Knowing and understanding your media can save you time, headaches, and money if you are informed.

To help inform and educate our customer base, we wanted to create an easy way to demonstrate what to ask yourself when dealing with multimedia.

This way, you may be able to save yourself before you hand your project to us.

Here are some common misconceptions that could land you in trouble.

First, know what you want your end product to be. If you are doing a media job with us here are our options for delivery, each of which has it’s own benefits.

Playable DVD- This type of DVD will play in standard DVD players and will open as a playable movie on a computer.

• Most common form of DVD media
• Holds up to 2 hours of video without quality loss (after 2 hours you may experience a drop in quality)
• Plays on most computers but you cannot access the files (well technically you can click here for more info)
• Both Playable DVDs and Data DVDs hold 4.7 GB of space

Data DVD- This type of DVD will not play in standard DVD players and will open as digital files on a computer for copying

• Used primarily as a cheaper alternative to external hard drives/flash drives
• Plays on most computers and you can access the digital files for copying to your computer or social media
• These DVDs are burned using a hard coat, meaning they are more resistant to drops and scratches
• Both Playable DVDs and Data DVDs hold 4.7 GB of space

External Hard Drives- This type of storage is very common for those storing a large amount of multimedia.

• Stores much larger amounts of data than a Data DVD and vary in storage size
• Portability ranges from pocket-sized to desktop mounted and may or may not require additional power
• Some are shock resistant, rain resistant, and drop proof
• Be sure your computer has the correct inputs before buying

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Flash Drives- This type of storage is most common for on-the-go people with basic multimedia needs

• Stores a decent amount of data and still quite a bit more than a Data DVD
• Extremely portable, can be carried in pocket or on a keychain
• Varies in size and durability but most are not resistant to distress
• Be sure your computer has the correct inputs before buying

FTP- This is an online storage option hosted by Horizon Media Express

• Access your digital files from anywhere, whether it is your computer, laptop, or phone
• Password protected so your files are always secure
• Upload new files from anywhere and we can download them and send them wherever you need it
• Most common way of electronic delivery for commercial spots

What is the coolest job in the film industry?

Have you ever wondered how Hollywood movies get those rich and crisp sound effects? When you start to analyze film and think about sound, listen closely to each sound in a particular scene and count out how many different sounds you hear. If you listen close enough and pay attention to the details of a scene you will be surprised by how many different sounds and variations are happening all at once. What is even more interesting than the number of sounds, is the fact that most (if not all) of the sounds you hear are recorded entirely separately. I am talking about Foley as it is known in the film industry and it is the coolest job out there.

Have you ever wondered how Hollywood movies get those rich and crisp sound effects? When you start to analyze film and think about sound, listen closely to each sound in a particular scene and count out how many different sounds you hear. If you listen close enough and pay attention to the details of a scene you will be surprised by how many different sounds and variations are happening all at once. What is even more interesting than the number of sounds, is the fact that most (if not all) of the sounds you hear are recorded entirely separately. I am talking about Foley as it is known in the film industry and it is the coolest job out there.

Foley artists are a team of creatives that actually make the sounds you hear on screen better than you can actually record them. Take for instance a big blockbuster movie is filming a man walking in snow in the Alaskan wilderness. If the director wants to capture the footsteps as the man walks in the snow it may be almost impossible to do during the actual shoot. When you take into account the wind factor, background noise, other crew members rustling around, you start to realize that you may need a Foley crew to re create footsteps in snow. This is where the fun begins because the Foley team members do not simply find snow and bring it into their studio and step on it- it wouldn’t sound authentic and may not actually sound anything like snow at all. Instead, they find creative alternatives to make stepping in snow sound much better than actually stepping in snow so they smack a mound of flour with tennis rackets. Essentially, their job is to smack things with tennis rackets for fun how much better can a job be?

Doors creaking, ice clunking around in a glass, seatbelts fastening, punches to the face, rolling of a ball, all of these are done time and time again in post production by Foley artists and most everyone who watches film doesn’t even notice. For me, that has always been a reason I enjoy the industry I enjoy making things seem believable even when they are far from it. It is half art form and half following the rules but all fun.

As a fun project you can do on your own if you want to explore further into Foley is: Pick a scene from your favorite movie and count how many different sounds you hear. Then research that movie scene and find if there have been documented Foley sound for it. Compare the two to see how many sounds you pick up on, you may be surprised.

Foley artists are a team of creatives that actually make the sounds you hear on screen better than you can actually record them. Take for instance a big blockbuster movie is filming a man walking in snow in the Alaskan wilderness. If the director wants to capture the footsteps as the man walks in the snow it may be almost impossible to do during the actual shoot. When you take into account the wind factor, background noise, other crew members rustling around, you start to realize that you may need a Foley crew to re create footsteps in snow. This is where the fun begins because the Foley team members do not simply find snow and bring it into their studio and step on it- it wouldn’t sound authentic and may not actually sound anything like snow at all. Instead, they find creative alternatives to make stepping in snow sound much better than actually stepping in snow so they smack a mound of flour with tennis rackets. Essentially, their job is to smack things with tennis rackets for fun how much better can a job be?

Doors creaking, ice clunking around in a glass, seatbelts fastening, punches to the face, rolling of a ball, all of these are done time and time again in post production by Foley artists and most everyone who watches film doesn’t even notice. For me, that has always been a reason I enjoy the industry I enjoy making things seem believable even when they are far from it. It is half art form and half following the rules but all fun.

As a fun project you can do on your own if you want to explore further into Foley is: Pick a scene from your favorite movie and count how many different sounds you hear. Then research that movie scene and find if there have been documented Foley sound for it. Compare the two to see how many sounds you pick up on, you may be surprised.

3 key things you should know about buying an external hard drive

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If there is one thing I ask for during the holidays, its a new hard drive. Either I ask for a specific one or I save the money I get from family and buy myself one or two depending on how much I want to spend on myself. Its getting to the point where I have a pretty decent collection Ive hoarded over the years. In fact, I still use the first flash drive I ever bought to this day. It is a 512MB USB 2.0 flash drive that I bought at Best Buy for $45. Yes I said $45 for a 512MB (not gigabyte) flash drive. However, I am really impressed it has lasted me this long and so it has become sentimental to me. I would like this article to help explain how hard drives work and what the differences and capabilities are for each kind.

Words like megabyte, gigabyte, flash drive, solid state, and thunderbolt may seem confusing to some but are absolutely essential in order to know exactly what the capabilities of your hard drives are. For instance, if you check out our list of LaCie hard drives on our website, we give you a brief breakdown of the differences of each one but you must know the terminology if you want to get the right one for you. You don’t want to go to a car dealership and buy a compact sports car if you have a family of 5, and you don’t want to buy an unreliable junker if you need a car to last for 300,000 miles (don’t worry you will get the references soon enough). If you are new to buying hard drives a good start would be to know what you plan to put on them and what you are going to be doing with them. Are you planning to be transferring files frequently between multiple places? Then something that is fast, durable, and portable would suit your needs. Are you planning on storing large files over an extended period of time? Then you would want a reliable large drive with less risk of crashing. So needless to say, not all hard drives are created equal…

1. Desktop, mobile, or flash?

LaCie External Hard Drives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desktop hard drives are more bulky and usually come with their own power supply. You will find that most desktop drives come with more outputs than the others. For instance a lot of our D2 Quadras have USB 3.0, ESATA, and Firewire connections but we will get more into that in the next section. Typically, you would want a desktop hard drive for a workstation where you won’t be moving it around from place to place. But if you do plan to be traveling with a hard drive then you are looking for something in the mobile category. Mobile hard drives are very popular nowadays because data is never stored in one place anymore. Mobile hard drives boast a compact lightweight design and are pretty darn durable for the most part. For instance our Lacie Rugged series is drop resistant, shock resistant, and waterproof! So you can bet if you accidentally drop one on your way in to work that you will still be able to use it. Having a drop resistant mobile drive is essential in my opinion, especially when you are storing important data. Lastly there are flash drives, and everyone has used one of these in their lifetime. They are smaller than mobile drives, can fit on a key-chain or in your pocket and still carry blazing speeds. They are limited in capacity and come in all shapes and sizes. Most TVs, laptops, computers, DVD players, and other media devices have available inputs for flash drive readability.

2. Speed and Connection

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The speed and connection of a hard drive is a crucial part of the decision process. One of the more popular connections for both Mac and PC and the one with a good amount of speed and reliability is USB 3.0. Most newer devices will read the speed of USB 3.0 and if they don’t you can still use the same connection as the device will read the connection as standard USB 2.0. The thunderbolt series of connections are as fast as it gets nowadays with speeds blazing as fast as 20GB/sec (Thunderbolt 2.0) however, thunderbolt is for Mac users only.

3. Capacity

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Capacity is probably the main aspect you care about if you know what you want in the first two sections. Prices have dropped dramatically in recent years as the capacity for hard drives have increased, this is a great thing. For HD video storage, you want something at least 500GB, for music/photos and other media anything you can range from 8GB and up depending on what you have. Note that just because a hard drive says 500GB it does not allow you actually put 500GB of data on it, hard drives have to account for their own software setup and internal processes that need to use part of the hard drive’s capacity in order to work properly. So if a hard drive says 500GB just be aware that you may only be able to store 480GB or so on the drive. Be sure to take this into account if you need to fill it up to capacity.

Free Visual Effects Software from Blackmagic Design

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Have you heard about the latest release from Blackmagic Design? If not, here is a little rundown of what it is and what you can expect. Blackmagic Design offers professional video and audio related products to companies in the professional video market. At Horizon Media Express, we use Blackmagic Design a lot to help bring you the best video for your viewing. Their products are an industry benchmark and are constantly being updated and upgraded. Their products are used to develop feature films, documentaries, and other professional projects. Recently, Blackmagic Design has offered their customers some pretty sweet graphics software for free. It’s called Fusion 7 and it is one of the most advanced pieces of compositing software out there for visual effects artists…and its free. Now, there is a ‘studio’ version that offers more customization and that software will run you a little under $1000. So in comparison to the studio version, you get a whopping amount of juice for practically nothing. You just need to be running Windows and have the necessary minimum requirements. You can check out the full specifications here. 

TRUE 3D COMPOSITING     POWERFUL KEYING     FAST MOTION TRACKING

 

Like Blackmagic Design’s products, Fusion has been featured in over 1000 major Hollywood blockbuster films so you can be sure there is some serious power in here. Creating 3D environments, keying, animation, particles, and advaced title animation are now more real than ever and the complexity is up to you. Have you ever experimented with rotoscoping? If you have in the past, you know what a nightmare it is but now with Fusion 7 you are looking at accurate and responsive rotoscoping tools that do the work for you (even better than you can). Fusion 7 seems to mainly focus on 3D environments and visual effects artists have certainly pushed this piece of software to the limit.

 

Fusion 7

 

This little lightning bolt in a box is synonymous with Blackmagic as a company. They only put out the best for their creators and developers and so by making Fusion 7 available for free I believe they are hoping to have more people creating innovative products that everyone will benefit from. By the looks of the interface, this product is not for the faint of heart. If you haven’t used advanced video, audio, or animation software than this will look pretty intimidating. However, it is something I think visual effects artists should look into and even anyone who wants to experiment with a professional piece of software from one of the most respected brands in the industry. And besides, its free so there really isn’t anything to lose!

 

Have you used Fusion 7 or Fusion 7 Studio before? We would like to know what you think!

Fun with Stop Motion

Stop motion is essentially a technique used in the video industry where a camera stops and starts to show the illusion of movement. Think of it like a flip-book where a drawing is nudged slightly through many pages, and when you flip through the book the drawing looks as though it is actually moving on the page. If you think about it, video is just moving pictures moving at a very fast rate (about 30 pictures per second for standard video). What is interesting about stop motion is that you can displace time by making objects appear or disappear. By starting and stopping the camera in different places or by changing angles, you can make things that seem impossible to do now possible by using illusion of frames. For example, you could take a picture of a donut and make it slowly disappear bite by bite without showing anything but the donut in the shot. Or you could have food dance around a table doing choreographed dances, or if you are absolutely insanely driven you could create moving graffiti art like this guy:

 

This film as you can probably tell took a long time and actually involves creative storytelling and time lapsing as well as stop motion to create this masterpiece. You can start a lot smaller than this of course and actually get some pretty cool results!

Here is what you need:

1. An Idea

Never underestimate the power of a good idea. If you can imagine it then you can create it (well maybe not always, but you can try!). When you have something interesting and it should be at least mildly interesting or no one is going to want to watch, you have to put your idea on paper. I usually stick with old school methods and draw out my main object that I am going to move in the shot, what sort of environment I will use to interact with, and the angles and locations of where I am moving to and from.

2. Method of capture

Once you have your idea you have to figure out how you are going to shoot your stop motion piece. You can do this with pretty much any camera but it makes things a lot easier if your camera has a self-timer. See I grew up without smartphones and when I was experimenting with stop motion I would have to set my object where I wanted, walk over to my camera and snap a picture. I would repeat this process 200 to 300 times in order to get a 15 second animation. Those days are over now so a self-timer can really come in handy when you need to move an object over a distance. A tripod is very important if you want your final animation to be stable and not jump all over the screen. Keeping your object in frame and on the same level are crucial to make a believable result. You are going to want to experiment with how much you move an object, what you remove or add to the scene because it takes time to master this art form.

 

3. Editing Software

Ok so depending on how long you want your animation to last will depend on how many pictures you took. As I mentioned earlier, standard video is seen at 30 frames per second. So if we do the math you would need 150 pictures to have a 5 second stop motion animation. Don’t get scared off just yet, some editing software can slow down the rate at which the pictures come through, giving you more time for your animation with little change in quality. For instance, editing systems like Adobe Premiere and After Effects can slow down your project all the way to 1 frame per second if need be. There are free editing software that come on PC and Mac computers that should be able to get you started. Windows Movie Maker and iMovie are the two popular ones that should get you in the right direction. You will need software in order to import your images, line them up, and set the duration of each image as well as the frame rate for your whole project.

 

However you decide to do it, experiment with different ideas, different angles, different frame rates, and have some fun!

What you need to know about the new GoPro Hero 4

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Have you ever thought about getting a GoPro for one reason or another? Are you not sure why you would need one or what the capabilities are? Well, Im here to hopefully answer some questions you may have or at least fill you in on what the latest and greatest is from GoPro. If you have looked up GoPro videos online then you already know about the breath-taking visuals and stunning point-of-view angles that make the portable camera a top seller worldwide. With the new GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition now coming out, the only limitation is your imagination.

If only GoPros were available when I was a kid I would have so many great experiences to share. Unfortunately, what was popular back then were the same videotape that you all are bringing to us. The quality was poor, the cameras were huge and as for the durability? Well lets just say the cameras back then made a loud noise when you drop them while trying to ride your bike (believe me I know). The GoPro camera and others like it are a revolution for the video industry because of the unique first person point-of-view angle. For the first time we have been brought out of traditional third person view and invited to join the cameramen on their experience.

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The new GoPro Hero 4 Black ramps up the frame rate by making HD 1080p available at a whopping 120fps which had previously only been available for 720p, 4K is available at 30fps and 2K at 50fps.  It also packs double the processor, double the image quality, and a new ‘night-lapse’ mode for shooting the sky at night! Night-lapse mode has to be my personal favorite not only because of how incredible it must look but it has always been a difficulty to capture something so far away with such low lighting that making this feature available is a true testament to the developers. The improved audio has to be a fan favorite because if you have ever used one you know that sometimes it can sound like whoever is talking is wearing a spacesuit where the audio is muffled and hard to hear. This new GoPro is proving to be the best one yet and is available for $499.99.

For more information on what GoPro is up to and to check the rest of their lineup of cameras check out www.gopro.com

YouTube’s Latest and Greatest Gadgets

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YouTube Introduces New Video Services! But Will They Work?

 

Have you heard of YouTube’s latest and greatest accessories for video? If not here they are in a nutshell:

  • Subtitles for every video in every language. Though the subtitle feature is not yet active like the rest of these on the list, it is one of YouTube’s primary goals states their CEO Susan Wojcicki “Our goal is to make it that every video uploaded to YouTube will be available in every language”. Tip-Jar

 

  • Options for uploading 60fps video. While this may not be the most dramatic upgrade on this list, it does serve a purpose for those vlogging video game footage or those shooting 720p at 60fps. There is no doubt that YouTube is the most diverse video streaming site on the internet and their abilities just keep getting better.

 

 

  • This last one seems like a good idea but has huge potential to backfire. One of their biggest changes will be the addition of what YouTube is calling a ‘tip jar’. Which basically is what you think it would be- a way to tip creators between $1-$500 for their video efforts in hopes to raise fundraising efforts with companies like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.It sounds like a good idea but do they realize who they are talking to? A sea of fans that because of such broad exposure to all things on the internet WILL NOT pay anyone for their efforts. I’m sorry but I’m being realistic. I have seen some very talented people on YouTube that deserve to be tipped for their efforts but it is so much easier to just watch the video and give it a like than to verify credit card information and tip an amount every time something interesting pops up. The YouTube community isn’t looking to hand out money to people; we just want to be entertained for the time being before we have to go to work. Something YouTube will have to figure out is how to get past the ‘Why tip when I can watch it for free’ mentality which, is the mentality of everyone watching online videos. It is different if the video is offering a service or something like that but to tip just because you like the video? Sorry, not happening. If I am walking down the street and see someone on the sidewalk playing guitar, I may choose to tip what change I have on me for their efforts, but I am not going to set up an account online and tip away at videos because there is too much hassle involved and I can’t flick my quarters at the computer screen. That is the difference.

Negetive effects technology has on our youth

Horizon Media Express 23+ years experience

Did you know that in this day in age we as humans process more information in one week than someone in the early 1900s did in their entire lifetime? It’s a shocking reality but probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise because of the instantaneous rate that we receive information nowadays. Not only is our news delivered to us in a pocket-sized device, so is the way it is delivered. Short, concise, attention-grabbing information is the only kind we like to read or view; we no longer have time to scroll through pages of email or read long instruction manuals. Technology has made life easier on us in that way but has it also turned us into self-indulging narcissists with ADD? Well, I wouldn’t go that far but let’s think about that statement for a second. We are all seeking attention online by our constant tweeting, Facebook updating, and blog commenting we love it (and need it). It is in our nature to be selfish and self absorbed and mobile technology pushes that because everyone likes to feel important. Having something so advanced for our time has led to some of the most innovative work and yet, it hinders our ability to function outside technology. Don’t think so? Go a week without your phone, Facebook, or iPad and tell me you don’t feel a sense of panic set in.

There is no denying the immense impact the tools of our generation has on the world, but when it comes to the way we live our lives we may want to sit back and analyze what we are really doing to ourselves and our children. I can’t stand it when I see an elementary school kid with an iPhone or iPad. At that age there are essential social skills that need to develop and instead of interacting face to face with others, I see a lot of kids consumed by their devices. Getting a kid involved in social and mobile media too early can have devastating longterm effects. Kids don’t even need to know how to spell anymore since everything electronic has spell-check, penmanship has been treated with less importance now as well.

This topic reminds me of a Louis CK joke where he said: “Remember when you had a question about a something and if you didn’t know the answer….you just didn’t know it.” Are we so used to having answers available instantly that it has altered our behavior? Do we treat people and the world around us differently now that technology is so advanced? I think for anyone who grew up without the internet or smart phones, our behavior is not quite as affected. Most adults are able to separate the two worlds a lot easier than kids because we remember a different time and are able to indentify aspects of life without relying on technology. It is a scary thing when a kid doesn’t want to play and explore the world that is part of being a kid! Turning too quickly to the ease of the internet can make you miss out on the world around you.