Video

Upgrading from HD to 4K. Worth it?

There are currently 2.7 billion active smartphones in the world. An estimated 800 million were added this year alone. By 2020, Ericsson predicts there will be at least 6.1 billion smartphone subscriptions globally. What’s the big deal? Well, this means 38% of the world’s population has the ability to shoot digital video and stills.

That is not very good news for us as content providers.

The way I see it is that we need to diversify our professional skills, learn as much as we can, learn how to edit, how to grade, how to record better sound, and how to tell more engaging stories. In an ever-changing marketplace, the more you know the safer you are.

Smartphones aren’t the only problem though. The average price of professional editing software went down from $1,300 to $299 in the past 10 years, and this is an average that includes high-end apps like Avid ($1,300) and excellent software applications like Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve, which “Lite” version is completely free.

The cost of a cinema-quality camera tumbled from $200,000 in 2001 to $1,000 today.
Photography and film students with current DSLRs have way more resolution and features than any $200,000 camera from 10 years ago. This is incredible!

Before I started shooting 4K I didn’t really know what all the fuss was about. Then I put this chart together. For some of you this might be pretty obvious, but it can’t hurt to check it out.

 

Is upgrading from full HD to 4K worth it? You would think this would be one of the main questions I encounter, but last year at NAB I was absolutely shocked to find out that many companies, mostly broadcast stations, are still shooting SD and that they are now considering making the jump straight into 4K. That’s a pretty big jump, but for some of them it can make a lot of sense.

Should you do it? It depends. Think 35mm digital cameras vs. medium format digital backs. Phase One vs. Canon or Hasselblad vs. Nikon. Most advantages and disadvantages regarding sensor sizes, file sizes, shooting speeds, portability, and especially storage and post-production challenges apply. Except for price. For $2,500 we can now capture 4K RAW or almost literally in the dark. For $1,300 we can record HD slow-mo or 4K internally. And for $500 we can shoot 4K anywhere.

These systems are so inexpensive that they sometimes become a double-edged sword. Their sizes and prices transform them into accessible toys. And that’s where the problems start. Higher resolution often demands new workflow requirements. In RAW form, a 2.5-hour movie shot in 4K at 24fps contains 216,000 frames. The resulting file is approximately 5.6 terabytes of data. That’s ONE camera, BEFORE back ups. But who really shoots that way? Well, David Fincher shot 500 hours of 6K RAW with multiple RED Dragon cameras for his latest movie “Gone Girl.” The end result was 315 terabytes of footage. Crazy? It depends, for normal people with normal budgets, yes. But Fincher was dealing with a time crunch and had to release many actors as fast as possible, so they shot many scenes in loose medium shots and zoomed in and reframed them in post when needed.

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I don’t believe 4K UHD is another fancy trend or marketing gimmick to make us spend our hard earned dollars on something that will become obsolete before the year’s end (3D anyone?). I truly see 4K UHD as a natural transition, or evolutionary step, in screen resolution. In 2015 I expect to see many more new models of 4K UHD TV sets than new models of 1080p HD TVs.

This doesn’t mean everything is safe and sound and all the potential issues have been ironed out. For example, a recurrent question I get at all my presentations is “what’s the best way to distribute 4K?” and the answer is far from perfect, as we currently have very limited options.

Let’s take Blu-Ray for example. A Blu-Ray disc can fit 25 GB per layer. A 2K film takes 50 GB, so that technology is currently maxed out. The good news is that as of last September, the Blu-Ray Association announced it would support 4K video at 60 fps, High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), and 10-bit color depth. According to this association, the new generation of 4K Blu-Ray disks will have a data rate of at least 50 Mbit/s and may include support for 66/100 GB discs. Awesome!

4K UHD Blu-ray players are being developed in conjunction with the UHD alliance, comprising manufacturers such as Samsung and Panasonic, as well as movie-industry players such as Technicolor, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Brothers. The alliance is not only responsible for establishing standards with regards to specs like 10-bit color and High Dynamic Range (HDR), but also for pushing content creation forward and managing distribution.

The huge appeal of HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) is that it essentially doubles the data compression ratio while keeping the same level of video quality and it can support 8K UHD with resolutions up to 8192×4320. I want to think that 8K is extremely far off in the future, and that it will be a very long time before we need such resolutions. But, I (sadly) still remember when a 100MB zip drive seemed impossibly huge and we debated if putting all your assets on a 1GB Microdrive was practical or even irresponsible.

As we all know, both the iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus support HEVC/H.265 for FaceTime. Recently, Microsoft confirmed that Windows 10 will support HEVC out of the box, and DivX developers announced that DivX265 version 1.4.21 has added support for the Main 10 profile of HEVC and the Rec. 2020 color space. Online streaming might also seem like a great solution, but not yet. Netflix recommends a minimum download speed of 5MB for 720p, 7MB for a 1080p and 12MB for 3D movies and a whooping 25MB for 4K.

What’s wrong with this picture? I have a dedicated “business” internet plan. The fastest, and obviously most expensive plan I can get in my area. My download speed is less than 17 MBps, not nearly enough for Ultra HD quality, so broadband speeds will need to increase and prices will have to come down if the interested parties really want 4K to be widely accepted by movie buffs, sports fans, and especially gamers.

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A nice advantage of 4K UHD TV sets is that they are backwards compatible, which means that they will work fine with your existing DVD and Blu-Ray players, as well as satellite and cable boxes. They can also “upscale” HD content and display it as best as possible. This past summer some of the FIFA World Cup games were broadcast in 4K. I watched a couple and it was a surreal experience. From certain angles, like shots from the sidelines, it felt almost like physically being in the stadium. The most popular VOD providers like Netflix and Amazon, major cable companies like Comcast and DirectTV, Hollywood studios, YouTube, and even local TV news station are starting to deliver 4K content, so hopefully other services will follow suit. What’s next? Streaming 4K media from a smartphone to an HDTV.

We increasingly have access to very powerful and generally cheaper tools. But tools are just that. When to choose one over another and, most importantly, why it should be chosen are the real questions. Here’s something interesting; Ophthalmologists generally agree that the higher the resolution of your monitor, the better it is for your eyes. Why? Because (according to them) the text looks sharper, and at a certain point, the pixels are so small your brain can’t tell it’s not looking at real stuff. Exciting or sad. Up to you.

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Cool Links on 4K:

4K Camera Workflows- Raw, Video, Proxy

4K and Beyond

Nearly 50% of Video Professionals in UK Never Saw 4K

Netflix to Begin Charging More for 4K Streaming

How 4K Benefits Videographers and Photographers

What 4K means for post production

What Is 4K Video? A Guide to the Rising Industry Standard

The Pros and Cons of Shooting News Footage in 4K

4K Monitors Under $850

The Wall Street Journal goes 4K video with the GH4

4k RAW on Blackmagic URSA

The Pros and Cons of Shooting News Footage in 4K

4K GoPro HERO4

BBC Tests Shooting at 600fps in 4K

Video

How to shoot a zero budget film in 17 hours without a crew.

 
Being busy should never be an excuse for not participating in creative challenges. Not having a budget, crew, or even actors, are simple excuses as well.

Let me explain. (more…)

Photography

Discovering Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas: Visual Serendipity.

 
I recently met two acrobats from one of the eight shows in Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas. A multinational spectacle, Cirque du Soleil uses the imagination, arts and creative talent to present a show like no other. (more…)

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Photography Trends, according to Google.

 
The “interest over time” in photography for the past eight years has remained pretty much constant. The interest for “digital photography” went from a 100 to a current 20. The term HDSLR only started by the end of 2009, with a peak in early 2001. Smartphone photography is showing a wild uptrend.

Google Trends - Web Search Interest_ photography - Worldwide, 2004 - present
Google Trends - Web Search Interest_ digital photography - Worldwide, 2004 - present-1
Google Trends - Web Search Interest_ hdslr - Worldwide, 2004 - present
Google Trends - Web Search Interest_ smartphone photography - Worldwide, 2004 - present

This is interesting, but hardly surprising. 700 million smartphones were shipped in 2012, up from 490 million in 2011. Samsung owns a 30 percent share (213 million devices) of the global mobile market, Apple follows with 19 percent (135 million devices) and Nokia is third with 5 percent global market share. The 2012 numbers are even more meaningful when you know that they represent almost TWICE the expect amount of laptop shipments for this year. It gets even more interesting when Intel announces that it will stop producing desktop motherboards in three years.  Apple’s highly expected announcement for a new Mac Pro tower, might be the last one we see from Cupertino.

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Blogging With Video, Hoping to Go Viral. Really?

 
Ay ay ay! I might have more than a few issues with this New York Times article “Blogging With Video, Hoping to Go Viral.”

“You want to have a decent camera. A hand-held video camera is nice and offers more features and flexibility, but your smartphone is fine… The only additional equipment you might consider is a separate lavaliere or lapel microphone. And if there isn’t enough ambient light to illuminate your face, spring for a clamp lamp that you can find at most hardware stores… “

Here’s the complete article.

Is “good enough,” good enough? What’s your take?

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Photography

Visual Serendipity.

 
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Even the North White Plains Metro North station has a Wikipedia page! This is the view from the South tunnel, while running to catch my train. Visual Serendipity is our weekly series of images captured on an Android Nexus 4 smartphone.

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Visual Serendipity.

 
Grand Central Terminal New York

Grand Central Terminal, seen from a very unusual catwalk’s view. While working on a consulting project for Metro North, I had access to a unique, VIP, once-in-a-lifetime, behind the scenes tour of Grand Central. The main lobby, which I always thought was huge, is actually a tiny part of the station. According to the travel magazine Travel + Leisure, Grand Central is “the world’s number six most visited tourist attraction”, bringing in approximately 21,600,000 visitors annually.

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Visual Serendipity. NYC Subway.

 

 

By now, New York City’s subway system has been restored to “limited service”, as efforts continue to dry out flooded tubes, track, signals and other components damaged in last week’s “Sandy” storm. Below is the condition of the subway map after the hurricane:

Map of New York City MTA Subway Lines During Hurricane Sandy

Video

How NOT to announce new products. Google Nexus.

 
UPDATE: 20121123 Google’s Nexus 4 Smartphone and Nexus 10 Tablet sold out 20 minutes after the Google Play store opened. http://ow.ly/fg1mo

By now it is pretty clear that we love Google (most of the time). But the company can learn a thing or two from Apple, especially when it comes to important product announcements. On Monday, while Hurricane Sandy was hitting the East Coast ,and 7.5 million people in 16 states have lost power, Apple announced that the company’s senior vice president of iOS was getting fired for (apparently) refusing to apologize publicly for the Apple Maps mess. The timing was impeccable, since nobody noticed nor cared. Well, at the very same time, Google was announcing three new Nexus devices; a smartphone, a 7-inch tablet, and a 10-inch tablet. Guess what happened? Nobody noticed nor cared. They sold out.

All three devices run Android 4.2, which Google describes as “a new flavor of Jelly Bean.” The Nexus 4 is Google’s latest 4.7-inch, quad-core Nexus smartphone, developed with LG, and priced well below analysts expectations. It will be available for $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB) for unlocked, contract-free units. However, the best deal seems to be the 16GB unit on T-Mobile for $199. We can’t really predict how sales will perform, but what is certain is that the Nexus 4 will make a strong impact on the smartphone market.

Based on the promo video, it seems that Google is focusing the tablets on education. We have written extensively about technology and education here, here, and here.

Although we are more excited with Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, one of our favorite features of the new Nexus smartphone is Photo Sphere, a camera app/Google Maps hybrid that allows users to create and share 360-degree panoramas.

Click to keep reading  (more…)

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Visual Serendipity.

 

Over the past six years I have been collecting the corks from every wine bottle we drink. We have well over 700 corks at this point. I also try to write tasting notes for most wines. Since 2007 I’ve written 606 notes with an average score of 87.43 points, and tasted 77 varietals from 218 regions in 147 countries.  I do love good wine.

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Visual Serendipity.

 

After spending a very hot and humid Sunday afternoon in Central Park we were looking for a restroom, and this is what we found instead. Gotta love this city.

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Visual Serendipity.

 

Woody Allen’s, Manhattan, is about a divorced New Yorker dating a high-schooler, and looking for love in the mistress of his best friend. Quite a dark story there. I’m sure the city has changed a lot since the movie was released in 1979.

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Visual Serendipity.

 

A different view of “The Highline” a beautiful urban project in New York City that has become a major tourist destination. The picture was taken from an elevator, through the tinted glass.

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Video

Getting in touch with your tablet.

 
I have been thinking a lot about tablets and how they are making our lives easier and more productive.  For me, the answer is yes and no.

I recently discovered a newer company that is taking some serious steps forward in changing the way we experience digital media on tablets and similar interfaces.

Senseg, established in 2006, has produced a brand new touch technology, called “E-Sense,” with highly tangible effects that deliver different touch sensations according to the media you are working with.

Think about it; the device itself will have a form of nonverbal communication directly with a user.  It also provides tremendous educational opportunities, especially for the visually impaired. I would love if a digital braille keyboard or an application to read e-books for the blind was developed with this new E-Sense technology.

Senseg Touch Technology

According to Senseg, each application will be able to react to different user actions:

“Whether it is used to minimize visual focus required for accurate operation, or to enrich a multi-modal experience incorporating graphics, sound and feel. Senseg haptics are often used in combination with graphics or/and sound for a more engaging and complete sensory experience; other times Senseg effects are used by themselves, such as ‘tagging’ the location of hidden objects that can be discovered only by feel, or to reinforce user actions.”

Senseg’s solution is comprised of three main components:

  • A Tixel™ technology that activates the touch screen for electrostatic vibration.
  • An electronic module that controls a signal for touch intensities, effects and special relationships.
  • Software developed by Senseg that manages effects in applications.

Did I mention that the new technology is completely silent, and will be able to scale from any device, from touch pads, smart phones and tablets to the largest touch screens?

When do you think we will “feel” the difference?  Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

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Visual Serendipity.

 
Sea Gate Brooklyn

Sea Gate is a private, gated community at the far western end of Coney Island at the southwestern tip of of Brooklyn. It contains mostly single-family homes, some directly on Gravesend Bay. According to Wikipedia, “residents refer to Sea Gate as “the gate,” and venturing into adjoining Coney Island as going “out the gate.” There is no universally recognized demonym for residents of the community: “Sea Gatians” and “Sea Gaters” are sometimes heard.

I was completely unimpressed by the neighborhood, but it was fun, as always, to discover hidden gems nearby.

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Visual Serendipity.

 

A very quick shot at the lobby of the famous New Yorker Hotel while attending a BlackMagic event last week. According to the hotel’s website “from Muhammad Ali to Nikola Tesla, late President John F. Kennedy to Jennifer Hudson” have slept there.

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Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

A random walk in Manhattan on weekends often produces truly unexpected images like this one, which was captured at Madison Square Park during an Indian meeting.

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Visual Serendipity.

 
My hotel view in Savannah, GA, where I attended the super awesome Silver&Ink event. I took a gazillion of images of the window with my phone, but for some reason my favorite was this one, the very first I took.

Window Screen

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Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

One of the many super cool boutique hotels in New York City, the “Dream Hotel” is located “between the hip, cool Meatpacking District and chic, charming Chelsea.” According to its website the hotel offers a “new experience in full-service luxury travel, complete with deluxe amenities and unique dining options.”

I wouldn’t know, since I’m pretty sure I could’t even afford breakfast there. I just like the façade.

 

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Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

One of the many things I love about traveling is that I start seeing things differently, simple objects become spectacular sculptures, every day activities are suddenly fresh and attractive, and even airport lounges (below at JFK International Terminal) at dusk offer exciting visual challenges and new opportunities.

Reflections

One of my favorite photo books is “Learning to See Creatively” by Bryan Peterson. I have been using this book for over 10 years, and every time feels more current.

Photography

Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or ben­e­fi­cial way.

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Our new addition to “Visual Serendipity,” a weekly series of unplanned photographs taken with an Android cellphone. Grace Church, a French Gothic Revival masterpiece, is a historic parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, located at the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street.

Photography

Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or ben­e­fi­cial way.

I love reflections and colors, and also have a strange fascination with mannequins. This image, shot just a few days ago on 23rd Street near Baruch College, captures everything, including myself.

The source for the word “mannequin” comes from the Middle Dutch “mannekijn,” which means “little man,” or “little doll.” Mannequin is the French spelling from this Dutch source. Even though the word means “little man,” the literal French meaning is, “a young woman hired to model clothes.” Go figure.

Video

Meet the all-in-one Laptop of the future.

 
Combine a laptop + a yoga mat + a tablet + an HDTV + portable speakers and you get this beauty.

Is this the future of laptops? I REALLY hope it is!

Photography

Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or ben­e­fi­cial way.

Feeling Blue Image

“Feeling blue” doesn’t always have to mean something sad or negative. We just moved to a new place, and since we haven’t installed the curtains, I’ve been waking up every morning with this view. The new place is full of light, peace, silence, and positive energy. That’s the new meaning of “feeling blue” to me.

Photography

Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Product photography - wine glasses

I need things to be neatly organized for me to be creative. Unfortunately, the world, and especially the business world, does not often work that way. I try to maintain a personal universe where I keep books, wine, and films as oases that are always within a safe distance from the chaos of the outside world. Are you like me, or, do you thrive in chaos?

Video

Shooting HDR movies on your cellphone.

 
Sony announced a new back-illuminated CMOS sensor for smartphones which supports HDR technology for movies. The eight-megapixel version will start shipping next month, and a 13-megapixel version will follow in the summer. Check the video to see it in action.

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Using an iPad as a Key Light.

 
Rodney Charters, Drew Gardner and Lan Bui playing with the new Canon EOS C300 camera. To test the camera’s 20,000 ISO capability, they shot a low-light scene using an iPad for the key light and an iPhone for the fill light. This is way too cool.

Test Technical Notes:
Camera: Canon C300
ISO: 20,000
Lens: Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L lens
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter: 1/25th (360 degree)
Canon Log Gamma

Photography

Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or ben­e­fi­cial way.

New York City Flatiron Building Chelsea

Storefront decorations, Flatiron Building, Chelsea, New York.

The Flatiron Building was designed by Chicago’s Daniel Burnham as a steel-frame skyscraper in white terracotta, and intended as the headquarters of the Fuller Construction Company. The building was soon dubbed “Flatiron” after its unusual shape, caused by a triangular plot.

The building inspired unforgettable photographs by Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz, and it is now one of the most photographed and recognizable landmarks in New York.  It is also frequently used on television commercials and documentaries, in the opening credits of the “David Letterman Show”, during scene transitions in “Friends”, and as the headquarters of the “Daily Bugle Newspaper” in Spider-Man.

 

Photography

Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendip­ity: noun; the occur­rence and devel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or ben­e­fi­cial way.

Interior image of the Radio City Music Hall in New York City

The Radio City Music Hall, designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, and interior designer Donald Deskey in the Art Deco style, opened to the public on December 27, 1932.

Some people say that with a stage almost 150 feet wide, and 5,933 seats, it is the largest indoor theater in the world. The Hall includes the “Mighty Wurlitzer” that also happens to be, small wonder, the largest theater pipe organ built for a movie theater.

Radio City is part of the 12-acre (49,000 m²) commercial complex known as Rockefeller Center. Interesting fact: the complex was developed on land leased from Columbia University, and it is currently leased to and managed by Madison Square Garden, Inc.

Check this awesome “Popular Mechanics” article from August 1932 about the Music Hall and “the importance of chance in progress.”

I took this picture while attending a recent Cirque du Soleil performance.

Video

Adobe Lightroom 4 HDSLR video support explained.

 
UPDATE March 6, 2012. The full version of Lightroom 4 is available now and Adobe cut the price in half: The full version (which used to cost $299) will now be $149. The upgrade version will only cost $79. The beta version (which was downloaded more than 250,000 times) will expire on March 31, 2012.

My birthday was yesterday, and the present arrived this morning. Lightroom 4.0 (public beta) FULL VERSION is now available as a free download from Adobe’s website.

Important things to consider:

• You do not need a serial number and the beta version will not update your current Lightroom 3 (or earlier) catalog.
• The public beta comes in three flavors: Mac (OS X v10.6.8 Snow Leopard) or v10.7 Lion), Windows 32-bit, and Windows 64-bit. Make sure you download the correct version. Each compressed download is about 400MB.
• File support for Lightroom 4 beta, is exactly the same as in Lightroom 3.6 and Camera Raw 6.6.
• The public beta will expire on March 31, 2012, when the final Version 4 becomes available.
Adobe Lightroom 4 Video Support

Here are the new features, organized from super awesome to awesome:

• HDSLR video support (full details below)
• Soft proofing (found under the Develop Module, not the Print Module as one would expect)
• Photo book layout
• Email directly from Lightroom (works with Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL)
• Publish videos directly to Facebook or Flickr
• Geo location (via GPS metadata) with the Map Module
• Enhanced DNG workflows
• Adobe Revel (Carousel) export workflow
• Additional local adjustments including Noise Reduction and White Balance
• Powerful new Shadow and Highlight controls
• Simplified basic adjustments

Adobe Lightroom 4 Soft Proofing

 

Video

Regarding Video Support this is what Adobe has to say:

“Lightroom 3 added the ability to import, manage and tag video files but as the popularity of video capture increases it’s important to provide a single, robust workflow solution that can support all of your imaging needs regardless if they’re still images or video captures. Lightroom 4 adds native playback for a wide variety of formats from mobile phones to high end DSLRs.”

Here’s what I have to say: In version 3, we were able to import video files along with our still images, but to see the clips Lightroom needed to access Quicktime. Now we can play the files inside of LR. Also, by using similar shortcuts from well established NLE (non linear editing) software applications like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro, now we can set In and Out points directly in Lightroom. Shift+I (In) and Shift+O (Out).

(more…)

Video

5 free mobile Vimeo Apps to edit HD Video.

 
I recently got a Tablet to more efficiently maintain this blog by using the very good WordPress app, among other apps for photography and digital cinema.

Today my life got a free upgrade with Vimeo’s new apps for iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and Windows Phone. I have been waiting for almost a year since the iPhone app was released, but it was worth the wait. Now I’ll be able to upload, manage and watch my videos right from my phone (highly unlikely since the battery sucks), and Tablet.

HD Editing on Android

The Android app requires Android version 2.3 (Gingerbread) or later. Some of the features include:

Upload raw or edited footage in HD or SD
• Pause/Resume videos and uploads
• Replace existing videos
• Edit tags, titles, credits, descriptions and privacy info
• Share on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, email or SMS
• Add your clips to Groups, Channels and Albums
• Download your Vimeo videos to your Camera roll
• Watch videos from the Vimeo Inbox and Watch Later queue
• Stats on daily plays, likes and comments

Slow Motion apps for cinematographers

According to Vimeo, 15% of its traffic now comes from mobile devices. 18% of this blog’s visits are from mobile devices and 30% of those devices are iPhones.

(more…)

Photography

Visual Serendipity.

 
Serendipity: noun; the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

“Chinatown at Dusk” is the second picture on our “Visual Serendipity” weekly series. The goal is to post a new cell phone image every week (click here to see last week’s pic).

New York City's Chinatown

For years I’ve been fascinated with Chinatown. So many things going on, so many colors, smells, and sounds at a somewhat isolated place in the hearts of very dense cities like New York, Chicago or San Francisco. What intrigues me the most about ethnic neighborhoods like Chinatown is to walk into a corner store (how do you say “bodega” in Chinese?), and see things that I can’t tell if are vegetables, animals, medicine, food, toys or decorations.

An added bonus the restaurants which are amazingly good and cheap! One of my favorite spots is Vanessa’s Dumpling House, what’s yours?