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Smoothee Steady cam| Review

Smoothee Steady cam| Review

Nowadays there's definitely no shortage of gadgets and gizmos you can purchase for your Iphone. My new favourite is the Steadicam Smoothee from Tiffen. I recently upgraded to the Iphone 5s from an Iphone 4 and was totally amazed with the difference in quality and wanted to complement it's video capability. 

OK, I should be perfectly honest with you all right now, the Steadicam Smoothee is priced at around $149.00 and it wont give you quite the same results you might see on television or the movies, but if you take time and the effort to learn how to use it, you will improve your Iphone videos and it will give you some nice, steady video. If your using this outdoors, ideally you don't want any wind. 

The stabilizer works on a system of weights and balances with your camera. These balance adjustments are critical to making it work and do take some time to calibrate. The Steadicam Smoothee is relatively easy to adjust to especially since the camera is so light. It's so much easier than trying to adjust to a heavy video camera with multiple weights. 

Tiffen's website refers to it being based on the same technology as their rigs in which are used for movies and television which cost upto $60,000. In theory they are correct and with some practice you can achieve some really nice smooth results. But with alot of practice, you can get much better results. 

It's really a matter of how much extra effort you want to add to your Iphone productions, as this product is not going to fit into your pocket or purse it removes the spontaneity you have shooting video with your mobile phone. You need to plan ahead. 

So to get started is very simple, just take out the phone case and slide your Iphone into the mount, If you have a case on your phone you will have to take it off as it is a very snug, but easy fit. Now its a matter of calibrating the IPhone and Steadicam Smoothee with two separate knobs; Tilt forward and back, left and right, it should take around 5 minutes to get balanced. 

Maintaining the steadiness of the camera from moving side to side, does not take some practice. You can control with the hand grip which uses a gimbal mechanism to keep the camera in a more of a floating state to give your video a smooth 'gliding' feel as you move around and follow your chosen subject. 

You can use your thumb and finger with a light touch to keep the camera from moving left or right if there is a breeze. 

 

 

Actually one of the hardest problems with one of these devices, including the much more expensive ones, is when you shoot while walking backwards as your subject is walking towards you. This part is difficult if your anything like me, (incredibly clumsy), unless you have eyes in the back of your head. I most definitely keep walking into things situated behind me. 

You will need to practice and become proficient at this skill because if you are only following someone walking forward your only going to film their back. 

The Steadicam Smoothee or another gadget like an external microphone, is going to take planning and extra work to improve your video. It all depends which type of shooter you are with your IPhone video because it is possible to get some very nice, smooth and floaty video while moving with your phone. 

Ive tried chasing the dogs around the house, taking a tour of the house, walking along the promenade, floating up from behind a wall. Ive tried it out in a typical situation where I was moving while shooting. Of course, this resulted in me stumbling into something while walking backwards. 

Do remember that if your on an important video shoot and your using your phone to film, do turn it onto Airplane mode as you dont it going off and missing the important moment. 

Overall, the Steadicam Smoothee did improve the footage quality and give it a more professional look. It takes some to calibrate and to learn to fly the camera. The equipment is top quality and works, it feels great in the hands of the user, it's the operator that needs to take some to get the results he's after. 

 

 

 

 

For more information and to purchase a Steadicam Smoothee, Please visit: 

http://www.tiffen.com/steadicam_smoothee_homepage1.html

 

 

 

 

Learning Ruby on Rails Development - My Progress

Learning Ruby on Rails Development - My Progress

As I took the very easy decision (albeit painful, lonely and stressful at times) to create Braindu I also undertook to learn some new technical skills.

Braindu is a complex web application that uses a number of cutting edge web application development technologies, which I've discussed briefly before.

On the server side, the platform is built using the now popular and impressive Ruby on Rails platform. My development team are extremely experienced Rails developers, but for this project, I wanted to get stuck in myself and learn to code Rails apps from scratch.

I've talked before about how I'm sudo-addicted to online learning platforms, such as Code School, Codecademy, Treehouse & Lynda.com.

But alas, with everything you have to take in, everything you come across from tutorials, courses, videos, documents, articles, e-books, plugins, gemfiles, extensions, frameworks, libraries... it opens you up to a whole world of information that you need to navigate, store, manage, curate and constantly refer to on a regular basis as you advance your practical knowledge and experience with a framework like Rails - it's a frickin' nightmare.

 How I Learn Ruby on Rails with Braindu

How I Learn Ruby on Rails with Braindu

Fortunately for me I've got Braindu. The product that is encouraging me to learn Rails is also the app that is helping me to learn rails (and many other companion technologies, such as SASS, HAML, SVG, CoffeeScript) and now I cannot live without it.

Now I know I have a slight conflict of interest, but seriously, my learning process has been transformed.

And with Braindu, I can share with you my collection of resources - a live and organic repository of information relating to my mission to hold my own at developing web applications and software. Amazing considering that I couldn't even build a website but 4 years ago.

 Sit back and Browse with the Read View.

Sit back and Browse with the Read View.

I've got a long way to go to be able to have at least a modicum of technical credibility among the experts that I work with every day, but the ability to get closer to the technical team's challenges through better technical skill development and knowledge is already paying dividends.

Right, back to a brief coffee break and a dabble with the Evernote API via the new Codecademy API pathways. How I've changed.

Apple Customer Service - FAIL

Yesterday I decided that I wanted to buy an ipad (as you may have gathered by now). So, before heading out to purchase one, I realised that I wasn't entirely sure which retailers outside of the official Apple store, actually stocked the ipad. Not wanting a wasted journey, the first thing I did - as we all do, was Google "buy ipad bournemouth". First page - all that turned up were articles about ipad applications, in particular from some digital agencies in Bournemouth (I'll come back to them, because they look like a funky agency) who created a nice looking eye test app. I never look past the first page (don't know why, maybe just impatient), so I decided to phone the Store number on the Apple website, hoping to get a quick answer from a qualified person. After waiting 12 minutes to get through, I was put through to a customer services person who, if wasn't actually in India, definitely sounded like she was from India. Straight off the bat, she was hard to understand. I am glad I wasn't trying to buy something there and then. I asked a simple question - can I buy the ipad from any other store apart from the Apple store (the nearest of which is over 1 hour away). "Don't know". Where is my nearest store I can buy an ipad from? "Don't know". Four or five attempts later at restructuring, rephrasing, re-emphasising I was getting extraordinarily frustrated. She was still talking nonsense nothing to do with the question I was asking. I seem to remember hanging up whilst I could hear her chattering through the receiver. I'm sure you would expect someone on the end of the most visible number on the Apple website to be able to advise where you can buy their products from, wouldn't you?