The Iphone 7 has Raw support and is waterproof

The Iphone 7 has RAW support. This will allow people to take mediocre quality images and re-work them in post production. This is an interesting development because in theory you no longer need to get dedicated hardware capable of shooting raw. This is good for covering events when you do not want to carry a DSLR or compact camera. This could include via ferrata, a night out or a trail journey where weight reduction is key.

if you’re going to shoot RAW then I would strongly recommend getting the highest capacity iphone possible. It has 256 gigabytes of storage and will allow you to take at least a hundred pictures before offloading them to an external hard drive or storage solution. Ideally you would want the iphone to be like most android phones. SDHC card support is useful because you can easily buy these cards and increase your phone’s memory capacity. With the latest devices you can use SDHC cards with a capacity up to 200 gigabytes. The cost of these cards is decreasing. I like being able to take images with a mobile phone, ejecting the card and downloading to the computer in an instant. If you’re travelling you can walk around with terabytes of storage, if you’re that way inclined.

Samsung, Sony and other brands have recently started to make mobile phones that are waterproof. When playing Ingress we would play in the rain thanks to this feature. Crosscall has been designing weatherproof phones for a while now with an IP certification of 68. The new iphone only has an ingress protection of IP 67. It’s waterproof enough to survive caving but don’t take it canyoning. For that you should still rely on Crosscall devices.

In essence Apple have come out with a waterproof camera that has internet connectivity and can make phone calls. They are moving towards a more adventurous market at least two or three years after I said they should. I might soon consider using them again.

A 360° cooking Show would be interesting to watch.

For a few weeks now I have been thinking about how you could make a 360° cooking show. For this video I would like to be able to see the process from an angle where I see the person cooking. I would also like to see all of the ingredients and the preparation of various stages of the recipe. For this you would need an open plan kitchen where preparation takes place in the middle of the room.

If it was to be filmed with just one camera then the camera should be lower than eye level but not by much. I would want to look straight ahead in to the eyes of the person preparing the meal and talking. As the person speaks about ingredients I would like to be able to look down and see all of the ingredients. You would need enough room for chopping and marinating. I would think about having a camera above the cooking surfaces so that we can see how the textures change from the start of cooking to when the mix becomes “saucy”. That’s how they describe it in recipes.

I want the 360 approach to be justified. I want to make it so that the viewer has a reason to wear VR goggles. The video above justifies a 360° video whereas the video below does not. The camera needs to be placed as close to the action as possible. It should be designed so that the viewer has to turn his head to see what is happening.

This video does not justify the 360 approach because the action happens in front of the camera and although you can look around the background is not relevant. The action is too small on screen. You can’t see what they are doing.

The camera operator and the producer should learn the recipe and identify what the stages of preparation are. They should have a shot list of every thing that is relevant and place the camera accordingly. Is an oven or a grill used? is sauce prepared? Is something timelapse friendly?

A few years ago we were up in a swiss chalet with a friend and we decided to cook a pizza with a log fire rather than an oven. We started the log fire and then we placed the pizza next to the fire. As the fire was only on one side we rotated the pizza to get it to cook in full. In watching the playback you see the pizza cook as well as the logs go from being logs to embers and “melt” downwards as they burn. If the camera can safely be placed close enough to the fire then you could look down at the pizza as the ingredients change appearance and look up to see the logs decrease in size.

I believe that 360° cooking shows have a future. In theory you need just one well placed camera and editing is cut down to a minimum. Instead of editing and vision mixing from two or three cameras you need just one. I believe that the programme should not be more than 5-10 minutes. People, for now, are still getting used to VR headsets and may find extended periods of time more tiring to watch.

How long will it take before someone like Jamie Oliver uses VR cooking simulations to teach people to cook in the real world. With enough time they could emulate real cooking times at different heats so that when you transition from VR to reality you have the right intuition to successfully cook for yourself and others.

The Selfie Stick cutter

In some cities you see a strange set of creatures and the selfie stick cutter is there to resolve this issue. People carry long poles at the end of which they stick their camera. They look at the phone held at a safe distance and smile, do victory symbols and other such gestures. These sticks would be really interesting if they were used to provide people with interesting images. Instead they are used to take pictures in interesting places with ordinary people in front. As a camera operator I photograph landscapes or monuments. It is an old fashioned habit.

The selfie stick is so endemic to some parts of the world by now that pranksters run around and cut people’s selfie sticks with the phone still attached. You can watch as dozens of phones fall to the ground in this video. Mobile phone repair shops must really enjoy watching this video. Look at all the work they will soon have.

I think that this video is meant to be seen as a joke but can you imagine how much anger such an action would generate. Can you imagine how fast you would have to run away from some of these people. You see these people look surprised and in some cases betrayed.

They have a quarter of a million views so far and it will grow from tomorrow onwards, as people in offices share the video with their friends and colleagues. Maybe by next week it will have more than a million views. Selfie sticks are popular and so are pranks. With the money they could make from monetising this video they could compensate the people whose screens they broke.

The story is not viral yet
The story is not viral yet

Selfie sticks do have one practical purpose. You can fix 360 cameras to them and take pictures without the giant index finger getting in the way. That is how I use one. You can get them for cheap from certain types of shops. You do not need to spend 29 euros.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Apple

I have read numerous articles and I think that Corporate Social Responsibility and Apple are hot topics at the moment. When it was found that European firms were cheating on their emissions reports it was a great scandal and the European and German automotive industries took a financial hit. Their cheating cost them billions. In the US people were financially compensated whilst as one article put it Europeans got a plastic tube.

We should look at the Apple Back taxes story within the context of Brexit, the rise of the far right in a number of countries and the emerging popularity of Trump within certain sectors of the American voting public. The group anonymous is defending the rights of the 99 percent. They protest against Wall Street and the abuses of corporations and the wealthy.

When houses in the US were foreclosed because of the bubble bursting because of complex dividends those who suffered were the poor and the middle classes because they borrowed money at a rate that they could not pay it back. A number of documentary makers have explored this issue and there have been talks at the Graduate institute and other places.

Apple is currently making billions per quarter and that money is being stockpiled in offshore accounts so that neither the US government nor the European union can get to it. Other writers and journalists have written about this extensively. The perspective that I want to take is a moral one.

Apple products are expensive, they can cost twice as much as their android equivalents. People in the European markets are paying for these products. They pay the country’s VAT along with the product’s cost. They are contributing to the local economy.

Tim Cook argues that what the European Commission is doing is a “load of crap” and that it is abusing of its power. From an ethical and moral point of view though it is Apple that is being unethical and amoral. They are part of the economy. When they sell products they make huge profits that are taxed at less than one percent. 12 billion dollars could do a lot of good within the European Union if and when it is recovered because it could contribute to the road networks and transport infrastructure. It could contribute to housing, education and much more. In contributing to the economy those billions that Apple owes in back taxes could improve the quality of life of millions.

They hide behind the mask of job creation. They believe that because they contribute to the creation of 6000 jobs in Ireland that their corporate social responsibility stops there. It does not. Apple must be ethical enough to pay taxes like every other business is expected to do.

In effect Apple is providing a concrete example of what Brexiters voted against, the corporations syphoning off money to the detriment of living conditions of many populations around Europe. If corporations are allowed to make billions in profits without paying taxes because of creative accounting then society as a whole suffers. It also ferments resentment and encourages people to vote for the right.

In my opinion, based on the reading of numerous articles and watching many documentaries Apple should agree to pay the 14 billion as a gesture of good will and as a Public relations exercise. Imagine what a positive effect those billions would have for the European Union as a whole. Imagine how much social good having that money re-invested would do.

I believe that Tim Cook and Apple need to pay these back taxes to diffuse the tensions caused by austerity movements across Europe. A wealthy, rather than austere Europe could buy more Apple products. Other corporations would also benefit directly from people’s increased disposable income. A few weeks or months ago I watched a documentary about how the United States benefited from corporations paying their fair share of taxes.

Strava now has rock climbing, hiking and more

Strava now has rock climbing, hiking and many more sports. Sports tracker, movescount and other applications already allowed you to do this but it is nice to see one more network provide us with this option.

Strava expanded the number of sports you can track
Strava expanded the number of sports you can track

Up until now I had to make sure to go for a bike ride or three per week to keep people updated on what I did. During week days I am likely to go for bike rides. On two to three evenings per week I may go climbing and on the weekend I may go hiking or for a walk. As a result I can track the diversity of my activities.

Strava has updated the list of sports
Strava has updated the list of sports

With rock climbing I would like them to add two or three more fields. I would like them to add an option to add the grade of the climb we did. This would need to use the European and the American systems. It would help us track our progress and even track how hard we worked if we’re wearing a heart monitor as we climb. In effect it could provide us with a way of seeing who else is climbing and whether we match their skill level. In the long run this could contribute to new groups. I have created a group for Swiss Via Ferrata in anticipation of via ferrata practitioners joining the network and sharing their climbs.

Until recently I would only track cycling and running. Now that walking, hiking and climbing have been added I can track a number of new sports. It should result in people using the app more frequently.  It could be fun to see climbing and hiking heat maps. We will see how they adapt the input section to match the sports.

 

Negotiating Overhangs

Negotiating overhangs is physical, fun and sometimes scary. It is for this reason that the Via Ferrata de Thônes via ferrata section is such fun. It gets your adrenaline pumping as you fight to keep hold and clip and unclip in the relevant sections. It forces you to overcome your fear of being over the void. The third section of the Via Ferrata de Saillon is a challenge for the very same reason.

The video above shows rock climbers at the IFSC World cup negotiating an overhanging wall and trying various techniques to get further than other people. We see how they use heel hooks and go for it before losing their grip and falling. This footage is fun because we see them work to solve the problem in a number of ways and then fall. When they fall the belayer slows down but does not stop the fall so it looks as if they are falling towards the ground. Imagine an ordinary person getting that sensation. It would scare them.

Fear is good because it keeps us safe. It means that we’re thinking of the consequences and we are aware of the dangers. It means that we will only progress within our comfort level. If we have doubt we can climb down to the nearest quick draw and rest. If we ignore that fear then we may fall. By staying in our comfort zone we are safer.

When you’re climbing you know when you have good foot holds and hand holds. You also know how long you will be able to stay in that position. The more afraid you are the more energy you burn. That’s why positioning is important. In the video above we see that one person decided to climb feet first through the overhanging section. Our leg and feet muscles are much stronger than our arm muscles so they allow us more time to think of a solution. With time all of these climbers could have negotiated that section.

 

Watching independent film rather than mainstream cinema

When I saw the Wired headline below I was happily going to say that I haven’t been to see a film at the cinema in years but that isn’t strictly true. As you have seen from my blog I have been an active appreciator of independent films. I was at FIFAD earlier this month and I was at the Montagne En Scène a few months ago. I have been to a few film screenings at the Graduate institute among other places.

I have been to see quite a few films this year
I have been to see quite a few films this year

I love watching good films and I love going to the cinema but at the moment there isn’t a single mainstream film that I want to see. Every single film is filled with CGI and fantasy and as I have joked about why would I spend 25 swiss francs on a film ticket to go to a film screen at a specific time when I could watch youtube gameplay videos and discover the story at the same time as the youtuber.

Last week I decided to stop my netflix subscription for two reasons. The first reason is that the content is crap. As they have a selection of films that have recently been shown at the cinema there is nothing that makes me think “That’s what I want to spend the next 90 minutes of my life watching.

Imagine if Netflix showed more extreme sports, adventure, environmental and other films. Imagine if they showed films that make us dream and aspire to more. Films need to be for other people than sci-fi geeks. They need to be for sports enthusiasts, for people that follow current affairs and for people that live in the real, rather than fictional world.

When I was living in the South West of England I went to the cinema ninety times in 9 months and what burned out was not my passion for the cinema but my ability to watch the same story line over and over again. The lack of creativity and originality is destroying people’s desire to go to the cinema. I have no reason to go to Pathé or other cinema complexes around Geneva because they do not show the films that I want to see. They do not address my niche.

Montagne en Scène, FIFAD and I think the Coupe Icare film festival fulfil my desire to watch films. They cover topics that I am either interested in passionate about.

Les Icares du Cinema 2015 from coupeicare on Vimeo.

Doesn’t the trailer for the film festival make you want to go? Don’t you want to watch people pushing themselves to the limit of their courage and endurance? I watch a trailer for an event like this and I definitely want to go. It fills my desire to challenge myself through the sports I do but also to see beautiful scenery and lanscapes. Why would I want to go and see CGI films when I can see extreme athletes challenge themselves and their equipment to the limits. Watch the video below.

Coupe Icare 2016 from coupeicare on Vimeo.

I watched this video at least twice and you see that whilst hollywood is filling its films with make believe the independent sector is documenting those with a real adventurous spirit. Imagine going to the event for the film festival and staying for the aerobatics.

For years now the film industry has been re-hashing the same content with no appreciation of societal changes. As a result they fail to capture our imagination and our desire to spend money. They need to inject new blood and find new creative directions that will make us want to go to the multiplexes rather than independent events. I enjoy the multiplex experience but the content dissuades me.

A 360 Video of planes landing – An experiment

Waiting for planes to land

I prepared a 360 Video of planes landing at Geneva International Airport yesterday afternoon. Watching planes land, especially when you’re right underneath them just as they’re about to touch down is a lot of fun. You see the lights in the distance and slowly those lights approach. There is a point after which everything speeds up and the sound gets louder. The plane flies right over you and you see the landing gear, the engines and you see the plane correct as the wind buffets it from side to side. You see it skew and then you’re turning around very quickly and you watch it land.

With a conventional camera or tripod this is a challenge to film because tripods are designed to pan and tilt but not in this manner. If you wanted to film landings from the position I was in you would need to build a rig that tilts up and then when the plane is directly overhead swivels and then tilts back down. With a conventional tripod this takes practice to get right.

360 cameras are an interesting alternative for camera operators because rather than move the camera it is the viewer that changes the direction in which he is looking. He watches the plane approach, looks up as it flies overhead and then swivels around to see it touch down.

I filmed 18 landings. Some of the aircraft are A-320s and others are private jets. I would have liked to get one of the A-340s that lands at Geneva but I was not that lucky. When viewing this footage I notice that the underside of the aircraft is dark. When you watch this in person then you see a lot of detail which the camera was unable to pick up. I look forward to when we can film 360 videos with full control of the device.

 

The Theta+ Video app is available

Yesterday the Theta+ Video app came out for Android. The Theta+ video app allows you to trim video clips and then share them to social networks. This means that you no longer need to wait until you get home to prepare content for sharing. You can do it while you sit and have a post activity hot chocolate or other drink.

Video options
Video options

When you select the raw video it is converted to be a spherical video. When that process completes you can choose between creating a 360 degree video or a cropped one. A cropped one is a tinyworld video.

Filters, Trim and music
Filters, Trim and music

The next menu gives you three choices, filters, trim or background music. I never bother with filters and the trim option is fiddly on the Sony Xperia Z5 compact with a 13 minute video. With a shorter video I would have found this process easier. Saving is not intuitive. First you trim the video and then you go back and save the changes. While saving you need to keep the app open.

The sharing options are to Facebook, youtube and other social networks. This varies according to which apps you have on your phone. I like that the two first options are facebook and youtube as these are the networks that I usually share to. When I tried to upload to youtube it failed twice. When I attempted to upload to Facebook it was stuck at 99 percent twice.

This is a great app to trim videos before sharing and add some music when required. What I would like to see in future versions is the ability to compile a number of 360 videos together to create edited sequences. They need to improve uploading so that it works better. At the moment of posting all attempts to share videos failed.

Thoughts on Youtube Backstage

Youtube backstage is a consequence of Youtube comments not playing nicely within Google+. Google+ is a pleasant social network where people who want to have conversations and share pictures can meet and broaden their horizons. It is a place where you can write comments that are as long or as short as you want. Misunderstandings, as a result are less common.

The idea of youtube backstage is to expand youtube channels so that content creators can share images, polls and more. In so doing Youtube would provide people with a one stop shop. The need for twitter, instagram and facebook would be reduced.

Some youtube content creators have from two hundred thousand to ten million followers. With such a big audience youtube pages would become self contained communities. If you’re watching No Man Sky videos rather than commenting on episode videos you will comment on the game. Would this encourage people to move away from Reddit?

One of the most interesting benefits of youtube implementing text, images and polls is that it would create an environment in which for advertisers to be seen without distracting people from the content. When you watch youtube videos you see pre-roll videos and banners. When videos are longer an advert is shown after a certain number of minutes. With text, images and polls adverts could be shown for longer. As channels are themed adverts will be relevant to the channel rather than a person’s browsing history.

I spent a few weeks watching content created by youtubers. In that time I have watched “series” and “episodes”. If youtube finds a way to monetise the niches that content creators have built up over time then Google and Youtube will benefit. People will go from passive viewing and occasional commenting to active conversations. Conversations make social networks sticky. A sticky social network provides value for advertisers. Advertisers provide funding to content creators and this provides content creators with a higher income, providing them with the incentive to do more of the same.