At Home with Tech

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

Tag: family video

How to Transform your Nixplay Digital Photo Frame into a Video Screen

If you’d like to generate a more action-filled window into your past, here’s the trick to get your Nixplay digital photo frame to play video files.

If you own a digital photo frame, I now is an especially important time to feed it with all of your great photos that can remind of you of your normal life.

You can also take it one step further and feed your frame with videos. That will create a motion-filled window into your past to look through. And that can go a long way to help you stay tethered to some sense of normal.

Nixplay’s iPhone App is the Video Path to your Frame
As you may recall, my family and I have enjoyed our Nixplay digital photo frames for the past few years. Recently, I’ve been trying to take advantage of the video playback capabilities of my newer Nixplay Smart Photo 10.1 Black” frame.

But, that experience has quickly reminded me that it takes more than a click to load video content onto a Nixplay photo frame.

If you’re also looking to put video clips onto your Nixplay frame, the only way to do it is via your iPhone. The trick is using the Nixplay iPhone app. Here’s how…

Move your Videos to the Nixplay Ecosystem
If your video was not shot on your iPhone, you must first transfer your video to, and save it, on your iPhone. I do that using Apple’s native Photos app:

  • Create a shared Photos album on your Mac that your iPhone can also access.
  • Drop the video file in the shared Photos album on your Mac.
  • Next, find the shared video file on your iPhone.
  • Save the video file.
  • Assign it to a ‘Nixplay Videos’ folder in the Photos app to use for the following steps.

The App will Do the Rest
Next, go to the Nixplay app on your iPhone. That’s where the real action happens:

  • From the Nixplay app’s home screen, click on the ‘plus’ icon on the bottom.
    (The Nixplay app then accesses your Apple Photos albums to choose from.)
  • Search for your new ‘Nixplay Videos’ album under ‘Collections.’
  • Open the album and select the video file(s) you want to upload to your Nixplay account.
    (You can only transfer ten at a time.)
  • Select the specific Nixplay playlist you want to move the video files into.
  • Tap ‘Send.’

These ten steps aren’t exactly an efficient process, but it does work. If your video is already natively on your iPhone, it’s a lot easier. Clearly, the Nixplay designers envisioned this video upload process as a shoot-and-immediately-transfer-over-via-app experience. As you move further away from that, the complexity grows exponentially.

Fifteen Seconds is All You Get
By the way, your videos can’t be more than fifteen-seconds long, unless you upgrade to the $49.99/year Nixplay Plus plan. Among other benefits, this ‘Plus’ plan allows you to upload videos that are up to one minute in length.

If you’re using the basic plan and choose a video to upload that’s longer than fifteen seconds, the app will automatically trim it for you and keep the first fifteen seconds.
(The app also gives you the option to trim out more if you’d like.)

If you do want to upgrade to get the flexibility of displaying one-minute video files, Nixplay will give you 50 GB of storage vs. the 10 GB of the standard plan. (You’re going to need it!)

Background Imagery Works Best
You can actually show a lot in fifteen seconds. I believe the experience you should try to create is a video tapestry of moving images that you can enjoy from any point in the playlist.

Your viewer shouldn’t feel forced to consume longer ‘clips’ with a clear beginning and end. Otherwise, you’re effectively trying to turn your digital photo frame into a TV. That shouldn’t be the user experience with a digital photo frame. A television dominates the environment. A photo frame sits in the background.

And even though a newer Nixplay frame can play video files with audio, it still can’t get you deep into a video immersion with a one-minute cap.

So you should think about the kinds of videos that will work best with these limitations. For me, I’ve been focusing on displaying my recent outdoor timelapse videos I’ve been shooting with my DJI Osmo Pocket camera.

They’re ten-seconds each. Short. Snackable. Yum.

Video Treats from your Photo Frame
I’m quite satisfied with these reminders of normality via these short video moments.

Thank you, Nixplay.

Why Nixplay Smart Photo Frames are Better as Screens for Video

Nixplay’s new smart digital photo frames can handle HD video files transmitted via your iPhone. Here’s why that’s a game changer.

I picked up one of the next-generation Nixplay Wi-Fi digital photo frames over the holidays to support my ongoing quest to provide more exposure for my recent family photos. I’ve generated thousands of family images over the years, and most never get any screen time, let alone make it to the physical print stage.

Yes, I know that many folks use their smartphones and shared cloud photo albums for this purpose. Or they just email pics around. But that design requires an action from both the sender and receiver. A Wi-Fi digital photo frame only needs the recipient to glance over and see what’s on the frame.

Plus digital photo frames have the huge advantage of being able to cycle through many photos.

My new frame is the Nixplay Smart Photo 10.1” Black.
$152.99 at Amazon Prime

HD Video Capability
But a funny thing happened while I set up my new Nixplay frame, which was a snap… and an entirely different experience than earlier generation Nixplay frames that I had to wrestle with.

I finally processed that these current Nixplay frames now have the capability to playback HD video files.
(Older Nixplay frames could only handle SD videos, which required you to first convert your native HD MOV video files to lower-resolution AVI files. Ugh.)

So, this improvement instantly sets up a simple distribution pipeline for all of my family video clips that have had an even harder time finding an audience than their photo cousins.

But before I was able to get too excited, I read the fine print:
The length of videos is limited to a mere 15 seconds.

Well, how Vine of them!
(I expect this is not so much a creative choice as a limitation of the hardware handling huge video file sizes.)

Still, you can do a lot with 15 seconds.

Straight Out of Hogwarts
And once you put together a playlist of short video clips using the Nixplay iOS app, it creates a whole new visual experience on the frame that a sequence of digital photos simply can’t compete with.

I immediately set up a series of video clips for my Nixplay highlighting our day’s fun sledding during a light snow storm.

I felt like I was transported to the middle of a Harry Potter movie where photos and paintings come to life. Watching the videos on the frame was really that cool!

For the record, I kept the frame’s audio functionality off. Sure, it would be great to hear the sound, but I think only when you’re actively showing off your videos. Otherwise, it would be too intrusive as an ongoing environmental background element.

15-Second Videos for your Photo Frame
To simply throw your clips into a playlist for easy viewing and not have to edit together a finished video… that’s so quick and easy!

Plus, video files fit perfectly in this HD 16×10 aspect-ratio frame.
(The screen resolution is 1280×800, which is essentially 720HD. That said, my 1080p video files have been playing back fine.)

Sure, there are still some drawbacks.

The 15-second video limit is depressing, but it also respects people’s limited attention spans. If you want to show off the ten-minute school chorus performance that your child was a part of, you’ll simply need to tether your viewer to another screen.
(If you’re interested, I be happy to set up my video for you.)

And the restriction to load videos only via the Nixplay iOS app means you’ve first got to get your video onto your iPhone. So that could mean another step or two if you’re not working with native iPhone videos.

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately shooting time lapse videos with my new DJI Osmo Pocket.
Snowy Day at Cranbury Park
Still, a digital photo frame that can easily play your HD video files is a big step forward in functionality.

Every day, we’re evolving further into a world dominated by video. Digital frames that show off photos are nice, but that trick is so yesterday.

Smart frames that can handle HD videos isn’t magic anymore. It’s the only way to go.

Thank you, Nixplay!

Three Ways to Massively Improve the Quality of Your Family Video Shots

I’ve got three big tips that will help jump-start your action videos of your family members...

Let’s face it. Few of us would mind if Steven Spielberg showed up with his camera crew to immortalize our next family event. All of that talent poured into the visual capture would undoubtedly generate amazing imagery. (I don’t care how disruptive a large film crew would be!)

Unfortunately, I know that scenario is also a fantasy. But instead of dreaming about how you might improve your home videos, I’ve got three ways to upgrade your video talents to the next level…

Steady Does It

Shaky jumps and bumps created by an unsteady hand are sure signs of amateur video. The good news is technology is making it easier for you these days to create steadier shots, especially when covering action.

Digital stabilization is now common in consumer camera tech, but a real game changer is consumer-grade ‘gimbals.’ These are 3-axis stabilized handheld devices.

You can mount your smartphones to these stabilizers to create silky-smooth cinematic videos.

DJI makes the Osmo Mobile 3.
$119.00 on Amazon Prime

Or you can go with the DJI Osmo Pocket, which is a tiny, all-in-one camera/gimbal that can create amazingly smooth action from the palm of your hand.
$349 on Amazon Prime

I use the Osmo Pocket, and it maximizes many video opportunities to keep up with my active nine-year-old son.

Slow It Down

I know I’ve recently taken a deep dive into the value of shooting in slow motion, but I think the point bears repeating.

When not overused, slow motion video can really add emotional impact to your video storytelling. It can also help you extend a significant visual moment which goes by too quickly. 

All you need to do is shoot at a higher frame-rate. Today’s smartphones are entirely capable to handle this trick with a tap of a setting. 

If you’re not already a slow-motion believer, just give it a try. You’ll see what I mean.

Let There Be Light!

Sure, you can buy expensive gear to help shoot in low light, and the results can be strikingly beautiful. But why confront this difficult challenge if you don’t have to? 

Instead, simply look for every opportunity to record in good light. Either take advantage of the outdoors or a well-lit room. Simply avoid those infamous backlight problems that come from bright windows or the sun in the background. 

And always remember to keep the brightest light in front of your subject!

Show and Tell

Here’s an example of these three tips in action… I used my DJI Osmo Pocket to ‘smoothly’ document my son’s participation in a community fun run on a bright, cold weekend morning.

I recorded these clips at 60 frames per second and then slowed the motion down a bit while editing them in Final Cut Pro X on my iMac. I added in a little rhythm from Apple’s GarageBand and threw in some white flashes to finish off the sequence.

Put It All Together

Steady, slow and the use of lots of light will help you take a significant step forward as the family videographer. 

(I believe my post’s title says, “massive.” I’ll stand by that.)

If you incorporate these strategies when capturing action, you can create clips that will turn lots of heads.

All right, maybe just a few… but I expect the ones that matter to you!

%d bloggers like this: