The Color Run (Louisville, KY 2013)

It took a while (life) but I finally got the video trimmed and uploaded:

Ye Ole Caption


Yay! I joined one of.. 4000+ results?    Everybody had a video.    And I joined late, so all the people searching for it, have already chosen their favorites and moved on.    Down, Ego, Down..  Pop original motive:  To represent “what I love” about the races I’m running this year.  And give an outlet for my video create/organize/edit urge.

For this video, I had one camera on my forehead, and another on a chest strap / reversed / pointing backwards.  This had some challenges:

  • Chest strap was not made to be worn backwards, and so it rubbed up against my front neck/chest area uncomfortably.
  • Because I could not see where the camera was pointing, and it was at chest level, and the race was mostly populated by women, I got some footage that was, possibly invasive of the person’s space.  This mostly happened at the start.. and at the finish when everybody was throwing color in the air.   I tried to ensure I cut out anything that would be embarrassing, but I wonder if I missed something.   Solution: cut out the backward pointing video as necessary.  
  • Battery life!   Hero 3 chews through it like crazy, compared to the Hero 960.   Observe when the camera got turned off for a bit (not sure why) in the middle of the video.
  • Presentation:  I went the easy way out; I didn’t try to choose front vs back, I just showed the whole thing.  Which actually is accurate – it really is that chaotic there.
  • Stabilization:  Chest moves left/right a lot when I run.   However, that’s easily handled by Warp Stabilizer.. at the cost of 1 hour per 5 minutes of video or so.    On the flip side, Warp Stabilizer against the head-mounted camera didn’t work, the camera view angle moves around too much.

About the race itself:

  • Its not a race.  It’s a casual walk / jog with a bunch of screaming, yodeling, skipping, and general goofing off.
  • Go with goofy friends.  I was in good company.
  • Protect your phone!
  • The color won’t last.  Even if you try to save it with vinegar etc.  So don’t worry about staining stuff too much.  (well, it might give a hint of a shade)
  • There are multiple waves.  I was in Wave 5?   Somebody else I met was in Wave 14, I think they said. 

About the video edit:

  • I tried to keep everybody who waved at the camera in the final edit.
  • Original was 1 hour and 15 minutes of video.  Cut down to 8 minutes.  Yeah baby.

Good fun.  Highly recommend the race to anybody who even considers it .. yes you can walk it!

Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon / CodePaLousa Day #2

“Stop calling it a Mini.  There’s nothing “Mini” about 13.1 miles.”   — somebody who probably is not a Marathoner. 

Well, the second half of the Marathon – making the video of it – Its not “over” because the video isn’t “perfect” and I’m a perfectionist, so I’m admitting defeat and uploading it as it is.   Because to succeed would involve more frustration than I pay myself for.   Maxim S1: Dial the perfection knob down to 7 unless I’m getting paid for it.

My wife’s name is Molly but that’s not for her

My hope and intention was to capture some of the “how” it works (for those folks who’ve never been to a bigger running event like this) as well as the “why” its beautiful (the people who run it, the beautiful old people along the road, the general sense of celebration, the life that happens along the way).

I planned poorly – I ran the GoPro at a frame rate (60 fps), shortening the available battery life to 50 minutes, and took too much video at the starting line, so I had to switch to the iPhone for the last bit.   I wish I could have included:

  • The girl who broke her leg, got crutches, and she, and her entire family, are walking the rest of the way to the end.  Beautiful family. 
  • The guy who broke his leg, got crutches and a wheelchair, and he, with a buddy following behind him with the wheelchair, are intent on finishing it.

Other little things that are interesting to me:

  • The lady who ran three halves this year – her shirt said “I can do it.”  
  • If my friend Todd had run 1 second per mile slower, he would not have qualified for Boston.
  • Running into just about everybody I know who runs, including Nick whom I know from Panera who is 72, race-walks Marathons, and hopes to do 6 M’s in 6 days in the North East this year.  And Steve.  And Shannon. 
  • I was able to sit with somebody by the side of the road and listen to her.  Her knee was locking up on her good leg, and she didn’t know how she could keep on going, and she told her friend not to come back for her but her friend wouldn’t listen, and she was frustrated enough to cry to me, a stranger.    Bless you little lady, I hope you did good, whether that was respecting your pain, or finishing your goal.   Please don’t injure yourself, its much more important to stay healthy than to finish one race.

Lessons learned:

  • The most comfortable place for the camera is, in fact, on my head.    On my chest, it vies for attention with the heart rate chest strap and its much harder to aim; and there’s no hope for having it “put away” on my belt.   If you skip to the end of the video, I don’t look too dorky with it.  Although why did I have to dance?
  • I can probably get a much faster time if I didn’t talk as much, or shoot as much video.  Almost everybody I talked with – if you go look up their times via their bib numbers – finished faster than me.   Go figure!
  • Don’t try to mix anything else with a half marathon day.  To whit:

CodePaLousa Day #2

No Problem.  Car is broken, I’ll just ride my scooter to the half marathon, run 13.1 miles, ride home, let the dogs out, ride back to downtown, and attend the last 3-4 sessions, having only missed a keynote and one session.

Problem Number 1.    We parked 1 mile from the start.  In the morning, that seemed like a great idea.   After the race, not so much.  Every sidewalk curb was an oww-portunity. 

Problem Number 2.   Scooter = Windchill;  Windchill against tired fatigued muscles = frozen muscles.  When I got off the scooter at home, I was locked in a “Cowboy Stance”.   I could hardly get the scooter back on its kickstand.  I could not walk up the steps (I had to crawl). 

Problem Number 3.  Given what my wife calls “Marathon Brain”, I very intelligently put away my scooter lock into the under-seat storage, with my keys still attached.   At that point in time, didn’t know where the spare keys were (Separate story, starring the Blinking Red Dot from my unconscious).  This makes transport difficult.

However, I did get to wave at two ‘PaLousers (wait that sounds bad) as I jogged past the Seelbach Hotel at the end of the race.    And that would be my second day of CodePaLousa. 

The good news is, my inability to attend has lead to a grassroots movement – I am dedicating the first weekend in the month to have my own mini-conference – including Pizza, and Board Games, and Microsoft’s Channel 9, and one hour sessions, and a friend or two —  to catch up on videos / presentations on various technologies.  

Papa John’s 10 Miler Video

I had some footage I took during the PPJ10Miler sitting around, that I’ve meant to do something with.

Scenes from the Papa John 10 Miler 2013
  • Stabilization is hard!  especially on iPhone video, where there isn’t a large forgiving field of view like a GoPro.  It took an hour to stabilize the 3 minutes of footage I had, on an i7 processor with 12G of RAM.
  • I scream way too loud for being a camera person.
  • I still had some moire develop on the 1080p video, so I took it down to 720p at a drastically different frame rate (25p).   I ended up doing 4 different renders trying to find something that worked.  60fps helps with the source of this problem, but is a booger on battery power.
  • I should do some test stuff with the different modes of stabilize some time.  Cool blog post about it for me to digest:  In my case, I went with “Position only” to preserve frame space, and removed cropping.   Yep, more research needed..

Anyhow.  10 miler is a fun race.  Its really nice to see the leaders of the pack – usually I only hear about them on websites and stuff like that.   And they have nice technical shirts.   Definitely recommend.

Three Sunset Timelapses of Louisville Downtown

I found an app, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, and in playing with it I figured out that I could predict when the Sun would line up with certain landmarks.   So I decided to try it with Downtown Louisville.  I set a reminder to myself.

And promptly forgot to bring my Video Camera in that day.  It was Friday 3/29/2013, and the sunset was gorgeous.

No problem, I’ll just catch it the next day.

Saturday 3/30 – Overcast and hazy.  That’s #3 in the video.

Sunday 3/31 – Beautiful Sunset.  I skipped part of Louisville NCAA Madness to set this up.  User error – it didn’t record.

Monday 4/1 – Pretty good.  That’s #1 in the video.  Pulled back from my first attempt.   Every 5 seconds

Tuesday 4/2 – hazy, skipped.

Wednesday 4/3 – Not quite as good.  #2 in the video.  Pulled even further back.   Every 2 seconds, but I sped it up for the video.

Downtown Sunset Timelapse

The video is in 1080, so fullscreen is best.

By this point, the sun had slipped away from being lined up with downtown; and I had figured out that the stock zoom lens on my camcorder does not make for a great picture in low light conditions.    So ends that project; I’ll resume from a Tripod on the Pedestrian Bridge later in the summer… sun reflecting off the buildings.

Car Stats: OBDII + Android + Torque (feat GoPro Hero3 Black)

Part of my Christmas loot was a big fat bonus from my Employer. This has lead to various toys to play with. One of them was a BAFX Products ELM327 OBD Scan Tool to use in my car.

Another Christmas item (from my wife) was a GoPro Hero3 Black.

So I combined showing them into a single video.   The video shows it better than I could explain it; and really, there’s a ton of sites explaining Torque out there.  What I wanted to show was the “how integrated it feels” bit.

Here’s the video:

Testing Hero3 Black by demoing Torque

My take-aways:

  • The newness wears off after a week.   Sometimes, its distracting.  
  • My car uses 0.2 gallons per hour when idling; more when warming up.
  • The color on the Hero3 initially seemed bland, but was much more “workable” than the Hero960.   Much better Midtones, more data to work with.
  • I like that I can pretty much leave the droid in the car.   It has Navigon USA on it as well, it can double as a GPS, even though there is no cell service activated for it.

Fun fun!

Wedding Video–Part 1–Acquisition

imageThe geekiest thing I’m doing right now is editing a wedding video for my friend Stuart. 

I’m very glad I did this wedding as a gift – ie, not getting paid.  If I were to get paid, there’s a lot of things I would do differently. Here is what I have learned:

Pre-Wedding Checklist

  • At least two of the same kind of camera, preferably of a resolution higher than the final product.  
    • You want better than the final resolution for stabilization – any software needs to loose some pixels in order to stabilize. 
    • Hint: film at 1080p, render at 720.   Unless you are Über with your camera moving Skills.
    • Cameras that do well in low light – the dancing at the reception, for example.
  • Two GOOD tripods, which extend at least above head-level high.   OR, a Balcony. 
    • When everybody is standing, it will be challenging to get the right folks in the video.   I had one tall tripod that didn’t move well, and one short tripod that did move but was no more than head high.
    • The $55 tripod at Target is not it.   While moving, it jars and shakes – that’s where an actual video tripod is worth the $.  Next time. 
  • One audio recorder to keep somewhere in the altar area.  In my case, it went in a flower pot.
  • As many extra little cameras as you can afford – to cover the angles when none of your other cameras has a shot.  I had a GoPro near the altar area in front of the entire congregation, on the floor. 
  • A gray-scale/color card.  These can get expensive – but you can cheat and print your own.  It doesn’t need to be perfect, its mostly to color balance between different cameras.
  • An assistant to run the other camera is REALLY nice.
  • Enough battery power for N+2 hours on each camera.  
    • I planned poorly for mine – I came prepared for 5, but it turned out to be 8. 
    • Enough time to charge all batteries. You may not get it onsite.
  • Enough card space for N+2 hours on each camera. 
  • A pair of silent black shoes, and a black outfit, to not draw attention to one’s self.   I used these guys.

Rehearsal Checklist

  • Ask the question:  Where will the congregation be limited to?   If I had asked this, I would have know about additional places I could have put camera #2 that would have not been affected by standing folks.
  • Film the entire rehearsal like you were doing the real service.  It helps you know where to be and where to point at any given time.   I changed my plan about 3 times during the rehearsal.
  • Get B-Roll video of the performers performing – mostly their fingers (since they will not be wearing the same stuff during the real thing)
  • You need a reception rehearsal as well – or at least ask the questions:
    • Where will the bride and groom enter from?
    • Where will the cake be cut?
    • Where will the toast be delivered from?  (I assumed the table, but it was from the singer’s microphones)
    • What’s the general order of events? 
    • Where is the dancing going to be?

Post Rehearsal Checklist

  • Re-charge all batteries.
  • Offload and clear all memory cards.
  • Final plan on where the cameras will be.   Remember the 180 rule

Pre Wedding

  • Place all the cameras, tripods, etc, in position.
  • Get some audio without anybody else there – to establish baseline noise (to be used later in noise reduction)
    • I used AGC (automatic gain control) on my recorder, but it would be better to have that turned off if you want high quality audio – however, that also needs practice.  My fear was that I’d have the gain turned too low, so I went with AGC turned On.  That makes noise reduction harder.
  • More B-roll.  By this time, all the flowers, etc will be in place.
  • 5 minutes before action time, turn everything on. 
    • Use a checklist.  Yes, I DID turn on the audio recorder.  Yes, I DID turn on the GoPro.

During the Wedding

  • If you have an assistant, one camera should be fixed on a subject at any point in time.  This is where the stationary Go-Pro or wide-angle cameras really help – you can always fall back on them even if everything else is moving.  
    • If you are a solo act, this works out – I would adjust one camera, pad over to the next (in my silent shoes), adjust it, then back to the first, etc.
  • Slow slow SLOW sweeps. 
    • This is where the good tripod really helps.
    • Do NOT zoom in all the way.  This is where recording at a resolution higher than the result is helpful – gives image stabilization room to play.  This is where having the grid turned on helps – keep most of it inside the center grid.   (But, if you are recording at the final resolution, obviously, don’t do that)

After the Wedding

  • Record the entire receiving line.  
    • From an angle where you can see the guest’s faces.
    • These are the people who are important to the Bride and Groom.  

During the Reception

  • You probably will not get to eat a full meal.   Plan accordingly.  
    • Why: Some of the footage you will want is people getting served food.   That cuts into eating time.
    • Then, while eating, the toasting will probably begin.    Or, people will demand they couple kiss, and you’ll want to be ready for that.
    • This does not exclude Cake.  Cake can be eaten easily.
  • Friendly kids and throw away cameras make for great video.   10 years later, its whatever the kids did, that gets watched, not the boring grown-up stuff.   I was blessed with two volunteers.


That’s probably about it, on lessons learned.   Don’t worry – while it sounds like I had a train wreck; au contraire, I’m 90% proud of what I’m able to produce – I have good editing skills.     The editing part is a separate post.