Monday, December 31, 2007

Isolator Earphones

Don't like hearing the conversation of the jerk next to you at the gym who is blabbing on his cellphone while you are trying to work out? Like listening to music while you vacuum the house or mow the lawn? The traditional earbuds that come with an iPod are woefully inadequate at blocking out exterior noises. Listeners try and compensate for the background noise by increasing the output volume to their headphones. Not such a great idea, since prolonged exposure can result in serious hearing loss. Apple responded with limiting the default iPod audio output in an attempt to curtail the flood of lawsuits that were arising from consumers suffering from hearing loss.

Maybe it's not the iPod that is to blame, but rather the earphones that come with the iPod. I am a big fan of Etymotic Research and their ER•6i Isolator Headphones. These in-the-ear headphones provide 34-36 dB of noise isolation with a 20Hz -16kHz frequency response. These headphones work more efficiently by sitting inside your ear canal and making a seal that blocks out exterior noises. You can expect to lower your iPod output volume by about 15% to 25% and still have the same relative volume as with the original earbuds. Over the long term, this reduction in output volume will undoubtedly be beneficial to protecting your hearing. I like the ER•6i model better than the standard ER•6 due to the enhanced bass response.

These work much differently than the noise canceling technology used by companies such as Bose, that actually introduce noise into the headphone in order to counteract the analyzed background noise.

Excellent Noise Isolation, Good Frequency Response.

Cons: Difficult to Insert and Extract from Ears When Using Flanged Eartips.

List Price: $149.00

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

NTSC to PAL Conversion

I have a lot of European students who want to convert their legacy PAL footage over to NTSC, or vice versa, from NTSC over to PAL. One of the easiest and most economical ways I have found is to use one of the excellent plugins from Graeme Nattress. Standards Conversion, is a sweet little Final Cut Pro plugin that will allow you to convert both the frame size and frame rate from one format to another. You can burn the converted Quicktime files to a data DVD, or use them in your favorite DVD authoring program. I recently used this plugin on footage that had to be shipped to Australia where it was going to be edited in PAL.

Pros: Good Scaling and Frame Rate Conversion.

Conversion Process Takes Several Steps for Each File.

List Price:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Merry Christmas Y'all and to Y'all a good night! Here is a frame grab of Janet and Kelsey from one of the shots that I am currently working on. It was shot in HDV NTSC at 24 frames per second and must now be converted over to SD PAL at 25 frames per second. Good times. Nothing more fun than converting from one convoluted format to a slightly less convoluted format. Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Y2Khai Reloaded

It's been almost six years since a group of friends from a now defunct dot-com got together to make the mockumentary "Y2Khai-a hip hopumentary", about the fictional Asian rap star, Y2Khai. Khai worked with us at WireBreak Entertainment, but is better known as a gansta rapper from the San Fernando Valley.

Created by Jason Lawrence and Jon Foshee, Y2Khai began as a series of short flash animated videos. Y2Khai's popularity grew quickly and culminated with a hit website, magazine articles, and t-shirt sales.

This film was made for literally tens of dollars, using a borrowed MiniDV camera, an old microphone, recycled DV tapes, and whatever locations and props we could use for free. There wasn't a script. Just a basic framework from which to improvise. Low budget, run and gun film making at it's finest.

Keep an eye out for me as I pull a Hitchcock as the crying boom mic operator. Somehow the academy has ignored my performance:)

Oppo DV-980H Upscaling DVD Player

If you are like me, you have probably amassed a rather large collection of your favorite DVD's over the past decade. The only problem is that these Standard Definition DVD's look rather terrible when viewed on the latest generation High Definition Plasma's and LCD's. Until the day the Blue Ray/HD DVD War is over and a winner is crowned, you will still need to watch your Standard Definition discs.

Oppo's DV-980H will upscale your current DVD's up to full 1080p HD resolution. Is it as good as true HD? Nope. But it is a hell of a lot better than not upscaling. This unit even comes with a USB 2.0 port for easy transfer of your videos, music, and pictures. There are plenty of DVD players with upscaling on the market, but none of them compare to Oppo.

Pros: Excellent Upscaling of Standard Definition Video to 1080p, Clean Design, USB 2.0 Port.

Cons: DVD Tray is a Little Fragile, Expensive Compared to Other Upscalers.

List Price:

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Great Christmas Gift

Still don't know what to get me for Christmas? How about a $100,000.00 kick ass electric car? We are talking about 0-60 mph in under four seconds, at 135 mpg equivalent. Forget about the Prius, those are for pussies. Just kidding...the Prius is pretty cool, but not as cool as the Tesla Roadster. I would like mine in Thunder Gray if you please.

Pros: Breathtaking performance, great industrial design.

Cons: Very Expensive, Limited Number of Charging Stations.

List Price: $105,475 (fully loaded)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Clap On, Clap Off

I now have it in my contract that all of the clapper/loaders must wear only lingerie during filming. While most of the time this works out great, as it did on this shoot, it is rather scary on days when the clapper is a fat guy named "Bubba":)

Can You Hear Me Now?

Here I am helping my friend Janet , shot a couple of scenes for the upcoming film "Dead Country". If you dig horror flicks and hot chicks, you will probably like this movie.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Flip, Flop, Fly

Recently we were shooting a car interior night scene for one of my editing classes. It was a basic dialog scene, that we intended to shoot with three different camera positions.

First position was shot through the windshield of the vehicle.

Second position was through the driver's side window.

Third position was also shot through the driver's side window.

With time running out, we realized that it was going to take way too long to move the camera and reset the lights for the passenger's side window. So we did the next best thing. We had the actors switch places in the vehicle, and kept the camera and lights setup where they were and continued to shoot through the driver's side window. With a little luck, and a little "Flop" of the shot in post, the illusion came together.

Flop: This Perspective filter flip-flops the image horizontally, vertically, or in both directions at the same time. John Huston used this effect in his World War II documentary The Battle of San Pietro to keep the Allied forces heading right to left, and the Axis forces heading left to right, regardless of which direction they were actually moving during filming.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Evel Knievel Goes To The Snake River In the Sky

When I was a kid growing up back in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, we had a rather large drop off behind our house. It was basically due to soil erosion. Not a good thing for the house, but a great thing for a kid who wanted to recreate Evel Knievel's jump across the Snake River Canyon.

I always dug the graphic design of his outfits and machines. There isn't anything more easily identifiable as truly American, as one of his leather jumpsuits. Craig Breedlove is the only other motoring icon that comes to my mind who I think also captured the essence of the American Spirit.

Robert Craig, better known as Evel Knievel, that Star Spangled Daredevil, is gone at the age of 69.

And So It Begins...

I have had a lot of requests over the years from students, colleagues, and friends. They wanted to know If had a website that they could visit for more information on what I do, how I do it, what I know, and why I know it. Well, after many, many years, I thought that a little blog might be the way to go.

So, without much fanfare, here it is. Drum roll please... "

A place where I talk about my current projects, teachings, technology, digital media, hobbies, and anything else that might strike my fancy. In the infamous words of Han Solo, " Go strap yourself in, I'm going to make the jump to light speed!" I hope you enjoy the ride:) (Yep, that's me, age 4... embarrassing isn't it?)

I can be reached at