Discount #coupon dropped for this Christmas

From now until Christmas you can get 10% discount on any purchase from my PhotoShelter portfolio. Purchases can include:

  • Immediate downloads
  • Downloads for personal use (for bloggers)
  • Prints (glossy, matte)
  • Fine art prints (high quality printing and paper)
  • Canvas prints (rolled or mounted and framed)
  • Products (cups, mouse pads, key chains)

All products and prints are fulfilled by EZ Prints based in Georgia, USA.

Details:

  • Dates: Today to 31st Dec 2017
  • Discount: 10%
  • Where: http://ablyth.photoshelter.com
  • Code: ART10XMAS2017
  • Minimum purchase: USD$20
  • Limit: None (use as many times as you want, share it as much as you want)
  • How to buy: It’s easy. See Photos for Bloggers.

The collection

This is the Poem of a Cacophonous City. It is a collection of film images that represents the noise and clutter of Nagoya, a major city in central Japan. It is inspired by a friend of mine, a lady who is twice my age, but she really loves poetry, and is so deep into it, it is astounding at her insight into language and the visual poetry I see in my head when I listen to her read or perform her work. Subtitles for each image also connote a particular aspect of cities. Here is the first blogpost on this collection: POTW: Poem of a Cacophonous City.


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10 Things Every Traveller to Japan Needs

What’s in the bag: Travellers’ edition

When you spend a day out in Japan, what do you really need to carry with you? What do other traveller’s themselves take? Here’s that video, and leave your comments below or on the YouTube channel.

Here’s the iHerb discount link for you: http://www.iherb.com?rcode=WZC316.

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City of Ghosts on display at the Nagoya Foreign Artists Exhibition FAE2017

This is the first display by me for a few years. Please come and check it out, perhaps meet me, and see many other wonderful work by other expat artists. Details:

I’ll be there on Wednesday afternoon, late Friday, and some of Saturday and Sunday. This collection will expand in the coming year or so with more photos relating to this concept.

FAE2017 City of Ghosts exhibition panel

FAE2017 City of Ghosts exhibition panel

About the series

A film expert discovered the first colour footage taken of London. After reviewing this footage, he felt that whilst cities are permanent, in fact London has changed little since 1927, the people are constantly changing. Our lives are fleeting and transient, and so he said that people are like ghosts passing through the city. In fact, we live our lives, and carry out our affairs with earnest, energy, seriousness, and with hard determination. All of our struggles, achievements, disasters, love, loss, happiness, sadness, and more are lived out in these spaces called ‘a city’. However, what remains of our individual lives after we die? Very little. The architecture, the monuments, the transport spaces, offices, work spaces, the market spaces, the houses, and the culture of the people who survive today, which will be passed on and tweaked by each new generation. Otherwise, there is no memory of the individual people will remain, except for a few monuments. Even though we are alive now, we are already merely ghosts passing through the permanence of the city space.



Um especialista em cinema descobriu as primeiras imagens a cores tiradas de Londres. Depois de revisar estas filmagens, ele sentiu que enquanto cidades são permanentes, de fato, Londres mudou pouco desde 1927, as pessoas estão constantemente mudando. A nossas vidas são fugazes e transitórias e, portanto, ele disse que as pessoas são como fantasmas passando pela cidade. Na verdade, vivemos as nossas vidas e realizamos nossos assuntos com ânsia, energia, seriedade e com determinação. Todas as nossas lutas, conquistas, desastres, amor, perda, felicidade, tristeza e mais, são vividos nesses espaços chamados de “cidade”. No entanto, o que resta das nossas vidas individuais depois de morrer? Muito pouco. A arquitetura, os monumentos, os espaços de transporte, os escritórios, os espaços de trabalho, os espaços de mercado, as casas e a cultura das pessoas que sobrevivem hoje, que serão passadas e ajustadas por cada nova geração. De outro modo, não há memórias de pessoas individuais que permanecerão, com exceção de alguns monumentos. Embora estejamos vivos agora, já somos meramente fantasmas passando pela permanência do espaço da cidade.

 

ある映画専門家が、ロンドンを撮影した最初のカラー映像を発見した。この映像を鑑賞後彼は、街は永久不変である一方、―1927年からロンドンは少しだけ変わったと言えるが― 人々は絶えず変化していると感じた。彼はまた、我々の人生は儚く移ろうもので、人々は皆街をさまよう幽霊のようだとも言っている。事実、我々は自分達の人生を生き、固い決意とともに、熱心に、元気に、真剣に日々の業務を遂行する。我々のすべての苦労、成果、惨事、愛、喪失、幸福、悲哀といったものが、「街」という空間に生き延びている。しかし、我々の死後、個々の人生のうちで何が残るだろうか。ほとんど何も残らない。建築、記念碑、輸送空間、オフィス、仕事場、市場、家、そして今日生きる人々の文化は、新しい世代によって受け継がれ、改変されていく。そうでなければ、いくつかの記念碑以外に、個人の記憶は残らない。今生きているにも関わらず、我々は既に永久的な都市空間をさまよう幽霊にすぎない。

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Introducing the Dobot Rigiet

The Dobot Rigiet is a gimbal for holding your smartphone steady without the shakes and jars of handheld or selfie-stick videography. Note, this is not a paid product placement. This review is split in two parts, the “History & drama” of the product, and the “First Look” of it.

Using the Rigiet in Sakae near Oasis 21 and Nagoya Tower

Using the Rigiet in Sakae near Oasis 21 and Nagoya Tower

I first invested in this KickStarter project when it was called “LitleCane” (yes, with that spelling) in January or February this year, with delivery was due in March. It wasn’t going to get across the funding threshold with the KickStarter all-or-nothing policy. So, the makers cancelled the project on the 23rd February with a little over half of the funding goal achieved (USD$28,000 of $50,000). Many of the backers, myself included, said that it appeared to be an excellent product, and that it was a project worth pursuing. It was relaunched on 25th April as “Rigiet”, and I backed this one as well. Delivery was meant to be in June. This time, the threshold was set to a more modest $30,000, but with better marketing, it achieved a series of stretch goals, and amassed an amazing amount of over $673,000 in pledges; far eclipsing their previous attempt. Despite June, then July, then imminent delivery promises in late July, I got mine in late September. Between June and September there were howls of complaints from other backers saying that they hadn’t received their product yet, and accusing the makers of being scammers.

Having seen the Gnarbox project run 14 months over time, and the delay tactics and crowd-appeasing tactics used by the Gnarbox crew, I soon saw a more rudimentary form of these from the Rigiet makers. They confirmed delivery addresses when it seemed that they weren’t quite ready for delivery. They sent delivery tracking numbers at the end of July, even though delivery was not imminent. Also, there were vague and infrequent updates delivered to backers. Currently, the most recent update was on the 16th August. Some in the Comments community complained that Rigiet were delivering official communications on their FaceBook page, but not on the KickStarter page.

The Rigiet KickStarter Updates page, showing the most recent update. Compared to the date on the computer.

The Rigiet KickStarter Updates page, showing the most recent update. Compared to the date on the computer.

To me, it makes sense for them to not deliver updates on KickStarter. First of all, the creators are not native English speakers, and appear to struggle to clearly say what they mean. It’s a forgivable issue. I didn’t back the Rigiet because of the English skills of its creators. However, KickStarter memorialises these pages, and so after 30 minutes of posting an update, it’s locked in place, and cannot be altered. In contrast, the creators have more editorial control over their messages on FaceBook.

The "Dobot" gimbal sold on Amazon.it

The “Dobot” gimbal sold on Amazon.it

It also became known to the backer community that the Rigiet was being sold on Amazon Italy as “Dobot”. At first, it seemed to be speculation, but on closer inspection, it seemed to definitely be the Rigiet. This is a violation of KickStarter rules that forbid the sales of products before all backers had received theirs. When I finally got my Rigiet, the box had the brand as “Dobot”, and the product was “Rigiet” (or is it vice-versa?). Looking at the Amazon.it page today, it appears that Dobot now own up to the Rigiet, something that wasn’t clear before.

As of the 4th October 2017, there are backers who are still waiting to receive their Rigiets, waiting to get responses to emails, waiting for refunds, and waiting for replacements of faulty devices.

The video below is a summary of the First Look. The text below contains more information, however, the video also gives you some sense of the product itself.

 

First Look

The day I received mine I was laid up on the couch feeling quite ill. I opened the box, spent and hour trying to get it to work, but unsuccessfully. I really couldn’t think or focus. It’s a device not-for-dummies. I gave up, and went back to Netflix.

The Dobot Rigiet with iPhone SE attached.

The Dobot Rigiet with iPhone SE attached. It’s being held like this as it couldn’t be switched on just yet.

Two days later I tried again, this time, reading the instructions very closely. It took a few attempts, but I got it to work. There are three issues to know about.

Firstly, the batteries need a lot of charging; I mean about about 12 hours each (I don’t actually know how long it takes). I didn’t know this, so when I tried to use the Rigiet with them (partly charged), I thought they (Rigiet & batteries) were faulty. The supplied batteries are type “18650” 2600mAh, and are meant to be able to recharge your phone even while the Rigiet is in use. Because of the apparent problem, I ordered new batteries from Amazon, ones that have a 3500mAh capacity. However, after using the Rigiet for a few hours at the Nagoya Jazz Festival, then checking the battery life on the app afterwards, shockingly only 50% of the battery had been used. The screenshot below shows the Rigiet battery is currently at 100%. I then realised that I’d wasted USD$70 for four 18650 type replacement/spare batteries. In conclusion, charge the batteries for about 12 hours each, which is when the supplied charger light turns green (it eventually will).

Screenshot of the settings page of the Rigiet app

Screenshot of the settings page of the Rigiet app

Secondly, you must start it in the T-shaped configuration (seen in the photo and video above). That means, you must have the phone absolutely perfectly balanced so it doesn’t fall either to the left or right, which isn’t difficult to achieve, then hold it like shown above, hold the rec/power button and count to five, and you should feel the motors start working.

 

At the Ozone Jazz Festival right now #jazz #music #japan #japanese #ジャズ

A post shared by Andrew JapanesePhotos (@japanesephotosasia) on

 

Screenshot of the Dobot Rigiet with tracking feature on (the green square)

Screenshot of the Dobot Rigiet with tracking feature on (the green square)

Other features

There are two main features you want to know about. One is the tracking feature (pictured above), and the other is the other stuff you want to also use. The tracking feature, when using the selfie-side camera on the iPhone, can be set to follow your face, and it does a reasonable job of doing it. You select the tracking button (bottom left of screen) and then draw onto the image a green rectangle what you want to track. I’ve found that for talking-head videos it is best for it to be on your mouth and nose, just so it frames your face well. Both the tracking and the bluetooth connection icons have a very small sensitive area, and so you will have to poke at them a few times until you’ve got them.

Actually, since I started drafting this blog post, I made a typhoon info video with my iPhone and the Rigiet, which you can see here: https://youtu.be/fXYS_f3getI. However, there are two issues with video recording as you’ll notice quickly on the video. Firstly, you need an external microphone, and if recording outside, it needs a muff (aka dead-cat, wind shield, fluffy-mic-cover-thing). You cannot rely on the internal mic of the iPhone. Here lies an issue, I haven’t tried yet, but I assume you can’t plug in a wired-lavalier mic, or any other mic, without upsetting the finely balanced gimbal. Consequently, you will want to use an external recorder with muff attached, especially if you’re outdoors. Also, do a clap in front of the camera and near the mic to make it easier to sync the external audio with your video.

The Dobot Rigiet on a Joby GorillaPod

The Dobot Rigiet on a Joby GorillaPod

The Rigiet has a tripod mount, but weirdly, on the side. Consequently, you’ll need a ball-head camera mount. Unfortunately, there is no place where you could attach an audio recorder or mic. There is a stand available for the Rigiet, but it wasn’t supplied, and Dobot didn’t seem interested in making it available.

To use the Rigiet, it takes practice. I suppose like a lot of things, it takes time to know how things work, and how to get the most out of them. The Rigiet works well in the T position, though it complains when you move the handle too far from this. In practice, it doesn’t transition to the inverted T or full-horizontal positions very well, not like advertised, and I don’t think it will re-orient a live recording. Or at least, I haven’t found the trick yet. Also, there is a way to turn the phone into the portrait position, which is very important for Instagramming, but it seems this is an unnatural position for the Rigiet. In the upright T position it feels composed, but in the portrait position you can feel the little motors working hard. Some features of the Rigiet app are not available in the portrait orientation.

 

Sample of motion timelapse on the Rigiet

A post shared by Andrew JapanesePhotos (@japanesephotosasia)

 

It has a few other interesting features, though some will need that stand that wasn’t supplied. It can do panorama, though the camera must be pointed at the horizon, otherwise it just fails. It can do a time lapse, slo-mo, and you can even program the direction it will shoot for the timelapse. However, you will probably want a Gorillapod to hold the Rigiet in place.

The Dobot Rigiet on a Joby GorillaPod

The Dobot Rigiet on a Joby GorillaPod

Criticisms

The app is a little buggy, but not like Pokemon Go level of buggy. After doing two panorama shoots the app crashes and the gimbal falls limp, as you will see in the video. For some strange reason the date is shown in Chinese (see below). The bluetooth icon doesn’t look like the bluetooth icon, but a severed oval. The tracking and the bluetooth icons are difficult to activate, as the sensitive area is very small, and after trying to touch them a few times you eventually get them. Each time you try, you accidentally select a new focus area and get an exposure slider appear. The joystick controller was a little confusing. It always went suddenly in fast jerks in the opposite direction I intended. However, from practicing at home, and messing with the app, I’ve found I can set it to move slower and smoother, and with slower acceleration. Also, I’ve set in the Settings menu for the joystick to work in “reverse”, so it doesn’t go in the opposite direction anymore. However, the these are just annoyances.

A screenshot of the gallery that is stored in the app

A screenshot of the gallery that is stored in the app

Deal breakers

There are some minor deal breakers, but not thing major. They related to the export, editing, and design of the physical product.

The videos made in Rigiet are kept within the app, and need to be manually exported to the Photos app on your phone. From there, I use the Send-to function to move the video onto my other devices like my computer.

On export, some videos have the Rigiet watermark on them, which is absolutely unacceptable. Strangely, I’ve exported some videos without the watermark. I have no idea what I did different for some videos to get the watermark, and not others. On that note, I now wish that Rigiet would let us insert our own watermarks instead.

Videos made in the app do not read in Windows Movie Maker. However, it can in VSDC. The first time it failed, but strangely they worked all the other times. It could just be a problem with VSDC. When I made the typhoon info video, I imported the Rigiet video with no problem. No, I didn’t try Adobe Premier.

The other deal breakers only need minor mention. As said before, the tripod mount is on the side, and require a right-angled attachment to a tripod. Sadly, Rigiet did not supply the native foot/stand/support that attaches to the bottom of the device. Secondly, there is no wrist strap. I juggle both my big and heavy dslr in one hand, and the Rigiet in the other. Since my phone is out of its protective casing, there is a real danger that the whole kit and caboodle can be dropped and damaged. It really needed a hand strap attachment.

Conclusion

At first, I thought it was disappointing to see that getting it started is finicky and fickle. However, I eventually realised that the problem was with me, I had to learn how to use it. You will need to side-mount a tripod for timelapse, slo-mo, and panoramic videography; it is disappointing that the native stand wasn’t supplied, nor easily available. I think the people who will get the most out of this will be YouTubers. It’s great for creating steady footage, and has some interesting creative features too. In some ways, I wish I had got the Zhiyun Smooth Q or DJI Osmo instead; I suppose the “grass is greener on the other side”. In anycase, this is much, much cheaper than getting a dslr equivalent of a gimbal, which is good, as it gives me the chance to see if I need to invest in a bigger one in the future or not.

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