SAMSUNG CAMERA SNV-L6013RN FATAL DESIGN FLAW

I was adjusting the view on a hallway security camera when it stopped functioning entirely. I couldn’t fathom how it would just stop. I had not harmed the cable or struck the camera in any way. What happened?

I removed the camera and took it apart. Even then the problem wasn’t immediately apparent. Then I noticed how the part I was moving hovers barely a millimeter above a bare circuit board with very tiny fragile parts. Sure enough, just rotating the round lens part caught on these tiny electronic parts and broke them off of the circuit board, destroying the camera!

What engineer thought this was a good design?! At least put a floor under the rotating part to protect the electronics.

AUDACITY (audio program) FAILS WITH AVCODEC ERROR (SOLVED)

I compiled and installed Audacity on Linux but it would not open. When I ran a commandline method, it told me that it had an error about a symbol lookup in libavcodec. After reading a lot about the libav program, it finally dawned on me that it was an abandoned project and probably wasn’t even needed by my system or Audacity (or ffmpeg). I removed it and Audacity began working!

Based on an old post by Naveen on askubuntu.com, I used this method:

To remove:
IF you compiled and installed manually:
Go to the build directory and run:

sudo make uninstall libav (This worked for me)

If that does not work, run:

sudo checkinstall libav

Then a debian package will be generated. Open it (from Software Center) and press Remove.

IF you installed the latest library though APT/Software Center:
Run this to remove it:

sudo apt remove libav

I did have to recompile and install VLC player again. But that was fairly easy.

VIDEOING SINGER GIGS (WHY I STOPPED)

The last gig I was hired to video netted me $100. That was split over the hours it took to video the show, make clips, make a montage of the clips with fades, and add contact info to the end.

  • 2 hours videoing the gig
  • plus 1 hour travel
  • 4 hours converting to HD from 4K, making raw clips, uploading to Google Drive and sharing with several people
  • 8 hours to figure out how to make montage, get feedback to correct clip times, add fades and contact info
    (These times are an interactive combination of me making software do what is needed, and the software processing.)

That’s $100/15 hours or about $6.60/hour. And my name was not even given credit for videos posted.

This is why I stopped doing videos.

Most musicians I know can’t afford paying for the kind of video services they want, and I don’t want to spend my otherwise free time working for free. But they have no qualms charging at least $60 an hour for classes, knowing that once the class is done they are done. For me, finishing the gig is just the start of my work. That last gig would be $900 if I charged the same $60/hour. I don’t know any local bands that can afford that or even half of that. I only do video now for bands when I know they only want the whole show as a digital download. That makes it easy for me and cost effective for my labor and equipment. Additional work doing clips and montages is $50/hour.

WORKING FOR EXPOSURE
I’ve read a number of posts from musicians calling out the absurdity of working for “exposure” (working for free), and the paltry amounts they generally get for gigs these days. I agree. The same attitude then should be extended to those they employ for recording or videoing their gigs.

BACKGROUND
I should start by saying that I’m not a professional videographer. I have a regular day job and sing as a hobby. I bought a fairly nice HD video camera 8 years ago (and recently a 4K camera) and started doing videos of my own performances to learn more about how I actually look and sound. Then others began asking for videos of their performances. I did quite a number for free in the early days, just glad to be in the club and hearing music. Then I started getting so many requests that I essentially had a 2nd job. I started charging, and then charged more until the number of requests became manageable. But honestly, it is a huge time sink for me and I don’t even want to do it unless the compensation makes it worth it for me.

BALANCE
I want my singer friends to be able to get video while balancing that with compensating me for my work. There is no point in charging more than most people will pay. But even people that charge me $60 an hour for their own services have been balking at paying just $100 for my basic gig video services (usually 5 hours of work).

On the flip side, complaints I’ve heard are:

  • The video looks fuzzy for HD/4K.
    That is almost always because the jazz venues are poorly lit for doing video, and the low-light technology of the camera is limited. Our eyes adjust a lot better to dim light than most consumer grade cameras. My new 4K camera does better than the older HD cam, but it still can look fuzzy in low light.
  • The colors are weird.
    That is from the lighting that the venue is using. I can’t control that. I have tried a few times asking if the colored lights can be just regular white light, but the staff didn’t know how to change it. I do warn clients about lighting and restaurant customer noise when they ask for video in certain locations.
  • The cost seems a bit high for something so easy.
    Professional videographers would charge far more than I do, in the range of $400-900 per gig. Add special requests like a montage and the price will go up to around $1200. Most singers I know can’t afford that, especially for club videos where people are talking loudly, laughing, waiters are crossing in front of the camera, and so on. It takes an outlay of about $2000 to get a camera, tripod, and software for doing video editing, plus a computer with a fast processor and plenty of RAM to handle the large files in HD and especially 4K video. Then you get to spend hours learning how to use the software to get the result you want. Or you can pay me to do it.

ROKU Doesn’t See Amazon Prime Subscriptions (and the fix)

I went through an angry tirade today trying to get Britbox to show up on my Roku device so the wife could continue watching the Father Brown mysteries. At first I was told we had it through Comcast, so I went to see if it had been dropped. They didn’t have it as an offering.

Then I was told it was on Amazon Prime, and that we had a subscription. But when I’d bring up Prime Video on my Roku, it kept saying we could watch Father Brown if we subscribed… So I went online with my computer and looked at our Amazon subscriptions, and there was Britbox. But the Roku didn’t see it.

Long story short, I signed out of Prime Video on the Roku, signed back in, it gave me a code to type in on my computer, did so, and then the subscription appeared on the Roku device’s connection to Prime Video.

It had a live Internet connection, so none of that should have been needed, but that’s how I got it working.

PTZ camera replacement

I just replaced an 18-year-old Pelco analog PTZ camera with a brand spanking new digital PTZ (Hanwha XNP-6320RH). Besides new cabling, here were a few odd issues I encountered:

1. The old camera had an RS-485 connection with 4 wires. The new camera had only 2 wires. I put both negatives together as one and both positives together and cabled it that way. I had to go into the camera settings webpage and tell it to use the settings of the old 485 controller (in this case Pelco-P protocol at 2400 baud), then it worked fine. Some new security installers like to remove the 485 controller and use a mouse instead. I find that approach cumbersome, and my customers do too. They were happy to have their controller working.

2. The DVR is an older Pelco Digital Sentry Version 1. When I set up the camera, it could not see video. I checked the camera webpage and it was working. After a reboot, I recalled that this system requires that the camera date and time match the recorder date and time. I went back to the camera settings webpage and synced with the viewing PC time, then told it to sync to a local time server (the DVR itself). Then the video appeared on the recorder.

3. The PTZ draws more power than a standard digital camera. When I first hooked it to a POE switch, it kept clicking but not turning on. It came with a POE injector, so I hooked it to that and it was happy. So I just hooked the switch to the passthru port on the injector and was good to go.

The visual difference between the old and new cameras is extreme. The old one was fuzzy and felt like a 1970s TV signal. The new one is crisp and detailed, and has great infrared night vision. Happy customers!

Review of ToteVision LED-710-4KIP test monitor for IP cameras

I needed a portable field unit for setting up IP security cameras that I install. It needed to have POE, a good battery, and a good screen so I can see the video clearly and any camera menus.

I tried out the ToteVision LED-710-4KIP based on the feature set it has. It has several tools such as cable testing, POE voltage testing, and various camera tests.

It has some interesting features for setting up cameras, such as detecting camera IP and auto-setting itself to the subnet range of the camera.

But the primary purpose of using it to set up IP cameras in the field doesn’t work because the buttons it has for focus and zoom do not work with all cameras, even ones that have ONVIF (as almost all do these days).

I connected it to a Samsung SNV-6084 dome camera (about 2 years old), and it was able to find the camera’s IP address and take me to a login screen. It brought up the live video, which was out of focus. I tried the various physical buttons such as Near, Far, Tele, and Wide, but none of them had any effect on the camera.

I tried it on two Vicon cameras, and the live video screen would instantly close as soon as it tried to show video. That makes this unit useless to me.

I was able to go to a webpage in Firefox on the unit (I just happened to know the URL for focusing on this camera) and it brought up controls that I could use for focusing, but no image. That is another problem with this unit. If the IP camera requires a plugin such as Silverlight in order to view video on submenus, then there is no way to get the plugin to load and function on the ToteVision unit. The built-in menus have buttons specific to Hikvision cameras, so perhaps it was designed around their use rather than other brands, but nothing in the literature suggested this.

Those problems make this unit useless to me. I’ve used cameras from other companies that also require plugins to view video and make changes to the cameras, so this isn’t an uncommon situation. Camera makers are starting to move away from plugins, which is good. But I have so many cameras in the field already that I have to be able to use plugins. This puts me back to using a laptop and a POE switch instead of a more portable unit.

Summary:

  • Unit seems designed around Hikvision cameras
  • Control buttons don’t work on Samsung or Vicon cameras
  • It has interesting features that would make it great, but since the most basic don’t work with my cameras, the unit is pointless.
  • The manual was incomplete and was clearly written by non-native English speakers, A section showing a screen shot of “live video” shows an icon for needing to install a plugin, the very issue I had with Samsung cameras, but no mention of it in the text of the manual.

4.3GB file limit when shooting in HD modes (Panasonic HC-WXF1 camcorder)

I recently shot in regular HD mode (MP4, 1080p, 28M) and something odd happened that I didn’t see in the documentation for the camera. It auto-split the file when it reached 4.3GB, actually it did this twice during the show.

I used to use a Sony camera that did this at 2GB due to file size limits of the operating system of Windows, and they were trying to make it easier for most customers. I assume that this 4.3GB limit is for people that make DVDs (4.7GB size limit).

I had shot in this mode to save time downsampling from 4K later. Since the split happened partway through a song, I had to do some geekery to join the two files and then extract the song. That took hours of running scripts, so I didn’t save any time. Would have been nice to know about it ahead of time, so I’m posting here for others.

The geekery (which worked but may have been overkill) was to turn the video files into M2TS files, save the audio files as WAV, use Audacity to join the WAV files, use tsmuxer to join the M2TS files, use ffmpeg to turn the joined WAV into AAC, then use ffmpeg to blend the audio with the video and extract the songs clips that had been arbitrarily divided by the camera. Sheesh!

Q-SEE QCN8099B camera pinout

I had to work on an IP camera that had the pigtail cut off. It is a Q-SEE (Hikvision) QCN8099B camera, and had a pigtail with an RJ45 jack built-in. However, the wire colors that the company used inside the camera were not the standard colors normally encountered in CAT6 cabling. And there were only 6 wires instead of 8, and the wires were very thin which meant I couldn’t punch them to a jack directly because they were too fragile.

I figured out that there were two pairs being used for communication, and one pair being used for POE.

cam wires3

I cut apart the remains of the jack which still had wires attached to it.
IMG_0826

From this, I determined which colors went to which pins, and used a cross-reference to the T568B standard to figure out how to splice the wires to a CAT6 cable.


CAMERA T568B POE-B
1 BROWN ORN/WH
2 PURPLE ORN
3 ORANGE GRN/WH
4 YELLOW BLU DC+
5 (NONE) BLU/WH DC+
6 BLUE GRN
7 GRAY BRN/WH DC-
8 (NONE) BRN DC-

I taped the ends of the CAT6 cable and camera cable together to remove stress from the individual wires. I used 3M Scotchlok UY2 connectors to splice the wires of the CAT6 cable to the wires of the camera. (I didn’t get a picture of the splices)

Initially, I tried connecting the resulting cable to a POE switch to see if it would recognize the camera. But Q-See likes to keep things proprietary, so I drove back out to the location of the Q-See NVR and plugged the cable into the unit. After a minute or so the camera came up!

I found no pinout documentation online, nor any info about a default IP address for these cameras. It appears that they were made for use only with their own brand NVR. I’ve seen other blurbs that say “Just type in the IP address into a browser”, but that assumes I know if it has one, and what the address is.

Viewing angle of monitor affects color perception

On a flat screen computer monitor, color perception changes with the angle of view, even slight angles. Something pink can appear red or even blue from some angles.

I have a reclining office chair at my computer, and skin colors were appearing a bit green, which led me to think I needed to apply a color filter to the video I had shot. But when I reclined a bit to view straight-on, everything looked fine. (Some depends on the quality of the monitor also). This is why it’s also important to calibrate the monitor, if you are in the business of photos or video.

I had calibrated about six months ago with a Spyder5 device, and the free DisplayCAL software for Linux (took an hour or so to calibrate). The software also will automatically load the changes it makes at boot time, and I see this happen just after the wallpaper becomes visible after log-in.

Typically, the screen top should be just below eye level in the position where you normally work. My monitor is a bit cheap, so even that angle gives a slight green to skin color. I have to view directly on at the middle to see things in the correct color. I’ll upgrade when I build a new computer in the next year.

Pana$onic battery message

RANT: Bought a new Panasonic video camera which came with a small battery. I bought a couple of “compatible” batteries and a charger for $50 online which seemed to work fine for a day or so. Then the camera said “This battery cannot be used” and shut off. Both batteries didn’t suddenly develop issues. I did some looking online and Panasonic created some circuitry to tell them when a 3rd party battery is being used:
http://av.jpn.support.panasonic.com/support/global/cs/info/dsc_battery.html

This was allegedly to “protect” their customers. Somehow I don’t buy that.

It is certainly their right to build their cameras to only support their own batteries. I get that. Except they charge about 6 times the amount for one battery. I guess they assume if I’m willing to pay $1000 for a camera, I wouldn’t balk at $120 for a battery. But it is a LOT more customer friendly to make their cameras the focus, and let customers tell others how great the camera is instead of trying to squeeze extra dollars out of us for accessories.

I’ve had no trouble using 3rd party batteries on my older camera, so didn’t anticipate it on this one. Now I’ll have to find a reputable dealer and buy known Panasonic batteries.

Another thing, even the Panasonic shopping website says the large battery is out of stock. I can’t use the small battery to shoot a whole jazz gig. Sheesh!

Amazon is listed as a dealer, and their price for one Panasonic brand battery is $118. I’ll try that one.

NOTE: The brands that currently fail on the new HC-WXF1 video camera are Powerextra and Wasabi. Neither brand claims to work with the new camera, but they do say their batteries work like the VW-VBT380 which Panasonic says is the large battery for this camera. I had to return both of the 3rd party batteries.

NOTE: I learned from some comments on YouTube that I could use a “powerbank”, so purchased an Anker PowerCore II 20000. The camera power cord has a USB connection on the power end, so this attaches to the powerbank and works very nicely for powering the camera for several hours, and it thinks it is attached to wall power. Leave the onboard battery attached in case the powerbank loses power or gets turned off.