Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Change Premiere Pro Sequence Clips from 29.97 to 23.976 and Retain the Edit

Who knows if anyone else will EVER need to do this, but…

Recently I was editing a project for someone who had shot the footage at 29.97 fps.  I started composing my edit, and then decided I wanted to use the “Modify>Interpret Footage…” option to change the frame rate to 23.976 (meaning the footage would display 80% slower).

Since I had already chopped up and composed all the footage, there was really no good way to simply “make Premiere do it” automatically, so I had to figure out a way to have all the in and out points of my 29.97 footage correspond to the exact frames of my 23.976 footage.

If one were to simply reinterpret the footage (in the Project Window) of the clips already used, the clips would not update properly on the timeline (every clip would shift inside itself and all the clip in/out points would be wrong).

I only had 15 clips (around 25 minutes of footage), so the work around I came up with was to duplicate each clip, and then place the duplicates in a bin called “23.976.”  I then used the “(Right-Click) Modify>Interpret Footage…” command on each clip in this new bin to change each clip from 29.97 to 23.976 (you can do it as a bulk command by selecting all the clips in the bin and right clicking to make the change to all clips at once).

On my 29.97 clip timeline I then placed each 23.976 clip above it’s corresponding 29.97 clip.  I then moused over the original 29.97 clip audio (unmodified in length) to determine the original clip length, and then used the “(Right-Click) Speed/Duration…” command to change the 23.976 clip length to be exactly the same as that of the original 29.97 clip (use actual min/sec/frames instead of percentage).

Next, one needs to make sure that the 23.976 clip on the time line matches the clip in the 23.976 bin exactly.  To reiterate… when you change the speed of the clip on the timeline, it DOES NOT change the clip in the bin, thus you need to update the clip in the bin with the correct “Speed/Duration…” setting.

Before changing the length of the clip in the 23.976 bin, you will need to clear any in/out points that may have been created and left over during the original edit/composition. This means you’ll need to double-click on the clip in the 23.976 bin to open it in your Source Monitor, then right click and select “Clear In and Out.”

You could skip placing the 23.976 clip on the timeline by simply mousing over the 29.97 clip to determine the original clip length and then just changing the “Speed/Duration…” of the clip in the 23.976 bin, but I placed the 23.976 clip on the timeline so that I could verify that the 29.97 and 23.976 clips were identical frame by frame.

Mouse over the corresponding 23.976 clip on your timeline to see the full clip duration.  Right click on the clip and select “Reveal in Project” to go to the corresponding clip in your Project Window (in the 23.976 bin).  Right click on the clip and select “Speed/Duration…” and make sure the clip in the bin is the exact same length as the corresponding clip on the timeline (which has already had its speed altered to match the 29.97 clip).

At this point you can go to your composition timeline, double click a clip to open it in your Source monitor and then make note of the in/out points.  Next double click the corresponding clip in your 23.976 bin to open that clip in the Source monitor and set your in/out points to match the 29.97 clip, and drag the clip to your composition timeline (you can grab the video between your in/out points by grabbing and dragging the little “film strip” icon right below your source window).  You now have a time altered (Speed/Duration) 23.976 clip to match the regular 29.97 clip.  Be sure to put your clips on alternating tracks so that when you expand your 23.976 clips back to their original speed (80% slower) there is room on the time line for this expansion.

Finally, select your clips and reset them back to 100% (from their altered times to match the 29.97 clips) and line up the in/out points of each clip.

What a pain in the ass.  If someone knows of an easier way to accomplish the above, PLEASE post in the comments!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Configuring Gmail for Multiple Accounts and Devices

Part I: Setting up your domain server(s) and Gmail

I’m pretty sure there is no one I know who has only one e-mail account.  This also extends to devices… other than my grandma, if you include your computer, who only has one device?

Thus, coordinating all your e-mail accounts and devices is a pretty serious necessity these days, and unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to set up… at least not so that it runs as smoothly as we’d all like.

pile_of_junk_mail_from_the_netherlandsI actually have around 25 e-mail address (I am an artist, a musician (with multiple entities), a designer, a filmmaker, a business owner, a webmaster, etc., etc.).

I also have 7 devices that I regularly use for communication (four computers, my phone, my tablet, and my bedside device (my old phone)).

Getting everything to work well together has been a crazy evolution over the years, but I’m finally getting to a point where it all works pretty seamlessly.

Back in the day, I accessed e-mail directly from my various severs using POP or IMAP (first using Eudora then Mozilla Thunderbird).  Over time, spam became an insane issue, and the best spam filtering software out there is, no question, Gmail.  They just do it best.  In fact, really the only reason I even have a Gmail account is so that I can filter all my e-mail through their fantastic spam filters.  Of course, this comes at the expense of Google data mining every piece of communiqué I send or receive, but I guess it’s worth the price of admission (very little spam in my inbox, and very little “real” mail in my spam box).

If you have your own server (your own domain and hosting), you can set up e-mail addresses to work with Gmail so that when you send an e-mail from Gmail, it looks like it’s coming from your actual domain (instead of being forwarded through Gmail).  This just looks a little more professional when people examine the headers of your e-mail (like it’s coming from your domain instead of Google).  If you don’t have your own server, you can still send from various e-mails, but they will be treated as “aliases” and will show as being sent from Gmail in the headers.  You will skip the “Cpanel” section below, and go straight to setting up your Gmail “send mail as” settings, and instead of deselecting “treat as an alias,” you will leave the account set to “treat as an alias.”

Setting up an e-mail account as a “non alias,” with a real username/pass and actual SMTP server settings from your domain account, also lets you use the e-mail in other programs like Quickbooks.  For instance, if I have an e-mail called “billing” that I use for invoicing clients, but it’s set up as an “alias” in Gmail, Quickbooks won’t let me use the e-mail address to send invoices because it doesn’t have it’s own password and domain SMTP settings (you can’t use your Gmail log-in to send from an alias in Quickbooks).

[UPDATE 12-3-14] It seems Gmail has changed their policy so that you can no longer send e-mail using their outgoing SMTP (presumably to limit spam and for other security issues).  This mean you now actually HAVE to set outgoing SMTP servers for any address with a non-Gmail domain.

Making it happen:


  • Go to account-level filtering in Cpanel (it’s in the “mail” section of your Cpanel). You can also just use “user level” filtering, but account level filtering will forward ALL domain level e-mail for the rule (both account and user level will work to do the same thing).
  • Click “Create a New Filter”
  • In the “Rules” section”, choose “To” “ANY RECIPIENT” or even better (to be safe and extremely inclusive), “ANY HEADER,” select “contains” and type your email address.  (if you use only “to” then the filter ignores the CC field –this gave me fits for about a month when I wasn’t receiving some of my cc’d e-mail! –weird that some got through and some did not though)
  • In the “Actions” section, choose “Redirect to email” and type the email address to which to forward (in my case, my main Gmail address).
  • Click the “+” to add another action, and select discard message (this will prevent the mailbox on your server from filling up with the e-mail that has been forwarded).
  • Click save, and test it to make sure it works (send an e-mail to this address and make sure it shows up in your Gmail inbox)!

Next, you need to set up your Gmail “Send mail as” settings.


From your Gmail inbox:

  • Click the "gear" icon in the upper right corner.
  • Select "settings" from the list (third word from the bottom of the drop down).
  • Select "Accounts and Import" from the blue words at the top of the page.
  • The third section down is "Send mail as:"; click "Add another e-mail address you own."
  • In the pop-up dialog box, enter the name you wish people to see when you send e-mail, and then enter "youraddress@yourdomain.com"
  • Deselect "treat as an alias." (IMPORTANT)
  • Click "next"
  • In the area marked SMTP Server, make sure your outgoing SMTP settings are correct.  Gmail defaults smtp.yourdomain.com but my hosting services requires a change from "smtp" to "mail" so that the field is populated with "mail.yourdomain.com"
  • Enter “address@yourdomain.com” as the username
  • Enter your e-mail password
  • Leave "secured connection using TLS" selected.
  • Click "Add Account."

You will be sent an e-mail that will appear in your Gmail inbox.  Once you have clicked on the link in that e-mail to verify the account, your new address will be functional in Gmail.  Be sure to leave "Reply from the same address the message was sent to" selected in the "Send mail as" section of your Gmail "Accounts and Import" settings.  If you ever want to reply from a different address (than the address to which an e-mail is sent), just select a different address from your "from" drop down in your Gmail compose window (where you are responding to the e-mail).

So that’s the e-mail settings part.  Next comes access the actual e-mail from all of your devices.  This post is getting pretty long, so I’ll address setting up devices in a new post.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Droid Incredible Constantly Asks to Update to Build 4.08.605.15

I really miss my Droid Incredible.  What I don’t miss are the “memory full errors” (the phone not being able to use more than a couple of MEGABYTES for system storage), and, once they had released it, the constant “reminder” to update to build 4.08.605.15.

The thing is, I had already done that… a million times.  Very frustrating.

I still use the Droid as my bedside clock since it has a nice horizontal dock, clock and alarm, the monitor for my kid’s room, the remote for the HTPC, weather, e-mail, texting, etc., etc.

But the other day it started showing the “reminder” for the build update constantly.  Every time I clicked “later” or “now,” the reminder would disappear for a few minutes, but then come back. It just wouldn’t go away for more than a couple of minutes.

Oddly enough, the fifth time or so I clicked download and “reboot” I actually got a screen with a progress bar, as if a file was being downloaded (normally the dialog box just goes away when you click the “do it now” option). “HOORAY!” I thought, “Something different is finally going to happen!!!”  No such luck –exact same problem once the phone rebooted.


I really want to keep using the phone for my bedside device, so I finally got frustrated enough to track down an answer.

The obvious answer would be to root the phone, but I didn’t want a solution that involved (especially when I’m basically only using the device as a clock at this point).


I should also point out that my phone’s “info” screen showed that I was actually running build 4.08.605.15m but I also read on a few forums that the .15 build was actually more recent than .20.  Sounds counterintuitive obviously, but who knows why Verizon/Android do the things they do.

Another solution people suggested was to factory reset the device, but then you lost all your data.  Probably not the worst thing in the world considering this is no longer my “actual” device, but I was hoping for something less “erase-y,” so I kept looking.

Another thread suggested installing the update from an SD Card.  This involved downloading the update file (from sketchy, non-official locations), then entering the boot screen to install.  “Surely there’s an easier way!” I thought.

Finally someone suggested simply wiping the system cache (which must be done from hboot). It’s easy and it works.  Exactly the solution I was looking for.

  1. Pull the battery and put it back in.
  2. Hold down volume and power at the same time until a white screen appears (this is hboot).
  3. Scroll down with the down volume key and select “recovery” (select with power button).
  4. You should see a screen that has a phone with an arrow.
  5. From the phone/arrow screen hold volume up and power until a new menu appears.
  6. Select “wipe cache” from the choices.
  7. From the next list of choices select reboot.
  8. Once your phone reboots, you should get the “update now” dialog box again, but this time when you do it, your phone shoot update and reboot as it has supposed to have done for the past TWO YEARS! Winking smile

Once my phone rebooted, I got a screen that said “congrats… your phone has been updated to 4.08.605.15 710RD” with a big OK button.

But… as I went to click the “ok” I got the dreaded “system update” dialog box that I had been trying to get rid of!  AAAAARGH!

However, when I clicked “install now,” the message told me I would be installing build 4.08.605.19.  Hmmmmm.

So I did that.  My phone went through all the reboot stuff, and now it would SEEM everything is fine.  I guess we’ll see.

For the time being at least, I’m so glad to have my device back.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Red Giant Universe Legacy 1.1 “Swish Pan” Transition Blocks Out Video When Used with Text Title

I sometimes like to use the Red Giant Universe “Swish Pan” effect on text intro/outro by dropping the transition onto the beginning or end of a title (text) clip.  Since I am using Adobe Premiere CS6, I must use the “Legacy 1.1” version of Red Giant Universe transitions.

I was finding that anytime I tried to use Swish Pan, any video “behind” the transition effect (below the clip on the timeline), was getting blocked out by the transition.  In other words, when the Swish Pan was happening, I was looking at a black screen with the text doing it’s thing (no video visible –only text).

What I discovered is that the effect defaults to a 100% background opacity, which does not allow the effect to work correctly with a text title (where the background needs to be completely transparent).

The fix is to click the “custom” button at the bottom of the “Effect Controls” panel for Swish Pan.


You will get a pop-up dialog box that contains a field for “Background Opacity.”  You need to change that background opacity to 0.0 and then the transition will perform correctly with your text title.  You may also want to change the “exposure boost” at the bottom of the list from 1.0 to 0 so you don’t get a brightness “pop” when the effect occurs.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Personal Handbrake Settings

There is a LOT of confusion “out there” concerning the best settings for converting your media files with Handbrake.  There are a lot of opinions, and it’s not that anyone is necessarily wrong, but there are just a lot of different things that will work depending on your needs.


When I record television or rip the DVD’s I own, I like to convert the files to h.264, as it is a very efficient format for the quality of what you see (file size to picture quality ratio).  It’s also the format that Plex streams natively to Roku for the best (fastest and glitch free) streaming experience.

Since storage has become so cheap, I don’t worry too much about shrinking the size of media, especially if I’m ripping DVD’s (which are already SD instead of HD… which means fewer pixels and less space).  I tend to just keep the file at native resolution (though I always convert to square pixels so devices aren’t confused about how to display the file –the “stretching” or “squishing” you often see when your device is trying to figure out how to interpret a file and display the correct aspect ratio).

My files are usually around 550MB for a half hour tv show at 720p, and a normal DVD movie ends up being around 800MB to a gig (which is decent, considering a “normal” DVD is around 4 or 5GB).

Here are the settings I use when I do this.


One thing I learned recently is that you can actually trim your video file as you are encoding in Handbrake (so you aren’t encoding/keeping any footage that was recorded before/after your program).  If you switch the “chapters” dropdown to “seconds,” you can set the beginning and end points in minutes and seconds.  Just view your file in a media program like VLC to see where you want your in and out points to be, and then when you set them in Handbrake it will encode only the part of the file you want.

I like to keep my files at their original size, but aspect ratios can wreak havoc on media files.  Some programs are in 1:78 (16:9), some are anamorphic with “non square pixels and a 1.33 aspect ratio stretched to 1.78, etc…  I like to make sure everything is just square and physically as it should appear, thus I set “anamorphic” to “none,” and then choose modulus 2.  Then I tick “keep aspect ratio” and choose my width or height.  With HD recordings, I sometimes “down rez” to 720 from 1080 (it’s a smaller file that won’t look much worse (if at all) on an HD screen).  With DVD’s and SD recordings (720x480 pixels (wide) or 640 x 480 pixels (4:3)) I sometimes “up rez” just a tiny bit if the file is actually 640x480 displaying 720x480.  What this means is that a file that is 720x480 but in anamorphic format will actually display as 720x540 in square pixels.  That means more lines of horizontal resolution, for a slightly better picture with not much more space taken up.  Alternatively, a 720x480 file that’s anamorphic but wide screen will display as approximately 848x480 as square pixels.

All you really need to know is that if you’re encoding a non-HD file, tick the “keep aspect ratio” box and then let Handbrake set the width when you set the height to either 480px (native SD resolution) or 540 (if you want to up the horizontal rez a bit –I only do this with anamorphic files so they convert to 720x540).

Finally, make sure your cropping is set to “custom” and all the fields read “0.”  This will keep your file from having black borders.



You can spend a lot of time playing with these.  I just set decomb to default and it does a decent job of removing the horizontal lines created by television interlacing.  Basically the “decomb” filter only applies de-interlacing when there is motion (when the horizontal lines caused by interlacing become visible).  Handbrake does a decent job of “choosing” when to apply this filter, so I just let it do it’s thing.  Using the other filters requires quite a bit more processing (thus time to convert), so I am just satisfied with the speed/quality of letting Handbrake “decomb” as it sees fit.



I haven’t messed a lot with video settings.  I keep things pretty close to default, but I do know I want a constant framerate (and leave it as the same as source), and I use constant quality instead of variable bitrate.  Variable bitrate takes up less space, but it takes more time to convert and isn’t quite as “good” as constant Quality.  I set the H.264 level to 4.1 and set the speed to around “fast” or “faster” (depending on the show I’m converting and what kind of quality I want from the file).


Hopefully these settings help somebody set up their Handbrake satisfactorily!

Monday, November 3, 2014

717AH Quick Release Plates

Getting set up with a “universal” quick release plate for all my cameras and gizmos (rigs, dollies, hi-hats, jib arms, cranes, sliders, steadicam, etc.) took quite a bit of research and decision making.  At first I was going to go with Manfrotto, because they are high quality and pretty much the “standard” in photography.  However, after looking at how many plates and cradles I would need to purchase, I quickly realized that Manfrotto products would be cost prohibitive.

415BexW1EALOne of the first things I purchase for my new (then) DSLR filmmaking set up was a tripod and fluid head.  Sure I would have loved to purchase a carbon fiber Sachtler video tripod, but I don’t have $2k to drop on sticks, and in the “no budget” range, the Fancierstudio Professional Heavy Duty Video Camcorder Tripod Fluid Drag Head Kits WF717 (currently listed as unavailable; I paid $140) seemed like the way to go.  It’s got a really solid “crutch” style tripod, a ball mount head with fluid motion (I assume at this price it’s actually friction based, not really fluid), and an included handle.  I have been really happy with the tripod and head for my filmmaking needs (I use a Bogen/Manfrotto 3046 with a 3047 head for my still photography).

The head for this video tripod system is the Weifeng WF-717A, which is marketed as MANY different fluid tripod heads, among them:

AGPtek® Professional Fluid Drag Tripod Head with Telescopic Handle for Heavy Duty Video Camera Camcorder ($78.94 shipped)

ePhoto Professional Video Camera Fluid Drag Tripod Head by ePhoto INC 717AH ($86.99 shipped)

CowboyStudio EI717A Professional Video Camera Fluid Drag Tripod Head and Handle ($75 shipped)

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This head seems to be the best “bang for the buck,” and since it’s marketed as several brands, it’s readily available, and less prone to disappearing from the market (longevity of availability is definitely something to be considered when making a decision about what product/brand you’ll be using, especially for small/replacement parts).  The head goes by names such as WF717, WF717AH, EL717 (pretty much anything with the 717 number will work) and is usually credited to either Weifeng or Fancierstudio.  Thus I decided to base my video/film quick-release plate decisions on this model.

For the longest time, you could find the quick release plate for the camera, but not the receiver or base (the cradle) for this system.  In other words, there was no way to purchase the part of the system to attach to your hi-hat, camera rig/cage, steadicam, etc.

7172_grandeThus is was a godsend when PNC Photography and Cinema decided to manufacture the Custom Fancier 717 Quick Release Adapter Base (currently $35 each, but when I purchased mine they were three for $60).  These are a CNC machine-made receiver base with a very low profile (which makes them great for rigs and steadicams).  As much as I like their low profile, I have never really come to like them because of the way they function.  They are not spring-loaded like a typical receiver base, and you have to REALLY crank them down to make sure they grip your quick release plate tightly.  The tightening knob is a burled metal knob (not a spring-loaded lever like you’d see on a typical tripod head), and I find that I have to actually use a pair of pliers to get the PNC 717 tight enough.  This is a real pain when you’re trying to work quickly in the field.

41cDNE0Rf1L._SX466_So even though I do still use these 717 P&C/PNC plates on a couple of things, I really wanted to find a better receiver plate base that would work with the 717 format.  Luckily, ePhoto recently started selling a “replacement part” for the WF717 Fluid Head, which is just the quick release plate and receiver base (ephoto replacement quick release plate with Base Mount for fluid tripod head 717AH, $25.69 shipped).

I have successfully modified the base plate by drilling out the mounting holes and adding additional metal/nuts to the underside of the base plate so that it can be mounted on my rigs and other gadgets with 1/4” 20-thread bolts.  Thus I now have low profile receiver plate bases that are spring loaded and MUCH easier to tighten.  In addition to the spring loaded tightening lever, they also have the typical tripod lock knob for added security.  This base plate is MUCH easier to use in the field than the more rigid/difficult to tighten PNC 717, and I plan on buying a bunch more from ePhoto.

UPDATE [8-12-2016]: I haven’t had time to do a proper post on the modified 717 base, but here are some photos for those who’ve been asking.  I purchased two more of the 717 replacement quick release plates, but I haven’t had a chance to modify and use those yet (still just using the one).


As you can see, the quick release plate is mounted to a cheese plate, which is then in turn mounted to the camera cage/rig.


I actually mounted another 717 quick release plate to the back/underside of the cheese plate so the entire camera rig can easily be mounted to a 717 receiver plate on a tripod (the entire rig can be mounted on a tripod, jib, etc. using the 717 plate).


Modifying a Tablet Case for Mounting on a DSLR

I recently fell in love with Chainfire’s DSLR Controller (see review here).  This wonderful app allows me to not only use my tablet as a high resolution field monitor, but I am also able to CONTROL many of my DSLR’s functions via the tablet touch screen.

I searched for quite some time to find a good 1/4” 20 thread tripod mount for my LG GPad 8.3.  I thought I had found it in the iStabilizer tabMount, but it turned out the dimension listed by the seller for the maximum size the holder could accommodate was incorrect, and I had to send it back.  You can read about that situation and my review for the iStabilizer tabMount on this blog here.

So I chose the $13 MoKo LG G Pad 8.3 Slim Folding Folio Case for this mod, as the materials are sturdy and the “folio” style case allows the front flap to function as a sun shade for the tablet.

I will have been using this case with my tablet for exactly five months as of tomorrow.  I have been using it as a DSLR mount for around two months.

I think it's probably the best "book style" (folio) faux leather case available for the Verizon LG Gpad 8.3.  I purchased the MoKo over the (extremely similar) Fintie LG G PAD 8.3 Folio Case because the MoKo has two pockets on the inside of the cover. One is large enough to accommodate a couple of business cards or credit cards, and the other is for a sim card or an SD card.

I have made a very simple modification to the case to allow me to use it as a mount for my tablet on my DSLR. I simply drilled a small hole in the center of the back of the case, and using a hot shoe mount joined to a micro ball head with a 1/4” 20 thread extension nut, I am able to attach my tablet to my DSLR hot shoe or camera rig.

I drilled a hole slightly smaller than the 1/4” post so the post would actually thread into the tablet case backing.


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20141103_102409 20141103_102423
(the micro ball head and hot shoe mount; note the rubber pad to keep the hot shoe mount from scratching the back of the tablet)

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At some point I plan on creating two side support "flags" so that the front flap on the case can function as a sun shade for the tablet when I use it as a field monitor/touchscreen in bright light situations.


MoKo Case Mod for DSLR Camera

iStabilizer tabMount Review

I recently became familiar with an app called DSLR Controller (see complete app review here).  This magnificent piece of software for Android devices will allow you to control your DSLR with your tablet or phone.  You simply connect your device through the USB port (you will need an On the Go cable and a device that supports “On the Go” connectivity), and your tablet becomes a field monitor with touch screen controls.

But now that I can control my Canon 7D with my LG GPad 8.3, I need a way to attach my tablet to my camera.  Whether I’m shooting video or still photography, there still needs to be a way to securely fasten the tablet to the camera.  When I’m shooting stills, I don’t use a rig because I need freer access to the settings, and I am also constantly switching the camera orientation, thus mounting the tablet via the flash hot shoe seemed the best answer.  When I’m shooting video I have a camera rig, so it’s a simple matter of attaching to one of the billions of 1/4” holes in the cheese plates.

That still meant I had to get a quarter inch threaded hole attached to the tablet.
Of all the ones I found on Amazon, the iStabilizer tabMount seemed the best bet.



Unfortunately, the maximum tablet size stated in the listing was incorrect.  The listing said the device could handle ANY tablet UP TO 8.25" wide. I should also point out, looking at the mechanics and dimensions first hand, I think 8.25" is pushing it; I would call 8" the maximum dimension of a tablet it could handle.


My LG Gpad 8.3 is too long (8.5") to allow the tabMount to hold it horizontally, and the *minimum width* of the tabMount (which is not listed in the Amazon verbiage) is 5.5" (which would actually still be a little loose since that's simply the fully contracted distance from edge to edge and there would be no spring tension to hold the tablet securely).  Since the LG Gpad 8.3 is only 5" wide, the tabMount will not hold it. To reiterate, the tablet is "too big" in one direction, and "too small" in the other.

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I think the iStabilizer tabMount is probably a pretty good piece of equipment for tablets that actually fit. It seems simple and sturdy. The 1/4"/20 threaded hole is metal mounted in sturdy plastic. The grasping arms are spring loaded so that the tablet is held in place by the contracting tension of a spring inside the backing piece. The spring seems to be strong and the tabs that wrap around the edge of the tablet are large and curved and covered in rubber. I think this holder would do a good job of keeping a tablet in place securely.

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I am disappointed that I can’t use the tabMount, as I like the way it works, and I like the build quality.  There is nothing of similar quality, function, and price that I can find for a tablet with the dimensions of the LG Gpad 8.3, so I think I’m going to have build something on my own (see that build/mod here).

20141103_102008(holding the spring loaded arm open; it’s definitely got some grip!)

DSLR Controller App Review

My favorite app on my LG Gpad 8.3 tablet is almost certainly DSLR Controller by Chainfire.

-Rr0Uz1jS0pWcgg6VtP4XRVlXl-ip48R7SAivbA1GahojNUBCE_kBIb5y34TKYbw82I=w300By simply attaching my tablet to my camera via USB I am able to see what my camera is seeing at high resolution on an 8.3 inch screen.  Thus my tablet is turned into a hi-rez field monitor (and my tablet was FREE!).  Not only that, but I am also able to control MANY of the functions of the camera via my tablet’s touchscreen.  In order to make this happen, your device needs to support OTG, and you’ll need an “On the Go” cable (an OTG Cable).  I purchased this two pack for $7 from Cable Matters on Amazon.

Here’s the list of functions from the app’s Google Play page:

    • Live View
    • Auto Focus (tap Live View)
    • Manual focus adjustments (in AF mode)
    • Histogram
    • Zoom control
    • Grid and aspect ratio overlay
    • Bulb capture
    • Continuous capture
    • Image review (+ follow shot, gallery)
    • Image filters (peaking, contrast, channel mask, grayscale, 4 modes/filter)
    • Video recording
    • HDR/Auto Exposure Bracketing
    • Focus Bracketing (incl. HDR)
    • Focus A-B
    • Mirror Lockup support
    • Timelapse (incl. HDR)
    • Wi-Fi Passthrough
    • Extensive modification of settings
    • Shutter speed
    • Aperture
    • ExpComp and Bracket
    • ISO speed
    • Auto-Focus Mode
    • Focus and Zoom area (tap-and-hold Live View)
    • Picture Style
    • Drive Mode
    • White Balance
    • Color Temperature
    • Auto-Lighting Optimizer
    • Metering Mode
    • Image and video quality and format

That’s some crazy functionality from an app.  Much like Magic Lantern, Chainfire has harnessed the potential of the Canon DSLR (more specifically, the USB port) in a much more robust and useful capacity than Canon’s own USB connected software (which does little more than trip the shutter).

Even though the app has the ability to transfer photos from the camera to your device, I don’t anticipate using that functionality very often.  It’s nice to be able to use the app to move or back up pics from the camera to your tablet, but it’s pretty slow, and not very realistic to wait for the transfer to happen while you’re actively using the camera/tablet.  It’s something that you could do when you’re done, but I don’t think it’s fast enough to use on the fly.

There are several other apps that address similar functionality via the USB port of your tablet and OTG, but I don’t think any do it as well as DSLR Controller.  Not only that, but at $8 it is absolutely the most affordable solution with features this robust.  The closest competitor, Helicon Remote, offers a “free/lite” version, but it only works with low rez JPEGs (definitely not RAW), and when it comes time to purchase the full app they want FIFTY BUCKS!!!

It’s kind of annoying that DSLR Controller is still listed as “BETA” (it’s been listed that way for more than a year), but I guess it’s just Chainfire’s way of covering their asses if something goes wrong (similarly, Magic Lantern makes it VERY clear that they aren’t responsible if something goes wrong when you’re using their software).

In addition to the spectacular functionality of DSLR Controller, Chainfire has added functionality that will allow you to control your camera via WiFi (so, no wires/cables).  For camera’s without WiFi (like my Canon 7D), they have a “how to” on their website that shows how to make the app and your camera work with a simple portable wireless router(TP-LINK TL-MR3040 wifi hub) you can purchase cheap online (around $35).  This is a fantastic feature for using your camera on a jib arm.

I often mount my 7D on a 12 foot Kessler Crane and then need to use a 25 ft. HDMI cable just to be able to see what’s happening via my field monitor; now I can actually CONTROL THE CAMERA when it’s on the 12 foot jib arm.  That means focusing, changing ISO, shutter speed, iris, start/stop filming, etc., etc.!

Not only has this app turned every tablet with OTG USB functionality into a field monitor (often with superior resolution to even higher-end dedicated field monitors!), but it also gives you remote control of your camera.

This is simply a fantastic app for still photographers and DSLR filmmakers alike.

P.S. Chainfire is working on another app for auto-focus micro adjust.  Here is some text from the Chainfire site about the app (currently in alpha development):

DSLR Controller AFMA

DSLR Controller AFMA is an app made to assist Auto-Focus Micro-Adjustment calibration of your lenses on your Canon EOS bodies, based on the moiré method.

It is based on the code for DSLR Controller and as such runs on the same devices and has the same connection capabilities. Of course, your camera must support Auto-Focus Micro-Adjustment for this to be useful at all.

It is currently in alpha stage. I'm releasing it in the current state because I will be out of the country for a while, and I won't be able to finish it up further before I go. The manual (http://dslrcontroller.com/afma/) seems long and daunting, but once you've used it once or twice, it really only takes a minute or so to set up.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

CowboyStudio Universal Heavy Duty Tripod Dolly FT9911

20141102_154630I purchased my Cowboy Studio Heavy Duty Tripod Dolly for $90 from Amazon here

Currently I am using it with a Bogen/Manfrotto 3046 tripod that I use as the base for a 12 foot Kessler Crane.  A “real” heavy duty tripod with wheels for my crane would be nice, but this is working for now.

As with so many of these inexpensive DSLR Filmmaking items coming out of China, this appears to be the same (rebranded) item as Fancierstudio Universal Heavy Duty 150lb Max Video Cinema Film Studio Tripod Dolly FT9911 and ePhoto Universal Heavy Duty 150LB Max Video Cinama Film Studio Tripod Dolly FS9911. I'm not sure if there is *actually* a difference between the FT9911 and the FS9911 (note the "T" and "S"). This one (CowboyStudio) is ten bucks less than the "Fancierstudio" and fifteen bucks less than the "ePhoto." Do not confuse these with the "NON-heavy-duty" dollies also available from these three brands for around thirty-five bucks.

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with the build quality of this dolly. When it first arrived I set it up and put my tripod on it, then climbed on top of my tripod and saw little to no flex (I'm about 155lbs.). Of course, the wider the spread on your tripod, the closer the feet are to the wheels, and the more weight this thing can hold (if the weight is nearer the center there will be flex).

After I climbed down I mounted my 12ft. Kessler Crane on the tripod and loaded it up with a camera and counter weights, and it works great. Smooth rolling and no issue with that amount of weight. I am very pleased.

20141102_155228(shown with only the 8 ft. arm)

In the Amazon reviews of the other brands' products (assumed to be the identical item), someone mentioned that the spread is not adjustable, but it absolutely is. The dolly remains the same size, but the "foot clamps" slide back and forth on the three struts and can be clamped down at any point on the strut.



With the legs collapsed, the span on my tripod is around 24”.  That is about 6” shy of what the dolly can accommodate.  You should be able to get a tripod with a 30” spread onto the dolly without issue.  The outside diameter (wheel to wheel) of the dolly is around 35”, maybe a tad more, so you should be able to roll the dolly at it’s widest point through a 36” door opening.

 20141102_154647 20141102_155436 20141102_155520

The ~4" wheels are a good rubber, soft enough to absorb a little shock and roll smoothly but not *too* soft.  It also seems like they’d be pretty easy to swap out (just a nut and bolt) if anything ever went wrong with them, or if you wanted to use a different wheel.


The dolly folds up nicely and comes with a sturdy, zippered nylon carrying bag.  At first I didn’t think I’d ever use the bag, but I’ve already used it several times and was happy to have it.  It’s surprisingly tough for a freebie.

20141102_155651 20141102_155700 20141102_160459

When you unfold the dolly and spread the struts, there is a bolt (with a knob) in the center that screws down to lock the struts in place (it doesn't just "click" into place). It seems plenty sturdy, and the dolly definitely can’t collapse with the pin/bolt screwed down.



I wish the wheel locks were metal instead of plastic, but they seem like they'll last at least a while if we're careful with them.


For $90 (actually listed at $85 the day of this posting), I'm definitely impressed with this tripod dolly.