I’ve been “in the game” for a long time. Back in 1982, I was hired to instruct Apple resellers on the benefits of the Apple /// computer using Quicktime ///, Applewriter /// and Visicalc ///. Not only did the resellers eat it up, business people loved it, that is they loved it until Lotus 1-2-3 on the IBM PC started to take over. In truth, most Lotus users were happy to beat around on the spreadsheet portion of Lotus 1-2-3, but everyone made sure that you knew that Lotus 1-2-3 was “integrated.”
At the end of 1982 that I headed to Cupertino to learn all the ins and outs of the next product that Apple would launch at the beginning of the next year – the Lisa. Now, everyone knows that the real reason for naming it Lisa was because Steve had a daughter named Lisa, right? But I, as an upholder of the Apple faith, and one of the System Sales Engineers responsible for preaching about the significance of this Apple product, the words we ingrained into everyone’s head were “Local Integrated Software Architecture.” Got that – INTEGRATED.
Today, the word “integrated” is used more and more as software developers are “discovering” the content creation and mobile journalism markets. But sure, why not? Tagging that word on an application instantly gives the app a patina of suitability and justifies the sale or purchase. There are a lot of apps out there and getting a piece of that app pie pays big. But take note, if you really want an integrated app for mobile journalism – the only truly integrated and comprehensive “mojo” app on the market that is professional enough to use at TV stations as well as online social media sites is CTpro Mobile Video Suite.
Of course, I do have a vested interest in saying so because I represent the product. But I didn’t have to get involved with the product at all. I was happily retired when I first saw it but from the second I saw it I understood that it would change things in exactly the way the first Mac changed things and I wanted to be a part of its success. Remember, the Mac was, at the end of the day, the “computer for the rest of us.” CTpro Mobile Video Suite is the app for the rest of us. It is an app I can not only sell but can actually use.
CTpro Mobile Video Suite took years to design. The development was started by people with years of experience in the television industry, not the software industry. It was designed by a team at a TV station because they needed a single app that solved multiple problems without having to mess around with nearly a dozen apps, most of which did not focus on production of content for broadcast TV.
Unlike these broadcast developers, I have never worked at a television station. I started selling video products to TV stations and post-production facilities back in 1986. My involvement with video production started over 40 years ago when, as a classroom teacher. That’s when I taught a course at junior high called “Communications.” The highlight of that course was when the students, using reel-to-reel videotape machines and a humongous camera made their own “TV shows.” This was a class for kids that had “trouble” in “regular” classes. In several instances, it was as life-changing for them, as it was for me. (I’m sure that the kids thought that the highlight was the field trip to the New Jersey Public Televisions broadcast facilities in Trenton – a place that I visited later many times in my role selling SDI video cards.)
So for the last 40 years, I think I laid a good when it comes to the hardware and software that is used in the industry. I have “paid my dues” when it comes to being an industry player. And what I learned over that period of time, is that whatever I sell needs to help tell a story. The story is the goal.
I have been told so many times that the storyteller needs to have the right tool at the right time to get the job done easily and get the job done fast that when I repeat it, one might suspect that I am the one cranking out news stories. “Taking too much time to file a story means that the information is already old by the time the intended audience gets to see it.” “Time is of the essence.” “Having the right tools readily available is key.” In short, when it comes to the application that is used to help tell the story, the right app with the right features is the best game in town. Learning the intricacies of a dozen different smartphone apps not only wastes time and it does little to enhance telling the story. People that tell you otherwise are missing the point.
So – why is CTpro Mobile Video Suite the solution?
Let’s start with the built-in camera. CTpro Mobile Video Suite’s camera has built-in stabilization, independent aperture and ISO control, it allows for either automatic or manual settings for all for all functions including when pre-setting color temperature. Variable zoom can quickly switch between one or the other cameras when using the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, iPhone 8 or 8 Plus or iPhone X. Of course, you can switch from front to back cameras. The camera tool also indicates processor use, the battery level, the storage still available and the actual length of the recording, displays zebra, grid and waveform when desired, and enables manual or automatic focus as well as “Tap to Focus” as well as a “Smart Face” function which identifies faces and tracks the face selected. The user shoots at the resolution needed for broadcast TV, at the frame rate needed, at the compression needed to easily transmit back to the station or to stream online – live.
Next – the editing tool. Here, the premise is to make it simple to edit video and audio so that the mobile journalist can devote his time to the actual story. There are two video tracks available, V1 and V2. They serve different purposes and the edit capability for each one can be different. For example, V1 can be used to “split” a clip into several sub clips. This is useful in the case of an interview. We call the V2 track the Illustration track and every shot that is put into the V2 track is linked to the clip on V1 upon which it is placed. While the V2 track cannot be “split” like the V1 track, it can be edited just like V1 to have different Mark-In and Mark-Out points. The linkage between the Illustration clip on V2 with the video on V1 assures the integrity of its placement relative to the V1 video track if the V1 track is moved to anywhere else on the timeline. It is moved simply by selecting it an moving it with the finger.
Since titling is essential, CTpro Mobile Video Suite has the ability to bring in images that were created as .PNG files with an alpha channel at a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Static images, such as a station bug or identifier can take up very little of the output screen or as much as the maximum resolution of the output. Dynamic graphics, such as lower third titles can have up to four different fields that will contain text that is overlaid onto the graphic. Titles will be displayed as an overlay by selecting an In and an Out point. The transition length (fade-in, fade out) for the title to appear and disappear is definable by the user. Font, size, and positioning are handled by the application so the user doesn’t have to worry about adjustments to assure repeatable and consistent broadcast level results.
Great audio is as important as great video. You can access the audio level settings for the clips separately from the video clips, e.g. video thumbnails are replaced with audio thumbnails that display the audio waveform. CTpro Mobile Video Suite will automatically normalize all of the audio segments to align all of the audio to a specific reference. Crossfades are automatically set and are visually represented so that the user can easily identify these. (The audio between V1 and V2 are automatically adjusted to prevent the audio from becoming inaudible.) By automatically adjusting the levels of audio, any audio balancing is only required to back off less important sounds. This is facilitated even further by identifying video tracks that are interviews. Additionally, adding voice overs is easy to do by selecting a Mark-In and Mark-out point where the voice over should be placed. There is even a five-second countdown to prepare. CTpro Mobile Video Suite’s sound illustration library allows the user to insert music into either audio track, 1 or 2. Music can be automixed as the very last task before the final version of the project is compiled.
When it comes to getting the story back from the field to the station, CTpro Mobile Video Suite connects via FTP or Dropbox. Access is built right into the app. And, CTpro Mobile Video Suite’s Live module streams to any RTMP device or web site directly from the iPhone. It can be accessed by clicking on the Live button on from the CTpro Mobile Video Suite Project screen. Live will sequence and play out any of the videos on the iPhone that are stored in the video folder of the Photos application. These can be freshly edited CTpro projects that have been compiled within the app to create the fully encapsulated QuickTime files. The Live tool can switch between the live camera input (Front or Rear) and the stored video during playback. This is even more remarkable when one takes into consideration that the output is done in CBR or in VBR whereby the stream automatically adapts to network congestion avoiding transmission problems.
Getting the app is easy – download it from the app store. Use it as you need it, subscribe either monthly or yearly. Support is built in. Use the extensive context-sensitive tutorials to learn the app and if you are in a pinch, use the built-in Teamviewer connection to exchange information with CTpro technical support. The demo version is the actual app without export capabilities. (The developers want to make some money as well.)
Integration? I’ve heard the word. I have seen the attempts. You have to mean it. Your development team has to mean it. You cannot retrofit it. It’s foundational. That’s why CTpro Mobile Video Suite is the only integrated, comprehensive and professional solution you will find. It takes your mind off “nerd development” and lets you concentrate on storytelling. Want to be the nerdiest person around? Buy a dozen other apps, attend a three-day course in learning how to use them. Want to be productive on day 1. Get CTpro Mobile Video Suite.