Veronica GIF so lifelike

Screenshot 2015-11-23 21.16.53

I don’t update often here, but I feel like spending whatever small amount of Google juice is left on directing anyone searching for “Veronica GIF so lifelike” to Veronica Belmont’s excellent XOXO Festival talk where she explains how dehumanizing it has been to have a few seconds from her TV show turned into a creepy meme that has followed her around for over a decade.

It’s a great talk that really drives the point home that sometimes the Internet can be a crappy place, but on the bright side, the Internet does let people hear the rest of a story, like this one.

How to: doing time-lapse driving videos with a GoPro Hero3

A few months ago, I picked up a GoPro Hero 3 camera and I recorded a few bike races on it. While playing with the integrated iPhone app, I noticed there was a time-lapse option so I decided to play around with it. After an hour of testing on a couple short drives, I tried it on two long ~9 hour drives going from Oregon to California and back. Here are the results:

Oregon to California: 9hrs of driving in less than 5 minutes from Matt Haughey on Vimeo.

SF to Oregon, 7,000 photos in 5 min from Matt Haughey on Vimeo.

A lot of people asked me how it was done, and what settings I used, so here’s a list of tips:

  • You’ll need a Hero 3 camera, and then for mounting on a windshield you also need the suction mount, the Frame mount, a mini-USB cable and a USB car charger to keep the camera powered up for as many hours as you need (the built-in battery only runs for 1-3hrs). The whole setup looks like this.
  • Put as big of a storage card as you can into it. I have a 64Gb microSD card
  • Pick your resolution carefully, the default is 12 megapixel, which become ~6mb images for every shot. There are also 7 megapixel and 5 megapixel options. 1080p video barely requires 1 megapixel images so you can go down in quality to get smaller photo file sizes (my time-lapses were shot with 7 megapixel Wide settings)
  • Pick a duration between shots. For me, I picked once every 5 seconds because that would require about 7,000 images for the whole trip and I could only fit about 10,000 images on the 64Gb card. If I went down to 1 second or 2 second increments, it would have looked smoother but required lower resolution images or a bigger storage card (also the resulting movie would have been 2-5x longer in the end)
  • Before you start driving, check the mounting angle and view through the iPhone preview of what the camera sees (don’t forget to “flip” the image since the camera is upside down). When you’re ready to drive, start the time-lapse with the your chosen settings (you’ll lose the live video preview at this point).
  • Periodically check the GoPro using the iPhone app every hour or two. Make sure it’s still got power, and enough storage space, etc.
  • When you’re done, stop the time lapse and connect the GoPro to a computer.
  • I used GoPro Studio 2.0 to process/create video. You import the shots from the GoPro’s card and it will build a movie. I went into advanced settings to reduce the resolution to 1080p at 24 frames per second. Convert your videos to this format and they will be smaller than the full resolution movies.
  • GoPro Studio has editing features on the next pane of the app but I found it buggy. Instead I simply imported the outputed movies into iMovie, added music and put titles over sections to point out things happening.
  • WISHLIST: I really wish there was an easy way to grab the timestamp from each shot and put it in the corner of the video, but in hours of research I can’t figure out any way to display a real-time clock of the time-lapse (every second of video equals 2 minutes of time passing) using either GoPro Studio or iMovie.

That’s about it, get to time-lapsing!

iMovie on the iPhone 4

The other day I was at a friend's house and we set up a slip 'n slide for our daughters to play on. I took out my new phone, recorded a couple clips of the setup and a few clips of them using it. I had downloaded iMovie earlier (it's $5 in the app store unfortunately) so I wanted to try it out for the first time.

I opened iMovie, created a new project, and selected my clips. With its minimal interface and no instructions, I guessed correctly that you can customize output by double clicking items. I added a title and a background song in just a couple clicks, and then it was done.

Here's the output:

What I'm most amazed about is that all the complexity of video editing was taken away and automated but the default settings are very, very good. I'm blown away that an application running on my phone let me edit a little movie, it added cross-dissolve transitions and auto-ducked the music when there was audio on the mic, and even had all the title fade sequences worked out. The whole thing is amazing and pretty incredible for a phone app.

(if you want to see what the app can do in the hands of a pro, check out this video on Vimeo)

Another breakthrough for the low budget filmmaker

I posted this on MetaFilter but I can embed video here so I’ll do that as well.

What happens when you strap a $1700 digital SLR camera doing full HD video to a $2k remote controlled helicopter? You get amazing freaking video:

Another example of what you can do with a few grand worth of equipment that would cost tens of thousands of dollars to do with a real helicopter (not to mention, would also be super dangerous)

La Blogotheque takeaway shows

I’m a late comer to La Blogotheque’s Takeaway shows (Andy turned me onto them six months ago). From what I gather, the site is like a French Pitchfork, and when musicians come visit, a video director and sound guy throw some instruments at the musicians and they play wherever they can. Buses, street corners, and hotel rooms are the norm, and the videos (and music in them) are simply amazing.

There’s some magic combo of improvisation with nervous musicians using borrowed guitars, standing in a French street where few people recognize them, while a shaky hand camera captures the unamplified sounds. There’s something incredible about how it all comes together and you’re instantly transported onto the street as a nervous onlooker, instead of an idle observer at a computer. It feels like if a tripod was used, the whole thing would come off as fake like U2 playing a rooftop show, or if the band seemed too rehearsed or comfortable, you couldn’t pick up on the energy of the moment.

They’re all great, but these are my favorites:

I’d never heard Phoenix before but I enjoyed the videos so much that I bought two of their albums off iTunes. Much to my surprise, the sound on their records is smoothed over and diluted, with none of the raw charisma seen in the live taping. I almost want to rip mp3s from these videos and replace the album tracks.

On the plus side, this means they’ll be great live and hopefully next month I’ll see them in Portland.