Rants of a Digital Bard

OMG! Who gave this idiot a blog?

Example HF11 Footage

I don’t have a paid account on Vimeo, so this footage was downsized to 1280×720 but I did my best to ensure the quality was the same:


June 30, 2009 Posted by | Videography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Useful FFMPEG command lines

These are some useful FFMPEG commands I use quite often:

Copy the H.264 stream from an MTS file into a MOV file and discard the audio:

ffmpeg -i myfile.mts -vcodec copy -an -y myfile.mov

Re-encode a clip into a Quicktime MOV file using the MotionJPEG codec and discard any audio:

ffmpeg -i myfile.avi -vcodec mjpeg -b 76k -an -y myfile.mov

Re-encode a video and audio into an Xvid file compatible with my DVD player:

ffmpeg -i myfile.mov -vcodec mpeg4 -vtag xvid -b 1008k -acodec libmp3lame -ab 64k -y myfile.divx

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Geek stuff, Programming, Videography | Leave a comment

Canon Vixia HF11 HD Camcorder

This is the camcorder I got for my Stock Footage work:


You can go to the Canon site to get the technical details on it.  What I want to post here is some info that is harder to find, plus my general impressions…

First, it records to memory.  It has 32 gigabytes built-in plus a SDHC slot to add more memory.  The recording format is AVCHD.

You need a REALLY REALLY good computer with a lot of horse-power and RAM to edit AVCHD files.  So if you’ve got an older computer that is not at least Dual Core and you don’t have a MINIMUM of 2 gigabytes of RAM, you should not get an AVCHD camcorder.

The HF11 will record in 1920×1080 at 60i, 30p or 24p.  However, it encodes the video into the AVCHD files at 60i, even if you have selected 30p or 24p.  It just does some funky stuff with the fields inside the file to make it fit.  So keep in mind that to work with the video, you will probably need to transcode it into another format before adding it to your timeline.  And if you recorded in 24p, you’ll need to deal with the pulldown.

Also, 30p and 24p are a misnomer in the U.S.  30p footage is actually encoded at 29.97 and 24p is encoded at 23.98.

In a later blog, I’ll post some info on my workflow.  I record my footage using the PF30 (30p) setting and then I copy the H.264 stream from the MTS files into QuickTime .MOV files without re-encoding the video using FFMPEG.  I discard the audio altogether.

Whenever possible, I use a tripod and I try and set up my shots and camera settings before I record.  Thanks to a tip from good friend from Pond5, I use a white dixie cup to set the White Balance before each session.  And once the auto-focus has my subject in focus, I disable the auto-focus while recording.  I also have the digital zoom and optical stabilizer disabled.

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Stock Footage & Photography, Videography | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finally got a good Camcorder!

Until a month ago, 99% of my Stock Footage portfolio was animations created in After Effects, Cinema 4D, 3D Studio Max, Vue, etc…  And judging by my sales, my stuff is improving all the time.

But animations take a long time to set up and render.  So I can usually only do about 5 to 15 a week depending 0n how complex they are.  Not to mention that animation makes up a small percentage of overall Stock Footage sales on the big sites.

To truly be successful, you need a good camcorder and you need to go outside and shoot some footage (well, the “outside” part is from my sweetheart, you could do studio shots indoors).  I can record 2 hours of footage over a 3 or 4 hours period and get 20 to 40 useable clips out of it.

So, I had been saving up to get a new camcorder.  I had settled on getting the Canon Vixia HF11 which was in my price range and has great reviews on all the various Indie Film and Camcorder Review web sites.  But times are tight and it was taking me awhile to save up the money.

Along comes my father to the rescue.  He offered to help me out by giving me $400 towards the purchase of a camera. But when the time came to pony up the dough, he instead just bought it outright from Amazon.com for me.  You’ll hear no complaints from me about parents or family for quite some time…  Thanks Again Pops!!

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Don't get me started..., Stock Footage & Photography | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yup, I’m on Twitter

Like pretty much everyone these days, I’m on Twitter.


I mostly tweet about my new-found Stock Footage career.  Updates about my progress on Pond5.  Info on what I’m working on.  Books I’m reading to help my career along, etc..

I have a growing group of followers and I’m fairly active since I access Twitter from my iPod Touch using Tweetie.

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

It’s been awhile…

It has been awhile since I last posted here.  And it’s time to start doing this regularly.  A lot of changes in my life over the past 6 months, the biggest of which is that I am working very hard on a career change.

I have been growing my Stock Video portfolio on several sites and I have increased my revenue fairly regularly.  I’ve even done a few custom projects for some clients.  So, I’m working 16 hours a day to try and turn this into a full-time gig.

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Don't get me started... | Leave a comment