FitBit Flex

When I started this blog I wanted to do something fun.  I somehow lost interest over time and I sure that happens to everyone.  But I want to do something that I can maintain.  I like new gadgets and love testing them.  I doubt I ever get picked to be a real reviewer or get those free items to review them but that should not stop me. I found a new gadget I really like… No a group of object.  So I am making a new run at keeping this blog going.  I am not just going to review the product but my progress using it.

So I purchased a FitBit Flex and FitBit WiFi scale. First I wan to talk about the FitBit Flex activity band.  I found it easy to use.  It comes with a USB charger, 2 bands and the USB wireless dongle.  You simply chard the device, install the sync software and then create your online profile.  The flex is easy to use because you jus put it on and you are ready to go.  Tap it twice to get your current status.  Tap it quickly for about 2 seconds to put it in and out of sleep mode.

You can at any time sync it to your PC/MAC using the wireless sync adapter or your smart phone. The software sends your info to the online profile you create and give you the current stats.  It tracks these daily so you can see where you are.  It tracks your steps, distance and sleep.  I have to say it is not always accurate just typing this I am most likely getting some steps in according to my flex but I think overall it will motivate the user to get up and move.  It should also be noted that you can get different color bands for your flex.

The FitBit scale is the second gadget.  It links through your WiFi Network and transmits your weight and body fat to your online profile.  It will allow up to 8 different users.  The operation is simple and is a great addition to your flex band.  The scale is sleek and clean looking in black or white. The online profile allows you to add friends and share info with them.  You can share the number of steps, sleep, weight ect.  The system has a dashboard that you can customize with different tiles.  You set goals and you are awarded badges for meeting and exceeding your goals.  In addition to the dashboard you have a log for food, sleep, activities, blood pressure, glucose levels and journal entries.  This allows you to track your entire fitness goals in one simple program.

 

One thing many people want is a support system or a buddy to workout with.  This is like a social media app and allows you to invite friends.  You can congratulate your friends when the get badges or taunt them as you beat their goals.  It creates a completive buddy system online or support system depending on how you use it.   There are also groups you can join on this site so there are a lot of support systems in place to help you be more successful in your goals.  The software is very user friendly overall.

So….no I am not a fitness person.  In fact I have been told by my doc to loose weight, exercise and eat better.  As a diabetic I struggle with this so I bought this to help me.  So far in the month I have had this device I’ve kept on track.  In fact I have gotten several badges for exceeding my goals.  So this device is helping me a lot.  I have decided to share some results this next year to help me keep going and may to get me to use my blog a bit more.  So if you get a fitbit friend me and help me do better!
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The Art of Stop Motion – MAC fun with iStopMotion

The Fly Empire - Bug Wars

This is a follow up to a previous blog post on iStopMotion. I thought I would look into what it takes to produce a short video. So let’s start with the basics. First you will need some sort of concept. Just because these are not live actors doesn’t mean you don’t need to create a script and plan out the movie before shooting. The concept for this short is “Bug Wars”. We will be using some plastic bugs and creating a battle. The concept is simple enough. There isn’t a script but we will need to plan this out so we know what to shoot and what to do. This can be done by making a shot list or creating a storyboard so that everything in organized.
Step 2 would be to assemble the characters for the movie. In this case I have picked up several packages of fake bugs. Looking at the storyboard I will need to cut a few of them up so I can have some parts for the splatter scenes. I also need some additional items for props. I got some chunks of paper, plastic, wrappers and an old plastic cup. These will make great objects for my bugs to crawl over and add to the overall look and feel of the film. Now that most of this has been collected I need to build a location. Using dome old cardboard boxes I constructed a crude set for this fun film.

Clone Roaches - Bug Wars

It is time for the fun and hard work to begin. I had to make sure my lighting was even. I chose to use overhead lighting for this. It does make the image a little flat looking abut it is also easier to film. I have also used key lighting (main light to one side) but this will work best for this adventure. Setting up is important as well.

 

Look at the stage and the props through the camera. Get them all in place and make sure everything is how you want it. Once it is set you need to lock the camera down. You need to make sure that the camera and object don’t get moved until filming is complete. If you plan to have different camera angles the I suggest shooting everything you want at each angle then assemble it all in post production.
Don’t expect to be a fast process at 12 frames or more per second you will be taking a bunch of images. I also would stress that your finished size will be 1920X1080 max (in most cases) if not smaller so don’t think you need to set your camera on “full” or “raw” size images. You should get great results on smaller jpegs.

The set of Bug Wars

This is also important so you don’t fill your memory card and risk moving the camera to change it. Another item to point out is to keep in mind your depth of field. You can do some amazing effects like shooting a close-up at f2.8 to put the background out of focus. Just remember when you pull back to change the f-stop to f5.6 – f11 if you want more of the objects in view.

 

As I created this movie I used the onion skin so I could make sure I didn’t move items too much. I think this is a feature that really makes a difference. The only drawback is you have to accept the image and if you forget to do that you loose the frame. I also setup the grid to 16 squares. This is something you don’t really need to do but it helps direct the motion the way you want. In closing just remember this is a long process and the results vary but it is fun creating this type of animation. Next time I’ll talk about how I import iStop Motion into iMove and complete the post production work.
Thanks For Reading!!


Still Images in Motion with iStopMotion

I embark now on a new bit of photographic fun. Not only photo’s but video as well. I decided to play with iStopMotion. This was a very fun tool to use. The interface is simple and takes very little time to learn. Like those Claymation holiday movies this program creates a video from still frames. You position your character/object then snap an image. The program imports the file (if you have a web Camera/live view video camera you can see the image preview) then you move your character/object a little and take a picture. Repeat this process and your character comes to life.

The program has several tools to assist you like color correction and tilt shift controls. You can use a grid layout to help track motion. The program can also be use to capture time lapse photography. Additional tools like onion skin lets you overlay the current image over the previous on to insure you movement is fluid and not off. One of the other useful tools is the robo sync. You can for instance record an actor then use the footage to mimic the actors motion with the character/object. The program also comes with some preset foregrounds and backgrounds. Over all I say if you enjoy those old Claymation movies and want to create your own then you need to try iStopMotion.

Below is my first sample movie. I used iStopMotion then imported the project in After Effects to give it that night look and create the ghost. It was fun to make, hope to make another one soon! Thanks for reading!


iStopMotion Demo