Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tech Used in Documenting My Mt. Washington Hike

A couple of weeks ago my girlfriend and I hiked Mt. Washington (in New Hampshire) for the first time. I have to say that the hike was 10X harder than I expected but 10X cooler and prettier than I expected. It took us 7 hours to get up and down the mountain and at certain points involved crawling over huge boulders on all fours. It was no joke! The temperature was 80 degrees at the base and 30 at the summit.

Not too long before the trip I received my iPhone 4 and knew I wanted to use it to document the hike. The iPhone 4 camera is much improved over the last generation and actually supports capturing 1080p HD videos. It can also run Apple's new iMovie for iPhone app that supposedly makes it easy to create and share movies right from the device.

The first problem I knew I had to solve upfront was battery life. As you probably know the iPhone battery drains quickly and Apple designed it to be non-removable so you can't carry a charged spare battery even if you wanted to. I ended up buying a Kensington Travel Battery Pack and Charger which is the next best thing. At $70 it is far from cheap but it worked well and kept my phone charging in my backpack for the entire trip.

Over the course of the weekend I took well over a hundred pictures and a handful of short videos. The day we got back I went to work. The first thing I did was purchase a mushy love song I thought my girlfriend would like. I bought Hey Soul Sister by Train for 99 cents on iTunes right from my phone (OK fine, I like the song too).

Next I started a new project in iMovie for iPhone but immediately realized it wasn't going to work. It doesn't let you import more than one picture at a time and it takes a few seconds per picture to import. It would have taken far too long with the number of pictures I had. Instead I moved to the desktop version of iMovie which proved much more efficient. It ended up taking me a few hours to create and edit the movie to my liking.

Once it was done I needed to share it and YouTube is the obvious place for video sharing right? I went to upload the video and it quickly became apparent that I had a new problem. YouTube was asking me if I had permission from all copyright owners to publish this video. Until then I hadn't given much thought to the fact that I was embedding high quality audio from one of the top songs on the charts. I was seriously conflicted about what to do here. I spent so much time working on the video and only a few friends would be watching it but clearly I didn't have the copyright permission from Train. After thinking about it for a while I decided to just go for it and see what happens next. After uploading the video YouTube notified me that it auto detected copyrighted material and knew the exact song name and artist. It then told me that it was actually OK for me to publish because YouTube and the content owner, in this case Sony music, had a deal in place. My video would be shown (in most countries) but it would have a small advertisement below it. The ad would identify the song name and artist and include a link to purchase it.


I believe this was the first time I've every been pleasantly surprised by anything related to copyright issues. Thank you YouTube, Sony, and Train!

If you are interested in seeing my directorial debut, check out the HD version of the video here as the embed below is getting cut off by Blogger. You may also want to change the video quality option from 360p to 720p. I changed my YouTube settings to "Always play HD when switching to fullscreen (when available)" so it always chooses this option when available.

Toy Car

Last night I came across a car parked in my neighborhood that was covered with hundreds of plastic toys. Pretty much every person that walked took one or more pictures. Check these out: