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February 19, 2010

Vacation Exclusively Filmed on iPhone with Owle bubo

I'm trying an experiment. Every year the family takes a winter vacation to somewhere warm. Every year I lug a bunch of chargers, cables, tapes, and a video camera along to document. When I get home (or in the ensuing months) I capture the footage and spend a few weeks of late nights pouring through the footage, organizing, narrowing it down, and producing a short video that captures the trip.

For example, last year in Ireland I shot ~4 hours of footage over a week in April. Just before the holidays (yes, in December) I worked at that footage for two weeks and turned it into a 36 minute DVD of our trip using Final Cut on my Mac.

For our February trip this year (currently underway), I decided to take another approach. I had gotten my hands on an Owle bubo, a new device to wrap around your iPhone 3GS and notch up the video capabilities (better lens, microphone, and stability). For the past few days now I've been carrying that around and shooting footage like I normally would with our video camera.

Why OWLE bubo?

I charge each night while syncing, or use the Apple wall charger in the morning before we go. This stuff I have readily available on all trips/vacations so no extra stuff to bring along.

Video capture/upload
Each night I sync to iTunes on my MacBook, downloading the day's footage (using one of these awesome super short iStubz 7cm sync cables). This puts the video clips right into iTunes, ready to export or use directly in iMovie.

The OWLE bubo's narrow body slips into the small pouch on my backpack (I've also stuck it in one of the side pockets in my cargo pants/shorts, a bit bulky in there but works in a pinch). As easy as any camera I've used as far as toting it along (plus it looks cooler than a touristy video camera).

If you leave the iPhone in video shoot mode, the time to get "booted up" and shoot video is pretty quick, makes it easy to go from off to active recording pretty quick.

Video Quality
I'll be able to speak more confidently about this once we get home and I can watch the video on something better than the laptop, but the clips look pretty good when playing in iMovie or directly in the QuickTime player. I know it's not going to compare to the 3CCD camera I've used in the past, but based on what I'm seeing I won't be suprised if it's close enough to still make a great vacation video.

I've gotten some questions about the bubo as we've been traveling and I've been using it to grab footage of our daily excursions. I am definitely advocating it, pointing out what makes it such a handy little device. Like I said, I don't know for sure about the video quality when it makes it's way onto the big screen, and the iPhone struggles/fails in low-light situations, but for quick, convenient video shooting it has been a great companion.

Unfortunately the whole story will take some time to unfold because historically it's always taken a few months until I get around to putting together the video footage and burning to DVD. Perhaps in the interest of finishing this post I can expedite that a bit.

Posted by mike at February 19, 2010 3:17 PM