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10 February, 2017

Ultimate #MOJO mic setups for Osmo Mobile Journalism

We have unboxed and hacked the Osmo Mobile for mobile journalism with field ready setups.

Make mobile lives and field reporting with incredible production values without a lot of spend.

Here are three microphone setups for professional filming and lives with the Osmo Mobile.

Solo mic. Røde Videomic

Osmo Universal holder with Sennheiser AVX wireless mics.

Røde SC4 TRS to TRSS adapter.

Røde Videomic Pro, Røde Videomicro, Røde SC4, Røde SC6, DJI Osmo Universal holder

Take the #MOJO quick course online for only $0.99.

29 January, 2017

Film and edit 4K Log footage on your iPhone

Just in time for my filmmaking visit to Cairo, Filmic Pro's COO Kevin Buonagurio sent me the super-secret beta of his company's flagship app.

I am here with a load of new 360° and cinematic MOJO gear to test.

This is the test footage - all of it shot and edited in iOS.

I am not allowed to share screengrabs of the actual app interface just yet, but let me assure you there are many great UIX upgrades in the beta of Filmic Pro.

Smart touches that make filming with a smartphone feel much more like operating a pro video camera.

One of the killer features is the ability to record in an Log gamma profile.

I know that sounds ultra-geeky, but bear with me.

This tech offers a way to capture more cinematic shots using just an iPhone. That is astounding.

This feature of offering a Log profile is something usually found only on much more expensive (and dedicated) cinema cameras.

It is the motion-picture parallel of a still photog's 'RAW' file format. A mode of filming that captures the maximum amount of information from a scene that gives you the maximum flexibility with color correction later in the edit suite.

Richard Lackey, an expert in these matters tells me "Non-linear encoding such as 'flat' or 'log' assigns values (from the sensor) unevenly. More steps or values are assigned to shadows and mids, and fewer to extreme highlights."

By way of comparison, shooting in "Linear is kind of the opposite, linear assigns values 0-255 perfectly evenly between black and 100% white."

I know this technical, but the approach is practical.

Filming in 'Log' is a great choice when filming a high-contrast scene because it allows you to capture a wider range of exposure information. Which means you can preserve more details from the highlight and shadow areas.

In this beta version of Filmic Pro, the developers offer a gamma curve called "Flat" and it is fantastic.

Note: Filming in this mode is a less than an ideal setting for filming in low-light scenes (because of noise) so keep that in mind.

I have filmed and directed several documentaries across Egypt with dedicated cameras before and it is safe to assume that the Cairo often presents a high-contrast lighting environment.

Desert environments are quite severe in many respects - and especially when it comes to natural light.

I have also been documenting my filming and editing process and will include the workflow in new tutorials in the Smart Film School. (once the app comes out of Beta!)

This cinematic scene was filmed with a beta version of the @FiLMiCPro app in the app's 'FLAT' gamma setting at 4K resolutions, 24 FPS, and with an Moondog Labs anamorphic lens and the digital (in-app) de-squeezing of the optical anamorphic compression.

The clips were graded on the iPhone using VideoGrade app and cut together with the Splice app.

Here is the the news: No laptop is needed to get this result.

(Of course, I did add a watermark and animated titles in FCPx before uploading this instructional edit)

Additional gear used: MoondogLabs anamorphic lens mounted to a Beastgrip Pro. K&M desktop mic stand, Røde micro mic, Oakley waterproof backpack.

28 January, 2017

5 tips for making great 360° photographs

These five tips will help you make more impressive 360° VR photos.
  1. Here comes the sun
  2. Ditch the thumb 
  3. Don’t get too close
  4. Go remote 
  5. Get vertical
Enjoy this free 360° tutorial from the Smart Film School.

1. Keep the sun on the side

When framing your shot, take care to ensure that the sun is somewhere between the lenses and that neither one is pointed directly at it. 

When a lens faces the sun, it receives much more light than the other side and this often results in a visible halo that reveals the stitching line.

Pro tip: Seek out shots when the light is filtered: Can your shot be framed to block a large light source with buildings or clouds?

2. Use a selfie stick or small tripod

If you want to avoid taking photos that all have a giant thumb in them, you will need to attach a selfie stick or a small tripod to the 360° camera.  

The slimmer the mount the better.

Without a tripod . . .

 . . . and with a tripod

I can guess what your next question is . . . so here is the tripod I use in the field.

3. Avoid the extreme close-up

For the same reason that the big thumb can be distracting, you will want to keep subject's faces a certain distance away from the camera lenses too.

Make some test shots with your rig to find the right distance. Look for faces that are not distorted from the visual stitching that happens in the software.

Faces distort easily when they are too close

4. Use a remote control app 

You can film professional looking VR images once you get your 360° camera in an interesting location, have it stabilized on a stick or tripod and can activate it remotely. 

Most cameras ship with a companion smartphone app that allows you to trip the shutter or toggle the video camera on and off.

Tripping the shutter with an app

5. Watch the horizon

It is critical to get the horizon level when filming landscape VR shots.

Pay attention to the 'verticality' of your camera rig and double check the horizon with the live image preview with your smartphone app.

This is what happens when your camel ride makes it hard to hold the camera vertical . . .

I have more e-learning courses!

Check out my social video tutorials on Udemy or at the Smart Film School Web site.

Smart Film School lessons

23 January, 2017

Fight #AlternateFacts with #VisualJournalism

A chart produced with an iPhone in about three minutes.

Visual journalism is a powerful weapon to combat the rise of #Alternatefacts and the good news is that journalists don't need a special graphics team or expensive laptop to produce them from the field during breaking news events.

Reporters: It is time to reporting stories more visually.
Too many stories tried to refute the #alternatefacts presented by The White House merely using the text of numbers.
The Washington Post story comparing subway ridership for recent inaugurations in DC. And a separate story that lists numbers from the Women's March protest.

The White House has installed two video displays to either side of the briefing podium in order to post visuals they hope will persuade their audiences inside and outside of the briefing room.

Readers can't easily visualize the patterns these numbers represent when reported only in text.

Important data needs to engage the right side (Literally the right side . . .) of the brain.

The visual side.

Number stories need a chart.

Any reporter can do this by using an app on their smartphone to SHOW their audience what the numbers mean in their reporting.

For example when they gather and confirm independent ridership data of how many subway rides happened on which day, those numbers can be quickly charted.

I maintain a handy list of apps for reporters to use for visual journalism and the Viz app is a simple way to show your followers the numbers that the White House presented did not match subway ridership numbers. 

You can do this in about three minutes and have a visual for any platform.
Enter the data

Format to bar chart (The correct graphics form for this kind of data set). 

Export and save to camera roll

Ready to share.

19 January, 2017

First look: Røde VideoMic Soundfield

This is a new 360° microphone from Røde and it looks like a game-changer for #MOJO video, 360° live video, DSLR sound recording, sports, music, you name it. 

A soundfield mic uses four mic capsules to record surround sound. 

It outputs these as four separate audio tracks which gives sound engineers the ability to make incredibly life like sound mixes.

The Røde VideoMic Soundfield has internal chips that will output B-format converted audio out of the 3.5mm TRS jack as a stereo signal. 

And the raw A-format four-track audio can be recorded using a dongle attached to the smaller multi-pin jack.

That's amazing flexibility. 

I talk more about recording multi-track audio in this recent post about making 360 videos.

You can use the mic to capture highly directional audio.

Or a stereo mix

or 360° ambisonic audio.

Stay tuned . . .  We'll be testing this out in the Smart Film School very soon.