At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Category: Homemade Videos

My Timelapse Videos from National Parks in Arizona and Utah

My goal was to capture sunrise and sunset timelapses from our Southwest vacation to three amazing national parks. Here’s what I saw.

I’m not proud to admit that I carried four cameras throughout our Southwest vacation to be prepared for whatever wonders awaited us. I packed my Panasonic Lumix GH5 II, my smaller Panasonic Lumix LX10, my tiny GoPro and my little DJI Osmo Pocket gimbal. Plus I had my iPhone. So that actually makes five cameras.

Good Things do Come in Small Packages
The good news is with the exception of my larger Micro Four Thirds GH5 II, the rest had small profiles and were easy to pack or throw in a pocket. I’m also happy to report that I did find moments to put all of my gear to good use.

That said, besides my iPhone which was always there for me in my front right pocket, my most useful camera proved to be my tiny but mighty Osmo Pocket with its magical timelapse creation abilities… perfect for sunrises and sunsets.

I popped it on top of my Manfrotto Befree Live travel tripod, set up the timelapse for 20 or 40 minutes and let it run while I took photos with my other cameras.

My Osmo Pocket captured some really satisfying timelapse videos.
Timelapse from 3 Southwest National Parks
This edited timelapse video contains my shots from Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon… all amazing places. (Here’s our itinerary.)

Deconstructing my Shots
I took the first Grand Canyon sunset timelapse at the overlook near the Yavapai Geology Museum at the South Rim. This is not the most popular place to go for sunsets, which meant there were fewer people packed into the good spots and more room for me to spread out with my gear.

I positioned the second Grand Canyon sunset timelapse steps away from our room at the Bright Angel Lodge. It was already too dark to start the timelapse and really see inside the canyon, but the cloud movement was magnificent.

I think the second Bryce Canyon timelapse really works because you can see tiny, ant-like hikers moving around in the bottom left corner. It give the perspective the shot needs.

Plan your Timelapse Shoots into your Family’s Vacation Schedule
When you’re traveling with your family, plopping yourself in a space for 30 minutes to capture your next timelapse can be disruptive.

A word of advice: Don’t be spontaneous. Plan ahead and announce your intentions. And don’t do too many across a vacation.

It’s all about balancing your family’s vacation time so that everyone gets an opportunity to do what’s special to them!

We’re Living in a Vertical Video World

If you’ve been fighting back against the vertical video revolution, it’s time to jump into the pool. The water’s warm. Here’s how I found peace with this disruption.

I recently had an epiphany about the growing trend of vertical video disrupting the fundamentals of video production. My mini “ah ha” happened during a Zoom interview recording at work, when one person’s Zoom feed was accidentally locked in a vertical position. More on that story in a moment…

But regarding the general battle between horizontal and vertical video… It’s already over.

The smartphone has effectively killed horizontal video. We’re just living through the transition. Yes, it’s going to take some years, but it’s time to acknowledge the truth.

And that’s been really hard for me to do.

The First Time
Ten years ago, I was producing a corporate video shoot inside a multimedia brand center. My business client walked up to me ten minutes before the interview was scheduled to begin and asked if we could shoot the video vertically. She thought the background of our video shot would look more compelling if seen vertically.

I looked closely for any sign that this wasn’t actually a serious suggestion. The moment felt like those western movies right before the gunslingers do their shoot out. I squinted my eyes, tapped into my inner Clint Eastwood and waited for what felt like minutes before I responded.

“Vertical?”

“Yes.”

It was a serious request.

Vertical Alignment is Coming
So, I explained that we couldn’t reset the shot in time, as our interviewee had already arrived. And I dodged the bullet.

But I remember feeling unsettled that the horizontal foundation of all video was so casually being challenged.

That was a decade ago. A lot has changed. The truth is my client was just slightly ahead of her time.

I have not forgotten this story, and it has been a reminder to me that creative winds and video boundaries are constantly evolving. That’s life. Everything changes.

Vertical TV Sets in your Home?
Today, vertical video is everywhere, primarily fueled by the social media apps on our smartphones. Vertical is natural. Vertical is comfortable in your hand. Vertical is accessible in every way, except on standard horizontal TV monitors.

But if you look around, there are plenty of vertical video monitors in public spaces.

It’s just a matter of time, until they show up in your home…

No More Rules
I know I’m fighting a losing battle whenever I try to correct someone who’s shooting a smartphone video vertically. Sure, I still work in a horizontal medium, though (here it comes) not exclusively.

Yes, today I am creating vertical video too. (There, I’ve come out and said it.)

And the transition to vertical video is only accelerating.

The iPhone has a Vertical Lock
So, back to my more recent story directing the remote interview via the Zoom feed. The interviewee was using her iPhone, which was fine. (The image quality was actually superior to the other three webcam Zoom shots in the conversation.) But for some unknown reason, the phone’s camera was locked in the vertical orientation. I asked her to turn her iPhone ninety degrees and then immediately back again. No dice.

I was stumped. I turned to the other crew members in our TV control room and asked for suggestions.

“Turn off the vertical lock!”

What? The iPhone has a vertical lock? (I had forgotten.)

I pulled out my iPhone and was quickly reschooled on this iOS feature.

That was indeed the solution for our remote interviewee, and her Zoom interview proceeded on horizontally.

Tap the Portrait Orientation Lock
After the interview, I looked again at my iPhone. I swiped down from the top right corner to access my Control Center screen.

It’s the “Portrait Orientation Lock” button. (The icon is a little lock surrounded by a circular arrow.)

If it’s activated, your iPhone screen and apps won’t rotate horizontally when you hold your iPhone horizontally.

Your phone’s screen is then effectively locked into a vertical orientation.

Huh.

You might wonder why that feature is even there. Clearly, there’s a need to prevent horizontal anything!

And after doing some research, I am reminded that this frustrating feature is not that new. Apple has been satisfying the vertical preference for quite some time. In fact, I first discovered this way back in 2018.

A Vertical Matrix?
Yes, you and I are clearly living a vertical video world, though admittedly with any number of horizontal holdouts.

This feels a bit like my own Matrix story. You’re welcome to join if you feel similarly inclined. (There are plenty of pods to house all of us.)

But guess what? I wouldn’t place all bets on vertical video. Oh no. The truth is video can no longer be restricted to any dimension. It’s not horizontal, and it’s not vertical. Sometimes, it’s square (of course).

Maybe video will evolve into the circular. Perhaps oblong? Who knows… Trapezoidal?

The days of vertical video as the mainstream will surely be numbered.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Learn to Love Vertical Video
For now, I’m simply happy to say that I’ve successfully discarded my horizontal bias. I have made my peace with vertical video.

I am comfortable working on digital canvases that orient both vertically and horizontally.

Barrett has evolved.

Our Trip to Mystic Seaport

The Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship still in existence, undergoes maintenance at Mystic Seaport Museum.

I just drove my family up to Mystic Seaport Museum and met up with two other families to explore the historic ships and experience the recreated fishing village. It was a fantastic Connecticut day trip and a fitting conclusion to our eleven-year-old son’s summer vacation.

Mystic Seaport Time-lapse Looking at Fire Fighter
Mystic Seaport Looking Past Wooden CartMystic Seaport Looking Past Fire Fighter

Fire Fighter
Though the big attraction at the museum is the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world, my favorite part of the day was our small guided tour of Fire Fighter, the first diesel-electric fireboat. It was built in 1938 to protect New York City’s harbor and had the distinction as the most powerful fireboat in the world for many years. A National Historic Landmark, it was decommissioned in 2010.

As I walked through Fire Fighter, I felt like I had been transported back in time. The vessel is operational and still very much alive. My experience was quite visceral and entirely different from other museum ships I’ve visited.




The Pull of History
Mystic, Connecticut is, of course, also home to Mystic Aquarium. My family and I checked that fabulous day trip off our list a few years back. On the way out, we briefly stopped by Mystic Seaport and peered past the gates. I felt the strong currents of history beckoning us to return.

I’m so glad we finally did.

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