Archive for July, 2009

Exporting to an intermediate codec

A common problem users have is to know how to export to an intermediate format rather than on a delivery codec (read here for the difference between the two types of codecs and when to use one or the other). The following is two tutorials showing you how to do just that with AVI and Quicktime MOV intermediate codecs. The example codecs used are Lagarith for AVI, and Avid’s DNxHD for Quicktime. You export in a similar way for any other AVI or MOV intermediate format (e.g. for Cineform, Huffyuv etc).

First, you need to install these third party intermediate codecs. Download and install Lagarith from here, and Avid DNxHD from here (bottom of the page, the PC version). Then, start Vegas, and closely follow the tutorial links: Lagarith/AVI tutorial, DNxHD/MOV tutorial.

If you are not sure which one of the two tutorials to pick: use AVI if your destination is a PC, and MOV if your destination is a Mac or Quicktime Pro. Use the Huffyuv AVI codec if your destination is Linux.

Regarding weddings

We got married in a French castle. Lavish and all. I am very grateful to my parents in law who paid and took care for everything. That was really amazing on their part, and I can’t thank them enough!

If I could go back in time though, and if it was my decision alone, I would just do the town-hall wedding, with 5-6 of the most closer-to-us guests and be done with it. I just don’t see the point of expensive weddings. “Γαμος τρικουβερτος” my mother says to describe big weddings. And I ask you, why? Why spend a fortune for such a thing, when you can keep the money and educate your future children in a better college? Or buy a house, or a new car?

Sorry, I just don’t see the big deal over the whole wedding thing. I was never one of these women who dream of their wedding day: I picked my wedding dress within 10 minutes, 1 week before the wedding (because I had just arrived in France). Heck, my mother and my mother in law, present at the store that day, couldn’t make their own minds which wedding dress they wanted for me, rather than ME having such a hard time deciding. I just find all that superficial. What really mattered to me was to find my one true love and be with him (which I did). I guess, I like things to be simple, I don’t particularly like formalities.

Then, there’s the other thing: many parents (like my own parents for my brother’s wedding) are pushing for a big wedding because it’s a social status thing. The bigger the wedding, the more “respected” you are as a family man (let alone that my parents divorced 2 years later 😛 😛 ). Well, yeah, that’s cool and all, but thing is, why should the couple be your sacrificing goat? There were people at my brother’s wedding that the couple never met before (e.g. the elected senator for our periphery, that my father invited). At the end, in many such weddings, it’s the parent’s party rather than the kids’.

Some will bring the “have a celebration, bring the two families together”, argument, but I don’t buy it. I had a good time at my wedding, sure, and I am sure the guests did too. But it’s not something I would want to spend thousands of dollars/euros at. Even when calculating-in the wedding gifts, you’ll still be at a great financial loss. Heck, most of the guests are probably going to get so drunk, that they wouldn’t remember whose wedding that was. Case in point, we haven’t watched our wedding video more than once, and I have no clue where our wedding pics are located in our house.

So my advice to you youngsters out there: don’t do a big wedding. Go marry in a town hall with up-to-10 of your closest friends/family, and then, during the next months, just invite over on weekends the rest of the family/friends for barbecues or dinners at your home. This way you will get more personal time with them to talk about your plans and your life together with your new spouse, rather than one big crazy party where everyone’s drunk. That’s what I would do now that I am older and wiser (and if it was my decision, JBQ likes the formalities of a big wedding for example).

Exp, for experimental

An experimental piece, comprised by unused footage I had around from the Canon SX200 IS digicam. Download the HD version here. It’s not really that good, which is why I was contemplating adding it to my YouTube account which is used for my tests, rather than Vimeo’s. My idea originally was to use a talent (model), and have a small story about him/her trying to sleep, and when falling into REM, to start seeing these things and wake up in terror. Each time he/she would be falling further into their world. But I have no model, so I had to release it as is.

I wasn’t on drugs when I made that btw. But I definitely had a lot of sushi in my system.

Music review: “Bits” by Arman Bohn

A beautiful and cleverly-shot HV20 video by music/video artist Arman Bohn for his song “Combat”. Arman’s first album is called “Bits“, and it’s inspired by classic video games.

The album can probably be classified as “easy listening indie pop with some electronic beats”, and it’s comprised by 13 songs. Its best songs are “Kaboom!” and “Combat” (toe-tapping, addictive hooks), followed (somewhat distantly) by “Warlords”, “Atlantis”, “No Escape!”, “Night Driver” and “Demons to Diamonds”. The music has a feel-good aura that should satisfy most indie (as in genre) listeners. The marriage of electro+rock in serene melodies make for one good calming listening session.

The lyrics are stellar. Smart, clear, and often epic. It’s obvious from the lyrics that Arman is one sharp guy.

On some tracks the keyboard is the main instrument, while on others the electric guitar, however both are usually are blanketed away by the constant vocals: not much of instrument solos/hooks are going on, which at the end makes the album sound a bit flat and repetitive. Only few tracks, like “Demons to Diamonds” have the music taking a front-row role compared to the vocals. For some of the songs to sound less flat, the tempo should have been upgraded to indie rock (rather than “pop”) with guitars taking over, while the vocals should have been a bit more aggressive. In other words, the album needed a bit more “nerve” in some places. One of the reasons why “Kaboom!” is so damn good, is because it takes that approach in its chorus.

Rating: 4/5

Tip: make your MP4 web exports stream

Users who export in web-sized MP4 h.264/AAC, primarily from Sony Vegas, create MP4 files that are not streamable via Flash (Flash has had MP4 decoding support for over a year now, but it requires the format to be tweaked, to be “streaming”). Vegas has no such option in their two h.264 encoders it carries. This means that if your MP4 is not streamable, it will have to completely download to the user’s browser cache before it can start playing back. And that can take a long time, aggravating your viewers…

A user over at HV20.com found a freeware utility that will allow users to load their stock MP4 files in it, and make them streamable in an instant. You just chuck your mp4 files in there, and off you go. You can then use them in conjunction to a Flash player application that supports h.264, to stream and playback on your web site (in case you don’t want to use Vimeo/YouTube for some reason).

Music tastes and habituality

It’s a curious thing, really. Back in the ’80s I hated the Cure, or the Talking Heads, or any other progressive rock band. I also disliked heavy metal, although I didn’t mind the milder Bon Jovi. I also hated my native Greek music (and I still do). I was a yet another pop girl, in love with Michael Jackson and Madonna.

But in the ’90s, things changed. The time I became an adult was also the time we were able to acquire MTV signal from the local pirate re-broadcasters in my area. It made me more used to rock, alternative rock in particular, but that was also the time that Eurodance was big in Europe/Japan, which I also loved at the time.

This current decade has been all about rock though. JBQ is a heavy metal/alt/hard rock guy (big Iron Maiden fan), so I naturally got used to the sound even more. Franz Ferdinand, AFI, Green Day, Rise Against, Disturbed, Linkin Park, Metallica are all in our daily rotation.

However, I am changing again.

This time, my favorite music is actually the indie experimental sound, a sound that usually sits somewhere between pop, rock and folk — with a twist. Bands like Arcade Fire, Cloud Cult, British Sea Power, Blitzen Trapper, Feist, Orenda Fink, Portugal The Man, Ratatat, Scissors for Lefty, Midlake, Sea Wolf, Sin Fang Bous, We Are Wolves, and Wye Oak are what I like listening to. I don’t like all of their songs, but some of their stuff, I find amazing.

Now, you are probably thinking: “wait a fucking second. Aren’t you the same person who said just a few weeks ago that indie rock is not that epic, or that this is the kind of music you actually dislike?”.

I am. Or, maybe I am not.

I feel that I am changing again. During my vast research of free, legal mp3s on the internet last month I had to listen to this “new” sound a lot. Most of the new bands out there play such music. And I got used to it. I now “get it”.

For some of that music we have a specific word in Greek: “κουλτουριαρικη”. Means that it’s somewhat modern art, difficult to get into at first, and usually liked by specific kind of people, not your normal Joe & Jane. This doesn’t mean that it’s the music for snobs, but rather somewhat underground and unappreciated by the public at large. The funny thing here is that I always disliked that kind of music and I even opposed it all my life. I liked accessibility. But I think I now too get the endorphins associated with it. Update: I guess the international equivalent term to that Greek word is “avant-garde”.

I think one reason this music is not more popular (especially in Europe), it’s because is it’s uneven. I mentioned some bands above, and yet, I only like a fraction of their songs. For example, I bought the whole repertoire of Arcade Fire the other day, and I only find 10 songs that I like in there (and only 5 that I really like). As for my favorite indie band, the Cloud Cult, I *only* like their latest album! And while I love the current Blitzen Trapper, I can’t stand their first two albums. On the other hand, I can go through an AFI, Green Day, Muse, Franz Ferdinand, Madonna album without skipping songs! Some of these guys with a major’s contract might be history in terms of music genre, but their albums are overall better because they have more evenly good songs in them. The only indie bands that I like all their albums and all the songs, from start to finish, are the Malbec and the Drist (JBQ likes them too).

However, JBQ hates that vast majority of that indie folk-y music (he can’t stand Cloud Cult for example, to my surprise). He in fact finds it “painful”, he said, on at best “nothing special”. But I think it’s just that: getting used to it and “get” the serene melody with complex layers these songs offer compared to a hard rock shouting match that probably we heard it all before. To me, indie music is like rock married pop and had babies. However, I did notice that for some songs that JBQ hated originally, when I replayed them days later he was more susceptible to them (e.g. Feist’s “One Evening”).

These days iTunes is playing for me alternative rock, that new crop of indie rock, and some hard rock and trance songs. Very rarely I listen to pop anymore. Regardless of what kind of music I will be listening to in the new decade, one thing is for sure though: it won’t be Greek.

Interview with director Daniel Elkayam

Daniel Elkayam is responsible for putting together one of the best music videos I have seen in this decade: Blitzen Trapper‘s “Black River Killer”. Naturally, being into video myself, I had to ask for details on how he pulled off this amazing video. Read more for the very interesting and detailed interview!

1. What equipment was used for the shoot? Which format was it shot on? Was it shot sped-up?

Daniel: We used the Panasonic HVX200, shooting at 720p resolution. The variable frame rate was key. I decided early on that I wanted the video to have a fluid, dreamy feel, as if the camera were just floating through these scenes. So we wanted to shoot at a higher frame rate to give a subtle slow motion look. After some tests we settled on 36fps for most of the scenes (although the second talk show shot and all the underwater footage was shot at 60fps). We had a version of the song sped up to 36fps (about 150% speed) playing on the set as we were shooting to help hit the camera marks. So we were constantly listening to this chipmunk version of the song throughout the entire shoot. There weren’t too many moments where perfect sync was crucial, but there were a few: the opening shot with the singer playing guitar, the band playing in the talk show, and the sheriff reciting the song lyrics. They all required a bit of rehearsing, but in the end everyone nailed it.

In addition to shooting at a higher frame rate, we also used a .6x wide angle adapter for nearly the entire shoot. This further enhanced the dreamy feel and made all the camera motion that much smoother. We also shot nearly the entire video on Steadicam (specifically, the Steadicam Flyer). Our Director of Photography Brian McKee was our steadicam operator and did an amazing job. The Grip & Lighting Manager at Picture This, a local video rental house, is apparently a big Sub Pop fan and when he heard about the project he got excited and wanted to help. In the end, “Picture This” donated an amazing amount of equipment and crew to the production. We had a 15′ camera crane with a tiltable head, a 12′ dolly track, an Arri kit, Kino Flos for greenscreen lighting, and at times a complete grip truck at our disposal. It was quite a blessing.

2. How many days of shooting took place, and how much post processing?

Daniel: We shot for 6 days, which for a 3 1/2 minute music video is quite a lot. But because most of the shots were so complex or required so much setup, usually we would spend the entire day just getting one or two shots. For the riverbank, we spent all day building a trench in the beach for our dolly track, and then we shot in the late afternoon. The desert shot was a 3 hour drive away, so just driving there and back was half the day. Our busiest day was at the old west town, where we actually had to get 7 shots in one day. Fortunately, they were all the same spot so we were able to move lights and camera around fairly easily, and that was one of the days we had the biggest crews, but it was still a challenge to get it all done. As for post-production, we wrapped shooting on May 3rd, and delivered the final cut to Sub Pop on June 2nd. So, we had less than a month for all the post work. I took about a week off after the shoot to decompress, but then it was another solid three weeks of work after that to get it done in time. I did most of the editing and effects work myself, except for the underwater shots which were done by Jon Jaschob, who did a fantastic job.

3. How come you edit in After Effects and not in Premiere (and then use Adobe Bridge to move to AE for the effects)?

Daniel: It was originally my plan to edit in Premiere and just go to After Effects for effects work, but it quickly became apparent that the video was all effects work. There was very little “editing” involved. There are literally only 15 shots in the whole video and no actual “cuts.” Every shot transitions from the previous shot and into the next one in an effectsy way. Plus I decided that I wanted to do a fair amount of time-remapping to further match the video’s motion to elements of the song. After Effects has amazing time-remapping abilities to create really smooth speed ramps and slow motion. There are many times where the video is slowed down considerably slower than the 36fps we shot it at, but it still looks smooth and crisp. That combined with the fact that I wanted to do a lot of color work to play with the look of the video meant that every shot was going to be going through After Effects anyways, so I might as well do the whole project there. However, I did still use Premiere considerably to log the footage, select shots, and play back the AE renders. AE is great for lots of things, but terrible for actually playing video, so Premiere was indispensable for that role. And the dynamic link between them made it super easy to move back and forth.

4. How did the realization behind the Black River Killer video came to be? Did the band approached you, or there’s another story behind it?

Daniel: It’s funny, I met Brian Koch, the band’s drummer, through mutual friends several years ago and I’ve known him for quite a while now, but I only recently became aware of his music. I knew he was in a band called “Blitzen Trapper” but I had never heard them play or see them perform. I had started to hear about them more and get the vibe that they were getting kind of “big,” but I still didn’t think much of it. Brian is also a fantastic and hilarious actor, and he and I had worked on a few projects together in the past. So last year, as I was entering a competition called the ’48 Hour Film Project’, I asked Brian if he wanted to be one of the actors on our team and he agreed. The film we made ended up winning the city-wide competition and we were invited to several more “post-season” competitions, another one of which Brian starred in. After that, he asked if I might be interested in doing a video for the band. At that point, I was a little embarrassed to admit that I still had never heard them. So he gave me a copy of “Furr“, and then the band left on a 2 month tour. Needless to say, I immediately fell in love with the album. Not long after that, I happened to be watching Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and who should the musical guests be, but Blitzen Trapper! I nearly fell out of my chair. I had no idea they were Conan O’Brien-level! As soon as the band was back, I told Brian I’d love to do it. I gave him a list of several songs that I would like to do, and “Black River Killer” was at the top of the list. He said the band had also been wanting to do a video for BRK, so it was a perfect fit. We approached Sub Pop, showed them some storyboards, some of my previous work, and they agreed to produce the video!


Daniel Elkayam

5. How many people were involved in the overall process? Was it difficult to manage all these people?

Daniel: So many people put time and energy into this production, it was really amazing. Counting all the extras and mask makers, well over 100 people helped out for no money whatsoever. I think much of that was the allure of the band. We had so many people contact us wanting to help out in any way they could, just to be part of a Blitzen Trapper video. We had a core 12 person crew that occasionally swelled to 20 people or more for the bigger scenes. There were a total of 15 actors (not to mention a few crew cameos). We had more than 40 different people chip in to make the 60 masks worn by the extras in the talk show scene. This was an insane amount of masks, but we still weren’t sure how many people would show up, so we made extra photocopied versions, just in case we had more than 60. It turned out we had anywhere from 75-100 extras show up (we never got an exact count), so the photocopied masks definitely got used. Mostly, these were for the far background or the shadow areas (though at the end of the second talk show shot, you can see one of these photocopied masks on a small dog that one of the extras is holding in their arms).

Surprisingly, managing all these people was not too difficult. Our producer, Luke Norby, did a great job of keeping things organized and on track. Everyone was professional and knew their jobs. On the talk show day, we had several crew members devoted to corralling the extras. Jen LaMastra and Tony Fuemmeler, the mask designers, did an amazing job organizing all the mask volunteers, and also directing the audience on the day of the shoot. The whole video was such a group effort, far from being a hindrance, we couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help.

6. What’s your opinion on the seemingly cheap & accessible HD camera hardware available these days that allows amateurs to almost play in the pro league?

Daniel: This is the first project I’ve directed where I’ve been given money by anyone other than my parents, so I’m definitely used to playing in the ultra-low to no-budget leagues. And I think it’s amazing what you can do now with relatively cheap consumer equipment, both on the hardware and software side. I just purchased a new point-and-shot snapshot camera that’s less than an inch thick that also shoots 720p video. Of course, it’s not very good 720p video, but the technology is still amazing. And it’s only going to become more so. We’re fast approaching the time when an average consumer will be able to purchase a camera that can rival the technology used in Hollywood (in fact, if you can afford the Red, we’re just about there). Indies will never be able to rival Hollywood’s spending power for things like sets, locations, and huge crowds, but at least the basic filmmaking tools are no longer a barrier to entry. And what can be accomplished with consumer level software these days is just incredible. Of course, the downside to the fact that anyone who wants to can make a film… is that now anyone who wants to can make a film. It’s a lot harder to stand out in the crowd and a lot of what is out there is not very good. So, of course, it’s not the equipment that’s important, it’s creativity. I’ve seen some mind-blowing things done with very simple gear (several White Stripes videos come to mind). But all in all, I think this democratization of filmmaking is a great thing and I hope it continues.


‘Behind the Scenes’ documentary (shot with an HV20)

7. There’s an interesting scene at 00:36 where the jail’s wall serves as a transition to the talk show. How did you do that transition look so smooth?

Daniel: This is probably my favorite transition in the whole video, and also one that took the most work to pull off, both in terms of the shooting and the post. In order for the shot to be convincing, I wanted to pan onto a brick wall at the end of the jail cell shot, and then literally pan off of the same brick wall at the talk show set. So, our Art Director Ben Valentin made a portable replica of the faux brick wall from the jail cell. We hung Ben’s wall in the jail cell on top of the existing wall and shot with it (if you look closely at the video, you may notice that the brick doesn’t quite match up on the right side of the cell, whereas on the left side it does). We then physically removed the wall and took it with us to the talk show set several days later. The talk show was shot in a local theater and we were able to hang the faux brick wall horizontally from the ceiling grid (you can see a brief shot of this in our behind-the-scenes video on youtube). This was not as easy as it sounds, as the thing was so heavy it took about 6 people to lift it and that it started to fall apart as we hung it, necessitating some last-minute repairs. But in the end, we got it hung and stable. It was then a matter of trying to replicate the lighting and camera motion from the end of the jail cell shot in the beginning of the talk show shot.

The shot doesn’t ever crossfade from one shot to the other, instead, there is a “seam” along the mortar between the bricks that bridges the two shots. But even with all our on-set effort, the shot still needed extensive massaging in post for the transition to look smooth. Although we did our best, the camera moves were never going to line up exactly. The matching process essentially involved isolating a single brick from each shot and tracking it’s motion, and then lining up the two tracked bricks so that they matched. I used a variety of methods to massage the speed and perspective of the shots, to further get them to match. But even with all this, the motion of the shots still didn’t quite match unless I horizontally flipped one of the shots. Flipping the first shot would have affected the transition from the courtroom, so I flipped the second shot instead. However, this meant flipping the entire talk show scene as well. So to those of us who were on the shoot, that scene still feels a little strange because everything is reversed (though, I guess strange is good). The second talk show shot is not flipped, by the way, and you may notice that the killer is sitting on the other side of the host. Also, if you look carefully, you’ll see that the band members are all playing left-handed, which is not how they usually play.

8. What do you like shooting most and why? Music videos, movies, short movies, commercials, something else?

Daniel: I think music videos are the most fun. It’s such an open medium, really a filmmaker’s playground. Shorts can be fun as well, but I think it’s very difficult to find a concept that works well in the short film format. Music videos free you from the necessity of a story, and give you the opportunity to try out fun visual ideas that might be distracting in a feature or short film. They can be narrative if you want (and Black River Killer certainly is), but they don’t need to be. Songs are inherently emotional, so you almost get that connection for free. I think the music video director’s job is to try to realize the song in a way that reflects the song’s original intent. Unfortunately, so many videos these days are lacking any creativity whatsoever and are created solely for marketing the song. While there’s nothing better than a good music video, there’s also nothing worse than a bad one. But there are definitely some good ones still out there. My ultimate ambition is definitely to direct feature films, however I love doing music videos and I hope there are many more in my future.

HOW-TO: Fast h.264 decoding on your PC

The following guide will show you how to smoothly playback h.264 on almost any PC. With this method, I can playback CABAC “High Profile” full 1080p h.264 files without dropping a single frame on my 4+ years old Pentium 4 at 3Ghz! Where Quicktime or VLC are able to display about ~10 fps, the following solution goes the full 30.

1. Install the Mplayer Classic from here. Pick the latest version (not the “win9x” version).

2. Install the latest “generic build” of FFDshow at the “SVN builds by clsid” section. Make sure you’re downloading from clsid’s section.

3. Buy and install the CoreAVC Pro ($15) version from here (or try the 14-day trial first).

4. Let’s configure the Mplayer Classic application to use the CoreAVC decoder by default now, instructions as originally described here.
a. Open the “View/Options” window in media player classic (by pressing ‘o’, or through right click menu).
b. Go to the “External filters” option. Now in the right side of the window select “Add Filter”.
c. You will get an elaborate window with a plethora of options. Select there the “CoreAVC Video decoder” codec and press “Ok”, and then do the same once more for the “CoreAVC Audio decoder”.
d. Select the “CoreAVC Video Decoder” entry in the “External Filters” window and press the “Up” button to move the decoder to the top of the list. Do the same for the “CoreAVC Audio Decoder”, move it second in the list.

5. [Optional] If you are using a modern nVidia graphics card, CoreAVC will take advantage of it. This is a new feature (CoreAVC was the fastest decoder out there even without it). Open the “CoreAVC Configuration” panel (found on your Windows’ Start menu), and make sure Deinterlacing is set to “Hardware”, and “Preferred Decoder” & “CUDA Acceleration” are checked. If the CUDA option is disabled, it’s because your nVidia card doesn’t have that ability, tough luck. With CUDA acceleration I get just 6% of CPU utilization on a 1080p file from the Canon 5D-MarkII.

Now, throw at it any MP4 h.264 file, and do your tests against other players, like VLC or Quicktime, and enjoy the speedy and smooth decoding.

Note 1: To force CoreAVC to decode .MOV h.264 files on the Mplayer Classic player, you must rename these .mov files to to .hdmov (update: or, you can try this). To decode Matroska MKV h.264 files, you must install the Haali Media Splitter first.

Note 2: If you don’t have the money or expertise to do all of the above, you can use VLC to decode h.264 files fast-enough, with a small trick. Load the latest version of VLC, go to its Tools/Preferences, select the “All settings” radio button on the bottom/left of that window, click “Input/Codecs”, “Other Codecs”, “FFmpeg”, and change the “Skip the loop filter for h.264 decoding” from “None” to “All”. Save the preferences. This will make h.264 decoding with VLC almost as fast as CoreAVC’s non-GPU performance, but with lower visual quality.

Freq: A Short Film

“Freq” is the winner of the 3rd short movie competition we hosted at the HV20.com forum. It was the first time I served as one of the judges to such a competition. The winning HV30-shot film was my personal favorite as well. Congrats to the filmmaker, John Lewis.

Google Voice is really cool

I was somehow invited into the Google Voice beta, and I am loving it. It works, it’s cheap, and under some circumstances it can make telephony cheaper for some people, e.g. college kids.

Having a single number to be called in and never miss a call since it rings on all of your available phone numbers, having spam detection, free SMS, free Voicemail (accessible via the web, either with speech-to-text or via direct audio), and even free call-in on VoIP, well, all these features are really cool. Especially since a few years ago I left VoIP behind. I have now paired my Gizmo5 SIP number to Google Voice, and it works wonderfully well. I have a free call-in from around the world, without paying a dime. And if I want to call out, I pay nothing for calls in the continental US, and only $0.02 per minute for France/Greece. This is dirt cheap, cheaper than any VoIP operator, let alone actual carriers!

In the past, one had to use IPKall if he/she wanted to use a free call-in number with VoIP SIP, but this didn’t always work well, as they delete your account if you don’t use it after a few weeks. With Google Voice, there’s no such fear.

I believe the following plan could work for many poor people or college kids. Here’s how:
1. Get an unlocked cheap Nokia S60 smartphone with VoIP SIP WiFi support. You can get one for $200.
2. Get a free Gizmo5 VoIP SIP account/number.
3. When you eventually get your Google Voice invite, “pair” it with your VoIP SIP number (follow the instructions on Google’s page, you must not include the +1 prefix in order for this to work).
4. [Optional] Get a $25-per-3-months “pay-as-you-go” SIM card from either T-Mobile or AT&T, so you can call out too if you need to. Alternatively, you can buy call-out credit from Gizmo5, which is much cheaper ($0.04 per min), but that would mean that you can only call-out when connected to WiFi.
4. Give everyone your Google Voice number. Your VoIP # will now start ringing (and your cell # too, if it’s also paired).
5. When you are visiting others who have a landline, e.g. your old folks who might not have WiFi in their home, you can temporarily pair their phone number with your Google Voice too, so you won’t have to use your cellphone at all (Google can also ring your incoming calls on both phones).

The only thing I would like to see from Google Voice is an actual VoIP SIP protocol that they host themselves. This way, I would be able to call-out with their dirt cheap rates without having to go through Gizmo5’s (somewhat crazy sometimes) servers and higher rates. If this ever happens, I would like Google to make absolutely sure their SIP servers work with the Nokia VoIP phones. And why not, write a good Android SIP client too (not third party, but part of Android, so it’s well integrated).

Another feature I would like to see is the ability to say to the system “if I receive a call between 11 PM to 11 AM, put it straight on voicemail” (update: the option exists in the advanced menu of each paired phone). I might then put up my Google Voice number on my blog, and ask people call me directly with their video editing questions. I get about 10 emails daily about video tech support, and honestly, I rather talk than write… 😉