Thursday, August 3, 2017

iPad Tripod Automated Mount - Swivl

Have you ever wanted to capture a video of yourself delivering a dynamic presentation or leading an engaging activity only to have trouble finding someone who could video you?  Perhaps you have access to room with cameras mounted in the ceiling to capture your lecture, but you either can't schedule the room or you can't operate the equipment by yourself.  You may even have access to a professional video production crew, but you are not sure your event is worthy of the pre and post production scheduling and planning that goes into a professional shoot.   Well if you have every been in these predicaments then Swivl C5 just may be for you.

Introducing Swivl C5, the robotic tripod, your automated assistant.  In my role as an educational technologist I frequently come across instructors who share innovative activities and we always say "we should capture that on video".   Event with the best class schedule it can be hard to hit a particular activity on a specific date.  Perhaps they don't want to bother me to sitting through a class I know nothing about simply to monitor a video camera.  It is possible they think having someone video the session would be foreign and or disruptive to class community, the reasons go on and on despite good intentions.  With the Swivl C5 the instructor sets up the Swivl C5 robot, tablet (iPad lightning adapter or newer) and paired Marker (microphone) and that's pretty much it.  The iPad sits in a slot on the Swivl C5 robot.  The Swivl C5 robot locates the infrared signal of the paired Marker and tracks it, up and down, side to side while recording video and instructor audio.  Swivl C5 adds the ability to have additional live Markers (microphones), which can be embedded into your audience (think small groups).  What is really neat about this is that the Swivl C5 keeps the video and audio of the presenter while simultaneously recording the audience discussions and questions.  Once you are done you simply upload your video to Swivl Cloud (web host).   The video can be share with everyone or can be shared with peers for feedback.  In addition Swivl Cloud allows you to perform post production audio work by disabling or enabling your audience audio tracks.  Easily remove groups chattering off topic, while featuring those who are thinking critically out loud and asking great questions.

What I have decided to try is to package a (re-purposed) iPad with my Swivl C5 to create a kit bag.  This will allow the instructor to easily capture and upload their video without having to install an app on their device nor worry about performance issues or memory capacity (all video is saved to your mobile device before uploading to the Swivl Cloud).   In the short time that I have used the Swivl C5 robot I have experience three problems to be aware of:

First the iPad Swivl C5 robot need to be really close to your subject, forget about a wide angle establishing shot, there is no zoom function.  This may be ok since after all you are using a robotic mount which should follow the presenter and allow you to maintain your subject in it a tight shot.

Second the group Markers (microphones) may perform better pointed up instead of laying down on the table.  The Markers are highly directional so to give it the best shot of capturing a small group discussion I am going to try and put them in a cup to stand them up.  Similarly for the presenter Marker, avoid having it dangle down from the lanyard with the microphone pointing to the ground.

Third as with any video product, post production takes a long time.  I had about an hour of presentation captured and in post production I wanted to remove a small groups audio track, because of the large file it took a really long time to adjust the audio tracks.

In any case it is an interesting product, it seems to get the job done and like anything else the more you practice with it the better your final product will look.

Do you have a Swivl C robot?

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