Thursday, November 17, 2011

Troubles and a New Toy

On Tuesday night I was working away on the computer I use to do all my artwork and music. After a while I started smelling something that had the odor of burnt plastic. I looked at the computer and hit the whole thing with a little compressed air. Then it smelled like burning bacon.

I walked around to the back of my desk and took a look at the computer from the back. The power source fan was not spinning at all, no air was blowing, and the whole power unit was burning hot to the touch. I shut the computer down. I knew I needed a new power unit but the last one I bought was at the now defunct CompUSA. I didn't know if anyone in town would actually have what I needed on a shelf and I was afraid I'd have to order something online and wait a few days and hope it would serve my needs.

It was too late at night to roam out around town looking for something so I'd have to do it in the morning. Needless to say I didn't sleep to well on Tuesday night.

I woke up early on Wednesday, unable to sleep, and set out to find my computer a new power source. I went to a local electronics shop I'd done some business with and asked if they had what I needed. I didn't think a big box store would have computer parts so I figured a local place might be my best bet. Turns out they didn't sell anything like that anymore but the guy behind the counter suggested Best Buy. I've bought TVs, DVD players, CDs, and DVDs at Best Buy but I didn't know if they had actual useful computer parts. I was a little skeptical but I took a drive over there anyway.

And, what do you know, they had exactly what I needed. Actually, the power unit they had was more than I needed but I was just happy to have something in hand. I was so happy I walked around Best Buy for a bit looking for an item I'd been reading about online for the last few days.

While watching the Amazing Race I noticed they used and were promoting a little video camera called the GoPro HD Hero2. It's one of those cameras that has all sorts of rigs you can build and attach it to helmets, a bike, or even the end of a surfboard. I've never owned a video camera in all of my life. The closest I have is the little webcam built into my laptop computer. The webcam works great but it's hard to run around with a laptop shooting video or suspending it above my art board so I can get some video of myself drawing.

So, feeling good about finding the power source, I bought myself a new toy. I am now the proud owner of a GoPro HD Hero2 camera. I even bought a few accessories for it so I could mount it in different spots. And, what's coolest of all, it lives inside a little plastic case that not only protects it but is water tight up to about 190 feet. I'm not about to go throw it into the pool anytime soon but it's nice to know I can.

After I went to lunch I got back to the studio to fix my computer. While I dealt with emails and phone calls from clients I had my computer on the floor, cover off, and pieces all over the place. I used to be a guy who was scared to even take the cover off of the computer for fear it would shine some holy light on me like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark and melt my face off. Now here I was, cover off, ripping out wires and power sources, fingers crossed that when I put it all back together it would work.

And, luckily, everything is now working better than ever.

With the work of the day done it was time to play with my new toy.

I rigged up one of my microphone stands so it now holds the camera as well as one of my vocal mikes. This way, I figure, I can record both audio and video in separate ways and then link them back together in post editing and get the best of both worlds. It took some playing to figure out some of the camera settings but here are a few tests I did with it.

First, using the microphone stand, I mounted the camera above my art desk. Originally I focused and framed the camera on a huge piece I've been working on that is 28"x17". So, when I threw that aside and started drawing on a little 8.5"x11" piece of copier paper I didn't quite have the shot framed right. But, you get the idea. And, if you click through to YouTube to watch this video, it's in 1080 hi def. The music I added is from the Angels and Airwaves' album Love, Part One. It's an instrumental of the song "Hallucinations."

And here is the second video test I did. I mounted the camera to my bike's handlebars and set off. I walked with Monika over to her gym and then took a quick ride around the block. It was a bit too cold to go on my hour long bike ride and I really wanted to see how the camera worked in low light. It turns out, when there is any decent light present like a lamp post, it looks really good. But when there isn't much light it almost goes completely dark. I sped up the video about four times so it wouldn't get too boring. No music on this one but I also muted the sound of me pedaling away.

So, what started out as a day full of not sleeping, being anxious, and feeling nervous, turned into a great day after all. Don't you love it when that happens?

OK, back to work for me. Have a great day!


Jeff Lafferty said...

Such great videos, cant wait to see what you come up with next!

Sean Tiffany said...

Thanks, Jeff! Just trying to follow in your footsteps, buddy!