Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Editing Video from a Cell Phone

Edit video recorded from a cell phoneWith the majority of cell phones today coming with not only a built-in camera but also video recording capabilities, the amount of video the average home user takes is skyrocketing. It's just one of the many reasons there are so many videos being posted to YouTube every day. But not every video you record is going to be ready for the big time right away, so if you need to do a little bit of editing here are two extremely useful tools you should using try to clean up your cell phone videos.

Rotate Video
With the variety of flip phones, slide phones, and other shapes of phones, keeping track of which way is up while filming could be a challenge. You may quickly find out all your video needs to be rotated so that you don't have to watch it with your head tilted to the side. Prism Video Converter offers an easy solution. Not only can you convert your video from 3gp, a common video format recorded on phones, to something more computer friendly like avi you can also choose to rotate the video by going into "Effects" before hitting Convert.

Stabilize Video
Another common problem you might have—that you might not have even known you can fix—is with video clips that are shaky from an unsteady hand. If your video reminds you a little too much of The Blair Witch Project, you can stabilize your video with the stabilization feature in VideoPad Video Editor to eliminate jitter. See an example of video stabilization in action in our post A Quick Fix for Shaky Video Clips.

If you are really feeling your inner movie director come to life there are a lot more video editing transitions and effects available in VideoPad, but I think you will be surprised how big a difference even just a few adjustments like these can make to your videos.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Transcription Foot Pedal or Hotkeys?

Transcribe with Express Scribe transcription software and a foot pedalOne of our programs popular with transcriptionists worldwide is Express Scribe Free Transcription Software. Express Scribe, an invaluable tool to transcriptionists, helps control the playback of audio or video files during transcription with extremely helpful features, including variable speed playback, and can be controlled either with a transcription foot pedal or with assigned 'hotkeys' on the keyboard. Most transcriptionists rave about foot pedals, but have you ever wondered if they really make transcription more efficient or if their use is really just a matter of preference?

Well here's your answer. Chris Beamish at HoT Virtual Assistant Resources recently crunched the numbers on if you should use hot keys or a foot pedal for transcription and, based on his estimates, you could potentially save yourself over 11 hours-worth of typing in a week by using a foot pedal instead of hotkeys where he has found the potential for hitting the wrong command to be much more likely.

What do you think? Do you use a foot pedal or hotkeys with Express Scribe? And if you invested in a foot pedal did you see an increase in your productivity once you got into the swing of things?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bringing A Comic To Life With Photo Slideshow Software

Guest post by Jessica Warner "Tomoyo Ichijouji"

At the heart of everything, what I want to do the most is to bring great stories to life. I'm primarily a writer, so that usually has to do with the techniques of prose on the page, of which I'm pretty comfortable with already. But, in the past year or two, as a result of getting involved in amateur voice-acting (I'm now a moderator of the forum I participate in, VoiceActingAlliance), as a lot of voice-actors there also put together their own media to voice, I've discovered many resources that could bring a story from simple text to a full blown multimedia production. I had sound effects to mix anything from a walk in the park to an epic battle of giant robots, and voice actors with professional-grade talent who I had at hand to recruit to make characters all that more real to the audience. Even better, I even had a few composers I could collaborate with to make a totally immersive, original work you could listen to. Really, what more could you ask for?

However...I have always been a visual person. While you can do a lot with just sound alone, characters and stories don't really feel complete to me unless you can really "see" them. In writing, these come in the form of prose descriptions, whereas for multimedia, pictures are a necessity. There are people in my online community with the artistic talent, patience, time, and resources to actually make full motion animations, buuuuuut...let's just say that I lack enough of each category for that to really be feasible for me, haha.

I had a project in mind that when I first learned enough to take a crack at these productions myself, I wanted to try to bring to the screen. It wasn't my own; it was an online webcomic called No Rest for the Wicked, as of yet unpublished and unfinished, that I saw a lot of potential in to be a lot more than simply a webcomic. It was presented in a way that I could see it practically coming alive in a cinematic form in my head. The art in the webcomic was characteristically stylistic and pleasing to the eye -- couldn't there be some way to present those same images in a way that allows that cinematic nature to be evident, and to combine it with all those resources I had to make something that was barely a few steps away from being like an actual "motion picture". And so I thought, "...Why not?!"

I was remembering from photo slideshows I'd seen, how they had different panning and zooming effects along with transitions, and I thought, perhaps if I could do the same for the images from the webcomic, that would simulate the panning and zooming techniques used in actual animated features usually with a lower budget to be able to make the most out of a single image, as well as to establish action shots with fast shifts and flashes.

After all, I already had the images in front of me -- it was a matter of how to have them displayed to make them come alive. It sounded like a very interesting endeavor indeed, and really played to my general life creed of "make the most possible out of the least amount possible". That said, how would I do it?

I started to research on what programs I could use to do this. I got recommendations of the widely-used programs that could do everything under the sun -- but when I looked at the licenses for those programs, it made me bang my head on my desk. I can't afford $500+ for a program license! I could probably better use that money to upgrade my computer equipment so that I could even USE such complex programs without crashing my hard drive after an hour of working with it. I wondered, did you really need to pay that much to have a slideshow program with customizable transitions and effects? Surely there was something else that people simply hadn't bothered to look into that would serve just as well?

After some careful searching, I came across the NCH Software programs, one of which was PhotoStage Slideshow Producer. I thought, sure, sounds like what could work. Seemed pretty simple in both structure and interface (it was a tiny download, I was amazed what functions you could pack into a few megabytes), straightforward, yet flexible. Downloading the trial version, but being the skeptic I have always been about good deals (why hadn't anyone heard of it before if it was so useful?), I wondered how much I'd be able to tell from a trial program that usually only lasted long enough for me to use it once or twice at most.

However, I found that PhotoStage let me use it for well beyond its suggested trial period, even keeping ALL of its features except for some file formats that weren't crucial to the functionality of the program. I have a lot of respect therefore for programs that will in fact trust that if you find you really like the program, eventually you'll support the programmers and publishers by paying for a shiny license for it that shows that you are in fact legit without having a swimming pool of money in your backyard.

And eventually, that's exactly what happened. I was actually well into working on the project, having done several clips already that I showed my staff as I'd been well into getting in the lines and mixing all the stuff together, and finding a special on licenses going on, I thought it was the right time to get one -- and I knew already, having been able to actually DO something with it, that I was getting my money's worth.

Here's a few of the test clips I've done so far of the production so far, from various parts of the webcomic (some of the voices and music are just placeholders and will be different in the finished production):

This test clip shows a more cinematic setting-establishing scene, where the panning and zooming is put to full use. Source reference: Ch 2, pg 1-3

This test clip has more narration, but I made little illustrative panels come to life by erasing out various objects and phrases, having them fade or pop back into view depending on the context. Source reference: Ch 1, pg 1

This test clip shows the control of comedic timing between the visuals and dialogue. Source reference: Ch 1, pg 12

This test clip integrates a lot of the things above, using both panning, zooming, and fades at various speeds for a comedic, almost cartoon-like effect. Source reference: Ch 2, pg 42-43

I'm still working away on the production and it's not anywhere near finished, but I'm getting there! (See, again, why I don't like programs with ticking fuses, because my working pace in general is tortoise slow) If you're curious as to more detailed progress info, here's my production blog, and there's a few additional test clips up at my Youtube production channel, Videocaptor Productions. (Tomoyo Ichijouji is my online alias, a little more unique than my real life name, haha)

I'm not sure at this point what future projects I'll use PhotoStage for next, but I've been pointing others at my community who want to do comic dubs like mine to PhotoStage as an easy, elegant way to bring some motion to the images to go with the voices and sound. It seems like the ones who've tried it liked it, so who knows? Considering nobody else in my forum seemed to know about it before I started mentioning it to people, maybe it'll start catching on. In the end, for me, it's all about making the most of what you've got. PhotoStage was definitely one of the programs that let me do that, so I'm sure I'll continue using it for creative purposes in the future.

Monday, August 22, 2011

WavePad: New Look, New Tools, New Features

Change doesn't have to be scary; in this case it’s really exciting: WavePad has a new look. Now, instead of tiny icons and long and packed menus, WavePad uses a ribbon toolbar to organize functionality by category. It really is easier to use than ever before.

WavePad continually receives praise for its user-friendliness. The interface isn’t intimidating to the beginner, yet doesn’t bury the advanced features more experienced audiophiles use on a regular basis. Its feature set includes recording, editing, and effects such as amplify, normalize, reverb, echo, and reverse and is extended by DirectX effects and VST plugin support, and an included royalty-free sound effect library. The new ribbon toolbar organizes all these aspects of the program, improving an already easy-to-use workspace.

Here is the Effects toolbar. Look how the features pop out at you:

WavePad Audio Editor 5.0 New Look, Tools and Features

There’s more to this latest version of WavePad, including the following features and tools:
  • Wah-wah effect, for emulating wah-wah guitar pedals
  • Vibrato effect, for modulating the depth and frequency of an audio sample’s pitch
  • Tremolo effect, for modulating the depth and frequency of an audio sample’s amplitude
  • Doppler effect, for simulating the sound of a passing vehicle from a higher to a lower pitch
  • Pitch speed profile tool, for changing the speed or pitch of select portions of an audio sample
WavePad version 5.0 is a major release, and we want you to experience it yourself. Download your copy of WavePad now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Debut Top Video Capture Software

Debut Video Capture Software Award TopTenReviewsDebut Video Capture Software makes it possible for you to record or capture video from virtually any recording source. Rather than specializing in capturing video from a single source, Debut combines the recording capabilities of several programs, so whether you want to record streaming video, record from a networked IP camera, or connect your VHS player to your computer to digitize an old home movie, Debut is the only program you need.

The reviewers at TopTenReviews have agreed, awarding Debut the Silver award in their video capture software category, saying that they "were very impressed with how easy it was to use the interface and the tools available within Debut," going on to say:

"We were very impressed with the usability of Debut Video Capture Software and the well designed interface they created for their users, which is why it ranks as one of the top two products available. It also offers a number of recording tools and capturing abilities, and we found each tool easy to access and easy to use. We were pleased with the high quality results of the video captures as well as with the captured audio."


You can read the complete review of Debut Video Capture Software on the TopTenReviews website. Or, see how easy it is to use firsthand by downloading this both powerful and easy video recording program to your PC or Mac today.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hamish and Andy use WavePad to detect lies

WavePad Audio Editor shown on Hamish and Andy TV show to detect lies As I was relaxing one evening last week I was surprised to see a familiar face on the TV - WavePad!

Australian comedy duo Hamish and Andy have taken their antics to New York where they are causing general mayhem. In an attempt to determine if Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, was inviting them to a BBQ or simply making polite exit conversation, the boys visit a body language expert to help uncover the truth. There on his Macbook was none other our very own WavePad Audio Editor (with the classic theme selected) being used to analyse Mrs Clinton's voice patterns.

The result? A fifty dollar bet that they will NOT be attending a BBQ any time soon.

Watch the full episode of Hamish and Andy's Gapyear (episode three), WavePad makes its appearance starting at approximately 21 minutes and 30 seconds.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Practice Typing from Audio Dictation

Practice transcription audio added to KeyBlaze typing tutor
Last year we added a great resource for transcriptionists in training by posting several practice transcription audio files for use with Express Scribe transcription software so you could practice typing and using your foot pedal or hotkeys to control the audio with sample dictations that were provided to us by Accuro Transcription Services.

To add another tier of options to practicing typing from audio or dictation files, we have now also added several audio samples as dictation exercises in another NCH typing software, KeyBlaze typing tutor (version 1.22). This new addition allows you to listen to a dictation file and practice typing along. You can pause the recording at any time and compare your typing to the completed transcription side-by-side, so you can check for formatting, spelling, and other elements inherent to the dictation process. So, if you are looking for training to be a transcriptionist or know someone who is, you'll want to try KeyBlaze for practice transcription and typing from audio files.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Be Fast as a Fox with FastFox Text Expander Software

FastFox Text Expander SoftwareHello! I'm Audrey. I just started working in the sales department at NCH Software about a month ago, and I already found my new best friend; it's FastFox Text Expander Software! You see, I send out a lot of emails answering sales inquiries, so instead of typing the same information over and over again, I assigned my email letter to a unique word in Fast Fox such as "salesinquiry". All I have to do is type my unique word/shortcut and BANG it expands to the five-paragraph email like magic. How brilliant is that? I wish I had known about this wonderful software earlier in my career. My tasks would have been a whole heck of a lot easier!

So take my advice and start using FastFox to be more efficient, like me! Simply download the free trial of FastFox Text Expander Software and you can immediately start creating your own shortcuts that will expand to a word, phrase, paragraph or more. Use your new shortcuts in emails, word documents web browsers and more to speed up all your typing tasks. Once you get started you won't want to ever type without it again.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Express Accounts: New Look Gives Users a Better Experience

Some of you may have noticed that Express Accounts accounting software has a different look these days. Earlier this year, we optimized the interface workflow after considering research we conducted about the features our customers use most within the program. What resulted was a "tabbed" interface—by clicking category tabs at the top of the main interface, the user can pull up tasks related to that category, such as Sales, Purchases, Banking and Reports.

Express Accounts, a better experience for accounting software beginnersThe updated interface gives users the option to ignore functionality they don’t use without giving up precious screen space, but also provides quick access to the full range of features for businesses that require a more robust accounting system. The category tab solution also allowed us to stick with the basic interface structure Express Accounts has had for some time now, one that has proven to be easy to navigate, work with, and simple enough to understand quickly. Seasoned Express Accounts users will still find links to their tasks in the left-hand Explorer Bar, within the center control panel, on the toolbar, and within the program’s menus, no matter which category tab they are on.

Here are a few other new characteristics worth highlighting:
  • The Home tab saves users from clicking through tabs in search of common tasks they would rather have quick access to. Express Accounts always opens to the Home tab.
  • Account overviews are provided in the lower left section of each tab, giving the user a quick reference to how their business is doing without running reports.
  • Accounts payable: One of Express Account’s strengths has always been in tracking payments due to your business by your customers. Now you can track your own accounts payable by entering them as they come in and paying them when they are due.
  • Improved help documentation gives users new to bookkeeping and accounting a solid introduction to the program. To access the Help, press F1 from within the program, or click the Help button from any window to find the help topic specific to the task you are working on.
We are very excited about the changes in Express Accounts, but we’re not finished yet. Currently, our development team is working on adding more inventory tracking capability into the program, mirroring the features available within target="_blank"Inventoria inventory management software. For all of you who have asked for complete integration between these two powerful programs, keep a lookout over the next six months for this exciting feature update.

Learn more about Express Accounts or sign up for the NCH Software newsletter to stay informed of version updates, new software features, and receive special offers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Do More with Audio - Blog Carnival August 2, 2011

Here are this edition's entries to Do More with Audio:

Stephanie presents Outsourcing Audio Editing posted at Vox Daily discussing the decsion to outsource audio editing or keeping it internal.

Jason Briggs presents Delving Into Different Audio File Formats posted at Free Ultimate Hobbies.

Dave Taylor presents Convert WMA audio files to MP3 on my Windows PC? posted at Windows Daily News.

David Spark presents "How to be a podcaster" podcasting resources posted at Spark Minute.

Dan Friedman presents 10 Tips For Getting the Most From Your Voice Over Session posted at The ProComm Voiceover weblog.

Abraham Hyatt presents Audio Editing and Recording for Journalists posted at Digital Journalism Protland.

JC presents EVP - Electronic Voice Phenomena posted at Patently Paranormal.

Suzanne Bird-Harris presents My Favorite Audio Editing Tool posted at Suzanne Bird-Harris.

You might also be interested in:That concludes this edition of Do More with Audio. Be sure to Submit your audio articles for the next edition.
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