Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Seven Hundred Frames Or So

I now know the limits of the Lumix FZ80’s battery capacity.

Over the course of two time-lapse tests this past couple of weeks I was able to get nice, zoomed-in time-lapse cloudscapes. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the battery only lasts around three hours because you can’t tell the camera to turn off the rear display. And since you can’t bypass the battery and run off of “wall power,” you’re stuck with the limitations of the battery.

This afternoon I set up a shoot intended to run five hours and only got about three. Since the battery ran out completely, I wasn’t able to “finish” the time lapse mode shoot with the usual “make a video” step… which means I ended up with 750 individual images that were to be used in the making of a video file by the camera itself.

I did that anyway once the battery had some juice again, yes, but that file is not what I uploaded to YouTube. Instead, I told HitFilm Express to load up those 750 big juicy still frames instead. That gave me the best possible quality source material to get a 4K video result. Also, I learned how to do a title card and dissolve transitions, because why not?

I’m not sure which I’m happier with, the title card & fade in/out or the time-lapse footage itself.

I probably won’t use the Lumix to do many more of these, which is a shame because I love having the ability to zoom in to the distance, thus removing all of the signs of being in an apartment complex (neighbors’ decks & windows, our deck’s railing, etc). I still want to see if I can get slightly better results, though, so if (when?) I try again anyway, I’ll use 5 second intervals instead of the 15 second intervals used to capture the above video. Hopefully that’ll give smoother-looking cloud action with details you can track better, instead of just an impression of “clouds go brrrr” like I ended up with today. Also, as much as I love having the treeline to provide a frame of reference, “trees go brrr” is definitely an unwanted result.

Lessons learned, further experimentation and practice warranted.

Next time… damn, I keep promising more ducks, don’t I? Huh. Where’s the GoPro…?


Always Be Catching Delightful Eevees.

That’s one mechanized toy up front, two snap-together kits (left center and far right), one Funko (those eyes give it away), and one Nanoblocks hiding on the far left. And yes, they’re on an Eevee blanket.

It’s been so long since I used the Lumix that the battery had completely drained and I had to tell it what time & date it is all over again. (Whoops.) I also had to go into “aperture priority” mode to get enough depth of field to prevent either the front Eevee or the Funko from showing up as fuzzier than they should be.

With that said, I’m glad to have taken the Lumix out of mothballs. While I really want to play with the GoPro some more, it wasn’t really a great choice for this particular shot.

Next time… more ducks…?

Strata Geez

Fire Emblem: Three Houses ruined me for strategy-ish games on the Switch. Since my two-year run of playing (and replaying, and replaying) that particular game, I’ve tried a few other options:

  • Trails of Cold Steel III – The combat system’s a bit weird, which I could deal with were it not for the fact that the abilities slotting system is a lot weird. If I have to have multiple wiki pages open every time I want to rework my gearing then I’m no longer having fun.
  • Valkyria Chronicles – It has a neat mixed overhead-plus-first-person combat style, great idea, but each mission basically has One Best Way To Complete and if you vary from that at all then you stand a good chance of failing, and you have a near certainty of getting low rewards. Sure, brilliant strategist players could probably dig in on this… I am not one. I’m a filthy casual, remember?
  • Triangle Strategy – The main thing driving me away is that I cannot get into the retro-pixel-art look. I know that sounds petty, and I’m not making a value judgement about the game or its fans, it’s just not for me. (Vyx is playing and enjoying it, and good on her.)

At this point I’m kind of giving up on doing anything on the Switch until the Warriors-like Three Houses spinoff/sequel/whatever arrives late next month. Sigh.

Looking A Bit Dicey

I went into the weekend wanting to put my new toy through some more paces. My original plan was to drop duckies into a basin of water and catch that in slo-mo on the GoPro but that was a no-go. (I’ll revisit that idea later once I’m able to figure out workable logistics.)

Instead, I found a wide and shallow box top suitable for die-rolling, set up the camera, and threw some dice to see what kind of results I could get. My first setup used natural light, since the “bouncing duckies” test runs showed that the light tent could be a bit too bright. Unfortunately the natural light wasn’t enough so the video turned out a bit grainy. Not entirely unexpected, but also completely unsuitable.

Out comes the light tent! And in goes my entire D20 pouch contents:

Yes, the foreground is out of focus. The GoPro is very, very close to the action in this arrangement. Also note the lack of 20s and the presence of at least one 1.

Which was neat and all, but what really turned out great were a couple of my D6 test shots, one of which I kept & posted:

There’s a long pause between throws in the one-tenth-speed version. I really need a speed-ramping software rig.

It’s wild just watching those last couple of dice turn… and turn… and turn… and finally settle. This is what I came here for, yes indeed. And now I have a fairly good idea just how slow I can go. I started with 240 frames per second and took that down to 23.97 in the converter. (Speed-ramping tricks are for another day. And, yes, the second video could really use it. I know.)

Next time… the previously-promised duckies, I hope!

How Does Mastodon Work?

Given the Muskrat shenanigans taking place over at “the birdsite,” it’s probably a good idea to have this link handy: How Does Mastodon Work?

I’ve put a lot of time & energy this past couple weeks into being “the Mastodon guru” for friends online, mostly on Discord servers, so if you have questions I am happy to answer. My qualifications are that I ran a Mastodon instance for a few months and have been a regular boring user for several years now, and that I’ve read a lot and listened to both praises and complaints along the way.

Timey-wimey Time

I’m absolutely digging this GoPro HERO9. I did another session outside, because I cannot get enough of watching clouds go ‘vroom’.

And yes, I learned how to “blur” out sections of video in Hitfilm Express for the neighbors’ sake.

I also wanted to play a bit with slow-motion video, and this afternoon I got that chance. I put together the light tent (as all advice I’ve read about doing 240fps video emphasized the need for good lighting), I gathered some handy duckies, Vyx had the bright idea of putting cling-wrap onto a small mixing bowl, and I found a pillow with a nice bit of “bounce” to it. The results are… modestly amusing:

We got some good hang time out of this method.
This was the 2nd pillow test, where I dropped a couple more ducks in more rapid succession instead of one at a time with pauses between.

My original plan was to do “speed ramping” in Hitfilm Express, but I learned today that the software is kind of… actually terrible at that. (Speed ramping is that moderately-overused “things are going fast then they slllloooooowwww doooooowwwnn and then go fast again” visual effect you see in a lot of action shows/movies lately.) So I just loaded up VirtualDub and said “yeah, take this 240fps thing and make it 30fps for me” and here we are.

Look, if nothing else I’ve found a fun new thing to do with duckies. Can’t go wrong, there.

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