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that YouTube did a good thing when they raised their upload limits?

Star Wars Stormtrooper Videos

Over the weekend, I posted a new Community Challenge. I asked all of you to provide the audio and dialogue for my Stormtrooper dog-walking video. There have been several responses already, and I wanted to share the best ones with all of you.

From Uelogy22:

From DavinDaGeek:

From Falmatrix2r:

Have you been working on your own response? Make sure to upload it to YouTube as a video response to the original challenge video.

readySTEADY Portable Video Camera Stabilizer System Review

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Everyone seems to have some type of pocket video camera these days. The issue is that most of these cameras don’t have any type of optical image stabilization. Thankfully, there are products available to help, such as the readySTEADY stabilizing system.

readySTEADY fits right into your pocket and actually works very well to stabilize your camera. It is durable, made of sturdy aluminum, not plastic. Most importantly, it puts an end to the impossible task of trying to hold your pocket video camera steady for more than 10 seconds.

Do your viewers a favor: use a readySTEADY to shoot your next video. They will thank you for it.

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:

Upload and Distribute Videos with TubeMogul

I have been using TubeMogul for quite a while now to upload and distribute the videos I create. My assistant has been having issues with the service off and on for several months now. The issue wasn’t able to be replicated the first time we spoke with engineers at the company, so it was basically brushed aside. Kat continued trying to use the service on a daily basis. Sometimes it worked – and sometimes it didn’t. Yesterday, out of sheer frustration, I sent a tweet stating that I could no longer recommend the service to others. Within minutes, I received messages from a lady in customer care named Shirley and another from the CEO of the company, Brett. They wanted to know what was wrong, and how they could help.

I admit that both Kat and I were skeptical at first. We did this entire drill several months ago. We had established it wasn’t her computer or mine causing the problems. It happened on every machine we tried, in every place we tried… using various browsers and ISPs. Something was wrong in our account itself or with the site. However, the engineer we worked with last time could not replicate the issue. Therefore, the issue must not exist!

Shirley quickly opened a ticket within the system and had Kat explain exactly what was going on. After looking through it all, she set up a Skype conference call for today between herself, Kat and one of their top engineers. Brett also reached out to Kat via email, making sure we knew that their team would do everything in their power to correct the problems we have been having.

Today’s Skype call comes and they had Kat enable screen sharing so they could see the problem as it occurred with their own eyes. Instead of repeatedly trying to explain something strange, they were able to see it for themselves. (Kudos to Skype, btw, for including the screen-sharing feature!) As soon as Kat began trying to upload a video, it failed. It was immediately apparent that there is an issue somewhere with their Flash uploader. They worked together to correct it, but are going to have to dive deeper. However… they DID find a workable solution so that we can use the site once again on a regular basis!! That is very good news, indeed.

Shirley and Narayan (the engineer on the call) took things several steps further. They noticed we were having issues pushing videos to MySpace. Yes, some people DO still use that site! They took the time to help diagnose the problem and fix it. They also enabled a few features on our account that hadn’t been before, but which will be very helpful as we continue to use the site.

I have to say… this is pretty damn awesome y’all. The level of courtesy, professionalism and customer service we received today was second-to-none. All in all, the team at TubeMogul worked with us for more than four hours to make SURE everything worked well and that we were happy. Yes, there is still an issue with the Flash uploader. That is being worked on, and they have promised us an update in the near future. We still are able to upload via other means, so it’s not a rush on our end.

Have you used the TubeMogul service before? It sure makes things a LOT easier when you need to seed content to more than one site. Take a look at all of the places that our videos end up simply because we upload there:

That’s not even a list of every place you can add your content to through the TubeMogul service! There are a handful of other sites which accept videos, and may be appropriate for the type of content you create – such as automobile sites!

Yes, we had issues with the service. Yes, one of those issues is still being worked on. I have to say, though, that I am beyond satisfied with the work they are doing over at TubeMogul overall, and VERY pleased with the service we received today. Thank you to Brett, Shirley, Narayan and the rest of the team.