Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jon & Kat's European Vacation Video

My wife and I were afforded the luxury of time, which allowed us to take a little visit to Europe this September (Sept 4 - Sept 25, 2009). For photos, we had our iphones, and a point and shoot Nikon Coolpix which I had bought Kat for her birthday last year. I certainly would NOT recommend the Nikon to anyone who asked - the lens was pretty lame, and it has an annoying habit of focusing on the least important object in the frame - but it is what we had.

I didn't take too many generic landscape or site photos, as I know far better pictures of the Pantheon exist, taken by better photographers, with superior gear. My hope is to merge our panorama shots (which prove we were there!) with some good quality creative commons shots (flickr is chock full of these) along with the journal I kept on the trip into a Blurb coffee table book.

I was just messing about on my new imac in the interim, trying to organize the shots and video clips, getting a handle on the mac applications (I have always been a PC fellow) - and this movie just kind of came together. I used iMovie, which is fantastic and very easy to use. I listed out the events in order, and just dropped them on to the timeline. The 2 things that really helped were the theme - which automatically establishes the picturebook transitions and feel, and the Indiana Jones maps, which are quick to implement, and awesome.

The music is from Yann Tiersen's wonderful Amelie soundtrack.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

IPhone photo apps

In sorting through the pics from Kat & I's European travels, I have been more and more impressed with what you can do with the iphone camera. Here are a coupla apps I have found to be helpful.

camera bag
Kat in Rome
Rec'd to me by my cousin Scott, this is super fun - run your pics (existing camera roll, or take a new one) and simulate a collection of toy cameras with the available filters (Holga, Lomo, polaroid, etc.)  Seriously, this app is amazing! It manages to accentuate the limitations of the iphone camera in a really neat way, turning negatives into positives.

The example at left was taken with the iphone in Rome, and then put through the 'Helga' setting with the cropping turned off. That filter is what added the burning around the edges as well as the color wash out.

itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=291176178&mt


Has a few neat effects - most importantly, it turns the entire screen into the 'take a photo button' - which is key for self-photos (which I am inordinately fond of)



Really neat app that allows you to link your photos together and then create virtual environments you can scroll thru on your iphone, or save out as flat images.Campo Santa Maria, Venice
This is not a quick and simple panorama builder, as you have to invest some time into manually joining each photo seam. However, the virtual environment it allows you to create is totally worth it. Very cool!

itunes store: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=300818496&mt=8

Monday, October 5, 2009

Animoto: Super-quick music videos and slideshows

In a moment of software serendipity, I just happened to come across the perfect tool right when I needed it. I had done a quick interim site redesign for the wonderful Lari White, and she wanted to add a kind of career-retrospective slideshow which showed a collection of photos 'through-the-years' set to a medley of songs spanning her recording career. I had put off this task to the very end of the project, as I knew it was going to consume far more time that I wanted it to - or had even budgeted for.

At about this time I stumbled across Animoto via some slideshow exploring how the youtube api is being leveraged by different new video startups. This was the perfect solution! Animoto allows you to quickly set photos, text blocks (titles, sentences, captions), and video to a soundtrack of your choosing. You just upload and order and the app does all the rest - adding in super cool transitions and effects which seem to be set to match up pretty well with the music.

You can mess about for free - I think can make a 30 second video. For a longer video that is not hi-def, you have to buy a credit, which is only $3 - certainly affordable. A more robust package that removes all Animoto branding is gonna run you $250/annually, which is still very affordable for the right business.

The Cons of Animoto
Unfortunately, if you are kind of anal about your photo/video projects like me, and really like to be able to tweak things just-so, this is not the tool. Animoto allows you to select the pics/video you want to use, order the pics, and intersperse text blocks. Text is treated as an element the same as a pic, so you cannot overlay text onto a photo or video, though you can introduce a series of shots with a text title. You have no real ability to line up the elements with the music, just order things and hope for the best.

However, the lack of fine-tuning controls can be looked at as a positive as well, as it encourages you to generate content quickly, and move along with your life. for a 'tweaker' like me, the blatant inability to tweak endlessly makes it easier to finalize your movie.

More and more, youtube is replacing MySpace as the principal destination for quick music listening and discovery. Nearly everyone has the ability to see and enjoy video nowadays, and tend to expect it. For artists, this looks to be a great way to throw your music up, paired with some nice live or publicity shots, as well as some textual information about the album, single, or directions to your website for more. For an album launch, this could be a great way to introduce the new music, and can be paired with youtube promotions for greater effect. Additionally-  for further tweaking, I suppose you could download your finished Animoto product and dump it into Imovie/Final Cut/Vegas or a similar program for more robust editing.

Animoto allows you to batch upload your photos, order them, and intersperse text blocks.

I have no affiliation to Animoto, but if you use the referral code rhpgaosm when signing up, I get some sort of credit towards future use.