At Home with Tech

Figure out which consumer tech you need, the right gear to buy and how to use your new gadgets.

Tag: 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 More Beach Time Helps Me Stay Centered

If you live near the beach, I recommend visiting it more often. Not so much for the sun or swimming, but to simply soak up the larger space. Here’s why…

It’s been six months already. Can you believe it? It feels like forever. And yet, these months are just a blip in a much larger timeline. That’s been easy to forget when my world has largely been compressed into the safe but limited square footage of our home.

When I do get out, I’ve found it helps to remind myself to look about… really look around. That has recentered my perspective and helps me feel more comfortable enduring this marathon COVID-19 experience.

The Value of Beach Time during COVID-19
My family and I have intentionally spent more time at our local beach over these past months. Beyond the expected and soothing qualities of that primal environment, the beach is a clear reminder that much of the world carries on as it has for countless millennia.

Warm or cold. Rain or shine, it’s helpful to be in that space (and of course, while practicing social distancing).

That sense of a larger continuity may not provide complete consolation, but it’s a good reminder that we’re all players in a much longer game.

At the beach… you can feel the greater normal. And that helps me stay centered.

This group of visual moments is a reminder that even though many pieces of our day-to-day lives have evaporated, other basics are still firmly in place.

Slow and steady.

Feeling the Rush
In so many ways, we’re all rushing.

  • Eager to read more news of a vaccine
  • Hoping to get back to normal soon
  • Wanting to reduce all of the stress

Rushing to find a way back.

But of course, we can’t go back. Not really. Too much has already changed.

So, it’s actually all about finding a way forward… to something somewhat different and perhaps better.

That’s all we’ve got. And you can’t rush it.

Set your Pace
We’ll get there. But it’s like a marathon. You’ve got to pace yourself.

And spending a little more time at the beach regardless of the season and perhaps taking a few photos and timelapse videos are good ways to help stay balanced throughout all the disruption.

It’s worked for me, and I highly recommend it.

Don’t Skip these Steps when Sharing Video Clips during a Zoom Meeting

To prevent Zoom from dooming your day, here are three ways to help you successfully share video content during your next Zoom call.

How many Zoom meetings have you been in over these months? More than a few? I hope by now, you’ve decided that you need to show up for your close up and take the necessary steps to improve your video shot. But you’re not done. Not by a long shot.

That’s because you may decide that it’s time to attempt the more advanced step of “sharing your screen” with your audience. And that’s an even trickier task to do properly, especially because it looks so easy.

If you believe that brain-busting audio feedback caused by an unmuted microphone is the most likely culprit to sabotage a Zoom meeting, then welcome to the unstable art of sharing your screen.

That said, the basics of sharing your screen are indeed relatively simple. You click on the ‘Share Screen’ tab and then you choose the open window on your screen to share. Simple. Right?

I have found the complexity lies in properly sharing the content. And for me, that content is often video.

Here are three easy steps to take to help ensure your success the next time you want to share video content during a Zoom meeting.

#1
Don’t Forget to Also “Share Audio”
First off, the biggest challenge in sharing a video clip on a Zoom call is making sure that your viewers can hear the clip. That’s because you always have to remember to click that bleeping little box on the bottom left that says “Share computer sound” before you select the correct window with your video to share.

That should be easy, right? But let me tell you, it’s also really easy to forget, because you’re mostly focused on finding the right open window to share. And then you’re not aware of your gaffe until someone writes in the chat section that you’re a Luddite.

It’s a maddening experience, especially when you know to look out for the problem.

Note to Zoom:
Please make your “Share computer sound” box sound more prominent. Or at least capitalize the words! Right next to “Share computer sound,” there’s a little box that says, “Optimize Screen Share for Video Clip.” Those words all begin in caps… why not offer the same level of grammatical importance to the audio box?

Isn’t it clear by now that so many have a hard enough time remembering to mute and unmute themselves when talking on Zoom. Please don’t make it even harder to activate the audio from the video clips we’re trying to share.

(User rant is now complete.)

#2
Make Sure All of Your Audio is Balanced
You should test all of your audio sources before you show up for your Zoom meeting. You might find that the output from your microphone is louder than your video clips. Or the reverse could be true.

If you set up a test Zoom session ahead of time and use a second device to hear how it all sounds, then you’ll be able to preview your viewers’ experience. And if necessary, you can adjust your audio levels.

It’s just another example where audio can be your Achilles’ heel during your Zoom presentation.

#3
House All of Your Video Clips in One Window Using Google Slides
During your Zoom meeting, if you want to share more than one open video window, you’ll likely begin to feel like you’re spinning plates on sticks.

It’s not that straightforward to switch between multiple windows. (There’s a reason why in the TV studio production world there’s a professional technical director dedicated to quickly switching between multiple video sources.)

So, the simple fix is packaging everything you want to share into one window. You can try to jam all of your visual elements into Word or PowerPoint, but that can get clunky with video.

I’ve found that Google Slides is a much more efficient way to house video. It’s easy to create a new page in Google Slides and then insert a video file.

  • Click ‘Insert’
  • Choose ‘Video’

But there are two limitations:

  • You can only upload video from Google Drive or YouTube. (You’re actually linking to the video.)
    Other ecosystems are not allowed.
  • If you’re using Google Drive, you can’t change the default video freeze frame that Google chooses as the image in your slide deck. So, when you click on your Google Slides page that houses a video, what you see is what you get before you click it to play.

Be Prepared
If there’s one common thread here, it’s that you should begin your live presentation prepared. You want to feel confident that Zoom will support you and not doom your day.

You’re effectively running your own multi-source live shot. A little practice and testing will go a long way to help you hit it out of the park!

%d bloggers like this: