Facebook Friends: How Many Is Too Many?

first_imgA Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Forget its $104 billion IP0, Facebook’s greatest achievement is building a social network of 950 million people. But what if that tremendous size is also Facebook’s Achilles’ Heel? Forget “too big to fail.” What if Facebook is getting too big to succeed? Ever-growing friend lists threaten to make the service less personal – and less compelling. That’s certainly a counter-intuitive viewpoint. The tremendous size of Facebook’s user base is why industry and financial analysts believe the company will survive the beating it has taken in the stock market since going public in May and will remain the pre-eminent social network for the foreseeable future.But there’s another way to look at it.Jeff Stibel, chairman and chief executive of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. and author of “Wired for Thought,” raises that possibility for the Harvard Business Review (Is Facebook Too Big to Survive?). While lots of financial reasons have been given for why Facebook’s business could not sustain an initial valuation of $104 billion, no one ever questioned the size of its network, and that is a mistake, according to Stibel. Too Big To Succeed?With nearly a billion users, Facebook seemingly can’t help but support and encourage personal networks that go beyond the human brain’s capacity to make use of all the friends and friends of friends. Stibel makes this argument with basic brain science.Starting at the age of 20, the brain goes on an efficiency kick that lasts through the rest of our lives. As children and teenagers, we make far more neural connections then we actually use, so the brain sheds those that are no longer needed. As a result, the brain gets smaller, but we get smarter through higher efficiency in our thought processes.Like the brain, social networks also go through a period of high growth, eventually reaching a point where there are too many connections to people we don’t know. The brain’s mission of quality over quantity leaves us capable of handling a maximum of about 150 relationships, the so-called Dunbar’s Number, named after British anthropologist Robin Dunbar. Beyond that we lose the ability to have meaningful relationships with everyone in our network. The Brain And Social NetworksLike our brains, when we find ourselves with a network of too many connections, we look for ways to shed the useless ones. Whether in the brain or on Facebook, connections have to be used regularly to be useful.Of course, Dunbar’s work referenced real-world social networks, not online ones. Very little work has been done by neurologists on online social networks.“Whether it’s a neuronal network in the brain or a social network, it needs to be facilitated and used over and over again to maintain its viability,” Dr. Richard Restak, a clinical professor of neurology at George Washington Hospital University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said. “To have all these names on a list, some of which you don’t even remember anymore, is totally useless.”Stibel acknowledged not knowing when a social network like Facebook has reached a point where quantity begins diminishing quality. But the average Facebook user has 229 connections; so many of them may have already surpassed their ability to have meaningful relationships with all their “friends.” As a result, these people could see diminishing value in Facebook as they get increasing numbers of notifications about people they don’t really know.Quality Connections Within FacebookFacebook, which declined to comment, has shown that it understands the danger and is taking steps to encourage quality connections. The company’s algorithms automatically arrange users’ newsfeeds to highlight the people they communicate with most often. In addition, people can form small groups of friends for private discussions and can turn off notifications from people whose activities they don’t care about. The ability to trim notifications makes Facebook much better than its onetime rival MySpace, which before falling into near obscurity sent dozens of random friends requests each week, Stibel says. MySpace’s focus on having people build the largest networks possible contributed to the site’s implosion, he contends.If a social network focuses on people building large networks, then it provides features that encourage people to approve others joining their networks. Such features might include notifications that so and so knows someone in your network and you should let them in. Facebook grew because it encouraged people to build bigger networks. Now that the site has reached critical mass, it has to focus on helping people maintain manageable networks, Stibel argues.Facebook At A CrossroadsThat puts Facebook at its own crossroads. “It only takes a few unsolicited, valueless notifications and the utility of Facebook goes down,” Stibel says.When that happens, few people bother to take the logical step of “un-friending” all the people they don’t know and blocking useless notifications. Even though that would be the best way to maintain the value of the service.Instead, many Facebook users simply spend less time on the site. The next step in that process would be to eventually delete their accounts all together and perhaps join a smaller network until that one reaches critical mass and implodes, Stibel says. Networks that have joined MySpace in reaching that fate include Classmates.com and Friendster.For Facebook to survive and thrive, it will have to double down on efforts to get people to build deeper relationships among those who are truly within their circle of friends – not just larger networks.Images courtesy of Shutterstock. Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Tags:#Facebook#web center_img Related Posts The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos antone gonsalveslast_img read more

How Facebook’s New Sound Notifications Could Boost Engagement

first_imgHear that? No? Well, that’s because Facebook is testing a new audio notification system to select members, and if you’re not one of the first batch of guinea pigs, all is still quiet on your profile. But if this feature catches on, you and the rest of Facebook’s billion networkers might soon hear a ping every time someone sends you a message, posts to your wall or tags you in a photo. And despite last week’s largely negative coverage about the new service by over-engaged journalists, Facebook insiders and some user interface and user experience (UI/UX) designers are calling it a boon for engagement.Lend Me An EarFacebook has used sound notifications for its chat tool since 2008, and its mobile messenger app also has sound. Both alert you to new messages.“There is user demand for sounds,” explained Brittany Darwell, the lead writer at Inside Facebook. “It makes sense to allow a sound option for other desktop notifications, too.” Darwell cites the recent Facebook sound bug in Apple iOS iPhones as an example of demand for improved audio on the site. She says people want the option to be informed aurally.“Some users want sound and are even upset when they don’t hear them,” Darwell said.  Sound Good?The new alert is an electronic bee-deep, like the one employed by Skype. Don’t worry, the Facebook tone can be turned off. It’s not known if the sound that Facebook has been testing ultimately will be used, much less if the feature itself will ever be rolled out to the public. “This is just a test with a small percentage of users,” said Meredith Chin, Facebook’s manager of corporate communications. “We’ll see how it goes before rolling it out.”More certain is the power of the sound. While some heavily connected Facebook users surely will be turned off by it, mid-level and casual users could become more engaged by this Pavlovian call to action. “It draws people back,” says Asher Hunt, head of mobile design at LivePerson Mobile. “The sound is a trigger point. People are addicted to these.” Hunt thinks the alert will keep Facebook members connected and strengthen their overall experience. He compares the alert to people walking through the cacophony of a casino:  “All it takes is hearing that sound once, and you’re back on the site.”  Testing 1, 2, 1, 2Here’s the alert in action: Related Posts adam popescu Tags:#Facebook#notification#social media#sound Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Photo courtesy of Shutterstock. Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoslast_img read more

‘Dental Surgery’ Is The Most Bizarre iPad App I’ve Ever Seen

first_imgThat’s when the game started to make sense, but it’s still a pretty odd experience. After poking around some more, I was able to can get down to fixing and cleaning teeth, filling cavities, repairing chipped teeth and so forth. Presumably, once you complete each procedure, you win the game. I don’t know, because I’m apparently an atrocious dentist who might have killed a few patients.How Did This Get So Highly Ranked?  Dental Surgery is weird for the feeling it engenders that you may have stumbled upon a Russian spam app that is opening a backdoor to all of your private information. It’s weird for the generally strange and unintuitive interface. But what’s most mind-blowingly bizarre about this thing is that a few days ago, it was the third-most-popular free iPad app on iTunes. Today, it’s still in the top five, sitting above Etsy and sharing the top 10 with Skype and a YouTube substitute. When I first opened Dental Surgery — which I discovered only thanks to its high rank in the App Store — I thought, okay, clearly Gawker or some tech blog wrote about how this app is incredibly, comically weird. That wasn’t the case. A Google search revealed virtually no media coverage of any kind. Somehow, this app had climbed the charts on its own, despite being poorly designed, hard to use and completely outlandish. Out of nearly 6,000 reviews, the majority gave the app one star, complaining about its poor quality and confusing interface. How this app rocketed to the top of the App Store charts is a mystery, and the name of its developer doesn’t yield any meaningful Google results. It makes you wonder about Apple’s quality control and, specifically, if the updates to the App Store in iOS 6, which were supposed to make it harder to game the system and easier to discover quality apps, are working.These are interesting things to ponder. But alas, Conor Martin needs some cavities filled. UDPATE: A few hours after this story went live, Dental Surgery disappeared from the App Store. As one commenter pointed out, the game appears to have been a rip-off of this Shockwave game, which is based off of a Nick at Nite program called Glenn Martin, DDS. That’s an obvious trademark violation, which is probably why the app got pulled. The questions remain: How did this app get approved in the first place? Precisely how did its developer manage to game the App Store rankings so effectively? We’ll update as we learn more.  12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout john paul titlow Things started to go downhill while I was trying to administer novocaine to a dog. I’m still not entirely sure what happened. I was trying to inject his gums with anesthesia when a message popped up, telling me I had failed. Game over. I had been doing pretty well, I think. Fixed a few cracked teeth. Filled up the novocaine syringes. The truth is, even on my fifth round of Dental Surgery, a medical simulation game for the iPad, I still wasn’t sure what I was doing. I just tapped at the screen, guessing my way through surgery to what sounded like the soundtrack of a ’90s pay-per-view porn movie. This Is Really Weird This game is completely bizarre. Upon launching it, that music is the first thing you notice: a single synthesized measure that blares and loops forever. A splash screen gives you a pretty clear idea of what the game is all about. “DENTAL SURGERY” rests above a graphical caricature of of a wide-jawed, blue-eyed man (presumably the dentist) flanked by trays of surgical implements.“Would you like to have a look at some other Excellent Games?” asks a pop-up notification. It’s unusual timing for such an inquiry — before I’ve even had a chance to play the first one.   In Dental Surgery, you operate on a randomly selected member of the Martins, a family plagued by horrendous dental problems. Even Canine, the dog has an awful maw.  The entire time, there’s a Google-served banner ad in the upper left corner, where it can awkwardly cover key elements of the interface and make it hard to see what you’re doing. Like the porn music, the banner ad never goes away. Once the game begins, it’s not obvious exactly what you’re supposed to do. Tapping the surgical tools on the right causes each one to light up and a related icon to appear nearby, I guess to clarify — using iconography that isn’t any clearer than the low-res graphics themselves — what each tool does. That’s it. You can’t pick up the utensils or use them. When I moved my finger over the patient’s teeth — surely, that’s how you make things happen in this game about dentistry! — nothing happened. A disproportionately small dental mirror, which appears to have no purpose, floats around on the screen as I moved my finger around the patient’s mouth.After I’d tapped just about everything else on the screen and wondered how this app ever got approved I realized that my first move is to prepare the anesthesia by filling gas tanks or novocaine syringes, a sort of mini-game in and of itself. Tags:#apps#games#iOS#iPad#Mobile Games#tablets 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Related Posts last_img read more

Ten Things Corporate Developers Are Dying To Tell Their CIOs

first_imgMassive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Related Posts IT + Project Management: A Love Affair 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Matt Ammerman is a co-founder and VP of client services for Apprenda.As an enterprise software developer, I understand where frustrations lie in today’s IT organization and different lines of business.Here are 10 things developers like me want their CIOs to understand:1. We’re the fastest moving part of the company’s IT organization and we want the everyone else to catch up. Under the right conditions, I can develop applications very quickly. Unfortunately, the wrong conditions slow me down. Having to wait for IT to provision dependencies that I might have drastically diminishes my productivity. IT needs to offer services that streamline their processes and let me work at my pace.2. We can work faster and for less money with the right tools. We can leverage small investments to go a long way. Every developer has a tool belt. I have tools that I prefer to use when developing software. Make an investment in the tools that I use, from text editors to IDEs to platforms and frameworks. I can use these tools to make excellent software that benefits the company.3. Coordinating disparate teams within IT to roll out a single app is how I spend most of my time. I can typically write an application in 4-6 weeks, sometimes quicker. At that point I should be able to deliver the app to the customer. Unfortunately, I end up spending a great deal more time coordinating the rollout of the application by talking to disparate groups responsible for things like security, networking and servers.4. Virtualization alone makes IT’s life easier, not mine. The software I write is complex. Making infrastructure easier to deploy does not make it easier to write these complex apps, even if the infrastructure is available on demand. That just makes one part of the job go faster. I prefer to tap into existing systems for complex things instead of trying to become an expert in all of them. Providing those systems is how you can make me more productive.5. I want to know that I am a part of a single organizational vision for software and services. Sometimes I feel like I’m working on apps or pieces of apps that are part of a larger project or vision that I don’t know enough about. If I’m working on a new initiative that is strategically important to the company, let me know that. I want to feel like I’m contributing to something big.6. Standardization on technologies within our company will make our lives a lot easier. I have my own way of doing things, and each developer here has their own way. This doesn’t bode well for our company’s software strategy. If we’re not all doing things the same way, lots of things are sub-optimized – from testing, to rollout, to overall code quality. If we standardize on systems, we have expectations that are transferrable between our projects.7. We’d rather be building new apps or modernizing older ones than keeping up legacy apps. I go to user groups and I talk to other developers. They’re doing cutting edge things because they have initiatives to build modern apps. For example, I have friends who are building mobile apps. Meanwhile I am maintaining legacy back office software that could be modernized to provide much more value to the company.8. Our company should be supporting mobile apps. We can build them, but can IT support them? Mobile apps have interesting backend requirements, like scalability and distribution. Any developer can build a single app for a mobile device. It becomes far more complex to build connected apps and the backend services that support them. We need systems in house that make this part easier. With that, we can build mobile apps very quickly.9. We should run our IT infrastructure the way the best managed service providers in the world do. Our company has more developers and more end users than many companies that develop software for the public. It stands to reason that we would run our datacenters just like, if not better than, the best managed service providers in the world. I should be able to expect this from IT, because I depend on them to host my apps. It should be easier for me to work with our IT than with an external hosting provider.10. We could build more reliable software if we had the ability to test constantly in a production-like environment. My ability to deliver quality software is only as good as my ability to test that software. I need reliable and accessible infrastructure resources so I can test quickly in order to implement solutions. Introducing differences between my testing environments and the production environments make it more difficult for me to test my software and meet expectations.Image courtesy of Shutterstock.center_img matt ammerman Tags:#developers#enterprise IT#hack Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…last_img read more

Study suggests a half-billion gesture-tracking devices by 2021

first_imgSmall Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to… Tags:#gesture control#Internet of Things#IoT#Kinect#Leap Motion#VR Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Ryan Matthew Pierson Follow the Puckcenter_img Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… Juniper Research has released a new study with a bold prediction about the future of human interaction with technology. It found that “gesture and motion control will become vital for certain forms of human-computer interaction in the coming years.”The study found that by the end of 2016 there will be roughly 168 million devices that utilize motion or gesture tracking. These devices include wearables, virtual reality, and more.With its current adoption and growth rate, the study suggests that there will be as many as 492 million motion and gesture-tracking devices as early as 2020. This is a 280% growth, which is an extraordinary adoption rate for such an extreme change in the way users interact with computers.See also: Gesture control goes mainstreamThis widespread adoption isn’t going to be automatic. The study notes that more traditional devices such as smartphones and PCs will be a pain point for adoption. As little as 5% of these devices are expected to include some form of gesture or motion-sensing interface built-in.For products like virtual reality headsets, motion and gesture tracking are an essential method of interaction. Being able to track your hands, head, and body movement enables you to have an immersive experience with the system.Wearables such as smartwatches and glasses are also a big focal point for the technology. Tiny screens and small touch-sensitive surfaces limit a wearable’s usability. By improving motion tracking and adding gesture control, these devices will become inherently more useful, and more adoptable.The author of the research paper noted, “VR and wearables have shown the way that gesture and haptics can provide fresh ways to interact with technology.”The pathway to more widespread adoption of these interfaces includes companies taking the risk and rethinking how humans have interacted with computers.Companies like Leap Motion are working on this very problem, using a small external device to provide a form of gesture tracking – enabling users to execute commands with a movement rather than the keyboard and mouse.Gesture-tracking way paved by KinectEven years ago Microsoft’s inclusion of the Kinect with its Xbox 360 console paved the way for a new way to interact with the PC. Companies began producing gesture-tracking devices for the PC, and developers starting working on ways to put the Kinect to work in Windows.The problem here is that while this creates a new way to execute commands on the PC, it doesn’t actually change the user interface. Juniper notes: “at the moment this will simply extend current functionalities, holding back adoption across devices as a whole, unless the UI (user interface) paradigm changes.”For now, the keyboard and mouse will continue to be the primary way we interact with our PCs. The touch screen will continue to be how we interact with our phones. The difference between what we have now and minority report depends on companies being brave enough to make gesture and motion tracking an integral part of the user experience, not just an add-on. Related Posts last_img read more

AI Does Not End With Datasets

first_imgChina and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Zhenya Mirkin AI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage I remember my undergraduate professor in AI saying, “AI is what they call machine intelligence they don’t yet fully understand. Once they understand it, it is no longer considered AI. Once robotics was well understood, it was no longer AI and became its own branch. Once computer vision was understood, it became independent. Speech recognition and natural language processing followed that route too.” Perhaps, the only field that is well understood and yet is so central to AI that separating would render AI meaningless, is machine learning, the science of using complex math-heavy algorithms to interpolate latent functions. It is because of this special status that we end up with slogans such as “AI and Machine Learning” sometimes, which is a bit like saying “Math and Calculus”.Machine learning (that includes the more famous branch called “deep learning”) is certainly crucial. ML algorithms are common to many AI areas and they are that very esoteric crux which helps the machine to guess desired outcomes off some obscure inputs. Load up a data set into an model and voila – you get predictions. ML makes that happen. Media gets the message. If you read most popular articles these days, you may just believe that AI will magically solve everything and everywhere. The overarching recipe is banal to a fault – collect a data set, find the ML algorithm that can interpolate the problem’s complexity, train a model, and collect cash. Simple.And yet as any real AI practitioner knows, ML, while vital, is not heart of the matter. A seminal NIPS paper by Google ML researchers explained in depth that machine learning is only a miniscule part of what makes an AI application. The bulk of work is around optimizing pipelines, collecting clean data and extracting features that are palatable to the ML model and are maintainable in a dynamic environment. This is particularly pronounced in natural-language understanding, where in order to extract features palatable to the classifier model, one needs to address misspellings, stemming, stopwords, disambiguate entity references, possibly, look at context, understand that people often use made-up words, be ready for a slowly changing vocabulary and topic distribution, and a myriad of other things.One might ask, why not skip that altogether and load the task into an powerful deep learning box? Surely, we can trade complexity of modeling the data for spending more time during the training stage? Well, good luck. Have you tried predicting weather off tree rings? They are correlated… Your machine should be able to find the path from one to the other. Problem is, you may be long resting peacefully underground by the time that happens. Some of the most powerful supercomputers used to predict weather off far more impactful signals still make inaccurate predictions. There is a reason – exponential complexity in computation is no joke. Many of the input feature have different degree of impact on the end result and most are not even independent of one another – an attribute that is diametrically opposite the prevalent assumption in the design of ML algorithms.This is where domain expertise becomes invaluable. Simply put, a human expert can prune a lot of unnecessary computation by offering shortcuts to the machine. This is done by modeling inference paths using the knowledge human experts accumulated in a particular domain over many years. Continuing with NLU, a good example is enriching the data with information from linguistics such as parts of speech, sentence structure (i.e. parse trees), orthography, etc. To understand the benefit, consider how a complex project can be managed effectively. The first thing you do is break it up and establish intermediate milestones. These are smaller in scope, easier to define, and, therefore, easier to reach. Achieving the bigger whole is then reduced to reaching each intermediate milestone, which is easier to define and track. Same with NLU – establishing intermediate steps helps re-define the problem in terms of tying the intermediates together.But there is more to modeling than taking shortcuts. Proponents of training off data sets overlook the plethora of domains where it is very hard to even define how to compile a data set for training. That means one will have a hard time explaining to an annotator (the one who labels the data set with expected results) the logic of how to come up with an expected result for each data sample. Sometimes, it is the ambiguity of labels that complicates things. Other times, it is the complexity of analyzing the input data – it may be outright impossible to provide the required sensory data to the human. In the physical world, certain measurements may be dangerous to the annotator (e.g. if your inputs are gasses). Each of these circumstances instantly renders the whole process of collecting data unviable from the start. Your choice of ML model will not matter if you cannot produce the input data!It may be worth re-examining all those fields that “branched off” from AI. A common theme among them is the incredible amount of domain modeling and knowledge. For instance, robotics relies on the physics of motion, mechanics, materials, electrical engineering, optics, and other more rudimentary sciences. While the end result may be feeding images into a CV unit, the bulk of “magic” actually happens before then. In other words, it is not ML at all that makes for a “magical” AI application, but a concoction of axioms, theorems, measurements, tuning, and the like that describe the domain about which the system is making predictions. ML is just icing on the cake. Instead of relying on the machine to correlate inputs with outputs, applications in these fields put domain knowledge first, building out their technology bottom-up – from basic rules to complex systems, possibly bridging some steps with ML. Their overall composition is always driven by the domain logic.The benefits of doing so are aplenty. First, you no longer have to rely heavily on manual data collection, which, as we discussed, is rife with constraints and errors. This allows for a more comprehensive coverage of your domain. Just think of what you’d rather have, a rule for multiplication of 2 numbers or an infinite table listing products of different pairs of reachable numbers? Second, you are able to explain the inference to the end user.Instead of highlighting how your back-propagation went on the 7th hidden layer, you can explain that it was a certain domain feature with a real English name that affected results the most. Thirdly, it allows for a cleaner assembly of the product and the ability to replace components with more optimal implementations. Try doing that with an ML pipeline! (this is where it’s worth reading the aforementioned NIPS paper again)So what, you may ask? By now you may agree that domain modeling is crucial for effective implementation. You decide to hire domain experts and carry on. Is there more to it? Yes! Because domain modeling is so central to AI applications, it can also serve as a compass to finding novel untapped applications of AI! To put it in different words, to find new opportunities, seek a out a field where data is hard to collect while the general domain environment is well understood and merely lacks automation. It is in those spaces where one can close small gaps between two clusters of domain knowledge with a simple ML bridge and suddenly get to a far more impressive result. And, unlike the “we’ll correlate everything with everything crowd”, you will have the advantage of the complete domain coverage, far better descriptive power, and, ultimately, a more robust product. Related Posts center_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Them Zhenya Mirkin is an Inventor of Entropy AI and partner at Caura & Co.. In the 2000s, he led the development of predictive text input software (called “iTAP”) that shipped on all Motorola phones worldwide. last_img read more

The Mommy Meltdown: Things to Consider Before Discipline

first_imgPixabay[Angry by komposita, 2017, CCO]By: Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFTI have two little boys- ages 3 and 7. I am divorced and have primary custody of my children. I also have a full-time job, I am in a committed relationship with a man who also has two little boys- ages 5 and 8. In addition to juggling my job, my relationship, and my children, I also try my best to foster friendships, relationships with my family and take care of myself both emotionally and physically. I often find myself laughing at the circus that has become my life. But, when I am not laughing, I sometimes find myself stressed to the maximum, stretched too far, and on the verge of a breakdown that might look a lot like the ones my 3-year-old sometimes displays. In the middle of the grocery store. In front of large crowds.On the days when I am “on the verge”, I swear it feels like my boys are trying their best to see one of those meltdowns from me. Why do they seem to not understand that we only have 30 minutes to get to t-ball practice when I know that we have at least 45- minutes’ worth of driving to the daycare to pick them up, taking them to the potty, changing their clothes and mine, feeding them a snack, and driving across town to actually get to the practice? Why don’t they get in the bathtub the first 3 times I make the request? And why, oh why, will they not eat the dinner that I cooked them (because they claim not to be hungry) but get out of bed 99 times to ask for a snack?Let’s be honest here… my story is not unique. All of us have our own stressors that impact us in a variety of ways and all of us have moments of complete despair when it comes to our children and how to parent them. As far as discipline goes, we all have our own techniques, too. Some of them work better than others. Some of them don’t work at all and some of them only work for one child but not the other.  If you are looking for the answer to how to stop getting stressed about things in your life or how to get your children to be perfect, you might want to stop reading this blog. BUT, if you are looking for things to consider as a parent when you are “on the verge” like I sometimes find myself, you’ve come to the right place.Before you start to discipline your child for doing the opposite of what you desire, consider the following:What is your reason for taking action? This is an important question to ask yourself. Try to think about the reason you want to discipline your child. If it is because they are violating a rule in the house or putting themselves in harm’s way, that’s one thing. But, if they are “getting on your nerves” or “embarrassing you”, you might want to think a little bit longer before you make a move. You can also talk to your child or redirect them in a manner that gets the point across but still feels warm. Are your emotions determining your reaction? Some of us might find that we are acting out of stress, anger, or fear when we are disciplining our children. You may result in spanking your child or using physical punishment when you act out of anger or stress from other life factors, as mentioned above, that don’t really have anything to do with your children. If you can get to a place where you are not acting from emotions, your discipline techniques could be a lot more effective.  Parents sometimes need time-outs too! Yes, you read that right! There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting yourself in time-out. In fact, it shows your strength and ability to self-reflect and take a moment to think before acting. As long as your children are safe, allow yourself to walk away and take a few minutes to breathe deeply and reflect on the situation at hand.Children are not little adults I am guilty of forgetting this sometimes. My 7-year-old is wise beyond his years and has far exceeded me in intelligence at this point, but I have to remember that he is not an adult in a child’s body. He still has a lot of developing and growing to do just like other children. He still spills drinks all over my brand-new car and cries and asks for 10 Band-Aids when he falls and scrapes his knee. So, think hard about the way you are trying to discipline your child the next time it doesn’t work for you. Are you meeting them at their level or expecting them to meet you at yours?All children are different Just like adults, all children differ too. Just because one technique works for one child, it does not mean it will work for another. This happened in my own home when I was growing up. While I could have cared less if my parents restricted me from playing sports, my brother would be devastated. And, while he would have cared less being restricted from talking on the phone, I was beside myself when I couldn’t socialize after school. So, remember this when other moms are telling you what works for their children and you wonder why it doesn’t work for yours. And, remember this when your second child doesn’t seem to respond like your first with any discipline technique that you try. Keep trying! You will eventually find what works for them.Sometimes, you just have to laugh And, finally, the humor. Kids can be frustrating and complicated, but they can also be delightful and quite funny. Try to find humor in your children sometimes rather than immediately seeing their behavior as negative. Sometimes, your child might just decide that he wants to put his underwear on his head and run around the house for a bit. Try to sit back and laugh- and remember that these moments will be gone before you know it.If you would like more information on spanking as a discipline technique, please join us for Unintended Consequences: What We Now Know about Spanking and Child Development. This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the Social Media and Programming Coordination Specialist for the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development concentration on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.last_img read more

Fast Facts About Vitamin B12

first_imgBy: Annabelle Shaffer, Dietetics senior at University of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignVitamin B12 is an important nutrient needed by the body for healthy nervous and blood cells (NIH, 2011). Having adequate vitamin B12 also aids in the prevention of megaloblastic anemia (NIH, 2011). The recommended dietary allowance for adults is 2.4 micrograms daily (NIH, 2011). The media has touted vitamin B12 for increasing cognitive function, improving cardiovascular health, and increasing energy.Are these claims true?Current literature shows that these claims do not yet have adequate support:Cognitive function:How the brain thinks and functions is complicated, so it is not surprising that improving or maintaining cognitive function rests solely on vitamin B12.A randomized controlled trial concluded that correction of vitamin B12 deficiency does not harm or increase cognitive function (Dangour A, et al., 2015). Some correlations between vitamin B12 and cognitive decline have been identified, but more research on the specific role and effect of vitamin B12 is needed (O’Leary and Samman, 2010). Cardiovascular health:Similar to the brain, your heart health is complex.Multiple studies have studied the impact of vitamin B12 supplementation on total homocysteine (tHcy), a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A study performed in 2005 showed a 7% decrease of tHcy with vitamin B12 supplementation (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005). Similar studies have not seen the same risk reduction. The prevention of stroke through vitamin B12 supplementation has shown similarly mixed results (O’Leary and Samman, 2010). Increasing energy:The causes of tiredness and fatigue can include nutrient deficiencies, organ declines, and stress, as well as other conditions.Vitamin B12 deficiencies are accompanied by weakness and fatigue. However, unless you are deficient, a supplementation of vitamin B12 will not increase your energy levels or athletic endurance (Lukaski, 2004; NIH, 2011).The bottom line is that vitamin B12 is important for several body functions, but it has yet to be proven whether it plays a significant role in the prevention of chronic diseases and the improvement of cognitive function.Where can vitamin B12 be found? What about vitamin B12 deficiency?Animal products, specifically organ meats, are naturally rich in vitamin B12. It can be found in dairy, eggs, chicken, and fortified cereals in lower amounts. Those following a plant-based diet and the elderly are at a higher risk for deficiency and may require a supplement or more of a focus on vitamin B12 fortified foods. Although vitamin B12 is not one of the “enrichment” vitamins mandated for flour, there are many foods enriched with the vitamin, such as:Fortified meal supplementsFortified instant breakfast drinksMany enriched ready-to-eat cerealsSnack mixes made from those ready-to-eat cerealsSome frozen waffles and pancakesSome vegetarian or meatless luncheon slicesSome fortified energy drinksSo how can you tell? The list of ingredients may say vitamin B12 or cobalamin, its chemical name.The symptoms of a deficiency include anemia, fatigue, and neurological disorders (Brown, 2017). Deficiencies are diagnosed through blood testing. ReferencesBrown, J. (2017). Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage, pp.14-15.Dangour, A., Allen, E., Clarke, R., Elbourne, D., Fletcher, A., Letley, L., Richards, M., Whyte, K., Uauy, R. and Mills, K. (2015). Effects of vitamin B-12 supplementation on neurologic and cognitive function in older people: a randomized controlled trial1,2. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 102(3), pp.639-647. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4548176/.O’Leary, F. and Samman, S. (2010). Vitamin B12 in Health and Disease. Nutrients, [online] 2(3), pp.299-316. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257642/#B55-nutrients-02-00299.Lukaski, H. (2004). Vitamin and mineral status: effects on physical performance. Nutrition, [online] 20(7-8), pp.632-644. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900704000929.last_img read more

Autodesk Smoke: Preset Menus, Full Screen UI & Group Nodes

first_imgIf you double click the Group Node you will enter it and see the nodes normally.  You can make adjustments as needed.I hope these tips are useful and that you can find a way to use them in your next project on Smoke.Have Autodesk Smoke questions? Share in the comments below! 3. Create Custom Power Nodes in ConnectFXBy using the Group option with multiple nodes in ConnectFX you can consolidate a large group of nodes into one. This is different than creating a CFX Clip, which also consolidates multiple nodes down to a single element.  The Group function allows you to maintain input and output points. You can also select which inputs and nodes you would like to display.One custom node I have created is a Dual-Mux node that I use to easily create a 1 frame range for any input fed into it.  This node has 2 Mux nodes tied together for Front & Matte inputs.  I’ll use this as an example to explain Grouping, and you can use the concepts on for many other custom nodes you make.I use this Dual-Mux node to speed up renders in CFX when using the Text Node. The Text Node isn’t optimized as well as it could be, so it has to re-render the text for every frame of the effect, even if the text is static with no animation. The Dual-Mux node will limit the range of the Text Node to 1 frame and thereby, speeding up the render overall as now the Text only needs to be rendered once.1. Enter ConnectFX and drag up a Text Node.2. Drag up 2 Mux Nodes and use the Mimic Link [Shift+W] to bind the 2 Nodes together so that a change in one generates the same change in the other.3. Enter 1 of the MUX Nodes and activate the FX Range and set the From & To numeric fields to 1. This will essentially create a freeze frame at frame 1.4. Change the BEFORE & AFTER settings to Repeat First & Repeat Last. This will keep the freeze frame visible across the entire length of the effect.5. Attach the TEXT Node Result Ouput to the input of one MUX and the Matte Output to the other MUX Input.6. Rename 1 MUX as Front and the other MUX as Matte.7. Box Select the 2 MUX Nodes with CMD+Drag.8. Once selected, right-click and choose GROUP from the menu.9. Now the 2 MUX Nodes are now grouped into 1 node. Rename the Group Node to “DualMux”.10. If you click the group node now you will see the group menu where you can customize the inputs and outputs for your group. You can also turn off the Node Proxy to make the node a bit smaller to work with.11. Drag the DualMux Group Node to the User/Project Node Bin to save for later.This is a simple example and not much needs to be customized with the inputs/outputs (as we need all the inputs/outputs used).  But here is a more complex grouping that you can create with some customizations:I often get print logos over white that I need to use.  These take a few nodes to Key & Invert and I also want a Bump Displace to emboss the logo. A Pixel Spread Node is added at the end and set to Interpolate to help create a cleaner key.If you take this setup and group it, you get a grouping showing the 4 Nodes with the 2 unused inputs from Pixel Spread and all 5 Outputs. I don’t really need all of this visible for this effect.  I just need the Bump Displace and LumaKey Inputs and the Pixel Spread Result/Matte Outputs. 8. When you like what you have, press Node Prefs and Save Node.9. You should still be in the same /usr/discreet/smoke_2013.2.2/blur/presets directory that you just left.  Give your custom effect a name, hit Save, and then exit Save Node.10. Now you may not see the Presets Pop-Up button appear right away. Delete the node from CFX and then re-drag the node back into the schematic. This will refresh the node and the Presets Button will now be available. If you hold down the arrow, you should see your custom named preset in the list.11. You can now create more presets for this node or repeat the steps for other nodes that you would like custom presets for.Power User Tip: You can create sub folders within the presets to better organize your looks. When you had sub folders you will get a divider line in the list.When you upgrade your Smoke software to future versions you will have to manually move these custom preset folders to the directories in your new version. EX: /usr/discreet/smoke_2013.2.3/blur/presets2. Remove the OSX Menu Bar for SmokeDon’t tell Apple, but you can remove the OSX menu bar at the top of the screen and run Smoke in a full screen mode. When you do this, a new Smoke-style menu gets added to the lower right of the UI which includes Undo and Redo buttons which remain active through the entire UI.1. Shut down Smoke.2. Open up the Smoke Setup App located in your Utilities folder in the Autodesk Folder in Applications.3. In the General panel, change the Menu Bar setting from YES to NO. This will deactivate the OSX menu bar.4. Press Apply to save your change and Exit the app.5. When you launch Smoke now,  you will have the “much cooler” Smoke Menu button in the lower right with all of the OSX menu bar options easily accessible from any Smoke Tab you are in. We’ve got 3 more smokin’ hot tips for Autodesk Smoke.  Find out how to make Custom Presets Menus, Full Screen UI, and create your own power Group nodes in ConnectFX.1. Add a Smoke Presets Menu to Other NodesEver wanted to have the presets menu that you have in Smoke nodes like Damage, Glow, and Stylize for your own custom effects? Having the presets menu like this in other nodes would make it a lot easier to organize your own effects.  Well, this is quite easy to achieve in Autodesk Smoke. Click image to the right for larger view.Flame Artist Andy Dill pointed this out to me, so credit goes to him.1. Enter ConnectFX and drag up a node that you would like to add presets to:center_img You can rename the nodes with the Group Menu interface as well. You can give the nodes friendly nodes to make it easier to see how the node should be used regarding the ins & outs. You can also resize the node as desired by dragging the lower right corner.You can deselect the little boxes in the Group Menu to hide the elements you want. You can hide the Neg node completely, and hide the inputs to the Pixel Spread. You can then hide the outputs from the Bump Displace and the Keyer. You can also choose what is displayed in the Proxy Icon. For this I choose the Pixel Spread Result. Rename the Group and save it to the User/Project Bin for later use. 2. Double-click the node to bring up it’s controls.3. Activate Node-Prefs & then Load Node:4. You are now in the Projects node folder for that node. Navigate to the same node folder but inside the version of Smoke that you are using.  Currently that version is smoke_2013.2.2.5. Press the New Directory button on the left of the file browser. This will open up a text input box. Type the word presets.NOTE: You may get a permissions error if you don’t have read & write permissions. If this happens you can give your OSX user read & write file permissions.  Once you have your permissions set, for smoke_2013.2.2 folder and it’s subfolders you will be able to add folders via the Smoke file browser. Or you can manually add the folder in the appropriate directory.WARNING: In changing permissions on smoke_2013.2.2 I freaked out Smoke to the point that it wouldn’t launch. It gave me an error of  “Effective User ID not 0 (root!)” This caused me to have to reinstall Smoke. I’m not OSX savvy, so it may have been user error.6. Exit the Load Node file browser.7. Now, create an effect that you like and would want to save. In this example I have created a Spin Blur effect with RGB offsets.last_img read more

How To Raise Money For Your Indie Film

first_imgRaising money for an indie film is one of the most challenging parts of the filmmaking process. Below we will go over some realistic paths to getting your film made.Every film is financed in it’s own unique way…there are an infinite amount of options available. Before getting into your financing possibilities, let’s first address some key creative elements that you’ll need to have in place before you look for money.Development & Pre-ProductionThere are literally an infinite amount of ways that you could go about financing your film, but the vast majority of these options (at least the most feasible of them) begin with a really strong development process. The idea here is to package your upcoming film in a way that will make it irresistible to investors, no matter which particular type of investor or platform you’re going after. And the entire process really begins with the basic seed of your idea – the story.I can’t stress enough how important it is to start out with a story that is marketable and relatable to the general public, because if you don’t have a story that interests people on a basic level, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of your development process goes. No one will invest.This may sound basic, but we’ve all fallen into the trap of falling in love with an idea that isn’t marketable and realizing only when it’s too late that we should have tested it or refined it at a much earlier stage. So nip any story issues in the bud, and make sure you have an amazing, original idea and a tightly constructed log line to go along with it.Once you have a rock solid story, you will of course need to flesh it out into a screenplay. And just like when you were developing your story, you’ll want to test the screenplay thoroughly and get lots of feedback before you sign off on a draft that you’re ready to submit.While a lot of the other tasks you need to execute on during the development stage can happen in tandem, it’s important that you get the story and script just right before you move on. In other words, don’t do anything but focus on getting your story and screenplay to the best possible point, because without it you’re going to waste a lot of time developing an idea that isn’t optimal.Image credit: JoeFlood on FlickrWith your story and script in place, you now need to take a realistic look at your project and decide what you want out of it. What are your goals?Is your goal to create a micro-budget film with 2 actors in a single location?Do you aspire to make a epic with a dozen locations and some name talent?There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but the key is to be truthful to the project, which will in turn help to guide your development and pre-production strategy. You only have so much time to develop your film if you don’t want to lose momentum, so make sure you use it wisely. For example if you are developing a found footage film, you might be better served by not wasting time trying to hire name talent, as your film might work better with no-name actors given the genre.Know what you’re after early on and develop a budget that you can show to potential investors, because you’re going to need it!Raising The FundsSo you have your story down, a great version of the script and have taken the necessary development steps to keep the momentum going strong. The next step is of course putting the money together.Many filmmakers look for investors before having fleshed out their development process (as described above) and while this method may work on occasion, it is the exception, not the rule. Generally whoever you are pitching your project to will feel a lot more confident knowing that they are getting on board with a moving train that has a track record of putting in the necessary time needed to develop a story worth investing in.Here are three different basic strategies for raising funding, broken down by the type of film you are producing:No-BudgetImage credit: WikimediaBy no-budget I really mean no budget…or at the most a budget of $10k or under. First off, to actually pull off a great no-budget film you need an idea that works without a budget and doesn’t feel cheap. That said, no-budget doesn’t mean you don’t need investors – it just means that your investors aren’t giving you their money, they are giving you their time. For example, if you have a budget of $0, you are essentially asking your crew, talent, and locations to volunteer their time for your project.The best way to think of this arrangement though, is not that they are volunteering, but rather that you are pitching them on investing their time. This might not be the answer you’re looking for, but I can tell you from experience that approaching crew members this way (and giving them back end points if you need to) will always give you better results in the end. You’ll wind up finding people that genuinely care about your project and are willing to go the extra mile when it counts.The difference between having a crew that believes in your project and crew that doesn’t can make or break your film, so don’t underestimate the value of getting investment from your crew in the form of their time.Micro-BudgetImage credit: WikimediaEveryone has a different dollar value for what ‘Micro-Budget’ really entails, but for the sake of this article let’s limit it at $40,000. Like the no-budget scenario above, if you are dealing with a micro-budget film you are going to be relying (at least to some degree) on invested time by your crew and location owners. However you have likely fallen into this category because there are some unavoidable costs that prevent you from going no-budget. You may need some critical location permits, that require you to have better insurance, or you may need to do some traveling and rent specialty gear for your shoot.Whatever it may be though, my advice regarding your approach to raising the funds won’t really change. The idea here is that you primarily do your fundraising within your own extended network. Experienced film investors are rarely, if ever interested in investing in projects that are this small, so don’t waste time approaching the big guys (we’ll get to that in the next section). Rather, focus your energy on putting together smaller pieces of funding through your existing network. This means approaching family, friends, using crowd funding, and maybe even putting in some of your own money.It may seem like $40,000 is a lot to get to, but raising $15,000 on Kickstarter is by no means unattainable if you have a good campaign. Filling in the rest from small investments of $1k to $5k will be easier than you think – especially if you have a really great package. The one caveat to this though, is I would recommend launching your Kickstarter toward the end of this process. Don’t do it too early on, or a lot of your family/friend investors will simply invest in the Kickstarter campaign to help you get going, and really your crowdfunding platform should be used to attract small investors that you wouldn’t normally be able to approach right off the bat.Low-BudgetImage credit: WikimediaAgain we need to set what a ‘Low Budget’ film really is, so for this article we’re going to assume that it means a budget of under $250,000. If you’re reading this article, this is probably the section you’re looking for as you may have already attempted to raise funds or look for volunteer crew as the above examples described.When it comes down to raising a budget of this size though, you’re going to need to go to more experienced investors. You have the choice of either partnering up with a producer that can get it to the right people or going solo on it. I would highly recommend using a producer to help you raise the funds as you will save a lot of time and legwork this way.To find the right producer, the key is all in the research. Sift through IMDbPro and look for films in the genre/budget range that yours falls into. Then contact their producers with your pitch package. You may very well get some interest early on. This is especially the case if you’ve managed to attach some name talent to your project.You might feel like you can’t book talent without money (which is true), but you can at least get talent interested in the project. You just need to have a really good script and think creatively about how to get them on board. For example, you are probably better off approaching talent through their PR rep than you would be going through their agent. The PR rep isn’t only thinking about how much money the actor will make on this one project (as the agent is) but also about what is best for the clients career. Maybe doing your film will lead to another project that they had their mind set on. Point being, if you’re armed with a fantastic script you can attract talent – especially if you’re willing to do the grunt work. And if you have talent you will be able to attract a producer with access to more talent, financing, and other resources that will help you throughout the process.If you’re going solo on this and want to raise the funds without another producer on board, you also have the option of sending packages to various film financing companies, private investors, and grant programs. There are far too many companies/programs to list here, but do some homework and research on this, and you are bound to find lots of approachable investors and investment companies that are worth pursuing with your package. From there, it’s up to them to decide whether or not they want to commit to your film, so hopefully you followed my advice early on and created a great package.SummaryNo matter what the size of your project is, the most critical step is the first – getting a perfect story and script ready. It’s the first thing you’ll be asked for when approaching anyone from a volunteer crew member to an established producer, so make sure you get it right.Once you have your script in great shape you can realistically assess which budget range your film falls into. If it can be done on no-budget, then go for it by all means. But make sure you still think of your crew as investors and even create a phantom budget of what you should have spent if they had all charged their normal rates.If your project is micro-budget in size you don’t need to waste time going after larger scale investors, as they unfortunately won’t likely see value in a project of this scale. Go after people in your inner circle and use crow funding to your advantage.And if you need some real money to make your low-budget film happen, then do everything in your power to attract name talent to the project and leverage that for a deal with a producer or investor/investment company.You have plenty of options and there is no direct path to securing funding, but if you’re willing to pound the pavement and be honest with yourself about what your project needs, then the sky is the limit.last_img read more

3 Tips You Must Know Before Shooting a Multicam Production

first_imgMulticam productions have become more popular than ever, thanks to the extremely low cost of camera gear and easy intergration into video editing apps. Even still, many producers attempting multicam for the first time aren’t able to get it right.While the thought of setting up a multicam shoot can be daunting to producers/directors who have never done it before, knowing how to do it right has some massive benefits. Not only do multicam setups help keep time on-set to a minimum (and therefore also keep the budget down too), but they can also provide creative freedoms that aren’t otherwise offered by single camera environments. For instance, if you are directing a comedy and want to allow your actors to improvise, a multicam setup would be ideal so that you can catch all of the spontaneity, while also having enough coverage to cut together the scene cohesively in post.Whether you’re interested in shooting multicam as a means to keep your budget down, to give you actors more freedom, or you simply have no other choice – this article will go over a few considerations for getting started with multicam shooting.Camera PlacementThe very first thing you need to address with your multicam set up is the placement of your cameras themselves. I have seen some huge mistakes made with regards to camera placement in low-budget multicam situations, and the end result always ends up looking sub par.If you want to achieve professional level results with your shoot, you need to make sure that you are optimizing your coverage. In other words, if you are shooting a scene with two actors and you have 3 cameras on them – you probably want a close up on each actor, and then a wide/medium master shot. This may sound obvious, but you probably wouldn’t believe some of the poorly executed camera placements that I’ve seen over the years. For instance, in a situation like the example above, I have seen setups where the director wanted all three cameras roaming (as opposed to locked off on each of the different actors) and ultimately it defeated the purpose of shooting with a 3 camera setup. As you might imagine, when it got time to edit the scene it was extremely difficult for the filmmakers to cut together all three angles as they often were too similar looking to intercut. This doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with your multicam setups, but rather that you make sure you are never doubling up on coverage, regardless of the creative choices that are made.LightingThe manner in which you and/or your DP approach your lighting setup also needs to change drastically from what you may be used to in single camera situations. When shooting with one camera, your setup naturally only matters for the particular angle and take that you are executing, and when you go in for coverage you can make small adjustments to your lights (such as walking in a key or fill) as needed. With multi-camera lighting though, everything changes.The easiest way to get the look that you’re after while maintaining visual consistency is by setting up your lights much in the same way that a stage play or a sitcom is set up. To clarify – I’m not suggesting that you make creative choices that will make your final product look like a play or sitcom, but rather that you make rigging and logistical choices in that same way. For example, lighting from above (by rigging lights to a ceiling or grid) would be hugely preferable over lighting using traditional stands. The reason of course being that when rigged to the ceiling, the lights are completely out of the way and you can shoot in nearly any direction that you want. Lighting your set this way will inevitably take more time up front – so be prepared for some extra time pre-lighting, but in the end it will completely balance out as you will save loads of time once you start rolling.Matching The CamerasAmongst the most common and problematic issue that arises on multicam setups (particularly on low budget indie films) are mismatched cameras. In many instances, small productions don’t want to rent two or three identical cameras, so they mix and match various cameras that they have access to in order to supplement their multicamera setup. While this can be done and in some circumstances you can get away with it, I would highly advise against mixing cameras whenever possible. In an ideal world, you want every camera to be the exact make and model, or at the very least the same brand. For example a Canon 5D MK II and a Canon 7D will match a lot better than a 7D and a Lumix GH4 since Canon and Lumix use completely different firmware and color science.Even if you are shooting on identical cameras, you still need to be extremely diligent when it comes to your settings (camera profiles, shutter angle, white balance, etc.) as any slight difference in your camera settings can cause some big headaches in post. And unless you are a professional colorist, or have it in your budget to hire one, you’ll want to avoid making any mistakes in post that can cost you some serious time and money down the road.Multicam in Popular Video Editing AppsPremiumBeat friend Chris Fenwick goes over the basics of multicam in Final Cut Pro X in this video tutorial:Infinite Skills provides a similar explanation for multicam in Adobe Premiere Pro:Sony Vegas user? Michael Hurwicz demonstrates a multicam workflow for Sony Vegas over at Creative Cow:Finally, our own Ashley Kennedy gives a 2 step tutorial on multicam in Avid Media Composer on the PremiumBeat blog: Part 1 and Part 2Final ThoughtsShooting multicam isn’t right for every project, but when time is of the essence and budgets are low, it can be a fantastic way to save money and allow you to move quickly without sacrificing quality. In order to do it right, you need to place your cameras strategically, have a rock solid lighting setup, and make sure that you are using cameras that match as closely as possible. Also, be prepared to spend some extra time up front on rigging/pre-lighting days, and know that investing your time in prep will help you immensely once principal photography commences.last_img read more

NAB 2017: DJI Announces the Ronin 2 For All Your Creative Heavy Lifting Needs

first_imgThe Ronin 2 three-axis stabilizer is more powerful, more versatile, and easier to use. Here’s the scoop on DJI’s tough new gimbal.Images via DJI.Drone lords DJI launched their NAB 2017 business with the announcement of the Ronin 2, a machine that Paul Pan, DJI Senior Product Manager, calls “the best stabilizer we have ever made.”Ronin 2 dramatically improves every aspect of the camera operating experience…. Completely redesigned to meet the needs of today’s camera professionals, Ronin 2 makes it easier than ever to capture stunning cinematic footage under the widest variety of situations.Ronin vs. Ronin 2: Improvements, Advancements, and UpgradesSo what’s the difference in the Ronin and the new Ronin 2? Increased versatility for one. In addition to the handheld capabilities consumers expect from the Ronin line, the new iteration adds aerial, car mounting, cablecam, and Steadicam capabilities. Beefed-up torque motors empower the Ronin 2 to carry a larger payload — up to 30lbs at speeds as high as 75mph. The enlarged cage can handle everything from DSLRs to cinema cameras.And the upgrades keep coming: onboard GPS, an ultra-bright touchscreen for on-the-fly settings tweaks, and hot-swappable batteries strong enough to power a RED DRAGON.The video below features the Ronin 2 in action and goes a little more in depth with the rig’s capabilities. For even more info, check out DJI’s Ronin 2 site. You can read the official announcement for yourself right here.DJI Ronin 2: Noteworthy Specs30 lbs (13.6 kg) PayloadHandheld, Car Mount, Aerial, Tripod, and Steadicam ModeHot-Swappable Dual Battery SystemBuilt-in Touch PanelBuilt-in GPS8-Hour Run Time2.5-Hour Run Time When Powering Gimbal, Camera, and Accessories SimultaneouslyThe Ronin 2 arrives later this year. Expect to hear the price tag just prior to the gimbal’s release. We’ll share more details as they become available.Check back in all week for PremiumBeat’s ongoing coverage of NAB 2017!last_img read more

Camera Angles: Over The Shoulder or Single Shot?

first_imgOver The Shoulder TipsThe OTS shot is a straightforward angle to capture. You place the camera behind the second actor and include their shoulder and head within the frame. However, there are some rules. You don’t have to abide by them, but they do help you get the best from the shot.The first is that the eye line of the actor in the shot should be somewhat level with the camera. Remember, the audience is an observer watching the conversation take place over somebody’s shoulder. If the angle is too high or too low, it ruins that engagement.Secondly, you want to avoid an angle that reveals the nose of the actor whose back is to us. A nose can become distracting and is often a visual signifier that the camera may be too far away.Single FramingA single framing of just one character in a conversation is when reactions and character moments should take place. However, one thing to note is the importance of the focal length when shooting a single. Single character framing is about emotion. Try to capture that with a 120mm, and you distance yourself from what you are trying to say. In the interview below DP Roger Deakins says, “If the camera wants to be close, I would shoot singles inside [personal space]…. It’s a sense of presence… psychologically it’s a totally different effect.”Therefore, it’s important to note that single framing during conversations needs a close camera.Tracking into a SingleIt’s quite common to track from an OTS shot into single framing. It’s a lot more organic than just cutting to a close-up, especially when you are trying to convey a particular emotion. Watch the scene below from Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, and imagine how different the scene would feel if we didn’t push into personal space and we were just left looking over John Quincy Adams’s shoulder.Of course, these aren’t rules to live and die by. However, they are good practices to follow to keep your film language precise and clear.Do you have tips for effective over-the-shoulder and single shots? Let us know in the comments. Camera angles can affect the tone of your film. Learn how to use this to your advantage.Filmmaking is a language. Every choice you make directly affects how your audience will interpret your film. Critically acclaimed TV and movies usually enjoy high rates of audience approval because the stories are clear and concise. Viewers know how to interpret the filmmaker’s creative decisions. The same is true of camera angles (for a write up on the psychological effects of focal length, check out this article). Let’s take a look at what camera angles can tell an audience.Image via Warner Bros.ConversationThe conversation scene is a filmmaking cornerstone. These scenes develop characters and often communicate crucial plot information. Conversational scenes are usually predictable. The filmmaker establishes the location, then we close in on two characters with a mid-shot and a reverse mid. If the scene calls for heightened emotion, we can move in closer to a medium close-up or a close-up. There will most likely be some inserts, but essentially, these are the ABCs of shooting a conversation scene.However, when shooting the standard conversational shot, you have two framing choices. You can go for a clean shot of just one actor in the composition, which we call a single, or you can choose an over-the-shoulder shot. You can also feature only the very edge of an actor’s shoulder in the frame, which we call a dirty single. (A dirty shot includes any object that slightly obscures the full composition).Although both types of conversation shots present the same information, they have different merits worth noting. Let’s look at a few.Over The ShoulderStarting with an OTS shot can help establish the eye line and the direction in which each character is looking — since we might not always get this information from the long shot, especially in group conversations.Take the following example from CW’s Riverdale. We see the typical scenario of high school characters in a common room discussing the latest details in the murder mystery. This is a group conversation between five different characters. In this circumstance, an OTS setup establishes who is talking to whom, as things can get complicated quickly when five people are talking. We meet each character taking part in the conversation through a series of OTS shots.However, later in the scene, we move closer into single framing. The problem here is that we are no longer 100% certain which character Archie is speaking to. In this shot, he is talking to Jughead.In this shot he is speaking to Betty.There’s only the slightest tilt of head movement to suggest whom he is speaking to. Here, an over the shoulder shot would be better because it’s going to clarify the language of the camera. The filmmakers used a dirty single a few shots later to clarify whom Archie was speaking to.But without this clarification, the scene may have become lost in translation.In the legendary exchange between Pacino and De Niro in Heat, we first see a medium OTS shot. This gives us bits of exposition, character background, and plot movement. At this moment in time, we, as the audience, do not need to be any closer than we are. As the conversation becomes more personal, and the two characters discuss their family lives and their partners, the camera slowly closes in while maintaining the OTS shot composition. Again, at the moment, we don’t need to be any closer. It’s a conversation taking place “with a couple of regular fellas” as Lt. Vincent Hanna says. It’s a plot discussion.However, the discussion takes a dark turn when Hanna says to McCauley (De Niro) that if he has to kill him to stop an innocent person getting caught in the crossfire, he will. At this point in the scene, the camera pushes past Hanna and frames McCauley singly. McCauley proceeds to say that he, too, will kill Hanna if necessary. His response is more sinister; it’s intended to intimidate not only Hanna but also the audience. It’s a character moment, and the camera angle moves us into the appropriate proximity of the character to feel that. We very likely would not have had the same response if we had watched that moment unfold over Hanna’s shoulder.last_img read more

Is Just the Same As

first_imgKnowing what you need to do and not doing it is the same as not knowing.Having a dream and not taking action on that dream is the same as not having a dream.Having a goal and not doing the work that moves you towards that goal is the same as not having a goal.Knowing people without making investments in those relationships is the same as not having relationships.Knowing that you need to develop yourself personally and professionally and not taking classes, doing homework, and studying independently is the same as not knowing that you need to develop yourself personally and professionally.Possessing the ability to create value for others and not creating that value is the same as not possessing the ability to create value.Knowing how to read and not reading is the same as not knowing how to read.Wanting to make a difference but being unwilling to make waves is the same as not wanting to make a difference.It’s not enough to possess knowledge. It’s not enough to have a bigger vision. Without action, it’s the same as . . .last_img read more

My New Friend, El Gato

first_imgThe last thing I wanted in this world was a cat.The picture you see here is my family’s new cat. I named him “El Gato.” My youngest daughter asked me if we could adopt a cat from the Delaware County Animal Shelter. She said she wanted to adopt “some old boy that nobody wants.” How could I say no? She found an 8-year old cat named Blaze, and we went and visited him.My little one liked old Blaze, so I filled out the paperwork. But when I handed in the paperwork, the volunteer’s face told me something was wrong. Someone had filled out paperwork and claimed Blaze 15 minutes earlier. So my little girl looked around and found this kitten. He was too old to get the attention of the young kids who were interested in the smaller kittens, all of whom were gone almost immediately. El Gato was aloof, asleep, and not happy about her pulling him out of the big cage where he lived alone.So we sprung El Gato.There were six or seven dogs locked up at the shelter. One was a two-year old terrier-lab mix named Boo. He was a sweet and very sad dog. I would have brought him home with me if I could have, but that wasn’t a possibility. So as I paid for El Gato, I asked to pay for Boo, too. The volunteer thanked me for paying for Boo, and she confirmed my assumption that my having paid for him would make it easier and faster for him to find a home. I checked the website, and it looks Boo found a home, too.Last night, El Gato jumped on my chest at 4:00 AM and started purring like a machine. I swear he was trying to steal my breath. Then, he walked across my pillow and onto my bedside table. His fur is very black, but I could make out his head stuffed into my glass of water. Then he came back and licked my head. I pushed him away and he slept on my wife’s pillow for awhile. Then he went back to my glass of water, and as he was finishing his second drink, he knocked the glass over, drenching the books on my table.I woke up to El Gato wrapped around my arm, playfully biting me. Yeah, that’s the kitten, El Gato.It’s the Holiday season. You are going to be giving and receiving gifts. You are going to be celebrating with the people you love. But there are souls that are less fortunate than we are.The charity of my choice here in Columbus is called Faith Mission. They feed and give shelter to as many as 400 homeless families every night. It costs them a couple bucks per person to feed each person a meal. I also help a program here in our school district that feeds kids whose families don’t have enough food to feed them over the weekends (Share BacAPac).I also support Ohio Rottweiler Rescue. I don’t own Rottweilers and never have. But Gayla, the proprietor, literally goes out and rescues abused dogs, often releasing them from the trees that they have been chained to for years. One dog she rescued just had to have a bullet removed from its neck. The bullet was put there by the owner who left him chained up to a tree for his entire life. Gayla has 15 or 16 dogs she cares for now.You and I can’t do as much to help as we wish we could. But each of us can do something. No matter how small, we can make a difference. Even if we don’t believe that what we have to offer is enough to make the difference, it does.Practice gratitude this holiday season. Be charitable. Know that what you do makes a difference.last_img read more

The Real Entrepreneur is a Plumber

first_imgYoung entrepreneurs believe that entrepreneurship is the Powerball. They believe that they need an idea, and then they want to collect money from strangers to place the largest bet possible. The outcome they seek is hitting the right combination of numbers and become rich beyond their wildest imagination when they go public or flip the business. The entrepreneurial ethos is about private jets, parties, and disruption of the status quo. It’s a status symbol. It’s signaling. It’s a theory, really.This popular conception is not entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is starting a business and assuming the risk of doing so. Collecting other people’s money means you have investors, but it doesn’t make you an entrepreneur when you don’t have real skin in the game.The PlumberThe person that graduates from trade school and starts a plumbing service with a single truck, a set of tools, an ad on Google, and a website and phone number is an entrepreneur. The plumber who grows big enough to need a second and a third truck and has to hire two people to help run his business is the real entrepreneur. The plumber finds the money he needs to grow by acquiring customers at a profit, investing those earnings in the trucks and equipment necessary to grow the business.The thought of giving part of their business to a stranger who only wants them to return double the amount given in 60 months would seem outrageous to the plumber. Allowing an investor to have control would be the opposite of why the entrepreneur started their business in the first place.Why Start a BusinessTo our entrepreneur, in this case, our plumber, it’s anathema to consider building a business to flip it. The business is not a get rich quick scheme, it is get wealthy slowly scheme, a difference of a magnitude nearly impossible to describe in words. The entrepreneur doesn’t believe that entrepreneurship is glamorous, least of all the work of plumbing. But they are highly profitable, independent, and have better parties than most of the people who mistake the popular idea of entrepreneurship with real entrepreneurship.The entrepreneur assumed the risk, and for their trouble, they own their business free and clear. They started the business because they believed they could create value for other people and build something around what they do well, maybe better than anyone else. They have a sense of freedom that comes from controlling their own destiny, doing what they want to do when they want to, and growing the business at the speed that makes sense for them, some with massively aggressive goals, and others who prefer a lifestyle business.To our entrepreneur here, owning and running their business is winning the Powerball. Evaluate your motivations. If you don’t want to be the plumber, you will find entrepreneurship difficult.last_img read more

8 injured in Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train blast

first_imgEight persons were on Tuesday injured, two of them seriously, in a blast in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train near Jabdi station, a railway official said.The blast occurred in a coach between 9.30 a.m. and 10 a.m. when it was on its way to Ujjain from Bhopal, Railway PRO, Indore, Jitendra Kumar Jayant, said.A bomb disposal squad has reached the accident site, which is around 80 km from Bhopal, and is trying to ascertain the cause and the nature of the blast.“The ceiling of the coach was damaged in the blast but so far we have not found any explosive device or its remains from the spot,” GRP Indore SP Krishnaveni Desavatu told PTI.“However, a suitcase was found in the coach and the bomb disposal squad is examining it,” he said.The PRO said two coaches were damaged in the blast.They were separated from the train, which later left for its onward journey.The two seriously injured were referred to a hospital in Bhopal. The others were undergoing treatment at a hospital in Kalapipal town, which is close to the accident site.Ujjain range ADGP V. Madhu Kumar and senior officials of the Ratlam railway division have rushed to the accident site.The exact cause of the blast will be known after an examination of the affected coach, Mr. Kumar said.The glass panes of the windows in the general coach were shattered in the blast, which occurred when the train was about to reach Jabdi station.The Jabdi station falls between Kalapipal and Sehore railway stations.Smoke engulfed the general coach, causing panic among the passengers who rushed out to save themselves.A relief train has been rushed to the site, the PRO said.Helpline numbersRailways have made available helpline numbers for those seeking information about their relatives in the train.The numbers are — Ujjain 0734-1072 and 0734-60906, Indore 0731-1072, 0731-2521044, 0731-2521045 and 0731-2521046, Ratlam 07412-1072, Nagda 07366-1072, Bhopal 0755-4001606 and 0755-56508 and Habibganj 0755-4001603 and 0755-55551.The injured passengers were identified as — Bharti Yadav (18), Athar Hussain (55), Jiya Kushwaha (27), Pushpa Kushwaha (39), Neha Yadav (17), Babulal Malviya (45), Wasim (25) and Amrit Sahu (40), the PRO said.Ms. Bharti Yadav and Mr. Hussain were the seriously injured.last_img read more

When ‘Samsung’ falls ill and ‘Collector’ never went to school

first_imgIf you hear someone in this remote town in Rajasthan saying, “Rashtrapati has gone to graze goats” or “Pradhan Mantri’ has left for the city to purchase essentials”, don’t be surprised.There is more. A doctor is routinely asked to prescribe medicines for ‘Samsungs’ and ‘Androids’ suffering from dysentery.Naming children after senior government positions, high offices and more recently mobile brands and accessories is not new in this district. So apart from ‘Rashtrapati’, ‘Pradhan Mantri’, ‘Samsung’ and ‘Android’, there are persons called ‘SIM Card’, ‘Chip’, ‘Gionee’, ‘Miss Call’, ‘Rajyapal’ and even ‘High Court’.In Ramnagar village, about 10 km from the district headquarters with a population of a little over 500 people from the Kanjar community, children are usually named after high offices and popular figures. Though most of the people in the village are illiterate, their names speak otherwise. A woman was so impressed by the aura of the district collector during his visit to the village that she named her grandson ‘Collector’; the child — now 50 — never even made it to school. Forced by circumstances to visit police stations and courts, the villagers are bowled over by the reputation and dignity of officials. “They tend to name their children after posts and offices like ‘IG’, ‘SP’, ‘Hawaldar’ and ‘Magistrate’,” says a teacher at the village government school.A disabled person named ‘High Court’ is popular in the village for his fierce nature. At the time of his birth, his grandfather was granted bail by the High Court in a criminal case and hence his name.Mobile brands and accessories are popular as names among members of the Moggiya and Banjara communities from villages in the Nainwa region of the district. “So you will come across several people named ‘Nokia’, ‘Samsung’, ‘SIM Card’, etc. in Bargani, Arniya, Hanumantpura, Suwaliya and Sesola villages of Nainwa,” said Ramesh Chand Rathore, who works at the registration counter of Nainwa’s Community Health Centre. Women and girls from the Meena community in Arniya village have their own share of uncommon names — ‘Namkeen’, ‘Photobai’, ‘Jelabi’, and an unfortunate ‘Phaltu’.“We were stunned when we first came across these names. But now we are used to them,” Mr. Rathore says, adding that ‘Smartphone’ and ‘Android’ are some new entries to the list.last_img read more

Gandhigiri keeps a train running in Bihar

first_imgMany passengers using Bihar’s ‘local’ trains don’t buy a ticket, but not on the 7-a.m. service that runs from Katihar to Manihari.For six years now, this train in the North-Frontier railway division has been running with good revenues. Behind this feat is one man’s relentless effort.Angad Thakur, 52, a social activist from Manihari has been using ‘Gandhigiri’ with a twist: ‘pleading’ with the passengers to buy tickets. That alone, he tells them, can keep the train running.Dressed to pleadMr. Thakur is a prominent social activist in Manihari and surrounding areas of Katihar district in north Bihar. He dresses for his ticket crusade in a white khadi kurta-pajama, black ‘bundi’ and wraps a white khadi towel around his neck. There’s also a Gandhi cap.It is almost a daily journey to Manihari, some 30 km south of Katihar for the father of two young sons. At other times he vends official forms and papers outside the local Sub-Divisional Office. The campaign began in 2011 when Mr. Thakur and his friends organised protests and sit-ins at the office of Katihar’s Divisional Railway Manager, asking for the metre gauge track on the section to be made broad gauge and for more trains on the route. Manihari, on the Ganga’s banks, is a big vegetable hub.The railway changed the track, but the officials said the trains would run on a trial for a month. If revenue was low, the service would go, they told Mr. Thakur.“I started pleading with the passengers to buy tickets. After a month, the revenue was more than double the railway’s target. My journey since has not stopped,” he says, smilingly asking a middle-age woman whether she had bought a ticket. The fare between Katihar and Manihari costs just ₹10. But, there is no Travelling Ticket Examiner on the train or at Manihari to check.“If someone is poor, we buy the ticket and ask them to pay whenever they are comfortable,” said Ainul Ansari, a co-campaigner. Mr. Thakur has formed a Nagrik Sangharsh Morcha (People’s Struggle Force) to pursue social campaigns.last_img read more

BHU to relax curfew timings for girls

first_imgAfter a sustained movement, there could soon be good news for girls in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) as the varsity is likely to relax their hostel curfew timings. The varsity resumed classes on Tuesday after a vacation break, which was advanced by three days due to the turmoil on the campus after protests over alleged molestation of a woman student turned violent.Senior administrative sources in the BHU told The Hindu that a proposal was in motion to extend the hostel outdoor timings from 8 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. for girls’ hostels. Inmates of girls’ hostels have been demanding equal curfew timings, arguing that the 10 p.m. deadline for boys was discriminatory and arbitrary. In addition, the girls would be provided a half-an-hour grace period under special circumstances, which means the timing for boys and girls would be relatively at par. It must be noted that not all hostels, especially those in the medical department, face restrictions.The Varanasi administration has assured the varsity that the new timings for girls would be “safe,” a senior BHU official said. Consensus reachedThe administrative wardens and Dean of Students would meet in the next couple of days to discuss the change in rules, over which “a consensus” had already been reached. “The point has come for girls to feel that they are not trapped in time restrictions. They should not feel like they are in a jail,” the official said.Meanwhile, the high-power probe committee of retired Allahabad High Court judge Justice V.K. Dikshit started investigation and has appealed to students, professors, journalists who are witness to the lathicharge to submit their written statements.80% attendanceClasses at the Central University resumed on Tuesday with around 80% of hostel inmates and students back on campus, said proctor Shraddha Singh.BHU chief proctor Royana Singh, at the front of the change, said the varsity was taking steps to make the campus safer and has so far installed 68 cameras on campus, including 24 at the six entrances. The varsity has also deployed quick reaction teams on the campus to react to molestation and eve-teasing cases. Ms. Singh claimed the response was good so far.“Last evening, a girl alerted the QRT that three boys were lurking in the bushes near her hostel and called for help. The QRT acted on it and was able to identify the boys,” she said.last_img read more