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:

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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

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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! :(

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.


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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.

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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

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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

hokusai-promo

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

cheatsheet-3up

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

 

 

 

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.
Screenshot 2014-07-22 00.03.59

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.

 

 

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!)


Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 18.09.40

MoondogLabs 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter for iPhone 5/5s Unboxing and FCPx Squeeze tutorial

photo

I ordered a MoondogLabs 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter a while back. Their Kickstarter campaign  caught my interest,  particularly when it emerged that they had reached out to FilMicPro to have an In-App Squeeze option added!

So you ask Whats an Anamorphic Lens Adapter and Why would you want one?

Here’s a quote from the MoonDogLabs Kickstarter page:

“Anamorphic lenses were introduced for filmmaking in the 1950’s to create an immersive, panoramic experience intended to compete with the widespread adoption of television.  In addition to a wide aspect ratio, the anamorphic aesthetic is characterized by horizontal flares, distortion that creates a unique sense of depth or dimensionality, and oval “bokeh” or blur for out-of-focus areas. For these artistic reasons, anamorphic filmmaking has been enjoying a decades-long renaissance.  However, due to the complexity and expense of the optics involved, anamorphic lenses are not readily available to most independent filmmakers.  We believe there are stories best told with an anamorphic aesthetic, so we have developed an affordable 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter specifically for the iPhone 5/5S.”

 

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So my Adapter arrived this morning, as it was a U.S. import I had to pay the Customs and Excise import duty (€41) on top of the lens price of $199. So not cheap, particularly on this side of the pond and not for everyone, but if you are a budding Conrad Mess or Michael Koerbel  and you are after that “Cinematic” feel for your epic iPhone short Film then this is definitely something you need to look at…

I took the Adapter out for a quick test shoot, using the current version of FilMicPro, and then using the footage I imported it into my Mac so I could create a simple project in FCPx to show you how to SQUEEZE the footage to the correct Aspect Ratio.

Remember, the new version of FimMicPro will have an option in the menu to allow you to Squeeze the footage In-App-no release date from Cinegenix as yet but will keep you posted. In the meantime heres that tutorial.

Hokusai – An advanced Multi Track Audio Editor for iOS (iPhone & iPad) FREE CheatSheets HT @wooji

 

 

hokusai-promo

Hokusai is a multi track audio editor for IOS which is very powerful. Aside from the core feature of multi track audio it also supports the Sonomo Audio Copy/Paste feature which can “bridge” the sandbox between Apps allowing you to move audio clips/files from one App to another. Its also supports the Apple OPEN IN protocol – both of these features mean you can easily import and export audio clips between other Apps like Twisted Wave-One of my other favourite Audio editing Apps.

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Hokusai is free to download from the App Store but in fact to get the full use of it you need to purchase advanced features in App. If you buy all the features you get a “All-In Bundle” for €8.99.

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I checked the Developers Website Wooji-Juice.com to see if there were any tutorials for the App or to download the manual.

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There are tips on the site but to get the manual you have to email the developer via the contact page on the site. I did this yesterday and he kindly and quickly sent it to me. If he grants permission I will link to it here.

The only issue I had is the manual is quite “wordy” : (11 pages) with no illustrations or images so, being a visual learner I decided to create CheatsSheets like those I’ve created for iMovie previously.

You can download the 3 sheets as PDF FILES here:

DOWNLOAD PAGE ONE  |  DOWNLOAD PAGE TWO  |  DOWNLOAD PAGE THREE

Or as HIGH RESOLUTION A3 JPEGS here:

DOWNLOAD PAGE ONE JPEG  |  DOWNLOAD PAGE TWO JPEG  |  DOWNLOAD PAGE THREE JPEG

MukuLabs Shuttr – Bluetooth Shutter remote control for iOS and Android- unboxing and review

muku-shuttr-iphone-ipad-samsung-android-bluetooth-remote-control-camera-shutter-1big

I had a play today with the MukuLabs Shuttr Bluetooth controller and I have to say I’m really impressed.

The device is neat, well built, simple to use blah blah blah but the thing that really impressed me was the bluetooth range. Watch this to see why…

So is it worth the splurge of €30/$39 for your Mojo Kit? I damn well think so! To be able to trigger your camera (photo/video) from that distance is nothing short of brilliant.

Very Handy.

Shuttr_Black03

http://www.mukulabs.com 

A selection (not exhaustive) of iPhone media workflows as an infographic of sorts

A selection (not exhaustive) of iPhone media workflows as an infographic of sorts

A selection of iPhone media (photo/video) workflows to remind MoJo trainees of some of the options available to them to get their finished stories off their iPhone. There are others also ;)

Editing Video on Android – whats out there? Try TrakAx an Irish company with vision

In November last year I noticed a new follower on Twitter: @trakAx and after a little further research I discovered an Irish company who may well have addressed one of the biggest challenges for Mobile Journalism on the Android Platform: editing.

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With iOS/OSX Ive been using FilMicPro to shoot and iMovie to edit on the iPhone,  Pinnacle Studio to edit on the iPad and Final Cut Pro X on the Mac. The workflow is extremely easy no matter which combination you choose. With the iPhone you export from FilMicPro to the camera roll and iMovie sees the video immediately. With the iPad you transfer the video from iPhone either via the camera connection kit (as shown below) or via an App like Photo Transfer or indeed shoot on the iPad using FilMicPro.

It might be time to update this video with an iPhone5s, lightning Camera Connection Kit and iOS7!!!

With OSX you can connect the iPhone via USB and copy the files directly from the FilMicPro Library (no export to camera roll necessary) via App Sharing in iTunes of you can use iPhoto on the Mac to copy from the camera roll.

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The quality of the editing tools and the ease of the workflow is one of the fundamental reasons I teach iOS Mojo. However I have often publicly said I would love to have a comparable workflow for Android or even Windows Mobile.

In the case of Android, smartphones like the Galaxy S3 and the Note III have awesome cameras, which in the case of the Note III can shoot at a stunning 4K resolution. But right now (to the best of my knowledge) there is no Video Editing App that can deliver in-phone editing to the same standard as iMovie (or Voddio) can on the iPhone.

So when I saw this promo for TrakAx I got excited…

So here are my initial impressions:

1. There is a lot of potential in the App, it has a substantial advantage in the Google Play store right now as there is really very little to compete with the it.

2. The fundamental functions of editing are all within the App, Insert, trim, mix, audio fade etc.

3. The App leverages the power of the smartphone so as long as it packs a snapdragon 600 chipset or higher it will give great results*

4. The App accesses the photos App on Android so no exporting from other Apps – mind you, if FilMicPro had an Android version that would potentially be a great workflow.

5. I have reservations about the proprietary CHANNEL editing process which is currently limited to six channels, though each channel can support video or a stack of photos.

6. The live Mix solution before output is a novel approach to creating the final story, its more like taking 6 sources into a vision mixer and mixing it live that traditional non-linear timeline based editing. My concern here is that there is no way to pre-programme frame accurate cuts. You have to cut between channels as part of the final mix, the App records a macro of your mix cues, fades, audio mix etc and then at the final stage it conforms and compiles the final rendered story.

Overall I think it is a powerful App and its pitched at exactly the same price point as iMovie on iOS

€4.50, there is a free version too which the developers suggest is a good way to pre-test your hardware’s ability to run the App. Thats a very clever solution to one of the fundamental weaknesses of the Android platform: Market Fragmentation. So many manufacturers, devices, chipsets, cameras, specification variations and custom flavours of Android.

Anyway of you have a powerful Android Smartphone and want to experiment with video editing without having to dump it off to the cloud or to a PC/MAC then TrakAx Movie Express is definitely worth a look.

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