Category Archives: Geekery

Sony FDR-X3000, first impressions

So I decided to stop cheaping out on video cameras and buy a top of the line Sony 4K action cam with real image stabilization. In the 24 hours or so I’ve had it, I’ve tried a couple of tests.

First, I put it in the waterproof case (aka “dive housing” because it’s supposedly good to 60 meters). Unlike the new GoPros, the Sony has no water resistance without the case. I had it set up for 4K/30fps, with all the bells and whistles (wifi, Bluetooth, GPS) turned on. It overheated and died after only 30 minutes (a suspiciously round number?). I took it out the case and let it cool a bit, and it continued another 16 minutes. Ok, that’s not great.

Then I put it into airplane mode and tried again, and this time it lasted 40 minutes (another suspiciously round number). I forgot to see if it had some battery left after it cooled down.

Then, leaving it in airplane mode, 4k/30fps, etc, I took it for a walk around the block.

I’m really pretty pleased about the image stabilization here. I looked left to right a bit too much and it didn’t deal well with that, but as I walked along the flat I could feel the camera bouncing a tiny bit in the head strap, and none of that shows in the video. I think it’s going to look pretty good mounted on my boat.

It was 23° F at the time, and I guess we walked for about 20 minutes. I kept the camera running as we came back inside and it continued to run until it had run for exactly 1 hour. (Another suspiciously round number!) After it cooled down, it ran for another 8 minutes before the battery ran out. So I think that proves that it has a definite overheating problem in the waterproof case at room temperature, which does not bode well for kayak races in warm weather.

Yes, unlike canoe racers who prefer it when they have to chisel the ice off their boats, we surf ski paddlers often race in the warm summer sun. That’s why I became a surf ski paddler.

I’ve done another test which is more hopeful. I tried switching it to 1080p/60fps. That’s a very good resolution for recording kayak races because let’s face it, not very many of us have 4k monitors and the extra frame rate makes everything look smoother. This time, in the waterproof case and in Airplane Mode, I got 90 minutes almost exactly. That’s long enough to capture the important part of most races. I’d prefer two hours or more, but I’ve got what I’ve got.

Next, I’ve got to try it at 1080p/60fps with all the bells and whistles turned on. The camera came with a remote control – I could strap the remote to my leg and turn the camera on at the start, turn it off when there’s nobody around, and turn it back on for interesting parts like the finish sprint. That will make synchronizing with my Garmin a bit of a nightmare, but I’ll do what I have to do. Maybe I’ll hit the lap button on my Garmin at the same time or keep a camera that has a longer battery life running at the same time. I don’t know.

Cheap camera mount option

I thought the “hat mount” for my camera isn’t perfect, because I think it moves around a bit and also it puts the side of my face as a static object in the side of the frame. So I was thinking what I really want is something like what Ryan Paroz had at the Gorge – a suction cup mount and a pole to put the camera up high enough so it’s sort of looking over your shoulder. I’ve been looking high and low for a pole, and couldn’t find anything for regular tripod mounts, just for GoPros. The closest I could find was this selfie stick that has a 1/4″ socket on the handle. It was only $6, so I figured it was worth a try.

The result wasn’t terribly bad, except the camera moved over the course of the paddle. I tried to tighten it up afterwards to see if I could make it less likely to move, and I think I stripped the thread a bit. So back to the drawing board.

Actually though, what I think would be really good would be some sort of reverse pendulum. In case you don’t know what I mean by a “reverse pendulum”, here’s my crude drawing:

Focus on Bootstrap modals

Today’s discovery which I’m going to post here because I know I’ll need it again:

$('body').on('shown', '.modal', function() { $('textarea,input', this).filter(':visible:first').focus(); });

Will make sure that when any modal pops up, the first input or textarea field on it will receive focus. If you’re lucky enough to be upgraded to Bootstrap 3, that shown changes to or something like that.

Another boring post about video workflow

Well, it turns out that iMovie does have a chroma-key ability. And it’s pretty easy to use, actually, once you find it. The trick is to drag the two clips on top of each other, just like I do when I’m doing split screen, but on the same menu as split screen, there’s another option called “Green/Blue screen”. So I’ve generated some solid color backgrounds with ffmpeg. Then I bring them into VIRB Edit and overlap the GPS data gauges on them and export that result. Then I bring the resultant exports into iMovie, and I can overlay them on the multiple camera shots. I just have to figure out how to make sure the GPS gauges stay in sync with the camera shots. The easiest way seems to be to do an audio countdown before hitting start on the GPS that’s picked up on the cameras, or look for when I start paddling in the case of a race. But then I’d have to export each full clip with the overlay and bring it back in as a new clip. I’ll have to work on that.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out what color to use for the chroma-key. Green is the standard, but my gauges have green in them. The results aren’t that great. (Note that the video and the GPS track aren’t from the same paddle, it’s just for testing.)

Then I tried red. There’s very little red in the gauges. The results are better, but still not great.

Blue isn’t much different from red, but does save one whole click because you don’t have to click in the red area to tell it which color to key on.

Testing continues.