How to save YouTube Video and Other Documents to your iPhone

I recently received this question which I have been asked a few times on workshops.

‘Hiya. Could you suggest a quick way of downloading a YouTube video on a private account to my camera roll to allow me to use in a LumaFusion project’.

Here is one solution: Download a copy of Readdle Documents. This allows you to download files from the web. Then in the Readdle Documents built in browser go to www.savefrom.net and paste in the URL of the video. It will then allow you to select the quality you want and download. Save the downloaded file to your camera roll. Job done!

Readle Documents is a really useful app to have on your iPhone as it allows you to save and manage all types of files.

Android phones do not have the same download restrictions as iOS, so you can simply use the www.savefrom.net link in your browser and download the video.

This should only be used on private accounts or where you have permission to download the content.

Some Joys and Frustrations with Android

A quick update on my journey into Android! As some of you will know I have been experimenting with using a Samsung S7 Edge phone for Mojo. The good news is that it has opened up loads of new opportunities. I have been doing a lot of experimentation with 360 Video, using the Samsung VR goggles. This also opens up the Oculus platform, which has a lot of exciting potential.

However there have been some frustrations. The Samsung Camera App is excellent in normal light conditions, but in low light really applies too much noise reduction and sharpening. The resulting images just make skin tones look too ‘plastic’. The work around is to shoot Raw, which works fine, but requires post processing. An extra step that I was keen to avoid. The easy solution I thought would be to find an alternative photo app, that gave me more control over my .jpeg work flow. Whilst there are loads available, not all of them are compatible with my hardware and Android version. You soon get the feeling you are a beta tester. Some features work and others are just not available. I suppose it is part of the problem of being an open system with multiple manufactures. Something I never encountered with Apple.

I would be interested in hearing what camera (stills apps) people are using.

Camera FV-5 looked great. However some features including exposure compensation and Touch Exposure just didn’t work.

Open Camera was also interesting until I tried to store my images on an SD card. From then on it just crashed every time I tried to open it.

For video I am using Filmic Pro, which is as good as ever. My Audio recording needs are taken care of by Field Recorder, which has a very professional interface and is a joy to use.

So I suppose the inevitable question will be, do I miss my iPhone? I have to say for 95% of the time I would say no, but choosing apps isn’t as straight forward as on the iOS platform. More devices and more manufacturers means more choice but more potential issues. With Apple you are restricted by the hardware and the whims of one manufacturer, but everything just seems to work out of the box.

The experimenting goes on. I will report back soon!

An Immersive Tour of the Burleigh Pottery Factory – A Documentary Approach

I have always had an interest in manufacturing industry, it probably stems from my grandfather who was a pattern maker and an amazing craftsman. A few years ago I was given the opportunity to photograph at the Burleigh pottery factory in Stoke on Trent.

Burleigh is a rare success story in Stoke. Whilst most pottery manufacturing has been moved to the far East, production still takes place on site.

On entering the factory I was amazed by how everything just looked like it would have done in Victorian times. The only concession to modern manufacturing methods seemed to be the kilns, which are now gas fired. It really was like stepping back in time.

Burleigh Pottery – Transfer Department Click for bigger image.

For the next few hours I took stills, using black and white film in my Leica. I have to admit after processing the film I was really disappointed with the results. They did the job, but just didn’t capture the wonders or atmosphere of what I was seeing.

A few weeks earlier I had been approached by a web design who wanted me to do a 360 virtual tour for one of his clients. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that this would be a great way to capture some of the atmosphere of what I was seeing. Whilst shooting real estate or architectural pictures is pretty easy with a VR rig, trying to capture people who were moving, was a lot more challenging. To create a full 360 degree panorama, I had to shoot four images using an 8mm lens and then stitch them together using software. My approach was to get an action shot of someone working, and then, just fill in the other 270 degrees around them. I put the images online a few years ago, but soon took them down because of issues with the Flash plug in. Having now discovered a simple HTML solution, I have now posted the VR 360 tour again.

The tour can be viewed in any browser. However with a phone or a tablet you can use the built in accelerometer to ‘move’ around the images. To get the best experience try using VR Goggles. I tried it with the Samsung VR Headset, using the Oculus browser. Unlike 360 video you can really get high resolution images, so they look great. Give it a go!

Kit used: Canon 20D – Sigma 8mm Lens – PTGUI Pro – KR Pano – Affinity Photo.

The iPhone X – Fur Coat and No Knickers –Time to change!

Maybe I should start by explaining the title. In the UK we have a saying ‘Fur Coat no Knickers’, it is used to describe something that looks impressive, but in reality is nothing special. This term for me, pretty much sums up the new iPhone X. Many of the ‘ground breaking’ features, have been available on other phones for almost two years and for a much lower price. The entry model costs £999 in the UK. For many people, a substantial part of their salary!

I am disappointed in Apple, for years it has been the choice of creative people all over the world. The company under Steve Jobs was truly innovative. Their products and software changed the way people worked, in a revolutionary way. However the focus now seems to be on creating fashion/status items and to extract as much money from people as possible. My frustrations started, when they dropped the 3.5mm jack with the introduction of the iPhone 7. Half my sound accessories became redundant, and I had multiple sound sync issues. So I have decided to jump ship and try an Android phone.

Continue reading

I Would like to Announce the Death of Stills Photography :-)

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 16.29.45You saw it here first. I would like to announce the death of stills photography. I know you have heard it all before, but it’s true this time. When is is going to happen? Well sometime in 2018.

“Panasonic will spend around 10 billion yen ($80.8 million) to develop next-generation image sensors, with plans to release them in fiscal 2018.” “The Japanese company aims to develop sensors that support 8K technology, which provides 16 times the resolution of conventional high-definition video, and feature fast image-processing speeds. Eliminating the boundary between videos and photos.”

So they will be producing images at 25/50 frames per second at a resolution of 8K (7680×4320 pixels). The decisive moment will be where ever you want it to be. Panasonic already have a focus stacking ability in 4K. At 25 frames per second it takes a stepped focus image, allowing you to choose after the event where you want your focal plane to be.

Anyone want to buy some Canon gear?

Using the iRig Pre to Power and Connect an XLR Mic to a DSLR Camera

iRig Pre

On the left an unmodified IK Multimedia iRig Pre. On the right the hacked version. Use a 3.5mm/3.5mm stereo jack in the headphone socket to connect it to your DSLR (click on all of the pictures to enlarge).

In todays post we look at a simple low cost hack, that will allow you to use XLR mics with your DSLR camera. Giving you great quality and control, without the need to buy an expensive preamp or sound recorder.

For my smartphone journalism work I really like using the Røde Lavalier mic, so I thought I would try it out with my DSLRs. Unfortunately the mic requires phantom power, which is a feature that my simple DS214 Juiced link preamp doesn’t offer. No problem I thought, I also have a the more sophisticated Tascam D70, but unfortunately this doesn’t work with my Panasonic GH2, because it only accepts mic level inputs! Not wanting to have to invest in another expensive preamp, I did some research on the net. Continue reading

Is Serif Affinity Photo a Credible Alternative to Photoshop?

Serif Affinity Photo in the Photo Persona (normal edit workspace).

Serif Affinity Photo in the Photo Persona (normal edit workspace).

I was intrigued recently to see the announcement from ‘Serif’ of the launch of their new product Affinity Photo. It is being marketed as direct competition to Adobe Photoshop, which is a pretty bold claim! I did look at one of the beta releases about six months ago, which looked interesting, but like all beta releases it was a bit buggy. I have used Adobe products for the last twelve years, but as a lecturer was dismayed when they adopted the subscription model. Whilst I can afford it, it is an extra cost for students, who face ever increasing financial burdens.

The introductory price for Affinity Photo is £29.99 – 20% off until 23rd July (normally £39.99). That is a one off flat fee, with free upgrades. This compares to the student deal on Photoshop and Lightroom, which is £8.99 a month. So over the course of their studies (3 years) an undergraduate student will pay £323.64. So if the program is any good, it will be a substantial saving! Continue reading

#mojo Battery Power/Charger Options

From left to right: 3. EC Technology / 2. Maxell / 1. Ankar with a pound coin for scale.

From left to right: 3. EC Technology / 2. Maxell / 1. Ankar

It is often said that ‘the best camera you have, is the one that you have with you’. This has been one of the philosophies behind the #mojo Mobile Journalism movement and the growth of using Smartphones for news gathering. The problem is phones now have multiple uses; web surfing, photography, videography and even making phone calls 🙂 so they use a lot of power. All too often the camera you have with you, is sitting in your pocket with a flashing battery warning! With most phone makers electing not to have removable batteries, the answer is to carry a portable charging device. Here are three I use, there are many more options available.

1. Anker 2nd Generation Astro mini 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank. At £9.99 this is cheap as chips and with its small size (87gm) it easily slips into the pocket. It is made of aluminium so feels solid and robust. When I was using an iPhone 5, it would give me one complete charge. It also, easily attaches to my tripod with a velcro strap, so I can use it whilst videoing.

2. Maxell 790404 5200mAh Power Bank Battery. This is a slightly larger unit, weighing 152 gm. It cost £25.16 and with my iPhone 5 gives me just over two full charges. With its aluminium housing, it feels very robust. Again it is small enough to velcro to a tripod so can be used whilst videoing.

3. EC Technology® 2nd Gen Deluxe 22400mAh Ultra High Capacity 3 USB Output External Battery (£28.99). This is a monster weighing in at 476 gm, you could build walls out of these! I bought this for prolonged trips where I do not have access to mains power. I charged my iPhone 5 with it and the battery indicator didn’t move. It will in theory charge an iPhone 4S 13 times!  It has three outputs and has a plastic case, presumably to keep the weight down. This is definitely one for the camera bag and not your pockets! It even has a built in torch!

I have recently bought an iPhone 6 Plus which has much better battery capacity than my iPhone 5, I will post charging figures for both phones when I have more data. Hope that helps! If you have any solutions you would recommend, please let me know.

 

#GE2015 Infographic Produced on the iPhone

#GE2015 from Martin Shakeshaft on Vimeo.

Philip Bromwell from RTÉ recently posted an infographic that he had created on the #mojo Facebook page. He had set himself the task to create a piece on his iPhone about the UK Election. I really liked the idea, so decided to try the challenge for myself. I used four apps:
Procam – stills photography
Gravie – graphics
iMovie – editing
LEGO Movie – timelapse

and three tubes of Smarties! I don’t know if it was an omen, but one had no blue smarties in it!

#MOJO Demystifying Microphone/Headphone Interfaces

As soon as you start working on mobile journalism pieces, two things become apparent. Bad audio can completely wreck a video and to be confident you need to monitor the sound you are recording, using headphones (see my article here).

Whilst the on-board mics in your phone are fine for ambient sound, to isolate people you need to use some form of external microphone. A popular choice for #mojo reporters is the Lavaliere (lapel/tie clip) mic, which can be discreetly placed on your subject. For reporters working to camera, some may prefer a stick mic (some models are specifically designed with longer bodies, to facilitate a good working distance)

XLR Connectors Microphone/iRig/Rode Lav

XLR Connectors Microphone/iRig/Rode Lav

No matter what you choose, most professional microphones use XLR connectors (see note below) and some require a power source to work (referred to as Phantom Power). So your first consideration is to find a way to plug these into your phone, some kind of interface box.

There are a few options currently available and a few new models about to be released. The most popular options for #mojo reporters at the moment, are the iRig Pre and iRig Pro. These are made by IK Multimedia, a company that produce recording interfaces for musicians using tablets and phones. Both of these models are essentially high quality preamps. They boost the microphone output so that the gain in the phone can be kept low, to avoid introducing noise. Continue reading