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January 31, 2008

So, I've been reading the US Code

It's funny, there's an awful lot of stuff in the US code that would surprise most folks.

For example, in the world of video production, folks often talk about how there are certain buildings that are copyrighted, thus preventing their incorporation into videos. Or else folks say, "it's a gray area" ...

One gets the feeling that it's in the best interests of the copyright holder to keep this a "gray area," because confusion leads to capitulation.

Doesn't seem very gray to me.

(a) Pictorial Representations Permitted.— The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

Title 17, Section 120.

I'm working on a more extensive post dealing with some of these issues.

Posted by at 12:18 PM

January 28, 2008

First look at the Sony HVR-HD1000U

DigitalContentProducer has posted a two part article looking at the HVR-HD1000U (part one, part two). This is Sony's sub-$2000 shoulder-mount HDV camcorder. The verdict? Well, what can you expect for less than $2000 ...

Posted by at 10:22 AM

January 24, 2008

Sinful coder

The Adobe Flash plugin for Quicktime seems to only support movies with a duration of 2^24 milliseconds. That's about 4 hours and 39 minutes. Funny enough, I had reason to compress a 4 hour and 41 minute movie today. The FLV format is supposed to support up to 2^32, using an extended timestamp attribute, but it sure doesn't seem like the plugin makes use of it. After 16777216 milliseconds, we roll back to zero.

Interestingly though, the files are still valid and playable, they just can't be indexed properly by the various FLV metadata injectors. And progressively downloading a four hour movie isn't such a great choice.

The fix? When you're injecting metadata, watch for the timestamp to roll and then just tack on an extra 2^24 to all the timestamps from there on out. It's a bit dirty, but it'll work, since the truth is you're matching timestamps to byte offsets - once you've built your metadata array, the timestamps in video packets don't matter.

Posted by at 2:30 PM

January 7, 2008

CES Brings the Crazy

Why didn't I go to CES? It's crazyville!

First off, Casio has gotten official with the previously prototyped EX-F1. It's a still-camera style camera/camcorder with an extra party piece of being able to shoot up to 1200fps (albeit at a tiny resolution). 60fps burst mode for stills and H264 video encoding up to 1080i round out the specs.

 Www.Engadget.Com Media 2008 01 Ex-F1 F-Up1.Jpg-

Next, Sony has spewed a plethora of new cameras, from HD (HDV and AVCHD) on down to MiniDV (still?). Engadget has the full roundup, as I can't wrap my head around all the models.

Finally, Samsung has released some odd looking 1080p cameras, the SC-HMX20C, SC-MX20 and SC-DX103. The HMX20C does full raster 1080p at 60fps, slow-mo shooting and an interesting form factor. No word on recording format, though one can surmise an h264 derivative. No price give on the top of the range model.

 Assets Resources 2008 01 Samsung Sc-Hmx20C Front

Of course, CES has also brought a billion new TVs, speaker setups, phones, laptops, etc. Engadget has the full scoop, if you can keep up.

Posted by at 9:47 AM

January 3, 2008

Hanging a Plasma or LCD TV on Plaster Lath Walls

So the holidays are over, it's back to blogging for me.

As you might have gathered from the title, this is going to be a slightly different kind of post. However, I recently had to (you guessed it) hang a plasma on plaster lath walls, and found the information on the internet totally lacking. Hopefully Google will help other folks find this post.

 Sith33 1143Sofar Pictures Picture-39

The truth is, there's nothing too special involved. There are only two potential snags. Follow these instructions as your own risk - I'm not a handyman. Heck, I'm barely a man! But I do have a mighty fine drill...

First, finding studs on a plaster lath wall can be a nightmare, as the lath tends to confuse the stud finder. You can narrow it down by doing the 'tap tap tap' test, but I tend to second and third guess myself when I go that route. I have a Zircon stud finder with a 'deep scan' feature that does a pretty good job of finding studs. Unfortunately, it finds lots of other things too. So, assuming your studs are 16 inch on center, measure off an area ~20 inches wide and go back and forth many times, lifting and recalibrating the stud finder each time. You should be able to narrow down an approximate area.

Next, get out a smallish masonry bit and drill a test hole through the plaster. Then switch to a normal drill bit to drill through the lath. You should drill for just a short distance and then hit air, and very likely your drill will crash into the wall and you'll fall off the ladder. If you keep meeting resistance, you found a stud, hoorah! Now, repeat the same step 3/4" to the left and right of that hole. If you still find that you're on the stud, great, your first hole is centered (ish). If one of the new holes didn't hit stud, you know the opposite one is centered.

Now, measure 16 inches from your 'good' hole and drill another hole. If you hit the stud, congrats, you're doing great. If not, it's back to the drawing board. Perhaps you don't have 16 inch on center studs, or perhaps you hit a horizontal beam the first time.

Now, widen out the hole in the plaster with a masonry bit the same diameter as the lag bolts you'll be using with your mount (see the mount instructions). You don't want to be screwing into the plaster itself, only the stud. From here, you should be able to follow the mount instructions for drilling a pilot hole, and then placing your lag bolts.

Be careful not to torque the bolts too tight - listen very carefully for sounds of the plaster cracking. This is the second potential pitfall with plaster - being too aggressive with the screwgun can crush the plaster and weaken the overall mount.

Hopefully, you've now got a solid, secure mount on your wall. Give it some good horizontal and vertical tugs, listening and watching carefully for any movement or signs of instability. Now, it's time to hang your plasma. Woot!

Posted by at 10:09 AM