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January 22, 2013

How to archive your digital photos, videos, documents, etc.

After a costly hard drive failure a while back, I learned an important lesson on how to archive important files for the future. After working at NASA, I knew that redundancy is key to a safe archive, but how much redundancy is needed? While the cost of large, 1TB+ hard drives are coming down in price, they are much more prone to failure according to the fine folks at DriveSavers. Their recommendation is to use smaller drives such as 750gb or lower. This presents a conundrum for small business owners, tape-less production houses or anybody handling large amounts of data. Spend a pretty penny on large capacity server systems or have a library full of smaller, more stable backup drives? Well there are actually more options than you think. Here are a few suggestions to get you started thinking about your solution. (FYI: JBK Productions is not paid or sponsored by any of the links in this article. They are just personal recommendations)

Redundancy is key to a safe archive

 

Local server

Servers, in my humble opinion, are the ultimate solution if you have a large amount of data that you want to have access to most anywhere. These systems are stationary, however, you can configure them to be accessed remotely as long as your have a network connection. This works great especially for photographers that want to archive their photos and host customer galleries, businesses that want their employees to be able to access files on the road and production houses that want the best security while editing large projects. However, these systems are costly and do require maintenance. The guys over at ImprovePhotography.com recommend the NetGear ReadyNAS server for their backup and hosting.

 [Servers]are the ultimate solution…

 

Dual drive RAID systems

As an affordable alternative to a server, dual drive RAID external hard drives are one of my favorite options for a couple reasons. 1.) If set to a RAID 1 mirror, your information is written to both drives equally so that if one drive goes down, it is safely stored on the other. 2.) They are portable! That means that I can safely edit while on the road, take a project to clients’ editing suite or bring a project home with me to finish. There are many brands to choose from, however after reading reviews on CreativeCow and discussing with colleagues, my choice was the G-Tech G-RAID. For more information on how to choose one for your system, check out the video below from CreativePlanetNetwork.

Cloud & data managing services

If you have a company or individual that doesn’t have terabytes of information and you want to leave the system maintenance to someone else, there are plenty of companies out there that offer cloud networking and data management services on a subscription basis. One of the most popular is from Carbonite.com. Personally, I have not used these services other than from Apple and Amazon so do your research before you buy. Typically, the larger space you need, the higher the cost.

Conclusion

I hope this helps you start to consider the best archive for you. This article is just a stepping off point and you should always consult with your IT professional before deciding on any solution. Your final archiving system may have combinations of these or other systems such as LTO tapes.

Hammer hitting an external hard drive

 

July 30, 2012

How To Integrate Social Media Into Your Business Plan

With my clients, I always try to explain the importance of establishing a solid web presence and how interacting with their target audience will help grow their business. However, most of the time they will start off with good intentions, setting up accounts and maybe even posting a few blogs, but sooner or later, they start to disengage and let their presence go stale.

So while skimming a few of my favorite blogs, I came across this article from Social Media Examiner that gives some tips on how to set yourself up for social media success!

 

 

June 22, 2012

Top 5 Pros & Cons of HDSLR Video: Video Camera vs. HDSLR

I think a great misconception concerning today’s video advancements in DSLR cameras is that they replace video camcorders spec for spec. This misconception leads to one of the most common complaints I hear from clients and fellow industry people, “Why doesn’t it __(insert feature)__ like my camcorder use to?” The answer is simple: it’s not a video camera.

With many indie filmmakers, small production houses and people wanting an all-in-one solution snapping these cameras up like candy, the limitations of these cameras are becoming very apparent with their limited record times, non-servo driven lenses, jerky auto-focusing (if offered), etc. While camera makers are trying to address these limitations, some are actually inherent to the system. I believe the best way to correct this misconception is to not think of DSLRs as the replacement for video cameras but as an inexpensive solution to cinematic film cameras.

Sure it can fly…but does it still get great gas mileage?
BigWarpGuy – SmartCar of America

Here are a few pros and cons that I’ve experienced and have heard from others:

Top Five Pros & Cons of HDSLR Video

Pros

  1. High ISOs – Camera makers have done a brilliant job making sensors that can produce stunning images even in low-light settings.
  2. Depth of Field– I believe the main reason filmmakers have embraced HDSLRs is that it allows them to get soft, shallow depth of field that they use to only get with cinema cameras without the price tag, of course.
  3. Easily Interchangeable Lens – This applies more to videographers than DPs. With professional video cameras, you would have to detach the matte box, disconnect the servo, detach the lens, attach the new lens, check back focusing…it was a pain in the neck. Most professional cameras just have an all-in-one zoom range and you very rarely change it. However, the option to change the lens easily to get a desired look is a major plus in my book.
  4. Variety of Lenses – Along the same line as the previous benefit, HDSLR can take advantage of a whole array of lenses. Everything from premium Zeiss or Canon L glass to experimental Lensbaby or pin-hole.    7D Pinhole Video Camera. No Lens! from Erin Henning on Vimeo.
  5. Versatility – I think this is the most obvious one that people consider when they look at these cameras. It does both high-definition video and takes stunning stills. How could you go wrong…

Cons

  1. No Servo Zooming – Ever seen that slow, controlled zoom during concert films or sporting events. How about that disorienting vertigo shot in all the horror movies. Well a photography lens is not constructed the same way as a video lens is, which makes back-focusing and servo zooming unavailable if not impossible.
  2. Auto-Focus – This is one issue that camera makers are really trying to fix. Canon recently came out with their STM feature which is suppose to provide “smooth and quiet continuous AF while capturing video”. I definitely can’t wait to try this out!
  3. External Audio Pickup – If you have shot HDSLR video before, you probably have noticed the audio being garbled, over-driven or picks up every little hum or adjustment the camera makes. Some cameras allow for an external mic to be plugged into the body, however, this is an unbalanced connection and doesn’t provide the best quality audio. Many people use external audio recorders such as the Zoom h4n or mixers such as the Azden FMX-DSLR to recorder professional quality audio.
  4. Ergonomics – I don’t think this one is as apparent to people until they start shooting. Video cameras are designed and balanced for maximum stability and easy adjustment while shooting. HDSLR are made for photographers using the viewfinder and not the LCD display. Controls, buttons, switches are all located differently in each system for their primary function. Which leads to my next point…
  5. HDSLR Rigs – I don’t think most people factor in the cost of a HDSLR video rig when purchasing their camera. Also, they may not think that the video will be so shaky when they try to hand hold it. However, unless you are a person that loves to spend time with After Effects motion tracker, I highly recommend getting a good, solid video rig.

And with all these extra accessories, you have now come to the same cost as a video camera. However, in comparison to a cinema camera such as a RED or an ARRI, you haven’t even made the deposit. So for the independent filmmaker looking to get the cinema-look without the big Hollywood budget, HDSLRs are a fantastic choice. Just be sure you know that an HDSLR is not a video camera.

 

February 6, 2012

How to prevent taking a blurry picture

While working at “Shall Not Be Named” camera store, the number one complaint I received from customers was that their camera took “blurry” pictures. Often enough, it’s because they were indoors in low light settings. Perhaps this has happened to you too. Here are some tips on how to stop getting those blurry pictures.

1. Be sensitive to it’s needs. If your having issues with blurry picture, it is because your camera is having to allow the sensor more time to record the light that’s available. In order to reduce this time, you can open up the aperture all the way to allow more light in, however, most consumer cameras don’t allow you to adjust this. So what do you do? Most consumer camera allow you to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor, a.k.a. ISO, in the camera’s menu. Just bump up the ISO to 1600+ for most indoor lighting. Now this will cause noise in your photo, but you can get rid of that with some photo editing software. A grainy, sharp picture is better than a blurry, dark picture any day.

2. Be still. Another reason people get blurry photographs is because, as the picture is being taken, the photographer’s arms and hands are shaking. To fix this issue, hold the camera closer to your body with your arms tucked in, breath in and take the picture at the top of your breath.

3. Try Night Portrait mode. Almost all consumer level cameras have some sort of night mode built in. This feature forces the camera to bump up the ISO (sensitivity), widen the aperture and increase the shutter speed.

4. If all else fails, use a tripod. Tripods are a great and sure fire way to get a steady shot. Tripods range in size, sturdiness and price. Finding on that fits your needs and budget will help you get the pictures you want, plus, you’ll be able to get in the photograph as well!

I hope this improves your photos. All cameras work the same way and knowing how to manipulate your camera and use proper techniques well improve your photography dramatically. Just by adjusting the ISO, steadying yourself and using tripod, you will be able to get better low-light photographs and stop blaming the camera.