Archive for May, 2013

How To Make Your Own Internet TV Show – Part 2 – Installing Vidblaster, Connecting Your Webcam, Switching and Interface Basics

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vidblaster-basics PART 2 – Installing Vidblaster, Connecting Your Webcam, Switching and Interface Basics

In this tutorial I show you how easy it is to install Vidblaster in both Mac and Windows, and get started with some basic switching between modules, adding a title, playing a video and showing a picture.

Note to Pros – These articles are aimed at beginners, who wish to spend little or no money until they have a grasp on the topic, and are hoping to learn how to get started quickly and easily, using equipment they most likely already have.

You can download a free unrestricted trial copy of Vidblaster from vidblaster.com

vidblasterbuynow234x60
Part 1 – Selecting Video Switcher Production Software – The Heart of Vidcasting – VIEW HERE
Part 2 – Installing Vidblaster, Connecting Your Webcam, Switching and Interface Basics – VIEW HERE Part 3 – Adding Additional Cameras – VIEW HERE
Part 4 – Mixing Audio, Mics, and Avoiding Looping in Software – VIEW HERE
Part 5 – Desktop and Browser Capture – VIEW HERE
Part 6 – Connecting Guests Via Skype – VIEW HERE
Part 7 – How To Make A Lower Third Overlay – VIEW HERE
Part 8 – Adding flair with Effects, Soundboards and Chat Streams – COMING SOON!
Part 9 – Green Screen/Chroma Keying and Virtual Sets with iClone – COMING SOON!
Part 10 – Recording and Streaming – COMING SOON!

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Posted by Greg - May 31, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Categories: Tech, Vidcasting and Streaming   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Make Your Own Internet TV Show – Part 1 – Selecting Video Switcher Production Software – The Heart of Vidcasting

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vidblasterstudioIf you have got an idea for a Vidcast (Video Podcast) or a Internet TV Show, but don’t know where to start, You are in the right place! All you need is a Computer with a Web-Cam connected (And a good internet connection if you plan to stream live) and you are ready to get started.

Note to Pros – These articles are aimed at beginners, who wish to spend little or no money until they have a grasp on the topic, and are hoping to learn how to get started quickly and easily, using equipment they most likely already have.

Over the next 10 Tutorials/Articles I will show you everything you need to know to make your idea a reality!

Part 1 – Selecting Video Switcher Production Software – The Heart of Vidcasting – VIEW HERE
Part 2 – Installing Vidblaster, Connecting Your Webcam, Switching and Interface Basics – VIEW HERE Part 3 – Adding Additional Cameras – VIEW HERE
Part 4 – Mixing Audio, Mics, and Avoiding Looping in Software – VIEW HERE
Part 5 – Desktop and Browser Capture – VIEW HERE
Part 6 – Connecting Guests Via Skype – VIEW HERE
Part 7 – How To Make A Lower Third Overlay – VIEW HERE
Part 8 – Adding flair with Effects, Soundboards and Chat Streams – COMING SOON!
Part 9 – Green Screen/Chroma Keying and Virtual Sets with iClone – COMING SOON!
Part 10 – Recording and Streaming – COMING SOON!

It is worth noting that what you are about to undertake, will eventually cost you a few dollars if you are really serious about it, and during reading these articles you will probably feel like throwing your hands up in the air and saying “It’s too hard”. But keep in mind, just 15-20 years ago, this sort of thing was only achievable if you owned a TV station with a staff of engineers and production folks, and a multi-million dollar budget. If you get overwhelmed, stop, take a deep breathe, and please stick with it. I know there is a lot to learn, but the rewards are well worth it!

PART 1 – Selecting Video Production Software

There are several video production programs available. The average price is around $500, but there are some Free options available as well. Most of the programs have free fully functioning trial versions, so you can get started TODAY for zero outlay, and grow your rig as your budget permits. In my opinion, the software you use to create your production will be the heart of your show, so once you are done with the trials, this is probably the first investment you need.

At the time of writing, the following are the main players I dug up. I am sure there will be a few others, so don’t be afraid to leave a comment if you know of one I have missed. Lets take a look at the options!

BOINX TV – MAC ONLY

Boinx-TV-InterfaceBoinx TV from Boinx Software is a really stable application. As it is a MAC only program it makes use of QuickTime for capture and record, which works really well. Boinx TV seems to be based around layering the content from the bottom up. For example, at the very bottom would be your Web Cam video feed which remains constant, and your is your default view, then any thing you want to play over the top like a subtitle or a graphic goes on a higher level. If you want to run a video clip for example, you put it above your Web-Cam feed which is always on, and when you start the clip it fades in OVER your Web-Cam and plays, then fades out revealing your Web-Cam when it is done.

Boinx TV has some really nice features, as well as some nice built in themes you can use to give your show a flavor and feel, like a newsroom theme with newsy animations and subtitles,

Boinx Newsand a cool Sports Show theme as well.

Boinx Sports

As cool as Boinx TV is to play with, It can be a little frustrating too. There’s a bit of a learning curve, and it is not really intuitive (Instantly Useable). If you have planned your show/broadcast in its entirety, and have everything set to go, it is great, but if you fly by the seat of your pants, and want to make it up as you go along (Which most of us do), it is very hard to “produce” your show while you are appearing on camera, managing titles, and queuing up clips. Very difficult to use “On The Fly”. And for $499, Boinx TV does not get my thumbs up. However, if your using a Mac, give it a go! You’ve got nothing to loose, and it might just suit you! Download the trial version HERE.

WIRECAST – MAC & WIN

Wirecast-screen-captureWirecast from Telestream is probably the most popular video production program out there. It is available for both Mac and Windows. This one (Much like Boinx TV) needs you to jump through a series of hoops in order to make things happen. Ive tried several times to “Give Wirecast A Go” because it seems like it should be awesome, but for me, it just isn’t. Like Boinx TV, Wirecast is not intuitive, and has quiet a learning curve to it. Pictures, Videos, and even Music files are called “Shots”. You have to “Set up a Shot”, and after you have painstakingly set up all of your “Shots” for your episode, you then have to go through the whole layers thing again………..I just don’t get it…..

However, The features I really do like in Wirecast is firstly, the Desktop Presenter. This is AWESOME! The biggest problem I have found in putting Web Shows together is that it is often too much for one computer to handle, but the Desktop Presenter takes care of this by giving you a way to integrate other computers into your show. You download the Desktop Presenter software and install it on other computers in your network (lets say you have a second machine that will be solely for connecting with your guests through Skype) and it sends your screen from the second computer back to the first, so you can incorporate its video feed in your production/show. Another feature I like is the presets for broadcasting/sending your video stream to streaming services like UStream and Justin.tv.

Like Boinx TV, I am unable to give Wirecast the thumbs up. It’s $495 for the basic package, and if you want stuff like themes or a scoreboard (useful if you are streaming a sport or game) you have to pay $995 for the pro version. I find it confusing and impossible to use efficiently on the fly, but feel free to give the trial a go, because it might just work for you! You need to create an account to download the trial, and you can get that done and Download it HERE. The trial has the most annoying watermarks through your feed though (see above screen capture), and plays an equally annoying “Wirecast” audio message every 30 seconds or so. I am sure there are people out there who love this program, but respectfully, it is at the bottom of the heap in my opinion.

VIDBLASTER – WIN ONLY (Works great in Virtual Machines and Bootcamp on MAC)

Vidblaster Screen CaptureVidblaster in my opinion is the best, by far! In less than a minute of running it for the first time, within the first few mouse clicks, you will see things happen that make sense, and start to get a feel for how it works. It is effortless to switch between cameras and media on the fly, and feels focused solely on freeing up your mind of all things techy so you can go star in your show. It works on modules. Each camera, title, video clip or webpage etc you wish to use in your show is assigned to its own module, and when it comes time to run that particular piece of media, you just click its preview window to launch it. If you only have a limited number of modules, it is very easy to add new media to an existing module on the fly.

This program is one of the best pieces of software I have seen….ever!

It is a Windows only program, but in my experience it works flawlessly in Windows on a Mac, in either virtualization (like in VMWare Fusion) or in a dedicated Windows partition via Bootcamp.

There are 4 different levels of Vidblaster, Home, Pro, Studio and Broadcast. The Home edition allows you to run up to 7 Modules, but I expect that once you get a taste for the power of Vidblaster, 7 wont be enough. The Pro version lets you run 15 modules. This is probably the version most of you will want. The Studio version gives you 25 modules, and if you are going to get really serious about your show and are happy to make an investment, you will get all you need here. The Broadcast version is way more than most of us will ever need. It’s aimed at those who are running a full on studio with an audience environment, who wish to broadcast HD video to several different services. It has up to 50 modules, and supports streams up to 30Mbps. Most of us will use either the Pro or Studio versions.

What is REALLY cool about Vidblaster is the free trial. It is a fully functional unrestricted studio version (25 Modules) of the program, that never times out! You can use it free for as long as you want. The only thing is that there is a “Vidblaster” logo that runs over your production in the top right corner. Buying a license removes it. It is a much more sensible and generous way to trial a program than Wirecast.

There is a very rich forum with lots of help, but to avoid humiliation I would strongly suggest that if you need help, thoroughly search the forums before posting to it, or sending a email.

Download the latest version in the Vidblaster Forum HERE.

**NOTE** – As Vidblaster’s free trial is fully functional, generous in features, the easiest to use and generally awesome, the rest of the tutorials in this series will be based on it.

vidblasterbuynow234x60

VMIX – WIN ONLY – FREE VERSION AVAILABLE (Works in Virtual Machines and Bootcamp, but not all hardware is supported).

VMix Screen

VMix has only come to my attention recently whilst researching this article. My first impression was not good. It didn’t support my computers built in web-cam, and wouldn’t play the mp4 videos I tried to test. It seemed everything I tried to do resulted in a error box. But I did persevere with it, and I have to say that the little I could do with it really impressed me.

It is much more sensibly priced than the above mentioned programs, and there is a free version which is somewhat restricted, but still very useable for the task at hand.

vmix-pricing

Like Wirecast, there is a desktop capture program you can run on a second computer, so you can import it’s screen on the first, to help with processing. I was REALLY impressed with how well this feature worked!

Desktop Capture

Included are some pretty nice virtual sets and lower thirds.

vmix-virtual-set

You can download the VMix Trial HERE.

I am looking forward to playing with VMix more, and getting a feel for it.

VIDSTUDIO – WIN ONLY – FREE (Works great in Virtual Machines and Bootcamp on MAC)

VidstudioVidstudio is pretty similar in appearance and functionality to Vidblaster. Its obviously a much younger program that still has a lot of stuff to be added, which I am sure we will see soon in future version. In its current state, it is very useable, very good, and FAST! My guess is of all of these programs, it is the lightest on system resources. Initially, I did have some trouble getting sound to play in videos, but the author was super quick to respond to my email, and very helpful. It turns out that you have to have the “SOUND” option checked in the bottom right corner of the module/preview window BEFORE you select the file you want to play.

I REALLY like this program! It’s free (For the moment, I expect once it is more polished the author will want to get paid), and very quick and easy to get up and running.

The are very limited support options at the moment. There is no forum and a very basic FAQ. But the price is right! Download your FREE copy HERE.

CUTFOUR – WIN ONLY (can work in Bootcamp, probably not suitable for a Virtual Machine)

Cutfour Window

In the interest of fair reporting, I also tried Avtake’s Cutfour SD/HD and DV versions. I tried it on 3 different machines, and was only able to get it to run on one. I even custom built a machine for it based on Avtake’s recommended specs, and it just continuously crashed on launch. After comparing the system it worked on to the ones it didn’t using the very cool and very free Belarc Advisor, I learned that this program needs Microsoft DotNet to run. Thanks for NOT mentioning this Avtake! It’s NOT even mentioned in the “Minimum System Requirements”……

I was not able to get any of my cameras to work on it, not even my Sony HD Broadcast camera over Firewire. I don’t believe this program supports WDM Cameras (The USB webcams that the majority of us use) either. Accepting defeat in the camera department, I tried to run a few videos, and again found failure. The program seems to support only AVI video’s of a specific flavor.

The layout looks really nice, and of all of the programs I tested, this one is the closest to a real Video Tricaster. Given how specific the requirements are regarding input types, and media formats, I don’t think this program is suitable for most of us. It definitely has potential, but needs to be a bit more flexible to be of use in my set up.

Cost is $599.

You can download a free trial HERE.

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Posted by Greg - May 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Categories: Vidcasting and Streaming   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fix Connectivity Problems by Power Cycling your Home Network and Computers

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Unplugged

Power Cycling sounds like riding a bike really fast up a hill, but in the technology field it refers to a way to get everything back online when things aren’t working right, or you have to recover from a failure or freeze.

A Power Cycle is achieved by turning everything off safely, disconnecting the power sources, and leaving everything to sit for a in-determined amount of time (some say 30 seconds, some say 30 minutes).

I find Power Cycling makes all my devices talk to each other quicker. As I have a somewhat sophisticated home network, yanking the cord on everything from time to time allows new routing tables to be created, and old machines that are no longer connected to the network (That may have been a Master Browser (Machine that tells other machines where everything is located)) to be removed from the environment.

We’ll use my network as an example to go through the procedure, as things do need to be done in a specific order. Using a IP Scanner (There’s lots of free ones available – just Google IP Scanner) I generated this view of my home network.

IP-Scanner

To begin a Power Cycle, I turn all off the Computers and my Server off. Once they are safely and completely shut down I yank the power cords from the sockets (This is important, if it is still plugged in, there is still power going in, keeping things in memory – So YANK IT!). With my Laptops, I take the batteries out. Next, I shut down and unplug my WD TV media machines and the “Elements” hard drives attached to them. My iPhone and iPad are now shut down by Pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button (Power Button on top right side of device) for a few seconds until the red “slide to power off” slider appears, and then slide the slider. Lastly, My Airport Extreme Router, D-Link Switch, and ADSL Modem are all disconnected from the outlets.

Now I go throw a tennis ball with my Dog Benson for about 10 minutes. This allows plenty of time for any power left in the devices to drain away, and all caches and memory to clear.

Benson

After playtime I get ready to restart everything. First, I plug the modem back in and let it initialize and connect to the internet. Then I turn on my Switch, and my Airport Extreme Router is next. When they are all operational and happy, I turn my computers on one at a time, beginning with the one I use most, first (So it can become the Master Browser). Once it is up and connected to the internet, I turn the next one in my usage order on, and let it connect, then the next, etc, etc. Then, I boot up my WD TV Live Hub and reconnect the “Elements” storage drives, and lastly, I power on my iPhone and iPad by holding down the Sleep/Wake (Power Button on top right side) for a few seconds until I see the silver Apple logo appear.

Everything should be back up, running, and happy!

Some people will tell you there is no advantage to power cycling. I personally, do believe it helps, and if you are undecided, Try it for Yourself and make up your own mind! What have you got to loose?

 

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Posted by Greg - May 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

Categories: General, Linux and Unix, Mac, Networking, Tech, Windows and PC   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Make Songs Play In Track Number Order Instead Of Alphabetically On iPhone, iPad and iPod using Play Order in iTunes

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Aerosmith MelbourneI was lucky enough to go and see Aerosmith at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena – It was a KICK ASS show!

After the show, we really wanted to have a souvenir, and thanks to Youtube, we got one. Some other folks at the show recorded it on their phones and uploaded it. Using Flash Video Downloader I was able to download their vids, and using the awesome and FREE MacX Video Converter, I was able to save the audio from their video files to MP3, then to iTunes, and then sync the songs to our iPhones, so we have a playlist of the show. How cool huh!

The problem was, that the songs played in alphabetical order instead of the order they played the songs on the night (Track number order).

Grrrr!!!
I did the whole Get Info thing in iTunes and set the track numbers….which didn’t work….

iTunes Track NumberI sync’d and sync’d to no avail. And then out of the blue, I right clicked the playlist, and there it was….PLAY ORDER!

homer-woohooThis is SO hidden! I learned that if your songs are listed in alphabetical order in the album view in iTunes, with the highlight in the song name column, and you right click (command click) the playlist and select “Copy To Play Order”, and then sync your device your songs will play in alphabetical order.

Play Order

copy-to-play-order

If you want your songs in your playlist to play in track number order on your device, click and highlight the track number column in iTunes,

Play Order

Then right click (command click) the play list and select “Copy To Play Order”

Play OrderNow Sync your device…….

YAY!

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Posted by Greg - May 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Categories: General, Mac, Tech, Windows and PC, iPhone/iPod/iPad   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Keep your network drives and servers clean of DS_Store, AppleDouble, apdisk and even Thumbs.db files with BlueHarvest

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BlueHarvest Logo

Lately, My WDTV Live Hub has been REALLY slow. In an effort to see what was going on, I mounted the drive in my FAV Linux distro PUPPY LINUX. What Puppy Linux showed me, was ALL of the thousands of files that my Windows and Mac OS X computers had been creating and hiding on my drive without my knowledge. When I have accessed my shared drive with my Mac, it had been creating DS-Store files and .AppleDouble files in each folder, and my Windows machines have been creating Thumbs.db files.

AppleDouble-FilesIt was pretty easy to delete these files, but my question was “How can I stop this Madness from happening again?”. After a little Googling I found a program called BlueHarvest. I downloaded the trial version, and I have to say, within 15 minutes, I had paid my $15 US and had a license key that was good for 3 different Macs. If You are sharing drives or a server in a Mac/Windows/Linux environment, YOU NEED THIS PROGRAM!

After installing, you tell BlueHarvest which drives and folders you want it to monitor, and the file types you want it to clear, and it deletes them as soon as they are created.

BlueHarvest Window

BlueHarvest not only prevents these files, it is also the quickest and easiest way there is to clean up a drive of existing files. I have a 8TB server running FREENAS, and to clean it up, all I did was click the BlueHarvest icon in my menu bar and select “Clean Using BlueHarvest”

blueharvest-menu-barThen I selected my server…

Freenas-Capture

And then BlueHarvest went to work – check out the result!

blueharvest-completeIt cleaned out 173144 files from the drive!

And at $15, BlueHarvest is a gift! Download the 30 day trial HERE.

**UPDATE** – Ive been using this program for a few days now, and it has been really cool watching it delete these annoying files as soon as they are created. That part has been working great. However, I have been playing around with a program called Total Finder today, and it shows Hidden/Invisible files. I ran it on my Freenas server and to my surprise, it turned up nearly 45000 .AppleDouble files.

BlueHarvest-FailI opened up BlueHarvest and initiated another clean on the drive, and after it scanned it reported it had cleaned 4 files. I ran Total Finder again, and it still came back with almost 45000 files.

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Posted by Greg - May 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Categories: Mac, Networking, Software Encounters   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Compare and Syncronize your Files and Folders on Mac, Windows and Linux for FREE with FreeFileSync

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Free File Sync LogoBoy have I got a GEM for you! I’ve just stumbled upon Free File Sync – a FREE file and folder sync program. It does everything that the programs you have to pay for do, and more, FOR FREE!

Free File Sync Main Window

Free File Sync is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It can Mirror Sync (Left To Right) as well as Sync in Both Directions (Two Way), Can Compare before Sync, has lots of sync options such as Archiving/Versioning duplicates, Moving to trash and permanent deletion, and you can even make it shut down your machine once syncing is complete.

Free File Sync Setting

It will even do Live Real time syncing. Just select the folders you want it to watch and as soon as you add a file to that folder, Free File Sync will automatically sync the file to the your destination folder – How Cool Is That!

Real Time SyncWhen synchronization is occurring, you get a nice informative window telling what is going on.

Free File Sync Progress WindowI am really blown away by this program. I have just deleted my copy of Chronosync (Which I payed $40 for) as well as my copy of Martian Slingshot (Real Time Sync which I payed $30 for) and now have Free File Sync on all my machines – FOR FREE!

Download your copy of Free File Sync HERE.

And don’t forget to donate a few bucks via Paypal if you can! This program is well worth it!

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Posted by Greg - May 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Categories: Free Stuff, Linux and Unix, Mac, Networking, Software Encounters, Windows and PC   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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