Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Topeak Tri DryBag review

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Topeak DryBag Tri-bag is a top tube bag designed for triathlon, or anyone else looking to add some additional storage to the top tube of their bike and keep the contents dry in all conditions. In this video, I’ll review it and show you what it looks like when cycling.

The bag is easy to install. It has two velcro straps underneath and one that loops around the stem. It doesn’t sit flush on the top tube, though, unless you’re willing to be really generous about looping the front loop around the steering column.

It is easy to access on the move. Closing is easy if you just want to pin the thing down, but can be a bit more difficult if you want to get all of the straps in place. This is due to the heavy duty waterproof top that seems to do the job well. Another trade-off for the waterproofing is that there is no easy way to get a cable out if you want to stick a power pack or phone in there.

Because it is so tall it can get in the way of you. This isn’t a problem for me when I am sat down, but it does tend to get in the way when I start climbing or sprinting out of the saddle. That said, it doesn’t annoy me enough to do anything about it.

In terms of space, it is pretty limited. It is just about big enough to fit an iPhone 6 / 7 in there, but not if you have a cover on it. I do so that rules that out. It’s just about long enough to fit an energy gel in there, so I typically fill one side with 3-4 gels and the other side with a power pack for my phone.

Overall, I think there are a fair few drawbacks to this bag. But, it has successfully served its purpose so far, so it hasn’t annoyed me enough to replace it.

X-Tools Torque Wrench Set review

Monday, March 4th, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The X-Tools Essential Torque Wrench Set is an affordable torque wrench sold by Wiggle, formerly under the Lifeline brand. In this video, I’ll review it and give you a quick tutorial as to how to use it on the bike.

You need a torque wrench to get the correct tightness on your bike. With cheaper bikes, this isn’t a problem. However, if you have a carbon frame bike, you’ll probably find little stickers everywhere saying 6NM, or something similar, which typically indicates the maximum pressure you can safely apply. This is when you want to use your torque wrench.

It supports a range of 2 to 24NM and comes with ten different heads that can easily be swapped in and out. The smallest being 3mm and the largest being 10mm, with some other style heads, included, too. It all comes in a custom case that allows all of the heads to be clipped into for easy storage and to avoid losing them.

The level of torque is applied by twisting the handle. Don’t forget to take almost all of the torque off (take it down to about 2NM) before storing it.

Shimano PD-EH500 review

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Shimano PD-EH500 is a combination bike pedal that comes with SPD cleats on one side and flats on the other. It’s similar to the Shimano M324 but comes in a slightly different design and colour. In this video, I’ll review the pedal and show you what it looks like on the bike.

The SPD side is a standard mountain bike clip, with adjustable tension so that you can control how easy it is to clip in and out of. By default, they come quite tight so you will probably want to reduce some of the tension before using them.

The colour is dark grey. This suits most cranksets better than the metal look of the M324. However, it should be noted it is suitably different from black, so will still look slightly different if you get your eyes up close. And the clip itself is pedal.

The flats side provide a fair amount of grip. Each pedal comes with six screws that you can insert into the pedal to give your shoes something else to grip onto.

I like these pedals. They have replaced the PD-M530 SPD pedals I had on my bike as I found I did want to ride flat when I was just popping down to the bike shop or over to Parkrun. And they still look pretty cool.

Shimano M324 combination pedals review

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Shimano M324 is a combination bike pedal. They have SPD cleats on one side and flats on the other so you can choose whether you want to ride clipped in, or whether you just want to stick your regular shoes on for those shorter commutes to work or Parkrun.

This does mean that you need to put your foot down on the correct side of the pedal. But it is fairly easy to spin them around to the other side if you find yourself on the wrong one. They’re unpainted metal colour, which doesn’t fit with all bikes.

You can adjust the tension on the pedal to make it easier for the cleat to clip in and out of. Typically, they come from the factory with lots of tension on so you will probably want to take some of that off before using them.

They come with a pair of SPD cleats, which I believe are the ones that allow you to twist your foot either way to unclip. If you prefer a single direction for unclipping, you’ll want to swap these out for Shimano’s black SPD cleats.

I’ll also show you what they look like on the bike. But I won’t be riding it because that bike doesn’t have a saddle at the moment: poor planning on my part! These are a great beginner pedal for those looking to try clipless pedals for the first time.

If you are considering these, you should also consider the Shimano PD-EH500 pedals. They are another hybrid/combination pedal but a slightly different design and colour. I have a video review on those, too.

Nike Air Zoom Span review

Friday, March 1st, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Nike Air Zoom Span are running shoes from Nike. They’re my favourite trainers to run in and got me through my first marathon and my first ultra. In this video, I’ll review them.

The Span is Nike’s mid-support range. They have more support than their standard trainer not as much as their fully supportive offering, the Structure. This allows them to be lighter weight and more flexible than their counterpart.

My favourite feature about them is the lack of any kind of structure in the toe box. It’s just a mesh, which is a saviour for someone like me who has big shoes and always finds they are getting caught up in the top of the shoe.

Kitbrix review

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 | Reviews, Video

In this video, I’ll review the Kitbrix kit bag. They’re not your ordinary sports bag: instead, they’re constructed like bricks that can be chained together in a long line for transporting loads of equipment. Is that something you need, though?

They’re really rugged. They come with a rigid bottom that holds the shape of the bag, and the walls are double lined so that they are way more waterproof than an ordinary bag, or even your waterproof coat. They come with three internal pockets, one of which is transparent for holding paper notes. There are a further four mesh pockets on the outside.

The zip is super heavy duty so that it will keep water out and allow you to chain the bags together without fear. This does make it really difficult to use, though. It’s not broken, as far as I can tell, it’s just built to last and this means sacrificing a lot of ease of use.

One of the key features of the Kitbrix is that you can take two of the bags and turn them into a backpack. I’ll show you how to do this in the video. The zip is a bit difficult to do, but otherwise the system works really well and I use this every time I go to a triathlon race.

Overall, the bag system works really well. Every time I go to a race or cycling sportive I take a couple of them so that I can divide my gear into different sections: pre-race, transition bag, post-race recovery and change of clothes. It is expensive, though. And less convenient than the backpacks and transition bags you can buy. So, it might come down to how light you travel. For me, I travel heavy and these work great.

Baby food pouches compared

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 | Video

Baby food pouches come with a variety of ingredients and flavours listed on the front. But there are often not as accurate a one might hope. With these pouches, for example, it turns out that a significant percentage of each of them is apples.

Not just a little bit of apple. In the case of the Heinz baby pouch, most of it is apples. But Ella’s Kitchen does make the grade. Their banana baby pouch is made of just one thing: bananas. How crazy is that? Apparently, far more crazy than it should be.

Watch the video. You get to hear the amusing baby screams.

But, if you’re at work, here are the stats:

Company Flavour Ingredients
Cow & Gate Banana, mango and coconut 30% apple
Heinz Strawberry, raspberry, banana 89% apple
Ella’s Kitchen Banana 100% banana

Make your videos look awesome with a shallow depth of field

Saturday, March 18th, 2017 | Video

If you have done any talking head or tutorial videos, you may have run into a problem. Namely, that your videos suck. I know mine do. Yours are probably way better. But there is still a clear distinction between your videos and what the pros produce, right?

This is the problem I have been trying to solve. I have a nice camera, so it should be possible.

Lighting

The first thing I did to improve my videos was to bring in some proper lighting. I have two softboxes with high-output bulbs on them. In an ideal world, you would have three to set up the industry-standard three point lighting arrangement. My kit only came with two, though, so I have had to make do with other lights around my house to fill in the gaps.

For comparison, here is me under my natural houselights:

It doesn’t look terrible: it appears natural. However, one side of my face is over-exposed while the other is in shadow. My eye sockets are too dark. Detail is lost.

Here is my ugly face in the studio lights:

Notice that the shadows in my face are filled in. It is not the dark and gloomy picture you tend to get when just using your standard home lighting.

Things are looking a little better. My next jump is the one I want to discuss in this blog post: using a shallow depth of field.

Why depth of field is important

Most people do not have a home studio. Therefore, your background is whatever you can find. In the video still above, I have the piano in the background. This works well but does mean I have nothing but hard surfaces behind me, resulting in a lot of echo.

Any background is going to be distracting, though. The ideal solution is to have the background blurred so that the audience focus on the talent exclusively.

Using a large aperture

The way we create this affect is using a large aperture. The above clip was filmed with my 24-105mm lens. This is a nice piece of kit but only goes down to f4. So I switched it out for my 50mm prime lens so that I could shoot at 50mm.

Here is the result:

I spent no time getting the lighting right, composing the shot to make sure I was in it, or working out what I was going to say. And yet, it looks cool. I am in focus while the window behind me is very blurred.

How to keep yourself in focus

The pros have someone to shoot the video and somebody else to be the talent. When you are on your own, you do not have that luxury. One of the problems with shooting at a high aperture is that the depth of field is incredibly shallow. This is the effect we want: however, it does mean it is tricky to get the focus point correct and stay within in.

Enter EOS Utilities from Canon. This little piece of software allows you to remotely control your camera from your computer.

My EOS 6D has wifi. However, I could not shoot live video over wifi. Therefore, I had to connect it using the mini-USB port on my camera. Once I had done this, I was able to get full control over the live shooting mode from my laptop.

This means that I can be in position and then set the camera up. By clicking on the screen where I want the focus to be (my head) the camera’s autofocus then adjusts to set it correctly.

Remember that if you want full control, you need to set the camera to manual (M). This applies for the software, too: if you want all of the controls on your computer, you need to alter the dial on the camera itself.

WATCH: Video preview of Trump inauguration speech

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 | Religion & Politics, Video

On Friday, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Unless Obama resigns tomorrow, and Joe Bidden takes over, in which case Trump will be the 46th president. That seems unlikely, though.

It has been a hard time filling the bill. Celine Dion, Charlotte Church, Elton John, Moby and Rebecca Ferguson (and possibly many others) all declined offers to perform. Some because they wanted to make a political statement that they do not like Trump. However, for others, it could simply be that they already had plans.

Here is what Trump is expected to say in his inauguration speech…

SAL July 2016

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 | Humanism, Music, Video

The July event of Sunday Assembly Leeds was on the theme of Yorkshire (it being Yorkshire Day the following day). Our speaker for the month, Mary from City of Sanctuary, spoke about the efforts to make Leeds a more inclusive and more welcoming place. The cake selection was also excellent, having had much left overs from the Humanist picnic the day before.

The Assembly Line performed as usual, just as a three piece this month. This left me as the only guitarist, but it could have sounded a bit worse.

The Housemartins – Happy Hour

Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot