Saturday, September 02, 2006

For those who think I fell off the face of the planet...

Here's what I've been doing.

It's taken me that last 4 months to put all of it together and it's starting to finally come to light. Good times, good times.

I should be getting some free time to post over here more frequently in the next 60 days but for now, these little jaunts in will be the extent of it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Some A1U HD Footage

Thought everyone might like to see what the A1U can do with light at twilight. The footage was captured on a manfrotto tripod using a 503 head. It's compressed down to 1.5mbps and that's just about the bare minimum for keeping the detail intact. I used SonicFire Pro 4 to score it.

Launch in externl player

Friday, August 25, 2006

OFF TOPIC: Since When Did The Murder of A Little Girl Become An Entertainment Story?


The following entry is not only off topic but it's a verifiable rant. I've long since stopped watching most entertainment shows on TV because they pretty much stopped being about interesting things and started being more about who's wearing the latest fashion and what anorexic model/actress/celebrity wannabe is doing to dispell the rumor that weighing 89 pounds is abnormal.

Well, enough is enough.

I somehow managed to be flipping through the channels a few nights ago when I stopped at the venerable, and arguably senior citizen entertainment show, Entertainment Tonight and what struck me wasn't simply how vacuous and vapid the vast majority of our celebrity culture is but that the Jon Benet Ramsey story is now considered entertainment news.

Let me draw a picture of what this means. It is now completely and utterly acceptable to have the circus of the Jon Benet Ramsey debacle packaged for neat consumption not only on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS but also on channels like E! and on shows like Entertainment Tonight.

When the fuck did the brutal murder of a little girl become entertainment news? Seriously, have we lost touch with the importance of actual news that we actually miss the total chaos and absurdity of a show like Entertainment Tonight doing long pieces about the murder of a little Colorado girl. Where in that story is the entertainment?

So what we have is a story about Lindsay Lohan's tits (real or not?!?!!??!?!) followed by a Jon Benet fruitloop stalker/alleged killer piece because nothing says entertainment news more than the brutal killing of a little pageant princess and the man-boy who may have loved her to death, wrapped up with a story about who's engaged to whom and if it's really, real this time for real??!?!!?!? Like, we need to know. We can't sleep without knowing.

To say nothing of the fact that it's not news for 99.9% of the world in the first place. It's a local tragedy that ought to get good coverage in Colorado and a brief mention elsewhere. How many little girls die every day in the US?

I'll let you in a little secret. It's not entertainment news and it has no business being packaged on an entertainment channel or on a long running entertainment program. If I want news, I'll flip to one of the actual, oh, NEWS channels. Then again, I don't happen to think it's worthy of news on actual NEWS channels either but that's a different rant for a different day.

It boggles my mind that we now live in a world where this is both accepted and expected.

How do I get off this crazy carousel? It's making my head spin and I'm afraid if I fall off I might just end up falling onto Mary Hart doing a hard hitting news piece about John Mark Karr and his fascination with Merry-Go-Round animals.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Putting It All Together: Flying the Sony A1U on the Steadicam Merlin

Now that all my equipment is here, I'm in the process of putting it all together. The first step to this is spending the next 3 weeks really learning how to fly the Steadicam Merlin and the Sony A1U. For this first video, what you'll see is essentially my first flight with the basic setup of nothing but the camera on the Merlin. The only additional piece of equipment on the camera included the larger camera battery which required that the doveplate be moved forward to compensate for the heavier backend. The footage was shot inside a home with no additional camera lighting and shows that the A1U captures adequate lowlight footage but definitely needs more light. I would never attempt to use this kind of footage in a professional project as it doesn't hold up in the darker areas from a purely technical viewpoint ignoring the newbie Merlin mistakes.

The Steadicam Merlin is not a tool for people with limited patience as it requires a great deal of tweaking to maintain good balance. If you watch closely, you'll notice some subtle (and not so subtle) pendulum swings in the footage. For the first flight, I'm pretty happy with the overall look of the footage. I'll continue to add more Merlin footage over the coming days and weeks to document my progress with it and to show what both it and the A1U can do in better lighting conditions.

For most Merlin work, the camera will be flying with both the XLR mount and either a Sennheiser G2 100 wireless receiver for a wireless Boom or the Rode NTG-2 shotgun mounted in a shockmount on the camera so as I get each setup balanced I'll include a post listing my settings as well.

Monday, July 17, 2006

OFF TOPIC: And People Wonder Why Kentucky Gets a Bad Rap For Its' Education System?

I'd say something witty here but I'm stumped to come up with anything funnier than that sign.

The signs at the cascading pools in Waterfront Park are meant to frighten: They proclaim in bold letters, "danger" and "high levels of hydrogen."

But the warnings are bogus.

The water in the fountain pools is, like all water, made of two-thirds hydrogen atoms and one-third oxygen atoms.

And as any chemistry student can tell you, there is no health threat from coming into contact with H20.

David Karem, the Waterfront Development Corp.'s executive director, had the signs made to try to keep people out of the water after health officials raised concerns about bacteria in the fountains last year.

However, tests this year show the fountains meeting swimming pool standards.

Karem acknowledged that he might be fighting a losing battle. "I could go out there with stun guns," he said, and it would do no good.

Now that's really funny.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Behind the scenes of Reno Digital: Preparing for the Big Day

I just wanted to take a minute to let everyone know that I am currently in the process of creating a video production company and as such, that's why site updates are kinda slowed this week. Starting a company can eat up so much of your time but I didn't want to neglect this site so I wanted to drop in and say that over the next several weeks I'll be continuing to create cool new content for Reno Digital along with some other stuff. Plus once things settle down, I have much bigger plans that I hope will really stir the creative juices of everyone interested in this whole video editing passion we all share.

I'm also going to be documenting the creation and setup of my new company because all of it ties directly into my vision for what I want to do on the web. Early next week, be on the lookout for part one of this behind the scenes look at what goes into creating a video production company. I'll go over the details of selecting equipment and software and how I arrived at the decisions I've made. This series will probably be on going for the next several months as I struggle much like every other new business owner does in all the little details and I wanted to document every exciting and scary step along the way.

Till next week, take care and keep on editing.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Welcome To The Readers of 'Making Movies'

Howdy! Just wanted to take a moment to welcome all the readers of Jim Thompson's great little slice of the blogosphere, Making Movies.

For everyone else who might not know, Jim runs an "officially" sanctioned blog as part of the Houston Chronicle newspaper's team of newly revamped bloggers. Jim's part of that team, and I must say, the first NASA employee (that I'm aware of) to swing on by my slice of the blogosphere, webosphere, whateverkindofsphere, leave a comment and I think I know why.

Jim has some quality concerns with YouTube and we both agree that neither of the big sites is going to win an award for high quality looking video streams.

Here's a quick peek at Jim's shootout of Google Video and YouTube Video.
If you've been reading this blog for long, you know I have a problem with the quality of YouTube's transcoded videos. YouTube uses an older version of the FLV video codec, and transcodes its videos to too low a bitrate. I discovered this when I uploaded my one-minute video to YouTube. It turns out that this particular video is a kind of torture test for video compression, because of all its scene detail and motion. So I'm going to trot it out one more time.

Now in fairness to Jim, and also because the man is a NASA software engineer, I can't argue that it appears the Google Video clip video quality looks better. How can I begin to compete with a NASA guy? I got my degree in Journalism from a school in Kentucky. Jim, well he only helps WRITE CODE for our SPACE SHUTTLE Program. He's got the freakin' ultimate trump card.
Me: Google Video Sucks.

Jim: Oh yeah? Well, I just helped launch the Space Shuttle.

Me: Hmm, would ya look at the time? I gotta go paint the kitchen.
But in all seriousness, anytime like minds get together cool things happen and I'm glad Jim is passionate enough about this endeavor that out of what must be a busy workload he takes the time to talk about his love for making movies in such an open forum both on his site and over here.

So to Jim and all you fine Texas folks, welcome to Reno Digital. Make yourselves at home. Stay a while. We've got lots of cool stuff coming, and if you're interested in movie making and video editing then you've come to the right place whether its over on Making Movies or right here. Plus, take a look at the sidebar links and see if there aren't a few sites you might not have visited. We'll probably bump into each other elsewhere. If we do, don't be afraid to say hi.

Ain't the internet cool?

Fun With YouTube: This Site Is Not THX Certified

Just on a lark I stripped the THX opening titles from a movie, made a few *ahem* adjustments, and sent the file to out into that wonderful land called YouTube.

While waiting for it to finish uploading a thought occured to me. I wonder if modifying the resolution settings would create a properly scaled video that I might be able to fit on the top of the sidebar.

And ya know what?

It worked.

But for those of you wearing bifocals here's the normal rez version of it. For everyone else, I think I'll leave it there. Now I just need to come up with one new sidebar video for each page.

Good times.

This Site Is Not THX Certified

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Google Video and YouTube Video Shootout

As more and more of the free video hosting services spring up I thought I'd take a moment to compare the relative quality of the two largest providers of the service for ease of use, available options and image quality. First up, Google Video. Signing up for both services requires the same information and both signups work as intended.

The process for uploading video to Google is essentially the same as uploading video to YouTube with one significant difference. The Google Video Uploader application allows you to cue multiple videos and runs as a simple standalone application so you don't have to be logged in via your browser to manage your videos or upload them. You'll simply enter your Google account information and password and the application does the rest.

Google Video Uploader Interface

UPLOAD INTERFACE: Google: 1 YouTube: 0

As far as speed, neither seems especially fast although in unscientific testing I believe that YouTube is marginally faster by about 10%. But there are far too many variables to make any definitive statement regarding who's service is the fastest.

UPLOAD SPEEDS: Google: 1 YouTube: 1

You can find the rest of the shootout here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Since this site is about our community, it's time to start showing your latest masterpiece to the world and letting them decide just how masterful it really is. Record-Edit-Premiere, or REP for short, is all about taking chances, sharing your creative vision and letting the community vote on what they enjoy for each week's entries. Here's how it works: every Wednesday I'll post the REP CHALLENGE and any rules that might be in play. Each REP CHALLENGE will be a different theme. This week, for its debut, I'm posting it on Tuesday because today also happens to be a national holiday for the USA and a great day to shoot some video.

: The Fourth of July

REP CHALLENGE REQUIREMENTS: Your video submission must be over 2 minutes long but no longer than 5 minutes long. What you shoot is up to you, but it must somehow include the theme for this week. You can create a slideshow if you so desire using still images and audio. Your video should be appropriate for all ages and at no time should you endanger yourself (like our Darwin Awards Candidate in the clip below) or anyone else during your video. To submit your video, post it to youtube, and send the link to REP CHALLENGE ENTRY. Please include your first name and last initial for voting purposes, a brief summary of your entry including running time and the tools you used to create your entry (Photoshop for graphics, filters, transitions, effects, etc.).

No more than six entries will be accepted for each REP CHALLENGE so don't wait to submit your entry. The deadline for submission is midnight on the following Tuesday of each REP CHALLENGE. I'll post all the entries the following Wednesday along with the next REP CHALLENGE.

Along with posting the entries, there will also be a poll for voting on your favorite entry. The poll will run until midnight on the following Tuesday. In the event of a tie, I will cast the deciding vote. The winner will be annonced as part of the REP CHALLENGE and the video will be put in the HALL OF FAME for all to enjoy.

So, you think you're the next Spielberg, Scorcese or Altman? Well, it's time to find out just how good you are and this week you'd better have some serious fireworks to make that happen. Oh, and if you happen to have fun and learn something new along the way, well, that's what the REP CHALLENGE is all about in the first place.

Monday, July 03, 2006

For Everyone In The Good Old US of A Be Safe This Holiday

Look, I like beer and explosives as much as the next red-blooded American man does, but it doesn't mean when your best friend Jerry says he wants you to hold a tube of questionably manufactured Chinese explosives you think that would be a great way to spend your night when, in point of fact, chances are better than 50/50 someone ends up screaming in agony while a certain part of someone's hand is suddenly a brilliantly colored fireball.

So, I'm asking you to consider very carefully your answer before you agree to Jerry's request. After all, it's kinda hard to scrub through your niece's birthday party video with a stub and one good eye.

For everyone outside the USA, have a great Tuesday.

Be safe this Fourth of July


The New Poll Is Now Available For Your Voting Pleasure

If you haven't voted yet, now's your chance to add your two cents to yet another internet poll. Only this time, your votes actually count for something other than who has has the best computer game or which movie is most likely to suck.

Here, you get to vote on what you'd like to see for new demonstrations, and tutorials. All for one low price.

Well, ok. It's free. But you gotta spend the time reading each poll response so that counts for something, right?

This week's polls asks the searing question:
What kind of Premiere 2.0 How-To video would you most like to see?

What are you waiting for? Go click. You'll be glad you did.

Tip Of The Week

    Use ALT-[ and ALT-] with the CTI for controlling the location of the WORKBAR.
    Have a great tip or trick? Share it with everyone by sending your tips to Tip Of The Week

Editing Essentials

    The Timeline’s current-time indicator(CTI), a blue triangle in the time ruler, corresponds with the frame displayed in the Monitor panel’s Timeline view. A vertical line extends from this current-time indicator through all the tracks.

Inside Elements 2.0


Hall of fame

    Will your REP video be the first entry in our Hall of Fame?


    What kind of Premiere 2.0 How-To video would you most like to see?
    Using Photoshop Elements with Premiere Elements
    Organizing Project Workflows
    Creating Cool Stuff with the Traveling Matte Effect
    Using Sound Effectively
    Using Titles Effectively
    Just the Basics Please - Editing for the Beginner
    Other - Please Leave A Comment for your Suggestion
    Free polls from

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