The DIT Mobile Moguls App Showcase

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Team Blend!

Today Blend had its first official outing! The DIT Mobile Moguls App Showcase was run by the DIT Hothouse, EY Entrepreneur of the Year and Innovation Dublin. It featured several guest speakers including Frank O’Keefe of EY, Eamon Fallon of Daft.ie and theJournal.ie, Owen Harris of Bitsmith Games and Hugh McAtamney of DIT. In addition to the panel discussions, there were lots of apps and games on display (including us) and a tasty lunch.

We demoed our app and met lots of people who were interested in Blend, as well as being briefly interviewed during the discussion event. It was great to get feedback from so many people. Thanks to everyone involved in organising the event!

Eoin was on RTE Radio 1 with Hugh McAtamney and Danielle of Fun Laoghaire to discuss the showcase this morning. If you missed it, just click here to listen again.

Blend is due on Friday, so we’re nearly there!

The Videos

After filming our instructional videos, we still needed to edit them and put some text over them. We decided to split the workload in a way that would ensure continuity in the look and feel of the videos, with one person responsible for the same element throughout all three videos. So Eoin trawled through all our rushes from the day and edited the three videos using Premiere. He then passed the final edits on to me, and I added a warming grade, brightening up the darker areas of some shots in Premiere and then added text over it using After Effects. We wanted the videos to be about the demonstration of the techniques, rather than reading instructions, so the text has been kept to a minimum.

Here are a few stills from the videos:

drying-intro

drying-fresh

drying-bakingtray

roasting-pangrinding-jar

The next step was getting the videos into Blend. We were originally hoping to host the videos online, in order to keep the size of the app lower. We needed a direct link to the actual video, rather than the page the video was on, so sites such as YouTube and Vimeo weren’t working for us, plus we didn’t want the branding of the host site on our in-app videos. I looked into uploading it to my own hosting space, but after some quick research realised that due to the size of the video files relative to my small hosting plan, there was a possibility it would max my bandwidth and bring down the site, in addition to being slow and unreliable as I’m on a shared server. The basic gist of the research was, do not host your own videos! We finally looked at Dropbox as a method, but if you have ever attempted to view a video in Dropbox you will know that it is very slow and drops repeatedly. So for these reasons, plus to ensure the user can access all their content even without a Wi-Fi connection, we have decided to keep the videos local and include them within the app download.

The task then was to get the file size of the videos down to the minimum possible, without impacting on the video quality. The video was exported with varying bit rates of 6,000, 8,000 and 10,000k, then viewed on an iPad to check the quality. At 6,000k, the video quality was visibly affected, but 8,000k and 10,000k had no discernible loss in quality. With 8,000k obviously resulting in the smaller file size, all the videos were exported at this setting and are now  included with the app. Currently, the total app size including videos is just over 140MB when compressed for download, so not too bad!

Would You Like to Download Blend?!

Exceptionally cute kittens waiting for Blend to download. (Image Source: wallpaperswalla.com)

Exceptionally cute kittens waiting for Blend to download. (Image Source: wallpaperswalla.com)

We’re releasing a new build of Blend tomorrow (Tues 2nd Dec) morning. If you’d like to try it out, please sign up on Testflight: http://tflig.ht/1bW8HDt

At the moment the app works on iPad 3 and 4.

If you’ve already signed up, no need to do anything now, you should receive an email from Testflight tomorrow to download Blend.

Thanks and we look forward to hearing what you think!

Video Shoot

The second blend shoot! With the photo shoot out of the way, our next major undertaking was our videos. We will be including helpful videos on some of the more unusual or tricky techniques involved in making the blends, so we again enlisted the technical advice and equipment rental services of Richard Twomey. He gave us a crash course in working with available light, and the video functions of the trusty Canon EOS 5D Mark III that we had borrowed. We also borrowed a Canon 24-105 f4, a Canon 70-200 f4, a Canon 50mm f1.4, an Olympus 100mm f2.8 and a Samyang 35mm f1.4. This selection of lenses offered us greater control over the shots we could select and shoot. But before any of this we planned our shoot and drew up some story boards and a shot list.

storyboards

From these story boards, we drew up a shot list based on location. We had two major locations, the garden and the kitchen. The kitchen was then broken down into minor locations of the overall kitchen, the cooker, and the counter. These locations were then broken into wide shots (WS), medium close ups (MCU), and close ups (CU). These shots were then referenced against the storyboards to make sure that we hadn’t missed anything, and this became our shot list.

This non-linear form of shooting would maximise our time shooting by minimising setup times for each shot. This was an important step as we knew that we would be working with available light. With the shorter days this would only give us a short window to shoot.

So back to the actual shoot. We set off at 10am to Liz’s folks house in Naas as their kitchen was a good bit more picturesque than either of ours. We left a little late as this way we could get our hands on some artificial lights which were invaluable as the day progressed.

lizKitchen

The most time on the day was spent choosing and framing shots. Despite our best efforts, we had to change shots and angles, sometimes for more interesting shots and sometimes as the shot wasn’t possible. These changes were marked in our rush list. We created a rush list on the day for each take of each shot and referenced them against our shot list. This again will save time in editing the rushes, while keeping track of some of the on the fly decisions we were making.

We started off slow, but with some firm time management advice from Richard, we soon got on top of moving through our 19 shots quickly. This proved invaluable in the end as for our final shot we had to make use of the kitchens overhead lights, our own daylight balanced LED light and reflectors to get enough light for the shot. This was at only four o’clock.

garlic and thyme close up

The light was the biggest challenge of the day, luckily with the different lenses we could make allowances for the amount of light we could let in while balancing each lenses minimum focusing distance. If we hit any major issues we could boost the ISO of the camera, so overall we shot a fairly consistent level of light in a changeable environment.

Next up is post on these videos, so we can add the instructions to these images, tune in to see the results!

pickups