Rode Smartlav (original) Versus New Rode Smartlav+ Recording booth comparison

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When Rode microphones originally announced the SmartLav in early 2013 I posted a blog about it as I was really excited and I believed it could be a huge step in the evolution of “budget” mobile journalism. During a mojo course in Budapest myself and John Inge Johansen from NRK tested it with FilMicPro but we discovered the main issue is the absence of audio gain in the App. (I subsequently discovered that MoviePro had added in App audio gain)

smartlav-plus_large

A number of weeks ago Rode announced an update called the SmartLav+ and certainly everything I’ve read suggests the audio fidelity is definitely higher in the the new capsule so today I took the SmartLav+ and the original smartly into one of our soundproof audio booths to do a side by side test. I recorded the test using glass and on the iPhone 5s I used Voice Record pro for the audio recording.

So here are the recordings:

Certainly my initial impression is that the SmartLav+ has substantially less hiss but it also sounds like it has also lost some of the richness in the bass.

I’m no audio expert – so I will defer to the judgement of some of my esteemed colleagues from radio who may comment. You can hopefully decide for yourself.

Its worth noting that FilMicPro will have audio gain as a feature in the upcoming Version 4 release.

For more information on the SmartLav+ visit the dedicated Rode micro site:

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DSLRPros Sp1 Handheld Smartphone Gimbal- Initial thoughts

Have you ever looked back at a video you shot handheld on your smartphone on a big screen and couldn’t believe how shaky, wobbly, jelly like the footage was?

Most smartphones are prone in varying degrees to this “jello effect” aka jitter and also to rolling shutter which makes vertical lines in the shot bend when you move above a particular speed. One way to avoid these issues is to put your smartphone on a tripod or a flat surface to KEEP IT STEADY! But there are alternatives if you really must shoot handheld with movement…I recently blogged about some of the current Smartphone and GoPro Gimbals that are available or are about to launch so I’m not going to repeat any of that just click the link above to read that original article. I’ve had my eye on two of the ones I mentioned and yesterday the first order arrived:

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The DSLR Pros Sp1 Handheld Smartphone Gimbal.

I avoided the usual unboxing video and decided to jump straight in. I put the 3S 11.1V Lipo battery on charge and then prepped to take the SP1 for a test.
Unusually I decided to use Google Glass to record the setup and test also so you can see what I see (through Glass) and what the iPhone 5s is shooting using the Gimbal as two separate recordings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W58IQwhCGgc

https://vimeo.com/102921995

A few notes.

The SP1 is listed on the DSLRPros Website as $299 but, as I mentioned in the first video if you are in Ireland, theres a surprise in store when you go to checkout and select your shipping options:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 13.52.48
The CHEAPEST delivery option is $153.41 in addition to the $299! Maybe its just me but that seems like an incredibly expensive price for a small box. Perhaps the Lipo battery is seen as high risk and is partly responsible but even still I think those prices are WAY WAY WAY too expensive. So much so that I tweeted DSLRPros about it on 31st July but have still received no response from them!

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The other cost to bear in mind (in Ireland anyway) is the customs duty which in this case amounted to a further €70 bringing the grand total for this unit to a whopping $546.16 (€407) 

Anyway in spite of the cost this is the first of its kind that is already shipping and I’m already aware of how effective the DJI Zenmuse H33d gimbal is with the GoPro on my Phantom Quadcopter so I had to check this out.

Interestingly, Once you open the handle the battery is clearly labeled…
BeHolder 3S 1000mAh 11.1V
and as the SP1 only comes with one battery included I decided to google the BeHolder name to see if I could source spare batteries…

Thats when I discovered that the SP1 is re-branded by DSLRPros, it is in fact made by teamrebeldesign.com but it appears they don’t sell direct via the website. This would lead me to believe that the Ikan model in the post mentioned above may well be the exact same unit from Teamrebeldesign but I cannot confirm this.

UPDATE: @Lucas_Afrilive contacted me to say that in fact TeamRebelDesign DO sell direct- here is the link

hsp-02_resize

Anyway the point is..IS IT WORTH €400? Having played with it for several hours now I’m actually inclined to say YES – it would be much more tempting if it were cheaper though, but there is no doubt that it really does make motion VERY smooth and its much much easier to use than a manual steadicam like the Smoothie. One of the really nice features is you can “lead” it into turns by twisting you wrist and it gently follows the move. I’ll be playing with it more over the weekend and if i shoot anything half decent I’ll share it but as a closing note I do think this is a landmark in Mojo filmmaking and I’me really excited to see how these units develop over the coming months.

I found the manual on Slideshare in case you need it:

Or alternatively it can be viewed here

 

PS My only disappointment with the SP1 is that I can’t balance it with my MoonDogLabs Anamorphic Adapter which is such a shame as I would love to shoot some 2.40:1 Footage with it! :(

MoJoConIrl – the 1st Conference dedicated to Mobile Journalism, smartphone filmmaking and iPhoneography

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Over the last three years I’ve been continually amazed at the initial reaction of mojo trainees to the potential of smartphones, particularly iPhones as content creation devices.

I’ve been even more impressed with the quality of the stories produced by trainees after their courses and their continuing dedication to push the boundaries in what can be achieved with a smartphone and some cheap accessories and also to the work that some of the pioneers in this space like Sky News, BBC and NRK have achieved.

Last month I started to ask people I know and respect in the mojo world would they be interested in participating or contributing to a conference on mobile journalism, Mobile FilmMaking and iPhoneography.
I was awed at the response with 95% of the people I asked not only pledging their willingness to participate but also to help in spreading the word.

Once I realised how many people were supportive I immediately started looking at dates, venues and logistics and I drafted a proposal for the executive here in RTE.

Now that the project is scoped and with all the core stakeholders consulted, I’ve realised it will take more time to pull together than I had first anticipated but to be honest I want to do this right and make it the best it can possibly be.

So I’m going to reschedule the conference for March 2015, this timeframe will pave the way for making the event even better than I had first hoped.

But as a teaser to whet your appetite…here’s what I’m working on:

Day One. Plenary sessions/Panel discussions on the following topics…

Session One:      “Mobile Journalism: Technology in Broadcast – where to next?”
Session Two:      “Story. Exploring the diversity of multimedia storytelling with and for mobile”
Session Three:   “Smartphone FilmMaking: Award Wining Creators share their experience”
Session Four:     “Create, Curate, Verify: UGC, building communities and the process of validation and authentication” 
Session Five:      “The Multimedia Mojo – working across Radio, Print and Online case studies”
Session Six:        “Code:R-Mojo Educ8: App Development and education for Generation Y”

There will be plenty of opportunities for networking in the evening and there is some discussion about an iPhoneography walkabout session also.

Day Two: Workshops and Masterclasses

Masterclass: iPhone FilmMaking – learn from internationally awarded Filmmakers

Workshop: Social Storytelling – New Platforms for publishing and creating a community

Masterclass: iPhoneography: Shoot Epic images with your smartphone

Workshop: The RTE Mojo Project – From Shoot to Edit to Publish. A step by step workshop.

Conference Dinner (Optional)

I’m also hoping to attract a decent group of the hardware makers and resellers to set up stalls at the event with the idea that they not only demonstrate their gear but sell it as a special reduced conference price!
There will be rapid fire pitch rounds for App developers to pitch their Apps to the audience also.

This means that delegates will have the option to come to the conference, learn from industry leaders, buy their chosen mojo kit, do a top class training workshop and leave with all the skills AND gear they need to get started on their mojo journey.

If you are a hardware manufacturer or reseller who is interested in taking part then DM me on Twitter @glenbmulcahy for more info.

I haven’t completed the math on ticket prices yet but as soon as the date is officially confirmed I will post an update here with ticket prices and a lottery for some free tickets for you (blog readers)!

Im working on the event website now but in the meantime follow @mojoconirl for updates and if you have some suggestions or feedback please do get in touch.

GM-SIG

 

 

Skyroad Film and Television festival seeking submissions now. Mojo’s: Deadline is Aug 6th via @skyroadfilm


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Sky Road TV & Film Festival is a new festival which takes place this September 5th – 7th in the Station House Theatre, in Clifden, Co Galway.

One of the organisers is a former colleague of mine from my days with TG4 and he reached out to me recently for some support so I Skyped him for more info:

Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend but I do think the festival is worthy of a mention…
not least for the fact that they have 3 mobile categories for which they are currently seeking submission (Ireland only).

Their website has this to say:

The festival will work closely with producers and broadcasters to bring the latest content in Irish cinema and television, in both Irish & English language to the programme. The goal is to engage with filmmakers by providing a platform for discussion regarding media, trends and finance options available.

The festival has now announced its submission categories. They are as follows:

FILM

  • Best Feature Film
  • Best Short Film

TELEVISION

  • Best Feature Documentary
  • Best Short Documentary
  • Best Documentary Series

NEW MEDIA (Media filmed on a smart device)

  • 10 Second Short: Shot and Edited on Mobile under 10 seconds
  • 1 Minute Short: Shot and Edited on Mobile under 1 minute
  • 3 Minute Short: Shot and Edited on Mobile under 3 minutes

So if you are a budding mojo in print, radio, television, online or freelance and you have a story shot on a mobile device that qualifies for one of the three mobile categories, get your submission in now.

The process simply involves uploading your piece to YouTube or Vimeo and pasting the Url and some other info into the submission page on their website!

You can get updates via their Website or Twitter: @SkyRoadFilm

The Jello Effect in Mojo and options for stabilising your Smartphone or GoPro

If you are a regular follower of the blog you’ll know I talk about the iPhone as a mobile journalism solution a lot, but I also occasionally blog about one of my other interests: UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or “Drones” as some call them, though thats a title I loathe.

Anyway the two topics have a common thread and that thread is becoming quite a substantial crossover. UAVs like the DJI Phantom have the option of a Go Pro Stabiliser Gimbal called the ZenMuse H3-3D. What this device does is it corrects the position of the GoPro relative to the pitch/yaw/tilt of the UAV. Or in simple terms it keeps the GoPro steady while the UAV is moving and tilting around.


dji-phantom-2-uk-stock
Image via http://www.quadcopters.co.uk

The iPhone (particularly the older 4/4s) was extremely prone to rolling shutter and jitter-sometimes referred to as the “Jello Effect”. If you’ve tried walking behind a fast moving subject you may often notice the extreme shake in the picture and if you Pan (turn left or right) quickly all the vertical lines will bend very noticeably. During our Mojo courses I strongly recommend that trainees get into the habit of using either a tripod or monopod but thats not always practical. This is where the UAV Gimbal Stabiliser technology is now starting to have an impact on smartphones and GoPro.

A growing number of manufacturers are using the same Inertial Monitoring Unit Chip (IMUs) as those used in UAVS to create handheld brushless motor gimbals for Smartphones and GoPro. I’ve been trying to decide which one to buy for some time so I thought I’d share the ones I’ve been considering in case you are in the market for one also.

This is a THINGLINK image grab – If you click it you will be redirected to the Thinglink site where you can click on each image and go to the manufacturers website to get more information and pricing.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 12.31.09

 

Its probably worth mentioning that these handheld units are baby versions of the much bigger and more expensive Stabilisers like the pioneering  FreeFlyCinema Movi M5 | M10

moviM5-1_8fb63030-3e61-4167-8295-5cc7cc600eba_1024x1024
and many of the others who have subsequently created their own versions.

If you want to see what can be achieved with these handheld stabilisers then checkout this Playlist

RTE Mobile Journalism – Where it began, where we are now and where we are going…(potentially)

RTE-MOJO-Header

Back in late 2010 I was working in the Technology Division of News in RTE and I had bought an iPhone 4 for myself, which I had, like every other iNewbie loaded with Apps to try out. I started investigating accessories for the iPhone beginning with the Owle Bubo which was one of the first iPhone Tripod mounts. After a few months of testing things and seeing what worked or didn’t I had created-by accident- a small production kit and I showed it to the then Director of News Technology: Ray Purser. After a bit of experimentation he suggested I create a presentation and that we pitch a pilot project to the then Director of News and Current Affairs: Ed Mulhall. A few days later we delivered the pitch and Ed asked us to show it to some other RTE management and the general consensus was – there was definite potential and it merited further exploration..and so began my mojo project.

Within 6 months I had tested thousands of Apps- seriously! But the end game was I had assembled a selection of Apps which allowed you to improve the quality of the video above the standard iOS Camera and also allowed basic editing on the device. I had been training video journalists in RTE for a number of years at this stage and I was also sent annually to assist with the Circom Regional VJ training course. It was on this course in 2011 that I showed the gear and Apps to the trainers: Karol Cioma, Tony O’Shaughnessy and Darko Flajpan on the VJ course.

While in Budapest I shot a short tutorial video on the iPhone and edited in my iPad then sent the finished edit back via FTP. I subsequently posted the video online (9/10/2011) and its been viewed well over 5,000 times:

After sharing this proof of concept I was asked to present the project at the next Circom Conference which was held in Malmo Sweden in May 2012. The one hour presentation was well attended and the response was overwhelmingly positive. With the result that the Circom executive asked me to develop a mobile journalism course for them. That November (2012) I led the first of the RTE mojo courses for Circom and I was joined by John Inge Johansen from NRK, and Karol Cioma who had championed the idea and Darko Flajpan whom I had worked with previously for VJ training.

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Since then I’ve led three Mojo courses for Circom and I’ve blogged about them here and here but Mojo training has taken me beyond Circom to working with AlJazeera and elsewhere.

Its odd to look back now after just four years of development but at the same time its been a very interesting journey. Watching what BBC, NRK, Aljazeera, Skynews, and other are doing in the space is really exciting.

This May I missed the Circom Mojo course which was held in Dubrovnik, Croatia but Philip Bromwell, a colleague from RTE and someone I admire hugely as a storyteller, took my place.

pb

Interestingly on the course a lot of energy was spent testing Microsoft Lumia devices versus the iPhone. I’ve had a Lumia 1020 on loan from Microsoft for months now and I do think it has an absolutely exceptional camera: 41Mpx! which puts the 8Mpx iPhone camera in the shade. However the current weakness for the Windows Phone/Lumia range is not hardware but software, there simply aren’t as many pro grade production Apps as there are for iOS. What is interesting about the Windows Phone/Lumia is that, like Apple, Microsoft have a limited range of phones but they now control the Nokia hardware so they can, unlike Google’s Android platform, guarantee performance on their devices, this will, in time, give Microsoft a genuine advantage and hopefully secure market share for them where, for example, they currently hold just 3% of the US Smartphone Market Share.

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Source: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2014/smartphone-milestone-half-of-americans-ages-55-own-smartphones.html

As of writing a new Circom Mobile journalism course is in the planning with an associated competition called the “Mojo Challenge” which will take place in October. The project is being led by Karol Cioma.

I’ve chosen to not be involved as I have invested a huge amount of time in developing the iOS training programme and though I am interested in both the development of both Windows Phone and Android I still believe that iOS offers the best, most diverse and powerful solution for mobile journalism at this point in time. Windows Phone is not mature enough yet, it needs more Apps and greater penetration and the recent announcement by Microsoft that they would be shedding 18,000 jobs from their global workforce, 2/3 of which will be from their newly acquired Nokia division shows that Microsoft are going through a refocusing period where lots of things can, and will, change.

Meanwhile it is widely rumoured that Apple will release their next iPhone model(s) in September which may see a new bigger class of iPhone 6. This I think could be revolutionary for Mojo- an iOS Phablet may very well be the ultimate mojo solution. Small enough to still be discreet and portable, yet big enough to allow proper video editing and processing. The Apps are already mature and the workflows proven.

In fact today I decided to pull together the stories that my colleagues and alumni of the RTE Mojo courses have produced and I think it pretty impressive – but I would say that wouldn’t I. I have to give credit to Philip Bromwell also as he and I are now training staff together and the combination of our skills, his storytelling and journalism, my technology and workflows is proving very effective.

For me, the emphasis now shifts to what next…I’m trying to secure funding to organise the first (to the best of my knowledge) dedicated Mobile Journalism Conference. The idea behind @MojoConIRL is to bring together the global community of mojo trainers, practitioners, evangelists and storytellers so we can share our knowledge and bounce or other like minded creatives. The problem is I had planned to do this at the end of October 2014 and that is looking more and more unlikely as time passes. Securing funding to book the venue, marketing, flights and accommodation for the speakers and panelists is proving to be far more difficult that I anticipated.

Sure, I’ve been asked can I not just  launch the tickets and use the ticket revenue to cover the costs-if they sell fast enough but thats not viable for such a niche event. I will know by the end of this week if I can pull off MojoConIRL or if I will have to defer it to early 2015. The thing that disappoints me most is that so many incredibly talented people offered their support and participation and I was getting really excited at the prospect of bringing these people together in Dublin to interact and share.

Meanwhile, I have enquiries for me to join sessions at a number of pretty high profile conference engagements over the next few months including the World Economic Forum Global Shapers conference in August, the European Broadcasting Union News conference in Paris in September, the International Broadcasting Conference in Amsterdam in September and the EBU Training Academy conference in October. I will post updates (if/) as these events are confirmed.

In the meantime if you want to learn about Mojo then here are links to resources I’ve posted on the blog over the last few months all distilled into one list:

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Mojo Hardware options: here and here
Original Post: Mobile Journalist Gear: Mojo Tripods | Hahnel Triad Compact C5 Tripod/Monopod combo

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Mojo Applist: here
Original Post: Interactive Mojo App list for iOS via Thinglink

Mojo-CSA4

Mojo Sequences deconstructed: here
Original Post: The Ultimate Mojo CheatSheet! Sequences Deconstructed, examples, apps – everything you need (except the gear)

Cheatsheets for:

FilMicPro-CheatSheetA4

FilMicPro : here
Original post: FilMicPro “At a Glance” CheatSheet & Simple Tutorial

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Hokusai DOWNLOAD PAGE ONE   DOWNLOAD PAGE TWO  DOWNLOAD PAGE THREE
Original post: Hokusai – An advanced Multi Track Audio Editor for iOS (iPhone & iPad) FREE CheatSheets HT @wooji

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iMovie   Page1 Page2 Page3
Original post:New: iMovie CheatSheet PAGE3 – Advanced features. Free download for all #mojo

 

 

 

Google Glass – a revolution in news gathering or an underpowered, overpriced prototype with a way to go before mainstream?

So I’ve had Glass for a fortnight now and I’ve had a few sporadic opportunities to try it out in different scenarios which I wanted to share.

To begin, I wrote about Google Glass in absentia back in Dec last year. In absentia, in the sense that I had no actual hands on time, so the piece was very much a distillation of what I knew or could establish from reports and reviews. Now however I’m basing this post on real world experience-although not a lot!. I still haven’t worn it in public,to be honest I really do feel like a complete twit with it on and though I’ve been to several tech conferences where Glass is everywhere it still looks intimidating.

glasshole-badge

The initial acquisition process was a P.I.T.A. due to Googles extremely annoying Explorer release process. I had to lobby a colleague (who may prefer to remain unnamed) with UK residence to purchase it on my behalf. Once this obstacle was overcome the next was getting access to the MyGlass App for iOS which is only available in the UK and US iTunes stores. Having created a new US iTunes account based on and with the consent of a family members address in the US, I could then download the App.

The setup was easy enough once the App was installed. The prompt videos on the Google Glass site are very clear and simple to follow so within minutes I was practicing the gestures.

The MyGlass App is available for Android (obviously) iOS and also via a desktop browser- preferably Chrome. google.com/myglass

Once everything was working and I had learnt the basic gestures I started to add Apps (glassware) from the Glass App store.

I even did my own super simple gestures video:

One of the most exciting in my opinion is the Livestream App which will allow you to stream live video to your Livestream channel with the words” Ok Glass, start broadcasting”!

I then decided to try Glass out in a couple of interview scenarios, indoor and outdoor. The idea was to assess picture and audio quality and also explore eye-line and proximity to get “traditional” tv style shots- a mid shot interview for example.

As you will have hopefully noticed in the videos above the camera (720p/5mpx) is AUTO EVERYTHING. White balance drifts while shooting, exposure has a very obvious jump between F-Stops (or shutter speed depending on how it is managing exposure) and the “off camera” audio is pretty awful. I used a Rode SmartLav lapel mic with my iPhone on the guests to compare audio and it would be an absolute essential to mic them separately to have useable sound. The other issues are the “speaker” on Glass which vibrates against your skull -which I find really annoying. In fairness they do give you an optional earpiece which connects to the USB Input as an alternative.

In the first few days I took loads of ridiculous photographs because composition is quite a task – see the “close up” in the outdoor video. Which quickly makes you realise that this video from http://www.grovo.com has a lot of hidden truths, even if it was intended as a gag!

Keeping your head steady is a REAL pain in the neck, the camera desperately needs enhanced optical image stabilisation-to begin with Google could take a leaf out of the  @evilwindowdog book who developed Horizon App which always shoots horizontally- not because of vertical video but just to ensure framing is level. Or alternatively…

Glass-Tripod

I can’t help but think the explorer edition is grossly under-spec’d, underpowered and over priced. For Glass to have any REAL WORLD value it needs an Advanced Camera: 12Mpx+, Optical image stabilisation. Bluetooth detachable Microphone, More battery and storage (preferable removable) and more Apps. I was amazed to see that in spite of its beta presence for over two years there are still only 60-ish Apps available for it. Still the handsfree live streaming is a big win and Tim Pool (@timcast) from Vice News has been a pioneer in this space – his use of Glass during the Protests in Turkey was ingenious in my opinion.

Verdict: Definite Potential but wait for the full consumer release or a competing product with better specs and lower cost.

 

FilMicPro “At a Glance” CheatSheet & Simple Tutorial

 

I just noticed that FilMicPro have redesigned their website. Looks very nice indeed. Also impressed that they have chosen to outline the new features expected in v4.0 – the new release due in Autumn.
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That means that I will probably have to re-do this CheatSheet in a few months but nonetheless I still think its a handy reference.

FilMicPro-CheatSheetA4

Theres a High Resolution A3 version available to download here
Here too is a refresher tutorial for the slightly older version of FilMicPro – this will be updated for V4 upon release.

 

 

The Ultimate Mojo CheatSheet! Sequences Deconstructed, examples, apps – everything you need (except the gear)

Mojo-CSA4
Tomorrow Philip Bromwell and myself begin a new Mojo Masterclass in RTE. We met today to fine tune the curriculum and the topic of a Sequences Cheat Sheet came up. We put our heads together and voila! We’ve pieced together The Ultimate RTE Mojo CheatSheet. I designed it as an A3 image so you can download it at full A3 res or squeeze it to A4 and its still perfectly readable/useable.
Let us know what you think- Twitter: @glenbmulcahy @philipbromwell . Enjoy!

Interactive Mojo App list for iOS via Thinglink

 

I used to give Mojo Trainees a PDF list of my favourite Apps but that’s so damn old school so instead here is a ThingLink with interactive links to my favourite Apps.

Click the image to explore!

Sorry I have t redirect you to their site but WordPress.com doesn’t support iFrame embedding.

Let me know if any of the links don’t work or if Apps disappear from the Appstore (which happens – quite a lot!)


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