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.

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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.

 

 

25fps v 30fps and @Youtube tutorials for Pinnacle Studio – iPhone by @Lumatouch

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One of the issues that keeps cropping up on this side of the pond is the 25fps/30fps issue with the iPhone. As its “designed in California” the standard frame rate for the iPhone Video Camera (and for iMovie) is 30fps, however in Europe (the PAL area) we use 25frames per second for broadcast. In order to address this issue I adopted FilMicPro as our Video Camera App of choice as it allows you to select 25fps (as well as other frame rates) the next step is to decide how to edit the footage, which I covered in a blog post previously. If you are exporting the footage directly from FilMicPro via iTunes App Sharing and importing into an NLE like Avid or Final Cut then you will have no issue with frame rates as you can set them in the project, though you may have to convert from progressive to interlaced for transmission.

If you are editing on the iPhone or iPad however then iMovie, easy as it is to use, has a problem- it is 30fps and there is no way to change the frame rate.

On the iPad my preferred editing App has been Pinnacle Studio, an ex-Avid product which is even more powerful than iMovie.

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The good news is that a few months ago Luma Touch, the company who develop Pinnacle studio for Corel, released a version of Pinnacle studio for iPhone and in the App you can set the frame rate to 25 or 30.

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Luma Touch have really good tutorials on YouTube so instead of me creating a new one and duplicating their work, I’m embedding them here with permission from Luma Touch.

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More tutorials from Luma Touch are available on their YouTube Channel and Follow Luma Touch on Twitter for Updates.

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

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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.

Experiments in Storytelling with the iPhone using @FilMicPro @storehousehq @steller and iMovie featuring @fotopunctuation

I’m just back from the “RoosDagen” conference in The Netherlands where I held workshops on Mobile Journalism and also spoke as part of a Plenary session on the subject. While there I showed the most recent iPhone story I’ve shot: “Brendan O Se- iPhoneographer” which I filmed last week in Cork. As always I used FilMicPro as my camera App but I decided to experiment with the new version of iMovie (iOS7) on iPhone to see how far I could push it…

I’m actually very impressed with the new features which included Video Overlay, Detach Audio, Audio Fade in Fade out, PiP, Split screen and new title graphics etc.

Yesterday was an interesting day because it saw the launch of Steller a new Visual Storytelling App for iPhone. I’ve been a big fan of Storehouse for creating immersive multi media/visual stories since its launch but it is iPad only. However both are free and I would encourage you to try them both out if you can.

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Heres a link to a Steller version of Brendans Story (note max file size is 10Mb so I had to drop about 8 pages with videos to make it fit the size limit!)

https://steller.co/stories/205553277939484098

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Note: Best viewed using the App on your iOS device (as with Storehouse)

And I’ve just published a Storehouse version also. Download the App to view the full parallax scrolling/ immersive version

https://www.storehouse.co/stories/k113-brendan-o-se

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Mobile Journalism in the headlines, recent articles. #mojo

Mobile Journalism in the headlines

PHOTO: RTE’s Patricia O’Callaghan, one of the first journalists to complete the mobile masterclass last Nov. with Circom in Budapest.

Its been a very busy month for mobile journalism, with the incredible inclement weather creating a “perfect storm” to test the capabilities of mojo in the field. I was interviewed by Broadcast Now as part of a comprehensive feature on mobile news-gathering which also included pioneers like Nick Garnett from BBC and SKY News with their broad adoption of live streaming via mobile.

Also I was invited to write articles for both the European Broadcasting Unions Technology magazine Tech-i (published quarterly) and Dan Chung, editor of Newsshooter.com also asked me to write a guest post on the topic. The amount of discussion and feedback about MoJo has been phenomenal and it really is great to see so many journalists embracing the new technology and pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved. Here are links to the pieces:

EBU Tech-i Magazine (PDF)
Broadcast Now (PDF)
NewsShooter.com (link)

Older Articles

The Next Web (link)
Journalism.co.uk (link)
SiliconRepublic (link)

Making news with an iPhone – the Quality debate

I’ve been researching and developing mobile journalism training for nearly three years in RTE. Most recently I’ve trained over 100 staff to shoot and edit and a few exceptional staff members have taken the challenge and created an entire news story – for broadcast. I have to point out this is not the norm, or even an everyday occurrence. But it is part of a pilot programme to examine and investigate the potential of mobiles and content creation / news gathering devices.

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Last Friday, Philip Bromwell, one of RTEs Full time staff Video Journalists, decided to use the iPhone 5S to shoot a complete story for broadcast. As usual Philip used the Mojo Grab bag I put together for his shoot.

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He shot in 1080p HD on the iPhone and then imported the footage into a MacBookPro to edit it in Avid Media Composer. At the end of this process he transcoded (downsized) the edit from full HD 1920x1080p to 720×576 SD and also converted the progressive scan to interlaced for our broadcast system.

On Friday night we agreed we would publish the SD version of the story on YouTube:

Then on Monday we published the full HD 1080p version to Vimeo

I would like you to have a look at both versions to see the difference in resolution from the TV version and the online HD version. This is one of the reasons that shooting with the iPhone (or smartphones in general) is ideal for online but somewhat problematic for TV broadcast. If you add into the mix the fact that the iPhone natively shoots at 30fps but in Europe (PAL) we transmit in 25fps then you uncover the second technical challenge for smartphone usage in broadcast. Professional Apps like FilMicPro and Voddio allow you to shoot in 25fps or in the case of Voddio render out in 25fps but Apple Apps like iMovie render out in 30fps. In order to convert the 30fps to 25fps you have to drop 5 frames every second, this leads to non fluid motion artefacts. This may seem like technical jargon to you and to a certain extent I agree with that – what most viewers watch is the Story, not the frame rate etc etc, so Philips story above is proof that in the hands on a professional storyteller – the device is almost irrelevant. THE STORY IS EVERYTHING!

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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I’ve plotted a ZeeMap with Mojo Practitioners, Trainers and courses around the globe. Check it out…#mojomap

I've plotted a ZeeMap with Mojo Practitioners, Trainers and courses. Check it out

I’ve wanted to do this for quite some time and I’ve been looking for a solution to do it. Originally I wanted to be able to create a twitter list and then get a coder to design a script to export the account info and geo-location info into a KML file for Google Maps. That seemed to be an issue as its an expensive way of producing it ( I have no patience for coding) so I stumbled upon ZeeMaps and it has most (not all) of the features I was looking for. Click the image above to go to the interactive version. If I’ve forgotten someone (apologies) or if you would like to be added drop me a DM on twitter @glenbmulcahy

***The Map is not optimized for mobile browsers so best viewed on a PC/MAC***

MicW launch to iGoMic specially designed for GoPro Cameras

MicW launch to iGoMic specially designed for GoPro Cameras

Heres the press release for iGoMic

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