ACTON Presents “Moving Stories” Contest

ACTON logoACTON is the creator of RocketSkates – electric, motorized skates that fit right over your shoes. They have presented a contest called “Moving Stories”. The winner of the contest will receive $10,000 toward the cost of their education. I find the play on words somewhat amusing. A company that makes a device that can quickly move you down the street is seeking stories that are emotionally moving.

The “Moving Stories” contest is intended to be a way of celebrating the everyday hero, “the ones we so often forget to appreciate”. They are asking for people to produce a three minute video of the best story of a hero in their life. ACTON will contribute $10,000 to the person whose video showed the most inspiring story. Three runner ups will each receive one pair of R6 RocketSkates. You can submit your video anytime between now and May 25, 2015.

I believe that it is always a good idea to read over the contest terms. To be eligible for this contest you must be a legal resident of the United States and at least 16 years of age. For some reason, those who live in Florida, New York, and Delaware are excluded from this contest. Your video cannot be longer than three minutes and it must be in English.

Participants must have a Facebook account and a YouTube account before they can submit their video to the contest. It is my understanding that the reason participants must have a YouTube account is because they will be required to post their video entry on YouTube with the title “’Moving Stories’ Presented by RocketSkates #ThatHeroLife”. I’ve no idea why the Facebook account is required.

Some videos will be selected as the “Hero Of the Week” or “Hero of the Month”. The top ten finalists will have 30 days “to promote their Submission to gain votes from the Public”. ACTON has a video that gives a glimpse into what they are looking for in the videos that are submitted.

TriCaster Mini – Go Make Your Own Show!

NewTek LogoNewTek has something that will make it so much easier for people to get out into the world and record video. It is the TriCaster Mini. It enables people to create and publish awesome video content in just minutes and to stream it live!

The TriCaster Mini can replace the expensive professional equipment that some people have been lugging around in order to film a video. Its an all-in-one studio style production system that can be used no matter what your skill level happens to be. Those new to production will be able to use it and those more experienced will love the professional results it can produce.

You will need to add an “off the shelf” video camera (or several, if you prefer). Connect your video camera, a mouse, and a keyboard to the TriCaster Mini and you are ready to go. You can also plug in a microphone or a small audio mixer if you want to use multiple mics in your production.

TriCaster Mini Units

The system can capture live video, overlay graphics, charts, titles, and animations, and even include video that is on another computer. You can use it to have guest speakers call in from their webcams and stream it all live. It will even let you record your work so that it can be posted and watched on-demand later on.

The TriCaster Mini opens up a whole new world for people who are new to video production and live streaming. It also makes things less difficult for professionals who no longer have to bring a ton of equipment along with them to their next video shoot. Further information can be found on the NewTek website.

Are you excited about the TriCaster Mini? NewTek seems to have anticipated that reaction. Scattered across their website are several bright orange buttons that say “I want mine now”. Click one and it will help you find where to purchase one. Here at Geek News Central, we are very excited about the TriCaster Mini and will be trying to get a demo unit.

Twitch Will Deploy an “Appeal” Button

TwitchTwitch has been making lots of controversial changes lately, and this has not gone unnoticed by the gaming community. The addition of a new Audio Recognition System has been problematic. The system has been improperly flagging some audio that was cleared through creative commons (and therefore, should not have been flagged at all). After much outcry, Twitch has stated that it will deploy an “Appeal” button.

In short, the purpose of the Audio Recognition system was to identify music that has a copyright and that was used in videos on Twitch that are available on demand. (They call those “Video on Demand” or VOD). Twitch partnered with Audible Magic.

When the Audio Recognition system identifies music that is in the Audible Magic database, it automatically mutes the portion of the video on demand in which that music appears. (The Audio Recognition system is not being used on videos that are streamed live on Twitch.) It can scan 30 minute blocks of a video. If third party audio is detected anywhere in the 30-minute scanned block, the entire 30 minutes will be muted.

Twitch explains it this way on their blog:

“We’ve partnered with Audible Magic, which works closely with the recorded music industry, to scan past and future VODs for music owned and controlled by clients of Audible Music. This includes in-game and ambient music. When music in the Audible database is detected (“Flagged Content”), the affected portion of the VOD will be muted and the volume controls for that VOD will be turned off. Additionally, past broadcasts and highlights with Flagged Content are exportable but will remain muted.”

This new addition to Twitch is very similar to what YouTube is using to identify audio that has a copyright and that has been used in videos that appear on YouTube. Both systems have returned “false positives” and flagged things that should not have been flagged. As such, Twitch is deploying an “appeal” button for the VODs that have been incorrectly flagged for copyrighted music.

I suspect this is not going to be enough to appease gamers who have had their audio muted without warning when all they were doing was streaming the ambient music that is in a video game. It’s not going to go over well with gamers who have had 30 minutes of their audio muted because they played one 2 or 3 minute song that had a copyright on it, either.

The PAPAGO! Video Contest has Begun

PAPAGO! logoAre you an aspiring filmmaker? Do you enjoy taking videos of yourself, your friends, or your travels? The PAPAGO! video contest was designed for people just like you. Three winners will be given a GoSafe 200 dashcam.

The contest has already started. You have until August 31, 2014, to submit a storyboard of your video idea to PAPAGO! They ask you to submit it via Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. They will select three winners from the submissions that are received.

Those winners will use the GoSafe 200 dashcam to video their storyboard idea. They will have until September 28, 2014, to submit the completed video to PAPAGO!, who will choose one top video. That winner will receive a $400.00 gift card (selected by PAPAGO!). The winner of the video contest will be announced by October 15, 2014.

There are, of course, rules and guidelines that must be adhered to. You can read more about them on the PAPAGO! website. I will point out just a few of the rules here. They encourage the contestants who are given a GoSafe 200 dashcam to be creative. “Take it out of the car. Record in the car. The possibilities are endless.”

The video must be 1 – 2 minutes in length and made from video footage that the contestant captures on the GoSafe 200. The videos will be highlighted on the PAPAGO! Website “and all social media platforms”. You must be 18 years of age (or older) and a legal resident of the United States or Canada in order to participate in this contest. Those who submit a video to the contest are giving PAPAGO! “the right to use their names, photographs, statements, quotes, testimonials, and video submissions for advertising, publicity, and promotional purposes without notification or further compensation.”

The GoSafe 200 has a 140 degree perspective and a unique slide-out LCD screen. It has an automatic start-up function and a motion detection feature that will enable the device to start recording once it detects movement. If you have a creative idea, now is your chance to enter the PAPAGO! video contest and, perhaps, win your very own GoSafe 200.

YouTube Shames Slow Internet Providers

YouTube logoHave you ever wondered why a YouTube video is taking a long time load, buffering, or refusing to play? YouTube has started pointing people towards the answer to that question. A blue bar will appear underneath the video that asks, “Experiencing Interruptions?” Click on the button that says “Find out why”, and the answer is revealed.

YouTube will automatically send you to Google’s new website, which is called Video Quality Report. It will show you the video streaming quality results for your provider in your area. Quartz describes it as “like a report card for your delinquent ISP”.

The notification system that YouTube has started using reminds me of what Netflix used to do. When a video was loading too slowly, Netflix was displaying a notification like: “The Verizon network is crowded right now”. Verizon threatened legal action, and Netflix has stopped doing that.

It has been said that efforts like what Netflix used to do, and what YouTube is doing now, are an attempt to shame internet providers who offer shoddy service. It is also a way make consumers acutely aware of which providers are better than others. That will enable people to switch to better ones (in areas where more than one choice is available).

It is also a way for YouTube (and previously, Netflix) to subtly point out what would happen if internet providers were allowed to create a “fast lane”. Those who didn’t get how net neutrality might affect them could have the “lightbulb” go on after seeing how a slow connection from their internet provider directly affects them.

Tiffen Offers Steadicam Smoothee Bonus Pack

Tiffen logoThe Steadicam division of The Tiffen Company is offering something special for fans of the Steadicam. It is a Steadicam Smoothee bonus pack. When purchasing a Steadicam Smoothee, users can now enjoy two mounts for the price of one. The new bonus pack features a mount for iPhone 5/5s and a mount for GoPro HERO cameras. This equates to a $24.95 USD bonus value. You get even more stability at no extra cost.

The Steadicam Smoothee is lightweight, agile, and easy to use. It features an innovative, patented design that is built around a durable mono-frame metal structure. The handheld stabilizing solution ships with an easy-to-use interchangeable mount for expanded camera options. The Smoothee can also be used with an iPhone 3Gs/4/4s/5/5s, iPod Touch, and GoPro HERO 2, 3, and 3+. Right now, the Steadicam Smoothie, with the bonus pack, retails for $149.00 USD.

Have you seen the Apple commercial that is called “Powerful”? The Smoothee was featured in it. There is a short scene where a man is using a Steadicam Smoothee to film a band that is playing in the street. It starts at about 0:55 and ends at around 0:58.

Marshall Electronics Launches Family of Broadcast-Ready Products

Marshall ElectronicsMarshall Electronics, is a privately owned American company. They recently released a family of products for broadcasters. Many were demonstrated at NAB 2014. They include a new encoder/decoder, some new hybrid broadcast cameras, a professional monitor with 4K display, and the Micro Studio.

The do-it-yourself Micro Studio allows anyone to record HD videos with high quality sound from their homes or businesses. It consists of the Marshall CV500-MB 2.2 Megapixel HD-SDI 1080i/59.94 Miniature Camera and CV340-CSB 2.2 Megapixel HD-SDI 1080i/59.94 Compact CS Tube Camera, MXL CR77 Dynamic and FR-355K Lavalier Microphones, an audio/video switcher, Marshall V-MD173 monitor, and PS-102-HDSI encoder (which is powered by the StreamVu content distribution network).

The V-4K 3110 is Marshall Electronics’ first true 4K professional display. This monitor is designed for cinema and broadcast professionals to provide an accurate and repeatable viewing experience. It has a true 4K IPS panel with a native resolution of 4096 x 2160. It also supports 3840 x 2160 (UHD), 1080p, 1080i and 720p.

The V-4K 3110 has a true 10-bit panel that eliminated “banding” and scaling artifacts. It also has 178 degree horizontal and vertical viewing angles. The monitor has an 850 cd/m2 maximum brightness, 450:1 contrast ratio, and a wide color gamut within 2% of DCI P3 specification. It has four modular 3G-SDI inputs.

The VS-104-3GSDI encodes and decodes all the popular HD resolutions up to 1080p 60fps and 1080/23.98PsF with embedded audio. This allows HD content to be sent and received as a real time IP stream. It is an all-in-one solution for broadcasters. Marshall’s VS-104-3GSDI Encoder/Decoder has configurable inputs and outputs: CVBS, HDMI, SDI, HDSDI, and 3GSDI. Unicast, multicast, push and pull streaming are supported and controlled by a common, easy-to-use browser interface that now features 4:2:2 Color Space.

Marshall’s VS-577-3GSI dome camera and VS-547-3GSDI box camera are true broadcast cameras with the hybrid function of live streaming. Each hybrid broadcast IP camera has an ultra low latency 3GSDI output together with four H.264 HD streams up to 1080p/59.94. Each can utilize the optional VS-TKC-100 Joystick/Keyboard control that can follow PTZ (Pan, Tilt & Zoom) action across the set. The cameras internally run at 120 frames, which allows them to offer Flickerless WDR (Wide Dynamic Range).

DJI Releases DJI Ronin Handheld Camera Stabilizer

DJI RoninDJI is a global leader in aerial photography and cinematographers platforms. They have announced the release of their first handheld camera stabilizer. It is called the DJI Ronin.

The DJI Ronin has been designed to create smooth video while retaining control over camera movements for any camera lens and combination. It supports a multitude of cameras & lenses (from Micro Four-Thirds to Red Epic sized).

Using SmoothTrack technology, single camera operators can easily translate their movements into smooth gimbal movements. Filmmakers that require more precise camera movements can use a second operator to wirelessly control pan, tilt, and other gimbal functions. Or, you can attach an optional joystick to set camera angles using one operator.

The DJI Ronin is easy to set up. It only requires a few minutes of calibration when changing lenses or other camera configurations. After the camera has been balanced, tap on the auto calibration button on the DJI Ronin smartphone app. The gimbal will automatically tune all stabilizing motors. This ensures filmmakers that they will get the smoothest possible footage.

SunnyCam Video Recording Eyewear at The Gadget Show

SunnyCam EyewearGoogle Glass might be du jour at the moment, but it’s expensive, unfashionable and of questionable benefit. Undoubtedly, it’ll get cheaper, less obtrusive and have more uses, but until then SunnyCam‘s HD video recording eyewear might be of more practical use. Simply, these are glasses with a tiny video camera in the bridge that cost only GB£100.

The SunnyCam is very much in the style of sports sunglasses. Although you can’t see it in the photos, the camera is in the glasses bridge and records at 720p to a microSD card, making it very suitable for PoV recording when it’s important to see what the wearer is seeing. The lens are easily swapped out for other tints as needed.

SunnyCam ControlsThe controls and storage are on the legs of the glasses and with only two buttons, are easy to use. Battery life is around 2.5 to 3 hours.

Ben takes me through the SunnyCam at The Gadget Show and its use in several real-life scenarios.


Contour Returns to POV Camera Market

Contour logoContour is based in the heart of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. Contour is now under new ownership. They have completed a financial overhaul, reorganized their plans for new product innovation, and built a framework for vastly improved distribution. This puts Contour, pioneers of the action sports camera industry, back in position to be a key contender in the Point of View (POV) camera market.

Contour currently offers two POV cameras and full range of accessories. The Contour+2 features crisp HD video, GPS data that helps to bring your adventures to life, and a wireless mobile app that turns your smartphone into a remote control.

The Contour+2 has an Instant-On Record switch that you slide into locking position when you are ready to start filming. You can shoot in four different HD modes including 1080p. It is also possible to use the Contour+2 to create super slow motion video because it can shoot 120 frame per second in 480p.

The ContourROAM2 is incredibly easy to use. It comes in four colors and is waterproof without a case. Slide the Power On & Record Switch when you are ready to start filming and it will start recording video. It offers crystal clear HD video. Contour bumped up the frames per second on the ContourROAM2 to 60 when shooting at 720p. This provides you with very smooth video.

The ContourROAM2 can shoot up to 3.5 hours of footage. The Instant On-Record switch does not have a standby mode that can waste power while it waits to start filming. The battery of the ContourROAM2 is only in use while you are recording video.