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The 3rd Annual FRiFF

The Flying Robot international Film Festival, the drone film festival I started 3 years ago, returns to the historic Roxie Theater in San Francisco on November 16th. This event is always a culmination of a ton of work and passion, and that includes all the submitting filmmakers. We’re looking at a sold out show and several participating filmmakers coming in from out of town. I’m super stoked to see the audience reaction to several of the films that made the cut. My long time friend and collaborator, Ryan Junell, outdid himself on the title animation sequence, which I’ll post after the festival.  So much to love about this year!

 

Aerial Imagery Presentation at Dorkbot

I was invited to give a presentation on advanced aerial imagery techniques using drones at dorkbotSF on September 20, 2017. Here’s the recored presentation, thanks to dorkbot videographer James Young.

Eddie Codel, Advanced Aerial Imagery Techniques with Drones, Dorkbot-SF, 2017-09-20.

FRiFF Complete List of Winners and Runners-Up

The inaugural Flying Robot international Film Festival took place last night at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. As the festival director, I couldn’t be more pleased. We received 153 submissions representing 35 countries across 7 categories. We gave away over $10,000 in cash and prizes and we sold out our first screening. We had a number of awesome sponsors participating who donated drones and drone related prizes. A huge THANK YOU to all the filmmakers who submitted, the sponsors who donated, the volunteers who toiled away to make all the events a success and of course, everyone who showed up to be a part of history. This was historic and we certainly plan on being back next year.

Without further ado, here is the complete list of winning films and runner-ups as decided by the FRiFF panel of 15 judges. We will be in contact with all the winners about their prizes shortly.

Best in Show: All Away – Colin Solal Cardo

Cinematic Postcard
Running into the Air – Sebastian Wöber

RUNNING INTO THE AIR – A Flight Over Switzerland from Sebastian Woeber on Vimeo.

Runner up: Teahupo’o, Du Ciel – Eric Sterman

Teahupo'o, Du Ciel from SURFING Magazine on Vimeo.

Cinematic Narrative
All Away – Colin Solal Cardo

Runner up: My forest – Sébastien Pins

Drones For Good
Mark Jacobsen – The Syria Airlift Project

Runner up: Mapeando las Invasiones de la Comarca Embera-Wounaan – James Cameron Ellis

WTF LOL
Hello World – PRENAV

Runner up: Targeted Advertising – Mitchell Rose

Student Film
Quinn Muller – Electric Africa

Runner up: Butterfly – Ryan Rizzo

Aerial Sports
Office Space FPV – Jonathon Davis aka Skitzo

Runner up: Tommy Tibajia aka Ummagawd – FPV Paradise Hawaii

I Made That!
Compilation Bart Jansen – Bart Jansen

Runner up: Chocolate Copter – Michael Niedermayr

Kicking off the Inaugural Meetup of SF Bay Area Webcasters and Live Streamers

SF Bay Area Webcaster Meetup

I started a Meetup group for webcasters and live streamers in the San Francisco bay area. We’re having our first meetup event this Tuesday, June 4th at 7pm. Check the Meetup event page for details. This is the first of what I’m intending to be a monthly series. Each meetup will have two or three presenters covering the gamut of live streaming.

For this first one, I’ll do a quick slideshow presentation of my experiences producing events for Ustream and Eddie.com.  Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent, will also give a high-level overview of BitTorrent Live, his latest creation. BitTorrent Live is a new peer-to-peer live streaming protocol that leverages peer connections to scale large live Internet broadcasts, potentially saving broadcasters a ton of money in distribution costs, while maintaining high reliability.

Since this is a meetup about streaming, we’ll of course stream the meetup. We’ll push to Ustream and BitTorrent Live. I’ll post the channel info here and in the group, check back or just come down and join the fun!

Celebrating the Giants Win with Fire and Mayhem

I threw together this quick montage of what I saw transpire in San Francisco’s Mission District shortly after the Giants clinched the World Series last night.

Producing Live Streams for Red Bull Creation

Red Bull Creation was a fun project that I recently had the pleasure of coordinating the live stream production for. The project called for an extensive video live stream production that included 14 live feeds from around the country, over a 72-hour period, non-stop.

Here’s one description of the project:

Think of it as the world’s coolest science fair – Red Bull Creation asked makers, inventors, and hackers to participate in a 72-hour frenzy of innovation, madness and ingenuity as 12 teams from around the USA engineered mind-boggling creations centred around a single theme.

RBC Live Control Center

The theme was ‘a game of games.’ Each of the 12 teams had to design and build their own physical game that could be played and exhibited in a public space. The winning team got $10,000 and a trip to this year’s World Maker Faire in New York. Three other top teams also won slots at Maker Faire.

At the TechShop Annex in San Francisco, we setup a live studio set that would act as the “nerve center” for the RBC project. Over the course of the 72-hour challenge, hosts Mike Senese and Tyler Hanson would go live, talk show style, checking in with the 12 teams to see how their builds were coming along. To accomplish this, we used a combination of Skype and Facetime conversations with team members that we fed into and switched live using our Newtek Tricaster 850.

Here’s the technical rundown.

The 12 competing teams around the country were each sent a kit that contained a Logitech C920 webcam, a Blue Snowball microphone, a tripod and a getting started guide on getting it all set up. The 12 teams each had their own Livestream channel to broadcast their builds over the 72-hour period. We had a dashboard at the nerve center that allowed us to see all 12 streams at any given moment, giving us a bird’s eye view on all teams progress.

Red Bull Creation - 12 teams

The Tricaster 850 sat in the center of our production. It was our live video switcher, graphics source, lower thirds titler, DVR, Apple AirPlay host, encoder, streamer and recorder. All content we were producing locally and remotely ultimately flowed into it before we sent it back out live on the primary Red Bull Creation Livestream feed. Two studio cameras were set up sending us 720p HD video. A Mac Mini and a PC each fed HDMI out into an AJA HDMI to SDI mini-converter, giving us HD-SDI inputs into the Tricaster. Tyler was also able to VJ music videos using his iPad. He’d cue up a YouTube video and send it to the Tricaster as a network input via Apple AirPlay over the wifi network.

When Tyler and Mike were not on set checking in with the teams live, we would pipe in various team feeds and switch them live to the main feed. We did this using the same Mac Mini and PC we used for Skype and Facetime conversations during the live shows.

Here’s a thorough accounting of the technology we used:
– 1 NewTek Tricaster 850
– 2 Sony EX1 video cameras
– 1 TVU Networks TM8100 remote cellular broadcast pack (with 10 cellphone aircards across 4 networks)
– 3 Apple Mac Minis
– 2 modern home built PCs w/Intel i7 processors
– 1 Apple iPad
– 14 Livestream channels on 2 network accounts
– 20Mb/s bi-directional Internet connection by awesome local ISP MonkeyBrains.net
– 2 AJA HA5 HDMI to SDI Mini-Converters
– 8 various LCD and LED monitors
– 1 Mackie Onyx 1620i recording mixer
– 2 Sennheiser ew100 ENG G3 wireless lav mics and 1 handheld mic
– A variety of Kino Flo Diva-Lites and ARRI studio
lights
– 1 Gamelatron Robotic Orchestra
– 3 days of setup and testing

Glenn, mobile broadcaster

Some things we learned:

Livestream’s plugin for Tricaster is buggy. We experienced major audio sync issues when enabling this. Livestream’s premium support was immediately available but unfortunately didn’t have a fix, so we just went with the old fashioned way of using a single bitrate Flash Media Encoder profile. The plugin would have allowed us to offer multiple bitrates to viewers.
– AJA’s HA5 HDMI to SDI Mini-converter doesn’t work with the latest Mac Minis with Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 chipset. AJA’s support was very responsive, but this wasn’t a known issue until we brought it to them. Apparently this model of Mac Mini has an HDMI port that is actually a DVI connection, not true HDMI. This is fine when the port is used for monitors but sucks for applications that actually require true HDMI spec video such as these mini-converters. Apparently, the higher end Mac Minis with the AMD Radeon HD graphics chipset output true HDMI, thus work fine with the AJA HA5.
– We had some serious line noise coming from one of the Mac Minis that we couldn’t readily eliminate. We acquired an inline noise filter device and that pretty much did the trick.
– The TVU Pack is a great product and worked as advertised, though we should have spent a bit more time testing it before we went live with it. We had some issues with 16:9 aspect video being squeezed to 4:3 on the other end.
– Not every YouTube video plays nicely over Apple AirPlay for some reason.
– Skype and Facetime are great ways of patching in remote guests, though quality really varies among locations and networks. Still, it was better than our initial expectations.
– Sleep really is helpful sometimes.
– You won’t explode from drinking too much Red Bull. Really.

Here’s some nice press from Wired.

Justin.tv Continues to Reinvent Itself

Fast Company just published this great piece on the evolutionary path of Justin.tv.

The TL;DR version: In 2007, Justin.tv began simply with Justin Kan lifecasting himself from his startup’s dorm style living quarters in the Y-scraper. It didn’t take long for Justin’s audience to start directing the show. The founders were able to get the cost to deliver one hour of video down to half a penny, so Justin.tv pivoted to an open, ad-supported live streaming platform. Traffic grew immensely, aided by some users illegally simulcasting blacked out pro sports events from around the world. A boxing promoter and UFC went on the attack, while Michael Seibel, Justin.tv’s CEO, had to answer to Congress. Overall traffic declined as video game streaming traffic increased. Taking this cue, TwitchTV was spun off to create a streaming platform built exclusively for video gamers to broadcast game competitions. With the rise of mobile apps, Socialcam soon became another successful spin-off. Socialcam is a mobile video sharing app that leverages Justin.tv’s infrastructure, now with 44 million users. Not to be outdone, Justin had to go and found yet another startup. Exec is a service that helps match users with personal assistants to get specific tasks done.

Here’s a Geek Entertainment TV episode we did in 2007 when Irina and I visited Justin.tv at the Y-scraper in their early messier lifecasting days.

The Internet says no to SOPA and PIPA

Yesterday, a large portion of the Internet rose up against two horrible bills making their way through Congress. These bills, SOPA in the House and Protect IP Act or PIPA in the Senate, would fundamentally change the nature of the Internet in misguided attempts at stamping out copyright infringement. Many websites voluntarily went dark for the day to show the public what things could well look like if these bills become law. Wikipedia, Craig’s List, Google, the Internet Archive, Reddit, Tumblr all participated, educating users and encouraging them to contact their congress people. Physical protests happened in San Francisco and New York where many lolcat fans, entrepreneurs, reddit users and first time activists turned out to lodge their opposition.

I grabbed my Z1U and ran down to City Hall here in San Francisco to catch up with the happenings. Several notable Internet people showed and spoke out about SOPA/PIPA including Craig Newmark, Caterina Fake, Ron Conway, MC Hammer, Brewster Kahle, and Elizabeth Stark. I recorded some of the soapbox action and grabbed some interviews asking two questions.

The first question, What is the worst part of SOPA and PIPA to you?

The second question, How will SOPA and PIPA affect your organization?

Interviewees: Jonathan Nelson, Sam Stoller, Caterina Fake, Tantek Çelik, Adina Levine, Seth Schoen, Rick Prelinger, Jen O’Neal, Jessica, Anders Nelson and Kim Dowd.

Geneva 4 Drive-In Urban Scrabble

While recently looking for a nice location for an afternoon hike with a friend, we stumbled across the remains of the Geneva 4 Drive-In movie theater in Daly City. What first caught my eye was three old lightbox signs atop polls with changeable marquee letters.

Geneva Drive-In

Cinema Treasures tells us that the Geneva was a 4 screen multiplex that opened in 1950 on an abandoned dog racing track. It had west facing screens positioned at the bottom of a gentle sloping grade with a mesmerizing view of the infamous aptly named Cow Palace. “Great place for taking dates in the 50’s and 60’s.” Apparently Hunter S. Thompson was a frequent visitor and wrote about his experiences there. One can only imagine the freaky shit that must have gone on during its 50-year history.

Geneva Drive-In

This required further investigation. We wandered around the grounds and soon discovered a cache of leftover marquee letters strewn about.

Geneva Drive-In

With darkness coming on fast, we quickly went about to use our collective Scrabble skills to come up with this solid 17 point word score.

Geneva Drive-In

I get the feeling this place doesn’t get a lot of visitors, as the marquees hadn’t been changed in over a year as evidenced by photos on the SF Gate’s The Poop blog.

Think you can do better than QUEEF? Post links to pix and prove it.

16mm colorized footage of iconic San Francisco

Amazing to see how my awesome city looked 50 years ago. In many ways, it doesn’t look all that different than today. Hat tip to Spots Unknown for the discovery.

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