The Kodak Zi8 Releases Tuesday

I am still pretty stoked about the Kodak Zi8. For a pocket camera, I’m not sure it can be beat. Here’s a test video. The microphone is horrible, but remember it has an external mic input. I don’t think my consumer DV camcorder would have fared any better, audio wise. There are some glitches in this, and I wonder if it is because the shake reduction is trying too hard. I wonder it it had been a smaller object than a boat, or if shake reduction had been off, would the video have been smoother? (Does the youtube upload affect it?)

Even so. Compared to other pocket cameras, this one performs as well and have superior features.

At least, that’s what I think before I own one.


True Love Doesn’t Stop for Dirt

It’s hot in Florida. And you pretty much mow the lawn 10 months of the year.

Today, when I came in from mowing, I was very dirty and sweaty. My youngest is starting to get around pretty good, and she came toddling over. I know she was going to hug me. She had that look, you know?

I bean to back away, saying, “No, daddy’s dirty, Don’t touch me. Dady’s sweaty, daddy’s gross”

But she kept on coming until she grabbed me. Nothing I said could persuade here. She didn’t care that I was slimy with sweat or smelly from working in the heat. She just wanted to hug me, not matter what.

Later, I realized that’s how God is with us. We might say that we are too sinful, to unclean for him, but he keeps pursuing us anyway. Nothing we can do will stop him. He keeps coming. He won’t stop because we are not clean. He won’t stop for dirt.

The Big Kahuna

kahunaAlmost 20 years ago First Orlando purchased state of the art broadcast television production equipment.

Almost 20 years later, we still have it. It is a testimony to companies like Grass Valley, Sony, and Fujinon that we still use their gear to create decent looking broadcast-quality video for TV every week. Oh, the gear has issues, but we can make it work.

Recently, though, it has been fading… fast. The lenses are literally de-laminating. Back focus and zoom issues plague us. Every time we have to shut one off, I wonder if it will turn on. The cameras color just drifts. By the end of the service what was once brown may now be a shade of green. The light handling capability of the cameras is getting so bad that pretty much anything under 100 foot candles is too dim for the best picture.

But all those things can be over come with skilled operators and engineers. For a while longer anyway.

But the Grass Valley 200A at the broadcast switching position has come to the end of it’s road. A few months ago the main program out card began to glitch (see photo). We patched around it. We eventually got that back in line, but we don’t trust it anymore.

switcher output

Then the fan died, and we placed an external cooling device on the mainframe so it would continue to operate. When the power is on, the fan is on. If the power goes out, the fan stops. Once, we moved the fan to try to re-time something, and watched as the outputs began to do some very strange things.

external fan

Most recently, right before a major event, the color black simply stopped being black. it insisted upon being a m=nice shade of purple. we had one of the best engineers in orlando in for the event. He tracked it back to the internal black generator. The switcher would not time out to any external black, and no amount of tweaking would deliver the actual color black. it is simply broken. In order to fade from or to black, we iris down a camera, and fade from to to that.

purple screen

It is time for a new switcher. There is just no telling when the one we have now will stop working. And most likely, it will stop working right before a weekend service or event. A couple of years ago we installed an SD Snell & Wilcox Dave switcher at the IMAG position. It does SD SDI, and has worked well. But while Snell makes great switchers, they can be pricey when you start looking at the features we need to take us into the realm of HD production.

A few months ago we began to talk with Blue Hat design, which is a part of Technical Innovations. They have been great. A few weeks ago we got a quote from them for a Snell & Wilcox Kahuna switcher. I was amazed at the price. I don’t think I can actually mention it in public, but it was very competitive.

Last night I was able to brief the Trustees, and gain permission to purchase the Kahuna. Though it is a good price, it is still an expensive purchase, but we routinely get donations from the TV broadcast. After over 47 years of broadcasting, without even asking for money we see a decent amount come in from people who want to help support the ministry. Because of these kind of donations, we were able to fund the entire purchase of the switcher without impacting the general operating budget of the church.

Today we sent off the paperwork to get it ordered. It should be installed well before the Singing Christmas Trees this Christmas.

A few of the features: 3MEs with two control surfaces (1ME for the broadcast position, and a 2ME for IMAG), 4 full keyers for each ME, 64 inputs with 24 outputs, Full SD and HD functionality, 2 dual-4 tiles of 3D DVEs, and an aux panel.

Simon and Conventional Wisdom

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Luke 5:4-7 NIV

Conventional wisdom says that Simon, a fisherman by trade, should know more than Jesus, a carpenter and teacher, about how to fish.

Simon knows Jesus, calls him master. He’s probably thinking that this guy knows something about teaching, but not much about fishing. Simon and his fellow fishermen know how to fish. That’s what they do. They have been doing it all night. Conventional wisdom would say to go home and rest, and hope for a better catch the next day.

Yet, out of respect, Simon does as Jesus asks, although not without a bit of grumbling. And then has to call for help because the catch was so large.

When I read this I was struck by the thought that we often think we know how to do something. We know a lot about how things get done, and the circumstances that are needed to be successful. Conventional wisdom says we should do what we know.

If Jesus asked us to do something we just knew wouldn’t work, something that goes against conventional wisdom, would we do it?

Would you let down your nets?

Western Digital 1TB Hard Drive Resolution

A while back I posted about the RMA experience with WD. I lost a 1TB drive, lost over 700GBs of files, most of which I can rebuild, but it will take a while. You can read again the main issues, but in summary, it took over a month to get my replacement.

I was not happy. I finally called again, and the customer service rep immediately saw the issue, and did not make me go over it again. He asked his supervisor to swap me out with the 1TB Studio Edition (He said it was the same as the Home Edition, but formatted for Mac.) He came back on the phone to way it was approved, and would be processed within 48 business hours. And low and behold, by Tuesday I had a tracking number.

And it was for a next day air package!

So, I got the drive back, and surprise, it’s not just firewire, it’s firewire 800. Luckily I have both USB and firewire 800 connections so it will work great.

I am still not happy with the fact this took over a month, but once I went through their process, they did make it right.

Apple Answers the FCC about Google Voice

I happened upon an interesting article from Apple today. It’s on Apple’s site, for your viewing. Basically, the FCC wants to know why Apple rejected the Google Voice apps and if AT&T had anything to do with it.

Here’s the first question:

Question 1. Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store? In addition to Google Voice, which related third-party applications were removed or have been rejected? Please provide the specific name of each application and the contact information for the developer.

Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it. The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone. For example, on an iPhone, the “Phone” icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Apple’s mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Apple’s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apple’s Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hub—replacing the iPhone’s text messaging feature. In addition, the iPhone user’s entire Contacts database is transferred to Google’s servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time.


I am continually reminded of how blessed we are at my church.

Today I got an email from a friend at another church that is laying off people, cutting pay and benefits. He lost his immediate supervisor, and the entire media and creative staff structure has shifted.

Oh, we have our challenges. I have gear that’s so old it is literally dying a little more every week. This weekend the “Color Black” on the switcher became purple. I hear purple is the new black, but not in video production. Our gear is old, 2 decades old. But we at least have a plan to replace it, and a likelihood.

I am not looking at laying off anyone. Our giving is equal to last year, and since we kept the budget the same, that means we will make it through like last year.

Anything can happen, but we work in a pretty safe environment. We get to do some great, fun stuff. And work with some amazing people. I am truly blessed.

New Look for Kari Jobe/ Al Denson Worship Tonight Concert

karialprep5Tonight at First Orlando we are hosting Worship Tonight with Kari Jobe and Al Denson. It’s a free concert, with a love offering. For this event, we wanted to create a softer look, and capture the video. We are going to iso several cameras, an capture the live cut for later post work.

Jeff and the guys really stepped up and made something beautiful. There’s an upstage truss with silver lame’, and a mid stage with another see through curtain, tons of LEDs and cyc lights to color the whole look. We placed a 10×14′ screen in the middle to help with IMAG, and will do lower third lyrics throughout the concert.

We wish the projector was brighter, but otherwise the look is great. The night, and the recording is going to be amazing. The pictures are from a rehearsal yesterday.


Magazines: Are they done?

I just got a copy of the September Macworld magazine. I have not even opened it yet. Just based on the cover I am wondering how they stay in business in this new model of information distribution.

The primary title on the page is “iPhone 3GS, Full Review: Apple’s Speedy Smartphone”. What exactly are they going to tell me that I have not already read on any number of internet sites? this is a tech magazine, surely they know and have even posted themselves, that the 3GS has been reviewed thoroughly.

The rest of the cover stories are somewhat better. There is a lab test and rating of the new Macbooks, something you can find online, but maybe not in this detail. An article about why you should upgrade to the 3.0 software for iPhone, again something you can find elsewhere but not with their spin. And something about trouble with the App store, intriguing. There are a couple more reviews mentioned; Safari 4 and home media servers.

If I was in charge of a tech magazine, I would focus on the content that sets that publication apart, the content that you can’t get anywhere else. I would never try to make a review of a piece of hardware that is already months old be the main story in the issue, on the cover. If it’s already online, leave it out.

Print publishing has to change if it wants to survive. Even then, I have my doubts about the viability of paper magazines.