Snow King Pond Skim 2014

We shot a short video at the Snow King pond skim on March 16, 2014. It was a great time running with a few cameras and putting together a video. One of our cameras received a thorough soaking during the shooting but is none the worse for wear. The Nikon D800 performed admirably!

The pond skim event was for skiers, snowboarders, tubers, sledders and anyone else who thought they could skim across water.

Apolo Creed
Apolo Creed

Mavericks 10.9.2 and Black Magic

Black Magic Ultrastudio Mini Recorder
Black Magic Ultrastudio Mini Recorder

If you are using the Black Magic UltraStudio Mini Recorder and have updated to Mavericks 10.9.2, you will find that your HDMI settings have been reset. As soon as the update came out, we added it to our machines in hopes that it would fix some of our FCPX woes, though it doesn’t look like it.

Instead, what we ended up with is a non-functioning HDMI to Thunderbolt converter. Very quickly we figured out that the only thing that had changed on the machine was the Mavericks update. So, we went into the System Preferences, into BlackMagic Design and, sure enough, the Set Input setting had reverted back to SDI Video and SDI Audio. As soon as we changed the settings, we were back in business and recording off the Nikon D800 for some demo work.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 4.56.27 PM

 

People complain about this little wonder box because they have to go in and change the settings so it works with the HDMI rather than the SDI input. The people with SDI cameras have no issues, so there are never any negative reviews about this.

In any case, we were able to produce an entire video using the Nikon D800 and the Black Magic UltraStudio Mini Recorder. It allowed us to record directly to the computer in ProRes 422, something that camera does not do when recording directly to a compact flash or SD card. This little converter was well worth the money for us.

Setting change
Setting change

The only problem we have run into is it occasionally loses sync when disabling the camera and then restarting it. All you have to do is switch from Log and Capture to Playback and then back. It seems to work every time. Compared to some other solutions, this really has been a salvation for us to shoot very high quality without the need for an external recorder like the Ninja or Aja Ki.

The laptop is not practical in the field, for the most part, as a Ninja might be, but in the studio, recording directly to the computer has made things so much faster. We can review and check our work immediately, without having to unplug a drive, swap cards, or anything. It’s right there, on the computer, ready for review.

Now all we have to do is watch out when the latest Mac Maverick’s update comes out and changes our settings.

Mac OS 10.9 slow finder and open / save dialog box workaround

After upgrading to Mac OS 10.9, Mavericks, our computers have been running slowly when using Finder or using

File open dialog
File open dialog

the File – Save/Open dialog box in any application. It took up to 30 seconds to get files to show. It was a real time waster. In our business, time is everything.

Our first workaround was to close then re-open the application. Though it worked, that was pretty wasteful and miserable. So we tried trashing the Finder preferences file:

com.apple.finder.plist

Preferences library
Preferences library

It can be found in Library – Preferences. You can get there by opening Finder, selecting the menu option Go, then holding the OPT key, then selecting the Library option. Navigating down to Preferences, you can find the com.apple.finder.plist file. Just delete it. Doing so will reset the Finder preferences and, hopefully, fix the Finder slowness for you.

That didn’t work for us. A general solution to any Mac problem is to trash the preferences file. It’s inconvenient but it usually works. Just not in this case.

Instead, we learned that the workaround was to modify one of the system files. If you aren’t sure what you are doing, take your computer to a professional. We aren’t responsible if something goes wrong(!).

Here are the steps we followed to fix the issue:

Nano interface
Nano interface
  • Open a Terminal window
  • Type  sudo nano /etc/auto_master
  • Enter the administrator password
  • Find the line that says this: /net -hosts -nobrowse,hidefromfinder,nosuid
  • Use the arrow keys and add a pound sign (#) before the / character
  • Now you have  #/net -hosts -nobrowse,hidefromfinder,nosuid
  • Click Control+O to save the file
  • Click Control+X to exit the Nano editor
  • Type in sudo automount -vc
  • This will flush the cache

Now, go to a File Open/Save dialog and see what happens. It fixed the lag for us completely.

It’s important to note that you have made this modification, so when the next Mavericks updates come out (10.9.2 or higher) and there is a fix for this problem, you will have to remove this workaround. Otherwise, something might not work. We’re not sure what might break, but we’ll deal with that and post it here when the time comes.

Production case ready

We have the product case ready for retail sale for the video Introduction to Off-Camera

Strobe intro case back
Strobe intro case

Strobe Flash Photography. It is always satisfying to see the case with the slip cover and the DVD inside. With the barcode, it looks like a finished product for retail sale.

It’s exciting to have this latest video out. We have already made sales in Jackson, WY, to students of Aaron Linsdau’s “Introduction to Strobe photography” class at the Jackson Hole Art Association.

Strobe case back
Strobe case back

This video would not have been possible without the production expertise of the entire TVL Video staff.

We can’t wait for it to be available for video streaming and DVD purchases on Amazon as well. Updates for this will be posted in this blog as they become available.

Presale prices are still available on our website. Once the video appears on Amazon and through our other retail channels, we will no longer be able to offer this 33% off discount. Take advantage while you can.

Add a PayPal button to WordPress

To add a Paypal button to WordPress, you do not need a plugin or any other tool. All you need is the logo from paypal buttonPaypal and the email code to do it. What’s that you ask?

Read on.

Follow these steps and you can add your own Buy It Now or Donate button to your WordPress website or blog.

How to add a Paypal button to your WordPress site  or blog

Create a Paypal button.

Do not check these options, otherwise this will not work.

no options

 

Create the button.

Then you will see two options:

email options

 

Select the email option and copy the text. If you do not see the email tab, you have selected an option that does not allow email links, such as custom text fields or the like. You have to make a very stripped-down button.

Then either copy a Paypal button and insert it as a picture into your page or switch to Text edit and enter the codes found at the bottom of the page:

http://en.support.wordpress.com/paypal/

If you use the text edit to enter the button picture URL, like

<img alt="Buy Now Button with Credit Cards" src="https://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/i/btn/btn_buynowCC_LG.gif" />

Then switch back to Visual mode.

Then here’s the magic to make this work. In Visual edit mode, click the button picture and select link:

Create link

 

And then enter the URL you copied from the Email tab in Paypal.

That’s it. You will now have a secure Paypal link with a button in your WordPress page. No plugins, fighting with website code or anything else. WordPress does not support forms, so you must either use plugins or this very easy method. Copying the regular code Paypal generates and entering it into the WordPress Text mode does not work.

This technique does.

DVD available for presale

We are ready to start taking pre-sale orders for Introduction to Off-Camera Strobe Flash Photography. If you DVD pre-orderpurchase the DVD now, you can buy it at a heavy discount. Take advantage of this offer while you still can. Once it is available on Amazon and in stores, the price will be full retail and this offer will be gone forever.

If you ever wanted to learn how to manage off-camera strobe flashes for your camera, whether it be a DSLR, a Canon G12 or anything with a hot shoe or flash sync, this is the video to have. Aaron Linsdau demystifies how to get great shots with just a single strobe. You do not need to purchase a vast array of equipment to get started. All you need is a strobe, a way to trigger it and you are off and running.

Audio effects missing in FCPX 10.1

We have been editing our first long-form video, Flash Photography Introduction, in Final Cut Pro (FCPX) 10.1 for a week.  We ran into Sound effectshaving all of the audio sound effects missing.  We found that if we quite FCP, opened iPhoto, close iPhoto, then re-opened FCP, the sound effects reappeared.

There have been all sorts of strange little bugs with FCPX 10.1.  The worst was editing yesterday.  The machine was grinding to a halt, so we closed FCPX and reopened it.  Our edits from the entire day were gone.

And the automatic backup files were corrupted – they wouldn’t open.

No we snapshot a project prior to closing.  It seems like 10.1 has quite a few bugs.  Our recommendation is to wait for 10.1.1 if you can.

Attachments in Mac Mail

We were sending an invoice to a client this morning when we ran into a problem with Mac Mail in Mavericks. Mac Mail Attachments The invoice, as a JPG, was showing up inline rather than as an attachment.  This can be a major pain for the recipient of the email, as they will have trouble saving the picture.

We found that there is a simple way to get the attachment as an attachment rather than inline.  Open terminal and type in the following:

defaults write com.apple.mail DisableInlineAttachmentViewing 1

This will reconfigure Mac Mail so when you drag attachments into mail, it will attach rather than embed Terminalthem.  If you ever want to reverse the setting, change the 1 to a 0.

Note – to get terminal up and going, go to Spotlight, type in TERMINAL, and it will pop up.

D800 microphone test

We have been testing different microphones for the Nikon D800. One of the major problems with shooting on the DSLR are the audio preamplifiers (preamps) on the camera. They’re not designed very well. The camera has a spectacular imager because of the chip size, 1+ inch wide. But without good audio, you really just have a film camera. In order to get around this problem, we purchased 2 inexpensive wireless lavalier microphones, a Pearstone OLM-10 and an Audio Technica. Then we have a Senheiser wireless lavalier microphone, very high quality, and an Audio Technical 875 shotgun routed through a Zoom H4n.

We found that both the Pearstone and Audio Technica wired lavalier mics had an unacceptable level of hiss, at -45dB or higher. This is quite audible, making the recording sound as though it was made on a tape recorder. The D800 input level had to be raised to 10 or 11 to get an acceptable volume for the speaker but, as a consequence, increased the hiss to an audible level.

Then we tried the Senheiser wireless lavalier and increased the receiver preamp output to 3/4 full volume. This allowed us to reduce the D800 input level to 5. Then the hiss dropped to -50dB or lower. At that setting, this hiss became inaudible.

Our final test was routing an XLR Audio Technica 875 Shotgun mic through a Zoom H4n set on an input level of 60 and an earphone output level of 60. We then routed the earphone output into the D800 microphone input and again set it to a level 5. Again, the hiss was not audible, producing an acceptable recording level.
With this test, we found two acceptable solutions to eliminate having a two system recording for using the Nikon D800 as a HD video camera.

The one disadvantage about using a single shotgun on the Zoom H4n is the single shotgun only records on one channel. That’s easily fixed by using dual mono audio in Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). The big advantage is we can get XLR audio into the D800 while making a 48kHz 16-bit perfect simultaneous recording on the Zoom. We even tried it with the built-in stereo mics and had good success with that, too.

The only time we have found the wired lavaliers to work is when we have recorded outside where there is enough ambient noise to drown the hiss. Even though the hiss is there, the SNR (signal to noise ratio) with the ambient makes the hiss fairly inaudible.

Burning DVDs using Disk Utility

After completing a project edit in Final Cut Pro X or iMovie, you can create a DVD from those programs.  But how about if you want to make multiple copies or don’t want to risk going back into your timeline, possibly changing your editing.  This procedure will guide you from creating that .IMG file to creating a burned DVD that will play in a regular DVD player.

If you just right click on the .IMG file and select burn, all you will get is a data

Create .img disk file
Create .img disk file

DVD with some files in it that will not play on your computer or in a regular DVD player.  You have to use the Mac’s Disk Utility to create a playable DVD.

Here’s the process:

  1. In FCPx or iMovie, go to File->Share->DVD.  In the settings, chose burn to Hard Drive rather than DVD.
  2. Select a location to save the file to the desktop for easy access.
  3. Find and open Disk Utility (Applications – Utilities – Disk Utility; use Spotlight to find it)
  4. The .IMG disk image file should appear in the left hand column of the drives.  If not, go to File->Open Disk Image… and find your .IMG file.

    Burn from Disk Utility
    Burn from Disk Utility
  5. Click and select the disk image in the left hand column, then click the Burn icon in the top tool bar.
  6. Insert the blank DVD when asked to do so.
  7. Click burn when the option window comes up.
  8. Eject the DVD and try it in your computer or in a regular DVD player.

Using this method to create a DVD will result in a disk that can play in a regular commercial DVD player or a Mac.