Letters and Tips - Dell/Alienware merger
Merlin Personal Steadicam by Tiffen with Exoskeletal Structure Charlie Fulton: Hi, I’m Charlie Fulton, Videomaker Associate Editor. Brian Peterson: And we’re here with some reader tips and someQ&A. But before we get into that, we actually had some, some fun time here earlier in the week, we’ve got to play with a new product. Actually it’s been out for a little while, but we’re starting to see more and more people expressing interest in personal steadicam. Actually, this is called the Merlin, and made by Tiffen, or actually distributed by Tiffen. Charlie Fulton: Distributed by Tiffen. Brian Peterson: Yeah, but it is of the steadicam line. And I had a chance to play with it. It takes a while to setup… Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: But obviously it works very much like a full blown steadicam. We had a gymbol, right here, which as you can see. I move and it stays relatively flat, so as you’re walking, the whole idea is that you’re not introducing a lot of shake, cameral roll, tilt, as you’re walking. And your arm works as a, really, the biggest steadicams have what’s called the duo articulated exoskeletal structure, and in short terms, it’s your arm. So, your arm is taking a place of what a big steadicam might do, and saving a lot of money. In fact, what you’re getting here is, I think, what was it? The cost of it? Charlie Fulton: Is it $800? Background voice: It’s $800. Brian Peterson: Okay, so, for $800 approximately you’re saving $25.000. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: So, not a bad thing for people who need to save $25.000. Charlie Fulton: That’s a lot of us. Brian Peterson: We, we actually think it’s pretty cool product. It does take a while to set up. These weights at the bottom, and on the front here, are interchangeable depending on the type of unit, or camera that you’re working with, and apparently, Tiffen, on their website, has a lot of presets that you just go on and find out the particular camcorder you have, and it will give you all the presets where needs to be, on top of the mount here, and what kind of weights to use. So, fun, fun product. Charlie Fulton: Yeah, it is. So, it does take a while to set one of these up. We think you have to give yourself at least half an hour for first time setup so you can make sure that if you’ve got the camcorder in the correct position and weights are set up properly. And also to give yourself a chance to get used to have the, Merlin will work with you. It’s not quite as intuitive as you think it is, the way that you move. And sometimes the camera will keep moving as little bit of inertia there. Or if you turning especially, you’ll be, it’ll behave a little bit differently than you might expect. Brian Peterson: Right. Charlie Fulton: But once you get the hang of it, it’s very cool. Very good accessory to have in your arsenal. Brian Peterson: Yeah. So, check it out. If you’ve got a chance to go to a trade show, or have a friend that has one of these. Fortunately, we have a friend in Tiffen, so… Charlie Fulton: Yes, yes. Brian Peterson: All right. Why don’t we get to the letters here? Charlie Fulton: I think we should do that. Brian Peterson: The first one actually is a tip. And it comes from Kathleen Carol, Miami, Florida. And this was kind of just a bit of accident, as she describes here. She says, here’s a tip I discovered by accident. Just moved into a new home, and a bedroom I designated as my office was the former owner’s gym and dance studio. Have you ever been to a dance studio lately? Charlie Fulton: I can’t say that I ever have. Brian Peterson: They have a lot of mirrors on the wall, you want to check your forms. That apparently was it. Never got around to removing all the tile mirrors. And, so, what happened was, she was setting up a dedicated editing environment, and put up everything against the wall. And all of a sudden, she found that mirrors did something cool. You could actually see behind all the stuff without having to move everything away from a wall. Charlie Fulton: Aah! That’s it nice, especially if you have everything in rags. Or you’ve got really small furniture, and you’ve got to be able to see behind there, and you can’t move things easily if your computer is on, say, you don’t want to move it while the hard drive is spinning. That’s not a good thing if that happens. Brian Peterson: So, being able to see, obviously, reading requires you to be able to read in reverse, unless you are like an ambulance driver who has done the reversing on all of their products. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: Still, they really need to wait to at least get to the reds and the whites and all the connections you can do from reverse. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: Nice tip! Thanks, Kathleen. This one’s a question, and, Charlie, I’m going to shoot it to you here. Charlie Fulton: Okay. Brian Peterson: This is from Chris Borse, via the Internet, and subject’s captured analog video. Remember that? Charlie Fulton: It’s been a while, yeah. I’ve done that a few times. Brian Peterson: He says, I’ve got your news magazine today. I’d like to see information about how to transfer analog video onto the computer. I’ve ruined many a project by screwing it up, like, how S video is a lot crisper than RCA video cord. Some of us are still dealing with older analog camera. So, can you address this so others don’t ruin their projects? So, let’s go back in time. The way back machine. Charlie Fulton: Yes. The way back machine, indeed. Brian Peterson: So, how, how did people, back in the olden days get their video into their cam, the computer? Charlie Fulton: There were a few cards back in the day. Pinnacle was really huge then, and there were several in their lineup. And there are still a few lingering products the Pinnacle offers. But the biggest name that you would find now would probably be Matrox, with the RT.X100, those are probably the most popular analog capture cards that you can find these days. And pretty much any capture card worth its salt will include a composite video and an S video input. There’s a few really, really high end SO third parts that are, component video, also. You know, you’re probably familiar with the component video if you use a DVD player. They’ll have three jacks, instead of one jack for video. One is the luminance, and then there are two for the chrominance part of the picture. Chrominance is a fancy word for color. Luminance is a fancy word for the white and black part of the video signal. So, by breaking it up further, you get less interference between parts of the picture, parts of the color. Brian Peterson: So, it’s a real clean image, either component, or as in this case, talking of SVHS, which is still a far cry better than composite- Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: And not quite as good as a component. That’s kind of how they stack up, is that right? Charlie Fulton: Yeah. You really do want to use S video, if at all possible, with your video capture. If you have a choice. Now, if you’re coming out of VHS, or old school 8mm, you’ll definitely have to use a composite signal, because most of those camcorders, they’re not going to have an S video jack, at all. So you’ve got to, you know, as the Police would say, When the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around. Brian Peterson: All right. Right. So, if you’re still in the analog days, don’t just bear, obviously DV is getting cheaper all the time. Charlie Fulton: It is. Brian Peterson: So, there is no excuse not to make a switch, Charlie Fulton: Exactly. Brian Peterson: but if you’ve got great stuff you’ve got to get out into the computer, there are still ways of doing that. Charlie Fulton: And that’s a really good point, too, is, if you have a DV camcorder, a lot of them will have a way to bring in analog video and then it will transcode it inside the camcorder to DV. So then you can FireWire your camcorder to your computer, and then use your camcorder as a transfer device, to capture device that way. So, that is a pretty good way to do that. Brian Peterson: All right. So this next one, oh, boy! Charlie Fulton: Yeah. We’re in the war zone again. You know, HD is interesting, but it’s still definitely emerging. Brian Peterson: So, we had a letter from another reader, this is Victor Verondac, of Kingston, New York. I’m sorry, Victor, if I messed up your last name, it’s long. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: He says, I’m excited about shooting in HD. We all are. Charlie Fulton: Oh, definitely. Brian Peterson: I want to know, he says he knows about the cameras, he knows about editing software, and the TVs, but he wants to know just a little bit more about the HD digital tape, HD DVD disk, and HD DVD player, which just begs a big question – HD DVD versus BluRay? Charlie Fulton: Right. Brian Peterson: So, let’s just tackle it real quick. I mean, we talked about, in the news section, about Toshiba coming out with a high end laptop with an HD DVD player. There are other players in this sport. So, let’s stack up on who’s on what side, at least right now. So, HD DVD, who’s on that side? Charlie Fulton: Currently, HD DVD is being extra headed by Toshiba, NEC, Microsoft, and a few others. Microsoft has gone as far as putting drive in their Xbox 360, that does HD DVD. Brian Peterson: Yeah. Is that out or is that still upcoming? Charlie Fulton: I think the Xbox 360 is out. Morgan is confirming that for us. Brian Peterson: And then Sony, Philips, Dell, and some others are behind BluRay. Of course, Sony is saying they’re going to put a VD or BluRay player in their PS3, Play Station 3, which isn’t out yet. Charlie Fulton: Right. Brian Peterson: In fact, I keep hearing rumors that they keep getting pushed off that delivery day. Maybe that has something to do with the player. Charlie Fulton: Yeah, yeah. Brian Peterson: But, some recent announcements, and one big one is kind of interesting, I guess, LG, along with HP have both come out, they used to be on one camp, and now they say they’ll be producing product for both. So, there are some bit players sitting on the fence. Charlie Fulton: Yes. Brian Peterson: Or, actually, they’re not sitting on the fence, they’re playing both sides of the fence, which is, you know, maybe a smart thing to do. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. So, this really suggest the game is really hard to tell what it is going to become like, like another Beta versus VHS style format, or if this is going to be really long and protracted, or if it’s going to solve itself before there’s a lot of hardware out there in the market place, and a lot of software that movie studios are putting out. Or home burning drives and media. Although the media has been resolved pretty much on big players who said, we’re going to have both. That’s your Beta, your Memorex, your MaxL, etc. Brian Peterson: Right. It’s just, it’s the hardware, how are you going to play this, we’re not even going to talk about burning it. That’s a whole another issue. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: But the huge holdup seems to be the fact that the major players in the entertainment industry really haven’t made their call, either. So, it’s kind of catch 22, it keeps going around and around. Samasung is expected to ship their first BluRay out. Hopefully, in May, or something like that. Charlie Fulton: That sounds about right, I think I read that somewhere. Brian Peterson: 5 or 600 bucks. Little more expensive than HD DVD players were expected, at least initially. Hold a little bit more room, HD not as much. Or did I have it reversed? Charlie Fulton: I don’t recall. It seems like with BluRay, there’s like three different specs that are within a couple of gigs of each other. Brian Peterson: Up to, I think, 50GB on their dual rayish, actually, it doesn’t even exist quite yet. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: They’re towing 50 for the dual. You know, one of the aspects for this, let’s just handle it real quickly because there’s not much to it, but he asked about HD digital tape. Charlie Fulton: What surprised us, is, we thought that VHS, remember VHS? It’s been a while. Brian Peterson: Hardly I do. Charlie Fulton: Yeah, yeah. Well, truth be told, I still have mine VHS machine hooked up. So, JVC actually has two models of DVHS recorder. One is $800, and other is $1500. The $1500 model includes an ATSC off the air tuner. So you could record HD programming that way. And that’s an interesting way to do it. And then there was, also a few years ago, JVC has been promoting a format called D-Theatre. And what D-Theatre was, was a special type of encryption that movie studios could use to have a movie and encrypt it so that nobody could copy it, supposedly. Although all those things always get broken. Brian Peterson: And it’s a special tape, it’s a not just a regular VHS tape. Charlie Fulton: Right. Brian Peterson: It’s a d, digital VHS tape. Charlie Fulton: Right. You could just use your old shelf of VHS tapes and record digital content on them. Brian Peterson: Right. This time, really, it’s the only thing out there that allows you to record any kind of high definition material at all. Charlie Fulton: Right. Brian Peterson: But again, whether it’s interim format, or not, we really can’t say. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. It’s hard to say how long this is going to still be around. Brian Peterson: All right. What’s still around is Morgan. And he’ll be joined by Jennifer, and we’re going to do our looking at a showcase submitted by a very, very intriguing young man. I’ll let them tell you more about it in just a moment. Charlie Fulton: And you can always send us an e-mail if you have a question, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we look forward to reading your questions. Brian Peterson: And the blog, and the blog! Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: Definitely. Check out the blog! And how do people find us on the blog? Charlie Fulton: It’s videomaker.com/blog. Brian Peterson: Easy enough. Or go to our website and look for news, we’re right there, so… Jennifer, Morgan, get in here.