Jul 082011

Photo of my computer monitors while I was watching the Gale Tattersall webinar about HDSLR filmmaking at www.creativelive.com

Caroline took off for the weekend to Prescott, Arizona to spend time with our friend Sandy, who was going to be teaching Caroline a thing or two about sewing. I stayed home to learn a thing or two about making films using my Canon T2i HDSLR. The webinar I signed up for was held in Seattle, Washington at CreativeLive and broadcast to participants from around the world, including me here in Phoenix, Arizona. The 3-day workshop was hosted by noted Director of Photography Gale Tattersall. Gale is most recently known for his work on a hit TV show called House. His last episode was shot on Canon 5D’s – a first.

The webinar was terrific with the first day looking at the capabilities of the HDSLR as a platform for shooting professional grade films. My favorite quote of the day from Gale, "If you have a great script, you could shoot on gaffer tape and no one would care." The other two days dealt with lighting and shooting a scene. Turns out that CreativeLive offers a bunch of great courses they have created with the help of reknowned professionals. In addition to Gale’s 3-day workshop, be sure to check out Vincent Laforet’s March 2011 session if you are interested in turning your inexpensive HDSLR into a movie camera.

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Oct 032010

Various cameras, batteries, and electronic gear going down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon National Park on an 18 day dory trip

Besides what we need to clothe ourselves on the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon there is the matter of tools to capture a bit of our 18 day journey and a couple of other essentials. First the essentials, on the right are two lithium-ion power bricks that I hope to get approximately 84 hours of power from to run my CPAP, which is the purple and white block next to my camera in the top left of the photo.

Starting on the left are two small tripods, one is the Joby Gorrilapod that may be used for attaching one of the cameras to the dory gunwale and below that is the ProMaster Clamper Jr., also for attaching to the gunwale for those action shots of us traveling through the rapids. Next to the Clamper is a GoPro HD Hero waterproof camera that will be set to 720p resolution (1280×720 60 fps) for slow motion playback after our trip. An extra battery and 24GB of memory is set aside for the GoPro, they should allow about 5 hours battery use and 3 hours 15 minutes of video recording or about 11 minutes per day. This camera will be used for recording the rapids almost exclusively.

The next camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 waterproof / shockproof 14mp camera that also records 720p Hi-Def video. For it we have 5 batteries and 48GB of memory cards. The Lumix is Caroline’s camera and will be used for video’s shot from the gunwale but will also be used for stills and knowing Caroline, more than a few macro photos. Upon writing this I calculated battery life and memory requirements and have decided to order at least one more battery for Caroline.

The third camera we are bringing is my Canon T2i 18mp DSLR. Three lenses are also coming with, a Canon 10-22mm EF-S wide angle, the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L IS USM telephoto, and a Canon 60mm macro. I’ll have 144GB of memory allowing me to shoot nearly 5,000 raw images or about 275 per day, this might be too limiting and so I have contingency plans to shoot jpeg images in the middle of the day under full sunlight if I find I want to shoot more. Eleven battery packs have been bought for the Canon to guarantee I do not run out of power before the end of the 18 days. And no, I have not found a reasonable solar solution to deal with recharging batteries when available daylight in the fall is in short supply and is made all the worse by being deep within the canyon. I’m also taking the Canon RS60-E3 wired shutter remote, we have a full moon occurring during our trip and so I think it might be a good idea to be prepared to attempt a few bulb shots, for the stars and milky way overhead, too.

Other accessories include my Manfrotto 190CXPro3 carbon fiber lightweight tripod with a ProMaster Superlite Ball Head 3. For the GoPro we also have the Chesty chest harness for attaching the camera just below my chin for a different perspective while we go through the rapids. Our well worn Garmin Legend C e-Trex GPS will hopefully capture a few of the tracks from the trails we’ll be hiking and if we have signal in the depths of it all we’ll put down waypoints for our camping sites and end of trails for photo reference after returning home. For lighting we are bringing 2 LED flashlights, a Petzl 4 LED headlamp, and a Black Diamond 45 watt equivalent LED lantern.

It has been a difficult slog learning how to handle sleeping 17 nights off grid without requiring moving hundreds of pounds of marine batteries for my CPAP in and out of the canyon. After our trip I’ll be posting a full review of how the two 9 pound batteries performed.

Finally, the CPAP equipment, 2 of the lenses, the memory cards, spare batteries, and my writing materials are all being locked into a Pelican 1550 waterproof case measuring 18.4x14x7.6 and then lashed to the supply boat where hopefully it will remain safe and dry.

May 242010

Photo of my monitor while installing Adobe CS5 Production Premium

Like the proverbial kid in the candy store or like the child squirming in anticipation on Christmas eve awaiting Santa’s arrival – my happy emotions are spilling over into ecstatic giddiness following the arrival of the Fedex sleigh which delivered my brand spanking new upgrade of Adobe’s CS5 Production Premium. CS5 is Creative Suite version 5 and the production premium version has been bundled with multi media artists in mind.

Over the previous 20 years I have puttered about in Photoshop and up until late 1994 I was also working with Adobe Premiere video editing software. With my recent acquisition of the Canon Rebel T2i that shoots Hi-Def 1080p video, I found a renewed interest in expressing myself once again with moving pictures. Hence I needed an upgrade to my dated software.

Last week, armed with a 15% off coupon from the Arizona Cold Fusion Users Group, of which my wife Caroline is a member, I took the plunge and upgraded my license of Premiere Pro to this new suite of image and video tools. Installing the 16GB behemoth had me on pins and needles and,  when the install status read 100% complete, beaming at my monitor with a gleeful smile waiting for nirvana. But before it would install even 1%, I had to enter the requisite serial numbers and sign in with Adobe Live. Signing in I am presented with another gift, Adobe Story beta. Story is a browser based and desktop based script writing application that looks awesome.

I can’t help but think back to my first computer, the VIC 20 with software on cartridges and printed in the back of magazines. When I upgraded to the Commodore 64 in 1982 with a cassette tape drive, I was duly thrilled to be one of the first people in Los Angeles to own this technological marvel. With a 1Mhz CPU made by Motorola, an impressive 64KB of memory, and a screen resolution of 320×200 pixels featuring 16 colors, who could have imagined where we would be today?

Today my software arrived on 4 DVDs and was installed on a PC that runs a CPU with two cores running not at one million Hertz, but at two billion eight-hundred million Hertz. Memory shot up from those sixty-four thousand bytes to my present eight billion bytes. Likewise the display has moved beyond 320×200 pixels showing 16 colors to one displaying 1920×1200 pixels capable of showing off 16 million colors.

Atop all of this we have moved away from 8-bit operating systems to 64-bit systems and the tools this bandwidth opens up should never be taken for granted. The stories I craft on my word processor are easily published on my blog to be shared with the world. Google Translate can offer them up in 58 different languages. Through YouTube I can broadcast video that was previously the domain of television broadcasters but today I have a capability beyond what was state of the art just 15 years ago – my video can be seen instantaneously and on demand, globally. With a free application I can publish and self distribute a novel, a cookbook, a coffee table photo album or I can choose to sell my work in ebook form from a number of websites without ever requiring a publisher or acceptance by a corporate book seller. Same applies to magazines now, thanks to HP’s new print on demand service called Mag Cloud. A programmer no longer waits for a publisher to pick up his or her work, or for a magazine to publish the code to be entered by hand by the end-user, it is packed up and uploaded to the App Store where the buyer grabs it for a few dollars and downloads wirelessly from their phone or via WiFi.

The opportunity for us humans to express ourselves and share our worlds with one another is just as alive and well today as it was back in the hayday of 1999 when the internet gold rush was on. The difference is that many people are not seeing this incredible new opportunity where we have moved away from postage stamp video and dial up to a broadband, multi media, high definition, self contained production studio where the finished product will be indistinguishable from professional studios. There is no more dividing line between consumer and creator besides the limitations of those who would rather watch the parade go by instead of being a part of the parade. I’m still working on my multi-dimensional holographic 5.1 surround immersive augmentation of reality – stay tuned.

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May 182010

An iPad 3G with the homepage of www.johnwise.com on display

Oh, how I wanted to like this new thing called the iPad. Oh, how I didn’t like my first impressions. The potential is obvious, it’s got a great form, a big screen, and great battery life. It doesn’t have multi-tasking (yet), the 3G connectivity is still from AT&T which left us wanting signal on a trip from Phoenix to Yuma, up the 95 along the California border to Quartzsite and back to Phoenix, and what about all those finger prints? I don’t want games, I want productivity apps. Adobe Lightroom Lite would be nice, connect your camera and start tagging images, add geo-tag data, and create a file that syncs with my home installation of Lightroom to update my library. Or how about giving me Open Office document capability that updates a directory at home with blog notes? An app for taking my travel itinerary on the road with me that ties into a mapping feature, now we’d be getting somewhere. I want more than games, watching videos, listening to music – I want productivity tools to follow me into the remote areas that such a portable device should offer. When does the version with a solar panel recharger on the backside come out?

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Jun 282007

Screen capture of MyPublisher while putting together a book of travel photos from Caroline and John Wise

Our custom one-off book detailing our travels on 96 pages with 433 images is finished after nearly 2 solid weeks of work. "Travels Across America" features images from a few dozen of our travels from the year 2000 to 2004. Subsequent years will each receive their own volume. Caroline would like to see a book dedicated to Hawaii alone, hmmm, I don’t know if I’ll entertain her with that one, though. This 15" x 11.5" book (38cm x 30cm) is being printed by MyPublisher and should be at our doorstep by July 9th. The normal cost of the book with 20 pages being the standard size would have only been $59 but we opted for an extra 76 pages plus a color dust jacket over the hardcover and so our total with a promotional discount came in at $167 including shipping.