You might recall another one of his videos I posted a couple of weeks ago.
Interestingly, he used a digital still camera. Not even the movie mode on a still camera, but the super-high-speed burst shooting mode of his top-of-the-line Canon EOS-1D Mark IV digital SLR, which can fire away at up to 10 frames per second. (Miranda and Reilly are the kind of people who are supposed to have expensive cameras. They're wedding photographers, and very good ones.)
The final video, compiled from over 5000 individual photographs, is arty, and a bit strange. My wife Air and I are in it, mostly in the background, but we're featured about four and a half minutes in, just as we were leaving. I'm Mr. Handshaking-Guy-in-a-Hat.
It will be horribly overexposed any minute now, but I don't care, because it is so awesome.
Last week, reporter Theresa Lalonde from CBC interviewed me at my house about how people can plan for what to do with their online presence after they die. The TV video report is now online, and soon I'll post the audio radio versions she did as well.
The topic is similar to a much longer interview I had with Nora Young at CBC's "Spark" last year. There are basically two components to the whole enterprise: figuring out which online activities of yours to shut down and how, and figuring out which ones to keep going and how.
When I learned to play rock music back in the '80s, Vancouver's Odds (and their cover-band alter-ago The Dawn Patrol) were among my key inspirations. I got to know some of the guys in the band too. In the last five or six years, Odds bassist Doug Elliott has also become a good friend, as well as playing bass sometimes in my band.
After a hiatus of close to a decade, the Odds returned with a tweaked lineup of musicians and a new album, Cheerleader, last year, and now they've posted all their music videos dating back to 1991 on YouTube. They're worth a look and a listen. I think "Someone Who's Cool" is still my favourite:
Although the big suit shoulders and done-to-the-neck dress shirts of the early-'90s ones have a certain retro appeal too. Make sure you read the little descriptions by the band.
Some of the best Odds songs combine the intelligence of Elvis Costello with the booty-shaking overdriven guitar boogie of AC/DC, and that's a hard balance to accomplish.
Here, take a look at this extremely cool and scientifically amazing picture:
That's me, via a few slices from my latest CT scan, taken at the end of September 2009. I opened the files provided to me by the B.C. Cancer Agency's Diagnostic Imaging department using the open-source program OsiriX, giving me my first chance to take a first-hand look at my cancer in almost a year. Before that, the I'd only seen my original colon tumour on the flexible sigmoidoscopy camera almost three years ago.
I've circled the biggest lung tumours metastasized from my original colon cancer (which was removed by surgery in mid-2007). You can see the one in my upper left lung and two (one right behind the other) in my lower left lung. There are six more tumours, all smaller, not easily visible in this view. I'm not a radiologist, so I couldn't readily distinguish the smallest ones from regular lung matter and other tissue. Nevertheless, now we can all see what I'm dealing with.
These blobs of cancer have all grown slightly since I started treatment with cediranib in November 2008. To my untrained eye, the view doesn't look that different from the last time I saw my scan in December of that year, which is fairly good as far as I'm concerned. Not as good as if they'd stabilized or shrunk, but better than many other possibilities.
From my Twitter stream:
I've been digitizing some of our old home videos (using a DVD recorder and a Video8 camera borrowed from Paul to replace our long-broken one). Footage of my daughters as babies prompted me to hunt for a particular old scan—this one:
I think I took the two pictures in 2002, when my daughter was about two and a half. She's nine years old now. And I doubt she'd let me get away with taking a similar photo today.
I made three short videos a little while ago, but forgot to link them up here. Silly me. Here they are:
All three were taken with my Nikon D90 SLR, which has a video mode.
It's now available online from London Drugs too, as well as on DVD in their stores here in Western Canada. Why not buy some copies for your friends (and enemies, for that matter)?
While researchers continue to study it, no one is yet sure why music moves us—how we can be affected emotionally by timed sequences of sounds. But we are. And while I play rock drums and love me some guitar, in my life, the most affecting music has been live, vocal, and collective.
Here's what I mean. One of the most astonishing things I've ever heard was the student choir at Magee, the high school where my wife teaches. Years ago I attended one of their concerts. They are, and have long been, an excellent choir. You can get a tiny sense of it from this video, but the sound doesn't do it justice (plus, Christmas carols in August sound weird):
That's a pale simulation of the true experience, though. At that concert years ago, held in the school's old auditorium, the singing was enveloping, and overpowering, from a full-size choir onstage. I almost cried from the sound alone.
Here's another example that had me getting teary for no good reason:
Thanks to Darren for the link.
Those of us who were around in the '80s best remember Bobby McFerrin from his annoying novelty song "Don't Worry, Be Happy." But he is a powerful and innovative jazz singer, who is at his best when co-opting audiences. When he does that, when the audience sings along as a mass of voices, I lose it. I nearly cried right now as I listened to the audience come in on "Ave Maria" at the link I just posted—and again at the end:
So beautiful. There's no way I could have held it in if I had been there.
I can think of other instances: Celso Machado and the crowd I was in at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre more than 15 years ago, or a packed-full B.C. Place Stadium singing the end of U2's "40" ("How long/To sing this song...") long after the band had left the stage in 1987. You get the idea.
Whatever the reasons we evolved to love music, one of its benefits is how it joins us. When you sing with a group, or even if you're just there when one is singing well, you become part of that group in a way that's almost impossible by any other means. You could be singing "Ave Maria" with McFerrin, or chanting "Die! Die! Die!" with Metallica, but when it happens, you're all one. We're all one.
Drama! Excitement! Evil croissants!
My Quick Start to GarageBand video course from MacVideoTraining (a company co-founded by my former podcasting partner Paul Garay) is now available on DVD:
You can get it at London Drugs and many other retailers in North America, or if you use the promo code ihr, you can get a 20% discount if you buy a DVD or download online. The discount code also works for John Biehler's iTunes course and other stuff from MacVideoTraining, including bundles.
[Cross-posted from Inside Home Recording (IHR).]
There's so little technology here (two mics, two voices, and a flute), such a performance could theoretically have happened 50 years ago, but no one would have thought of it. Eighteen minutes may seem awfully long for a web video, but I promise you'll be mesmerized. It's worth watching all the way through.
Example the First: I stumbled into this fine satire of a climate change denial video the other day. It's hilarious, with its ironic attempts at hipness, images of the world exploding, and with-it clip art youth proclaiming "Shut up!", "What the hell?", and "No way!"
Except, um, it's not a satire. It's an actual, serious video from our pals here at Vancouver's right-wing think-tank the Fraser Institute. I think it may very well be the "Gathering Storm" of anti–global warming videos—so ridiculous it's laughable.
Example the Second: Via Phil Plait, I found this astonishing record of Texas congressman Joe Barton, yesterday asking the U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (also the winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics, by the way) where all the oil in Alaska came from. Chu is obviously puzzled at why Barton would ask something so basic, but as the congressman continues his question, Dr. Chu realizes that Mr. Barton apparently doesn't have the first clue about geology or plate tectonics:
Wow. Even more depressing, Mr. Barton thought he'd stumped Dr. Chu, and said so on his Twitter account! The rest of the Twitterverse (me included) quickly corrected the congressman. Since Dr. Chu only had six seconds to respond, and was obviously so aghast at Mr. Barton's lack of knowledge, he couldn't formulate a proper response. Given a minute, he could have said:
Hundreds of millions of years ago, when Alaska was in a different place on the globe because of continental drift, trillions of microorganisms lived and died there. Immense heat and pressure converted their bodies, buried deep underground by geological processes, into simpler hydrocarbons, like oil. That’s why they’re called fossil fuels.
That's more like it.
Paul Thurrott and Leo Laporte have used my tune "More Red Than Red" as theme music for their Windows Weekly podcast since 2006. But on their latest episode, they thought about maybe replacing it with the title track from the album "Enigma," by Microsoft's retired chief of Windows development (and longtime guitarist) Jim Allchin. So I tried to dissuade them at the Penmachine Podcast:
The "Turrican Van Halen" reference is part of the Windows Weekly show—it refers to the old Commodore 64/Atari/Amiga game "Turrican."
I made this available as Inside Home Recording TV Episode #5. You can also download it (H.264 video) or watch it at Viddler, Blip.tv, Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo. Licensed for you to share and reuse, as long as you give me credit.
In case you doubt that a mashup can be true art, see here:
Via Big Al.
If you have a Mac, Apple's $100 Cdn iLife suite of programs is perhaps the best deal in software today. That may be true even if you don't have a Mac, because if you buy one, iLife comes along free—and just a few years ago, the features of any one of its programs would have cost you more than the computer does today. So depending on what you do, it's almost like you're getting the Mac for free instead.
When it first appeared in 2004, for instance, GarageBand inspired me to start recording music again after a long hiatus. iPhoto is an extremely capable photo cataloguing program, and even as a pretty keen photography enthusiast, it's what I use to manage my collection. For me, iMovie, iWeb, and iDVD come along as bonuses.
iDVD is capable enough on the rare occasions I need to make a video DVD. The new versions of iMovie are still pretty weird, in my book, but they work, and I may warm to the new iMovie '09 now that it's improved over the confusing reboot that was iMovie '08. iWeb—well, as a web guy, it's never been my cup of tea, and I gave up on it a few months ago after giving it a good two-year chance to justify its existence. But some people might like it.
iLife '09 is the latest iteration of the package, and I picked it up last week, shortly after it became available in stores. I'll be reviewing the new GarageBand for Inside Home Recording sometime soon, but there are already some other impressions on the web. Jim Dalrymple at Macworld looks at the new guitar-focused changes in GarageBand, Rick LePage examines iPhoto's new emphasis on face recognition and location awareness, and screenwriter John August takes a crack at iMovie '09.
I have to agree with Fraser Speirs that iPhoto's new integration with Facebook and Flickr looks way too heavy-handed. I actually don't want photos, tags, names, and such synchronized between my computer and those sharing sites. Usually, I just want to push photos out from iPhoto, and maybe make changes on the Web, but I don't want those changes propagating back and forth. I often prefer to collect very different sets in the two places, and may need to name people on my computer but not online, for instance. So I don't think I'll be turning those features on, but will use my old methods instead.
In iLife '09, GarageBand makes big changes, especially in new features (like Lessons) that i didn't even know I'd want, while still keeping what makes it great. iPhoto adds extremely cool new stuff that I'll definitely use, and some other stuff I definitely won't. iMovie may have redeemed itself enough that I'll work with it again. iDVD? We'll, it's still there. And iWeb? Despite good progress, it's just not the way I work with websites (I create almost everything in a text editor).
I'm happy with what I've seen from iLife '09 so far. For $100, as always, it's a total steal.
The two images were made at almost the same time, in almost exactly the same location off the Cypress Bowl road above Vancouver. But they are two different photos—the clouds have moved, and the tree in the corner shows a very slightly different perspective.
So, to Scott and Blair both: great pictures. I can't say which is better.
Knowing that I can raise my lip, Stallone-style, my older daughter asked me to make this silly 20-second video:
No strings were harmed during filming. The song is my own "P and P," from 2005.
When I put together the GarageBand video course that Mac Video Training is now selling, I of course had to construct a song using the program. I had no plan in advance, so as I worked my way through the various videos the tune sort of assembled itself into a weird little song I ended up calling "Vitamin Yummy" (3 MB MP3 file):
It's silly, and I'm not even sure what style to call it, but there you go. As usual, it's available under a Creative Commons license so you can share it around. I'm also not sure if this song qualifies for the Miss604 iTunes Giveaway either, but I'll enter it anyway.
Now here's the really amazing part. The movie was assembled from a series of images taken not from a probe sent to Jupiter from Earth. Nope, they were taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, in low orbit around our own planet. These pictures were taken, over the course of two hours in April 2007, from here, something like 600 million kilometres away from the subjects. The light from Ganymede and Jupiter took almost an hour to reach the Hubble camera.
Talk about your telephoto lens.
Those of you who listened to my classical guitar recording of "What Child Is This?" yesterday might be interested in how I recorded it. I describe that in episode #65 of Inside Home Recording (IHR), our last one for the year. My bit starts about 36 minutes in, but there's lots of interesting stuff in the rest of the show too.
On a similar instructional note, over the course of several weeks this fall, when I was feeling well enough, I recorded almost 60 short instructional videos about how to use Apple's GarageBand audio software. They now form the Quick Start to GarageBand '08 course from Mac Video Training, a company co-founded this year by my former IHR co-host Paul Garay and Mike Kaye from Switching to Mac. The complete course costs $30 USD (about $40 Cdn these days) for download, and will be available on DVD in stores in the new year. (Earlier DVDs by different instructors are already at shops like London Drugs.)
Here's the introductory video:
Finally, the fine folks at TidBITS, a Mac-focused online newsletter that's been publishing since before the Web was invented (really!), have highlighted my Camera Works series here on some technical aspects of cameras and photography. I've written for TidBITS in the past, and it's a great resource you should all subscribe to. I can't even remember how long I've been reading it, but every issue teaches me something.
Chris Pirillo, who organized the Gnomedex conference last week, posted a fun video compiling a bunch of photos from the event. As far as I can tell, most of the photos are from my Flickr set, which is cool:
I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable supporting the TMZ paparazzi (a woman near the end of the video calls them "vultures"), but it's refreshing to see a celebrity like John Mayer have just as much trouble doing family phone tech support as the rest of us:
Via Dan "No Longer Fake Steve" Lyons.
There's a certain type of rock-n-roll song that bypasses your intellect and goes straight for the gut—or a bit lower. One that makes you want to shake your ass, or your head, and sing along, even if you don't know the words, because the words don't matter all that much. They're dumb and sophomoric, anyway, or at least unintelligible—probably about sex or cars or girls or something.
Such a song features guitars, bass, drums, and singing, but probably no keyboards and definitely no strings, horns, or children's choirs. It probably has about three chords, or sounds like it does. The guitars are distorted and loud, and there's almost certainly a guitar solo too, but a short one. You want to turn it up. You know what I'm talking about.
Here is my top 10 list of such songs. Yeah, they're all very mainstream, and you may disagree with me, but I don't care—go ahead and leave a comment if you have further suggestions. I'll include some of my own runners up in a later post. It's a stupid list of stupid songs, which is the reason they're great to begin with:
After much discussion in the comments to this post, I must also add an honourable mention for Sweet's "The Ballroom Blitz" (I can't figure out which other tune to replace with it), from 1973. Brian Connolly's singing is so off-the-hook frenzied, so Rocky Horror Picture Show over the top that it's almost yodeling, and as Bob noted in the comments here, it's hard to beat an intro like, "Are you ready Steve? Andy? Mick? All right fellas, let's GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
I co-host Inside Home Recording, a long-running audio podcast about recording music and other stuff in your home or project studio. Earlier this year we launched InsideHomeRecording.tv, a companion video podcast that offers short tutorials on the same subject. I just put together my first episode, which shows the process I use for my wife's podcast, Lip Gloss and Laptops, to get good sound reasonably efficiently and cheaply:
You can download IHR TV #3 (H.264 video) or watch it at Blip.tv, Vimeo, and Viddler. A shorter version is also on Revver, YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook. You can receive IHR and IHR TV updates at twitter.com/ihr. And you can subscribe to either the original IHR audio show or to IHR TV.
Let me tell you, though, video is hard. I constructed this episode using a combination of Final Cut Express (to import high-definition video from our AVCHD camcorder) and iMovie '06—which is an old version of that program—for editing. There was lots of importing and exporting, syncing and chopping up and reassembling, and general mucking around with stuff to get it to something I liked.
The reason I undertook such a convoluted process is that Final Cut Express is a big, hairy, complicated program. It does more than I need, and is nearly impossible to sit down and figure out by using it, while the "re-imagined" new iMovie '08 is too simple, designed with a minimalist set of features for absolute video beginners, which even I am not. But iMovie '06 is the perfect mix for me. Even so, it took hours and hours to put the episode together.
My next one will come together faster, because I've figured out some stuff, but I have a new respect for people who make videos, TV shows, and movies for a living—especially editors.
The new video sharing features of the formerly photo-only site Flickr are different: the designers obviously thought a lot about how to implement video without just cloning how YouTube and everyone else does it.
The key thing is that videos uploaded to Flickr must be less than a minute and a half long, and no bigger than 150 MB. That's a limitation, but also a gift. It forces you to think about what to upload, and if you have a longer video, to edit it down to its essence.
My first video upload there is a good example. I had to take a video of my band that was already only a few minutes long and make it even shorter. I had to cut out non-licensed music and any other extraneous bits. In the end it's only one minute, but it still gets the point of our act across, even without any singing at all.
I think the time limit will generate some creativity in the Flickr community, as well as avoiding those interminable videos that take forever to get to the point. Even if a video is bad, you'll only have to waste 90 seconds on it. We'll see what happens within the well-imagined constraints.
Over at Inside Home Recording, we recently started IHR TV, additional short video tutorials that augment our regular longer audio podcasts. As part of that effort, we used some of the money we get from sponsors and advertisers to buy two Panasonic HDC-SD5 high-definition camcorders. (Bought online, two of them cost only very slightly more than a single one at local retail stores.)
The last camcorder my family had, which sits half-broken in our basement, was an old Samsung analogue Video 8 tape-based machine, from 1998. Given the improvements in other consumer electronics, from personal computers to digital cameras to televisions, over the past decade, I'm not sure why I'm so surprised at this little camcorder, but it's a remarkable machine.
Consider, first, that it can record at 1920x1080i "Full HD" resolution, with something like six times the detail of our old camera, using a very nice mechanically stabilized Leica lens. It stores that information not on tapes, but on the same SD cards used by the still cameras and audio recorders we have at the house. The whole camera is only about a third larger, and almost exactly the same weight, as the old Samsung battery—being smaller than my hand, it almost gets lost among its accessories in our camcorder bag.
Perhaps most remarkably, Panasonic has put real thought into simplifying how the camera works. There aren't many buttons and dials, they're clearly labeled, and everything is easy enough to figure out that the manual (which is long and detailed, but only averagely written) is only necessary for some of the more detailed settings. The SD5 even takes pretty nice still photos.
Those huge HD videos, however, require a lot of horsepower to edit: only one of the computers in our house (my Intel MacBook) will even import the massive AVCHD video files directly. And, following the trend in pocket still cameras, there is no longer a viewfinder: you have to look at the pop-out LCD screen to frame your shots. Like too many consumer electronics today, the camera also comes festooned with garish and difficult-to-remove little stickers advertising its features, the software it comes with, and so on. I removed those immediately.
It lacks a couple of pro features that would be useful: the only sound-in is from the stereo microphone, so you can't connect an external mic or line-in sound, which is something I'll work around with a separate audio recorder if needed. (Very cleverly, though, the microphones can focus in on your subject as you zoom the lens, and electronically filter out some wind noise. Nifty.) Similarly, while it comes with cables to send sound and video out to a TV or other device, you can't record video from any source other than the lens, so I can't, for instance, use it to digitize any of our old footage.
With devices like these, it's no wonder people can now smuggle broadcast-quality video out of the world's war zones and trouble spots. We'll see what I can do with this camera and my mediocre video skills for our modest little podcast.
My Inside Home Recording podcast co-host Paul has been making instructional videos for macProVideo.com for some time now, and he's good at it. So when he proposed that we start putting out short video podcasts in addition to our regular audio show, I knew they could be useful.
Now we've posted our first episode of Inside Home Recording TV (IHR TV). This one Paul recorded entirely himself. It's about using Propellerhead's ReWire to link their Reason software to Apple's Logic Pro.
We're trying something new with this video podcast. As usual, you can subscribe to watch on your computer, Apple TV, iPod, Zune, or whatever. In addition to posting it on our own site, you can also find each episode free at the video sharing sites Revver, Vimeo, Blip.tv, and YouTube. Plus we post them to Facebook, and will note each new show (audio and video) at Twitter.
Back in late 2004 and early 2005, following the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, I wrote a series of blog posts that turned into a popular online article about tsunamis.
Click the preview below to play it, or the direct link to see it bigger (that big one is a 25 MB MPEG file, so it may take awhile to load):
My friend Sebastien, who is Head of Digital Design at Vancouver Film School, referred me to the three students (Jamie Peterson, Erica Edwards, and Shalinder Matharu), who needed a topic for an infographic project. My contribution was limited to a couple of basic scripts; they did the rest, adapting the article into the instructional video graphic using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects (no, those are not real paper cutouts—I asked).
Obviously, they had to cut down the concepts a huge amount to fit into the short time available, but I think the result is effective. It's difficult to keep scientific accuracy in such an abbreviated format, but I believe any quibbles a real wave researcher might have (such as with the shape of the wave) are pretty minor. Nice job, Jamie, Erica, and Shal.