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Recording Remote Video Podcast Interviews on Mac

I’m in the process of relaunching the Nonprofit Coffee Break and really want to be able to hold interviews and conversations with people. The technical question arose about how to go about doing this. For the audio portion of the podcast having separate tracks of the guest and myself would be nice, but not a deal breaker. However for the video production side of things I really wanted to have a high-resolution file of myself, and as high-resolution of each guest as possible. There is not an obvious way to achieve this.

First attempt: Camtasia for Mac.

So we already have this software to use for creating screen cast videos for other parts of Fresh Vine. It works really well to record yourself, and the screen as you walk through something. This software is used to create nearly every instructional video we’ve produced for Fresh Vine. Whenever you start a new recording it allows you to record the webcam, and all/portion of the screen. This seemed like the obvious solution except for one major issue. It records everything into their own proprietary file format. This means that after ever interview I would need to export out each video/audio track pair from Camtasia into something I could use in my video & audio editing software (Adobe Premier and Audition). Furthermore it wasn’t clear that I was actually getting separate audio tracks.

Second Attempt: Quicktime with some magic

You might not know this, but quick time allows you to record your screen, webcam, and audio. Even more it allows you to choose input devices for audio and video. This means that I can choose to record my webcam with my dedicated microphone and get nothing else. I could then record the screen and only capture the…. audio? Except there was no option to capture the audio from my mac with the screen capture (None, Internal Microphone, or my Yeti Stereo Microphone). These options would leave me with a video without any audio from my guest.

Enter the magic of Soundflower. This is a super basic free kernel extension that allows you to create a virtualized audio device. The most recent release is a beta release from 2014 that still works. After installing the extension (which you will likely need to give explicit permission to install in your System Preferences -> Security & Privacy settings) I followed the instructions on their page to create a new multi-output device. This allowed the audio to still pass through my speakers/headphones AND it would output to the newly available Soundflower (2ch) ‘microphone’.

Now for this to work for recording you need to set the volume you want your speakers at, and then switch your computers ‘sound output’ to use the new Multi-output device. Once you make this change you cannot adjust the volume of your internal speakers/headphones. Tip: In your sound preferences you can enable the ability to switch output devices from the menubar making this easier to manage.

Now when I go to prep the recording of the screen I choose to use the Soundflower (2ch) input. This will give me stereo input along with any screen captured video I record. In testing this out we found that none of my audio from my microphone appeared on the screen captured video. The ‘Movie Recording’ only included my audio and video.

When I’m done with my session I just need to switch my audio Output Device back to the standard ‘Internal Speakers’.

Hope this was helpful to someone else as well.

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jQuery Cache Images plug-in

I’m in the middle of migrating the Check-In application for Fresh Vine from Adobe Air into HTML5 wrapped in QT. One of the things that I love about Fresh Vine is how graphical it is, and that so many people add in their profile photos to their accounts.

One of the challenges in making the HTML5 version of the Check-In is to have it work perfectly offline – including these images. They all have unique URLs that come with the profiles when we sync, so that laid out the challenge: How do we store these locally and reference them.

Turns out making a simple jQuery plugin took care of both of those issues. We are able to reference the images by their URL (no second key) and it allows us to re-use them (since we have default images that we don’t want to download/store hundreds of times).

So maybe you’re playing around with HTML5 and want to be able to use remote images in your app, but store them offline into localStorage – then this is for you. Check it out!

http://freshvine.github.io/jQuery-cache-images/

It is pretty much where I want it at. All that is left is to add in an automated quota increaser, and to allow for binding on elements/parents. That last part would make the plugin stupid simple to use since you just attached it to your container [ $(‘#container’).cacheImages(); ] and it would take care of the rest, even with dynamically inserted stuff. But that’s for another night.

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Help me Tell Others About the Church Software Guide

Church Software Guide for DummiesThere have been pastors I’ve spoken with who have felt a bit lost when considering software for their church. With so many options out there that it’s overwhelming. It is with that in mind that we created the Church Software Guide: Everything you Need to Know.

The goal is not to dig in deep, but to explain for you the types of church software you should consider. There are nine categories that will have some benefit for your church. Check out the guide, and please pass the link along to your friends in ministry.

If you have a blog please consider writing a short post to encourage people to check it out. If you’re on twitter/facebook/google+ post something encouraging people to check it out.

Thank you so much! We’re really proud of the hard work that went into that guide.

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critical-data-in-the-midst-of-tragedy

In light of the recent attack on an elementary school out east it struck me just how disruptive those events are for a community. It got me thinking of the staff of the school trying to communicate with the families and share important dates, times, and information with the broader community. One of the hardest pieces would be the hindered communication and access to data for the administrators. After events like that of last week, and natural disasters like hurricane sandy there is no access to the office, or any of the files/records stored there.

This is not a post trying to sell you on some software, but to encourage you to ensure that your data is accessible whenever/wherever you may need to access it. There are many solutions that are web-based like Fresh Vine that manage membership and communications, as well as other backup services that you can use to ensure that you always have access to your latest contact information for your congregation (dropbox, crashplan, google drive, and others). If you do not already have a system in place to ensure that all of your mission critical data is backed up off site please take some time this week to do so.

One of the most important things any community can do in times of distress is communicate clearly and directly with their members.

Please take sometime to ensure your community is prepared. It shouldn’t take more then 30 minutes to setup.

Photo Credit: Ty Nigh