Category Archives: Wearable Technology

SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Wired Ear Buds with Heart Monitor Review

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As a big fan of wireless headphones, it can often be draining on your device especially when running multiple applications. For example, I like to keep my Bluetooth connection off on my first generation Pebble smartwatch because tracking my daily steps is more important to me than reminders which are battery killers. When I heard about the SMS Biosport Earbuds, which could monitor your heartbeart without the need for another battery to charge, I was intrigued. I’m happy to say that it met my expectations but with minor limitations.

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DESIGN
The Biosport has an angular design with a black and yellow colorway that resembles athletic wear. Although the earbuds are made to fit snug into your inner ear, it takes a little time for the ear gels to break in. Make sure that you choose the right size gel as your ears can get sore if they are the wrong size.

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A closer look at the wires reveal the heart monitor switch which activates the optical sensor that sits inside of the right ear bud. Unlike other heart monitors, this one doesn’t require any additional charging as the power is fed from your smartphone jack. While the heart symbol on the Biosport wire signifies that’s it on, what’s missing is a microphone symbol on the other side when it’s in the off position. I figured that out when I made a phone call to a friend and he couldn’t hear me until I turned the heart monitor switch off. A minor inconvenience that could have been solved with a simple image of a microphone. Another caveat is that it’s missing a volume rocker and track buttons which is simply a must have feature when exercising. The less distractions the better, and having to look at my phone to change the volume is a bummer.

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PERFORMANCE
Nothing can ruin a good workout more than a pair of sport earbuds that can’t keep up with your daily activity. Thankfully, the Biosport can hold it’s own wether it’s on the treadmill or on the track. These things stay put inside of your ear and are both water and sweat resistant. The cord has a flat design making them tangle resistant and the length is just enough to stay put on a treadmill tray without getting pulled out of it’s jack from a sudden move.

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The heart rate monitor is a nice feature that’s a nice companion to the step counter on my smartwatch. I typically like to put in about 5,000 steps before I go about my day and being able to measure my heart rate gives me a better idea on how to modulate my workouts during those days when I can’t commit more than 35 minutes. As of now, the Biosport only works with the RunKeeper app so the heart rate monitor is pretty much non-existent without it.

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Overall, the heart rate monitor performed very accurately. While I don’t have other monitors to compare it to, the Biosport gave me consistent stats that matched up with my treadmill inputs. For example, my fast walking rate would measure around 100bpm, jogging about 130bpm and running about 140-150bpm. Curiously, the heart monitor would occasionally drop out for a few seconds and restart. I assumed that it’s from the vibrations during a run but it’s happened during a slow walk as well. Also, the RunKeeper app does voiceover updates which create a minor pause in your music. If your music helps you keep pace, this feature can be jarring.

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The SMS Biosport are not bass heavy earbuds, nor were they meant to be. The sound is full but not particularly detailed when compared to other models in the SMS product line. Music is fine but don’t expect to be blown away if you’re using them to watch a movie or to enjoy your favorite albums. However, because of their design, I’m able to enjoy music more while working out because they block out every other noise in the vicinity.

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CONCLUSION
Once you go wireless, it’s hard to back, yet the SMS Biosport Earbuds gave me a reason to enjoy wired earbuds again. Sure the sound quality isn’t rich but it’s the self powered optical heart monitor that’s the big draw. While the Biosport has room for improvement (simultaneous microphone and heart rate monitor ability, more compatible apps, and more dynamic sound), it’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking to improve your daily activity.

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product information button runplayback SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Wired Ear Buds with Heart Monitor (Yellow)

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

Polar Pro Launches New GoPro Accessory Line – NAB 2015

Our NAB 2015 coverage begins with some brand new GoPro accessories from Polar Pro. Back at PhotoPlus Expo 2014, Polar Pro impressed us with their line of high quality filters, the Pro View and Power Pole and they continue their innovation by introducing even more professional-grade GoPro accessories. We checked out the StrapMount, which is a quick release mount that attaches a GoPro to any strap or backpack; the ProGrip, which offers a waterproof housing for GoPro batteries that can mount with the Strap Mount; the NoShow Extension Pole, a selfie stick that has an adjustable-angle arm to show less pole and more action; and the soon to be released Power Vault, a GoPro gear case that has an embedded 5200mAH battery which provides power for up to six charges.

We spoke with Polar Pro VP, Austen Butler for more information.

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StrapMount-GoPro BackPack/Scuba Mount

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ProGrip-Floating GoPro Grip

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NoShow-Waterproof GoPro Extension Pole

Manny Pacquiao Reacts to the Samsung Gear for the First Time

As Samsung and Oculus get set to release the next version of the Gear VR, we had the opportunity to demo the original headset with international boxing legend, Manny Pacquiao. Since many of us are still awaiting the launch of VR compatible, 360 cameras to create our own content, we can at least have comfort knowing that Manny Pacquiao will probably dig it.

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Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition

Rapper Sammy Adams Reacts to Virtual Reality for the First Time

As the Samsung Gear VR continues to dominate the mobile virtual reality experience with recent sightings on Jane Fonda, the Superbowl, and Qantas Airlines, we had the opportunity to demo the Gear VR with rapper Sammy Adams. As this was Sammy’s first experience with virtual reality, the results were, as usual, hilarious. Sammy also gives some insight on how VR could benefit artists and musicians. As many of us eagerly await the launch of affordable 360 cameras, we can at least start brainstorming concepts that can push this technology to the mainstream.

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Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition

Artist Jared Evan Reacting to Virtual Reality for the First Time

The Samsung Gear VR has been gaining massive consumer exposure with an official promotional launch, multiple VR experiences at Sundance and availability at major third-party retailers like Best Buy. We captured our latest VR reaction from singer/songwriter Jared Evan. We recently worked with Jared on the upcoming “Bass is Low” music video shot entirely with the Varavon Birdycam Camera Gimbal and “Charlie Brown (Revisited)”, my very first Panasonic GH4 music video. Check out Jared’s reactions as he experiences the Samsung Gear VR for the very first time.

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Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition

Rapper Joey Bada$$ Reacting to Virtual Reality for the First Time

The Oculus and Samsung Gear VR headset reactions don’t stop as we share more virtual reality fun, this time with rapper Joey Bada$$ whose debut album “B4.Da.$$” is available today. We recently worked with Joey on the “No. 99” music video where we did some major running and gunning with the Panasonic GH4. Check out Joey’s reactions as he experiences the Samsung Gear VR for the very first time.

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Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition

Win a Free Pair of H3 Bluetooth Headphones ($99 value), Perfect for the Samsung Gear VR

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I’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries about the best Bluetooth headphones to use with the Samsung Gear VR, so we partnered up with Icon Q to offer a chance to score a FREE pair of Boundless H3 Bluetooth Headphones ($99 value). The Boundless H3, with it’s polished glossy white finish, matches the Samsung Gear VR perfectly. Performance wise, the H3’s Bluetooth connection has no latency and being as untethered as possible is the best way to experience mobile VR. To enter, click the image above. The giveaway ends on 1/23/15. Good luck!

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Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition

People Reacting to the Samsung Gear VR for the First Time

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The Oculus and Samsung Gear VR headset has been seeing a lot of exposure lately through word of mouth, CES coverage and even during the NFL Playoffs as Samsung has launched broadcast commercials that prominently feature the Gear VR. It’s an exciting time as virtual reality introduces a new and highly immersive way to experience entertainment. Here’s a few reactions of some of my friends experiencing the Samsung Gear VR for the very first time and the results are amazing. Check it out!

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Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition

Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition First Impressions

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I recently took the plunge into the virtual reality scene with the much buzzed about Samsung Gear VR paired with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Moga Pro Bluetooth Game Controller and the Icon Q Boundless H3 Bluetooth Headphones. After reading all of the hype and anticipation about the first mobile virtual reality system, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this thing. Here’s my first impressions…

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Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Frosted White 32GB (AT&T)

First off, the Gear VR is actually the Gear VR Innovator Edition which means it’s not available at any electronic big box store. It’s available online for $200 at the official Samsung Gear VR site and works only with U.S. carrier Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphones. I was able to get an unlocked Sprint Note 4 on ebay but you should definitely browse this forum thread first to view Note 4 model compatibility should you choose to buy one.

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Moga Pro Power Bluetooth Game Controller

Once I ordered the Note 4 and Gear VR online, I wanted to prepare for their arrival by gathering some must have accessories. Due to poor reviews of the Samsung Game Controller, I picked up the Moga Pro Power Bluetooth Game Controller instead which is available at most retail stores. The Moga Pro has a full set of console-style buttons like dual clickable analog sticks, L1/R1 shoulder buttons, L2/R2 shoulder triggers and a D-pad. It also comes with a tablet holder, a 2200 mAh internal battery and fold out smartphone holder that fits the Note 4 like a glove.

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For audio, I used the Icon Q Boundless H3 Bluetooth Headphones which I recently reviewed here. The Boundless H3, with it’s polished glossy white finish, matches the Samsung Gear VR perfectly. To the untrained eye, the H3 looks like it’s part of the actual headset. As someone whose big on wearable technology, it’s important that whatever crazy contraptions I’m strapping to my face has some kind of style coordination.

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Icon Q Boundless H3 Bluetooth v4.0 NFC Headphones

I’m happy to report that performance wise, the Boundless H3’s Bluetooth connection to the Note 4 has no latency when pairing with the Gear VR. Curiously, the performance and frequencies of the H3 performed much better on the Note 4 than on my iPhone 6. The bass hit where I wanted it to hit, voices were clear and the overall sound quality assisted my immersion into a virtual world. I would highly recommend a wireless Bluetooth headphone connection for the Gear VR. I tried using the 3.5mm cable and it was really annoying. Nothing pulls you out of virtual reality like a cable that constantly slaps against your shoulder. Go for the full experience of mobile VR and try to be as untethered as possible.

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The Note 4 fits seamlessly into the Gear VR headset with a retractable micro USB port. There’s also a lens cloth, a removable foam liner, a focusing dial for the lenses, internal tracking sensors that aid the Note 4’s accelerometer and gyro sensors and an automatic on/off sensor that calibrates once you put the headset on. It also comes with a microSD card loaded with videos, a cosmetic visor cover and a really high quality hard shell case with a divider space to hold a game controller. The Moga Pro fits perfect. Be sure to adjust the headstraps for optimal comfort. This is important as it’s easy to get VR sickness if there’s too much pressure on your head and if anything appears blurry. If you want to perform quick demos of the Gear VR to others I suggest taking the straps off and covering the on/off sensor with black tape. This will allow others to jump out of VR if their senses get overwhelmed. Lens fog is a big issue since your face is completely enclosed in the headset and your body temperature can quickly moisten the lens which can literally dampen your VR experience. Oculus God John Carmack recommends getting the Clarity Defog It Reusable Wipes which is serious military grade stuff.

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Clarity Defog It Dry Anti-Fog Cloths

Let’s go back to VR sickness for a minute. Personally, I’ve had some pretty sensitive inner ear issues all of my life which require me to take Dramamine whenever I travel by air. If you’re anywhere near my level of sensitivity I would definitely urge you to take precautions with some of the VR experiences in Gear VR. Seriously, unless you are a tech geek or an action sports junkie, this can be a huge turnoff for most people. Any games or experiences that create a forward movement can confuse the brain because it detects moving forward but you aren’t physically moving. Stationary experiences where your head is moving in 360 space is fine because the tracking is fast enough to fool your brain but trying to lean forward or walk around is asking for trouble. I believe this will eventually be solved by positional cameras but for now, anything that involves walking forward or backward with a controller is an utter nightmare. I lasted maybe 30 seconds in Temple Run VR, Dreadhalls and even Matterport VR before ripping off the headset and laying down for about an hour. Seriously Oculus, if you expect mobile VR to be accessible for the masses, VR sickness has gots to go. So now let’s get to the good stuff.

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There are far too many apps and games to cover but my most favorite Gear VR experience by far is the Oculus Cinema app. Essentially, it’s like having your own private 80 foot theater complete with photorealistic objects like movie chairs or a projector, popcorn, and even light reflections from the film bouncing off the different environments. I immediately tested my own videos in Oculus Cinema and this will now be the main way to screen my video work that I truly care about. Without the threat of texting, less than ideal screening conditions and real world distractions, I can instantly transport someone into my own private virtual theater. I can see this being a major tool for digital filmmakers who can now screen their films for potential investors or producers without the need for renting an actual theater which is always expensive. In fact, because the Galaxy Note 4 has a Super AMOLED high resolution screen, the quality is surprisingly high because the video isn’t being stretched to it’s maximum resolution. Instead it’s condensed into the screen which packs the pixels together. It’s like watching an HD YouTube video in the player without maximizing the screen, it appears sharper with more clarity. Even watching some of my older films in Oculus Cinema has gotten me inspired. It reminds me why I love movies so much. To be able to instantly capture that immersive theater experience makes the Samsung Gear VR one of the most important technological achievements of the decade.

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Wow that’s a bold statement, but damn if it isn’t true! Another big revelation to me were the 360 videos, some of which were pretty cringe worthy and others, most notably, Strangers with Patrick Watson and Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana were totally on the ball. A Canadian production team called Felix & Paul Studios seem to be the front runners of premium VR content using proprietary hardware and software. But more importantly, these guys are obvious storytellers and their ability to capture an immediate emotional connection to another world is pretty impressive.

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I think we’ll be seeing a lot of people just planting 360 cameras anywhere and just calling it a day. But there’s more to it than that. It’s not only about being tech savvy (yet it kinda is) and it’s not only about being a great storyteller (but wait, it is). I envision a new generation of filmmakers who will grow up understanding video as a natural 3D canvas who will able to write and direct without the limitations of 2 dimensions, 24 frames per second, wide, medium, closeups and all of the cinematic language we’ve been tethered to for over a century. As mobile phones and wearable tech continue to invade our real world, for better or worse, it’s ironic that Oculus and Samsung have made me feel something I haven’t known since I was a 9 year old kid watching Die Hard, my first R rated movie theater experience:

Unbridled Enthusiasm.

Shooting the new LG G Watch R with Eric West

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with actor, artist and musician Eric West on a promotional series for the new LG G Watch R smartwatch. Composed of 3 short episodes, Eric and I made our way through Brooklyn and Manhattan, capturing his day to day activities and how wearable technology seamlessly integrates into his life.

The LG G Watch R has a lot of cool features such as voice recognition – great for hands free texting and emailing, fitness tracking with a built in heart rate monitor and a high resolution circular POLED display where you can customize the watch face with a large variety of colors and designs.

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product information button runplayback LG G Watch R

I shot Eric with my go-to Panasonic GH4 and Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster setup along with a Canon FD 20mm f2.8 and a Canon FD 35-105mm 3.5 for macro shots of the G Watch. For exterior shots I used a Tiffen 77mm ND 0.9 filter and also placed Sensei 72-77mm step up rings on both lenses for convenience. It was a fun, easy shoot and capturing Eric as he discovered the benefits of wearable technology in real-time was inspiring.


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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product information button runplayback Tiffen 77mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filter

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product information button runplayback Sensei 72-77mm Step-Up Ring

Icon Q Boundless S1 Bluetooth Speaker Free With Any Purchase

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Icon Q is currently running a cool holiday promotion where you get a free Boundless S1 Bluetooth speaker with any purchase. The Boundless S1 features:

  • Delivers deep, vibrating bass along with a smooth matte finish and sturdy base
  • Adorned with unique LED lighting that lets you know when you’re paired and when to recharge
  • Built-mic to hands-free individual or group calls

The promotion lasts this week only and is a great holiday gift when paired with the $99 Boundless H3 Bluetooth Headphones or $65 Boundless H1 Bluetooth Earphones.

Icon Q Boundless H3 Bluetooth Headphones Review

After purchasing my original Pebble Smartwatch and getting geeked out on all things wireless, I began my search for the ultimate Bluetooth headphones that would work for my needs which include: my daily commute, office lifestyle and my set lifestyle. Like a sign from above, the Icon Q Boundless H3 landed on my desk and I’m happy to report that it met my expectations, with some minor caveats.

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DESIGN
The Boundless H3, to my knowledge, is one of the lightest Bluetooth headphones out there, featuring two slightly oversized earcups with soft padding joined by a foldable headset. It’s surprisingly lightweight for it’s size and great for traveling.

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A closer look at the buttons reveal a multifunctional play button, flanked by volume and track controls. The play button doubles as a call/answer control that can automatically connect to incoming calls without having to reach for your smartphone.

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What I love about my Pebble is that after I pair it to my smartphone, it will always remember the device and automatically pair even if when I power off/on or go out/in range. The same thing happens with the Boundless H3. With Bluetooth enabled on your device, hold down the play button for a second, turn it on and they’ll automatically pair with a sound that signals a solid connection. A steady bluish-white light flashes on and off to signal that it’s on and turns red when the battery is low. A cool feature for iOS devices is a small battery-life indicator that gets displayed at the top of screen once you’ve paired. It sounds like a minor thing but it’s actually quite convenient.

The Bose Soundlink is a beautifully designed Bluetooth headset but the protruding buttons completely ruins it for me. With it’s smooth lines, flush buttons and simple branding, the Boundless H3 is much more appealing to the eyes. There’s a sophistication here that appeals to those who care about the aesthetics of wearable technology and not just loudness or geek appeal.

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PERFORMANCE
Speaking of performance, the H3 has a warm, full sound but I can’t tell if it’s super detailed. Like most Bluetooth headphones, music sometimes comes across as flat. But for my needs, the pros of not being tethered to my device outweighh the cons of not being able to distinguish every frequency in a song. It definitely holds its own in the $99 range. My last pair of headphones were the wired Monster DNA’s which were uncomfortable and gave me headaches after prolonged use. The Boundless H3 however should conform to all kinds of head sizes. I wore it for about 3 hours in one sitting with no complaints.

I spend most of my time in the office editing in Adobe Premiere but for some reason the software would crash if I tried to use the H3 as my sound device. Bluetooth headphones are not exactly ideal for video editing but it was surprising since I’m running the latest Adobe CC updates on a robust system – MacPro 3.7 GHZ Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 with 32GB. How can Bluetooth headphones crash video editing software? I have no idea.

I could see myself using the Boundless H3 on shoots to preview music playback on my smartphone or to hold a private conversation in a loud area. And if an artist wants to rehearse their song privately before a take, I can easily pair it to their device. As for the call quality, there is a built in mic below the buttons that requires talking at a volume that isn’t very discreet. I typically like to keep my conversations low key so if I’m on the train or somewhere public, I wouldn’t use this feature that often.

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CONCLUSION
I’ve always been more into earphones than headphones but the Boundless H3 surprised me with it’s user friendly functionality and minimalist aesthetics. Battery life is solid (although the 10 hour playback claim is a bit reaching) and the sound quality is rich in noisy areas. I don’t have any hands-on experience with the first-generation Boundless but it seems to be a major improvement cosmetically.

While the Boundless H3 has room for improvement (additional carrying case, a smaller design and a smaller foldable profile), it’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking for wireless headphones at a great value.

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Icon Q Boundless H3 Bluetooth v4.0 NFC Headphones

Using the Pebble Smartwatch for Music Videos

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Having a dedicated crew member to “run playback” on a music video is often a luxury that is not always an option. Running playback is the act of playing a music track at an acceptable volume for the artist to lip sync to. This job is important because it often dictates the flow of each performance setup and energy level of the artist. Neglecting playback responsibilities often leads to frustration all around. With today’s wearable technology such as the affordable Pebble Smartwatch, running playback should be fun and interactive. So here’s what you do.

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The day before a shoot, split the music track into sections using Adobe Premiere. By dropping the audio file into a sequence you will be able to easily identify the 1st verse, 1st chorus, 2nd verse, 2nd chorus, bridge, etc. First, create markers a few seconds before each section so you have “slack” before playback.

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It’s important for the artist to have some lead time before performing and not have to jump right into an energetic performance. Give a little bit of room here. Once you’ve marked everything, highlight each selection and export with an easy name such as “Artist_1st_verse.mp3”. Next, drop the files into your smartphone and load into your music application. Remember to create short file names for quick and easy access while shooting.

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product information button runplayback Monster Power ClarityHD Micro Bluetooth Speaker (Black)

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product information button runplayback Beats by Dr. Dre pill 2.0 Portable Speaker (Red)

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product information button runplayback Jawbone Big Jambox – Portable Bluetooth Speaker Graphite Hex

For small run and gun shoots I like to use the Monster Clarity HD Micro bluetooth speaker but you can use anything with big portable sound such as the Beats Pill 2.0 or Jawbone Jambox. Don’t skimp here. Powerful sound creates the right atmosphere for an artist and ultimately a better take for the camera. You want your artist to get lost in the music and not get distracted by crew interactions, chatty entourage, street noise, etc.

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When you’re ready for the first take, load up the music album on your smartphone. With a paired Pebble Smartwatch, on the music setting, you will instantly get music player controls with large title text. After camera is rolling, announce “Playback!” and simply activate play on your wrist then go immediately into camera operating. The physical buttons and strong Bluetooth connectivity on the Pebble makes this one of the fastest ways to run playback on a set.

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product information button runplayback Pebble Smartwatch (Jet Black)

Running playback on set is very much related to assistant directing. It gets everyone to pay attention and do their job. And when you’re a one man band or shooting with a skeleton crew, the time saved by running playback in a quick and efficient manner can be priceless. What do you think? Share some of your best and worst “Run Playback” stories in the comments below.