Sunday, October 31, 2010

48 Hour Film Project

This weekend (starting Friday, 29th October 2010) a group of friends and I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project. It's a competition where groups from all around the world have to create a movie — write, shoot, and edit — in just 48 hours. They are given a specific genre (we got "Buddy film"), line ("Same same, but different"), prop (incense), and character ("Pham Minh An, Taxi/Xe Om/Xyclo Driver").
Prizes are largely irrelevant in this event, but they can be found here.
For more details on the event, see 48 Hour Film Project, and 48 Hour Film Project Vietnam.

My group's name was "IdleNation", and we chose to create a film about two unlikely friends who help each other through difficulty, and in doing so discover that they have a lot in common.

It was an amazing chance to experience what filmmaking is like. As the editor, I had to learn about the intricacies of editing in Final Cut Express for the first time, only actually using  it for the first time just 48 hours before the project started. Despite this, I feel I learnt a lot about using the program, and editing in general over the course of the project.
Targets for next year: learn to use LiveType, Final Cut's integrated title making program; learn how to set up the project's properties — we recorded in 720p, but the final project is significantly less than that, and our canvas had black stripes at the top and bottom, this resulted in a low quality final project.

We took a lot of our sound effects and music from iMovie, since this is classed as not for profit. Other sound effects and music were found at various sources online — all of them royalty-free, of course!

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, and I'm sure my group members will agree it was a great experience, however stressful!

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Creating Panoramas in Photoshop CS5

How to create a panorama in Adobe Photoshop CS5 using photo-merge and content-aware fill.
  1. Open Photoshop
  2. Open the photos you want to use to create the panorama (this is not essential at this point, but makes it easier)
  3. Go to File -> Automate -> Photomerge
  4. If you have opened the files already, click "Add Open Files"; if not, locate them now by clicking "Browse"
  5. Usually "Auto" is best, however you may want to experiment with others, especially spherical, if you have taken a 360° panorama.
  6. Allow Photoshop to chew through that and create a rough panorama
At this point you have two options to fix the panorama to a perfect rectangle
  • Crop it
  • Use "Content-aware fill"
    1. Merge all the layers into a single layer
    2. Use Magic wand tool to select transparent background
    3. On Mac, press "Shift F5" (or fn Shift F5, if your function keys are set to the Apple functions, such as altering brightness); on Windows, press delete.
    4. Make sure it is 100% transparency, with Content-aware fill: these should be the default option. Press OK
    5. Repeat steps 2-4 as necessary for other sections of the background.
Be aware that content aware fill may take a long time to complete, and will slow your computer down as you do it. If the blank area is large enough you may need to break it into smaller sections — Photoshop will tell you that you do not have sufficient RAM to complete the task. I had this occur with 4GB of RAM on the larger of my two panoramas.

Comments are greatly appreciated. If you have any suggestions, queries or just a general comment on the post please leave a comment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Idea: Multi-carded cameras

This is the first in an ongoing series of ideas. They are just random or interesting ideas for products or software that I have thought of at some time. It may or may not be feasible for any number of reasons. I just thought it was an interesting idea, which I decided to write down.

There are a number of different reasons that a person may want to use multiple memory cards in a single digital camera, but first, let me explain exactly what I mean:
  • The camera would have two or more slots for memory cards
  • Each slot would have a small lit button next to it
  • There would be the option to have custom settings (e.g. quality settings, whether or not to show lines for the rule of thirds, etc.) which change depending on which card is selected
  • An option to have both cards treated as one large card
It seems to me as though it's not that difficult to implement, but it could be useful for a number of reasons.

Multiple Users
Sometimes multiple people share the same camera. This isn't likely to happen so much for the higher end users, but other situations might mean multiple people use the same camera. If they have different ways that they like to use the camera, this could come in handy.
For example, maybe the father of the family is a good photographer, so he likes to have the lines in the viewfinder for the rule of thirds; and he wants the quality and resolution of his photos to be as high as possible, but maybe other people in the family prefer to juts take snapshots, maybe at a lower resolution, but they definitely don't need to see the rule of third lines.
Multiple cards and settings would make this situation much simpler, not only as they are taking the photos, but afterwards as well. The father might want to take his photos and edit them in Photoshop before uploading them to his Flickr for the world to see, but others in the family just want to upload them straight to Facebook for friends to see. Each person could just take their card to their computer, and do with it what they want.

Different Types of photos
This is very similar to multiple users, but it could just be a single person who likes to take different types of photos. Maybe they like to keep their landscapes in a separate folder to their other photos, or they take photos to be later created into a panorama and want those to be easily accessible.

Maybe you're taking photos that are so important to you you can't take the risk of losing them. Maybe you want to give a spare copy of the raw photos straight to someone else. Whatever the reason, you want the same photos, with the same settings, on two different cards. Very simple.

Extra Storage
This one's very simple, some people just want the extra storage space. No need for any changes in settings, no need for them to choose when to switch to the other card. Just do it.

Just my idea for a feature that would be useful to have in cameras.
All comments and suggestions are very much appreciated. Suggestions, problems, ideas, general comments, or anything you want to say.
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