All posts by Shawn Thorpe

About Shawn Thorpe

Shawn is a freelance media technician and podcast consultant living in San Luis Obispo, CA. | Blog | Twitter

Pond5 Stock Video Comes to Adobe Creative Cloud



Pond5 LogoIt’s not always possible to gather all of the footage yourself for a video project. Or, maybe you just need a cool bit of video to spruce up that latest video package. Having access to stock footage in these cases can be a real lifesaver for busy video producers. But it can be a challenge to find good stock footage, and when you do find it, you may have to clear multiple levels of licensing, which can be a real hassle.

Adobe recently partnered with stock video company Pond5 to make it easier for Adobe Creative Cloud users to get access to Pond5 content:

…we are excited to announce our partnership with Pond5 to further expand our video offering. Pond5 offers a diverse library of videos, motion-graphics and more, sourced from an international community of artists. The collection spans across a mix of modern, highly sought after content themes such as lifestyle, recreation, sports, cinematic, and aerial footage.

And:

Our partnership will bring a large and growing segment of high-quality footage clips from Pond5’s collection. Our customers will have access to this wide range of video and motion graphics content at their fingertips, thanks to Adobe Stock’s native integrations into Creative Cloud applications.

Adobe goes on to note that this partnership will also be beneficial to Pond5 contributors, as their creations will now be easier to access for Creative Cloud users.


Apple Wants You to Be a Better iPhoneographer



Apple logoPhone-based photography is really becoming an accepted way to take everything from snapshots to professional-grade photos. It wasn’t all that long ago that camera phones were shunned for their poor image quality and lack of features. But most people don’t even own point-and-shoot cameras anymore because the cameras on their smartphones are good enough to be the only cameras they need.

Apple made a serious step up in its own camera phone technology with last year’s release of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The cameras built into these phones contain the most advanced imaging hardware ever made by Apple (and some have argued, ever made for smartphones). I’m not sure if Apple is so thrilled with these cameras that they really want to make sure people know how to use them, or if they’re attempting some clever marketing to clear out old stock ahead of the release of a new iPhone later this year. Regardless, the company has released a series of short videos on YouTube to help iPhoneographers get the most out of their hardware.

This tutorial series is called How to Shoot on iPhone 7 and it contains five parts:

  • How to shoot a great portrait on iPhone 7 Plus
  • How to shoot a close-up on iPhone 7
  • How to shoot a vertical Pano on iPhone 7
  • How to shoot without a flash on iPhone 7
  • How to shoot action on iPhone 7

You can watch the entire playlist in under three minutes. These videos are quick and to the point. But they still contain plenty of that somehow-casual-but-still-well-produced vibe Apple is good at.

If you’d like to expand your skills with your iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus’s camera, this is a good place to start.


Facebook Debuts Open-Source 360-Degree Video Camera



Facebook Surround 360 CameraWhen you think cutting-edge video, Facebook isn’t usually the first name that comes to mind. But the ever-growing, ever-present social-media behemoth is trying its hardest to push into new territories when it comes to video. Facebook has gotten a lot of attention recently (for better or for worse) over its live-streaming video service. And the company isn’t stopping there.

At last month’s F8 developer conference, Facebook showed off its new Surround 360-degree camera, and announced that the software developer kit for the camera would be open source. Facebook is obviously hoping that the open-source approach will lead to quick adoption of the camera’s features, allowing Facebook app developers to implement the camera in intriguing ways.

The camera itself is round and is equipped with 24 individual cameras that cover the Surround 360-degree spectrum. The camera’s circular design will allow it to be mounted on a pole or stand that’ll keep it from taking video of itself (none of the cameras will be able to “see” each other), creating a pure 360-degree video experience. Presumably, Facebook apps will allow users to turn, pan, and tilt 360-degree videos, similar to how Facebook’s current panoramic photo feature works.

No word yet on when the Surround 360 camera will be available for purchase, or how much it’ll cost. But if the camera hits the market with a hefty price tag (which seems pretty likely), it’s doubtful 360-degree video will take off as fast as Facebook would like.


Tether Tools Has New Mounts and Stands for Monitors and iMacs



Tether Tools logoModern computer displays are amazing things. In most cases, they’re thin, light, and relatively portable right out of the box. That makes it easy to install them in all kinds of different locations. But most monitors only come with simple desk-based stands in the box. Thanks to the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) standards for monitors and TVs, it’s easier than ever to use most digital displays (and even Apple iMac computers) with all kinds of mounts and stands that make it possible to use those displays almost anywhere.

Tether Tools, a leading manufacturer of many popular adaptive stands for tablets, phones, and displays, recently announced a collection of new products to help creators use their monitors in new ways. Here’s a rundown of these new items from Tether Tools:

  • Rock Solid VESA Monitor Mounts: From Tether Tools: “These three VESA Monitor Mounts are an integral part of mounting a monitor to a stand or tripod. All three require a monitor that is VESA compliant with a 75×75 or 100x100mm configuration or a monitor that is outfitted with a VESA adapter.”
  • Rock Solid iMac Adapters: From Tether Tools: “The VESA iMac Stand Adapter employs a unique adapter ring system, and a heavy-duty steel construction will keep your iMac safe and secure. The brushed aluminum finish matches the look of an iMac, giving you a setup that is both attractive and functional. Pair a Rock Solid VESA Monitor Mount (sold separately) with a Rock Solid VESA iMac/Cinema Display Direct Adapter to mount your iMac to a stand or tripod.”
  • Rock Solid iMac Direct Adapter: For use with iMacs that have a VESA adapter already connected.
  • Rock Solid VESA Adapter Plates and Extensions: From Tether Tools: “Certain monitors have a VESA configuration larger than 100x100mm, that’s where our three adapter plates come in. These plates convert 200×200, 400x200mm, and larger VESA configurations to the standard VESA pattern of 100x100mm to make your monitor compatible with mounts such as the Rock Solid VESA Monitor Mounts (mentioned earlier).”
  • Rock Solid VESA Monitor Quick Release System: This system makes it easy to install or remove a display onto a stand or mount. Ideal for situations where you need to move a display between locations.
  • Rock Solid Non-VESA Monitor Mount Adapter Arms: From Tether Tools: “The Rock Solid Non-VESA Monitor Mount Adapter Arms will fit most LCD or LED monitors with a bezel height from 10.5″ to 16.25″ and overall thickness from 1″ to 2.75″, or generally, most widescreen monitors from 17″ to 27″ (fits square 13″ screens). The adapter is designed to fit any VESA monitor mount with 75x75mm or 100x100mm mounting holes, and includes all required screws and other hardware for assembly.”

All products above range in price and can be purchased thru the Tether Tools store.


SID is an Augmented Reality Live Streaming 3-D Camera



SID CameraMost video producers are still trying to figure out how to get over the 4K hump. But video technology waits for no one, and the true cutting edge these days may not be in just adding more pixels to a high-definition image, but instead, taking viewers to potentially new realities and dimensions. That’s exactly what the new SID camera is looking to achieve:

At last, shake-free 3D content creation that’s easy and affordable for EVERYONE!  Weeview’s SID offers the BEST immersive and stereoscopic viewing experience. Don’t just record the special memories, start re-living the experience in unbelievable life-like 3D format.

Here are some key features of the SID video camera:

  • Immersive 3-D camera with stereoscopic imaging effect
  • Adjustable parallax setting allows users to get different stereoscopic effects
  • 3-D video can be used for virtual reality presentations
  • 3-D video live streaming capability via connection to smartphone
  • Smart highlight feature provides close ups on certain parts of the video, allowing you to focus on areas that you are interested in without losing the complete shot
  • Auto-follow technology keeps video centered on the main subject of the shot
  • Create shake-free 3-D video with the SID camera kit, also makes it easier to connect the camera to a smartphone for video streaming
  • Create, share, and edit SID videos using the Weeview app for Android and iOS

The SID camera is being launched thru Kickstarter (see the link at the top of this article). The campaign has already reached its funding goal. SID camera packages can be had for a $179 contribution, with upgraded packages available for larger contributions.


Get Free Audio Plugins from Plugin Alliance



Plugin Alliance LogoThe only thing better than new audio production plugins is FREE new audio production plugins. Plugin Alliance currently has six free audio plugins posted on its website, available as free downloads. Here’s a rundown of these plugins:

  • Brainworx bx_cleansweep V2: A plugin that provides hi-pass and lo-pass filtering in one place. From Plugin Alliance: “Brainworx Anti-Crush technology uses analog style filter curves that eliminate common digital sound problems like harshness and aliasing. This advanced filter design is taken from their pro mastering EQ, bx_digital V2. First order filters (6 dB per octave) guarantee an extremely musical-sounding filter set, and a unique joystick interface (taken from the bx_hybrid) gives you fast and intuitive control.”
  • Brainworx bx_subfilter: This plugin helps to deal with low-end frequencies that may be troublesome within a mix. From Plugin Alliance: “Polishing your mix’s low end can be tricky. Bass DI tracks can sound mushy, and kick tracks can lose their ‘pop.’ Sometimes everything below 100Hz can become such an undifferentiated soup of noise that you just don’t know where to start! Start here: The bx_subfilter is just the ticket for adding clarity and definition to tracks that have troublesome low frequencies. There are lots of expensive and complicated EQ plugins out there, but when it comes to shaping your low end, the bx_subfilter is unique for its ease and simplicity. With just a few quick adjustments to its four-knob interface, you can breathe new life into those 808s that have been muddying your mix.”
  • elysia niveau filter: Another plugin that helps with EQ. From Plugin Alliance: “The niveau filter provides two basic controls: EQ gain and EQ frequency. Together, they allow you to change the proportions between high and low frequencies on your tracks. The principle is similar to a pair of scales. The ‘EQ Freq’ knob sets the center frequency. The ‘EQ Gain’ knob controls the amount of EQ applied to your signal. When the EQ Gain knob is at 12 o’clock, there is no EQ applied. When you turn the EQ Gain knob to the right, you boost frequencies above the center frequency while simultaneously reducing frequencies below the center frequency. When you turn the EQ Gain to the left you boost frequencies below the center frequency while simultaneously reducing frequencies above the center frequency.”
  • SPL Free Ranger: This plugin is also EQ-centric. From Plugin Alliance: “The Free Ranger is based upon the Full Ranger-EQ from SPL’s EQ Rangers series. It features four very useful bands: The 16 kHz center frequency band is great for adding very pleasant brilliance; the 1.8kHz center frequency band really brings out lead vocals and guitars or reduces harshness; the 150 Hz center frequency band adds warmth, making tracks fuller & fatter, while the 40 Hz center frequency band adds that sub thump or reduces rumble.”
  • Brainworx bx_rockrack V3 Player: A guitar amp simulation plugin. From Plugin Alliance: “The bx_rockrack V3 Player is your ticket to getting stellar guitar tones for absolutely free! By including the same eight immaculate guitar amp simulations as the fully-featured bx_rockrack V3 implemented across 26 professionally designed presets, bx_rockrack V3 Player gives you access to some of the best tones Brainworx has to offer.”
  • Brainworx bx_solo: A comprehensive soloing and muting plugin. From Plugin Alliance: “bx_solo contains a stepped M/S Stereo Width Control, so you can get a sense of how M/S technology can be used to expand the stereo width of tracks already recorded. Try it out on subgroups, FX returns, keyboards, or any stereo track that you’d like to spread out. A great pro trick is to use M/S processing on a rock guitar subgroup: just set the stereo width to 150% and the guitars will jump out of your speakers!”

These plugins are available for free from Plugin Alliance for anyone with a free Plugin Alliance account.


GMF Music Previews the Ai ProTube Preamp/DI Box



ProTubeDespite the rise in solid state digital gear that’s been prominent in audio and music production over the last few decades, many musicians and audio engineers still long for the warm sound that only a real tube-based amplifier can provide. But most tube amps are large, heavy, bulky things that can be cumbersome to work with, especially in situations that may require a minimalist setup in terms of gear. That’s where the new Ai ProTube preamp/DI box from GMF Music comes in:

Geared towards the acoustic instrument market the Ai ProTube has a real “tube” that will make any acoustic instrument sound warm and inviting with no unwanted signal compression. This isn’t just a tube simulation circuit; it is the real thing with a 12AX7 tube circuit.

And:

The GMF Ai ProTube is an acoustic preamplifier, direct box, and all around solution for connecting your acoustic instrument into a sound source. If you don’t have a built-in pickup on your guitar or other acoustic instrument, no problem we will include a handcrafted transducer pickup to your order.

A few of this device’s features:

  • Can be used as a preamp for an acoustic instrument with a built-in pickup or external pickup
  • Can be used as a DI box to connect to a PA system
  • The Ai ProTube is a high quality acoustic amp without the power amp or speakers, making it easy to connect an instrument to a power amp or PA system
  • Add external effects with the built-in effects loop

GMF Music is currently in the planning stages for launching the Ai ProTube thru Kickstarter. Sign up for updates or contact GMF Music directly here.


Small Batch Audio Crowdfunding Campaign Scheduled for May 26th



Last month, we covered the announcement of the new Podcaster Pro audio-production device being developed by Adam Curry’s Small Batch Audio. At the time, we mentioned that the product would be launched thru an online crowdfunding campaign. But, the date of the campaign was not yet known.

In an e-mail update sent today, Small Batch announced that the crowdfunding campaign will go live on Friday, May 26th:

We’ve locked in the kickoff date of our crowdfunding campaign for the Podcaster Pro to Friday May 26th 2017 and we’re very excited! I hope you are as well.

The e-mail also gave some information on how the Podcaster Pro will be priced during the campaign:

As the Indiegogo campaign starts the first people supporting the campaign will have an opportunity to lock in the $497 early bird level. After 48 hours the early bird level will be locked and a higher price level will be available.

The e-mail also notes that prospective buyers who are already on the Small Batch Audio mailing list will be able to put in special requests for the $497 early-bird price, even after early-bird pricing is no longer available. It’s unclear if that offer is only available to those already signed up for the list, or if it’ll be repeated for those who sign up for the list prior to the launch of the campaign on May 26th.


Livestream Rounds Up Product and Feature Releases for Q1 2017



Livestream logoMedia-streaming platform Livestream was pretty busy during 2016. And it looks like the service isn’t letting up during 2017. Livestream recently posted a roundup of all of the things it’s released so far this year. This includes new software and hardware products, as well as updates to some of Livestream’s existing products. Here are some highlights from Livestream’s roundup:

Livestream Simulcasting: Described by Livestream as, “one dashboard to rule them all,” the simulcasting service allows users to stream to multiple platforms from their Livestream accounts. That includes Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope, Twitch, and more. Livestream’s Simulcast service also provides in-depth analytics so users can see which platforms are the most popular with viewers.

HTML5 Player: We wrote earlier this year about Livestream’s new HTML5 player and it looks like the company has delivered on the promised player. The player is a much-needed upgrade from Livestream’s previous Flash player. Livestream is still working on getting the HTML5 player on all possible platforms. The new player is currently available only on the Chrome web browser.

Studio 4.2: We also covered the launch of Livestream’s latest “studio in a box” product, Studio 4.2. Since the release of Studio 4.2, Livestream has added new features to the device, including Dropbox integration, making it easier to bring remotely-stored media into the device.

Dontions for Livestream Subscribers: Livestream broadcasters can now accept donations from viewers during live presentations. This service has been implemented by a wide variety of organizations, including houses of worship and nonprofits to independent artists and creators.

For more information on all of Livestream’s achievements so far this year, check out this Livestream blog post.


Sound Devices Releases New MixPre-3 and MixPre-6 Interfaces



Sound Devices Mix PreSound Devices made waves a few years ago with the release of its MixPre-D audio interface. The company is likely to gain attention once again with the recent announcement of its new MixPre-3 and MixPre-6 interfaces. Sound Devices designed these new MixPre units to be as robust, reliable, and easy to use as the original MixPre-D. But they’ve added some exciting new features and functions to these new MixPre offerings:

The MixPre Series feature Sound Devices’ innovative new Kashmir microphone preamps. These high-performance, ultra-low-noise, discrete, Class-A mic preamps were hand-crafted by Sound Devices. The mic preamps feature a -130dBV noise floor, analog limiters, and new 32-bit A-to-D converters to ensure high quality, stress-free, professional-grade audio recordings.

The MixPre-3 features 3 full-sized balanced XLR mic/line audio inputs, while the MixPre-6 features 4 balanced XLR/TRS combo jacks to connect microphones or line-level devices. Both have a 3.5 mm auxiliary input that can be used for plug-in power mics, 2-channel line-in audio, camera return, or timecode.

Sound Devices suggests that these new MixPre models could be used for a variety of applications, including podcasting, field recording, video production, interview recording, or backup recording in conjunction with a computer.

Both the MixPre 3 and MixPre 6 are currently available for pre-order from most audio equipment vendors. The MixPre 3 retails for $649.00 while the MixPre 6 retails for $899.00.