At Home with Tech

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

Tag: Vimeo

Try This Time-Lapse Idea with Your iPhone

I’ve found numerous opportunities over the past couple of years to shoot slow motion videos with my iPhone. (My six-year-old boy usually moves so fast… it’s often fun to slow some of that down.) But time lapse? Not so much.

In fact, I’ve rarely attempted time lapse. Part of the challenge is you’ve got to plan for it, and it’s going to take you some time to capture.
(That’s the whole point.)

Imagine my glee when I spontaneously generated a time-lapse sequence over the weekend during one of my more mundane of chores… recycling cans and bottles at my local Stew Leonard’s supermarket.

The new variable this time was my son had accompanied me…

What makes this 28-second movie more than the sum of its parts is the fact that my first grader took over all of the heavy lifting.
(I quickly realized I was just along for the ride.)

Take a look at the top of this post!

DIY Tripod
Being an observer for fifteen minutes allowed me the opportunity to try this time lapse.

The hard part was figuring out where to put my iPhone without a tripod. I ended up propping it up against a two by four near the ground, hoping it wouldn’t fall over.

Repetition is the Key
I think this movie is fun because it magnifies repetition to tell its story…
What is boring in normal time is something entirely different sped up.
(Though it’s clear my son was not particularly bothered by the challenge of popping over 300 cans and bottles into the recycling machines. I suppose it didn’t hurt that I told him he could keep all of the redeemed nickels for his piggy bank.)

My difficulty with time lapse to date has been my limited belief that time lapse is supposed to show something grand that’s playing out very slowly.
(You just can’t do that in the moment without some planning.)

Something like this turns that equation on its head. Now we’re looking for repeating, ‘simple’ moments to capture that are anything but grand.

But by collecting the sum of them, you’re creating more of a ‘point of view.’

Now that’s interesting.
(And if you find this obvious, please cut me some slack. We all learn at our own pace!)

Lots of Cans
You might be wondering…
Why so many cans and bottles?

One word – seltzer.
My family loves the stuff.
(But to be fair, I was long overdue for this recycling trip. This represented all of our summer seltzer fun.)

Find More Time Lapse in Your Life
So keep an open mind as you traverse your day to day.
If you find yourself thankfully sidelined during an otherwise mundane series of moments, that series could have some fun visual value as a time-lapse video.

Try it out!

Yikes! Vimeo Says I’m Wasting My Time with 60 FPS

Shooting action videos at 60 frames per second with your iPhone 6 can generate great shots.  But there’s a price to pay…

Shooting action videos at 60 frames per second with your iPhone 6 can generate great shots. But there’s a price to pay…

I was expecting three feet of snow outside my front door last week during our ‘almost-snowmageddon.’ If we lost power, I planned to blog about the wonders (…or failures) of my still-unused Generac LP5500 portable generator.  Instead, the predicted snowpocalypse was just an average half-foot snow event.
(Our Boston neighbors up north got the full serving.)

So I had the opportunity to record a few magical moments of my son playing in the barely-adequate snowdrifts. Using my iPhone 6 Plus, I captured some great action shots in our sloped back yard of my four year old sliding down on his dark blue snow saucer.
(Fortunately not at rocket speeds…there’s a wooden fence abruptly positioned right at the end of our ‘sled run.’)

Later, we enjoyed some hot cocoa, and then I stitched together my four snow clips in iMovie on my iMac.
(Yes, I could also have done the job using iMovie on my iPhone…)

And then I uploaded my two-minute flick to my Vimeo page to share with family and friends.

Case closed.

Uh Oh. I’m Almost Out of Storage.
The next day, I received a worrisome email from Vimeo warning me that my weekly upload limit of 500MB for my ‘basic’ account had almost been gobbled up.
(And, of course, I could upgrade to a higher Vimeo tier if I wanted.)

What?

This was a tiny 120-second video. Why was it so huge?
And then I looked more closely at the file size.

In fact, it was a whopping 477MB!

What?!

Alarming Situation
That’s right. I almost blew through my half-gigabyte Vimeo limit on my free account with one little upload.

So I went back to my original video clips and took a closer look at their specs via QuickTime Player on my iMac:

  • I opened up the .mov file
  • Then, I went to the ‘Window’ drop down on the menu bar
  • Next, I clicked on ‘Show Movie Inspector’

Movie Inspector is a little black box that pops up and includes a bunch of geeky technical info about your video clip.

Within a few seconds, I honed in on the culprit…
The problem was the frame rate.

I had unknowingly shot my snow videos at 60 frames per second… as opposed to the standard 30 fps.

And remember, these are glorious 1080 high definition iPhone videos we’re talking about.

So it’s the 60 fps that created the significantly larger files.

How to Get Back to 30 FPS
I think I had left my iPhone on 60 fps quite by accident from an earlier experiment to see how 60 fps would handle action shots.
(And in fact, 60 fps is a wondrous feature to capture crisper action and prevent your moving subjects from looking blurry.)

I quickly pulled my iPhone 6 Plus out of my pocket (yes, it fits) and touched the Camera icon. I swiped the shoot setting to ‘Video’ and spotted the ’60 fps’ noted on the bottom right. I tapped it assuming it would toggle back to 30 fps. But it didn’t.

Instead I had to go back to the ‘Settings’ icon and drill down to adjust the video frame rate back to 30 fps:

  • General
  • Photos & Camera
  • Record Video at 60 FPS – On/Off (swipe)

30 FPS Vs. 60 FPS
In the moment, when you need to capture a priceless video, it’s not the easiest of settings to adjust. So you should decide which will be your ‘standard’ frame rate.

Typically, I don’t think you need all those extra frames and the massive files 60 fps generates. Plus, you should remember that 60 fps creates that ‘hyper’ clear look, which may not be what you want.
(Especially if you’re a fan of the softer ‘film’ look)

30 frames per second is often just fine, and its motion usually feels ‘normal.’

Is 60 FPS a Drag?
But is it such a huge problem to always leave the 60 fps mode on?
(Apparently Apple doesn’t think so…)
Well, not immediately, and not if you don’t shoot lots of videos on your iPhone 6.

But I wouldn’t simply set it and forget it.
Yes, 60 fps has its place, but I’d use this feature sparingly and only when the moment calls for it…

Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself running out of space on your iPhone pretty quickly.

Just do the math…

Let’s say you’ve got the entry-level 16GB iPhone 6, and you shoot just a few minutes of family videos every weekend at 60 fps. That means you’re probably creating about 2 GB of content a month. At that rate, unless you transfer/delete the files from your iPhone, you’re not going make it to the summer before your iPhone runs out of memory.

Generating huge video files is simply a drag. It’s a burden on your technology and by association an extra load on your life to keep your tech happy.

Vimeo Says No
And get this…
If you’re a basic account Vimeo user, you’re allowed to create one HD video per week… and only at 720p. Trying to upload a 1080p file at 60 fps still just gets you a 720p video at 30 fps. Any extra quality is wasted.

Even a Vimeo Plus membership (costing $60/year) doesn’t play your videos back at any higher frame rates than 30 fps.

Yes, you can certainly compress your advanced video files to something more digestible for Vimeo, but that’s an extra step for a busy parent of a four year old.

I should also freely admit that the iMovie app for iPhones/iPads can send your videos directly to Vimeo and compresses them as part of the export. Yes, it’s an easier process, but it assumes all your video clips are being generated by your iPhone.
(Don’t forget… I also like to take videos with my Canon PowerShot camera.)

Don’t Let 60 Frames Destroy Your Digital Life
60 frames per second is like warp drive…
Use it only when you need it.
Otherwise, one day soon… your universe may start to unravel.

YouSendIt is Gone. Should You Hightail It?

It looks like name recognition wasn’t that valuable an asset for YouSendIt. To stay relevant, they upgraded their mission, their name… and their pricing! Should you find another web link creation service?

It looks like name recognition wasn’t that valuable an asset for YouSendIt. To stay relevant, they upgraded their mission, their name… and their pricing! Should you find another web link creation service?

It’s darn impossible to send out a video via email attachment these days, because of how large video files have become.
(Everything is HD… on its way to 4K!)

Sure, you might be able to get a really short clip through, without blowing up your email program.
But anything more than a couple minutes worth of content…you can forget it.

Yes, there’s the magic bullet of file compression, but that’s an added step and a story for another day…

Instead of attaching a cripplingly large video into your email,
one solution is to include a web link that your recipients can click on.
They’ll be directed to a web page that hosts your video and then downloads your file.
Before you know it, they’re happily* watching the video from their desktop!
(*Blogger not responsible for actual download speed experience!)

Downloadable Video Links Vs. Streaming
In this golden digital age of easy-upload and stream websites like YouTube and Vimeo, you might question the very need for a service that downloads your video first before you can watch it.
And if you’re feeling a little twitchy about privacy and want to keep the video away from the public eye, simply password-protect your video page.

But in the video creation/collaboration business, there are usually multiple drafts of a video before the final version crosses the finish line.

A good method for offsite collaboration on these kinds of projects is via downloadable links.

Plus, if you simply want a video to get from Point A to Point B, streaming it isn’t going to get the job done. You’ve still got to download it!

Goodbye YouSendIt
If you’ve ever downloaded a video file from a web link, there’s a good chance the link was generated by a company called YouSendIt.
They’ve been around since 2004 and currently have over 40 million users.
This month alone, they’ve shared more than 100 million files.
Impressive.
(“Most impressive.”)

But if you haven’t heard, you’ll never get a link from YouSendIt ever again.
Don’t panic. The friendly folks from YouSendIt are still there.
They’ve just been going through an identity crisis of sorts, and they’ve “rebranded” themselves.

YouSendIt is now ‘Hightail.’
Surprise…!

Hello Hightail
Yes, it was a surprise to me too.
An email from them would have been nice…

Everyone knew what a YouSendIt link was…
(It was almost a verb unto itself.)

Now a ‘Hightail’ link?
(They seem very excited by their new name. I’ll leave it at that.)

They claim their business model needed to change, as there are dozens of competing choices clouding their future.

To survive, they have to grow beyond a simple file-sharing service.
Today, it’s all about being a collaboration and file management tool.

I get all that.

The Cost of Progress
I just want to know if their shiny new kitchen can still brew a simple cup of coffee.

Today, I just want to make my video links.
Drum roll, please…

Yes, you still can, but there have been some ‘modifications’ to their subscription plans.
(oh?)

My existing YouSendIt Pro account plan cost me $49.99/year.
(They were running a deal when I renewed it…)

The Pro plan gave me a maximum sharable file size of 2 GB with 5GB of total available storage.
That’s plenty for what I need.

Both YouSendIt’s old free plan and Hightail’s no-cost ‘Lite’ plan give you just 2 GB of storage.
But the killer with this free deal remains the per-file size limit…
Only 50 MB.
That doesn’t get you very far with video.

Hightail’s value proposition is its new Professional plan which offers you unlimited Cloud storage for all your files.
That’s a real wake-up call to the competition.
(And you can still share files up to 2 GB.)

But all this goodness is going to cost you $159.99/year.
That’s a chunk of change.
And a lot more than I’d prefer to pay.

Is Free Really a Deal?
There are so many free ways to send out links these days.
So why pay anything?

Well, call me old school, l but I still subscribe to the concept that you get what you pay for.

If sending out a video link is really important, then you might want to use a company you know with a good track record.
And you may have to pay something for the privilege.

The question is how much…
I‘ve been willing to pay $50/year for peace of mind, but three times that?!

For the record, I’ve been completely satisfied with YouSendIt, and I’m sure Hightail will be equally wonderful…

I just don’t want to spend $160.
(Especially when the onward march of tech innovation is supposed to decrease pricing!)

So what now?
Time to shop around and look at the competition…

Starving with Too Much Choice
As I considered the cluttered landscape offering to help me create my links,
I quickly grew frustrated with all the choices.

Others have already gone through this lengthy exercise:

Google Drive
Yes, Google Drive keeps popping up everywhere, and it’s free.
Plus, they give you 15 GB, which is hard to beat.
But it’s a service that requires you to download yet more software onto your computer.
(ugh)

Dropbox
That said, I realized I’ve got Dropbox on my desktop.
And I’m already happily creating links with them.
(Dropbox gives you 2 GB for free…and a little more when you get friends to join.)

So, problem solved… right?

Sort of…

I’d Like the Burger Deluxe, Please
I’ve realized I enjoy some of the cushier bells and whistles I had with YouSendIt.

  • You can set the link’s life span from a few days to a few months
  • It’s also nice to have the option to see when your file has been viewed

Adobe SendNow
Then I found Adobe SendNow.
They do all that and more for only $20 a year.

  • Maximum file size of 2 GB
  • Maximum storage of 20 GB

Sweet!

And Adobe is no mom-and-pop operation.
(What can I say… I like a well-known brand.)

Put your Jackson to work, and problem solved!

Hightail it or Hightail it?
So is it time to leave Hightail?
I think so.

I’ve still got more time on my legacy YouSendIt plan.
But if Hightail can’t get more competitive against Adobe SendNow or another similarly featured service, (any other suggestions?)

…I’m hightailing it elsewhere!

%d bloggers like this: