I was in a bind. I needed a completed edit in only two days and one of my "golden" angles that I definitely wanted to use was too shaky to be comfortably viewed. I tried various other so-called stabilization plugins and techniques, but my handheld video was just too shaky to be fixed. I had no time to reshoot this particular clip if I wanted to, but I felt it was a necessary addition and didn't want it to go to waste. After an intense hour long research session on the web, scouring through dozens of forums looking for the miracle answer, I was drawn to the solution of using the Mercalli 3.0Stand-alone(SAL) video stabilization software by proDAD. I've used stabilization plugins in the past (with MACs, PCs, and Avid) and have had fairly decent results, but none of these could handle the amount of camera shake I was dealing with. The plugins I had used in the past took nearly 15-20 minutes to analyze and render (on average, depending on the size of the clip) and left me yearning for better results and my lost time back (imagine you render your stabilization to the wrong parameters and need to wait 15 minutes each time just to find that you need to reset your parameters and try again -- this was my reality). For months prior I was editing at a quality well under what I expected from myself due to the limitations of my software and within minutes this issue was remedied.
I purchased Mercalli 3.0 SAL, as I was in a bind worth a small price, and I had it up and running within minutes. I did a simple drag-and-drop of the file I wanted to stabilize and did a simple "universal camera" stabilization analyzation, at the single click of the mouse. In less than a minute I was left with exactly what I had been looking for all along, for years -- a very smooth, cinematic quality camera movement that could be analyzed, rendered, and exported in a fraction of the time of what I was used to with alternative specialty plugins. I'm amazed.
Here's a comparison of an erratic, handheld shaky camera clip before and after stabilization using proDAD's Mercalli 3.0 software:
As a fair warning, I've used the proDAD Mercalli 2.0 plugin with Adobe Premiere Pro and that was one of the plugins I was referring to that was too slow and inefficient; I stress my recommendation for Mercalli 3.0's Stand-alone software rather than the 2.0 plugin. I hope this helps anyone working through a similar issue. And, in case you were wondering, I am not, by any means, a paid advertising agent for proDAD; I'm just elated with the efficacy of my new upgrade -- a happy customer!
Adobe has gone and done it again; another beta version open to the pubic for free!
For those of you that downloaded the Lightroom 4 beta version, you know how cool this privilege is; free software for months! And it's just in time as the Lightroom 4 beta is coming to an end in just a few days; we can all switch over to Photoshop CS6 and master editing with the new software for a few months and decide what's better. For those that don't want to take their own time doing this themselves, I'll hopefully be posting an article in the future comparing the two programs, as well as sharing some of my own images edited using these two Adobe applications.
This photo was taken right along the P.C.H. near Pacific Beach. Here, the surfers access the water by jumping into the water off these rocks.
My long-time friend, Adam, and I ventured out, particularly early, to check out the nice waves around La Jolla and to try catching some GoPro shots of Adam surfing by attaching a waterproof camera (called a GoPro) to his surfboard, which captured his session. Throughout the day, we drove from Oceanside all the way down to Imperial Beach (70 miles) while staying along Pacific Coast Highway, never using a freeway. In these fast times, we felt that was quite the accomplishment. Slow down, take some time for yourself and just enjoy the cloudless, sunny late-January day; Winter in San Diego.
No one ever said the winter blues had to be so gloomy.
This is particularly great for those who  already own a previous version of Lightroom and are not certain they'll want to upgrade, or  one who has never tried Lightroom and wants a good opportunity to see what the hype is all about. If you fall under either of these categories, I highly suggest you go the download page and take the beta version for a ride. I've already taken the plunge and am currently waiting for the Beta version to finish installing. I'm in the process of editing thousands of photos that I haven't gotten around to over the last few years and I'll see how some of them turn out using the new Lightroom 4Beta. Expect a follow-up post for my personal review and examples of what I was able to accomplish using this new release. Meanwhile, here's what Adobe has to say about Lightroom 4:
"Lightroom 4 beta builds on the vision of the very first Lightroom beta. From day 1, Lightroom was designed for photographers and by photographers to help them focus on what they love—the art and craft of photography. Lightroom provides photographers with an elegant and efficient way to work with their growing digital image collections, bring out the best in their images, and make an impact from raw capture to creative output, all while maintaining the highest possible quality each step of the way.
For the development of this latest release, we've focused on further maximizing image quality and expanding output options.New tools let you extract more detail from highlights and shadows, make a wider range of targeted adjustments, and easily share your images and video clips on social media and photo sharing sites.
New Features in Lightroom 4 Beta
Highlight and shadow recovery brings out all the detail that your camera captures in dark shadows and bright highlights.
Photo book creation with easy-to-use elegant templates.
Location-based organization lets you find and group images by location, assign locations to images, and display data from GPS-enabled cameras.
White balance brush to refine and adjust white balance in specific areas of your images.
Additional local editing controls let you adjust noise reduction and remove moiré in targeted areas of your images.
Extended video support for organizing, viewing, and making adjustments and edits to video clips.
Easy video publishing lets you edit and share video clips on Facebook and Flickr®.
Soft proofing to preview how an image will look when printed with color-managed printers.
Email directly from Lightroom using the email account of your choice.
The Lightroom 4 beta program is available to the public. Anyone with an Internet connection can download it and start putting it to the test. You do not need to own (or have tried) a previous version of Lightroom. You can download the beta and use it until the product expires on March 31, 2012." - Adobe
I found out, just earlier today, that a video I shot back in college -- at the college, in fact -- has just won firstplace in an international multimedia competition. I was never even aware that the video had been submitted into a competition, so it was a great surprise to find out that it was awarded 1st place! The college wrote a small little spotlight article on their main page, which I attached below for those of you interested in reading it:
Stay tuned for two related videos after the jump!
Below is the winning video. I filmed this in one 48-minute continuous shot (complete with zooms and pans and anything at all to make it interesting). It's part of a series that I had shot for a few years called 'Concert Hour', which is still shown locally on the studios station (Cox/TWC: Ch. 16; AT&T: Ch. 99. Select regions only, mostly parts of California and Florida). Unfortunately, the station could only afford resources for a one camera shoot for this on-going series, but you don't need the multi-cam glam to enjoy the musical stylings of the incredibly talented professor and pianist, Peter Gach. Check him out below:
Interestingly enough, I later was heavily involved in the pre-, pro-, and post-production of the same artists' highlight biography for a "lifetime achievement award" type event. The film successfully premiered in front of hundreds of guests at a fundraising Gala, along with two very energetic MC's, a cast of talented dancers, one quite-convincing auctioneer, and a handful of other hardworking teams whose efforts helped to raise donations of around $125,000 that night, which has been allocated towards general college funds as well as scholorships, etc... You can see the documentary on Palomar College's Artist in Residence, Peter Gach, below. Enjoy!
Special thanks to the very talented Peter Gach and the whole crew at PCTV!
I just got back from a trip in Maui and have been diligently working away at the footage I shot while I was over there. It's a photographers' paradise! While I was over there, I met a "blues" man who has some interesting old Super 8 footage of the island from back in the early 1970's that he had shot and we're in early talks of getting a documentary off the ground in time for submittal in the 2012 Maui Film Festival!
While I was off in Maui (keep an eye out for an upcoming post with video from my trip!), my friend and editor, Scott Freund, was hard at work piecing together the remainder of the DevOcean music video that I mentioned in the previous post. He ended up getting some live footage of them at one of their shows, as well as adding some b-roll clips that he shot around San Diego. As promised in my last post, I've embedded the video below, but if you'd like, you can check it out over at Scott's vimeo page by clicking the link on the video. For best results, watch full screen in HD. (unless you have a low-performance computer; standard definition will suffice over laggy buffering for those individual.) Check it out below and let me know what you think:
Today I met and filmed Ben Stein & Ray Lucia speak at a forum as they spoke on their expertise and the current climate regarding business, industry, and the economy. The following video was a follow-up interview after the forum:
Last week, a friend of mine asked Danny Chau and I for a hand in producing a short, campy remake of Steve Martin's fireside ukulele scene from 'The Jerk,' as somewhat of a video-card for his grandma's 80th birthday.
A coworker and buddy of mine, Scott Freund, asked me to help him with a music video for his friends' band, DevOcean, which we shot last Saturday, April 2nd.
I invited friend, fellow shooter and music enthusiast, Danny Chau, to join me to help out with set-up, as well as to meet the band. Lucky for me, Danny came equipped with his camera and lighting set-up and was able to shoot some BTS (Behind The Scenes) photography of the shoot, as well as some fun staged photos of the band!
You can find Danny Chau's images from on set of the shoot here.
Stay tuned for an additional post containing the completed music video!
I've worked within the broadcast industry for several years now, mostly in educational television, as well as on my own personal projects, but I still do not have enough of what I consider impressive footage for an all-out-spectacular reel! So, I have proposed a project for myself, for the year of 2011, to document my technique experimentation and progress in building an eye-catching reel to promote myself in attempts to land a job with a travelogue production crew (e.g. Globe Trekker (Lonely Planet/Pilot Guides), The Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and the like...).
Over the next year, I will be testing and reviewing new gear and techniques as well as documenting my adventures and keeping a production blog of other gigs and projects I become involved with. It is through my efforts throughout this next year that I expect to enter 2012 with an impressive, eye-catching reel that will put me ahead of the game and help me land my dream job. I affectionately deem this my 'Get Reel' Project. I welcome you all to follow along, suggest projects, and review my progress over the next year and, what I hope will continue on to be a career of learning and growing within the field. Stay tuned!
I've been working on an Oceanography telecourse; in the clip below the instructor describes how the tides change the terrain of the beach depending on the season. I lined up a summer shot back in 2009 where I had to take extra precaution to write down & photograph my tripods exact location, the exact extension of each tripod leg and the exact tilt of the tripod head in order to get as close to matching as I could 6 months after I filmed the original summer shot in order to get the second half of this visual demonstration. Check out how it turned out:
Camera techniques aside, I thought the lesson was quite interesting. I've been going to this beach in La Jolla (California) for most of my life, but I never realized that the sand is carried away with the tide in the winter, only to return by the time it's warm enough for me to go back in the water in the summer. It seems like I receded from the beach in the winter, just as the sand did throughout most of my life.
Working on the Oceanography telecourse was an awesome experience as a camera operator. I spent a great deal of my summer at the beach & diving in the ocean for work; it doesn't get much better than that! Here is the opening sequence to the Oceanography telecourse series:
I headed out early for a hike up the Santa Margarita River near Fallbrook, California. The river is a short intermittent river on the Pacific coast of southern California, which is approximately 30.9 miles long. The Santa Margarita is one of the last free-flowing rivers in southern California and is even said to be home to the California Golden Beaver. Plenty of natural & native flora and fauna that make this place stand out and thrive, despite the arid desert & chaparral woodlands surroundings.
Santa Margarita Preserve parking entrance.
The Santa Margarita County Preserve is located at the corner of De Luz Road & Sandia Creek Road on the outskirts of Fallbrook, California.
I decided to embark with a good friend of mine — my dog, Luke. We headed out on the south end of the trail and as soon as we hit a section of the river we got off the burning hot sand trail (which felt very much like walking on the ocean beaches) and forged our way up river.
The boulders that formed the borders of the river canyon were perfect for climbing and clamoring around on, the trees provided excellent shelter from the scorching SoCal sun, and it turned out to be a much more interesting outing than I expected.
The cold river was a soothing contrast to the rising heat of the early summer morning.
I was able to identify very few edible plants due to my novice knowledge and the fruitless season we’re in right now, though I saw plenty of fish and birds enjoying the oasis of the Santa Margarita. This river is at the foothills of the northern end of Cleveland National Forest.
I managed to see some California wild grapes (Vitis Californica) starting to form, though I suspect they won’t be ready to eat until the fall (I’ll be back to update).
Earlier in the season, immediately after a rain, I hiked to one of the the northern most sections of the river and also stumbled upon a local swimming hole where over 100 people gathered to frolic in the river, which seemed to have been polluted by the visitors. I would recommend bringing a garbage bag along with you to pack out your own items, but if you’ve got the bag, why not fill it up along the way? I know that’s what I’ll be doing next visit; lets keep these gems polished!
This was a great hike that really hit the spot for this water-starved, aqua-lover and my furry friend. I felt so isolated in the serene environment that it was quite shocking to realize I was in such close proximity to a swimming hole with 100+ people. I didn’t hear any noise from the large crowd of people until I was right next to them thanks to the powerful white noise of the river. The north entrance, very close to the city of Temecula, has a great waterfall overlook, especially right after a rain, despite not being a very great place to swim.
This oasis gives a real feel for what the region must’ve looked like prior to development and is a real treasure among the sea of San Diego industrial and residential developments and boring, dry chaparral hikes. It is definitely an excellent way to spend a morning off!
-Park at the county park if you want to hike up river (*directions in post above*)
-Park at the following address if you want to just go straight to the swimming hole: 4251 River Edge Rd Fallbrook, CA 92028 The swimming hole area is known as Temecula Canyon, connecting just north of Sandia Canyon where my hike began and can be accessed off Sandia Creek Drive, which intersects from De Luz Road — the road that takes you from Fallbrook, California out to the Santa Margarita County Preserve Trailhead.
-Bring water (it might be everywhere along the river, but this is not the quality “spring water” that you’d want to drink). This river passes through a golf course development and likely along the watershed of a lot of agricultural properties before reaching the swimming hole.
-Avoid areas where water has become stagnant; bacterial and pollution will accumulate and it’s likely mosquitoes will be breeding in these areas.
-Be prepared for hot sand as scorching as coals (no exaggeration. Be mindful of your furry friends, too; if you can’t walk barefoot on the sand, you should not make your dog walk barefoot on the sand. Bring amphibious footware that you can either wear in and out of the river or can easily put on and remove. I wore sandles twice with little issue, though something more secure than flipflops would be ideal for the average hiker. I stepped on a piece of glass from the bottom of a broken beer bottle just south of the swimming hole, so please watch your step and help carry dangerous waste out of the river watershed if you have the opportunity.
-The park is open to dogs & dogs are very open to wading in the water here. (be mindful of the hot sand on their paws)
-The park is open to equestrian/horseback riding and is perfect for it.
-The park is open from 8AM – 6:30PM.
Here’s a map showing the route from the I-15, through Fallbrook, out to De Luz Road & the Santa Margarita County Preserve parking lot.