Add a Photobooth to Your Next Event

Are you interested in deploying a photobooth at your next event? Yes? Well, you don’t need a professional studio or fancy equipment to get started. First, you’ll need a few items. But, before rushing out to buy these, I’d recommend checking with your AV and/or marketing department to see if this is something you could borrow. You’ll need a folding green screen, two stand lights to light the green screen, a light source to light the people, a laptop or webcam, photobooth software, and the all-important graffer tape! Also, if it’s your first go at running a photo booth, you’ll need some time to test the system before the big event.

In our setup, we taped the green screen to a whiteboard, a USB chat light was taped to a clip on the laptop to light the people, and a table and podium to achieve the correct angle for the photos. Was it perfect? Nope, but it was an easy setup, people enjoyed the photos, and we have some fun memories of the event to help promote the next event.

Pros:

  • Makes your event more interactive
  • Can be fun or as serious as you like
  • Keepsake from the event
  • Free marketing for your next event

Cons:

  • You need a green, screen or fabric
  • Lighting the screen and the people are key
  • We used SparkBooth software, which isn’t free, but not too expensive

 

New Features In The Adobe Photoshop Update!

AI is here!  Fortunately our robot overlords have refrained from annihilating us and instead want to help us curate and edit our pictures.  All jokes aside, Adobe has developed a collection of deep learning algorithms they call Sensei.  They initially debuted these tools for tracking facial recognition and replacing backgrounds in mobile photo editing apps and apparently the technology is ready for professional prime time.

The new technology debuts in a feature called “Select Subject.”

Select subject at work.

Any photo editor knows that one of the biggest pains in the stylus is the arduous process of isolating images from the background for modification or deletion.  Hours are spent meticulously manipulating brush and pen tools to create intricate masks to achieve this goal.  Select subject seeks to eliminate this process and save photo editing savants and hobbyists alike a lot of time and energy.

It’s not perfect.  The tool has varying levels of success depending on the complexity of the image.  Results tend to be close enough for a decent starting point that a creative can work from.  The better the separation from the background, the better the results.  Green screen shoots should be a breeze with this tech.

The other new addition to this version of Photoshop is nominal but nothing to dismiss.  Microsoft Dial functionality has been expanded to incorporate more brushes that can be summoned on the fly.  Adobe touts that is allows you to “easily change brush parameters including size, opacity, and other brush settings — right as you paint.”

Overall this update was pretty minimal but the new AI deep learning powered “Select Subject” feature keeps Photoshop at the head of the image editing pack!

Instaxshare SP-2 Printer Brings the Polaroid Experience To Your Smartphone

Growing up in the 80’s (yeah I just revealed my age, sue me, I’m old) instant gratification was virtually nonexistent.  Cartoons only came on Saturdays, to buy music you had to go to an actual store and give people money, and if you wanted a picture you had to ship your analog film off to a lab and pray that everything came back alright.  The only exception to this experience were Polaroid cameras which allowed you to shoot directly onto special contact film that developed magically right before your eyes while you gave yourself carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrist waving it around to hasten the process.

 

Surprisingly, Polaroid is still alive and kicking with revamped cameras for the digital age but what if you want that same instant gratification experience with a little more bang for your buck?

 

Enter the Fujifilm Instaxshare SP-2 Printer.  No, it can’t take photos (and no you don’t shake it to get results) but this specialized printer does what it does pretty well.

Paired with a smartphone, you can set up your own photo development studio anywhere.  The device prints onto Fujifilm’s Instax instant film.  There’s no ink.  The printer does its magic using OLEDs to expose the image.

 

It’s faster than its predecessor and sharper as well.  Each photo takes about 10 seconds to print and a few minutes to develop at 70 cents a pop.  The cost actually goes down if you buy the film in bulk.  The jury is out as to whether shaking it will hasten the process however.

 

The Instaxshare SP-2 uses a rechargeable battery via a USB port and printing to the device requires Wi-Fi and a special app developed by Fuji.  You can print directly from your phone or you can print photos from social media sites like Facebook and Instagram complete with likes and time stamps.

 

The price point of $200 may be off putting to some with cheaper options on the market but overall the speed and the quality of this second-generation device seem to make up for it.

Insta360 ONE Announced Today

In February we wrote about the Insta360 Nano 360, a then-new-on-the-scenes 360 camera that solved usability challenges many devices in this space were suffering from. Today Insta360 announced the hotly-anticipated release of the successor to the Nano360, the Insta360 ONE.

At about $300.00, it maintains a low price point ($100.00 more than the Nano360), but adds some dazzling new features, such as those listed below. However, perhaps the most interesting thing about this camera is that, in the words of The Verge, this camera “help[s] solve the problem of when, where, and how we should use 360 cameras.”

Features

  • 4K
  • Freecapture: the ability to edit and export 1080p videos from your 360 footage that includes:
    • Bullet Time, via either an optional selfie stick or an included string
    • Auto tracking of a subject you identify in the video
  • Live streaming to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • The selfie stick disappears in your footage
  • 6-axis gyroscopic stabilization
  • Retractable lightning port plugs into your iPhone (Android version of the camera is in the works)
  • Rubber stand you can use as a base for shooting and for protecting the lens when storing
  • 24 megapixel stills, with the ability to capture in RAW format
  • An array of accessories available for purchase separately, including mounts for drones and helmets, underwater housing, a suction cup base, the selfie stick, which also is a bluetooth remote, and a tripod.

Watch Insta360’s promo video for the ONE here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrOmKKSRu8c

For more details about the ONE, check out this helpful review on Engadget: https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/28/insta360-one-4k-360-camera/#/

Also, here’s a cool advance video review of the ONE by a guy who clearly loves the invisible selfie stick feature! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fc1ilgKWwk

If any of you get the ONE, please let us know how it works out for you!

High Quality Video and Photos from iOS to YouTube and Facebook

Camera technology for mobile devices has made big strides in recent times, and it’s possible to shoot great quality photos and videos from your phone or tablet. (And we’re poised for another even bigger leap as 4k makes its way to the mobile world.) Unfortunately sometimes preserving all that quality at your publishing points can be tricky because most apps dumb down resolution and compression by default in order to scale to their massive audiences. Most leave the door open to your being able to get better results, however. Here are a couple tips:

Facebook Mobile Default Quality vs. Original

Facebook Mobile Default Quality vs. Original

Uploading the full quality 1080p video you shot on your iPhone to YouTube

To get full 1080p videos from your iPhone into YouTube, you’ll need to avoid uploading directly from Camera Roll, as the integration with YouTube there only supports a 720p HD setting at the top end. To get full 1080p, you can upload directly from YouTube’s mobile app, or from the separate app YouTube offers for editing called Capture. Check the settings in both of these apps to make sure 1080p is set as the default.

Avoiding noticeable image degradation when uploading photos to Facebook 

I’m a stickler for photo quality, so I noticed it recently when photos I uploaded via Facebook mobile looked poor compared to the originals. Experimenting with different ways of getting photos into Facebook, I found the following. I have an 8-megapixel iphone 6, (3264 x 2448):

  • Uploading via Facebook Desktop resulted in 2048 x 1536 files
  • Uploading directly via the iOS Facebook app defaulted in 960 x 720
  • When I chose the Upload HD option in the iOS Facebook app (see instructions below), the resulting images were 1280 x 960

One option you have if you need to use your phone and want the highest possible quality is to open a browser and log in to your account at m.facebook.com. Uploading my photos this way produced 2048 x 1536 files.

If you don’t care about that full quality but still want your photos to look better than the default 960 x 720, follow these steps to enable the Upload HD setting for FB Mobile:

  1. Open the Facebook app on your phone
  2. Press the More button at the bottom of the screen
  3. Settings
  4. Account Settings
  5. Videos and Photos
  6. Photo Settings
  7. Turn on Upload HD

With 4k on its way to Mobile devices, we’ll likely need to revisit all this down the road…

Affinity Photo Advanced Photo Editing

For those high end photo editors among us who have always assumed Photoshop was the only game in town, you might want to take a look at Affinity Photo, a Mac-only app that is making waves. Affinity is considered a serious Photoshop rival, and now that it’s poised for a major upgrade, version 1.5, it’s a good time to take a look. Some of the coolest new features offered in 1.5 include  including the ability to merge and edit HDR images with granular control and apply some of those tools to non HDR images, and sophisticated new 360 degree image editing tools, including the ability to insert objects while retaining perspective within the 360 degree frame. Other new features include:

• New workspace for tone mapping
• Focus stacking to bring depth to multiple combined images
• Batch processing
• Macros to record and replay a set of commands

This short video does a good job of demonstrating the top new features: