Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Making a Fullscreen Video Loop for an Installation (or Kiosk) Using Automator

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

UPDATE: Spring 2013.  SRF reader Jessica Barr corresponded with me in 2012 about how users of more recent versions of the Mac OS (10.6 and higher) might have issues with the Automator script below because QuickTime 7 is no longer the default movie Mac OS movie player. Jessica kindly revised the automator script and offered it to me so I could share it with you.

Download it here: Revised Automator QT Movie Loop script

(By the way, from my limited testing, it appears you still need QT Pro 7 — which is still sold as of May 2013 — to run this script. Quicktime X, or whatever it’s called, can loop, but you can’t save a movie as one that loops. And Automator’s loop instruction in its “play movie” actions don’t work reliably. )

Read on for the full instructions…..

Original Post from 2008:

Apologies for the long post title. This is to help anyone searching for such a thing on the internet.

This post will explain how to create a video that plays full-screen and loops repeatedly on a Mac. Looping full screen video is useful for, among other things, kiosks and video installations. If you want to cut to the chase and learn how to do this, skip down. Otherwise, I’ll offer a few words explaining the reasoning behind what I did.

Ashley Maynor and I recently put up a small video installation near the offices of the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge. The installation was done as a gratis piece of temporary public art, so we needed to keep the budget as small as possible.

In our case, this was a three channel installation — that is, we had three different videos playing simultaneously on three different screens. The screens were going to sit next to each other, so we wanted some uniformity in presentation. Video projection wasn’t an option — the space was too tiny for projection. (It’s basically an empty downtown shopwindow.) So we needed televisions or computer screens.

We didn’t have three identical televisions, but I did have three identical old semi-working iMacs sitting in a “junk” closet at Virginia Tech. So I borrowed those.

Regardless of whether you use a television with a DVD player, or a computer and its video monitor, for this sort of thing you might burn a DVD that loops. That’s a perfectly fine solution, but the DVD player on one of the iMacs was broken. Also, there might be solutions out there for having a DVD player and television power up and down automatically, but I know it can be done (and know how to do it) with a computer.

So how to do it?

I decided to create a simple Automator application that could be used to automatically screen a QuickTime movie in full screen mode when the computer was booted. I also automated the startup and shutdown of the computers so that the installation runs during prime hours downtown, saving power in the wee small hours of the morning. Details on how to do this after the jump.

(more…)

DIY: MiniCrane

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Here’s a link I missed promoting because I was off the grid when it was posted back in May: Stu “DV Rebel” Maschwitz shares a link about a “mini-crane you already own.” This isn’t exactly DIY as it’s normally defined (i.e., building stuff for cheaper than it can be bought). But it’s still pretty darn inventive.

The Conversation… with Scott Kirsner

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Though this website is a direct result of my belief that new technologies are reshaping filmmaking, as well as the relationships that filmmakers have with their audience, I rarely write about the intersections between cinema, the web, gaming, and business. One the reason I don’t is because there’s already someone that does that much better than I could. His name is Scott Kirsner.

A journalist by trade, Kirsner is the author of “The Future of Web Video: Opportunities for Producers, Entrepreneurs, Media Companies and Advertisers”, the editor of CinemaTech (his must-read blog) and a contributor to publications as diverse as has also contributed to Variety, Wired, Salon.com, and BusinessWeek, among others.

Recently, Kirsner announced a new event to be held this fall in Berkeley, called The Conversation.

The Conversation

 

Billed as “a gathering… intended to explore the new business and creative opportunities emerging in 2008,” The Conversation is “targeted to media-makers and technologists who want to understand and help shape the future of the entertainment industry.”

If the list of organizers and “conversation leaders” is any indication, The Conversation will be well worth sitting in on.

In anticipation of the event, Kirsner and I exchanged a couple of Q+A emails. I thought I’d share this (lowercase “c”) conversation with you:

**

Your journalism has covered motion pictures, new technologies, the internet, and the intersections of all of these overlapping worlds. But I’ve, at least, always thought of you as a journalist — someone that reports, someone that analyzes. With The Conversation you’re an instigator, a participant.

I’m really interested in innovation, and how new ideas get introduced to the world. It’s fun to write about that, but it’s also fun to bring together people whom I’ve met in my journalistic travels, and get them talking to each other — in person. All kinds of cool sparks fly. That’s what we aim to do with The Conversation. I’ll be there to ask questions and instigate, sure, but I also expect that our participants will do a lot of that, too.

How did The Conversation got started (no pun intended)?

There were two dynamics, really, that led to its creation. One is that a lot of times at film festivals, the discussions about new technologies, new tools, and new business models wind up as a side-show to the main event, which is watching movies. We wanted to do something where mapping out the future and getting up to speed with what other creators are doing would be the central purpose. The second dynamic was that there used to be this great event that happened twice in Montreal, called Digimart. Lance Weiler, Peter Broderick, Tiffany Shlain and I all spoke at the second Digimart a few years ago. It was a great gathering… but it didn’t continue after 2006, and we wanted to keep its spirit alive and take it to a new geography.

One of the things the website says is that The Conversation is “definitely not a conference.” Why make the distinction?

Conferences, to me, are about listening passively. They’re often sold out to sponsors, which means they don’t serve the participants very well. They tend to feature the same old speakers delivering the same old PowerPoint presentations. We’re trying to avoid all that, and simply host a high-energy conversation among people creating change in the entertainment industry.

If you could only ask one question to all the people that will be attending — the presenters and the registered attendees — what would it be?

How is your relationship with your audience changing? That’s a topic I’m obsessed with right now — I think that some of the biggest changes over the next 10 years in TV, film, video, and games are going to revolve around that relationship between creator and audience.

 

**

The Conversation unfolds October 17-18 in Berkeley, California. Visit the website for more information and to register.

DIY Blue (or Green) Screen

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Instructables has a post up today demonstrating how to build a cheap, portable bluescreen. The authors of the post have additional instructions on their own blog.

And if this is too upscale for you, you can use those cheap neon-green vinyl tablecloths they sell at dollar stores. I’ve not done this, but I’ve seen it done. It ain’t elegant, but it can work.

SXSW: Wrap-up

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Last year I think I spent as much time posting thoughts on films I was seeing at South by Southwest as I did actually attending films and panels. This year I chose to err in the other direction. There were simply too many movies to see, panels to attend, people to meet, and parties to drop by.

Highlights (in the order I saw them):

Nights and Weekends by Joe Swanberg & Greta Gerwig
Wellness by Jake Mahaffy
Paper Covers Rock by Joe Maggio
The New Year Parade by Tom Quinn
Present Company by Frank V. Ross

All make use of handheld digital video, feature naturalistic performances, and were made with small (or no) crews and budgets. Despite the superficial sharing of neo-neo-realistic qualities, it would be tough to compare them. Suffice to say that all are worth seeing.

As good as those films were, perhaps my two favorites of SXSW were two very polished documentaries, Second Skin and At the Death House Door.

Second Skin digs into the world of MMORPGs, and how these online games create new lives and identities — on both sides of the computer screen — for the people playing them. Not being a gamer, I wondered how much I would care about the film’s subject, especially in light of the fact that 90% of the audience I viewed it with seemed to be there to see a film about their lives. Happily, the film finds some dynamic people to follow and it does superb job of chronicling their lives, both on- and off-line. I suspect this will have a healthy life on DVD, and perhaps theatrically.

At the Death House Door was the most emotionally gripping film I saw at SXSW. A somewhat conventionally shot documentary featuring lots of interviews, it reminded me that no single documentary style has a monopoly on greatness. The film follows Carroll Pickett who, during his 15 years as the house chaplain to a Texas prison, presided over 95 executions, including the very first lethal injection done anywhere in the world. The film also tells the story of Carlos De Luna, one of those 95 prisoners executed, and one that Pickett believed to be innocent. This is a movie that had me in tears — both at horrific things, and also in admiration at the remarkable heroism of ordinary individuals. Emotions aside, it did bring some nuance to arguments for and (especially) against the death penalty. The fact that it was premiering in Austin — that is, in the capital of the state where these executions took place — made the screening experience all the more poignant. At the Death House Door was co-produced by IFC, so look for it there (and, perhaps, theatrically).

As for panels, not all of the ones I attended have been posted (nor do I know if they will) but here are the festival’s recordings of some for those of you that couldn’t be there.