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Sanjeev Nanda on How To Make Stop Motion Video

23 Jul
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Still from Flushed Away

Stop-motion animation is one of the simplest, most fun animation techniques. Mix equal parts digital camera, computer, and imagination (you’ve got all three), and you’re on your way. Although flashier computer-generated animation is in vogue, stop-motion has a rich heritage of its own.

And it’s not limited to claymation, either–Tim Burton used stop-motion and puppets to create The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Comedy Central’s Robot Chicken uses stop-motion with action figures and toy props.

You can use just about anything in your stop-motion animation, and thanks to digital cameras and computers, creating one is now super easy. There are many ways to go about shooting, editing and finalizing a stop-motion short; Sanjeev Nanda your guide will be covering the simplest. Don’t be discouraged by the number of steps! It’s much easier than it first appears.

Things You Need for Stop Motion Video

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An idea is all you need

The first thing you need is, of course, an idea. Try to stick with something simple for your first one–any action that can be split up into smaller parts works well.

You may wish to make an inanimate object appear as though it is alive; for example, a sock inching its way across the floor or a piece of paper that crumples itself up. While brainstorming, keep in mind that you can expect to shoot around 10 photos for every second of film.

Second, you’ll need a digital camera. Since you won’t be printed these photos, you can set your camera to the lowest size image setting. This will let you fit more images on your memory card at a time. Depending on how long you’d like your movie to be, you may need to “fill and dump” your camera (copying the photos to your computer and erasing the memory card) multiple times before you are finished.

Finally, in order to turn your images into an animated video you will need video editing software like Apple’s iMovie or QuickTime Pro. There are also a number of free and shareware programs for Mac, Windows, and Linux, some of which are listed at the end of this tutorial. More information about these programs is available on their respective websites.

Step 1: Shoot Your Animation

Sanjeev Nanda how to guides

Take as many images as you want, it will give depth to your video

Let’s say, for example, that you would like to make an action figure move itself across the floor. Start at the beginning: place the action figure somewhere and take your first photo. Remember, you want to use camera (still frame) mode, not movie mode.

Using a tripod and only moving your object will make it appear as though your object is moving through your frame. Keeping the object in the same general area in each frame by moving the camera along with it will make it appear as though you are traveling with the object. It’s up to you.

After you’ve taken your first photograph, move the action figure slightly in the direction you want it to travel and take another photo. Move it again by the same distance, and take one more. Continue this until the action figure reaches where you want it to stop. You can manipulate your object in creative ways to add visual interest to your film, just make sure that whatever movement your object makes is done slowly over several frames.

Finally, if you make a mistake while shooting, delete that picture on your camera and take another. This will save you from having to edit your film later.

Step 2: Download Your Photos

Now that you’ve captured your images, you’ll need to get them onto your computer. This process varies widely from camera to camera and computer to computer. Consult your camera guide and software “Help” if you are unfamiliar with this process.

First, import your image files to the camera, and give them their own album. Once your photos have been imported, open any movie authoring software, for eg. iMovie for Mac, JPGVideo for Windows.

Step 3: Animate Your Photos

In order for your animated short to play properly, you must tell the software you are using, how long you want each photo to appear before showing the next one. It’s kind of like creating a slideshow, except instead of giving each image a few seconds, you give it only a fraction of a second. The timing you choose will affect the overall tempo and length of your film.

For action figure example Sanjeev Nanda used a duration of 3 frames-per-photo. Normally movie authoring softwares play at 30 frames-per-second, a setting of 3 frames-per-photo means you’ll see 10 photos every second. Now you can see why you have to shoot so many photos!

If you use the 3 frames-per-photo setting, you can easily estimate how many photos you’ll need to create a movie of a given length. In our example we used around 100 photos, for 10 seconds of video. If we wanted to make an animation exactly 30 seconds long, we’d shoot 300 photos.

This next step is very important, so stay with us! If you are using iMovie, select all of the photographs in your stop-motion album (the quick way to do this is to click on the very first photo and then, holding down the shift key, scroll down and click on the last photo.) Now click “Show Photo Settings” and type in “0:03″ for your duration in the floating window that appears. Click the Apply button and your photos will start getting sucked into the timeline at the bottom of the window.

Once iMovie’s finished filling the timeline, hit play. You just created your first stop-motion animated video short!

Final Touches: Music and Sharing

To fine tune your animation, you can slow it down by choosing to use more than 3 frames-per-photo. You can also add music to your short by dragging MP3s or AIFF files to the timeline. To share your stop-motion video, you’ll want to convert it to avi or mp4 or any other popular format.

That’s it! Don’t forget to save your project often as you go along, and check out Vimeo — a cool place to upload your finished videos!

One of the best stop motion videos i’ve seen:


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Sanjeev Nanda tips on How to Overclock your PC

8 Jul

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Overclocking is an Art and if mastered an addiction

Overclocking today could be considered very common. PC retailers are beginning to give you the means to overclock your computer very easily, and some are even doing it for you. Now that overclocking is everywhere, I’m attempting to take it a step further and become a master overclocker. So, here’s what I’ve learned along the way…But before I begin here are some reasons you shouldn’t try overclocking your PC.

Reasons to not Overclock

  • Protection – Warranties are voided on almost all CPUs, and some motherboards as well.
  • Stress – More Stress on the CPU (and on all devices if you increase the FSB)
  • Heat – More Heat Generation from CPU (and RAM if you increase the FSB)
  • Sensitivity – The heat sensitivity of your system will be greatly affected. If you o/c in the winter and summer comes around, you might be forced to reduce your speeds because your system cannot work stably with the large change in ambient temperature.
  • Efficiency – Increasing your CPU speed with overclocking doesn’t increase its efficiency at processing data.
  • Hassle? – Some people get fed up with having to constantly adjust their system for stability. Other, however, find this the most intriguing and education part of overclocking, so it’s your call.

Now that you have mustered the guts to overclock your PC, here are some reasons why you should overclock.

Reasons for Overclocking

  • Speed – Your CPU will perform more operations per second (and your RAM if you increase the FSB)
  • Cash – Who needs to buy a “pricey” 1900+ when you can get a 1600+ for half the price and overclock it to the same speed?!
  • Troubleshooting – an Overclocker MUST know what is going on in their system, because if he doesn’t, he’ll have an unstable system. Being able to overclock successfully will educate a person on vast areas. Everything from CPU temperatures, to BIOS updates, to OS drivers, to motherboard jumpers. This knowledge is invaluable.

SAFETY PROCEDURES

Know what you have :

You should know everything about your system – motherboard, CPU, heatsink/fan, RAM, operating system, video card, and all add-on devices you have.

Understand what you are doing :

The term “Overclocking” is actually very general. There are several ways to overclock a CPU and other components. Please read MORE than what I am about to provide here, the intricacies of these components can span pages… While overclocking, you will change several or possibly ALL of the following:

  • Front Side Bus (FSB) – This is how fast your motherboard chipset communicates with your CPU, and is also one of the two factors that determine overall CPU speed in MHz.
  • CPU Clock Multiplier – This is a unit less value, who’s value increases or decreases in 0.5 increments (such as 10.0, 10.5, 11.0, etc) This value only affects the CPU, and is the other determining factor in overall CPU speed in MHz, when multiplied together with the FSB.
  • CPU Core Voltage (Vcore) – This is the amount of voltage your motherboard will stream to your CPU. An INCREASE in voltage will ensure that your CPU will cleanly pass data, and will prevent data corruption when your CPU is running at higher than stock speeds. An increase in Vcore will also increase your CPU’s core temperature. Find out what your specific CPUs voltage is, because not all CPUs use the same voltage. Look at www.amd.com or www.intel.com
  • RAM Voltage (Vio) – This is the amount of voltage your motherboard will stream to your RAM modules. Similar to Vcore, it ensures stability at higher speeds, although you will only need to increase this value at high FSB speeds, not high Clock Multiplier settings.

Once again, a reminder to please go out and find more resources on all and MORE data regarding what exactly happens when you “overclock”. That term is not specific in the least.

Don’t Rush :

The best thing you can do when overclocking is to not rush. Rushing will most likely lead to failure, which leads to aggravation. And there’s definitely a possibility of killing your CPU, motherboard, RAM, etc. if you rush.

TEMPS, TEMPS, TEMPS:

Any overclocker will know how well his heatsink removes heat from his CPU, and he will measure this using the temperature sensors that almost all motherboards include. Using either the BIOS or other software (such as Motherboard Monitor for Windows) will provide you with real time temperature values. Do some research to find out the acceptable temperature values for your CPU. I can tell you that all AMD Athlon and Duron CPUs should ABSOLUTELY and WITHOUT QUESTION be under 70C. If you are overclocking, you will require a much lower temperature. The reference point I usually recommend to overclockers is 60C at full load. Please note, that by “full load” I am suggesting a CPU intensive test. The best one I’ve seen is Sandra 2002’s Burn In Test. Run 50 passes of the two CPU benchmarks using Sandra’s Burn In function, then check your CPU temperature. If you are under 60C, you are safe. You can find Sandra at www.download.com.

Check Everything:

My last safety suggestion would be to always take your time… make sure your heatsink is installed properly on your CPU and make sure you used a thin, even layer of thermal compound. Make sure your heatsink was perfectly clean before installation. Make sure all your fans in your case and on your heatsink work properly. Make sure your RAM and all PCI devices are snugly in your board. Make sure all cables on the back of your PC are snug.

Increasing the FSB will affect the CPU and also nearly all devices in your system. This is both good and bad, because in a stable system, while all devices will benefit from a slight boost, this also means all devices are stressed more than usual.

Increasing the CPU Clock Multiplier will only affect the CPU. What MOST overclockers do is increase the FSB and leave the clock multiplier alone. What the HARDCORE overclockers do is lower the multiplier first and then MAX OUT the FSB.

There is no reason you should ever LOWER the FSB from stock speeds, unless you’re in an emergency of some kind. It will NOT help in overclocking.

A WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT TEMPERATURES

If you computer ever runs too hot, stop overclocking, back off a bit on your FSB and voltage, and leave it there (make sure that it is stable using prime 95 and memtest) Make sure you do not run 65+C, or you run the risk of damaging something. Keeping it under 60C at full load is always good practice. In addition, I recommend that you get a good heatsink and fan before you even start to overclock. Keeping your CPU at acceptable temperatures is very important.

Your First Error
Once you get that dreaded error (and yes, your heart may sink, that’s ok), you need to increase voltage. Go by the smallest increment possible and run Prime 95 again. If you are able to pass this time, continue upping the FSB and voltage until you reach a 5% or so increase in voltage. If you cannot pass, then increase the voltage a little more (one more increment) and try again. Like I stated before, only increase your voltage by about 5%. Once you hit that voltage, stop. When you think you have found your best overclock, run Prime 95 for several hours (preferably overnight or for a day) to make sure that your computer is stable. If it returns an error, then you should back off your FSB by about 5MHz or so and try again. This process is very time consuming, but you want to ensure you are running a stable computer.

Are You Done?
Now what? Have you hit your maximum overclock? The answer is most likely, no. There are several little tweaks you can use to increase your overall clock speed. First, find out what is limiting your overclock. This can often be the CPU, motherboard, or RAM. To find out if it is your RAM, run memtest. If that returns no errors, then it is likely the CPU. If memtest does return errors, then it is likely either the motherboard or RAM. Try to increase the RAM voltage and see if you can get memtest to return no errors. If this does not help, then it could still be the RAM or motherboard. Sometimes, if your power supply is weak, that can actually limit your overclock. Your voltages should be within 5% of their nominal value. If you are overclocking, I would recommend a 400+ watt power supply from Antec, Enermax, or OCZ, but there are many brands out there and many threads here at guru on this topic, so search for one of those threads and see if you can’t find a power supply well suited or you. Generally, I would look for 25A+ on the 12V line (that’s 25 or more amps on the 12 volt line).

Are You Done Yet?
Still aren’t running stable? Try reducing your multiplier. Increasing your FSB is the most important factor in gaining real world performance. So, reducing the multiplier and increasing the FSB is a great way to get more performance. However, your motherboard or RAM will limit you here. For instance, you can run 10×220 to get 2.2GHz or 11×200 to get that. The 10×220 will run faster than 11×200 even though the processors run at the same frequency. Keep in mind that RAM or motherboard will be a limiting factor here, as long as you know that your CPU can run at whatever frequency you are running. Take for instance the 11×200. I know my computer can run that, but if it can’t run 10×220, I know either my RAM or my motherboard is holding me back. Try increasing your RAM voltage by few notches to see if you can achieve a stable overclock.

So, you’ve increased your RAM voltage and still can’t get it running stable. Now is it game over? No, not quite. You can try and loosen up your memory timings. You will see these values as something like 2-2-2-5 or 2-3-3-6 or 2.5-3-3-7 or 3-4-4-8, or something similar to that in your BIOS. Generally, I would leave these alone because increasing your timings can actually result in worse performance, even though you may be able to increase your FSB. As an example with my computer, running 200 MHz at 2-3-3-7 gave me 1423MB/s of throughput. Running 2.5-3-3-7 at 213 gave me 1486MB/s. As you can see, for 13 more MHz, I gained almost nothing (and you certainly won’t notice a performance gain from that). Running 2-3-3-11 at 200MHz gave me 1373MB/s. Finally, running 2.5-3-3-7 at 200MHz gives me 1398MB/s of throughput. So keep in mind that relaxing memory timings is not always the best idea. This option is more geared towards advanced and seasoned overclockers, so just leave this alone for now until you get more experience. The only reason I am sharing this is just to let you know it exists.

Ways to Spend Money to Get More Clocks
Now that you have overclocked, you are wondering if you can push it farther, yes? Well, the answer is, of course! However, that may require some money. Purchasing components that are known to overclock well is always helpful. So buying new RAM, a motherboard, or processor that is known to be able to achieve high speeds will likely allow you to overclock farther. Also, if you were limited by temperature (reaching 55 – 60C or so), you can invest in a new high performance heatsink or water cooling. This will cool your processor down more so you can increase your voltage. Also, something that is equally as important as your heatsink and fan is your case cooling. If you can, get more case fans to lower the temperature inside your case. This will result in your processor running cooler. This is very important. Like I said, the things mentioned in this paragraph will require you to spend money. If you are not that serious, then I would recommend you don’t really buy anything. However, if you enjoy this, and you want to get into it more, then by all means, help boost the global economy and buy more stuff.

Sanjeev Nanda on What Makes iPhone 4 great

10 Jun
Sanjeev Nanda on iphone 4

iPhone 4G

On Monday, Apple officially unveiled the iPhone 4. After playing around with it for 20 minutes or so after the keynote, I can safely say that it’s the most impressive mobile device I’ve ever seen. But plenty of people (many of which have never used the phone) disagree. Their arguments are mainly predicated on what Apple didn’t include rather than what it did. But what those people fail to understand is that this is exactly what makes the new iPhone (as well as the previous iterations) so solid.

Sanjeev Nanda on iPhone 4G concept

iPhone 4 Say Hello Again

During his keynote address on Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted that while Apple may not be the first to release features, they do so in a way that’s the best implementation. Many people view this as absolute bullshit. But what that implies is that they think Apple simply cannot get features done in time — or that they will not do them for some reason. I have a hard time believing either of those is the case.

Jobs cited the iPhone’s cut, copy, & paste functionality as one example of Apple getting a feature right. I have to agree. For two years, everyone complained (myself included) that Apple didn’t have this functionality. Could Apple have done it sooner? Of course. But would it have been half-baked? Probably. Just look at how it works on other devices — or maybe I should say: look at how poorly it works on other devices compared to the iPhone. Most Android phones want you to use that damn ball to select text. Or worse, those arrow buttons at the bottom of the EVO’s horrid keyboard. It’s a nightmare.

Another popular example is background tasks (or multitasking). This feature is finally coming to the new iOS 4 after being on other devices for a few years. So was Apple dragging its feet out of incompetence? Or were they being stubborn? In their view, they were waiting to perfect the system that would not destroy battery life. Android’s background method is supposedly similar to what Apple will use, but it has issues.

Most people haven’t yet seen third-party apps running in the background with iOS, so it’s hard to know exactly how well Apple has done here. (And I only got to play around with one app, Pandora, running in the background for a few minutes.) But a few developers I’ve talked to who have used the system say it’s by far the best combination of functionality and battery-saving techniques that they’ve seen. One told me that it basically doesn’t ding battery life at all.

Sanjeev Nanda on iPhone 4G

iPhone 4G makes other phones look cheap

With 4G, by all accounts, the battery ding is even worse. Also, 4G is still slowly deploying around the country, and some carriers  won’t have it really deployed for a long, long time. In other words, don’t be surprised if next year Apple still doesn’t have a 4G version of the device. Everyone will bitch about it, but in Apple’s view, it likely just won’t be worth it yet.

Another feature brought up is over-the-air (OTA) updates. While eWeek seems to specifically be talking about OTA firmware updates (does anyone really care about that so much?), the more pressing issue is the ability to sync things wirelessly on your iPhone. Currently, you can only truly do that with certain MobileMe elements (like Calendar, Contacts, etc). But over-the-air syncing of things like apps and music wasn’t in iOS yet.

This is a fair point both because it would be very useful, and because it’s baked into the latest version of Android, 2.2. But we have yet to see exactly how well this system with work with Android 2.2. The on-stage demos at Google I/O were impressive, but it probably wouldn’t have been made into a demo if it weren’t. The proof will be in the real-world usage of this feature.

Apple is clearly thinking about how best to do this as well. Jobs said as much during the D Conference a few weeks ago, and Apple has even blocked applications that do something similar (a sign that they’re likely working on it — and that they don’t want third parties touching the iTunes/iPhone sync interaction). Make no mistake: this feature will be coming to the iPhone. And I would bet it will be here next year. And if Apple is able to get its iTunes-in-the-cloud service off the ground in time, it could be a lot easier than people are thinking right now.

The point to all of this is that one of the things that makes the iPhone great is that Apple is so deliberate and meticulous in the features they choose to focus on and implement. Could Apple include more features? Of course. But anytime you try to do more, you take focus away from the key things you want to get done. It’s something that’s so obvious it almost needs to be restated.

It’s the same reason why startups that focus on creating as many features as possible often fare worse than those that focus on a few key ideas. The ones that keep it simple are able to execute much better. Apple (which likes to think of itself as the “world’s biggest startup”) is no different, and the iPhone is a testament to that.

How To Connect Your Laptop To Your Television

18 May
Tired of squinting over your laptop? There are several ways to turn a big-screen TV into your new computer monitor and enjoy video games, web content, and photos like never before.

Step 1: Connect with S-Video

First, connect a video cable – you’ve got several choices. For PC users, an easy option is an S-Video cable. Most PCs and digital televisions are equipped with an S-Video port.

The ends of S-Video cables usually feature either four or seven pins and pinholes. Check your TV and laptop ports to make sure they match.

Step 2: Connect with VGA

If you have an older HDTV, try a VGA cable, which produces better picture quality and works with both Macs and PCs. To connect, turn off your laptop and your TV. Find the trapezoid-shaped VGA outlets on the TV and on your laptop. Once you’re connected, power everything back on.

Step 3: Connect with DVI

You can also connect with a DVI video cable. A DVI connection is a step above VGA in picture quality, but only newer computers and HDTVs come with DVI ports. Connect as with a VGA cable.

Step 4: Connect with HDMI

If your HDTV doesn’t have a DVI connector, use a cable that is HDMI on one end, and DVI on the other to connect to your laptop.

Step 5: Connect audio

Hook up the audio. After you’ve connected your laptop to the TV via video cable, connect the mini-to-RCA cable from your computer’s headphone jack to your TV.

Step 6: Adjust display settings

If you have a PC, go to the Control Panel and adjust the display settings to accompany double display on both your monitor and TV set. Mac laptops should automatically adjust for double display. If yours doesn’t, go to System Preferences, click on Display, and then Detect Displays.

Step 8: Find your laptop

Click your TV’s video source – usually a button called “input” or “TV/Video” on your remote – until your laptop comes up. You’re set!