How to Demo DSLR Video Settings Live to a Class

We are now into the second week of teaching & one issue I faced was how to do a live demo to a class on how to configure the various settings on a DSLR camera to get some good quality footage. The solution I came up with was to take a live feed from a video camera & pipe it via HDMI cable into the labs projection system. To achieve this I made use of a 2 way HDMI splitter to interface between the output from the camera and the HDMI input to the projection system – as you will see in one of the images below.

Overall it seemed to work out fairly well, with the live feed captured by the Sony NX5E projected across all the screens in the lab for everybody to see. Following on from the demo I got the class to do some filming.

One video created by a pair of students over the weekend recorded at Balgavies Loch, Angus can be seen directly below. The objective had been to capture some nice shots of a forest / nature scene.

Live Demo of DSLR Video Settings

Live Demo of DSLR Video Settings

Live Demo of DSLR Video Settings

Live Demo of DSLR Video Settings

Live Demo of DSLR Video Settings

Live Demo of DSLR Video Settings

Live Demo of DSLR Video Settings

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Riverside East Extension – the First Few Months

During the summer of 2013 a new building called Riverside East at the Garthdee campus of Robert Gordon University went into operation. The building houses the university library, and a number of schools, namely the School of Pharmacy & Life Sciences, School of Engineering and the School of Computing Science and Digital Media. During the course of construction I charted its evolution in the form of a number of posts, some of which can be seen below.
RGU Garthdee New Build – Photo Update 26 July 2013 (post)
RGU Library Garthdee New Build – Photo Update 2 June 2013 (post)
Evolution of the New Build at the Garthdee Campus – 20 Jan 2013 (post)

This new addition to the Riverside East building will house the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment. Work began on site towards the end of January 2014. The photographs below document the clearing of the site and the initial foundation works up to 5th May 2014. It is expected the work will be completed by summer 2015.

To see the images below in greater detail one may access the following Photo Set on flickr.

January 2014
Riverside East Extension

Riverside East Extension

February 2014
Riverside East Extension

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March 2014

Riverside East Extension

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April 2014

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May 2014
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13 Videos of Riverside East Illuminated at Night

A recent post a few days ago was a collection of photographs featuring the roof of the Riverside East building at the Garthdee Campus of Robert Gordon University. This series of videos was recorded at the same time the photographs were taken and show the ever changing lighting that is directed towards the ceiling of Riverside East. The first of these videos is a timelapse showing the exterior as seen from the library tower.

How to Teach Photography to a Room of 100 Students?

In a recent post I included some videos discussing depth of field and how it can be affected by aperture, focal distance and distance of the object. The question that came to mind however is that of how could I demonstrate elements of photography to a group of about 100 students. Often you may gather a small group of half a dozen crowded around a camera to show them something, however this doesn’t really scale well to a group on the order of 100 or so.

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

To solve this problem I made use of technology to help them see the live interaction I performed with the settings on the camera itself and remotely using Canon’s EOS Utility. The room in which the students were, contained three projectors, one more or less in the middle of the room with the others at either end. To allow them to see the interaction I made use of the EOS Utility in conjunction with Microsoft’s PixelSense (Samsung SUR40) providing a table top interactive surface with which to interact with the settings of the Canon 600D. In front of the camera I placed two tables covered with some green cloth and a number of objects at different distances to focus on. You will also notice from the images below I also included a tape measure running down the length of the table.

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

Located next to the Camera and the PixelSense table I added a HD TV so I could readily see the interactions I was performing. Floating a few feet over the PixelSense SUR40 hung a Sony NX5E video camera suspended in space in a under-slung position with the help of a Libec Swift Jib 50 Kit (comprising the arm, T102B tripod and DL08 dolly).

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

The HDMI video feed from the camera was fed to a splitter box with one input and two outputs. As you can guess one of the HDMI outputs fed directly into the HD TV, the other via the use of a HDMI to VGA adapter went off to feed the three projector screens.

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

All in all I was quite pleased with the overall result especially as all the students could see what I was doing first hand, moreover there was no need to repeat the processes a dozen times or more to a set of small groups all crowded around the camera. After I demoed the variables affecting the depth of field I let the students to come up and have a go with altering the settings such as f-stop and focal length themselves. They all really seemed to enjoy interacting with the Camera through the use of the surface and whats more all the other students could see what they were doing as well. They also had a good bit of fun just playing with the controls of the Jib and operating the REMO30 pan/tilt head. Concurrently after I had demoed the use of the system I got them to do some multiplicity photographs in our green screen room. The others who were waiting of course to get their chance to interact with this equipment and take some photographs were busy working their way through some photoshop tutorials. So that kept them busy with three distinctive tasks to carry out.

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

Once they all knuckled down to work, a few 3rd year students dropped by the lab to give me a hand in moving our OptiTrack Flex 13 motion capture system to another room, thereby freeing up our green screen room purely for photographic and video effects work. All it all it was a busy morning, with lots of equipment being moved around. Fortunately I had moved all the equipment you see in the images below into place the night before. You will notice that a shadow is cast by the Sony NX5E video camera and the REMO30 tilt/pan head. I am sure with a bit of shuffling of elements around this can be eliminated for the next time. In the final photograph of the set below, you can see the setup with the projection being displayed on two of the three screens, though the far off screen is quite a distance down the lab. I had hoped to record some video of the system in use, but didn’t get around to it due to the rehousing of the motion capture system, so may give it a go the next time with the elements rearranged is a slightly better manner. I guess the question for the next class is what will I demonstrate next? Some panoramic photography with the use of a Manfrotto QTVR 303Kit was something I had considered as a possibility.

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

Photography with PixelSense, Canon 600D, a Jib, TV, & Projector

RGU CompSoc – A Summary of the Semester so Far

The Computer Society – RGU CompSoc has held a number of events during the semester so far. The start of the year brought about a new name for the society along with a new logo. The wordpress and twitter feeds were updated to reflect this. In addition a facebook page was setup too to run in conjunction with the previously established flickr and youtube channels.

The following post on the compsoc wordpress site provides a summary of the events from each meeting.

IrlCPC Programming Competition

Yesterday the Schools undergrad team for the IrlCPC Programming Competition and myself went to visit our sponsors Codfiy Ltd. They are located just minutes from the School of Computing. The company was founded by some former graduates & will be celebrating their 12th birthday in just a few weeks. We spent about an hour chatting to them & having some fun playing with their MS Surface, we also took some time out to get some photographs. The competition will take place in a few weeks at the Department of Computer Science, University College Cork and is being organised by the ACM student chapter. At present there are 25 teams fully registered and another half a dozen still waiting to fully complete the registration process. This is the third year of the competition running and for the first time there are two categories – undergrads & staff / postgrads. Last year 16 teams took part, so the level of interest in partaking is clearly going from strength to strength. Our team is represented by three Computer Science undergrads – one in his final year and two in their penultimate year. So here’s wishing our team the very best of luck in the forthcoming competition.

Unreal Tournament Competition

An Unreal Tournament 2004 LAN Competition was held today at the School of Computing organised by the Computer Society (http://ctrlbyte.wordpress.com) and the RGU eSports Society. Five teams of five players battled it out from 17:00 until 21:45 in the C27/28 labs. One of the teams was made up of staff from the School and surprisingly we didn’t finish last as we did in the previous year – so perhaps we are getting better. We did manage to beat the first year team! In each round we played Capture the Flag, Team Death Match and one other type of game. All in all everybody had a good time, some photos and perhaps some video will probably available in the coming days.