Sudden Failure of Joby GorillaPod Original

Side view of the broken Joby GorillaPod Original

I was about to film a clip as we boarded the high speed train that would take us from Lyon to Lille when my GorillaPod Original tripod broke. The top segment popped off as I was adjusting the position of the camera.

Broken GorillaPod Original tripod
Broken GorillaPod Original tripod

Popping the segment back on did not fix the tripod. Once restored, the segment had lost its grip and no longer resisted the weight of the camera. The design and purpose of the tripod was undermined.

Being less than a year old and thanks to living under European Union product warrantees, a replacement is in the post as I type this – without cost or quibble – direct from Amazon. I was relieved that I had bought from directly from Amazon; their handling of problems is what makes me continue buying from them.

As an aside, I have yet to have Amazon.fr deliver on the estimated date. The support is good but shipping requires patience.

Joby then Amazon

I first contacted Joby using their info@joby.com address and got a quick reply saying to contact another company in France. I had not dealt with this company before. It was a public holiday and the middle of the French holiday season. My heart sank at the idea of dealing with an unknown local French distributor. Rather than follow this run around, I contacted the organisation who sold me the item, Amazon.fr.

It transpires I am lucky. The failure happened while I was holding my camera and nothing more than the tripod broke. My camera was left unharmed. Reading reviews from others suffering this problem, many have trusted their camera to the GorillaPod only to watch it break and for their camera to fall catastrophically to the ground.

Filming and Night Photos

During our days in Lille, I borrowed Megan’s tripod. I discovered that my camera particularly benefits from a tripod when filming and when taking photos at night. Handheld filming is awkward and the mini-tripod makes sweeps and smooth motion easier. At night the tripod helps stabilise the camera for sharper photos.

Learning this, I am pleased to have a replacement on the way. I am however unnerved and wonder what alternatives exist incase this problem recurs. Are there other trustworthy flexible tripods?

Moving Platforms

The narrow stairs and often tiny elevators in French apartments make moving a harrowing task.

Summer is here and our apartment building is in flux. Our floor has largely emptied out. It seems the academic cycle is causing a refresh of tenants in our building.

A moving platform outside the apartment front door.
A moving platform outside the apartment front door.

Moving platforms are a great solution. I have mentioned them before but continue to be enthralled each time I see them in use.

I took some footage of one moving platform and the resulting No more stairs – apartment moves made easy with a moving platform short film is available on my YouTube channel.

Movie Splitter – Custom Splits

Skim to the start and end frame of movie to split.

Movie Splitter was created with a specific purpose in mind. It has been something of a joy to create an application that only had to do one thing and do it well.

Over time however, Movie Splitter has attracted users who want more. The most requested feature being the ability to split a movie into segments of custom lengths.

With the latest update, Movie Splitter v1.2, this most requested (too frequently demanded) feature is available.

Movie Splitter can halve, quarter, and custom split movies.
Movie Splitter can halve, quarter, and custom split movies.
Select a start and end frame of the movie to split.
Select a start and end frame of the movie to split.

As always, please read the full product description. Movie Splitter remains a specialised application and not a general movie editor.

New in Movie Splitter v1.2.0

  • Added ability to create custom sections.
  • Added ability to create new section from a selection of existing sections.
  • Added ability to merge existing sections into one.
  • Added contextual menu to section list.

Movie Splitter and Multilingual Chapter Markers

Miln Movie Splitter for Mac OS X

An update to my MPEG-4/.mp4 splitting application, Movie Splitter, is now available.

Yesterday Apple’s Mac App Store reviewers accepted my latest update to Movie Splitter. The update should be available worldwide in the next 24 hours.

Movie Splitter in the Mac App Store
Movie Splitter in the Mac App Store

This update adds support for multilingual chapters markers. This odd sounding improvement is as strange as you might imagine. It is possible for movie files to include different chapter markers for different languages. In practice this ability seems rarely used.

However, it is possible for chapter markers to be associated with languages you do not use or for an “undetermined” language context.

It is this latter undetermined, und, language context that this update really addresses.

The movie footage from our Canon cameras contains chapter information in the und context. That makes sense, the camera does not involve itself with the specifics of any spoken language being recorded.

Up until OS X 10.11.4, Apple’s AVFoundation framework happily returned und chapter markers when searching for a best match. With OS X 10.11.5, this behaviour changed and und chapters were no longer returned even when they were the only chapter markers available in the movie file. Is this a bug? I am not sure. If it is, waiting for Apple to fix it is not a game I am any longer willing to play.

With the original Movie Splitter, I searched for the chapters best matching your preferred languages – as determined by your locale. In almost every case this worked.

Then OS X 10.11.5 was released and suddenly Movie Splitter was frequently not being given any chapter markers for movies that previously had good results.

With today’s Movie Splitter, I search for chapter markers for every known ISO 639-2 language code known to OS X plus und. Preference is still given to your preferred languages.

This appears to restore the previous in almost every case this worked behaviour and it improves support for splitting movie files containing chapters markers in extraordinary languages.

My thanks to those who reported this problem via e-mail and for their patience as I found and worked around the underlying cause.

Happy movie splitting!

First Flight

The parents waited anxiously calling to their little one. Over the next minutes the calls increased back and forth, then a hop, leap, and flutter.

A little chick was learning to fly outside our window. We were lucky to be in the right place and right time to watch.

Little bird prepares to fly.
Little bird prepares to fly.
Little bird waits before learning to fly.
Little bird waits before learning to fly.
Parent beckons its little one over.
Parent beckons its little one over.

What S Numbers Mean For Safety Footwear

I wear boots and I prefer steel toe capped boots. Recently I bought my first pair online sight unseen.

While researching my choices, I noticed many pairs of boots advertised an S number. Here is what those S ratings mean:

SB
  • Basic safety
S1
  • Closed seat region
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
S2
  • Closed seat region
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
  • Water penetration and water absorption
S3
  • Closed seat region
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
  • Water penetration and water absorption
  • Penetration resistance
  • Cleated outsole
S4
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
S5
  • Antistatic properties
  • Energy absorption of seat region
  • Penetration resistance
  • Cleated outsole

YouTube Content ID Abuse

My latest short film hit the brick wall that is YouTube’s Content ID system. This was the first time I have had an utterly misapplied copyright violation notice.

Other copyright notices have been raised on my videos but those have been for incidental recordings of music playing during public performances. I do not know the legality of those claims but they appear raised by the appropriate licence holder. Those claims are not my focus today.

I published my latest short film with a track of free music provided by The Passion HiFi. The music is appropriately licensed for use on YouTube:

  • Use them for TV, radio, Internet and film productions FREE of charge
  • Use these beats as backing music for your videos on Youtube as long as you state that The Passion HiFi is the copyright holder and the content ID is linked to the same beat on the iTunes store.

Sadly, YouTube’s Content ID system disagreed. A music label called Audiam claim The Passion HiFi’s content as their own – and can collect advertising income on it.

Audiam (label) claim The Passion HiFi's music.
Audiam (label) claim The Passion HiFi’s music.

It is worth noting Audiam is not a music label. Audiam is a company that enforces music licences and collects royalties. They describe themselves as:

Audiam is a music royalty collection agency trusted by the world’s publishers and songwriters.

Who gets to keep the money earned on incorrectly enforced licences?

Is The Passion HiFi represented by Audiam? Maybe but how can I tell? I have tweeted The Passion HiFI and await a reply.

The reply would not have changed my next step.

  • If yes, then new music is needed.
  • If no, then YouTube is in error and new music is still needed.

But knowing would be useful for the future. Should I avoid using tracks from The Passion HiFi? Might Audiam claim everything they produce; I do not know.

Move on.

The original version of my short film is gone. I removed it immediately from YouTube. Better to not give Audiam control. Better to not accept their claim. Better to not have to lodge disputes and risk my YouTube account’s standing.

I am not fighting. There are other choices.

Today I replaced the music and a new version of my Pérouges short film is available to enjoy. This time, I hope, the Content ID system will leave my work alone.

YouTube has a problem. The Content ID system is unbalanced in the favour of the claimed licence holder. The dispute process is broken and high risk for content creators.

I have no solution and propose none. I simply needed somewhere to note this passing moment of frustration.

Back to creating.

Update: 15 August 2016 – I have had no response from @Passion_HiFi.

Pérouges – Medieval Hilltop Town

Pérouges, France

Our schedules have been overwhelming this year and looking ahead there may not be a pause for some time to come. Our commitment to continue travelling and doing new things needed a boost, so this last weekend we went to Pérouges.

Pérouges fitted the bill nicely. Visiting the town is a day trip from Lyon. From Part Dieu train station the journey took thirty minutes on a regular commuter TER train. The destination station is Meximieux – Pérouges.

From Meximieux to Pérouges

Meximieux is the closest stop with a train station. To reach Pérouges from the station, a short walk of either 20 minutes or 40 minutes awaits. One route is more direct but less scenic. I recommend the scenic route as it wanders through countryside and you pass by an attractive lake.

Pérouges in the distance.
Pérouges in the distance.
Countryside on the way to Pérouges.
Countryside on the way to Pérouges.
Lake on the way to Pérouges.
Lake on the way to Pérouges.
Path leading towards Pérouges.
Path leading towards Pérouges.
Pérouges beyond a field.
Pérouges beyond a field.

Pérouges

Pérouges feels deliberately suspended in the medieval period. The town is clearly maintained as a tourist destination. The buildings are restored and maintained; the construction style makes use of the thousands of small rocks that litter fields all around.

Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges
Pérouges

Yoko Ono’s lumière de l’aube

With less than a year to go before we leave Lyon, we have renewed our annual museum cards for the final time. These cards give us access to six galleries and museums around the city. They are great value and having them provides an extra push to trek to galleries at the weekends.

This Sunday we visited our nearest gallery, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (MAC). This typically challenging destination was hosting an exhibit by Yoko Ono. For once an artist’s name that I recognised. Being a contemporary gallery, and combined with my lack of recent art knowledge, visiting tends to be a gamble. We have seen some very strange exhibits at MAC. This is not your typical paintings on a wall type of place.

Despite some irksome security theatre, I was allowed to photograph and film freely. The organisers explicitly asked shared content to be tagged with #YokoOnoLyon; so, I have.

A short film of Yoko Ono’s lumière de l’aube show is embedded below and on my YouTube channel:

Putting together a film without a story is difficult. You have nothing to edit around and nothing to travel through the footage with. What I ended up with is more a memory of our visit, than a gripping short film. Music certainly helps bind it together. In this case the music is Before I Sleep by Muciojad (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Nails in a Conference Table

We enjoyed the exhibit asking us to hammer a nail into a conference table. Others had taken to hammering nails into the walls and anything else they could lodge the nail into. A sign noted that because the gallery refused liability and responsibility for the public’s actions, you were thus free to augment the table.

Conference table and nails
Conference table and nails
Detail of nails in conference table
Detail of nails in conference table

Halved

The halved dining room table and accompanying place settings was surprisingly engaging.

Halved dining table and setting
Halved dining table and setting
Halved dining room
Halved dining room
Detail of a halved dining chair
Detail of a halved dining chair

Mixed Bag

The exhibit was enjoyable. The tone of the first floor was fun and engaging. The last exhibits were somber and dark in tone. We left wondering if that content would have been better on the middle floor. Something to give us time to recover before leaving the gallery.

I did get to go on a tiny slide built into a wall. That was fun.

Exhibition space in MAC, Lyon
Exhibition space in MAC, Lyon
Plants embedded in seats
Plants embedded in seats
Shelves of broken ceramics
Shelves of broken ceramics
Household items suspended
Household items suspended