Technologizer posts about video cameras

Cisco Axes Flip, Decides That ūmi Isn’t a Consumer Product

By  |  Posted at 8:43 am on Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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Wow. Networking kingpin Cisco, which had been making a major push into the home in recent years, has announced that it’s dramatically scaling back its consumer efforts. It’s shutting down its Flip camcorder group altogether, shifting the emphasis of its ūmi TV telepresence system (announced just six months ago) from the living room to business use, and refocusing its home networking business “for greater profitability and connection to the company’s core networking infrastructure as the network expands into a video platform in the home.” (I assume that means that it’ll concentrate its Linksys line on bread-and-butter products such as routers, rather than the media streamers and other consumer-electronics gear it’s sometimes experimented with.)
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The New Flip (Bonus Question: Does the Flip Have a Future?)

By  |  Posted at 1:02 pm on Wednesday, October 14, 2009

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Flip Mino HDA new high-end $229.99 version of the Flip MinoHD pocket camcorder is out–it’s got 8GB of memory (up from 4GB), a bigger screen and an HDMI port. It’s also got a new aluminum case which the Flip folks say makes this “the world’s sleekest HD camcorder” and which Gizmodo raves over–although oddly enough, the official specs seem to say that the new version is a tad chunkier than the old one. (The marketing materials refer to “soft, rounded edges”–maybe they give the new Mino, which I haven’t seen in person, a svelter feel than its predecessor.)

The new Mino sounds cool, and  the whole Flip line’s image quality for the price, industrial design, clever features (like the pop-out USB connector), and general commitment to usability are commendable. You gotta think that the clock is ticking on the whole product category, though–between phones with video camera capability and ever-better video from still cameras and video built into still other devices, the world isn’t going to need dedicated low-end video cameras forever. I don’t expect Flips to go away immediately–for one thing, even the standard definition ones have much better image quality than my iPhone 3GS–but I’d love to know what Cisco has in the works that might make the $590 million it spent to buy the Flip into a smart investment rather than the technological equivalent of buying a gallon of milk even though its expiration date is about to come.



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iPods With Video Cameras? Sure. iPods With Projectors? I’m Skeptical.

By  |  Posted at 10:27 am on Monday, July 6, 2009

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iPod CameraJudging the accuracy of Apple rumors may not be a cakewalk, but one technique is surprisingly effective and obvious: Ask yourself if past Apple history suggests that a rumor sounds like something the company would do. By that measure, the current rumors about iPod Touch and Nano models with built-in video cameras sounds entirely plausible. The iPhone 3GS‘s camera shows Apple has invested in video-recording hardware and software. It’s gradually been turning every iPod except for the screenless Shuffle into a video device. And given that a high percentage of people who want iPods own them by now, Apple could use a strikingly new feature with wide appeal to tempt them to upgrade.

On the other hand, I’d be surprised if concurrent rumors about Apple getting ready to build projectors into iPhones and iPods are the real deal. Projectors may be getting tinier, but they aren’t yet teensy enough to cram into a phone or MP3 player that’s as thin as the ones Apple likes to make. And how often would a real person want to project an image from an iPhone or iPod in the real world? Not all that often, surely. Apple history shows that it’s not all that interested in adding exotic features that won’t be used much, and is almost never the first company to embrace a new technology. (It tends to cheerfully sit on the sidelines while other companies make bleeding-edge products that are noble in their ambitions but frustrating in practice.)

I’m not saying that there will never be Apple handheld devices with built-in projectors, but I don’t think we’re a couple of months away from seeing them. And a couple of months from now is almost certainly when Apple will announce its new lineup of iPods. Any guesses (or wishes) about what the Fall 2009 lineup of iPods will involve?



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How to Produce Great Web Video in a Whole Lot Less Time

By  |  Posted at 10:38 am on Friday, December 5, 2008

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[David Spark (@dspark) is a veteran tech journalist and the founder of Spark Media Solutions, a storytelling production company that specializes in live event production. He also blogs and does a daily radio report for Green 960 in San Francisco at Spark Minute.]

speedvideoTen years ago when I worked at ZDTV (later to become TechTV) I made all the mistakes a first time producer can make in video production. I shot too much video. I didn’t set up a shoot schedule. I didn’t have an outline of what I wanted. And I ended up reshooting projects because I didn’t plan correctly.

Video production can be insanely time-consuming. Some of that is just a result of rookie mistakes made early on, but many production processes are simply unavoidable. Even though everyone has adopted non-linear video editing, watching video must be done linearly. A good producer can reduce time considerably if they plan better and learn how to more efficiently work their equipment. But even when you cut out all the fat, you still end up with the realization that  video production is slow.

About four years ago, at CES in Las Vegas, I started to see a new crop of software and devices specifically targeted at reducing the time it takes to produce a video. No single product or technology has shown itself to be the panacea for speedy video production, but when you use these tools and tricks in aggregate they can save you an enormous amount of time. Here are some suggestions that everyone can use. These tips are not just for professionals, but anyone looking to cut down the time it takes to produce video. I know I’ve left a lot out, so I look forward to you adding some of your own recommendations in the comments.

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