Sunday, April 17, 2011

Another day, another video!

OK, got the bit between my teeth now, so another video is produced! As I explained yesterday, I purchased a new point and shoot camera last week (the superb Fuji AV 180, plug it again as I'm really impressed by this camera) now obviously, as I had a new toy, so Mrs RNG must have a new toy also (she bought a Canon SX220, substantially more expensive than my Fuji) to complement her SLR and digital SLR. So, this afternoon, armed with new cameras, we set of for the local beauty spot known as Chew Valley Lake. It really was a gorgeous afternoon here in the South West of England and nature was in full swing making the most of what will probably turn out to be The summer.

Photos and videos where taken, on return to Chateaux RNG, the Fuji AV 180 was plugged straight into the iPad via the camera connection kit, photos and videos downloaded to iPad ready for viewing. One neat trick the Fuji has is the ability to take a 3 shot panorama, it's a bit of a novelty but quite nice and I used this feature to take the opening photo on the first frame in the slideshow (the panorama of the lake).

I made the opening title in iDraw (using the aforementioned panorama) and saved this to photos, them loaded it into PhotoPad to crop it to size and then saved it back to photos.

Once everything was ready, I opened up ReelDirector and began loading in my photos and videos to make the slideshow below. A few pan and zoom effects, altered timings (the default is 4s), closing credits and a soundtrack (apologies for the music, don't have a large selection on the iPad) and we are ready to go. OK, ReelDirector crashed (a sort of half crash, it closes but is still in the app switcher and when you tap it and open up your project, it is saved to the point it crashed. Weird) a few times along the way but no big deal. Video rendered whilst I cooked tea (it does take long time) and then uploaded to YouTube before being embedded into this post.

As I said in a previous post, I'm not the most creative person but I am loving the way the iPad encourages you to do things you wouldn't normally do. It doesn't do anything you couldn't do on a "proper" computer but it does it such a way that it feels way easier. I use Movie Maker a lot at school but it's no where near as nice to use as ReelDirector on the iPad (crashing and all). Throw in the Camera Connection kit/cheap Fuji camera combo with no stupid wizards trying to help and the whole experience is a pleasure. One that can be enjoyed whilst semi-reclining on the sofa watching antiques roadshow (sorry, I'm not even going to try to explain that one to non-UK residents. Just chalk it up as an "English thing").

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, April 16, 2011

iPad does video

I've always fancied producing videos, in fact, the only thing that has really held me back is the lack of ability in creating said media. Now, at school we use Windows Movie Maker a lot for producing videos, or more accurately, slideshows with music, and to be honest, it doesn't do a bad job. However, I have always thought that the iPad would be an ideal tool for making videos, the interface lends itself well to moving things around on screen (like moving clips along a timeline) and the screen is ideal for viewing finished videos. Alas, I have an iPad 1 and it doesn't have any cameras. Also, as we all know, iPad is only good for consumption of media, not for creation.

I had a meeting with a colleague last week who is also looking to use iPads in an educational setting and was a little concerned that all the advice they had been given indicated that iPads where only of use for consumption and that they couldn't be used for any kind of productivity. Luckily, they had read my blog and weren't convinced that the iPad was totally useless. This got me thinking, I wonder if I could create a video on an iPad?

Earlier in the week I bought a new digital camera and a camera connection kit. I had been meaning to do this for a while, I wanted a cheap, point and shot camera that I could carry in my pocket, just in case. Handily, Jessops (a UK camera shop) had a rather nice Fuji AV 180 for sale for £49 so one was purchased. All I needed now was something to photograph/film and an app. The subject was easy enough, Saturday was the day of the Italian Car Show in the centre of Bristol. A little reading around on the Internet saw me purchase Reel Director (£1.49) and we where ready to go.

Photo's where taken, video shot, camera connection kit plugged in, media uploaded and video production commenced. I won't bore you with the details but the finished article was uploaded to YouTube (direct from the app) and the results can be seen below:

OK, not the greatest video but it does give you an idea of what you can produce. Reel Director certainly gives Movie Maker a good run for the money. It might not be as fully featured (although it's not far off) but what it lacks in features, it makes up for in ease of use. It is a little flaky and prone to crashing (just like MM!) but unlike Movie Maker, if it does crash, you don't lose all your work. Rendering can take a while but it will render in the background.

Most of this is academic as if you have an iPad 2, you can purchase iMovie however it is useful to know that the camera connection kit works well and that movies for digital camera's can be loaded onto the iPad (into the Photo's app) and accessed by other apps such as Reel Director. Reel Director is easy to use, allows for titles, transitions, text, and pan and zoom effects as well as trimming and cropping video. It will export to the camera roll or upload straight up to YouTube.

All in all, iPad and Reel Director make a very usable combination and prove once again that iPad is so much more than just a media consumption device. If only Apple had fitted a Floppy Disc Drive!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, April 15, 2011

Testing animoto

Just been checking out the Animoto app, it's free and it makes slide shows.
Gospel Pass Audax (Edited)

Edit: apologies if you've been to this post looking for information on the Animoto app, I threw this post together on Friday and never got around to finishing it off so a few words about Animoto:

Firstly, it's a free app for iPhone/iPod Touch.

It allows you to select up to 16 photos and a piece of music (provided by the app, you can't use your own music) and it will make a slideshow for you.

You can then share your Animoto shows online (via a URL as above, Animoto e-mail you the link when you upload), via Twitter, FaceBook or e-mail.

There is a free web service Animoto that allows you to do similar, but more featured, shows online.

The app doesn't load up your shows to your online account, which is a shame as it does download shows from your online account.

It's free and it's quite a nice app and the online service is really good.

You are limited to 30 second shows in the free app/account

The photo's where taken on my iPhone on this years Gospel Pass 150 km Audax.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 11, 2011

iPad Handwriting Recognition

Not quite sure how the idea popped into my head but it did. One minute I'm watching one of those dreadful video game to film adaptations, the next I'm searching for handwriting recognition for iOS on Google. Anyway, I'm glad I did as I came across a superb little app called WritePad.

On the face of it, the app is very simple, you write on the screen and it converts your handwriting into typed text, simple.

However, delve a little deeper and you find a much more useful app than that of a simple writing to text convertor. Tap and hold and you can either select text (you tap select, then tap and drag to actually select the text you want) or tap select all to, well, select all. You can then copy and past the text into another app such as Pages. Nice, but it gets better. Tap the share button and you can print, save to PDF, share on Twitter, Facebook or by WiFi or send your converted handwriting text to an e-mail

Sending to and Email will open up an Email window with your text in the body

Brilliant if your taking notes in a meeting and want to say Email out minutes.

Now, at £5.99, this app may seem a little expensive but if you, like myself, spend a lot of time in meetings, it will soon pay for itself in time saved.

There are a lot of negative reviews on the app store but please ignore them, the reviewers either have dreadful handwriting (and it must be as it easily recognised my scrawl) or are frustrated Windows 7 tablet users! It is a good app, it does take a second or so to convert your writing but it is accurate and reasonably quick. Those of you who owned a Palm may well find some of the gestures familiar as they are the old graffiti gestures.

All in all, a great app that complements the iPad Touch interface really well, especially if you use a stylus (another big plug for the Boxwave stylus here).

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, it saves/syncs directly to DropBox, what more could you want?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Control your Mac from an iPad

Oh, very interesting, a screenshot of a Word Document running on Mac OS X. Except of course, it isn't, this is an iOS blog and a boring old Word Document wouldn't cut it with my high production standards! What you see here is a Word Document, running on iOS, being edited on an iPad. If that looks interesting, then read on.

Sometimes, I just want to do a quick bit of editing on a document that lives on my iMac, or I want to edit a document but don't want to mess around transferring files and losing formatting (as sometimes happens with Word to Pages and back again) or I what to view a site that uses Flash or Silverlight or some other web "standard" not supported by iOS.

I looked around at various Virtual Network Clients (VNC,s) such as Log Me In Ignition, Back to My PC and NTR Connect but wasn't too impressed. They seemed slow and a bit unpredictable. A chance miss-typing into YouTube brought me into contact with iTap, a superb VNC for iOS devices. It allows you to connect over the same network or, possibly (with a bit of network magic and port forwarding) over a remote network to yourMac (or PC using the Windows version) and control the machine straight from your iOS device. Obviously, the the iPad is the device of choice here due to the larger screen.

The makers of iTap have thought long and hard about using a touch screen device, there is no mouse cursor, instead, you tap and zoom to where you wish to go on screen, then double tap to execute the command.

A swipe left brings up the keyboard which is a full keyboard, including useful additions like the arrow navigation keys.

Pinch to zoom, portrait or landscape via rotating the device, right swipe to bring up the log-in screen.

A great little app, it costs £6.99 but is well worth it if you regularly want to connect to a desktop machine without leaving the comfort of your sofa. More information can be found at iTap mobile! They also do Android apps as well.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad