The Essential Mobile Journalism Kit

Here’s a peak at the Mobile Reporting Field Guide, a soon to be released iBook on everything journalists need to know about using an iPhone for reporting. It includes reviews on equipment, apps, as well as example videos. The guide is the culmination of work by several students enrolled in a mobile journalism course at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. After months of testing, this is the gear the guide recommends for the essential kit.  Stay tuned for the iBook which include reviews of this gear and more, along with apps reviews.

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iPhone: A storytellers most valuable tool. Plus apps and gear you gotta have.

I’m a Mac.

There are five Mac laptops of various makes and models in our home, along with three iPods, two iPhones and one iPad, which makes it highly unlikely that you’ll believe my next statement.

I am not an Apple fanboy.
Also,
I’m pro-choice.

Let me explain.

I’ve always believed in the storyteller’s right to choose his or her own ‘paint brush’ to tell their story. Who wants a tube of titanium white shoved down their throat when what they really want to paint with is cadmium green.

Early in my photojournalism career I used Nikon gear, because it worked best for me. It fit my shooting style, despite everyone around me clamoring for a Leica M6. Years later when Canon made a better product I switched.

I mention all of the above because I am going to extol the virtues of the iPhone and I want you to know while I’m ‘on the bus’ I’d hop-off the second someone, anyone, offered me a better ride. I’m not trying to convince you to buy an iPhone. I expect you’ll find the tool that fits your lifestyle.

Remember it’s not about the tools or the technology, it’s about the story. I try to focus equally on both here at mms. My last post, was all about story.

As a profession we are in need of some serious attention to technology, especially in the mobile realm. Speaking for myself, I’m getting a strong feeling that to be truly successful as a journalist of the future everything I do must be viewed through the mobile lens. That said, let’s talk technology.

Internal conversation:

OMG isn’t the iPhone just the greatest device in the whole wide world?
Duh, yeah!

I’m as excited by the story consumption aspects of the iPhone as with its story creation ability. Today I’ll focus my attention on the story creation apps and gear I find most useful for story tellers and in a future post talk about the story consumption aspects.

Let’s get going. I’ve used all of the following apps and gear to create various stories for both personal use and professional outlets. I hope you find some of these as useful as I have. They get the mms seal of approval. Not that that means much! :)

POWER

Using the iPhone as a mobile journalism tool comes at the expense of battery life. These two products have saved me frustration in the the field.

juice pack air™   BUY

As the world’s thinnest rechargeable battery case, the mophie juice pack air™ is designed to
virtually double the time you have to Rock, Talk, Surf and Send with your iPhone 3G or 3GS.

The juice pack airâ„¢ is a rechargeable external battery concealed inside of a protective form-fitting case
for the iPhone 3G & iPhone 3GS. It offers you the full protection of a hard-shell case while providing
virtually twice the battery life of the iPhone alone; all in an ultra-thin, light-weight, low-profile design.

Whistler PI-400W 400 Watt Power Inverter BUY

This power inverter allows you to run AC appliances like  laptop or a phone charger  right from your car. It’s also great for emergencies and bringing the electric coffee maker on camping trips.

STABILITY

Nothing says amateur story teller  more than blurry images or shaky video. These are the tools I’ve found most useful for recording smooth video or creating panoramas with my iPhone.

Joby GM2 Gorillamobile Flexible Tripod BUY

Zacuto Z-ZG-IPJ Z-Grip iPhone Jr. Handgrip System BUY

Not only is this great for hand holding, but it has a tripod mount at the bottom of the grip and a mount on top to mount a mic adapter or external light.


What’s an OWLE? BUY

The OWLE Bubo is a camera mount that brings the best features of a camcorder to the iPhone 3GS: stability, optics, microphones and tripods! The OWLE Bubo is made of a solid piece of aluminum, making it virtually indestructible. The OWLE Bubo comes standard with 37mm lens threading, as well as a 0.45x wide angle/ macro lens combination. This is a real piece of optics, delivering stunning images with better color saturation, contrast and sharpness than is possible with the iPhone’s camera alone. The wide angle lens accepts 49mm screw in filters which are sold separately. The OWLE Bubo provides 4 x 1/4″-20 female threaded mounting holes (1 on top and bottom of each of the 2 hand grips), as well as having a cold shoe mount and recesses allowing access to important areas such as the 3.5mm jack and bottom port of your iPhone while the iPhone is docked within the Bubo. Unseating the iPhone from the OWLE Bubo is easy even for those the thickest fingers thanks to the ergonomic access port. Watch the videos below to learn more!

iPhone Adapter 3.5mm 4 conductor TRRS Male to 3.5mm Microphone Input Jack BUY

So you can do this!

Read More about the above set-up here.

This short Adapter cable provides a 3.5mm (Microphone Input) jack to your iPhone or other compatible cell phone. It is the perfect solution for interfacing your new iPhone with your premium microphone for quality recording.
APPS

Description

Easy Release by ApplicationGap replaces inconvenient paper release forms with a slick, streamlined application designed by professional photographers for professional photographers. Fully supports iPad, iPhone and iPod-Touch.

– Lets you collect all the data and signatures you need right on your iPhone, then mails a PDF and JPEG of the release right to you. For convenience and ease of use: Lets you retrieve model and witness information from your contacts. Get location data from a list of previously used.

AutoStitch Panorama

Description

AutoStitch brings high-resolution, wide-angle photography to the iPhone. Have you ever wanted to capture a wider view in a photo? Do you wish the iPhone had a better camera? Using AutoStitch, you can:

– Combine multiple images to produce wide-angle panoramas with no visible seams
– Create spectacular high-resolution images of up to 20 megapixels using your iPhone camera

ReelDirector

Description

BEST APP on APPLE’s Rewind 2009 List and also featured in Creative Editing Kit by Apple.

Full-blown video editing for iPhone and iPad.
Compatible with HD video on iPhone 4!

Note: iPhone 3G & iPod Touch can import video by copy paste.

Monle

Description

Monle works with all external microphones, both those that plug into the headphone/microphone jack and those that plug into the 30-pin data connector. iPhone users can also record with the iPhone’s internal microphone. Monle records WAVE files with sample rates from 8kHz to 44.1kHz, stereo or mono, in 16-bit. All file formats can be simultaneously mixed and edited together.

With Monle, you can manage recordings, rename and delete audio files, create, save, and open editing sessions, zip and backup sessions, upload and download WAVE files by FTP and local WiFi, and share audio via AudioCopy/AudioPaste.
Monle allows users to easily submit audio to American Public Mediaâ„¢, the second largest producer and distributor of public radio programming and the largest owner and operator of public radio stations in the nation.
Create a slideshow production in the palm of your hand.

Great for creating multimedia lessons for instructors; multimedia postcards or YouTube videos; or creating multimedia podcasts.

Unite imagery and sound with ShowCase; our premier podcasting tool that combines still photography or powerpoint slides with audio.


Description
Specifically created to facilitate the work of radio and television journalists, TCoder enables you to take notes during press conferences, presentations, speeches, etc. perfectly synchronized with the time code of your recorder, miniDisc or TV camera.

Forget about paying constant attention to the counter of your recorder, or constantly asking to the camera operator: as long as you have TCoder with you, your notes will automatically include the right time code.

Featuring a stylish and intuitive interface, TCoder is not a recording device: it is the perfect complement to your recorder, camcorder or MiniDis

Pano

Description

Pano for iPhone is an award-winning app that lets you take beautiful, seamless panoramic photos straight from your phone, no other software necessary. Selected by Apple as one of the “Best Apps of 2009″, Pano has gotten rave reviews from tens of thousands of users around the world! Pano is exclusively for iPhone.

Features:
– Deliciously simple interface
– Take 360-degree panoramas with up to *sixteen* photos
– Handy semi-transparent guide helps you line up each shot perfectly
– Advanced alignment, blending, and colour-correction algorithms provide seamless images in just seconds
– Finished panoramas save directly to your camera roll
– Final resolution of up to 6800×800
– Panos can be resumed if interrupted


Description

CiL Writers can use the iPhone App to instantly:

  • Create, launch and run live events
  • Publish live commentary
  • Approve and moderate Reader comments
  • Publish Photos, Audio and Video in real-time
  • Integrate Twitter – search for and post tweets
  • Email event link and embed code
  • Place events into Standby Mode
  • End live events
  • View live event listings

Description

Audioboo is an application for recording and sharing your voice with the world. This free version allows you to create audio up to 5 minutes in length and post that to your own account on the web. You can add titles, tags, geolocation info and a photo to the recording before you upload it and we’ll save all that with the file. The audio can then be shared with your followers or via Facebook, Twitter & more social networks by managing your account at http://audioboo.fm.
Description
about

overview

Have an iPhone? Have an Eye-Fi card? If not you should, these things rock!

Get the FREE Eye-Fi app for your iPhone to extend the Eye-Fi card’s benefit to your iPhone. Enjoy unlimited photo uploads straight from your iPhone to your computer or to the web. Stay organized as photos automatically land in preset folders in your computer. No syncing. No tethering. No hassles.

I’ve used an Eye-Fi Card and this app to shoot images from my Canon  5DMKII 1DMKII,  also, wireless to from my iPhone then automatic to my Flickr account. Photo editor was able to download the images right from my Flickr and I didn’t have to stop shooting. NICE. To make this a little clearer, I use my Eye-Fi card in my Canon 1D and transmit back via a verizon express card using a Cradlepoint PHS300 with an adapter. If you want to know more about this just drop me an email and I’ll share my workflow. Sorry to have confused some folks. The iPhone app is standalone it DOESN’T work WITH my Canon 1D.

Photogene

Description

  • Enhance photos with multiple color adjustment: adjust color levels, exposure, contrast, saturation or manipulate the RGB.
  • Apply filters such as the sharpen or the pencil filter.
  • Crop, straighten and rotate your image.

Qik

Simple LIVE recording and streaming to the web.
Stream live from your iPhone with Ustream Live Broadcaster. I like this better than Qik, but both are solid.

Gorillacam

Features I love about this app: ANTI-SHAKE, SELF-TIMER, TIME-LAPSE, CONTINUOUS RAPID-FIRE, PRESS ANYWHERE, 3-SHOT BURST and GRID OVERLAY. Plus it’s free!

iTimeLapse Pro

Description

iTimeLapse – Create stunning time lapse and stop motion videos straight from your phone!

Finally, you can make and share Time Lapse videos like the pro’s without having to sync to your computer.

It’s so easy, anyone can do it… be an artist!

iTimeLapse allows you to capture a series of images rapidly and then compile them into a video.

iTimeLapse lets you create as many sessions as you want, adding images to them at any time… No need to finish in one sitting.
Then as soon as youre ready, you can compile the images into a video and share it in many ways: YouTube direct upload, Facebook, Vimeo, Email it, Export it to your Camera Roll so it syncs with iPhoto.

OTHER RESOURCES:

iPod and iPhone Recording- GREAT hands-on review with audio examples of some high end recording devices

http://iphonephotographyschool.com/ – The best resource for all things iphone!

5 Essential Tools for the Mobile Journalist Also Mashable has a great mobile/iPhone blog:  http://mashable.com/mobile/iphone/

Poynter.org – News about mobile & its applications & implications for media by Damon Kiesow who also has some very good resource links on his delicious feed: http://delicious.com/dkiesow like: 12 Tips for Improving Camera Phone Photos – Very basic tips for non-photographers

ShowCase: Create a slideshow in the palm of your hand. Demo and Sample

This from their website:

ShowCase: Create a slideshow in the palm of your hand.

Unite imagery and sound with ShowCase; our premier podcasting tool that combine’s still photography with audio. This simple to use smartphone software allows you to capture those newsworthy moments, pair them with narration or music for a compelling story, and share them instantly over WiFi or a cellular connection.

ShowCase slideshows can be created within 30 seconds and posted to podcasts, online newspapers, blogs and social media sites. The option of white labelling ShowCase is available for podcast hosting websites that require a fully customized product.

Whether for an online newspaper, or personal use, ShowCase offers a simple solution for capturing and sharing unforgettable and newsworthy events. ShowCase enables you to post automatically to podcast sites, RSS feeds, itunes, YouTube, or your own website(integrates with Podcast Producer or similar software).

IT’S AS SIMPLE AS 1.2.3.

1.RECORD VeriCorder microphones let you record highfidelity sound on your smartphone using the ShowCase recording software.
2.EDIT Combine multiple audio and image sources with the touch of a finger. Easily drag clips into the desired order, using our patent pending ‘Bungee Block ’ technology.
3.SEND Share your finished slideshow with the world in just seconds by secure FTP over WiFi or cellular network. Upload wirelessly to your PC or Mac or share files instantly with other iPhone or iPod Touch users. Enables you to post automatically to podcast sites, RSS feeds, itunes, YouTube, or your own website (integrates with Podcast Producer or similar software).

Picture 708

My quick and dirty video demo:

The end product:

My thoughts:

Overall this just rocks! I’m sure I’m still excited by the initial novelty that you can shoot/record and create an audio slide show on an iPhone, but I only see this getting more powerful and useful. It’s fairly crude and simple in its final product. But it’s the story that matters, right, not all the flash-bang stuff like the Ken Burn’s effect. PLEASE, DON’T EVER ADD THIS FEATURE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! But some simple transitions like cross dissolve would be nice, oh and if it’s not to much to ask, how about the ability to add text or title cards. I have faith that this company will kick-ass with the development of this app. If you head over to their site, they’ve already cornered the market on multimedia mobile gear and apps. I expect a lot of future announcements from this company. This app gets five-stars in my book and worth every penny of the 7.99 price.

THE GOOD:

The multiple audio layers–notice the soundtrack under my voice in the above example– and the ability to create fades and control the volume is a nice and very useful feature. Very low learning curve. Very intuitive UI.

THE BAD:

Having to register for the manual seems bad, but actually makes sense, they say it’s to send email updates about the app. I buy that. I only mention it here because I was so impressed with this app I had to find something I didn’t like, otherwise it would look like I was just kissing the company’s ass. The truly bad thing is that the iPhone itself is so small, or my fingers are too chubby. Either way trying to produce on such a small form factor can be a bit frustrating. But once the iPad has a camera, then were talking.

The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You: The Art of iPhoneography

The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You

I heard someone say this recently and the voice inside my head yelled, AMEN! Most professional photographers, despite the $5,000 camera hang’n around their neck knows this to be true: Photography is not about the tool, it’s about the photographer. More often than not the camera I have is not actually a camera, but a phone. But I’ll admit using my iPhone more as a camera than a phone. that said, here are a few images I’ve created recently with the iPhone, followed by a list of my favorite apps.

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The above images were taken last week during a quick trip to NYC. The video below, I gave myself 54 Days to shot 54 images on my daily ride on the 54 bus in Oakland. Everything was produced using my iPhone, images, music and titles. I used these iPhone apps: CameraBag, Melodica, Brushes and Banner.

1. TiltshiftGen

Picture 346

This is the 5th release from the ToyCamera series and this software will allow you to create retro miniature pictures.

Originally, it’s published as a free web service and AIR app. Now the awaited iPhone version has finally been released.

By adjusting various parameters, it allows you to apply many ToyCamera effects on your pictures: from miniature pictures to vintage styles images.

It is an indispensable app for all the ones who like fashionable ToyCamera style pictures.

With TiltShiftGenerator you’ll also be able to take a simple photo and adjust the details of each picture taken with camera apps such as my ToyCamera.

2.Lo-Mob

Picture 348

28 effects and variants available : Instant, Instant emulsions, Through the Viewfinder (TTF) experimentation, Medium Format simulation, retro prints, 35mm, Slide… and many more to come!

3.CameraBag

Picture 349

Recreate the Magic of Film

CameraBag recreates the magic of film in a fast, intuitive, minimal interface: choose a photo, choose a filter, and you’re done.

Digital cameras have replaced film for all but the most die-hard photographers, but something was lost in that transition. Before the digital era, a photographer’s choice of camera and film had nearly as much artistic impact as the subject matter. Rediscover the fading, tinting, blurring, chemical processing techniques, and “happy accidents” which gave film photos life.

4.FotoMuse

Picture 350

The newest application out of the studios here is a collaboration between seasoned photographer Kris Gebhardt and the Web Urban team. The result is an application that takes any picture on an iPhone and apply’s Kris’ signature style to it in just a few easy customizable steps. FotoMuse takes its name from Muses in Greek Mythology, defined as the goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation art. We hope that FotoMuse inspires you to make great pictures easily using the iPhone.

5.Vintage Video Maker

Picture 351

Vintage Video Maker will make any of your iPhone videos look like authentic old school movie from the 20’s, or like a groovy home video from the 60’s.

Just take a video from our app (if you own iPhone 3GS) or load one of your videos, and than choose one of three effects:

– 20’s Movie

– Black & White Video

– 60’s Home Video

6.iphoneography.com

Picture 345

Not an app of course but a great site for info and reviews on apps.

7.Quadcam

QuadCam: The 4th release in the series of our ToyCamera, which you can take continuous shooting.

Just pressing a button, it proceeds to take 4-8 serial shoots and create one image. If you like some kind of multi-shoot ToyCamera, this is the one you should buy.

Dirty, Pretty Thing, The Canon 5D MKII and other DSLR Stuff

I love my 5D. I’m a huge fan of the shallow depth of field and low light capabilities. I went to great lengths to get that look with my Canon HD video cameras.

I  use the 5D almost exclusively for freelance/client work. There’s so much out there – good and bad- about  DSLR cams.  I don’t have much to offer, except, some links to those sites and a couple of tips.

Let me start with the Beachtek DXA-5D. This is an essential piece of equipment  to eliminate the Auto Gain Control of the 5D. If anybody knows a better way to eliminate this, do let me know.

I am aware of the Magic Lantern Firmware solution, but I’m still a little scared of this. Again anybody whose done this successfully please do tell.

Anyway, long story short, the DXA-5D introduces a low frequency tone to trick the 5D and despite claims that it can only be heard by Superman, they’re wrong. While I was editing recently, my daughter feel to her knees in pain with her hand over her ears. Mind you, I couldn’t hear it and thought she must be exaggerating, she was not. She is actually still frightened when sit down to edit. But I also– sometimes– hear some unwanted high frequency tones coming the audio recorded with the 5D via the DXA. So, in a effort to save you the time surfing the interwebs, I offer you a solution approved by my daughter with the super human hearing.

First, in FCP you can add an audio filter called AUGraphiEQ, under the Audio Filters menu. After applying the filter. Scroll down and take down the 20000.0 Hz to -20db. I have sometimes needed to apply the filter twice to eliminate the tone completely.  Below is a screen shot of the settings.

file

The second option, I haven’t tried yet, but looks promising.

If you use a Beachtek DXA-5D to capture sound while recording with your 5D, you should take a look at the new droplet my friend Mathieu has created. The droplet convert the file to ProRes HQ and remove the low frequency used to disable the audio gain. Simple, but effective.

Get the droplet here.

Here is another great link about 5D audio:

Canon 5D Audio Exposed from the very useful site canon5dtips.com

Okay, on to another DSLR item that was tough, focusing. I have found more shots in focus and an overall more enjoyable shooting experience with the Hoodman DSLR viewer. The downside to the Hoodman is the crappy wau it attaches to the camera. But, as with everything now-a-days the is an alternative. The folks at IDCPhotography have a solution that I just love, check it out.

There is also another more expensive alternative to the Hoodman, called the Zacuto Z Finder. Haven’t tried this yet.

Okay in wrapping this post up, I wanted to finish up with some places to find  DSLR video inspiration  a set of links to some great DSLR blogs and articles.

INSPIRATION:

DSLRFLIXS

5D Vimeo group1

5D Vimeo group2


Here’s a great link to a very cool video shot on the 5D, it’s called Artic Surf Film Part 1:

I really like this story because it shows how the Canon 5DMrkII totally shifted the world of many photographers. By giving the ability to shoot video with the same gear we use to shoot pictures, it enables photographers to create more and better content. When you look at Yassine editing suite, you have to realize how minimal it is. No Final Cut Pro, no ProRes, no 24p, nothing a pro would use, yet he has created some awesome content.

This is a real example to prove that it is often a better investment to put your money in getting a great subject and location than getting the newest lens…

ARTICLES:

Zach Wise, Lesson Learned

Philip Bloom, The 5D or the 7D?

Recording Sound With The 5D

BLOGS:

Plante5D

TheEOSCARS

Cinema5D

DSLR News Shooter

Canon 5D Tips


Secret to Mastering Final Cut Pro

One of the things that makes video editors stand-out is their speed. Especially when working for news outlets. FCP is the tool of choice for multimedia producers and one of the best investments you can make after dropping your life-savings on the  FCP Studio, is something called a skin. Not only will you grab everybody’s attention with your rainbow colored keyboard, you’ll get a lot faster.  Have a look at some of the skin choices at PhotoJojo.