Hess “Toy” Truck Instagram Series Notes

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I got the idea to start another personal project around the end of November, revolving around my Hess Trucks that I’ve been given over the years. Part of the idea came from my Dad who mentioned that he should put them all together to take a picture of all of them . I decided to take it a step further and do a series of individual pictures/videos that would end when I get the newest one for this year.

I have received them from my grandfather since 1990 when I was around two years old. Then my mother would get them when my grandfather couldn’t get them anymore. So I have almost everyone since then except 2008 where we(Mom) waited to long and we didn’t get it. Somehow I was able to get the small front loader truck that came with the Hess truck for that year, though I don’t remember how I acquired it.

Pre-planning

To start this project up I first developed a template that I would use to display each truck on my Instagram, which I had recently joined after the recommendation of my co-workers. I looked around to see if anyone had done something similar or used any video production tools with Instagram. There wasn’t much out there but I did find a good video on doing Instagram videos with After Effects where I learned the video size limit and some exporting specs. The exporting specs didn’t work perfectly for my version(s) of After Effects. I wasn’t getting any sound in the beginning, but rendering with Media Encoder I was able to find an easy way to get my videos in a usable format.

After some research I completed my design in Photoshop after one revision and some feedback from some friends. I then brought it in to After Effects to set up the animations and use some quick temp images of my Truck to test the layout and animation. I also did some test renders to see how my videos would work in Instagram sharing the videos privately to make sure it would actually work.

While working on the design and animation I was also developing my set that I would be using to take these pictures. My original idea was to make my set as simple as possible so that I could quickly take make photos without having to adjust much. The location was my basement where I could set it up easily leave it up with out it interfering with anything. The stage was just a few crates stacked on top of each other with a green table-cloth draped over it to make it seem nice.

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The lighting was originally going to be just the ceiling light, which are the long fluorescent bulbs, that I was going to cover to diffuse the light. This did not work at all, too bright even with reams of paper covering diffusion and too noisy when doing video, just really bad overall. A co-worker suggested getting some cheap LED lights which sounded good though I thought maybe that might be a bit much for this simple(seemingly) personal project

What I wound up using where four Verilux lights that I had/commandeered to use. They boast being “original natural spectrum® floor lamp”, and the natural lighting did worked well for me. Along with some extra paper covering they worked out well for still photographs and where passable for the type of video I was going for. They do have a two way switch on them to control the light level but the difference was barely perceptible to the eye…

The last part I needed for the project was camera and tripod. Unfortunately I no longer had possession of my pretty good Canon point and shoot(yeah I know…) camera but I did have a new Moto X 2nd Gen. Cell phone. So along with my current tripod and a smartphone tripod holder I ordered from Amazon I was set to take my pictures.

Photo Production

The actual production process for making these Instagram videos evolved over time and varies a bit depending on which truck I was photographing but the basic outlined stayed the same. I set the truck up on my stage and would take pictures from various angles around the whole truck. I would usually start from a high angle to make sure I could get all of the truck on the stage. Then I would turn it around taking pictures and then do the same at a lower angle to get closer to the truck. The low angle worked well for getting the license plate years and the smaller trucks, motorcycles, buggies and other smaller vehicles that came inside the bigger trucks. I would repeat the same process for taking pictures with the lights off for the Trucks that worked well in the dark.

 

While taking these photos I learned a few things about light, composition, and mechanics of phone camera as well. There was never a perfect light setup(not too surprising) even when just rotating the same Truck around to take a picture from a different sides. I always had to move at least one light to compensate for something. My goal was to have the shadows as minimal as possible but somewhere along the way I let that goal go to just try to get good reflections and as even lighting as possible. This was not always achieved and even with the exposure control on my camera some Trucks where still blown out. This was really hard with video since the my camera phone requires a lot of light to get the truck in focus, so almost all the video footage was over exposed. Fixing it in post helped a bit but I could only do so much.

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Composing the pictures was for the most part straight forward, once I had done a few trucks. However not all of them where the same shape and many where not trucks at all. I have said “trucks” this whole time since that is how they are marketed but many  of the ones I have are over sized helicopters, cars, or have a space vehicle on their trailer. The Helicopters where particularly hard since I wanted to get the blades all in frame and stay completely on my stage. This was where I wished I had a bigger set for some extra wiggle room for framing that would have been helpful for the larger trucks as well. I was able to work around it with mainly just using photos that were zoomed in or some post work to extend the stage.

Instagram Video Production

Producing the video was pretty simple but it took time to go through all the photos I took. I had around 150-200 pictures for each truck that I had to go through. I started out going through the photos I wanted to use ahead of time and separating them out before I hand. However by the time I got to the late 2000’s I was doing some of the videos the day I shared them, so I would find the picture I wanted to use from my main folder separate them and import them for use all in one go. But by then I knew what pictures I was probably going to use for each slide section anyway.

Each still picture frame went through four different pictures, so eight in total. The ending two usually being the year license plate and some times with the in the dark photo. The top large frame was designed for videos or still pictures depending on the truck, ideally I wanted to make a video featuring the major electronic feature of that truck. So all of them have lights(not all working), many have sounds, and some have motorized parts. I edited together the various sounds that each made to have them go off during the video. I was able to feature all the sounds of each truck until the latest years where they had too many sounds to fit together in a coherent way.

A video posted by Greg (@greg2bpro) on

Some of the sounds also worked in tandem with how you would move some of the trucks, car or shuttle/plane. One racer car even had its own sound, so I was able to have it run across the stage and use its sound effects. I did this also with jets/shuttle although they didn’t actually fly across the set so I had to animate them in After Effects and add their sound effects. I think the newest one, 2014, worked out well since I was able to composite the cruiser taking off the launch pad and have the scout ship follow it.

Sharing and Recap

Getting it out there was just a simple as transferring the final video for each truck on my phone and telling Instagram to upload the video. I wrote out little blurbs about each one to accompany the video ahead of time, then shared it to via Instagram to my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. I had planned a schedule so I knew which year to post on what day so that I didn’t have to post more then two a day.

During the posting process one thing I think I did too much of was hash tags. I had them already setup in a text document and just threw them on at the end. I think it would have been better to integrate them more into my description of each truck and not have as many.

In the end it was a fun and self-educating project to put together. It was also a lot more work then I was expecting but still rewarding. Not sure if I will do it again next year but if I do I will definitely start earlier.

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Maker Faire NYC 2014

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This past weekend I was able to attend the Make Faire on Saturday in Queens, NYC. I had heard of this from the NYC Drone User Group email newsletter and the build-In I went to but didn’t really think to much of it in terms of attending. Then I found out that Flitetest would be attending and that got me a bit more interested in attending but I was still on the fence most of the week before and didn’t get my ticket till the day before.

So on Saturday I made the trek out there from NJ to experience the Maker Faire which really was the greatest show and tell. There was so much going on it was kind of hard to focus on anyone thing specifically. I should have used my experience from going to NYCC to really plan out what I wanted to do ahead of time. I did have two main things do plus what I marked as some fav’s in the maker faire app, but when I got there I didn’t look at the app at all.

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The top thing on my list to was to visit the FliteTest Tent and talk to those guys. It was really cool being able to talk to all of them after watching all of their videos on youtube. I had the chance to talk to all of them for a bit including their production/camera man and talk a bit about the production of the show too which was really cool. I took a few pictures of their tent and some of the planes and multi-rotors they brought with them. My favorite from the show that they brought was the toaster plane.

FliteTtest didn’t get to fly much that I saw at this event since for the most part it was not allowed but Peter did get a chance to fly his VTOL in the Game of Drone Cage for a bit with some other multi-rotors.  Check out the footage I recorded. I also have some footage of two drone battles that I may add-on my YouTube channel.

The second thing that I had in mind for the trip was to see the DroneKraft presentation and their racing quad that they where showing off. DroneKraft Image 50pThe overall presentation was nice but a bit boring  if you had some experience in quads at all before. They did do a nice bit on explaining what their goals where and what they do with “drones” vs the military. And I think the crowd liked the videos that they showed. They also took a nice risky flight of their quad in the small area they had to present. I took a video of it you can view below.

Other than those two main things I pretty much walked around without much purpose looking at all the cool things.  I took a lot of interest in there 3D printers since I’m looking to get one. There was a lot to look it, it definitely would have been cool to go back for a second day if I could,  I think next year I will. Here are some other pictures I took from the event. I also posted some gifs on my tumblr.

 

 

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Big Joe’s Special Salad

This started as a project for work but was never finished/used in the end. So I decided to turn it into a personal project after changing a few things. The cockroach model is from turbosquid which I rigged up. I did the backbone(exoskeleton) wrong but it still works well for the amount of control I wanted. If anyone wanted the model rigged just get in touch with me and I can post it up.  Thanks goes to everyone in my office who gave me great extra ideas to add to the final project.

Created in After Effects CC & C4D R14.

Some sound effects from freesound.org

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Flying Summer Recap

So it seems I have gone almost more than 2 months without me posting anything to my blog. Well most of my summer has been working and flying/building my multi-rotors. Here is a picture of all four of them as of right now.

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I may go to a “Build-In” near me to repair it with other hobbyist and the like. From when I started drafting this post I went to the NYCDUG Build-In. I didn’t work on fixing my quads at all but I did get to meet a bunch of cool people who are in to multi-rotors/drones and the like. Some of their rigs where pretty cool like the two big hexacopters.

I also got to control the rig for the camera on one of the guy’s hexacopter.

It was really cool being the operator of camera that is just flying the sky. I have some footage of me controlling the camera but it’s mainly just me repeating how cool it is so the pics above will have to suffice. If you look on the MeetUp page you can see the photos that I took at the build-in. I also did a quick edit of all the footage I took at the event to hopefully get across how fun it was.

Back to my quads, the one that I’m the most proud of building so far is my Tricopter since that required a bit work with the servo then all of my other quads. The build log is on the flite test forums.

It still needs a few upgrades like some better motors and ESC’s also a better tail servo wouldn’t hurt either but it flies pretty well.

It also seems to attract a bit more attention as I was flying in a park near me and two young kids and mom came up to me and asked about what I was flying. After flying it around the kids in the air, above their heads, I was able to land it and show them my tricopter and my other quads to them.

It was pretty cool being able to show them and see how interested they where in them. It might have gone over their heads a bit but who knows, like their mom said they may become the scientists or engineers who build/design them in the future.

The other quad that I built this summer is the BLACKOUT quad that finally came in from Australia. This build was the most intensive one I’ve had to do yet just because everything has to fit into the tiny frame. There is almost no extra space for anything non-essential in there and I couldn’t use bullet connectors with the ESC’s so everything is solder directly. You can check out my build log on the flite test forums. Here are a two in progress build gif’s I made.

 

That’s most of my summer minus work and few other personal projects. One of which I will be doing a small post on soon. I have done a few more flight videos since I last posted about my MHQ quad that can all be found on my youtube channel.

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Hovership Micro H-Quad Review

So a while ago I came across this cool looking 3D printed quad frame from hovership.  When I was looking to do another quad build and after the success of my other 3D printed frame I decided to order it and start my next quad build. I have had it build and have flown it for over or close to a month now and decided to review it for the hovership site. Below is my review of the quad frame so far but before that a few videos of my FPV flights.

These are my two most recent videos. I have a long way to go until I fly at the level as many other flyers on YouTube, but my skill seem to be improving. I have a few more videos on my page as well as some flights from my other quad. My thoughts on the quad are as follows.

3D Printed Foldable Awesomeness

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The MHQ was my second build of a multi-rotor and my second purchase of a 3D printed frame. The quality of the 3D parts are great and with the included accessories it all comes together nicely and feels very sturdy. It has been a great flier for me since I built it a few weeks ago, I do however have two issues with it.

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The first is the legs that are included with the kit are not that strong unless you have perfect landings all the time. As another reviewer has noted they are a bit weak and broke for me on my second set of flights. Since then I have broken all the legs off with the middle section still screwed on. Also the antenna mounting plate broke as well so I just zip tie the antenna to the camera deck now.

IMG_3098My second issue is the vibration dampeners while awesome and a great way to separate parts of the quad, where impossible for me to pull through the flight controller deck. It could be my 12amp T-motor ESC’s are just to thick but I could not push them through. I could get one or two on the edges maybe but the rest where not going through. In the end I just zipped tied the two together with the dampeners in between to keep it all together and it flies well.

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After a few weeks of flying it has survived all the crashes I have put it through. The best thing for me so far has been the fordable arms. I have on many occasions clipped branches and fences and gone down only to find a dirty quad with an arm or two pushed in. They also make it handy for traveling. The only part that has seen any real damage is a small chip on the front arm plate from me going head first into a fence. (I was trying to pull up.)

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Overall I have to say I’m very happy with my quad so far, it’s size and fold-ability has been a real plus for me. The guides help a new builder like me to put it together with no issues at all minus having to use some extra screw to mount the motors. I made a short build log on the flite test forums with videos and some of my fpv flights (new flier alert!) on my YouTube channel G2BPro. I would recommend this frame for any one looking to get good durable frame at a reasonable price.

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My Build:

MHQ Frame
12amp T-motor ESC’s
RCX 1804 Motors
Acro naze 32
JST to XT60 distribution cord
micro spektrum compatible dsm2 receiver
altitude rc transmitter
5.8 GHz SpiroNET Omni Antenna
RMRC-MINI-V2

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Logo Branded Animated Video Intro

Last year I posted about a service I offer through Envato’s  Envato studio, formerly microlancer , for 3D logo design. Recently they started a new category for animation and as an animated I thought it would be good to add another service that I would actually like to do. So I created, submitted, and had approved , Logo Branded Animated Video Intro.

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I actually submitted this a while ago to their YouTube design section but it got rejected being more than just design.  So I rewrote my description and brief outlines and submitted it again and it was accepted.  The service details can be found on the page if you would like to use it.

The scope of work that can be offered though this service might seem a bit limited to some so, but for people who are just starting on YouTube or other video platforms and want something professional looking and to get work done through a trusted service I think this is the best way to go.  And any one can always contact me directly as well for any projects.

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Quad Blog and First Quad Build

So it seems I have neglected this space for almost another 2 months but I have made posts just now here… So as I mentioned in my last post I have recently been focusing all of my extra time on Quadcopters, Multi-Rotors, Drones, what ever name you like or hate to call them.

If you would like to follow my flying journey you can check out my blog on the flitetest. I’ve posted videos of my flights as well as recording the build of my first quad.  Here’s the video of my first test flight. 

It’s pretty cool being able to build something and have it actually work out and fly in the end. I’m planning on doing a larger post to recap my Multi-Rotor experiences so far that I will be posting here first so stay tuned for that.

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A New Year & Quadcopter’s

So the new year begins and I’m scrambling to make a my first post of the year. The reason for this is partly do to work, which is a good thing, and second because of my new-found interest quadcopters or multi-rotors in general. Their fun, easyish to fly, and have endless possibilities for uses. So far I have 4 micro sized ones (one had to be replaced pulling an Icarus move in the sky) and a DX6i Radio to control two of them. My main use in for them, other than to have fun flying them, is for very amateur aerial video.

The video above is one of my better videos so far using a key chain camera (720p) on top of my Red Eye One quad in light snow and some “mild” wind, hence the video being at a constant angle. I really shouldn’t be taking it out in hazardous weather but their so fun to fly out doors. Once I can get some steady video footage I’m going to have to figure out how I can integrate some cool motion graphics

The next thing I would like to do is build a quad, probably using a kit so I can be sure every thing will work right, and do some First Person View flying. I probably need some more stick(flying) time before I do any real FPV but it looks likes a lot of fun and there is any easy, but expensive setup for the Red eye one, so I’ll have to see. I also would like to make the next quad I get a bit bigger in size so well see. If I get to the custom building stage I have some cool ideas for ones I could build using a 3D printer to make the frame and other parts.

Some place I’ve been following are

Flyin’ Ryan RC – Who does great reviews on on planes and quads.

FliteTest – Who not only does reviews of planes, quad, heli’s but is also a full site dedicated to the R/C Hobby and getting people involved in the hobby.

rcgroups.com – a great site for all things R/C related.

So now I’m off to do some more flying.

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OFF THE RADAR

A quick animation I did over a weekend for one part of a sports show. Done in C4D and After Effects.

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3D Logo Design Service

As I’m always looking for more ways to do the type of work I like to do I try to keep up with new things that will enable to continue doing the type of work I like and get paid. Envato has many different services to do this and the recently release a new one microlancer.

microlancer service g2bI  recently completed my first project and second one soon after using this service. I have one service listed for 3D Logo Design.

I have used services like microlancer before though I have rarely received jobs though them, rather most of my jobs have been found working directly with people on various projects. I had a great experience using their service despite not complete sure how the actual system worked until I had a client. The two jobs I completed where from the same person who needed a logo converted from a 2D design to 3D. They client liked the result on both logo customization’s and I was able to complete the job on time.

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So if you need a very quick no-nonsense 3D logo from a logo you already have check me out on microlancer. Or you can always contact me directly for any project you might have in mind.

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