Tag: video

Razer’s new webcam and microphone are made for streamers

Razer is known as a gaming laptop, mouse and keyboard maker, but it actually offers a wide variety of products, like Xbox controllers, power banks, and even an upcoming phone. Razer also makes webcams like the Stargazer, which is built for streaming video games. Now Razer is upping its streaming game with two new "streamer certified" peripherals, a webcam with a built-in ring light called Kiyo as well as a USB condenser mic named Seiren X.

The $100 Kiyo's built-in light has 12 levels of brightness to help light your face for those important picture-in-picture streams on Twitch. It also outputs high-def video at 720p with 60 frames per second (FPS) or 1080p at 30 FPS. The Seiren X also retails at $100 and comes with a removable desk stand so you can set it up anywhere you're streaming from. It connects via USB and has 25mm condenser capsules and a tighter recording angle that's optimized for streaming, according to the company.

"Streaming has become an integral part of the gaming community," said Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan in a statement. "We took a hard look at what streamers really needed, and engineered products to support those specific use cases. The result are products that produce professional quality streams while remaining accessible to beginner users."

Ring lights aren't anything new, of course. I had one that you could slide onto Apple's old standalone iSight camera years ago. Still, the Kiyo could be attractive to someone who has a darker room and needs to stream a better image. There are plenty of microphones to choose from, but if you're using other Razer gear, the affordable Seiren X might entice you, too.

Via: The Verge

Source: Razer


Movie ‘sanitizer’ VidAngel files for bankruptcy

Back in 2016, Hollywood studios were able to stop VidAngel from streaming sanitized versions of blockbuster hits, claiming that its system for doing so was covered under the Family Movie Act of 2005. The injunction, which VidAngel promised to appeal, claimed that the company was operating as an unlicensed video on demand service.Unfortunately, the company is now filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

"...chapter 11 is simply a reorganization and part of our legal and business strategy," Harmon wrote in a blog post. "Per federal law, chapter 11 reorganization automatically pauses our lawsuit with Disney and the other plaintiffs in California." In an attempt at positive spin, CEO Neal Harmon also wrote that the strategy lets them continue another lawsuit, this one in Utah, to prove that its filtering system is legal. According to Harmon, VidAngel has a new filtering system for Netflix, HBO and Amazon, millions of dollars in the bank and is generating even more millions in revenue. Apparently, the market for "clean" versions of movies and television shows is larger than you might have thought.

Harmon notes that even if the company loses the lawsuit brought by Disney and other studios in California, it will have enough revenue from its new system to pay any court-ordered damages. "That way," he wrote, "VidAngel can survive and reap a return for the many thousands of customers who invested in us."

Via: AV Club

Source: VidAngel


‘Pokemon Go’ hopes new monsters will get you outside this fall

While Pokémon Go may have lost some of its shine due to a number of problems like poorly run public events and a divisive invitation-only special battle system, the mobile game still has a decent fanbase. The developers have been adding new live events and contests to maintain interest, like an AR photography contest, legendary monsters, and Adventure Week. It's Halloween time, though, and Pokémon Go might entice you back into the game with its new seasonal additions. You'll see more Ghost-type Pokémon in the wild, especially those from the Hoenn region found in Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald like Sableye and Banette.

The event lasts from October 20th at 8 PM BST to November 2nd at 9 PM BST. You'll see an increased number of spooky Pokémon, including Gastly, Cubone, Misdreavus and Houndour. The developer promises even more Pokémon from Ruby and Sapphire as early as December. Not only that, but Pikachu will be out and about in costume, just begging you to catch him. Players will double their candy rewards for catching, hatching and transferring Pokémon during the event, and your special buddy will get candy twice as fast as usual. The in-game shop will have Raid passes and Super Incubators in special boxes, while players will get to purchase Mimikyu's Disguise Hat for their avatar.

Source: Pokémon Go


Adobe’s ‘Cloak’ experiment is a content-aware eraser for video

Glamorous show-reels from shows like Game of Thrones get all the fame, but a lot of VFX work is mundane stuff like removing cars, power lines and people from shots. Adobe's research team is working on making all of that easier for anyone, regardless of budget, thanks to a project called "Cloak." It's much the same as "content-aware fill" for Photoshop, letting you select and then delete unwanted elements, with the software intelligently filling in the background. Cloak does the same thing to moving video, though, which is a significantly bigger challenge.

Engadget got an early look at the tech, including a video demonstration and chance to talk with Adobe research engineer Geoffrey Oxholm and Victoria Nece, product manager for video graphics and VFX. At the moment, the technology is in the experimental stages, with no set plans to implement it. However, Adobe likes to give the public "Sneaks" at some of its projects as a way to generate interest and market features internally to teams.

An example of that would be last year's slightly alarming "VoCo" tech that lets you Photoshop voiceovers or podcasts. That has yet to make it into a product, but one that did is "Smartpic" which eventually became part of Adobe's Experience Manager.

The "Cloak" tech wouldn't just benefit Hollywood -- it could be useful to every video producer. You could make a freeway look empty by removing all the cars, cut out people to get a pristine nature shot, or delete, say, your drunk uncle from a wedding shot. Another fun example: When I worked as a compositer in another life, I had to replace the potato salad in a shot with macaroni, which was a highly tedious process.

Object removal will also be indispensable for VR, AR, and other types of new video tech. "With 360 degree video, the removal of objects, the crew and the camera rig becomes virtually mandatory," Nece told Engadget.

Content-aware fill on photos is no easy task in the first place, because the computer has to figure out what was behind the deleted object based on the pixels around it. Video increases the degree of difficulty, because you have to track any moving objects you want to erase. On top of that, the fill has to look the same from frame to frame or it will be a glitchy mess. "It's a fascinating problem," Oxholm said. "Everything is moving, so even if you nail one frame, you have to be consistent."

Luckily, video does have one advantage over photos. "The saving grace is that we can see behind the thing we want to remove," says Oxholm. "If you've got a microphone to remove, you can see behind the microphone." In other words, if you're doing shot of a church with a pole in the way, there's a good chance you have a different angle with a clean view of the church.

With 360 degree video, the removal of objects, the crew and the camera rig becomes virtually mandatory.

Another thing making content-aware fill for video much more feasible now is the fact that motion-tracking technology has become so good. "We can do really dense tracking, using parts of the scene as they become visible," said Oxholm. "That gives you something you can use to fill in."

The results so far, as shown in the video above, are quite promising. The system was able to erase cars from a freeway interchange, did a decent job of deleting a pole in front of a cathedral and even erased a hiking couple from a cave scene. The shots were done automatically in "one quick process," Oxholm said, after a mask was first drawn around the object to be removed -- much as you do with Photoshop.

It's not totally perfect, however. Shadow traces are visible on the cave floor, and the cathedral is blurred in spots where the pole used to be. Even at this early stage, though, the tool could do much of the grunt-work, making it easier for a human user to do the final touch-ups. I'd love to see Adobe release it in preview as soon as possible, even if it's not perfect, as it looks like it could be a major time saver -- I sure could've used it for that macaroni.


GoPro Hero 6 review: Slow-mo, stabilization and subtle refinements

If you look at the GoPro Hero 6, it's nearly impossible to tell it apart from the Hero 5, even on close inspection. The older, silver GoPros used to have the model number marked in black text on the front. The only way to tell the most recent cameras apart is small gray-on-gray text on the left side of the camera, and the word "power" on right (replacing "mode"). I even have to hold the camera up to the light to make sure the tiny number 5 isn't a 6 (and vice versa).

But use the Hero 6 for more than a few minutes, and the improvements become apparent. There are three standout features that I think make the world of difference between these otherwise-identical GoPros. Here's what they are and why they matter.

Image stabilization (EIS)

Before the Hero 5, GoPro cameras didn't have any kind of image stabilization built in. Your options were to either make sure you have a steady hand or fix in post. The former is harder than you think depending on what you're doing; the latter is a pain in the ass for most people. The Hero 5 introduced Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), which cropped the image 10 percent in exchange for smoother video. The EIS only worked on two axes in most resolutions, and not at all in 4K or over 60 frames per second (FPS).

EIS certainly helped smooth out your clips, but if you were moving at a certain angle, there was often notable warping or artifacts. The Hero 6 offers improved stabilization with an extra axis added, meaning diagonal/rotational movements are much less of an issue. It also works at 4K30 and up to 120fps in 1080p. The Hero 6 also has dedicated hardware to remove any warping right in the camera. Perhaps most important, the crop is now only 5 percent, so you're losing less image in exchange for that stability.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one feature is my favorite upgrade between the Hero 5 and the 6. I took both cameras out, mounted side-by-side under different conditions (walking, skateboarding and so on), and every time the difference between the two was stark. The Hero 6 consistently comes out looking not just smoother, but more natural, with almost no visual distortion. If you're mounting the camera in a place that's already fairly stable (your head, in a gimbal, or on a car, for example), it's better not to use EIS and keep the stabilization out of the mix. But for most hand-held recording or mounting on shaky surfaces, it's a godsend.

Professional "pixel pushers" will still lament that the stabilization is being handled by software (rather than the superior optical "OIS" method), but for most users, it's a solid tool. We'd all love OIS to come to future GoPros, of course, and maybe it's on the roadmap, but for now, the Hero 6 is close to what most people need.

Slow-mo

When the Hero 4 arrived, it ushered in the era of usable 4K for GoPro. Older cameras (the Hero 3 and 3+) could shoot in UHD, but only at low framerates (15fps), which wasn't entirely useful. The Hero 4 did 4K at 30fps, though, making it the go-to setting for maximum impact (and large file size).

Shooting in 4K still isn't all that practical for most people; even pros don't use it all that much yet, but people like to have the option. That 30-fps limit meant no chance for slow-mo, though. Your perfectly landed lazerflip would either look choppy, slowed down to 15fps or, you would have to choose a lower resolution to get smooth slow-mo. Hero 6 can shoot 4K at 60fps, giving you a modest UHD slow-mo option for the first time on GoPro. Yi's 4K+ action camera has offered this combination for a while, but it's still not that common, even in phones.

What's really useful is that every other resolution has pretty much had its framerate doubled compared to the Hero 5. Now you have options for 2.7K at 120 and FHD/1080p at 240fps. That last combination -- 1080p/240 -- is going to be your go-to slow-mo setting for anything action-related. That's an eight-fold slowdown over regular 30fps -- perfect for catching exciting moments in high definition. Note that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus also shoot in 4K/60 and 1080/240, so if you use your phone for a second angle, you can match the slow-mo shots at the same framerates -- handy. Sadly, Google is a little behind here -- the Pixel 2 shoots only 4K/30 and 1080/120.

There's something important to note at this point. While GoPro's new camera can pump out high-framerate video, it's using HEVC compression for most of the new speeds. This file format isn't universally supported yet. Mac users, for example, can't open these files on anything other than High Sierra without downloading dedicated (and often not very good) media players. I tried the latest DivX player, which claims to do it, and ended up going in circles trying to get it to work. VLC opens the files but barely plays them (for me). Elmedia player works, but it's frankly not much use.

That's a huge inconvenience if you're a casual user and want to edit these clips (and you probably do). Until your operating system catches up, you'll need to string together a few workarounds, but with Apple also adopting HEVC in iOS 11, be sure that compatibility will improve swiftly. The upside is that HEVC helps keep file sizes down. Shooting 4K at 60fps is doubling the number of 4K frames of an already large image, so files get huge, fast. With HEVC, files are anywhere between half and 80 percent the size of h.264 (the previous encoding format) at the same framerate.

Image quality

Image stills taken from video recording. Left: Hero 6; Right Hero 5.

Features like slow-mo and stabilization are nice to have, but they count for nothing if the basic image isn't good. With the Hero 6 (and its GP1 chip), GoPro has made some subtle tweaks to the image quality that should give on-the-fence upgraders a nudge over the edge. Technically, this isn't "one" feature, but rather a collection of tools and improvements that conspire to make the Hero 6's imaging capabilities superior to that of its predecessors.

The first improvement I noticed with the Hero 6 is that everything looks sharper. I flew with both cameras in the Karma and shot a landscape with water, buildings and grass, which really spelled out the differences. For example, leaves on trees are much more textured with the Hero 6, even when the Hero 5 is closer. Likewise, water in the distance appears as a fairly plain gray-blue mass on the Hero 5, but the new GoPro shows shadows and ripples that I couldn't see before. The same with the sky. Hero 6 showed a level of detail and contrast with clouds that the Hero 5 simply couldn't muster.

The sharpness is aided by improved color, too. Everything on the Hero 6 (using the "GoPro" color mode) simply pops. While flying over gravel and asphalt, the Hero 5's images looked dull and gray, while the Hero 6 showed a broader range of colors, even within the same dull parking lot.

If there's a downside to this, it's that sometimes, colors on the 6 can look too poppy. On a day out in the California sunshine, the blue of the sky was so saturated in shot that it almost looks unreal (it was very, very blue, but still). There is a natural/flat color mode if you find the GoPro levels not to your liking, but in general use, it wasn't unnatural. Side note: The Hero 6 now has an HDR mode for still photos (the Hero 5 has something called "WDR"). This is good news for those who want to take snaps, but also an encouraging sign that we might get HDR video in the future.

You have to dig a little deeper into the settings, but there are a few options that also bolster the Hero 6's image cred. GoPro's "ProTune" menu has had advance controls over your exposure for a while, but the shutter speed and white-balance menus now offer more options, allowing you to dial in your shot, and ISO control has been split into min/max rather than the single max option from before. Small details, for sure, but for those who like to get hands-on with their settings, these really make a difference. I personally like being able to lock the ISO to a set number, making sure I get the sharpest image possible at all times.

The last feature in this section is the new linear-zoom option. Before, you basically chose between narrow, medium or wide FOV. With the Hero 6, you use a slider to dial in the amount of zoom/field of view that you want, giving you much more control over what's in the shot. The good news is that zoom also works with the horizon-friendly Linear mode, too. Being able to digitally frame your shot via the camera is a godsend for casual users (pros will likely prefer to do that in post).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, it's hardly a surprise that the Hero 6 is better than the Hero 5. But it's better in important ways, rather than just "lots" of (less important) ways. Voice control and other auxiliary features are nice, but it's good ol' photography that really matters, and there's enough improvement here that I think it warrants the upgrade.

That said, the Hero 6 is pricier than the Hero 5, which retains its $399 launch price to this day. You'll have to cough up an extra $100 for all the features I mentioned above, making the Hero 6 an expensive investment for most people. Most of the features mentioned here are available on rival cameras, but with trade-offs. Sony's $400 X3000 has better (OIS) stabilization but lacks many of the higher framerate options. The budget Yi 4K+ cam ($300) offers 4K/60, but the GoPro still bests it for slow-mo at most other resolutions, but it's always worth looking at those to see if they suit your needs too. But at the end of the day, if you want a GoPro, the choice is clear, even if it comes at a price.


‘Mythbusters’ reboot comes to Science Channel on November 15th

What do you do when your highly-successful reality show goes out with a bang? If you're Discovery-owned Science Channel, you quickly reboot it and find new hosts to replace the iconic ones. If you're a fan of the original and willing to give the new guys a chance to prove themselves to be as awesome as Adam and Jamie are, then your'e in luck. The new version of Mythbusters, a much-loved show that reveled in DIY gadgetry and science, is set to air its first of 14 episodes on November 15th.

Jon Lung and Brian Louden will anchor the new series, which aims to continue the original's mission to debunk fantastic claims and myths using actual science. The first episode will have the leads testing to see if an airbag can be lethal to front-seat passengers who put their feet on the dashboard. Of course, they'll use a cadaver to do so. In addition, the team will test out whether a bad guy or zombie will hold still for a dramatic pause if you decapitate them with enough force like they do in the movies. A rocket-powered sword will be their instrument of truth.

Louden and Lung won a national talent search in Mythbusters: the Search, beating out 9 other teams who wanted to host the reboot. Louden has a biology degree and has trained in emergency medicine while Lung is an engineer and product designer.

Source: Mythbusters/YouTube


Sony to publish indie games on Nintendo Switch and PC

The console wars are not over, but there are some signs that collaboration may yet win out. While Sony continues to opt out of the "Better Together" Minecraft initiative to bring cross-platform play to all platforms, it looks to be making games for non-Sony devices, including the Nintendo Switch. In a Japanese-language press release, the company just announced a new publishing label named Unties, which comes from the idea of unleashing the talents of game creators.

The idea is to find and distribute great indie games, says the press release, and help them find an audience, no matter the device it plays on. The debut title, Tiny Metal, will be a "full-scale strategy simulation game" from developer Area 35. It will release for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC on November 21st. Upcoming games include 3D action title Last Standard and tank-based battler Merkava Avalanche for PC (thus far). VR demo Deemo-Reborn is headed to PlayStation VR as well.

Ultimately, it doesn't seem like a bad thing to have a company like Sony, known for quirky, masterful games like Flower and Journey, helping usher in new indie games to other platforms besides its own PlayStation 4 console, even if the company had to launch an entirely new publishing label to do so.

Via: Geek.com

Source: Sony


Apple’s self-driving tech appears to be one fully-contained unit

Like so many companies, Apple has been working on its own version of self-driving technology. Last year, we learned that the company had moved away from designing its own vehicle, opting instead to develop a system that could be incorporated into existing vehicles. We've had glimpses of this system before -- it's codenamed Project Titan -- but thanks to Voyage cofounder MacCallister Higgins, we now have an up-close view of it.

Higgens posted a short video on Twitter of a Lexus SUV topped with Apple's sensor array, which he called "The Thing." He also said that the majority of the compute stack is likely contained within the roof unit itself, rather than stored elsewhere in the vehicle, and noted that it had six LiDAR units on the front and back. Such a self-contained unit would be pretty easy to pop onto any car really without requiring many additional modifications to the vehicle itself, which is probably why Apple has opted for such a design.

You can take a peek at Apple's roof array in Higgens' video above.

Via: TechCrunch


Earbud translators will bring us closer: The Future IRL

The moment Google Pixel Buds were used earlier this month to demonstrate real time translation from Swedish to English, people started freaking out about potential use cases for this kind of technology. But the thing is, Google isn't the only company taking this on.

Doppler Labs offered me a chance to try the beta version of its translation software, used inside of its existing Here One earbuds. It plans to release the translation feature in a software update early next year. I jumped at the chance, and first exchanged pleasantries with a fluent Cantonese speaker, then let folks in San Francisco's Dolores Park use the buds to translate Spanish. Everyone that tried them in front of me loved them, but that doesn't mean they're perfect. Proper nouns are enormously difficult to translate with ease across languages, and that was apparent when we asked one person in Spanish whether she preferred House Stark or House Targaryen in Game of Thrones. The translation spit out mostly gobbledygook. I struggled similarly when trying to understand where my conversational partner lived (Near Ocean Beach in San Francisco, from what I could tell) but it took about three tries to get there.

Doppler Labs plans to up their earbud ante even future in Q3 of 2018, when an updated earbud will give even longer battery life and power for translation, enabling some compute either on the earbuds or on a paired phone, without having to touch the cloud for translation, a pretty common occurrence in most products like it now.

The wise gadget lover might wait for that updated bud, or for that matter, v.2 of Google Pixel Buds or other competitors. But if you imagine yourself an intrepid explorer of the world, translation earbuds are probably already on your wish list. You could wait for generation two or later products from Google, Doppler, Bragi and more, but let's be real: This technology is simply too life-changing to make yourself wait.


Hulu’s VR content is now available on Windows Mixed Reality headsets

With its latest OS update, Microsoft has officially begun to support VR headsets from companies like Lenovo, Acer and Dell and today, Hulu announced its VR content will now be available across the lineup of Windows Mixed Reality headsets. The company has also added its VR app to the Microsoft Store.

Along with this announcement, Hulu also revealed that with Microsoft, it has developed two new VR projects -- The Driver, which follows NASCAR driver Jeffrey Earnhardt and lets viewers experience what it's like to be on a racetrack, and A Curious Mind, a pop science show hosted by Dominic Monaghan (The Lord of the Rings, Lost) that explores our planet. For the next 30 days, both The Driver and A Curious Mind will be available exclusively to Microsoft Mixed Reality headset users. Afterwards, they'll become available on Hulu's other supported platforms including Gear VR, PSVR, Daydream and Rift.

The Hulu VR app is available for free and users can access over 85 pieces of VR content. For those with a Hulu subscription, they can also view the streaming service's entire 2D library in immersive 3D environments. You can watch trailers for The Driver and A Curious Mind below.

Source: Hulu