Slow computer or slow internet? Also, comedy: “STOPTIONAL”

I recently visited a business that I’ve helped with computer problems for nearly 10 years. They claimed to need faster computers because their accountants were trying to send QuickBooks data files to themselves through remote desktop tools and the speed was pretty terrible. When I got there and talked to them for a bit, I realized they were probably on a 10-year-old DSL internet package, so I ran a speed test.

1.5 Mbps down, 0.5 Mbps (512 Kbps) up. That’s nowhere near fast enough to upload QuickBooks data files fast enough! I told them to call CenturyLink and see about upgrading their package, possibly saving them thousands of dollars in computer upgrades and replacements.

Also at the start of this video is a fake Monster energy drink “sponsorship” skit. Don’t worry about the loud crash; the Monster can survived intact. 😉

Camera advice: don’t cheap out

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I often see two forms of advice in response to “what camera should I buy for video?” Some push buying expensive full-frame DSLRs with rigs, but more often the advice is to use what you already own (usually a phone) or get the cheapest thing that can possibly work. I think the latter is good advice, but I also think that it can be bad for the beginner to cheap out too hard on their first camera.

In this video, I ramble about why it makes sense to buy something a little more expensive.

XAVC-S with SDHC cards in a Sony HDR-AZ1 action camera

This is a quick tip for anyone that has a Sony HDR-AZ1 action camera and bought a high-speed MicroSDHC card (32GB or less) and is disappointed to learn that the camera refuses to record XAVC-S on the card even though it can handle the necessary write speed.

Put the card in your computer and format it with the exFAT filesystem instead of FAT32. Yep, that’s it. The default filesystem is the major difference between SDHC and SDXC cards and formatting the SDHC as exFAT is enough to fool the Sony camera. I think the exFAT requirement is actually present because exFAT supports files larger than 4GB in size while FAT32 does not; XAVC-S can result in some really large files compared to other modes.

The camera and apps will complain and beep about the card “not being compatible” but it’ll record XAVC-S at the full 50Mbps 60p rate to your card despite the annoying protests.

Several YouTube videos switched to Creative Commons license

I have several videos on YouTube for which I’ve changed the licenses to Creative Commons. Most of them are computer repair videos but some are short cuts and test videos I’ve done for various reasons. I like to make some material available through Creative Commons because copyright has become a terrible monstrosity, so we have to help each other.

If you use one of my videos in your work, I’d love to know! I would be honored to see my material in someone else’s creations.

Second cut of “The Old Man’s Pendant II” short film released

It’s pretty common among artists to never truly feel that their works of art are complete. There is always room for improvement. In that spirit, I’ve made some improvements to my fourth short film “The Old Man’s Pendant II” that make it easier to read and more fun to watch. The title card, special effects, and dialogue have been changed. If you’ve watched the first cut, see if you can spot all of the changes!

A Casual Sensor Size Comparison: DSLR vs Camcorder vs Phone

If you haven’t noticed (how haven’t you?!) I enjoy shooting videos in my spare time. One of the trends I’ve observed over the past seven years is that the Canon 5D Mark III made “full-frame DSLR” the gold standard for “low-cost yet professional” video production. Personally, I can’t afford a full-frame DSLR and I don’t know that I’d want to; what I’ve learned since the 5Dmk3 heyday has been a cautionary tale in technology.

I bought the Panasonic G7 mirrorless camera nearly a year ago and some of the video I’ve seen it crank out has been so amazing that I seriously questioned the religion of “bigger camera sensors are always better.” I mean, we’re talking about a camera with only one quarter the sensor size of a full-frame DSLR, yet it shoots 4K video that looks awesome even in lower light than a 2x crop sensor is “supposed to” be able to handle. What I’ve learned is that camera sensors are actually a very complicated subject that can’t be boiled down to “bigger is better” although there are certain aspects of a large sensor camera that tend to live up to that perception.

You see, there are several different sensor types and configurations and even in the same sensor configuration there can be evolution in manufacturing that make a newer sensor far better than an older version of the exact same sensor. CCD used to be the only choice for quality video but the evolution of CMOS sensors has vastly outpaced the venerable CCD to the point that a brand new CMOS sensor will always be better than an equivalent CCD. I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea. There are a lot of sensors available on the market and “bigger is better” is a really unfair way to rank them because the field is so much richer than us button-smashing plebs with technical inferiority complexes want it to be.

How could I dispel the myth of large sensor superiority? I thought it over and realized that the solution is deceptively simple. I show a bunch of camera shots of the same thing but don’t say which is which. That way the viewer’s eye has to make the final choice about what’s best and I can tell them what sensor they chose after they’ve been unable to draw on their prejudice against camcorders and small-sensor cameras. That comparison shall now be dispensed unto you, dear viewer! Enjoy it! Video also available at Vidme.

Soundtracks for The Old Man’s Pendant I and II

If you haven’t seen my short films yet…you really should take a look! If you have, you’ve probably noticed that The Old Man’s Pendant I and II have some wonderful original scores that I composed to take them from mediocre to awesome. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could listen to the music all by itself?

Well, guess what? You can! Take a look at my SoundCloud playlists and you’ll find the complete soundtrack for both The Old Man’s Pendant I and II. For your convenience, I’ve put players below. I hope you enjoy my music as much as I enjoyed making it!

HP 15 Touchpad Cable Connector Repair (with Canon camcorder visual assist)

I accidentally pulled the flip-lock compression part of an HP laptop’s touchpad connector out during a repair. The pins that connect to the cable also act as springs to push down on the connector and give it that neat flip-lock action. Unfortunately, that also means that the pins are in the way of putting the connector back in place. We’re talking about replacing a part that is more narrow than a pinky fingernail! With my trusty Canon R60 camcorder (yes, the same camera my first short film was shot on) in macro zoom mode on a tripod connected to a HDMI computer monitor and a simple metal dental cleaning pick, I was able to put the connector back together the same way that a laparoscopic surgeon does: by staring at a monitor for imaging assistance. Video also available at Vidme.

The Old Man’s Pendant II

“The Old Man’s Pendant” was a short film I created as a more involved and complex project to teach myself video editing. Prior to that, the only things that I had created were silly five-second joke clips or music videos spliced together from random things I pointed my camcorder at and polished with crude experimentation in visual effects. After my third (and most complicated) music video, I decided it was time to do something with more structure. Inspired by James Rolfe’s “How I Got Started” story and being stuck at home due to the ice and snow on the roads, I came up with nothing more than a crude idea for a short movie and started recording. I’ll spare you the details since I’m planning to make a documentary about my journey in the near future, but the bottom line is that such a small project which I expected to be finished in a few days at the most ended up taking around four months. It was a completely original work from scratch where I was learning not only video editing but writing and music composition. I also learned first-hand just how difficult it really is to put together a high-quality video project.

That movie was shot in January of 2016. One year later, stuck at home and snowed in yet again, I decided that it would be fun to shoot a sequel. My story ideas were better, my footage was more usable with less silly mistakes, and my skill levels had improved significantly. It’s not realistic to finish the post-production work in a week, but surely I could get it done within a month or two, right?

Instead of four months, this one took six months to complete. It’s funny how that works. Today, the sequel to my first short film went up on YouTube.

“The Old Man’s Pendant II” took so long to finish and was worth every bit of time it took. It is by far the most polished and interesting thing I’ve created to date. My least developed filmmaking skill is music composition, yet I’m still listening to my own soundtrack as I type this! The improvement between the films is obvious. While there are still plenty of things that could be polished in the final film, I try to avoid falling too hard into the perfectionist artist trap. At some point you need to stop fidgeting about with your creation, put it out there, and move on to the next big thing.

I’m very proud of my latest short film. I hope that you find it as enjoyable and satisfying as the process of creating it has been for me. I’ll be doing a documentary about my progress from the first film to the completion of the second one, so stay tuned for that.

If you’re still interested, feel free to watch the official trailer for The Old Man’s Pendant II, listen to and download the film’s soundtrack, watch the TOMP2 teaser video, and check out the behind-the-scenes teaser.

These videos are also available at Vidme: The Old Man’s Pendant II, TOMP2 Teaser, TOMP2 Behind the Scenes Teaser.