Video Editing Software

admin —  July 28, 2009 — Leave a comment

Josh, over at MoreThanDodgeBall.com had a great basic rundown on video editing software.

iLife ’09 ($59 or free with a new Mac)
Mac only … and super easy to use. While it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of higher end software, it can get a decent movie made in with a short learning curve. Good for beginners and Mac enthusiasts. B

Final Cut Express 4 ($150)
Also Mac only … and easily the best of the bunch – but it’ll take you a while to even figure it out, much less master it. This is the software the big boys use, and it is ultra powerful – higher versions of the suite can go for up to $999. You can pretty much produce feature quality shots and effects with this guy. If you take the time to learn it, you’ll make great videos – this is what several people on our team use regularly and the bar to shoot for. A

Sony Movie Studio HD ($75)
This is the program I use personally – it is an awesome PC application that chews through HD footage no problem. The price is right and the performance is incredible. You can make slide shows in seconds, drop in transitions and split/cut/splice massive pieces of footage in seconds. Simple to learn, and has lots of options to make a highly polished final product.  A

Windows Movie Maker (Free with Windows)
This one comes free with your Windows PC, and while it has gotten far better than earlier versions, it still takes up the rear. While it is free, the end product isn’t great and there are all sorts of limits to what you can produce. Still though, for the budget conscious, this is a place to get started. C+

(I’ve updated Josh’s prices to reflect Amazon’s current prices)

I agree with his assessments, although a C+ for Movie Maker may be generous.  I myself do most of my editing in iMovie.  It’s super quick and easy.  It lacks some of the bells and whistles of Final Cut Express, but gets the job done.  I would rate it a B+ or A-.  I would love to learn Final Cut, but I think I need to buy a book or something because the few times I’ve tried it I haven’t been able to accomplish much.

One that he left out that I think deserves mention is Adobe Premiere Elements ($50).  Much like Final Cut Express it’s not the professional level like it’s big brother Premier, but is a great option for PC users that need more than Windows Movie Maker, but still don’t want to spend $1000 on software.

Books Your Students Will Actually Read Bundle
I just wanted to point out a great bundle that’s available over on SimplyYouthMinistry.com right now:
Books Your Students Will Actually Read Bundle
.  It’s a great collection of books for students at a really low price: $25.

Here’s what’s included:

  • One Minute Bible for Students
    The One Minute Bible for Students won’t replace your Bible. It will inspire you to take side trips into your Bible to see what came before and what comes after the passage you just read. These bite-size servings of Scripture are sure to increase your appetite for God’s Word.
  • Stripped Clean
    Give your teenagers a guilt-free, up-close look at materialism–one that strips away the overwhelming messages of a consumer society. You’ll see authentic changes in readers as they tear out pages to use in Jesus-centered activities.
  • 10 Minute Moments – God’s Story
    Each edition works like a daily journal with 31 relevant devotionals that only take about 10 minutes to complete. Students will read a Bible passage, get some questions to chew on, some suggestions to help them pray, and then space to reflect. It’s easy to read and easy to stick with. This edition is focused on God’s story—who He is, what He has done for us, and how we can live a life that brings Him glory. It’s got great lessons for new Christians as well as students who have “grown up in the church”. Use them as part of a small group or retreat emphasis on daily devotions, graduation gifts, birthday gifts, or just have them available to students.
  • 10 Minute Moments – Plugged In
    10-Minute Moments: Plugged In is a daily devotional that’s set up as a journal. Students read a Bible passage, poke their brain with a few questions, get some suggestions on what to pray about, and then space to write down their thoughts. It’s a one-month plan that’s easy to read and easy to stick with. And, if you hadn’t guessed from the title, each “lesson” only takes about 10 minutes. This time around, they’ll tackle the five biblical purposes of our lives—Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Evangelism. Keep ‘em on hand for new students, pass ‘em out as graduation gifts, or just hide them in their backpacks. You can’t lose!
  • 99 Thoughts about Guys – For Girls’ Eyes Only
    In some ways, a guy’s mind seems incredible simple. So why are dudes always so confounding, especially to girls? Luckily, youth pastor extraordinaire Kurt Johnston has spent decades figuring out the brains of teenage boys—including his own noggin. And with some extra insights from fellow youth worker Katie Edwards, they’ve crafted a humorous, yet incredibly helpful, handbook on unwrapping the male brain. While written with girls as an audience, this book also fills a much needed hole in any youth worker’s bookshelf or parent’s reading list.
  • 99 Thoughts about Girls – For Guys’ Eyes Only
    While this book doesn’t claim to unlock the deep, unfathomable mysteries of the female mind, it will give tons of helpful insights into what makes teenage girls tick. And who better to lead you on this adventure than Katie Edwards, a teenage girl herself once, and now a youth worker with tons of girl-brain-decoding experience. Her trusty sidekick on this expedition is Kurt Johnston, whose sidebars chime in with extra info. With short, easy to digest essays on a variety of topics, it’s perfect for teenage guys trying to figure out that special girl (or the girl they wish was that special girl), youth workers and parents alike.
  • 99 Thoughts for College-Age People
    The transition from high school to college is usually the most dramatic in young people’s lives. In this humorous and thought-provoking resource, Chuck Bomar offers up pearls of wisdom gained over years of personal and professional experience. It’s great as a graduation gift, as a college freshman small group discussion starter, or as any number of other uses. However you put it to work, you’ll be sure to save some young adults some pain, money, and from foot fungus.

At $25 it’s %50 off.  It’s worth checking out.
Books Your Students Will Actually Read Bundle

I finally received my invite from Google for the Google Voice service, and like a huge retreat coming down to the wire, it is getting me excited and frustrated all at the same time.

The exciting part revolves around the concept that you can have one local phone number that forwards to other numbers based on who is calling and will text message you a “preview” of the content of the voicemail that is left if no one answers.

I think that the texting feature is by far the most interesting. When I tested it, it did not do perfectly, but got the job done. I left the message: “Hi, this is a test message testing the text feature on the google voice service. I received back via text message, “hi this is a test message testing the text to make sure on the google voice servers.” Pretty good, and I didn’t have to click through and listen to find out what the person wanted.

The other great feature is the one that has gotten a bit frustrating in the initial setup.  The basic idea is that you can set up several forwarding phone numbers (home, cell, office, your senior pastor’s direct line… whatever), and google will ring one or more of them depending on the assigned group of the person who is calling.  Sounds easy, and it probably is if you have already been using google contacts as your primary address book.

If you are like me and have a gmail account but use something else as your primary address book, you will have some problems.  First, if you have had a gmail account you will have a ton of contacts that have no name… just an e-mail address.  These will be everything from amazon support to some random applicant for a job you corresponded with twice two years go.  Second, if you choose to sync via an exported .csv or by checking the schnazzy box in Apple’s Address Book, you will have MANY duplicate contacts.  The real problem with all of this is that the contacts area has no advanced search feature.  You cant just find duplicates, or those people with just e-mail addresses.  What you’ll have to end up doing is manually scrolling down the list and either adding the missing informtion, deleting them, or merging them.  One word: hassle.

Once you’ve got the contacts all nice and clean setting up groups is easy and you are off to the races.  Now the sixth grader who just got their first cell phone and has two numbers, yours and their mom’s, will go to voicemail 20 times a day and you’ll get 19 preview texts of “what’s up… just bored… call me” and no interruptions in the meeting with the senior pastor about getting the thousands of flecks of neon spray paint off the gym floor. On top of that, you can have it ring your home, office and cell all at the same time (not in succession like many forwarding services) when your baby is due any day now and save your wife the tracking down of her too busy youth pastor husband.

Another interesting feature is called ListenIn.  It allows you to listen in on the message someone is leaving and jump in by pressing star as if you were screening calls on an answering machine.

This has tons more features including conference calling, recording phone calls, temporary forwarding, and much more.  for an explanation of all their features you can click here to see their help page on the subject.

Overall, I think this is a great product, and if I have gotten an invite they are sure to open it up soon to the whole world.  To request your invite, click here and fill out the form.

Twitter Will Kill You

admin —  July 13, 2009 — Leave a comment

Working on some new stuff, but in the mean time enjoy this awesome video. I love these guys.

Office on the iPhone

admin —  July 6, 2009 — Leave a comment

dataviz

I love my iPhone, it’s a great tool.  Often times it feels like more than a phone, but a small computer.  One thing that has held it back from really being a netbook competitor for me is the lack of document support.  Sure you can view certain documents if they have been emailed to you, but just created or accessing document hasn’t been easy.  Enter Documents to Go.  This great piece of software not only allows you to view and edit word documents sent to you, but you can also create word documents.  Support for editing Excel docs is coming soon.  Now you can work on all those youth talks on the go.

It comes it two versions one that syncs with Microsoft Exchange and one that doesn’t.  If you don’t have an exchange server at the office, or don’t want direct access to your email attachments through exchange go for the cheaper non-exchange version.  If you have an exchange server I think it’s worth the extra to get the Exchange integration.

Exchange version: Documents To Go® with Exchange Attachments (Microsoft Word editing, Exchange attachments & Desktop sync)

Non-Exchange Version: Documents To Go® (Microsoft Word editing & Desktop sync)

crazy-love

I saw this from a number of twitter folks today (@jimclark I think you were the first), but the site ChristianAudio.com is giving away the Fancis Chan audio book “Crazy Love“.  I read it, and it’s great.  I can’t wait to listen to it as well.  Here’s a quote:

“Sometimes I feel like when I make decisions that are remotely biblical, people who call themselves Christians are the first to criticize and say I’m crazy, that I’m taking the Bible too literally, or that I’m not thinking about my family’s well-being. . . When people gladly sacrifice their time or comfort or home, it is obvious that they trust in the promises of God. Why is it that the story of someone who has actually done what Jesus commands resonates deeply with us, but we then assume we could never do anything so radical or intense? Or why do we call it radical when, to Jesus, it is simply the way it is? The way it should be?”

It looks like it will be available all month.

Link: ChristianAudio.com Free Download

New Site: Gdgt.com

admin —  July 2, 2009 — Leave a comment

I don’t know about you, but I love gadgets.  And a great new site launched this week just for all of us who share that love of shiny, electronic toys.  It’s from Peter Rojas and Ryan Block, two of the masterminds behind engadget and gizmodo, so they know something about gadgets.  It’s called Gdgt.com (it’s pronounced g-d-g-t), and it’s setup as community site for people to share about their gadgets or research about new ones.

Here’s a video they put together to help explain the site:

So, what is gdgt? from gdgt on Vimeo.

This may not be a place to read about news (although they had a pretty good news feed) , but it’s a great place to read about what others experiences have been.  And if you really want the news, they have a great podcast also that I really enjoy.  It’s worth checking out (click the iTunes link to visit):  gdgt.com - gdgt weekly - gdgt weekly.

Live Streaming

admin —  July 1, 2009 — Leave a comment

I got a question the other day about how to live stream an event.  This person had a great idea, they wanted to live stream some of the chapel times at camp for the parents back home so they could feel a part of what was going on.  I thought it was a great application for this technology.  A few years ago offering a stream of a live event on the Internet would have cost a small fortune and required a truck load of equipment.  Today it’s surprisingly easy and inexpensive.  Here’s a quick tutorial of how to do it.

Equipment you’ll need: A computer (preferably a laptop if you’re on the road), internet connection, video camera

Optional: Microphone (although this really shouldn’t be)

How to do it:

  1. You’ll need an account at one of the streaming services.  They are a bunch of them, and most of them offer a free level that ad supported.  I use Ustream.tv, and have been really happy with it.  I use it to stream the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast and have also used it to stream sessions at the National Youth Ministry Conference.  There’s newer service called, LiveStream.com that looks really good also that I’ve been tempted to try out.  Stickam.com is another option for you.
  2. Once you have you’re account setup, plug in your camera.  This might be a simple as a webcam (this is a good one), a home video camera, or a big professional rig.  One warning is the better your camera, the better your computer needs to be to keep up with the video stream.  As a point of reference, my 2 year old MacBook Pro can’t keep up with an HD signal, but most of the free services won’t allow an HD stream anyway.  So a nice Standard Def stream is probably your best bet.  Another thing to watch out for is some of the services will only accept 4 x 3 screen ratios, so if you’re camera is normally letterbox you may need to if you can change it in your settings menu.  This is also where if you have a microphone you’ll want to plug it in.  You may find what you are doing the built in microphone in your camera is just fine, but usually most people want something a little better.  There are some great external mics that you may want to get to connect directly to your camera.  Or you might want to get the audio directly into your computer.  If it’s a small area you are filming in,  a nice USB mic to may work well.  I use a Snowball from Blue it works well and is a great omnidirectional option if you have a group of people.  If you have a traditional XLR mic you’d like to use you can get a XLR to USB setup. If you have a little more of a production you working with you may want to take a line out of the sound board and into your camera.
  3. Once you have the video and sound set, you’ll want to press the broadcast now button available once your logged into your streaming service.  It will ask what audio and video source to use, and pick the appropriate one for your setup.  In ustream once you press the broadcast now it actaully doesn’t directly start broadcasting, but pulls up the control panel.  Here you can test your settings before pushing your stream live.  When your ready you can push it live, and even record the stream if you want to.
  4. Once you begin your broadcast, the last step is getting people to watch.  The easiest way is to embed the video on your own site and directing people there to watch.  You can also direct people to the show page for the streaming service you’re using.

Remember that one of the bonuses of streaming is that people are limited to just watching, you can also have a chat room with the video so people watching can comment and interact with what they are watching.  I find this to be one of the best parts of live streaming an event.  It’s amazing the engagement people can have while watch a video.  It’s a great way to interact and build community with those that can’t be at the event live.  If you have an extra person helping you out, I recommend assigning someone whose job is to monitor and interact with the chat.  Not only can they act as moderator, but they can also help the chatters feel a part of what’s happening in real time.

There’s a lot of great uses for this technology.  I already mentioned the idea of doing this from camp, but you could also do any event.

What ideas do you have for live streaming?

This is not the first time we have talked about this subject.  Brandon wrote an excellent article on it.  There are several tools, but none quite as easy as pwnyoutube.com.  It does not require you to download any software or even copy a url.  Simply add “pwn” before “youtube.com” in the url of the youtube video you are viewing and that takes you to a pwnyoutube site where you can right click and “save target as” for the .flv file and even the higher quality .mp4 file where available.

If you are looking for a good video illustration to use in an upcoming talk, try this blast from the past:

Consume Me (DC Talk)

photo
Well, I’ve been using the new iPhone 3.0 software for almost 12 hours now.  Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • Search:  I think the way they implemented this by having it be to the left of the main screen is interesting.  Although I found myself swiping into it accidentally often.  I hope I get used to it being there.  It’s is a great program launcher though.  I have about 7 screens of apps, and it can be difficult to find certain ones.  Now with the search and few letters into the spotlight search, and up it comes.  It was also great finding things in email.  I really like how they used icons next to the results, it makes it easy to identify what each result is.
  • iPod Features:  I wasn’t ready for the first time i opened my music library and it needed to update.  I had to cruise down the road for a few miles before I was able to fire up my tunes.  So you may want to open up your library right away just so it can update.  I listen to alot of podcasts, and there are a few new settings.  Now under to time bar there are 3 new buttons.  One allows you to send a link to the podcast to a friend.  Nice for those of us who create podcasts.  Two allows you to jump the podcast back 30 seconds incase you missed something.  And three allows you to change the speed of playback.
  • Cut and Paste: This one is so big.  I can’t believe it took so long to get this.  The implementation works well, exactly how I would expect it.  And it works in so many places.  It was supper easy to move text from a web page to an email, or a web address into a note.  I love it.  This makes the whole device so much more useable.
  • General Impressions: My iPhone 3G feels a little snappier.  The transitions from screen to screen definitely seems smoother.  Overall not huge impact on performance, but it just seems a little tighter. 

Here’s some thoughts from one of my favorite Tech Pundits: 10 nifty things about iPhone OS 3.0.   

How was your first day with it?  What’s your favorite new feature?