Monday, July 25, 2016

Why I returned the DJI Osmo

This is sort of a review of the DJI Osmo; as well as my thoughts on the Osmo and how I wished things had worked out. Before I get started, the entry level DJI Osmo retails for $569, that is what I purchased, so that is what I am reviewing. As with my Phantom 4, there are plenty of accessories for the Osmo as well, which will increase the price, some of the accessories are necessary in my opinion but not required, such as extra batteries. This is my experience with the Osmo and why I returned the Osmo after using it for about three weeks.




A bunch of meh’s..

Let me start off with the issues I had with the Osmo that led me to return it, then I will talk about a few of the good things about the Osmo. First things first, the Osmo is sort of clunky to handle, along with being a tad on the heavy side, especially if you are using it with an iPhone 6s Plus or other large smart-phone. What I mean by clunky is if you are using the Osmo but need to set it down it starts beeping because the gimbal I suppose detects that it is not longer free-hanging (for lack of a better term) then when you pick it back up I noticed that it took a minute or so before it would snap back into place, or center itself. If you are in a shooting session, you may not have one or two minutes to wait for the hardware to be ready to go again. Of course not every situation requires me to lay the Osmo down, but this is just something I noticed when I happened to do so. I also noticed that my iPhone screen, while in the DJI Go app would go black for no apparent reason and I would have to wait for the app to relaunch as well. It is very frustrating when this happens, it always seemed to happen in a crucial moment. The screen blacking out might have been an issue with the Go app itself and maybe an update to the app or the firmware of the Osmo will address this?

I noticed several times that the gimbal would just stop working, I am not sure what is going on but the Osmo would just totally ignore any command from the thumb-stick or any action performed on the iPhone in the Go app. More or less the Osmo would become useless. I consistently had issues when using the iPhone as a view finder, the experience is really buggy — a totally different experience of that versus using my iPhone with my Phantom 4. Something else I noticed that seemed to be a major issue; a lot of times my iPhone display would be a second or two behind what I am filming (lag), which can be nerve-racking if you are trying to get a perfect shot but you can’t tell if your shot is framed properly due to the poor performance.

Which leads me to my one of may biggest gripes — I have no idea why DJI decided to connect the Osmo to the iPhone (or smart-phone) over WiFi versus a wired connection of some sort like I do with my Phantom 4. I feel this would have totally made the Osmo a much better experience versus doing everything over WiFi. Not to mention the fact that using the OSMO over WiFi means I have to default to cellular if I want to stream to Periscope or Facebook Live for instance. Heck, as unreliable as it is, I would almost rather connect via Bluetooth just to be able to stay connected to WiFi while using the Osmo. Again, I bring up the Phantom 4, which connects to the remote controller via Lightning cable and works flawlessly. Even the Phantom 4 video feed is sent wirelessly to the remote, but it works perfectly. I don’t think I have ever experienced any sort of feed lag? If I have, I have not noticed it.

Battery life — all I can say; it is not that as great as DJI claims, at least not in my experience. DJI claims about 1-hour and 30-minutes, I am lucky if I get half of that, I’d say about 50 minutes is what I was getting on average. I did not do an actual real-world time test before returning it, but I do know that I was not getting 90 minutes! Personally though, even only getting an hour is more than enough in my opinion for all the Osmo is doing with such a small battery. Just like my Phantom 4, I have purchased several additional batteries, luckily the Osmo batteries are much cheaper @ only $35 each. Even though battery life was not a determining factor in me returning the Osmo, it was another issue that I did have with the Osmo itself.

Shooting in low light is not that great, I didn’t consider this a deal breaker as I mostly shoot in well lit situations, but I feel I should mention this to anyone who is thinking about purchasing the Osmo. When I tested my Osmo in low light, the result was a lot of grain (expected) and I could never get it to focus on my subject in low light, or well lit situations; more on that in a bit. Of course the darks or shadows were way too dark as the Osmo didn’t perform as well as I would have liked. I read a lot of reviews before deciding to purchase the Osmo; so, I decided that low light shooting was something that I didn’t really need to worry about as I mentioned, I rarely shoot in low light.

Focusing is atrocious. It was probably the biggest issue and the deciding factor in me returning my Osmo. If I was just running and gunning, shooting large object that did not require me to focus on, it was fine. When I would try to pin point a subject, move in for a close shot, the Osmo just ignored focusing altogether, which is something that I required for my line of work. Again, this is probably something a firmware update might be able to address; but, it was something that I couldn’t wait for.

I really don’t think I need to mention this as every review you find online is going to say the same exact thing; the built-in microphone SUCKS! What DJI should have done was included the cold shoe for external microphones since the microphone that shipped with the Osmo is such a piece of poop. DJI does sell the quick release cold shoe and a small external Flexi microphone, both are cheap at about $10 each. I still have both pieces, maybe I will give them away to someone who needs them?

Ultimately, the Osmo failed in the 3 situations that I would consider maybe the most important situation in filming:

  1. Focusing - The Osmo just doesn’t focus or at least I found it very difficult to get it to focus on certain subjects when filming.

  2. Framing my shot - Due to issues with with the Osmo connecting to my mobile device, I found it very hard to get my shots in frame. What I mean by that is, with the delay I would sometimes experience, I could not tell if I was getting the shot that I was filming. I could be filming something only to find out later the top half of my subject was cutoff due to not being able to see my subject in real-time. Just to note, this didn’t happen every single time I filmed, but it happened enough that it bothered me.

  3. Audio - The audio is dismal with the Osmo, I purchased several external microphones and it just seemed no matter which microphone I tried there always seemed to be an issue. The fact that DJI shipped the Osmo with such a poor internal microphone is telling that the product might not have been ready for primetime. The audio issues could be solved by recording externally, but I sort of like having an easy, all-in-one solution.

If you can’t focus, if you can’t frame your shot, and if you are constantly having audio issues with your camera, you might as well not even try filming anything.

What I do indeed like..

I know it seemed like there isn’t much to like about the Osmo, but indeed there are. I think first and probably most importantly is the quality of the video output! Most of the videos I shot with the Osmo were fantastic looking, the panning was buttery smooth, the 4K looked fantastic when I uploaded test footage to YouTube and Vimeo.

The gimbal is really steady, even when walking without the Z-axis attachment. You can see a slight amount of bounce but to be honest it feels more natural when shooting certain situations. I would recommend purchasing the Z-axis if you do buy an Osmo — I did not purchase the Z-axis myself; but, I would have if I kept the Osmo. Back to the gimbal, it pans really smooth when using the thumb-stick to the control the camera when panning left to right it and keeping the camera locked onto my subject — I was extremely happy in both situations. North to south or south to north wasn’t as great as side-to-side, but it still looked fantastic when I did test using the Osmo in different shooting situations.

I also think the price is great for what you get, issues aside. For less than $600 you are getting an electronic steady cam with an awesome camera built-in. So if you can overcome some of the faults of the Osmo, then this is a great deal. For my particular needs, I just couldn’t ignore the issues I was having with the camera.

Final Thoughts

There are a ton of reviews on YouTube or online that praise the Osmo. I am not knocking it, I am just writing about the issues I had with mine. Maybe a firmware update will address some of these issues, such as the focusing being poor. I could fix the audio issue by recording externally. Maybe my Osmo was a dud? Maybe I just suck as a videographer?

I have seen plenty of reviews that praise it, but I have also read plenty of reviews that have the same gripes that I had with the Osmo I purchased. Ultimately, the tools we purchase have to work for our needs — if those tools don’t work as we need them to work then we have to find another tool that does. In this case, the Osmo didn’t work the way I needed it to work. I am sure if and when DJI releases a second generation Osmo that a lot of these shortcomings will be addressed. I am huge DJI fan, I own several of their other products and I will continue to be a fan and purchase more of their products in the future!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Audiohand for iPhone and iPad



Audiohand is an excellent, free iOS application that will work on both the iPhone and the iPad. If you are looking for an excellent way to record audio to your iOS device then I highly recommend you checkout Audiohand.

Audiohand works with multiple devices, you can connect more than one iPhone or iPad to the application, simply by selecting ‘Group’ and creating a password protected private connection; you can also create a public connection that will allow anyone with the app to connect to the group without the need for a password. I tested out recording on two separate devices (iPhone 6, iPhone 6s) and it worked flawlessly for me. I have not yet tested the app with an iPhone and an iPad, but I assume it will work the same.


"Creating Hi-Def Audio with Multiple Phones, for Easy & Powerful Multi-Tracking, Anywhere."

Once you are finished recording, Audiohand automatically works its magic and mixes your track, performs noise reductions and polishes your audio track. You do have the option to export an original version as well, if you do not want the mixed version from Audiohand. You can share out your track to places like Twitter, Soundcloud or email it to yourself, as well as share it to other applications on your iPhone or iPad if they are supported or support audio files.



If you are a musician or maybe even a podcaster and you are looking for a beautifully designed application to record audio, and an application that works flawlessly, I highly recommend Audiohand.

Download FREE in the App Store; Audiohand - Audiohand LLC
Download the Audiohand cheat sheet; http://goo.gl/J7zl78.
Visit the developers website; audiohand.com.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Do parabolic signal boosters work?



This is my first test with the Skyreat parabolic signal boosters. Did it help boost my signal any?

I plan on doing 3 or 4 more test with these signal boosters before giving a final verdict on them. Stay tuned. I am not knocking them or disclaiming they don't work, I am just showing my results. Maybe I did something wrong? I understand the trees work as obstacles, that is the purpose of me trying to find something to boost the signal! If you have any opinions of what I could do or try for better results please leave a comment below.

You can purchase these on Amazon for only $19.99: http://amzn.to/294h41p

Check my initial opinion or "un-boxing" of them here; http://www.crizzo.net/2016/06/skyreatparabolicantennaboosters.html

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

SKYREAT Copper Parabolic Antenna Range Booster for Phantom 4



I purchased these parabolic range boosters for my Phantom 4 with the hopes of increasing the connectivity of the Phantom 4 to the remote controller. I live on a mountain in a highly wooded area, so a lot of times when I am flying my Phantom 4 will lose connection to the remote controller for a few seconds. It doesn’t happen every single time, but it happens enough to where I wanted to try something with the hope of addressing this issue. I enjoy live streaming Vermont sunsets to Periscope several times a week, I am also hoping this might improve the signal quality for that as well.



A few tidbits about these — they easily fit on the antennas, you just slide them over the top and they stay pretty snug on them. They do seem to weigh the antennas down a tad, I noticed one of my antenna flopping left and right a tad; but I might just need to tighten them a bit to avoid this. These are ideal when using a smart-phone, when I put my iPad on the controller it seemed to rub against the antenna boosters due to the iPad being more heavy and causing the mount to sit lower to the controller a bit. Yes, I can adjust the mount too, but I like having my iPad sitting at more of an angle when flying. I am not saying they don’t fit with the iPad, I am just saying you will need to make adjustments, possibly.

I know there are ways to mod the remote to greatly improve the signal strength, or you can pay to have someone do that for you. Both those options are much more expensive, although I am sure the results are vastly superior. I decided to try this cheaper route to see if it improves my connectivity any at all. Most of the videos I have watched on YouTube claim these will get you about twice the range, while I am not going for distance, I am just hoping to see a slight improvement.

I also wanted to mention, the Phantom 4 is amazing and when I am in a clear, opened area, I have zero issues with connectivity. I only experience issues when I am flying at home on this glorious mountain I live on! I do plan on doing a second video to report any improvement in using these range boosters, if any at all!

You can purchase these on Amazon for only $19.99: http://amzn.to/294h41p.



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

FM-15 Fleximic and Quick Release 360 Mic Mount for the DJI Osmo



Both are must have items if you are thinking about buying an Osmo. The Fleximic is $10, the 360 mic mount is $9.

I have not yet compared the Fleximic vs other microphones I have for the Osmo, I am still waiting for one more to arrive tomorrow, but I will have that up by this weekend. I will say, if you buy an Osmo, an external microphone is a must if you want to record sound, if you own one you already know the built-in microphone is a turd!

Purchase the Fleximic from DJI.com; FM-15 Flexmic $10
or
On Amazon;
http://amzn.to/29d6irn

Purchase the mic mount from DJI.com; Quick Release 360 Mount $9
or
On Amazon;
http://amzn.to/295RWtQ

The top 5 Google questions about Drones and the FAA ruling



 Drone360mag.com pulled in a list of the top Google questions about the new FAA ruling regarding drone usage and the Part 107. I personally think it is bullshit to have to pay $5 to register a hobbyist drones, but I understand why they are doing so. There are many people who use their Phantom or Parrot drones recklessly, having some sort of regulation to help those understand the dangers that could occur is a good thing I suppose?

I think for this to really reach the masses, the FAA will need to require retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Apple store, etc. require literature be given out with every purchase, then have the manufacturers also include info; both, notices written on the box, as well as informational pamphlets with the laws and regulations on the inside of the box. Most weekend hobbyist are not going to know about these legal requirements, not unless they keep up with the drone hobby itself. How many parents bought their kids drones without a thought in the world of needing a FAA certificate/number to fly it?
"Who can fly 

  • Anyone 16 years old and up 
  • Those who speak, write, and understand the English language 
  • Those in physical and mental condition that does not interfere with safe flight practices 
  • Those who have been vetted by the Transportation Security Administration"

Monday, June 27, 2016

Editors Keys Backlit Keyboard for Final Cut Pro X (video)



The Editors Keys backlit keyboard retails for only $129.99, if you want a great keyboard that also has terrific visual reminders for shortcuts in your most used applications, the Editors Keys keyboard is for you.

The keyboard is not only fantastic with helping editors remember which shortcuts perform which shortcut, but the fact it is also backlit makes buying the Editors Keys backlit keyboard a no-brainer.

Full written review; http://www.crizzo.net/2016/06/editors-keys-keyboard.html

Buy from EditorsKeys.com; https://www.editorskeys.com/products/video-editing-keyboards/final-cut-pro-x-backlit-keyboard/

Buy on Amazon (Free Shipping); http://amzn.to/29exK76

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sample 360º

Currently uploading all this footage to YouTube, etc. for download. #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


You need to use the Chrome browser to view 360º, if you don't have Chrome, you can download it for free here; https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/

How to edit 360º VR video in Final Cut Pro X

I just recently purchased a Theta S (the same camera they are using in part 1), and these videos have been tremendously helpful. 360º video is the future so it is a must to learn everything I can about how to edit this format now so I am not behind when it takes off and goes mainstream, or all videos are in 360º.

I also included some 360º footage below, I uploaded the file to my Google Drive account, feel free to download it and open it up in Final Cut Pro X to play around with it.







The MacBreak Studio in 360º


Download sample footage;
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3UHgmW2d2nSaUtaVE5hdmJDRlk/view?usp=sharing

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Editors Keys backlit keyboard for Final Cut Pro X

Keyboard shortcuts are a tremendous timesaver when working within particular applications, since I work in Final Cut Pro X daily, keyboard shortcuts are a major part of my editing workflow. I also use quite a few other applications that also use keyboard shortcuts, sometimes remembering all those keyboard shortcuts is difficult because there are so many shortcut keys to remember. Having a visual reminder of which key performs whichever action is super helpful — insert the Editors Keys backlit keyboard for Final Cut Pro X. In this review I am going to tell you about some of the design features of this keyboard and the user-experience of the keyboard itself.


Design

The Editor Keys backlit keyboard for Final Cut Pro X is a black, chiclet style keyboard. This particular keyboard includes the numeric keypad on the right side for a total of 109 keys, this keyboard also include F1 - F19 keys across the top of the keyboard. The keyboard is about the same exact height as my Apple wireless keyboard that came with my iMac, but this keyboard is more flat, which is ergonomically better than the raised rear / lowered front of the Apple wireless keyboard. It feels much more comfortable to type on, in my opinion. The actual keys themselves have more of a click-y sound to them, not too click-y but just a tad more than the Apple wireless keyboard. The backlights of the keyboard have four settings; low, medium, high, and off. One of my favorite aspects of the Editors Keys backlit keyboard is that it has four regular sized arrow keys, versus the half-keys on the Apple wireless keyboard. This is a wired keyboard, so it does use one of the precious USB slots on my iMac, but it is not a deal breaker, I usually have one empty slot open at all times anyhow.

The lights are bright enough to clearly see which keys are for whichever shortcuts. Each key is clearly labeled with the corresponding shortcut for each key. Each label is easy to read either in a well-lit room or a darkened room since the keyboard is backlit. The keys are color coordinated to designate which group they belong to; such as the yellow keys, those are your Tools keys: trim, blade, select, hand, etc.

Overall it is an extremely well designed keyboard, made of very high quality materials. Even the packaging of this keyboard was really nice. It was very Apple-esque, which is the gold standard of product design and packaging.


User Experience

I have been using this keyboard nonstop for three days now and probably my favorite key on this keyboard is the Power Button, yes a power button. I can actually turn off my iMac by holding down a button on my keyboard versus having to remember even more keyboard shortcuts and reaching for my mouse, it is like I am using my MacBook and not my iMac. I know, magical right? I can also put my iMac to sleep or even restart it if I do not want to completely turn my iMac off.

All the keys works just as they do on my Apple wireless keyboard, I still have access to the the brightness of my iMac, it is still the F1 and F2 keys. F3 still shows me all my open apps. F7-F9 still allows me to control media in iTunes. F10-F12 still allows me to adjust the volume of my machine. The point I am trying to make is I do not lose any functionality while using this keyboard. It is designed for a Mac. It works right of the box — Editors Keys does suggest to download their Mac app so you don’t lose any functionality you might use that isn’t supported out of the box, but for me it worked flawlessly.

The only thing that was different and I didn’t grasp on how to use out of the box was the brightness of the backlights. I haven’t used this keyboard before so the layout is different from what I am used to using, not much different, but a tad. The FN key is on the right side of the keyboard, next to the Delete key. I am used to the FN key being on my lower left, next to the Control key. So to adjust the brightness you hold the FN key and use the Page Up or Page Down key. There is also an Off button for the backlights, simply press the F6 key.

The only issues I noticed were for the two Control keys, both the left and right side. The gray Control key sort of blends in with the word Control, making it a tad hard to read. I don’t consider this an issue, but it is just something I noticed. The Control keys are gray in color and the lettering is in white, there are other gray keys but the lettering on those keys are in black — in my opinion it would have been better if Control would have been written in black as well. The Control key is the only key I noticed this happening with.

Also, on the Control key, the up arrowhead (⌃) is missing. I don’t consider that an issue either, but I know some Apple nerds may not like that.

Using this in Final Cut Pro X is so much better than using my Apple wireless keyboard, not only for the shortcut reminders or having more keys at my disposal, but also for the keyboard being backlit, which means working in the dark is now more easier than ever. You are also able to re-map the keyboard using the Editors Keys keyboard application, as an example if you want to build additional shortcuts into the numeric keypad instead of the default ‘Apply Keyword Tag’ you have that option as well. I have not yet re-mapped the numeric keypad, but that is something that I plan on doing in the near future. With that said, I cannot comment on how well that works, but I just wanted to mention that the option was there.


Final Thoughts

The Editors Keys backlit keyboard for Final Cut Pro X is an excellent keyboard and is a keyboard I would highly recommend to anyone looking for an editing keyboard to work with for Final Cut Pro X. Editors Keys motto is “Helping you edit faster” and I can honestly say that the statement holds true. Once you get into the habit of using shortcuts you will see a huge difference in your efficiency with your editing workflow. I would also like to mention, even if you are a seasoned veteran at editing in Final Cut Pro X, the shortcut reminders can be super helpful. Also, the fact that this keyboard is backlit, which helps reduce eye strain, that is a huge win. The Editors Keys keyboard feels very similar to an Apple wireless keyboard, so if you are used to that then the transition will be very smooth.

This is a no-brainer, The Editors Keys backlit keyboard is a keyboard you should consider adding to your arsenal for your editing pleasure. I feel this keyboard not only helps train you into remembering which keys activate whichever particular shortcut, but I feel it also helps get you into the habit of actually using them, if you’re not already doing so.

The EditorsKeys backlit keyboard for Final Cut Pro X retails for $129.99. For more information or to purchase this keyboard, please visit the Editors Keys website; https://www.editorskeys.com/products/video-editing-keyboards/final-cut-pro-x-backlit-keyboard/.

I also wanted to mention that Editors Keys also offers video editing keyboards for Adobe Premiere, Avid Media Composer, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro 7, Sony Vegas, and Quantel. They also offer keyboards for audio editing as well as graphic and design keyboards for applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

For more information about Editors Keys or to check out their other products, please visit their website; https://www.editorskeys.com/.

You can follow Editors Keys on the following social media sites;
Twitter : @editorskeys
Facebook : fb.com/editorskeys
Instagram : @editorskeys
YouTube : YouTube.com/editorskeys