What’cha What’cha Want: Video Accessories

Posted by scottstead on Oct 5, 2009 in Blogging, Gadgets, Mobile, Reviews

Today I watched Steve Garfield over on his Facebook/Ustream “Get Seen” page. Steve as usual was in front of camera, talking about cameras, playing back video on cameras, with him on camera, talking about accessories for cameras. Steve’s a standout multimedia guru. Steve demo’d some cameras and talked about some of his favorite accessories, all the while beta-testing his new setup on Facebook using Ustream (ok, now I just sound redundant). Folks chatted live from Ustream, as well as Facebook and Steve interacted even well after the show, dishing out model numbers and asking for feedback about the show. This was great for me because I’ve been considering setting up something similar for DocumentaryClub.org to livestream interviews with filmmakers. Great to see it in action. I liked the ‘brandability’ of the Facebook option as well as the number of people on Facebook to potentially pull into a broadcast. There are however a couple of things I’d like to point out about the setup that I think could be improved upon.

  1. UStream Chat and Facebook Chat were completely separate. I had no idea what they were saying. They had no idea what I was saying, and as a moderator of the chat – if you’re already dealing with the live broadcasting aspect of the show it’s tough to juggle the stream and two chat rooms at once. Somehow combining the two would be el primo!
  2. Facebook Chat was cool, within and of itself, however, it generates a bunch of orphaned message blasts in your feed that have no context. If Steve says, “Hi Scott”, and I say, “Great show Steve,” noone has ANY idea what we’re talking about. Having a link attached to the Facebook message in your public stream would be helpful to those reading the message, and to the broadcaster by driving more folks to the show to see what the heck we’re talking about.
    Facebook Message With Steve
  3. The UStream Chat is not archived and attached to the video (the Facebook chat does keep the last 10 messages or so, so that’s a plus). Steve for instance told me the make/model of the Audio Technica mic (which I of course jotted down and will be sharing with you shortly) via the Ustream Chat. If anyone watching the archived later wanted to know for themselves – the chat is not attached and archived and therefore that part of the dialogue is lost.

All in all it was a pretty positive experience, minus the chat tweaks that need to happen to make it an all-inclusive, fully-functional experience. I’m sure Steve is already putting together his lists of wants and must-haves for the next one. Great job Steve! Furthermore, what I got out of this was a nice little list of things I want to make my broadcasting a little bit easier, my audio a little bit more audible, my arms a little bit longer. Here are some of the devices that Steve recommended. For the full video of Steve’s reviews and recommendations click on over to his UStream channel for the skinny.



When you’ve got a camera that doesn’t have a wide angle lens, and you have arms like a T-Rex, this X-Shot monopod is the thing for you. With it’s 180 degree rotating head you can shoot yourself from angles not before possible, or get that camera up over that fence to catch that glimpse of Area 51 that your lack-of-stature previously just did not allow. It extends to 37″, has a lanyard for the drop-prone (like myself), is only nine inches long when closed for easy/compact storage, and most importantly you don’t have to ask someone else to take your picture on vacations – this avoiding that awkward “hrmm will this guy/girl snap my picture for posterity and then run?” moment.

Brando Iphone Mic

Next up our list of must-wants is the Brando Mini Capsule Microphone as demo’d with the iPhone in Steve’s video today. You can order it here. It’s pretty cool looking and very small (which screams loseable to me) – but again audio is paramount to making good videos. It’s plug and play out of the box so no configuring is required, however, two points that Steve made today is that when recording you have to have wifi because it creates interference and thus renders the mic unusable. This is a HUGE downside for me because currently if I want to stream I have to have the iPhone on Wi-Fi. It looks like this device is record-then-upload only. One other thing to note is that to playback the audio immediately after recording, you need to disconnect the mic since its interrupting the speakers because it thinks a headset is plugged in. With these caveats aside, for something so small to make a leap in audio quality (it is directional) – it’s worth it. Did I mention it’s only $10? Woah!

Sticking with notable audio improvements, Steve demo’d the Audio Technica ATR-3350, small and inexpensive lavalier mic with a mini 3.5mm input that fits right into your phone’s headset jack. It’s omni-directional, so it’s ideal for a walk and talk narration with your iPhone or other portable camera. It comes with the lavalier tie-clip, a foam wind-screen, and a battery. Not sure what the battery life is like – but it’s one of those things you have to remember to shut off or you’re going to be shopping for these mini-watch-style batteries a lot (buy them in bulk). Steve also pointed out that with two of these (again, they’re dirt cheap dialing in around $25) you can produce an interview with no problem with the addition of a simple “y-adapter” that marries two mono signals into a stereo input.

Y Adapter

Steve also pointed out that with two of the ATR-3350 lav microphones (again, they’re dirt cheap dialing in around $25) you can produce an interview with no problem with the addition of a simple “y-adapter” that marries two mono signals into a stereo input. This is a simple, cheap adapter that can be bought for around $5. Get it at B&H here.

Nokia DT-22

Last, but definitely not least, is the Nokia DT-22 Tripod. This is a sleek, small tripod that you can throw in your pocket, whip out, set up on the table in front of you and grab that interview at a moment’s notice adding stability to your shot and giving your self the ability to do something else with your hands. The legs are adjustable with rubberized tips for extra grip on those slippery metallic surfaces – so if you can find one – grab one! Why? As far as I can tell they are discontinued! Oh-noes! But worry not! I found two somewhat suitable alternatives.


First up is the Sunpak 620 Versipod. It comes in three different colors and rings in at a whopping $9. I have not used one, but it doesn’t look as solid as the Nokia model it’s replacing, but at $9 you can afford to hate it.

Gorilla Mobile

My favorite alternative to the DT-22, by far is the GorillaMobile iPhone device stand. Why? Because it’s cool looking, it’s a phone case, the legs are removable, and it’s functional. I’ve seen it straddling the back of a chair, wrapped around bicycle handle bars (simple Googl’ing will yield tons of photos of these) and if you’ve ever owned ANY Gorilla tripods you’re already familiar with the product’s flexibility. Add this to my want, want, want list and consider it ordered as soon as I’m done writing this post.

Well, that wraps this review of Steve’s first show and everything that he reviewed there in. Now if only I can get someone to review my review of Steve’s reviews maybe we’ll start getting review feedback. Wocka, wocka, wocka. Cheers!

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The $2 LED Camera Light for Video and Photos

Posted by scottstead on Jun 6, 2008 in DIY, Gadgets, How To, Misc. Links
$2 cam light
photo courtesy instructables.com

I was thinking the other day that it would be great if I had some sort of small lighting device that I could use with my Casio Exilim for those bar-back-room interviews I like doing so much. You’ve seen them – great interview, decent audio – but man the lighting is begging for improvement. What do you expect from a tiny point and shoot. Apparently a lot. Nobody likes a grainy interview. So I thought about it, and requirements are as follows.

  1. Hands Free
  2. Small
  3. Runs on rechargable batteries
  4. Doesn’t eat those batteries quickly
  5. Bright
  6. Cheap

Sounds simple enough, right? Well apparently it is. I found this cool little how-to on how to build your own under-camera light for somewhere around $2. That I can spare. As to the hands free – it screws onto the mount on the bottom of the camera. I’ll let you know how it goes as this sounds like a great weekend project. Let me know if you end up building one too!


The $2 LED Camera Light for Video and Photos – Instructables – DIY, How To, tech, photography – Entry

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Plurk vs Frogger

Posted by scottstead on Jun 5, 2008 in Gadgets, Misc. Links
plurk vs frogger

So how much time could they really have spent on this? Robert Scoble says: “Plurk is too weird to get Twitter sized audiences. Maybe of 14-year-old girls who like Neopets.” And I agree – to a point. The demographic they were really going after – not necessarily 14 year old girls. Yep, they were targeting YOU Rober Scoble. Remember the episode of Seinfeld where George is frogger obsessed, where he tries to move the Frogger arcade game with an extension cord across the street but ends up losing his high score anyway? We all feel his pain. We know you’re trying to play up to the geeks love of crappy video game graphics. I can only suggest that your next attempt you make it look like either a) DigDug or b)Bubble Bobble. Frogger’s just a cheap shot at my emotions. I declare shenanigans.

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Jeremiah Owyang Interrupted @ SXSW 2008

Posted by scottstead on Mar 13, 2008 in Bloggers, Gadgets, Partay, SXSW, Vlog

Jeremiah took time out of his busy schedule of blowing away chickens in the BlogHaus to fill us in on what he’s been up to at SXSW.

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Corey’s Stereo Purse @ Dorkbot SXSW 2008

Posted by scottstead on Mar 12, 2008 in Gadgets, Music, SXSW, Vlog

This purse speaks for itself, or jams for itself, or well, whatever…it’s a stereo purse. And it’s pretty bad ass – thanks for the interview Corey (Cory, or Corie, sorry – I didn’t catch the spelling.

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Chris of the 405th Infantry Division @ SXSW 2008

Posted by scottstead on Mar 12, 2008 in Gadgets, SXSW, Vlog

We were held up by the Master Chief outside of the convention center for this interview…

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Mitch Altman of Make! @ SXSW 2008

Posted by scottstead on Mar 12, 2008 in Gadgets, SXSW, Vlog

The creator of the TVBGone and the Brain Machine takes a minute out of his busy life of mistification and madness to explain “what is up with all those flashing lights…”
Formats available: Quicktime (.mov)

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