Archive for November, 2007

Canon ZR800 camera arrived

I just received the Canon ZR800 DV camcorder today and I gave it a very quick whirl, handheld, around my house just before the sun went down. Color graded. I plan to shoot some serious video with it soon, just to showcase that High Definition is the not the A and Z of videography. This $200 little camera can produce some good footage if you are careful with the shooting and playful during editing. Sample footage here!

I also received today a shoulder bracket, a 52mm reverse ring to mount macro lenses, while Tiffen sent me a Steady Stick for a review. I will be reviewing that in 2 weeks time (update: review posted).

Turkey probes atheist’s ‘God’ book

If Turkey wants to enter the EU, that’s just one of the things they need to fix. You can’t prosecute people just because you don’t agree with them.

The Cowon A3

Ok, this sucks big time. Here’s a very, very interesting portable PMP that supports 720p playback, the Cowon A3, but it has two major problems:

No .mov video container support (even if they support the underlying format), and no AAC support. It’s like Cowon gives the finger to Apple. Truth is, Apple matters, and Cowon should start adding support for these formats.

The second problem is that it comes with a 800×480 screen instead of a 852×480 one, and this means that every 480p widescreen video viewed won’t fit in the that resolution (because of the wide aspect ratio), so these videos will always have to be resized.

Get ready. Set. Go.

An enthusiastic online friend recently traveled to an exotic country to shoot a documentary. He is not a professional, but he wants to be one. Unfortunately, inexperience strikes fast when doing such leaps. The friend arrived there pretty much with just enough tapes, the HV20 and a tripod. But truth is, there’s more than that needed if you are after a professional result. Here’s a list of things you need to get with you if you are shooting serious documentaries away from home:

1. Your HD camera and the stuff it came with. ($700 to $1500).
2. Enough tapes. Maybe about 25-50 of them. ($150).
3. A steady, fluid, tripod. It’s important to be ultra stable. ($200)
4. A shoulder bracket. This is needed for “reporting-style” shots. ($50)
5. Two ND filters, at different strengths. ($100-$150)
6. A polarizer filter. ($50)
7. A good wind-shielded shotgun stereo microphone. ($200)
8. A stereo lavalier mic and wind-shielding for it ($50).
9. A wide-angle lens (for scenery). $250
10. A telephoto lens (for wild-life). $250
11. A fast laptop with a firewire port and enough RAM able to capture the footage and let you review your tapes at the end of the day. If an important scene didn’t come out right, you must re-shoot the next day if possible. ($1500)
12. A 500GB external USB 2.0 hard drive to backup your tapes. ($200)
13. A 5-in-1 light reflector to be used on interviews. ($30)
14. A second battery and a travel charger that works on the country you are going to. ($50)
15. Headphones to review the audio recorded. If your audio was problematic during an interview (e.g. too much wind), you must re-shoot. ($20)
16. The appropriate firewire and USB cables, and an HDMI or component cable that will allow you to potentially review your footage on a TV if required. ($30)
17. A big enough camera bag that will let you carry some of the stuff mentioned above. ($30)
18. Cleansing gel and cloth in the event your lenses need clean up. ($20)
19. A cleansing tape in the event your tape head needs clean up. ($15)
20. Travel insurance. A license that will allow you to shoot professional stuff on other countries, as well as “image release” contracts for your interviewees. ($?)

Good luck with your documentary or travel video. Get your wife to carry all that stuff… 😉

More on color grading

One more on color grading. This is some color graded footage I shot with the Panasonic LX-2 digicam last week in Lake Tahoe. The camera is able to shoot 480/30p and 720/15p (would have been nice if it could do 720/24p at least) so it’s an interesting one.

I love the dramatic look of the following too. I used Aav6cc, use almost all options on Color Corrector, and I also used two Magic Bullet plugins back to back to get this look.

BTW, just a note to my video-related readers: My phone number changed (apparently it stopped working a good while ago, but I hadn’t notice as this is not my real number, but a gateway from the real phone world to VoIP). My new number is now listed in my “contact” page. As long as you call between 12 PM to 6 PM PST time, I should be able to take your call if you have any video-related questions (it’s faster than answering emails, I get too many lately). Alternatively, install GizmoProject, the VoIP application, and call me for free from in there. My Gizmo/SIP info is also listed in my “contact” page.


I received a Nokia E51, an iPod Touch 16GB, and the shotgun mic for my HV20 today. Still waiting for the ZR800 though. Hopefully it will arrive tomorrow.

I like the E51. Really nice phone. Only real problem it’s got is its pathetic video recording performance (9 fps, what the hell?).

The iPod Touch is soooo thin… Interchanging between the iPhone and the iPod Touch in your hand, the difference in thickness brings a weird feeling. Thank God you can manually sync with the iPod Touch btw.

Haven’t tested the DM-50 mic yet. I need to finish up my Adobe Photoshop+Premiere Elements review first. Adobe sent me a review package last week.

Update: Stupid Apple. They have no special keyword to recognize the user agent of the iPod web browser. The word “iPhone” is unique enough so it can be used relatively safely as a keyword matcher, but the iPod Touch just has words like “AppleWebKit”. “Mobile” and “iPod” (not close to each other), which I am sorry to say they are not that unique so it’s difficult to decide if it’s a genuine iPod or not. Anyways, I just added special support for it on OSNews and Gnomefiles, but most other sites don’t support it (e.g. does not let me use the actual mobile site while it does let me do so when using the iPhone).

The Gnome fight

Murray Cumming, maintainer of the GTKmm C++ bindings of GTK+, lambasted Jeff Waugh today. Both are prominent members of the Gnome developer community and also high profile. I always felt that Jeff was always very polemic on his replies to me for pretty much anything. Be it I was a real bitch on the d-d-l mailing list, or truly very helpful, his reactions were always one and the same towards me.

I never really understood what Jeff was really doing for Gnome, especially after he stopped maintaining his Python apps. Jeff blames his depression for all that, but if depression is the cause of the problem, maybe he should give Gnome a rest for a while. I know how hard it is to work full time on something when you are depressed — I’ve been there, and I am there.

Murray is not very friendly nut either, and we have a major disagreement about how GTKmm should be maintained (he keeps breaking the API every few months and so GTKmm apps stop compiling and it’s required that either the apps must be updated, or have many parallel versions of GTKmm installed). However, I always had the feeling that he’s a bit more connectable than Jeff.

Now, I know that Jeff passes by my blog every now and then and there’s a good chance that he will read this, but I must be truthful, so I am. Besides, I am pretty sure he feels the same for me anyway, so I guess we are square.

Now, regarding Gnome. It has fallen apart. Nothing gets done in a serious note anymore. Since Havoc Pennington took his team away from full-time core Gnome work a few years ago, and since Novell failed to make their Mono-based utils accepted, Gnome is one big sterile place. It’s sad, because it IS my favorite DE. I like Gnome. But maintaining a DE is not the same as developing for it and innovating every now and then. Oh, well, whatever. I use Windows XP when sitting my ass in my office, and Mac OS X when traveling or in front of the TV. I don’t really need Linux anyway. Not without a usable video editor.

Update: Thom blogged about it too.

Squaw Village in November

We spent Thanksgiving at the Village of Squaw, home of the Winter Olympics of 1960. We booked an apartment there for 4 days and we had a great time — minus the fact that there was not much snow so my JBQ could not ski. I love these small apartments as they are fully equipped, so I can cook there. We didn’t hike as the weather was very cold (-12C to -4C), so we stayed in for the most part and… watched lots of TV.

Nonetheless, I did find the time to shoot 40 minutes of video, which translated to the following 3’22” clip. HD version here.

OSS, once more

>>My guess is that a poorly encapsulated, communal gloop of organisms lost out to closely guarded species for the same reason that the Linux community didn’t come up the iPhone: Encapsulation serves a purpose.

>First of all, this presumes that the Linux (or Open Source) community WANTED to “come up” with the iPhone. I would argue that the community is decidedly NOT interested in that. Therefore, failing to create the iPhone is not proof of the community’s failure to innovate, replied Jim.

Oh, shut. up.

If the community had decided to not come up with an iPhone-like device, then this itself is a proof that OSS is not the panacea that RMS wants us to believe. To come up with something like the iPhone software (I am not even talking about the hardware), you need more than one person. You probably need anything between 25 and 100 people. And you need them closely working. Not via IRC, not via mailing lists. But face to face, daily, for a couple of years.

It’s because of that exact same reason why there is not a single serious video editor on Linux that works as well as Vegas or Final Cut Express or even iMovie. Because it’s not a small hack that you put together in the afternoons with your buddies over IRC. It’s a very complex problem and it requires a lot of experience with graphics, video, audio and a need to work perfectly together. I was talking with JBQ the other night about video editors and he agreed that it’s much more complex to write a *good* video editor than to write a *modern* web browser.

I’ve said it a thousand times, I will say it one more: the BeOS was great at its time because the engineers working on it could walk at the cubes and offices of the other engineers and discuss, ask, argue in real time and take architecture and engineering decisions in minutes. This created a cohesive, small, fast and beautiful OS as the iPhone feels today to most. The OSS community does not have this luxury because of its very nature of its contributors being scattered in the globe and work at their own leisure. Complex applications that do well in the OSS world (e.g. Apache, PostgreSQL) is mostly because the core individual contributors work full time on them, or because companies are behind them. Not Joe Programmer from his mommy’s basement. Joe can certainly offer a patch to a complex OSS application, but anything more than that would be overkill. Joe can certainly still write “Yet Another Image Viewer” though.

I won’t be able to reply to most comments btw, holidays are coming.

HTC and Motorola’s mini-usb jacks

F_ck you both, Motorola and HTC. Both use the mini-usb port for headphones port on their latest phone models. So a few months ago I bought two Motorola converters (mini-usb to 3.5mm audio jack). So when I tried these cables on my new HTC Kaiser, they wouldn’t work. Apparently HTC uses a different internal wiring. Why?!? Why make the freaking lives of the consumers so difficult? I am not ok at all to use the mini-USB port for audio (which is also shared with data and charging, so you can’t do multiple things at once), but when there are such incompatibilities between different manufacturers even when using the same kind of port, I just want to throw their phones out of the window.

I think I will be using the iPhone from now on as my main phone instead of my HTC PocketPC. Except Apple, a small glimpse of hope from Nokia’s S60 team and the non-smartphone line from Sony Ericsson, no hardware manufacturer out there has a clue how to create a good cellphone experience. The PocketPC OS is not bad, but HTC pisses me off all too often.