Category Archives: Action Camera

The Feiyutech G5 Action Gimbal Is Buttery Smooth

Thanks to the rise and popularity of portable action camera gimbals, there’s a lot of options on the market. From DJI’s flagship Osmo gimbal to a plethora of overseas brands – some with awkward calibration and erratic stabilization motors. One of the most compelling options so far is Feiyutech’s G5, a 3-axis handheld gimbal compatible with just about every popular action camera out there. Here we’ll take a look at how some of the G5’s features stand out from the rest of the pack. Great stabilization, splash proof design and comfortable grip make this a great looking, complete package.

The G5’s rubberized, structural design is built splash-proof all over, so paired with the waterproof GoPro HERO5, shooting in the rain or by a body of water is no longer a problem. With it’s simple 3 button user interface, the G5 provides a convenient way to access various functions. With a simple tap of the function button you can access the different features. A single tap brings you to Panning Mode where tilting and rolling direction are fixed but the camera lens moves according to the hand movement of the user. A double tap enters Panning and Tilting Mode where rolling direction is fixed and the camera lens moves to the hand movement of the user. A triple tap makes the lens rotate 180 degrees while a quadruple tap resets the tilting axis of the gimbal to initial orientation.

This leaves us with the handle, which houses a battery that goes in from the bottom, a micro USB port for charging/firmware upgrades, a joystick for controlling pan and tilt and an LED indicator. Thanks to the soft grip, the G5 is one of the more comfortable hand-held gimbals to control with easy thumb access to the joystick. On the bottom of the handle is a 1/4-20” screw hole for accessories or to mount on a tripod.

I typically use my action gimbals mounted on a 10 foot painter’s pole while shooting high speed electric skateboarding shots with speeds of up to 30mph – no easy task for most small gimbals. But, given Feiyutech’s reputation for camera stabilization, it’s no surprise I was able to capture some amazing footage. Other gimbals often lose orientation during high maneuvers but the G5 handles even the most abrupt moves with ease. In terms of response speed, the gimbal managed to keep up with my street carving, which you can see in the video review.

Most people who are looking for an action gimbal are not starting from scratch and have at least one to several GoPro’s of various generations in their kit. By comparison, the DJI Osmo is more expensive but features it’s own camera which is hit or miss, depending on how much faith you have in their camera technology.

The Feiyutech G5, like my previous impression of their SPG Plus, is a very well designed, polished product. It is powerful yet intuitive with none of the annoying handheld gimbal glitches than often ruin a shot. I have to say that Feiyutech is really going hard at DJI’s gimbal market and it shows. Their product line impresses year after year and if they keep this up, everyone wins.


FeiyuTech G5 3-Axis Waterproof Handheld Gimbal

How to Survive a 24 Hour Film Shootout

The YPSI 24-Hour Shootout is a popular filmmaking competition that asks teams of filmmakers to produce a short film in the span of 24 hours. At the start of the shootout, several “ingredients” are announced. They may include a line of dialog, a prop, a location, or any other requirement for the film being produced. This element forces teams to think on their feet. As a filmmaker who has participated in two YPSI24 events, I’ve put together a few tips to help you survive this intense experience.

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A pre-determined style or technique will help inform your script.

TESTING THE WORKFLOW
Before each 24 hour shootout, I think about a style that would be challenging to implement in 24 hours. A pre-determined technique will also force you to create a story that will fit within the parameters that you set. At this year’s YPSI24, I wanted to execute a continuous one take shot across multiple locations. This would be extremely challenging without testing so I experimented with a range of equipment to create the right recipe. Too much equipment would bog us down and too little gear would compromise the production value.

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The unsung hero – my cheapo $80 fisheye lens for the GH4.

Our main gear list included my trusty Birdycam Lite gimbal, the Panasonic GH4 and a super cheap $80 CCTV Micro 4/3 8mm f3.8 Fisheye Lens that I bought off eBay. My goal was to shoot 4k with a very wide focal length that I could defish in post if necessary. The lens provided a very interesting image that simulated surveillance footage while also giving off some interesting flaring effects against the sunlight.

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8mm f/3.8 Fisheye CCTV Lens for Micro 4/3 Cameras

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

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Sometimes enthusiasm trumps experience when it comes to 24 hour filmmaking – choose your crew wisely.

CREATE YOUR TEAM
As a team captain, you are involved in every step of production but assembling your cast and crew to delegate roles is an important, if not THE most important part of a successful 24 hour shootout. This does not automatically mean choosing the most experienced filmmakers (obviously it helps), but rather, the most enthusiastic group of people who are willing to put in a lot of highly concentrated time into their roles. People who can think on their feet and discover creative solutions on the fly are some of the best folks to work with in a 24 hour shootout.

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For our 24 hour short “The Delivery”, the concept was simple – a heated argument between a couple gets resolved. It’s the sci-fi elements that happen in between which add flavor.

GET TO THE POINT
Telling small stories with a simple conflict helps to streamline your script and give the audience a way to connect with your film without being bogged down by long exposition shots or monologues that don’t move the plot along. Think about classic conflicts in literature – man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, man vs. self and man vs. technology. Having a basic conflict thought out in advance can make it easier to implement your ingredients and create obstacles that your protagonist must overcome. Don’t let your film be the one that makes the audience check their watches during the final screening. Remember, every minute counts. Don’t waste them!

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Always keep things social and fun, especially when your team is going above and beyond the call of duty.

STEER THE SHIP
How you organize your shoot depends on your script, the equipment and how much experience you have but there’s a few things that can make a set run more efficiently. Always keep things social and fun. Having the cast and crew together will create a natural camaraderie that’s reflected on screen but with such a tight time crunch, you want people around who are great under pressure and don’t lose their cool by the slightest change in plans. Keep the entire team involved and active during the shoot and they’ll be more inclined to chime in with ideas that can improve the script.


“The Delivery” 2nd Place Winner of the 2016 YPSI24-Hour Shootout

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
Participate in a 24 hour film shootout because you want to have fun and challenge yourself. Taking it far too seriously can lead to unnecessary frustration. Sure it’s a competition but it’s more about enriching your current artistic relationships and forging new ones. Get rid of the idea of winning awards and know that your 24 hour movie will always be remembered as a bold experience amongst your peers. Check out our 2016 YPSI24 short “The Delivery” above and remember to always stay inspired!

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Photo Credit: Jessica Bibbee

“Session Error” World Premiere & Live Stream Q&A Panel

“Session Error: The Rise & Risk of Electric Skateboarding” details the emerging popularity of high performance, electric skateboarding and the misconceptions about eboarding risk and safety. On Thursday, September 15th at 7:00pm EST, we launched the World Premiere and Live Stream Q&A panel with the filmmakers at Duo Security’s tech event space in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Our Electric Skateboards Got Mobbed at Maker Faire Detroit

This past weekend, our local electric skateboarding crew A2ESK8 participated at Maker Faire Detroit, a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement.

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Makers ranged from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. About 25,000 people attended the event to check out ordinary individuals rolling up their sleeves to create inventive solutions for everyday needs.

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Sometime last year I began to search for other DIY ESK8 builders so I created a Facebook group to draw others in which birthed A2ESK8 – Michigan’s largest social hub dedicated to the building of DIY electric skateboards. Our booth was graciously sponsored by our friends at Carvon Skates and Polar Pro whose products are seamlessly integrated into our local ESK8 culture of building and filming.

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Attendees were able to get hands on with some of our boards as they were able to throttle and brake using our realtime display bench rig to test RPM, temperature and current.

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For those were interested in the tech, we had live demos of VESC (Vedder Electronic Speed Control) and LiFePO4 battery assembly. We also provided insight on the open source community and the emergence of ESK8 as a major player in the personal electric vehicle movement.

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We took turns riding the boards around The Henry Ford which provided a glimpse at what ESK8 feels like. Many of our riders describe ESK8 as an alternative to snowboarding and longboarding where you get a similar feeling of “flying” on the ground.

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All around us roads are changing, structures go up and having a “spotter” who you are communicating with through Bluetooth intercoms creates a sense of gamified exploration. Every turn we make can be something new and its all about living in that moment with zero distractions. Essentially it’s meditative and can relieve any stress that’s built up throughout the day.

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Who knows what the future holds for A2ESK8 but one thing will always remain clear – our mission is to combine safety, reliability, art and design to inspire others to be part of a growing DIY community that will innovate the electric skateboard industry.

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product information button runplayback Carvon EMC2 Dual Hub Motor Electric Mini Cruiser

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product information button runplayback Polar Pro GoPro Frame 2.0 Professional Filter 6 Pack

phantom 3 filters
product information button runplayback Polar Pro DJI Phantom 4 / Phantom 3 Filter 6-Pack

Why I Built a Carbon Fiber Electric Skateboard Mini Cruiser


Shot exclusively with the LanParte LA3D Action Gimbal, DJI Phantom 3 and Polar Pro Filters

My original DIY Electric Mini Cruiser Skateboard still holds up quite nicely even after 6 months of hard riding and natural wear and tear. But as with all things DIY, parts can always be upgraded. One key feature that I wanted to improve upon was weight, so once again, I researched the right combination of components to make an already awesome commute even better. I’ve nicknamed this build – the A2ESK8 Mini Cruiser.

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My original 29″ mini cruiser was the perfect size thanks to the unique design of the now discontinued Jet Spud deck. But I wanted to do something different, which is why I chose the Hi5ber Ion 30 mini cruiser deck. Hi5ber has built a great reputation for manufacturing the best carbon fiber longboard decks available. They are lighter and stronger than typical wooden longboards which create a more controlled, responsive experience for the rider.

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The Ion 30’s design is the definition of stealth with it’s ultra thin rails that gradually curve thicker towards the wheelbase. The added benefit is an enhanced wheel clearance that looks so damn futuristic. Other than the low weight, the characteristics of the Ion 30 include high rigidity, high tensile strength, corrosion resistance and fatigue resistance. And unlike wood, carbon fiber doesn’t warp when exposed to water.

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product information button runplayback Hi5ber Carbon Fiber Ion 30

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Before electricfying the Ion 30, I tested it out with Gullwing Sidewinder II trucks alongside 72mm ABEC11 Freerides and it was a blast. That combination of an ultra lightweight carbon fiber deck and double kingpins was so much fun I was a little hesitant to throw electronics on there. But my curiousity got the best of me so I got to work.

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The next step in weight reduction was the battery. My original build contained the 10s3p Enertion Space Cell, a wonderful battery pack, but 30 cells demand a lot of real estate in the wheelbase for a small mini cruiser deck. With a wheelbase of 16.25″ on the Hi5ber, I knew I had to figure out another power solution.

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I ended up creating a custom 12s1p LiFePO4 battery pack with the help of my friend Landon who is an electronics wizard. LiFePO4 batteries are the safest type of lithium batteries as they will not overheat, and even if punctured they will not catch on fire. The cathode material in LiFePO4 batteries is not hazardous, and poses no negative health or environmental hazards. Due to the oxygen being bonded tightly to the molecule, there is no danger of the battery erupting into flames like there is with lithium-ion. We used 12 cells in series for a total voltage of about 36v. Paired with a BMS, voltage display, charge port and power button, the pack ended up having a more compact size – perfect for the Hi5ber deck.

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Once again I designed a custom 1/8″ ABS enclosure using my homemade vacuum former. This time I wanted the buttons to be located on the side of the enclosure as flush as possible. This created a more pleasing appearance that complimented the look of the carbon fiber. The length of the enclosure came out to 11″ and width at 5″. This meant plenty of room to spare on the Ion 30 wheelbase.

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product information button runplayback A2ESK8 Apone V1 Electric Skateboard Enclosure

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Another big upgrade I made was swapping my original Torqueboards 2.4ghz Mini Remote with an even smaller 2.4ghz Nano Remote that features a thumb throttle instead of a trigger throttle. As far as how it feels in my hand, it’s pretty awesome. Granted, I’m not a big guy but it’s the right size for stealth in the city. It’s as if they took the best features of the Yuneec EGO and Boosted Boards remote and put it into a no frills casing. I like the short throw, knob throttle which is a much better design than Boosted’s long throw thumb dial and trigger button. Shout out to Kaly over at ESK8 builders for the hookup on this remote.

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The only components I ported over from my original build are the Ollin Board VESC and the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. Because of months of wear and tear and a few moisture issues, Landon and I decided it was best to clean the VESC up with some gentle scrubbing and a coating of anti-corrosion spray. Even so, the VESC is still going strong with no issues or errors – a testament to Ollin Board’s high quality manufacturing practices.

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My Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor was upgraded with authentic 90mm ABEC11 Flywheels and is really the backbone of my entire mini cruiser build. I’ve put the hub motor through the ringer in every harsh road condition imaginable and it continues to perform flawlessly. Carvon continues to push the boundaries of eboard drive trains and I look forward to seeing what they do next with their V3 hub motor design and EVO series.

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Dialing in the VESC settings is critical for creating a safe and fun mini cruiser. My original build was capable of hitting 31 mph but the sweet spot for a board this small is around 15-18 mph – more than enough for carving through a dense city filled with intersections and pedestrians. Also, the 12s LiFePO4 battery delivers a stronger punch than my 10s lithium ion with a more stable discharge and minimal voltage sag. As much as I enjoy releasing the full power and speed from a DIY eboard, there’s something quite satisfying about taming a mini cruiser eboard that has the ability to hurl you but won’t because you’re keeping it on a leash. More importantly, this build never feels like it’s struggling or straining and that kind of confidence transfers into longer range and fun, safer rides.

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Skating the A2ESK8 Mini Cruiser around the city proved to be a blast. On FOC mode with the Carvon V2 hub motor, the sound is nearly silent. The ultra light Hi5ber Ion 30 board makes acceleration from standstill fantastic and it really feels like your riding on some kind of space age material because of how responsive it is. Carbon fiber handles bumps slightly differently than wooden decks but in a good way because vibrations don’t transfer as much harsh energy to your body. Oh and did I mention how light this thing is? Seriously I’ll take carbon decks over wood any day of the week.

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DIY electric skateboard builds have been getting better and better in just a few months yet there are still just a handful of 30″ and under DIY mini cruiser builds. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stigma to purposely limit your top speed on a smaller deck but I feel like it’s our responsibility to be ambassadors of this technology everytime we step on a board. I’ve already seen friends who’ve hurt themselves on eboards and in almost all cases, the problem was either an inexperienced rider or a road obstacle and not a board failure. Going over 25 mph instead of 13 mph on a non electric board meant crashes that have caused broken bones and serious concussions. Believe me, I’ve had first hand experience with this and it’s made me a very visible advocate for eboard helmet safety.

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This mini cruiser was not designed to be a land missile and it shows. It’s become the ultimate conversation starter whenever I ride in the city because I’m seriously just having fun. The weight reduction made a huge difference and carrying it on public transportation is even easier. If you’re in the Detroit area at the end of July, check out this mini cruiser build in person at the Detroit Maker Faire where will have an A2ESK8 booth and demonstrations. For more information on the products I used to create the video above, please check out the links below.

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product information button runplayback Lanparte LA3D Detachable 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal

polarpro
product information button runplayback Polar Pro GoPro Frame 2.0 Professional Filter 6 Pack

Polar Pro Launches New Drone Accessories – NAB 2016

Our friends at Polar Pro continue to dominate the industry with their always evolving professional grade product line and innovative ideas. And with a recent appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, their business has lept tremendously with a $1 million investment by Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec.

At this year’s NAB Show, we checked out Polar Pro’s latest drone accessories for the DJI Phantom 3, DJI Inspire 1, 3DR Solo as well as the Trippler – a compact tripod / grip / pole combo for action cameras and mobile phones. With my frequent forays into electric longboarding, the Trippler has instantly become my go-to accessory for capturing the moment.

inspire 1 filters
product information button runplayback Polar Pro DJI Zenmuse X3 Filter 3-Pack

phantom 3 filters
product information button runplayback Polar Pro DJI Phantom 4 / Phantom 3 Filter 6-Pack

phantom 3 lights
product information button runplayback Polar Pro LED Light Kit for DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter

phantom 3 landing gear
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Landing Gear for DJI Phantom 3

phantom 3 gimbal lock
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Lens Cover / Gimbal Lock for Select Phantom 3 Quadcopters

phantom 3 gimbal guard
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Gimbal Guard for Phantom 3 Professional / Advanced / Standard

solo lights
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Headlight and Taillight Kit for 3DR Solo Quadcopter

solo prop guards
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Prop Guards for 3DR Solo Quadcopter

trippler
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Trippler 3-in-1 Tripod/Grip/Pole

I Made an Action Cam Rig for Electric Longboarding

After racking up hours of DIY electric longboarding videos, I’d like to share some of the tools that I use for capturing high speed action. If you recall from my original DIY Electric Longboard build article, I was initially inspired to use an eboard as a dolly when paired with my camera gimbal. As I got into high speed riding with eboards I needed a way to capture the action and feel of a ride through inventive, hard to reach camera angles. Here’s a very compact setup that’s easy to handle while in the midst of all the action.

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ACTION CAM
The Xiaomi Yi has been my main action camera for quite some time. At around $80 you get a wi-fi action cam that records 2k videos with natural colors, definition and solid low light ability. The quality is comparable to the GoPro Hero3+ and the best feature is the 1/4-20 female thread on the bottom which allows better compatibility for clamps and rigs instead of GoPro’s proprietary mounting system. The Wi-Fi app is super easy to use for live preview and remote recording. You could pick up three Xiaomi Yi’s for the price of one GoPro Hero3+ which is a value that’s really hard to beat.

Price: $78

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Xiaomi Yi Action Camera with Wi-Fi

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ACTION CAMERA GIMBAL
The Came-TV 3-Axis Action Gimbal is a 32-bit gimbal that features brushless motors with Encoders. Encoders are often used in Robotics for highly accurate monitoring of motor position. This helps prevent motors from losing synchronization and skipping steps, provides important information about frame and camera angles, increases battery life, increases torque and the precision of stabilization.​ The gimbal is constructed from aluminum alloy, weighs in at a very light 300 grams, has a 1/4-20 female thread and is compatible with the Xiaomi Yi.

Price: $300

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product information button runplayback CAME-TV CAME-Action 3-Axis Gimbal

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PAINTER POLE ADAPTER
This DIY Painter Pole Adapter is designed to connect to the top of a standard paint pole and turn it into a very long monopod. It’s made of CNC machined aluminum with an anodized black finish and has a 1/4-20 male stud to fit perfectly with the Came Action Gimbal. Alternately, you can use this with a small ball head for accessories or even as a microphone boom pole.

Price: $15

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DIY Boom Painter Extension Pole Adapter

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PAINTER POLE
The Shur-Line Easy Reach 60″ Adjustable Extension Pole extends from 30″ to 60″ with almost no flex. It also features an ergonomic handle and is great for capturing hard-to-reach shots. With a painter’s pole I’m able to get the camera as close to the action as possible. One shot I like to do is having a rider cut in front of me as I raise the pole from bottom to top to create a booming effect.

Price: $18

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Shur-Line 60 in. Adjustable Extension Pole

TECHNIQUE
Mileage may vary depending on your stance on the eboard but since I ride goofy and use the eboard trigger remote on my right hand – I keep the painter pole tucked under my left shoulder while balancing the whole rig on my left hand. This position lets me use my whole body to maneuver the camera while still being able to lean and carve on the road.

For safety, I’d advise wearing full safety protection (helmet, pads, etc) and always keep your eye on the road through peripheral vision. Communication is also key so be sure to direct the rider and let them know if you see something cool. You’ll know that you’re nailing your technique when you forget that you’re filming and are focused on composition.

CONCLUSION
Electric longboards are super fun to ride and combine the feeling of longboarding and snowboarding except you can eboard anywhere with large, smooth pavement. With speeds that hover around 30mph and over, having a compact, lightweight rig is essential to capturing the rush of excitement that comes from eboarding. Also get creative – shoot some drone shots, capture B-Roll of your homies or clamp the action cam on the board itself. If you have any questions or suggestions hit me up in the comments below!

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Carvon Electric Mini Cruiser (Pre-Order)

Warm Weather Means DIY Electric Skateboard Cruising

When it hits 57 degrees in February in MICHIGAN, you must take full advantage. 🙂

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

Here’s a Manual on a DIY Electric Skateboard

Took another ride with my DIY Electric Skateboard and my buddy Robbie did a manual on the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. I had no idea it could do that. 🙂

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

My DIY Electric Skateboard Hit 31mph!

Here’s another cruising video with my DIY Electric Skateboard. This time we hit 31mph on the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. Pretty sure that once we find some paved asphalt we can go even faster. Till then, stay tuned!

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

The 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit

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Last week Arbor Day Pictures aka Nancy Mitchell, Hannah Mitchell and myself participated in YPSI24, a 24 hour shootout competition where we won second place amongst 40+ entries. It was an awesome experience to witness so many filmmakers of all levels express themselves using a variety of video techniques within experimental and narrative storytelling.

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However, with a 24 hour time limit and a 3 person crew including myself (2 of whom were acting on camera), it was vital that I assemble an equipment package that worked for our story. Too much gear and I’d risk a lot of unncessary setup and breakdown time. Too little gear and I’d lose the visual storytelling that was essential for characterization. We were super honored to win an award and it may not have happened without our 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit. So here’s how we did it.

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THE STORY
A few weeks before the shoot, we bounced around some preliminary ideas, some that either proved too difficult or too time consuming. Finally, the night before YPSI24, Nancy assembled all of our initial ideas into a creepy story about supernatural revenge. Next, I fleshed out the summary into a rough, 5 page script which would be our blueprint for the day. We all agreed that the concept would remain loose in order to incorporate the YPSI24 “ingredients” that we would be given. Creating a script as a guide for our shotlist/schedule was definitely a critical part of our planning.

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THE SUPPORT
For Camera A support I went with the heavy duty yet light and portable 8.5lb ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs which are typically built for jib cranes but work great with a Manfrotto fluid head and Konova K3 slider as they can hold up to 80 lbs. It even has a super convenient mid level spreader for added stability and adjustable rubber or spiked feet for all kinds of terrain. At $120 shipped, the ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs are an exceptional deal for the quality.

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product information button runplayback ProAm USA PROAMFT Pro Tripod Legs & Bag Kit

manfrotto
product information button runplayback Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Video Head with Flat Base

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product information button runplayback Konova Slider K3 100cm (39.4-Inch)

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THE LIGHTING
Lighting was very minimal as we were mostly daylight dependent. For the ending interior shots we used a pair of budget friendly ePhoto 600 CN600HS LED Lights with Kayo Maxtar V-Mount Li-Ion Batteries. The Kayo Maxtar is a new addition to my kit and one of the best V-Mount battery options out right now. Fully charged, the Kayo can power these lights for up to 6 hours straight. Very impressive!

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ePhoto 600 Led Dimmable CN600HS Video Photography Light

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Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE SOUND
To keep our sound kit as light and simple as possible, I went with the Zoom H1, Rode Micro Boompole, Rode VideoMic Pro, Aspen HQ-S Lav Mic, P&C Handgrip and an audio extension cable. Our rule was that whoever wasn’t on camera would be the Sound Recordist. With some easy to remember sound recording basics and having a kit this simple ensured that no one would have to be a pro to capture quality sound.

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product information button runplayback Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

rode
product information button runplayback Rode Micro Boompole – 3-Section Boom Pole

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product information button runplayback Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

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AspenMics Lavalier Microphones

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product information button runplayback Dot Line P&C Handgrip

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THE CAMERA A KIT
Having some early success with the latest Panasonic V-Log color profile, I decided to use my workhorse GH4 mounted with a Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster and classic Canon FD glass – 20mm, 28mm, 50mm and 35-105mm. This combination would create a vintage, lived-in look that I thought would be perfect for a horror film.

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I kitted out my GH4 shoulder rig with a Varavon Armor Cage, Aputure V-Screen field monitor, Fotga follow focus, Ikan Tilta V-Mount Plate and a Kayo Maxtar BP-GL175 Li-Ion Battery. With the Kayo, I was able to power the Aputure monitor and use it as a counterweight for the GH4. There’s also a convenient USB port located on the side which kept my iPhone charged at every location.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

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Varavon Armor II GH4 & GH3 Cage

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Aputure VS-3 V-Screen 7″ IPS Field Monitor

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Fotga DP500IIS Follow Focus

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ikan Tilta TT-C12 HyperDeck Shuttle Mount with V-Mount Plate

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Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE CAMERA B KIT
Our story included many scenes of walking through the woods so I wanted to incorporate gimbal tracking shots without having to spend any time balancing or breaking down the Camera A Kit. For this situation I went with the Ikan Fly-X3 Gimbal paired with the Xiaomi Yi Action Camera aka the $80 Chinese GoPro. Since these walking shots would include both Hannah and Nancy in the shot, it would leave me as the Sound Recordist. The Ikan Fly-X3 doesn’t have a 1/4-20 thread so I rigged a Joby GorillaPod to the handle and fitted it with a Rode VideoMic, Zoom H1, an audio extension cable and a pair of lightweight Auvio Headphones. With the shotgun mic I was then able to capture realtime location sound while also performing stable gimbal shots while walking backwards through the woods. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

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product information button runplayback Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Kit with GoPro HERO3/4 mount

xiaomi
Xiaomi Yi Action Camera with Wi-Fi

Joby Action Clamp GorillaPod Arm
product information button runplayback Joby Action Clamp with GorillaPod Arm

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Auvio Black Ear-Cup Foldable Headphones

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Another interesting rig we built was an Indy Mogul style DIY 3rd person POV action camera backpack. Designed with cheap PVC pipe from Home Depot, we mounted an Oben Mini Ballhead and the Xiaomi Yi on the rig to create the over the shoulder look during the “search” scenes in the woods. With the Xiamoi’s Wi-Fi app, I would be able to monitor the shots while giving direction to Nancy. We wanted to present an unusual sense of vertigo during these scenes since her character would become more desperate as day turned to night.

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product information button runplayback Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head

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THE CAMERA C KIT
For a 24 Hour Shootout, it would be tempting to use the DJI Phantom 3 Professional as a shortcut for production value but we didn’t want to go that route. Our initial thought was that an aerial would take up valuable time that we could put towards characterization. Also, because of the hazardous weather conditions on the shoot day, flying a drone would prove too risky. However, nature was on our side when we had a small 10 minute window of clear weather. It was a tricky manuever as I had to fly through a 10 foot clearing in the trees towards a height that revealed just enough of the forest without showing any residential homes or highways. I fitted the Phantom 3 with a Polar Pro Polarizer Filter to prevent glare off the water and was able to get the shot in just two takes. However, flying the drone back to home point was nerve racking as I clipped a few small branches due to the wind and unstable GPS lock. Luckily I had Nancy and Hannah as my spotters on each side of the clearing to prevent the Phantom from going down into the water. The shot was definitely worth it as it created a vast sense of exploration for the Alice character, establishing the forest as a kind of supernatural playground.

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product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter with 4K Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal

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Polar Pro DJI Phantom 3 Professional Filter 6-Pack

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THE POST PRODUCTION
We finished our last shot at about 11:30pm and after ingesting all the footage in Adobe Premiere, post production began at 12 midnight. By this time, I was exhausted but not completely tapped out. I knew that once I got past the hump of assembly I would go into creative mode, driven by pure adrenaline. With the help of a large iced coffee I finished assembly by 2:00am and edited straight until 9:00am. The GH4 V-Log setting was especially helpful in color correction for each clip. After dropping in the Panasonic Varicam 35 LUT, I simply adjusted exposure within Lumetri Color and did my best to match the Xiaomi Yi and Phantom 3 footage.

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As the sun started to rise and the 10:00am delivery deadline looming, I did a few last touches and exported the file onto a flash drive. Since the YSPI24 rendevouz was a half hour away, I wasn’t able to do a final preview. At this point, I was completely delirious and just grateful that we completed our film.

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THE EXPERIENCE
YPSI24 was an insanely inspiring good time. From the cordial and energizing meetup with our fellow filmmakers to the hack-a-thon like shooting experience to the final screening at the 500 seat venue, YPSI24 reminded me of why I got into video in the first place. It wasn’t to win awards or make commercials. It was to tell a story using a language that didn’t require an army of people pontificating about the laws of Cinema. It’s a relief to know that the DIY spirit that’s shaped both my personal and professional life has never left me. Hashtag #setlife is not enough. Old traditions and new technologies are not enough. It’s the communal experience of being vulnerable with people that I care about which matters most. Check out our 2015 YPSI24 short “Always Alice” below and remember to always stay inspired!


Always Alice (2015 YPSI24)

DJI Gets Smart With New Flight Modes

DJI continues the dominate the consumer-friendly quadcopter market with the release of it’s latest Intelligent Flight Mode firmware update for the Phantom 3 Professional & Advanced and the Inspire 1. The new flight features that impressed me are Point of Interest (360 degree flight around a set object), Follow Me (the quad auto follows a subject holding the controller) and Waypoints (map out a predetermined path and the quad will follow). The upgrade also bumps the Phantom 3 Advance camera recording resolution from 1080p to 2.7k or 20704×1520. These features are a welcome addition to my reliable aerial shoots with the Phantom 3 and I definitely look forward to using them in the field. Stay tuned!

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product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter with 4K Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal

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Polar Pro DJI Phantom 3 Professional Filter 6-Pack

The Ricoh Theta S Wants To Be The Most Popular Device At Your Social Gathering

The first generation Ricoh Theta 360 camera was a fun yet novel device that delivered low res, noisy images. This was around the time I was experimenting with Virtual Reality and the Ricoh was one of the first consumer grade 360 camera available at the time. As I predicted, Ricoh will be launching it’s next generation Theta S camera which has much better features such as 1920 x 1080 30 fps video plus compatibility with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Maps and YouTube which all support 360 content. The app now has the ability to manually adjust camera settings and with an upgraded WiFi module, image and video transfer speeds are now four times faster than the original. Overall, some really cool upgrades but what is up with their promo video? If it isn’t captured in 360, did it really happen? For more information on the Theta S visit Ricoh’s company site here.

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product information button runplayback Ricoh Theta S

I Got My Drone Skills From Aspekt Visual & Aerial

A few months ago I met Connor Leszczuk, owner of Aspekt Visual & Aerial at a local Makers Fair where he was demonstrating DIY drone technology and aerial video production. I was pretty much hooked since that day and Connor’s expertise has been instrumental in helping me hone my quadcopter piloting skills and custom builds for Mini FPV racing. Above is a video I put together for his company that speaks on Connor’s experience and how he envisions the future of drone technology. We shot everything with the Panasonic GH4, Polaroid Cube, Varavon Birdycam Gimbal and a GoPro Hero 4. For more information on Aspekt Visual & Aerial visit their website here.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

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product information button runplayback Polaroid Cube Mini Lifestyle Action Camera (Black)

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Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

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product information button runplayback GoPro HERO4 Black Edition 4K Video Action Camera

Is the SteadXP Warp Stabilization in a Box?

Here’s an interesting crowdfunding product called the SteadXP which is a device that brings virtual three-axis video stabilization to any camera. What it does is implement motion tracking, similar to Warp Stabilization in Adobe Premiere but in hardware form. Apparently it does not work great with zooms, takes some time to compute the final results and probably does a bunch of cropping on the edges. I’m not quite sure how something like this could replace good old fashioned physical stabilization but I’d be willing to try it. What do you guys think, hot or nah?

Kodak Pixpro SP360 Action Camera Review

JK Imaging was kind enough to send us a Kodak Pixpro SP360 Action Camera. The SP360 uses a dome shaped fixed lens to capture an image that reads 360 degrees by 180 degrees. While not full 360, it’s still able to capture some pretty interesting shots in a very small package. You’ll need a smartphone or tablet that runs iOS or Android in order to view the image which also operates as a remote access to other options. This is extremely helpful when mounting the camera on a vehicle exterior or any other hard to reach areas where a monitor is a must to frame your shot properly. The built in Wi-Fi works well without any issues other than a slight lag.

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The Pixpro SP360 was sent with the Extreme bundle, which comes with a standard case, a waterproof case, and 8 mounts that allow you to place the camera wherever you want. We used used the waterproof case with the suction cup mount and went for a little drive into Manhattan. An 8GB Micro SD card is good for about an hour of footage. The SP360 saves the footage as H.264 1440 x 1440 @30fps, 32000 Hz, Stereo. If you pull it directly from the card or camera, it plays back in what they call “global format” which is a spherical image that you can creatively alter in post production.

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In order to edit and reformat the look of the footage, you can use the Pixpro 360 software available on kodakpixpro.com. You must connect the camera for the first time using the software, but after that you can download directly from the SD card. The software seems very buggy and while we had success in reformatting for the different views, it was more of a trial and error process. For example a “download failed” prompt would pop up but it would still save and playback without errors. Viewing and playback via smartphone is a great way to enjoy this camera but once you bring it into a desktop, the image quality is not very mind blowing. Overall, the Kodak Pixpro SP360 is a fun way to capture your action and outdoor shoots and since it’s one of the first 360 action cameras on the market, it will be interesting to see how future iterations will evolve with the 360 and virtual reality scene.

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product information button runplayback Kodak Pixpro SP360 Action Camera

Check Out the Lily Camera, a Completely Autonomous Selfie Drone

Huh? Is this real? Where did this waterproof, portable, auto following, autonomous quadcopter come from? Who knows, but it looks pretty damn cool. Essentially, the Lily Camera works by triggering a wearable transmitter/tracking device, tossing the camera into the air, and going about your action while it follows you. The camera stays trained in your direction no matter where you go using a combination of GPS technology and “digital gimballing” which means it crops the region of image that contains you – kind of like warp stabilizer in Adobe Premiere. It also has a waterproof rating of IP67 so you could take it up to one meter underwater without causing any damage, has a 20 minute flight time and can fly at speeds up to 25mph, and contains a microphone within the tracking device which automatically synchronizes the audio with the copter.

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So what does this mean for the upcoming 3DR Solo or DJI Phantom 3? Well nothing really as it doesn’t have an actual controller. It will only aim itself at the transmitter. It seems pretty clear from their website and promo video that the Lily Camera is aimed at a very broad market (look even Grandma can fly the Lily!) rather than the drone nerd/enthusiast. But I could definitely see the Lily being useful for situations where I want to track a fast moving subject with very little setup time. However, at a $1,000 price point ($500 for pre-order), it may be a little steep considering that the bare 3DR Solo and DJI Phantom 3 Advanced quadcopters are the same price. Yes obviously they do much different things but you just have to ask yourself what you’ll be shooting more of: ultimate action selfies or aerial landscapes?

For more information about the Lily, visit their company website at lily.camera

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Lily Camera

LanParte HHG-01 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal – NAB 2015

Our 2015 NAB Show coverage continues with a look at LanParte’s HHG-01 3-axis handheld gimbal for a smartphone or GoPro camera. With a simple touch of a button it takes about 2 seconds to calibrate. The camera has a default follow mode and you simply use your wrist to control the pan and tilt. The LanParte HHG-01 3-axis gimbal is very lightweight and incredibly stable. For more further details about the features of this gimbal check out Cheesycam’s NAB coverage below.

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HH-01Handheld Gimbals for smartphone and GoPro