Nov 1 16

Make an Iron Man Arc Reactor for Tony Stark Cosplay – DIY Ultra Thin Wearable with LEDs

by Harlan Yee

I really feel like Tony Stark with this easy to make Arc Reactor that won’t break your budget! It’s not meant to be pretty looking but it looks good when glowing under your shirt. My DIY Arc Reactor is powered by AA batteries and a string of micro LED lights so it won’t get hot against your chest. And it’s super thin! I don’t really like costume parties but the Arc Reactor is impressive and it’s virtually unnoticeable when the LEDs are powered off. The main part of the Arc Reactor is made of CDs or DVDs. I used a regular sized DVD and a mini-CD-R disc. Also, we will need the clear filler disc found at the bottom of every stack of blank discs.

 

The only thing you need to buy are the micro LED lights. This project uses a small string of 20 lights. You can use whatever color you want but the Blue LED lights are more authentic looking when building your Arc Reactor. You may even need to purchase some of the mini-CD-R discs if you don’t have any around.

Nov 1 16

How to Use an External Microphone on Android Phone with 3.5mm Headphone Jack

by Harlan Yee

Connecting and recording audio from an external microphone on an Android phone should be an easy thing to do but many people have found that it is not as simple as it seems. On the surface, one would think that you just plug the microphone in and it should naturally work. But if you’ve tried it you know it won’t work.

There are not dedicated jacks for headphones or microphones on Android devices. Headphones work perfectly fine on Android but so do microphones. You just have to know how. The only place you can plug in a microphone is in the headphone jack. But to get the microphone to work you’ll need an adapter cable. The single port fully functions as a microphone input as well as an audio output for headphones. In my video, I’ll show you exactly how to get a 3.5mm microphone up and running on your Android device.

 

The adapter cable I used in the video is from StarTech.com and I carry it with me all the time now. The StarTech adapter splits the audio connections to and from the phone into separate jacks/ports. When it’s plugged in, you now have the ability to plug in a microphone and headphone in at the same time. Both will function at the same time also.

The StarTech TRS to TRRS adapter is available on Amazon for under $7 and is a useful cable to have around for many devices that only have one headphone jack.

Nov 27 13

Kamerar SD-1 Slider Dolly Video Review

by Harlan Yee

Lately, I’ve been on the lookout for high-quality yet inexpensive gear for my camera. It wasn’t too long ago when most of the DSLR accessories I wanted were too pricey for my budget. Thank goodness there are now new companies out there that manufacture and sell video gear accessories that almost anyone can afford!

One of the new companies I just discovered is Kamerar. When I first saw their products, I was thinking I wanted to buy all of it because of their quality and price. Previously, I shot an unboxing video for the Kamerar FF-3 Follow Focus but this time, I purchased the Kamerar SD-1 Slider Dolly for DSLRs and other video cameras.

After a few days of playing around with it, I shot a video review to share my experience with it.

As you can see from the video, the Kamerar SD-1 is pretty much a big solid piece of metal. One thing I found out that I didn’t say in the video is that you definitely need a good stable tripod if you want to mount this onto a tripod.

In conclusion, is this the best slider out there? Definitely not! However, for the budget videographer, the Kamerar SD-1 is a highly functional camera slider that combines a skateboard dolly and track slider in one. Good enough for most shots.

Oct 28 13

Kamerar FF-3 Follow Focus – My First Unboxing Video

by Harlan Yee

I just got my Kamerar FF-3 Follow Focus delivered the other day and wanted to shoot a demonstration video with it… but the problem was that I don’t have a camera rail system yet. I bought the FF-3 because the price was so low on it that I had to pick one up even though I couldn’t use it right away.

So what I did was shoot an unboxing video… You know, it’s those videos where people open a package in front of a camera of a product they received in the mail. I’m quite used to making YouTube videos but I had never shot an unboxing video. I’d have to say it was kinda fun and it built up my own anticipation of opening the box for myself.

Here’s my very first unboxing video for the Kamerar FF-3 Follow Focus:

 

Oct 14 13

Photography & Cinema (P&C) Pistol Grip Handle Review

by Harlan Yee

One of the most inexpensive and best purchases I have made for my DSLR is the Photography & Cinema Pistol Grip Handle. This gadget is so basic but it makes a huge difference when shooting handheld with my DSLR. In the past, I remember shooting video at school performances and my wrist would be aching after a couple of minutes holding the camera up.

Photography and Cinema Pistol Grip HandleNow, with the P&C Pistol Grip, my wrist feels much better and I can hold the camera up longer without too much strain. This is partly due to the fact that with my hand in a different grip position, I can easily rest my elbow against my chest which helps take some of the pressure off of my wrist. The cost is so low that you wouldn’t even have to think twice about getting one of these. Here’s my latest video review of the P&C Pistol Grip Handle:

One last note, this handle is very lightweight so it doesn’t really increase the load you’re carrying with your camera body and lens. As mentioned in the video, the handle has a great feel to it and feels like it’s part of the camera when attached.

 

Nov 30 12

Fotodiox FD to EOS Lens Adapter Review on Canon 7D

by Harlan Yee

I remember a few years back I was shopping for used lenses and I kept running into Canon lenses with an FD mount. At the time, I thought who would buy these old lenses from 35mm film cameras? Well today, I am one of those who bought and is still seeking out old Canon FD lenses. If only I had made the realization that FD lenses could be used on DSLRs, I could’ve gotten some incredible deals on these lenses. But the cat is out of the bag and demand for FD lenses is increasing!

Fotodiox FD to EOS Adapter and Lenses

While the prices have gone up on FD lenses, they’re still dirt cheap. I do not make many impulse buys but I came across an eBay listing for 3 FD lenses for $100 and I immediately pulled out my credit card. Here are the lenses I got:

FD 28mm f2.8

FD 50mm f1.8

FD 50mm f3.5

Canon FD Lenses

Because these lenses are old, they had scratches and scuff marks on all of them. However, the physical appearance doesn’t really matter. But on the 28mm, I noticed a few scratches read more…

Oct 31 12

Carry Speed VF-3 Universal DSLR Viewfinder Review

by Harlan Yee

I have been wanting an optical viewfinder for my Canon 7D ever since I got a chance to use a Zacuto Z-Finder. The Z-Finder really helps with focusing when shooting video. It made all the difference when shooting handheld. But the high price of the Z-Finder has kept me from owning one myself!

Carry Speed VF-3 DSLR Viewfinder-6

But now, I’ve found a suitable alternative for the Z-Finder at half the price with the Carry Speed VF-3 Universal DSLR Viewfinder. When I saw the VF-3 and the price, I purchased it right away. I have not been disappointed with my impulse purchase… and I never buy on impulse! This is a relatively cheap viewfinder but I wouldn’t call the quality cheap.

The Carry Speed VF-3 works superbly and my bank account didn’t take a major hit! I don’t shoot with my 7D as much as I’d like… so its reassuring that I don’t feel like I invested in a super expensive accessory that just sits around gathering dust. However, I will use it when I’m out shooting events, especially when outdoors or handheld.

Carry Speed VF-3 DSLR Viewfinder-5

On the day I shot my video review, I just happened to have access to a 5D Mark II and a Rebel T3i in addition to my 7D. You’ll be able to see how the Carry Speed viewfinder fits on each of these camera bodies.

The great thing is that the Carry Speed VF-3 uses a mounting plate with a frame so I don’t have to stick anything to the LCD screen on my camera. A lot of viewfinders in this price range do use the sticky frames. This was definitely a feature I didn’t want.

Carry Speed VF-3 DSLR Viewfinder-3

Carry Speed VF-3 DSLR Viewfinder Review

According to Carry Speed, the VF-3 is priced at an introductory rate of $120. That special introductory pricing ends on October 31, 2012.

Click here to check current price of the Carry Speed VF-3 DSLR Viewfinder

Even if you miss out on the introductory price, you’ll find that the price is still half of Zacuto Z-Finder. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to someday increase prices equal to the Zacuto. The quality of the VF-3 could certainly match that of the high-end DSLR optical viewfinders!

Carry Speed VF-3 DSLR Viewfinder-4

If you want to get an inexpensive viewfinder for your DSLR, the Carry Speed VF-3 is an excellent choice for the budget video producer (like me)! If you own the VF-3, let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

Carry Speed VF-3 DSLR Viewfinder-2

Aug 7 12

Cheap LED Camera Light for Canon 7D and DSLR Video

by Harlan Yee

I’m always on the search for inexpensive products to enhance the functionality of my Canon 7D. In the past, I’ve reviewed cheap external monitors and cheap DSLR stabilizers. In this article, I want to continue that money saving trend! So I’m happy to share the details of the Neewer CN-160 Dimmable LED Camera Light. 

cheap LED camera light

Light weight on-camera lighting can sometimes be hard to find but the CN-160 definitely fits into that category. One of the great features of the Neewer CN-160 is that it contains 160 bright LED lamps with a dimmer dial. This means that if you’re shooting up close to someone, you can easily reduce the intensity of the LEDs so your subject’s face isn’t blown out!

Battery Friendly!

The Neewer CN-160 can be attached to any camera with a hot-shoe mount but it does not take power from the camera. Instead, the CN-160 is powered by a 5 different types of battery sources.

If you have the listed Panasonic or Sony camcorder batteries lying around, you’ve already got a great source of rechargeable power. If not, you can purchase those camcorder batteries or just go with standard AA batteries. So this LED light is really flexible when it comes to power. There’s also a read more…

Apr 27 12

Stormtrooper Shuffle – LMFAO Star Wars Parody (Party Rock Anthem)

by Harlan Yee

I love seeing what people are doing in motion graphics and design. That’s why I got into After Effects and use it for probably 90% of my productions. In some cases, I only use After Effects without needing to open up my regular video editing program. Since I mainly produce television commercials for a living, I also like to see examples of cool commercials that utilize motion graphics.

Lately, Kia has been creating some good looking car commercials utilizing computer generated hamsters in various situations. One that I like is the hamster commercial featuring the hit song Party Rock Anthem from LMFAO with dancing hamsters set in a sci-fi setting. Then today, I found a cool parody of some computer generated Stormtroopers shakin’ it to the same beat.

I find it fascinating what people can do with 3D modeling these days. I’ve pretty much given up on learning a 3D application these days. 3D Invigorator is pretty much the extent of my 3D usage in my productions. Anyways, I thought I’d put the 2 videos here side by side… and mainly so I’d have a place on my blog so I can watch these 2 videos again at some future date.

Here’s the Kia Soul hamster commercial:

 

Below is the Stormtrooper Shuffle video. Watch what they do with Darth Vader’s lightsaber:

Apr 20 12

Cheap Camera Stabilizer For Canon 7D – Not Zacuto Striker

by Harlan Yee

Doesn’t it make you drool when you see all those cool DSLR video accessories that make your camera more like a true video camera? What do you think when you finally realize that you’re going to need another $1500 on top of the $2000 you just spent on a Canon 7D to get it to shoot decent video? That’s just a typical dilemma all of us DSLR video owners go through.

Zacuto Striker - Cheap camera stabilizer

One accessory that makes shooting stable shots easier is the Zacuto Striker. It’s basically a series of metal tubes, handle and shoulder brace that gives you additional points of contact with your camera to help stabilize hand-held shots.

The Zacuto Striker is well built and comes with their famous Gorilla plate used for mounting a Z-Finder. The Gorilla plate also can be used to attach other Zacuto accessories to it. This is nice if you’re going to be buying more Zacuto gadgets.

However, the price of the Striker is $800! I don’t know about you but that’s the price of a Canon Rebel T3i with lens kit! If that seems a bit steep for your production budget, I’ve found a solution that is under $100 and works just as well. read more…