Hello Canon 5D Mark iv, bye bye Nikon!

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As part of my Eaton park project I want to also include video sections and time-lapse elements, to this end I need to record some video – well there’s a shock!

Up until now I have been really happy with my lovely Nikon D750 it is a wonderful full frame camera and has taken some beautiful photographs for me.

But, I found it lacking when I took some video, and having used the 5D series for work, and knowing peers who use it for film-making, it seemed like the obvious choice. So I took in all of my Nikon gear and traded up (@Wex).

I’ve only had the camera for two weeks, but it doesn’t disappoint in photography stakes and I have had some beautiful results on the video side.

I have read and read about the problems with the file sizes and no slower framerate at 4k, etc, etc, but for me, the way I work, the visual results are king, and the 4k quality is incredible. The extra reach from the crop has only benefitted me, but it’s a hell of crop so I can see why people are complaining.

Below are screengrabs so you can quickly see the visual differences when working on what I consider a ‘standard’ timeline in Premiere, 1920×1080, 25fps.

All I did was drop the different files onto the timeline, keeping the sequence settings.

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You can see the incredible crop factor (1.74) working here

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Here is the video, note that I left the focus on auto to see how quickly it can cope especially as the rose was moving in the wind, I also purposely moved in and out to push it a little further. When running the 100fps I needed to prompt it to focus, but that’s okay if you’re keeping an eye on it, or if you are manually focussing it. But, any change of focus was incredibly noisy, and on the video you can clearly hear the mechanics working. Again, another difference at 100fps is that no sound is recorded.

And of course it has all been output to a high quality mp4 to add to the mix.

Just lastly for me, the Canon is a little heavier, adjusting to the different buttons isn’t too big a deal and I am loving the 4K and have had no problems aside from file sizes being on the large  side for the 4k. Now I expected all sorts of issues after reading quite a few reviews, but haven’t come across any yet.

Also you might ask why drop 4k onto a HD timeline, or why bother filming in 4k if you’re only going to downsample it, these are just tests, I don’t even have a 4k TV to watch it on (I’m not even sure I know anyone who does), so am just playing with the format and testing everything until I get a happy workflow, and for some of the work I do it will give me extra visual creativity, plus it’s just beautiful!

 

Inital GoPano 360 video tests #360 #gopanomicro

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So, I’ve bought my GoPano micro adaptor (not many left!), conned my husband into ‘needing’ an iphone 5 (just happens to fit the GoPano Micro :)) and shot two pieces of 360 footage, not exciting pieces obviously, just me wandering round my house and outside, but I just needed some test footage to move forward with…

This is a screengrab from the inside shot.

Screengrab from test go pano 360 video shot

Screengrab from test go pano 360 video test shoot

I love that when you’re viewing it online you can turn around and zoom with keyboard controls.

  1. So problems that are easy to spot before I can develop it further are, I’m quite prominent in the frame, and staring at myself is not what I want to do – solution, test different ways of holding the camera and GoPano setup.
  2. Light needs to be good as the phone auto corrects as we move through and it doesn’t cope well with internal lighting.
  3. Finally – quality, is it up to scratch, this can only be really tested when I go a step further and see if I can view this video in my google cardboard VR glasses..

Lastly can I take it into a programme and add interactivity?

What I really want is one where the viewer can drive the movement, similar to Fibrums Rollercoaster where you start the ride by focusing your gaze on the ‘go’ lever within the environment.

A new addition to the recently updated Google Cardboard compatible apps is ‘Titans of Space’

Titans of Space® is a short guided tour of a few planets and stars, the point of which is to give the player a sense of scale of just how big these planets and stars are compared to each other.

In game visual from Titans of Space

In game visual from Titans of Space

Again this uses the mechanic that you have a virtual crosshair and focussing where you are looking, at a trigger will reward you with a reaction in game, very clever stuff..

I would ideally be able to wander around the created environment just by turning my head and opening doors or entering corridors with this virtual crosshair as my controller.

So I need to trial different capture methods to minimise my presence in the resulting video and test the video from gopano site with google Cardboard to see if it’s compatible… will report back soon!

Google Cardboard – VR out of a box!

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So at last I had enough time to finally put together the VR Google Cardboard DIY headset. I had previously purchased one off of ebay, but it was so poorly cutout and made, I couldn’t even fit an old ipod touch into it, however, what it did get me was the lenses and the NFC chip that are actually quite tricky to get hold of.

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First step was to cut out the paper printouts and make sure they all would fit into my lovely bit of cardboard, I found that the regular corrugated stuff was not very usable.

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This the lovely thin but firm cardboard I rescued from a magimix box, just the right type of stuff.

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Unlike this rubbish that I bought from eBay…

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Tools needed included plenty of blades and my trusty scalpels…

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plus some good old spray mount, don’t you just love how it covers everything in a fine mist of stickiness 🙂

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Safety ruler at the ready and I start with the complicated section to hold in the lenses.

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Straight sections are a breeze but the circular areas look impossible to get smooth.

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Looking pretty good,  but it does take me 45 minutes to cut all the fiddly bits out, but I am very pleased that I haven’t lost my knife skills.

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Another hour sees all of the areas cut and ready for assembly, unfortunately I don’t have instructions as to how it all fits together and which way the lenses go in so a bit of youtube surfing ensues…

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Lenses and NFC chip ready to go in, but where?

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This is where the NFC chip for Google Cardboard goes!

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Add a bit of double sided to keep the lenses in position and squeeze it together.

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Put into the cut out slots and it’s all fitting together nicely. add a rubber band and some double sided velcro and it’s finished, although there seems to be a fatal flaw that my phone can just slip out either side, hmm, will have to look at an updated design for that bit…

 

Space in the side for my phone to slide out!

Space in the side for my phone to slide out!

Unfortunately, because my box is not plain cardboard it looks like I now have a magimix VR food viewer, but hey let’s give it a go!

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The first experience I want to try with GC is the Paul McCartney and Jaunt 360 app that I have already downloaded onto my phone.

http://mashable.com/2014/11/20/paulvmccartney-vr-app/

When I tried this without the GC it was amazingly clever, as the sound moves around as you turn, and with good headphones on is mightily impressive.

Then I have a look at what’s available within the Google Cardboard app itself on the Play store, it has a few things, one of the nicest was ‘windy day’ a cute little animated 360 film about a mouse with a big hat on a windy day. The funniest thing about this was I was obviously facing the wrong way and didn’t realise there was a character ‘stood’ behind me, I was just looking at the falling leaves!

The next demo was of sculptures that you could look all the way round, very nice, but not very immersive…

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.samples.apps.cardboarddemo&hl=en

I then started to search for a roller coaster 360 demo and I plumped for FiBrums offering, whicvh after I realised I needed to stare at the go lever it was very cool, in fact I was almost glad when it finished, very, very clever.

http://fibrum.ru/index_en.html

I also had a look at another offering from Jaunt – Kaiju Fury  which wasn’t very inspiring, but there are lots of things out there to play with.

I will start looking at things from a slightly different angle with my newly built Google Cardboard goggles and need to put them together with my leap motion for some truly immersive visual feasts!

So yes, it was definitely worth waiting for, and you cannot appreciate the experience without having a go, so I highly recommend making a pair for yourself, but if you don’t have 3 hours to put one together I would buy the official version from one of the 4 big companies that sell them such as dodo case or unofficial cardboard, this link takes you to the google page that explains a little more and gives you a link to the makers sites.

https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/get-cardboard.html

Give it a go!

MAX msp and the pressure mat switch – the hard part #maxmsp #pressuremat

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After successfully wiring up the pressure mat and feeling very pleased as I have never wired anything, ever…

It was over to MAX msp, I dutifully read through the tutorials and they are great, max comes with at least 20 or so basic tutorials and these all have working ‘patches’ or files that you can open, look at, play with and alter to get a feel for making your own and understand the syntax it uses for processes.

There seemed to be many people using MAX, for audio, video and interactive projects, the forums were active and lively and I felt confident to start with my own patch.

What I needed to program was the starting video to play and loop until the pressure mat switch was activated and a second video plays until it’s end and then returns to the original video which is still looping.

Doesn’t sound too difficult does it, but I have been testing and trying on and off from the beginning of July to try and get this to work…

I have looked and googled and tried as many different search terms as you like to try and see if anyone else has ever used a pressure mat directly into a computer and MAX msp, but there is no-one out there, or no-one has ever written about it being successful, and last night I’d almost decided that it wasn’t possible, I couldn’t get it to loop and return and the pressure mat thing wasn’t working or hadn’t been successfully recorded anywhere, my idea for simple activity was looking doomed.

I had been able to find a number of people using an arduino to interface with MAX, but at this point I didn’t want to start with another purchase and more software to learn!

I also had doubts about the pressure mat itself, it had come with 4 wires… which ones made the circuit? No paperwork came in the box, I guess you’re supposed to know what you’re doing…

And of course I had wired it to the plug before checking the live circuit.

I had to find an expert… fortunately Phil, one of the MRC technicians was one of the people who had said that MAX was good in the first place for interactivity, so with promises of coffee and or cake (Earl Grey black for future reference!) I managed to get an hour with Phil.

We started with the patch that my husband and I (I’d even roped him in too!) had been co-working on the night before – him more than me as I was about ready to give up at this point – and Phil was kind enough to say we were on the right lines, but needed to input the videos differently, using a bang, or a button rather than reading in the file to loop or play it. Then he tackled the returning to the original video as we had one switching to another on a click, just not by reading the end of the video to trigger the return to video 1.

We had looked at the delay function, but Phil suggested using the pipe command, we had calculated the length of the clip with ‘length’ but this was giving an odd number, that when worked into the pipe function returned to the original video, yay!..but before the end of the clip had actually played. Phil then set about trying to work out the fps and miliseconds needed as the 2720 ‘length’ number was obviously wrong, as he was looking through some of the reference material, I saw a ‘duration’ function which listed as returning ms, just what we wanted, and when he put into the patch, it worked!

This was amazing, I don’t think Phil will realise just how brilliant it was to see this working, for me…

With that working, he turned to the pressure mat, of course the first thing he did was to check which was the live loop out of the four wires… it wasn’t the ones I had hooked up!

So if you ever buy one of these pressure mats from maplin, the active wires that make the contact loop are the two on the inside of the mat, they actually came with a bit of the plastic casing missing, but no diagram, so here’s one I made earlier!

matwires

The red wires make the active loop.

I connected the right wires up to the extended wires and we plugged the now working jack back into the microphone socket.

He put the adc~ code into the patch, but it didn’t register anything, so we looked at the audio input options and here we found it wasn’t on and it wasn’t defaulting to the correct input, so after a bit of jiggery pokery with the audio in on the control panel of my laptop we got a signal.

Phil had put in what looked like a volt meter in MAX so we could read the base voltage and see what it changed to when the mat was stepped on, then he added a greater than value, which would activate the change in state, this worked well, but when you stepped off before the video finished it would return to the looping video, not good as I wanted the whole video to play, so Phil added a ‘gate’ which closed the activation whilst the video was playing.

To put it bluntly Phil is awesome and it all now works, bar the fullscreen which I will sort when it’s actually on the mac I will use for the show as that is different between macs and pcs (I’m working on a pc for these tests)

So just in case you ever fancy doing something like this yourself, here is a screenshot of the patch!

maxpatch

and here it is working!!!!

MAX MSP essential to know and useful tutorials #MAXMSP

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Starting to use MAX msp and feeling very out of my depth. For the past 5 days I have been struggling to get through the tutorials and having major problems with getting any sort of video to play back, even using the tutorial patchers didn’t work. I just kept getting the error message imovie countdown.mov: error opening file whatever I tried. I downloaded MAX onto another machine, just in case it was the machine. no. Then I scoured the internet for different tutorials, thinking maybe it had a bug in the tutorial… no… Finally this morning, typing in ‘imovie dozer.mov: error opening file’ MAX msp’  into google and I get a result

movie playback in 64 bit version of Max is limited for the time being.
the 32 bit version does not have these limitations, and is recommended for users interested in quicktime functionality.
http://cycling74.com/forums/topic/vizzie-playr-imovie-error-opening-file-jit-qt-movie-doesnt-understand/

64bt is not compatible with the video playback.. how frustrating why doesn’t it say that on the download page…

by the way before you download if you want to do video DON’T DOWNLOAD THE 64 BIT!

Uninstall, reinstall (on one machine anyway) and presto bingo, working as it should be…

Cycling74 Max/MSP/Jitter Tutorials: Play a Movie

 

The very basics

http://alhodgsonn.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/maxmsp/

Great Bustard Photos

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Now edited all of the images from my visit down to Salisbury and uploaded onto my Flickr stream.

 

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This first image is of the group of 5 males.

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A closer view of the two older males

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One of the elder birds, pink 2, starts to display

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My best photo of the day.

I was surprised at just how tricky it was to get a good shot of the Bustards, I expected my 80-400mm lens to be spot on for the job, I knew the hide was 300m away and assumed I would have enough zoom to get some lovely shots.
However added into the difficulty was the actual movement of the lens itself when focusing, which I did turn off and gained some slightly better shots, and the amount of movement from pressing the shutter button, on such a long lens made for quite a few soft shots, very frustrating.
All the shots were held on just a monopod and I sincerely wished I had brought a traditional tripod, but I didn’t know the terrain or how much space we would have.
What I really wanted to get was some footage of one of the Bustards taking flight, but viewing them for over an hour, it was quite clear that they tended to strut around more than anything and being such large birds would tend to conserve energy for only real emergencies.

Image from Mike Ashforth, Birding Yorshire

Image from Mike Ashforth, Birding Yorshire

This image from Mike Ashforth was what I hoped to come back with, but my photos are very far away from this stunning image taken in Spain.

 

As you can see from the video on full zoom the image moves even though I am trying my hardest not to move a muscle, but I did capture one of the birds giving a good flap to reveal what it looks like under his wings.

The link below will take you to the full set on flickr.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/47962221@N07/sets/72157644566489655

Great Bustards in the wild

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Over the last few days I travelled down to Salisbury Plain to visit the Great Bustard re-introduction site…

When I arrived it looked like this…

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So I didn’t hold out much hope for actually seeing the Bustards and after a 200 mile journey down to Salisbury was feeling a little deflated.

Lynne from the Great Bustard Group (GBG) turned up in theland rover and we waited for a while for the last two visitors.

wpid-wp-1399106508274.jpegThe view from the landy as we approached the hide.

Off in the distance I could see a small group of birds, which did turn out to be the Bustards.

Lynne told us that there were only 13 Great Bustards at the moment and half of them – the females – were hopefully off sitting on nests, so the small group of males were the only birds to be seen.
The hide is 300 metres from the release pen area which the birds enjoy coming back to and a particular clump of grass seemed to be their favourite spot.
We could see 5 young males and another younger male off to the left, besides the 2 decoy birds that the GBG use to tell the Bustards that this is a safe area to be. They are fenced in here, although they can fly free anywhere on Salisbury Plain and have been known to be found in France.

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As we sat in the small hide, the cows who shared the same field obviously use the hide as a bit of a toy and proceeded to push shove, scratch and eat the wood, especially on the corners, so it made it very tricky to record any useful sound, but I did get sense of the space and what the surroundings should sound like, so below find my best 3 minutes, but please excuse the snorting, rubbing, scratching and general cow noises…

So, it’s an open space with summery background birdsong, the odd crow, but a real sense of a wide open green area.
We only had an hour in the hide and it went all too quickly, but off we went to their little shop and headquarters just back from the release pen.
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In here they had the most fantastic stuffed Great Bustard, which Lynne was kind enough to turn round for me to get a good photo up close.

wpid-wp-1399124290543.jpegThe little shop was amazing and stuffed full of stuffed Great Bustards and clothing, and you could even buy Great Bustard beer!

I must say a big thankyou to Lynne, who helped me sort out the visit and has been more than helpful in any contact I’ve had with the group, and has amazing landrover driving skills as we squirmed and slid through the muddy bottom gates!
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Cinemagraph

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always-time-for-the-paper

This is a cinemagraph

New York City-based photographer Jamie Beck and Web designer Kevin Burg “hand-stitch” together her photos and his Web design to make animated gifs they now call “cinemagraphs.”

Simple and clever they started making them in 2011 and have become extremely successful with this technique. The washington post article explains all you would ever need to know…

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/cinemagraphs-what-it-looks-like-when-a-photo-moves/2011/07/08/gIQAONez3H_blog.html

and find their own pages here…

http://annstreetstudio.com/category/cinemagraphs/

My particular favourite is of the chap reading a paper in the middle of a park, it looks like a static photo until, hey, he just turned the page, witty but subtle.

It’s playful, but of course has it’s limitations, if you wanted to have an exhibition of these, you would need computers and ipads as you can’t print and mount them like traditional photos, so they are very much stuck in the internet pages, and they repeat the small movement over and over, it’s not interactive it’s passive.

I like interaction and hope to incorporate a physical interaction into my Masters project…

Keiichi Matsuda

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Starting to reinvestigate Augmented Reality for my masters project I came across Keiichi Matsuda, an Architecture graduate who has created films that look at how we might see things around us in the future.

What is most amazing is that he started visualising this AR enhanced world 4 years ago…

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop

The latter half of the 20th century saw the built environment merged with media space, and architecture taking on new roles related to branding, image and consumerism. Augmented reality may recontextualise the functions of consumerism and architecture, and change in the way in which we operate within it.

A film produced for my final year Masters in Architecture, part of a larger project about the social and architectural consequences of new media and augmented reality.

 

http://keiichimatsuda.com/cell.php

From the website

Cell is an interactive installation, made in collaboration with James Alliban. Commissioned by Alpha-ville for the 2011 festival, cell plays with and proposes alternative landscapes in the technological ether surrounding our everyday movements. As our identities become deliberately constructed and broadcast commodities, our projected personae increasingly enmesh and define us. Cell acts as a virtual mirror, displaying a constructed fictional persona in place of our physical form. Composed from keyword tags mined from online profiles, these second selves stalk our movements through space, building in size and density over time. The resulting forms are alternate, technologically refracted manifestations of the body, revealing the digital aura while simultaneously allowing us escape from our own constructed identities.Cell uses Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect to track visitors as they interact with the installation. It was built in openFrameworks, an open-source toolkit originally built to teach artists and designers creative coding. Microsoft have supported the project from the early stages, working with Brighton based company Matchbox Mobile and the openFrameworks community to build a new code library (or addon) specifically for cell that supports the Kinect For Windows SDK. This is an important development in the field of interactive art. Providing openFrameworks users easy access to the official Kinect For Windows SDK, places the technology directly into the hands of a large international community of interaction designers and new media artists.

ASU1 – extra

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Reviewing the footage late last night, I really wanted to have another go at 3D motion tracking, I had the inspirational idea that I would like to put the title of the film, ‘Just one more place to look’ within the scenes themselves and for the character to walk past them, so have spent all morning, trying to make this work.

In After effects there are many ways of tracking, you can track the motion, the camera, or 3D track either, so I have gone through each of the parameters to attempt to track the background live action scenes in my film, I started with the rotoscoped section, but AE couldn’t even start to analyze that and then brought the original live action sections into AE, thinking that would be better, but although it can track in 2D, I’m mostly doing that by hand, and the 3D doesn’t get it at all… see screen below for what I’ve been seeing all morning!

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But still wanting to add the title of the film and to get some more motion tracking in, I decided to hand track the final fade out and put the title at the end.

This is again reinforcing the cyclic nature of the endless walking, round and round, with the perpetual ‘one more place to look’ motto for my main character, I think it’s an improvement on the original, but this is where another crit would have come in handy!

 

….and no Youtube I would not like you to stabilise my shaky footage – it’s supposed to be like that!

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