Upscale an Image Using AI

If you have old, low-res photos that you want to enhance and upscale or if you want to zoom in on a hi-res photo while preserving quality, you’ll be impressed with what artificial intelligence (AI) can do. Compare the following.

Original Photo

This photo was taken in Cairo, Egypt back in 1997. The original photo was 640 by 480 pixels. I’ve cropped it to focus on the subject. It’s now 238 px wide.

Photoshop

In Photoshop, you can increase the dimensions of an image. I’m going to enlarge it by 300% to 714 px wide.

Here are the results using the “Automatic” resampling option. Notice the graininess.

Now, I’ll do the same using the “Preserve Details (enlargement)” option with a 50% noise reduction.

Here are the results. It’s less grainy, but still not sharp at all.

I’ll try one more time. Below are the results with 100% noise reduction. Still not great.

Spyne AI Image Enhancer

Let’s see how well Spyne AI image enhancer does.

Here are the results. This is definitely an improvement compared to Photoshop.

Topaz Labs Photo AI

Now I’ll try Topaz Labs Photo AI 2.4.0. This software costs $200, so I’ve just taken a screenshot of the preview. As you can see, the results are way better than both Photoshop and Spyne. There is no noise and everything is sharp, including the hair. If the face looks a bit too soft, you can sharpen it in Photoshop under Filter > Sharpen.

So there you have it. Successfully upscaling an image using AI with realistic results.

How to Add Lower Thirds Motion Graphics in Adobe Premier Pro

A lower third is a text title or graphic overlay placed in the lower region of the screen. Motion Graphics templates are a file type (.mogrt) that can be created in After Effects or Premiere Pro. Here’s an example of a motion graphic lower third.

There are many motion graphic templates for lower thirds available online, e.g.

In this tutorial, I just get a free one from Mixkit.

Download MOGRT template

Download this free template and unzip it. You’ll get an mogrt file and an mp4 file showing how the animated title looks.

Add a video to your timeline in Premier Pro

Drag a video to the timeline pane.

Open the Essential Graphics pane

Click on Window > Essential Graphics. You’ll see the Essential Graphics pane on the right.

Install the mogrt file

In the Essential Graphics pane, click the “Install Motion Graphics template” button in the bottom right corner. Browse to the mogrt file and click Open. The template will appear at the top of the list of templates in the Essential Graphics pane.

Drag the template to the timeline

I dragged it to the V2 track.

Edit the template

Double-click the motion graphics clip in the timeline (pink bar) to edit the template. Depending on the template, you can edit the text, colors, size, positioning, etc.

Preview the lower thirds title

Click the play to preview the lower thirds animated title. You may find the duration to be too short.

Extend the duration of the lower thirds title

Move the playhead in the timeline to the point where the title text is fully shown and not moving. At that point, right-click on the motion graphic clip in the video track (pink bar) and click on “Insert Frame Hold Segment”.

This will split all clips at that timestamp and the motion graphic clip will be split such that you can extend the middle subclip, which is the clip containing the frame showing the full title text, to increase the duration of the title. You will need to move the right subclip of the animated title to the right to make room to extend the duration of the middle subclip.

For the split video clip, just drag the right clips toward the left clip.

You may end up with something like this.

Preview the animated lower thirds title. If it looks good, export the video. Otherwise, tweak the title further.

Remove an Object, Text or Watermark from a Video Using Adobe After Effects Content-Aware Fill

The video below has some text added to it.

Video with overlaid text / watermark

The video below is the same video but with the text removed.

Same video with text / watermark removed

We can remove objects like text and watermarks from videos using Adobe After Effects (AE) content-aware fill feature. Here’s how I did it for the video above.

1. Open your video in Adobe After Effects

Choose “New Composition From Footage” and select your video.

2. Shorten work area

The content-aware fill takes a long time to process. To speed up testing, shorten the work area to a 2-second section by dragging the blue start and end markers on the timeline.

3. Create a mask

Click a tool like the pen tool and create a mask area around the object (in this case, text) you want to remove.

4. Adjust mask settings

In the video track, expand the Masks and select “Subtract”. For the Mask Feature, choose 20 pixels for the vertical and horizontal feather. For the Mask Expansion, choose 20 pixels as well. Play with these settings until you find values that produce good results.

These changes cause the mask to look like this

5. Adjust content-aware fill settings

If the content-aware fill pane isn’t open, open it by going to Window > Content-Aware Fill.

For the alpha expansion, I set the value to 13. You can experiment with different values.

For the fill method, choose “Object”.

For the range, choose “Work Area” because we only want to apply the fill to the short 2-second work area for now.

Click the “Generate Fill Layer” button. You will be asked to save the project if you haven’t already done so. You will then see AE analyze and generate the fill layer.

You will see the fill layer above the video layer in the list of tracks / layers.

6. Preview the content-aware fill layer

Click the play button in the preview pane to preview the content-aware fill.

This is how it looks for me. I think that looks good. If it doesn’t look good, go back and tweak some of the previous settings and try again.

7. Apply content-aware fill to the entire range containing the text to remove

Move the blue start and end work area markers to the beginning and end where the object / text you want to remove.

Disable the test content-aware fill layer by toggling the eye icon.

In the content-aware fill pane, click “Generate Fill Layer”. AE will create a new content-aware fill layer above our test layer. If the work area duration is long, this will take time to process.

Content-are fill will go through an analyzing phase followed by a rendering phase.

8. Preview complete content-aware fill effect

Click the play button in the preview pane again to see how the fill effect looks in the entire clip. If it looks good, you can export the video.

9. Export the video

Click File > Export > Add to Render Queue.

If the output location is unspecified, choose an Output To location. Then click the Render button.

Update: Use a reference frame for better results. The more reference frames, the better the results.

Create an Animated Travel Map Using Keynote

In this post, I’ll show you how to make an animated travel map like the one below using Apple Keynote.

1. Get an image of a map

I usually just go to Google Maps, zoom in/out to the area I want to show, then take a screenshot. In this example, I took a screenshot of the USA because I want to show an animated flight path from San Francisco to Miami.

2. Crop map and optionally add labels

Open the screenshot in an image editor (I use Photoshop) and crop to your target video resolution. My target resolution is 1920 x 1080 (standard HD). I also added some red dots where the start and end points will be as well as some city labels.

3. Get a transparent image of a plane, car, train, boat, etc

Since I want to show an airplane animate along a path, I looked for an image of one in Google Images. The background should be transparent. In Google Images, you can choose Tools > Color > Transparent to find images on a transparent background.

I chose this image.

4. Create a blank Keynote presentation

Open Apple Keynote and choose the basic white theme.

You will get a single slide. Select and delete everything in the slide.

5. Insert background map

Go to Media > Choose and select the background map.

6. Draw a path

Go to Insert > Line > Draw With Pen and draw your travel path.

Click on the start point then click on the end point. You will get a straight line.

In the middle of the line, there will be a point. Click and drag it up if you want to create a curve. Repeat with other midpoints as necessary.

When you’re done, hit the ESC key. We now have our travel path. Let’s change the style of the path. I’m going to make it red and thick. In the right pane, under Format > Style, you can edit the style of the element (curve). I choose a red color that is 7 pt thick.

7. Animate the path

In the top right corner, choose the Animate tab and then “Add an Effect” > “Line Draw”.

You can then change the default animation from 2 seconds. I changed the duration to 10 seconds so that in my video editor, I can slow it down without it appearing jumpy. I also changed the acceleration to “None”.

Click the “Preview” button to preview the path animation.

8. Add the airplane image

As in step 5, go to Media > Choose and select the airplane image.

Scale the airplane by dragging one of the corners. Drag the airplane to position it at the start point.

Rotate the airplane. In the top right choose Format > Arrange and adjust the rotation value such that the nose of the plane is aligned with the flight path.

9. Animate the airplane

In the top right, click Animate > Action > Add an Effect > Move.

Drag the airplane to the end point. Set the duration and acceleration to match that of the flight path (10 sec, None).

Click Preview to preview the animation. The airplane doesn’t yet follow the flight path. Check the “Align to path” checkbox. A point will appear along the line between the airplane’s start and end points. Drag that middle point to where the flight path is.

Click Preview again. You will see the airplane animate along the flight path.

10. Animate the flight path and airplane at the same time

In the top right, click Animate > Build Out > Build Order.

You will see a list of all animation effects. The first animation is the line (flight path). The second is the plane. Choose te second animation and then under “Start”, select “With Build 1”.

11. Export the animation

Choose File > Export To > Movie.

Since there’s only 1 slide, you can leave “Slides” to “All. The resolution should match that of the background image (1080p).

Insta360 X2/X3 Filming Tips

Timelapse Videos

You can create timelapse videos using the Insta360 ONE X2/3. The resulting timelapse will be a 360-degree video that you can edit the same way you can non-timelapse videos. Unfortunately, the interval setting between when a picture is taken to create the timelapse can only be set from your phone. The interval options are 0.5s, 1s, 2s, 4s, 10s, 30s, 1min, 2min. Note that standard video is 29.97s, which is like making a timelapse video where the interval between still images is 1/29.97s or 0.03s. According to this timelapse calculator, if you film for 8 hours straight (event duration) with a shooting interval of 0.5s, then the camera will take 57600 photos. If you want the resulting timelapse video to have a frame rate of 29.97 fps, then the resulting timelapse video duration will be 32m 2s long.

Here are the number of photos and video durations for an 8-hour event duration for the shooting intervals supported by the ONE X2.

IntervalNumber of PhotosVideo Duration
0.5s5760032m 2s
1s2880016m 1s
2s144008m
4s72004m
10s28801m 36s
30s96032s
1min48016s
2min2408s

I wouldn’t choose a timelapse interval greater than 10s since an 8-hour-long filming session would produce a video that’s longer than 1m 36s. If 1m 36s is too long, then in post-production, whether in Insta360 Studio or some other video editing program, you can speed up the timelapse to produce an even shorter video.

The battery that comes with the Insta360 ONE X2 is good for 80 minutes. You can buy additional batteries, but if you’ll be recording a long timelapse video, it would be annoying to have to keep changing the battery every 80 minutes. In this case, you’re better off recording with the USB charging cable plugged in. To prevent overheating, remove the battery. The camera can still operate and record while plugged in.

When taking a 360-degree timelapse video, make sure the following options are set

360-degree mode (not 150-degree mode)

Left to right: 360-degree mode, panorama mode, 150-degree wide-angle mode

Video timelapse mode

Slow Motion Videos

If you want to make a slow-motion video, e.g. a real estate tour video, then you definitely want to record at a high frame rate like 60 fps. Then, in your video editor, slow down the video and export it at 30 or 60 fps. If the original video is recorded at 30 fps, then the slowed-down video will be choppy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ywQnh2gmX0

Action Videos

When filming action scenes, it’s better to record at a high frame rate so that playback will be sharp, more fluid, and not blurry.

Low-Light / Night Scenes

When filming in low light like at night, you’ll get much better results if you manually adjust the exposure.

ISO

ISO is a camera setting that will brighten or darken a photo.

However, if you increase the ISO too high, you’ll see a lot of grain.

You should only raise your ISO when you are unable to brighten the photo via shutter speed or aperture instead (for example, if using a longer shutter speed would cause your subject to be blurry). The ISO 200 image on the left was brightened with a long shutter speed.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is responsible for two particular things:

  • changing the brightness of your photo and
  • creating dramatic effects by either freezing action or blurring motion.

Shutter speed is the length of time in seconds the camera shutter is open, exposing light onto the camera sensor. Essentially, it’s how much time your camera spends taking a photo. When the shutter is open, light passes through the lens and is collected on the camera sensor. The button that fires the camera is also called “shutter” or “shutter button,”

Fast / Short Shutter Speed > Freezes Action

A fast shutter speed is a small fraction of a second, like 1/250th of a second.

Slow / Long Shutter Speed > Motion Blur

A long shutter speed is 1 second or longer. A slow shutter speed is like 1/2 or 1/4 of a second.

Shutter Speed and Exposure (Brightness)

If you use a long shutter speed, your camera sensor gathers a lot of light, and the resulting photo will be quite bright. If you use a quick shutter speed, your camera sensor is only exposed to a small fraction of light, resulting in a darker photo. 

The following flowchart can help you tweak the ISO and shutter speed.

Left: Manual Exposure. Right: Auto Exposure

Learn more

Invisible Selfie Stick

Insta360 offers some selfie sticks that will become invisible in your videos. I have 2 sticks

  1. 2-in-1 invisible selfie stick with tripod (3.4′ long)
  2. Extended edition selfie stick (10′ long)

Following are how some videos look when using each stick.

3.4′-long selfie stick, front, face level
10′-long selfie stick extended to about 5′, front, face level
3.4′-long selfie stick, front, stomach level
3.4′-long selfie stick, 45-degree angle, face level
3.4′-long selfie stick, side, face level
3.4′-long selfie stick, side, face level
3.4′-long selfie stick, front, feet level
3.4′-long selfie stick, straight up
10′-long selfie stick, straight up
10′-long selfie stick, up, back
10′-long selfie stick, up, side

10′-long selfie stick, front spin, face level
10′-long selfie stick, low to high, facing down
10′-long selfie stick, low to high, facing up

Selfie Drone

For comparison, following are some videos taken with the Hover Air X1 selfie drone.

Bird’s Eye, no spin, 10 feet
Bird’s Eye, no spin, 10 feet, return
Bird’s Eye, no spin, 50 feet
Bird’s Eye, no spin, 50 feet, return
Bird’s Eye, fast spin, 50 feet
Bird’s Eye, fast spin, 50 feet, return
Bird’s Eye, slow spin, 50 feet
Bird’s Eye, slow spin, 50 feet, return
Dolly track
Dolly track
Follow
Hover with target tracking
Orbit, 5 feet
Orbit, 20′
Zoom out, down
Zoom in, down, return
Zoom out, flat
Zoom in, flat
Zoom out, up
Zoom in, up
Zoom out, up, far
Zoom in, up, far

Lens Care

The Insta360 X2/X3 camera has protruding lenses on two sides. As such, the lenses can easily get scratched, so extreme care must be taken to prevent that from happening. Also, before shooting, you should always clean the lens to remove any dirt or fingerprints. A dirty lens can easily result in a blurry shot. Following are comparisons of image quality when different lens conditions.

Brand New and Clean Lens

The image quality is relatively sharp.

Brand New Lens But Full of Fingerprints

The image is blurry, especially around the lights.

Scratched But Clean Lens

Despite being cleaned with a new cloth, the image is partially blurry due to the scratched part of the lens.

3rd-Person Pan

High-Up Shot

Freestyle

Hyperlapse

Rise-Up Reveal

Upward Tilt

Various Action Camera Mounts & Accessories

Here’s a collection of mounts for action cameras like the Insta360 X3 that I’ve found useful. These accessories can mostly be used with other cameras as well.

Flat C Clamp

This particular clamp has a 2.36″ max width opening and many 1/4″ screws around it. It’s useful for clamping to a flat surface.

Example Use Cases

  • Clamp to a table
  • Clamp to railing

Buy on Amazon

Curved Clamp

This clamp is lightweight. Since it’s curved, it’s ideal for clamping to cylindrical objects like bike handlebars. You can connect it to a long selfie stick or a 1/4″ rod that accepts a 1/4″ screw.

Example Use Cases

  • Clamp to a bike handlebar with or without a short selfie stick or rod

Buy on Amazon (clamp, rod)

Adjustable-Angle Selfie Stick Clamp

This clamp is designed for fishing poles, but it can be used for selfie sticks because selfie sticks are like fishing poles. You can adjust the angle of the stick.

Example Use Cases

  • Secure to cruise ship railing and insert 10′ selfie stick to get drone-like footage.

Buy on Amazon

Flexible Rod

This flexible rod is 20″ long. One end has a female 1/4″ screw opening and the other has a male 1/4″ screw.

Example Use Cases

  • Wrap around a large or irregular shape like a tree branch, hand rail, or large cylindrical object.

Buy on Amazon

Short (6-8″) Selfie Stick

This short selfie stick is great because it’s small enough to completely fit in some pockets.

Example Use Cases

  • Sliding down waterslides
  • Playing in a swimming pool

Buy on Amazon

Alternative: Insta360 Mini 2-in-1 Tripod for X3 GO 3 ONE RS and ONE R

Medium (3.4′) Invisible Selfie Stick With Tripod and Invisible Quick Release Adapter

This selfie stick is invisible when used with the Insta360 X3 camera. To quickly attach and remove an Insta360 X3 camera, use the invisible quick release adapter designed specifically for the Insta360 X3.

Example Use Cases

  • Walking around
  • Placing it on the floor / ground using the tripod while you perform an activity, e.g. painting a room

When walking, I find it best to keep the camera at face level, unless you want to create some interesting perspectives like positioning the camera near your feet.

Buy on Amazon

Long (10′) Invisible Selfie Stick

This incredibly long selfie stick will make it seem like you’re photos and videos were taken using a drone.

Example Use Cases

  • Whenever you want to simulate taking photos and videos using a drone, e.g.
    • extending it our from the balcony of a cruise ship
    • walking along the beach to get bird’s eye views
    • holding it while being in the water at a beach
    • holding it against your shoulder with it extended behind you

Buy on Amazon

1/4″ camera screw

If you’re worried about dropping your selfie stick and losing it, you can attach a 1/4″ camera screw to the bottom of it and a wrist lanyard to the screw.

Buy on Amazon (1/4″ camera screw, lanyard)

Invisible Quick Release Adapter

To quickly attach and remove an Insta360 X3 camera, use the invisible quick release adapter designed specifically for the Insta360 X3.

Buy on Amazon

Tripod Stand 1/4” Mounting Screw

If you can’t mount the Insta360 camera to something, then you can stand it on the ground by attaching a tripod to a selfie stick.

Buy on Amazon

Forearm Mount

Having a selfie stick extended away from you allows you to get shots that look as if someone is filming you. You can also get more of yourself in the shot. In certain situations, however, you may not be able to hold the stick in your hand. That’s when having a forearm mount comes in handy. Since no one makes these, I had to engineer one myself using a forearm brace and an adjustable clamp.

Materials

The brace comes with a thin aluminum bar that is inserted in a pocket at the top of the brace. Using a utility knife, I had to make minor incisions to be able to insert the clamp into and underneath the aluminum bar.

At the front of the brace, I wasn’t able to slide the clamp underneath the bar, so I trimmed the bar to make it a bit narrower.

Like this.

This is the finished product.

The metal bar and clamp can cause discomfort on the top of your hand, especially when the selfie stick is extended and is shaking up and down. To address this, you can simply slide a dishwashing sponge above your hand as shown below to act as a cushion.

Example Use Cases

  • Any time you want to extend the selfie stick and you can’t mount it on something else and you need your hands free, e.g.
    • when you are driving a jet ski

Wrist Mount

If the forearm mount is unavailable or can’t be used, then you can use a wrist mount. This is not as good as the forearm mount because the distance from the camera to your face is just the length of your arm extended.

Example Use Cases

  • when ziplining
  • when you are driving a jet ski
  • sliding down water slides

Buy on Amazon

Chest Mount

This mount is great because it’s hands-free, but you can’t film yourself with it.

If you are afraid of the camera falling despite the strong magnet, you can loop an adjustable neck lanyard to the GoPro mount screw as follows.

Example Use Cases

  • when walking around and you don’t want to make it obvious that you are filming people and/or you want your hands free
  • when boarding an airplane and walking down the aisle

Buy on Amazon

Bicycle / Motorcycle Mount

This mount is very sturdy, but the handlebar clamp opening may be too big for some handlebars. In that situation, you can wrap some rubber around the handlebar, which will also protect it from damage. This mount includes the selfie stick.

Example Use Cases

  • when riding a bicycle or motorcycle

Buy on Amazon (handlebar mount, 2″-wide rubber strip)

Note: when mounting to a bike, I find it better to position the mount such that the camera is at face level.

Glass or Window Mount

This mount can stick to a glass very firmly. You can also rotate the mount in many directions.

Example Use Cases

  • mount to a car windshield or window
  • mount to a bathroom mirror

Buy on Amazon

Magnetic Mount + Rigid 1/4″ Rods

This mount has a small footprint and includes a very strong magnet. You can add one or more 1/4″ rods to it. I find this setup particularly useful when eating at a restaurant. The mount doesn’t take a lot of space and it positions the camera high enough that you can film everyone’s food and their faces.

This mount can also stick to any metal surface like the side of a refrigerator.

Example Use Cases

  • on a table at a restaurant
  • on any magnetic surface

Buy on Amazon (magnetic base, 1/4″ rods)

Straps

If you’re out and about and want to stand your selfie stick on the ground, you can easily do that with the 3.4′ stick with built-in tripod. But, if you try that with 10′-long selfie stick extended at max length, then there’s the risk of it falling and destroying your camera. In this case, one thing you can do is strap the stick against an object like a rail. You can also try to use a c-clamp to clamp onto something flat and then strap the selfie stick to the clamp.

There are many adjustable and removable straps you can use, including

MicroSD Card

According to the Insta360 ONE X2 manual, you must use a UHS-I Micro SD card with a V30 or above speed class and exFAT format. UHS-II and UHS-III Micro SD/TF cards are not compatible with ONE X2. You can find V30 cards on Amazon. Note that the U3 symbol in the image below doesn’t mean UHS-III but rather U3. According to Wikipedia, U3 has to do with software rather than speed.

The cards below have been tested to work well with ONE X2 and X3.

SD CardModel NumberCapacitySpeed Class
Sandisk Extreme V30 A1SDSQXVF-032G-GN6MA32GV30
Sandisk Extreme Pro V30 A1SDSQXCG-032G-GN6MA32GV30
Sandisk Extreme Pro V30 A1SDSQXCG-064G-GN6MA64GV30
Sandisk Extreme V30 A1SDSQXAF-128G-GN6MA128GV30
Sandisk Extreme V30 A2SDSQXAF-128G-GN6MA64GV30
Sandisk Extreme V30 A2SDSQXA1-256G-ZN6MA256GV30
Sandisk Extreme Pro V30 A2SDSQXCZ-1T00-ZN6MA1TBV30

The first character of the 3rd part of the model number may differ, e.g. “G” in GN6MA vs “Z” in ZN6MA. According to this forum, that just identifies a different manufacturer.

The last character of the 3rd part of the model number may differ, e.g. “A” in GN6MA vs “N” in GN6MN. “A” means it comes with an adapter and “N” means it doesn’t.

SanDisk MobileMate USB 3.0 microSD Card Reader

Transferring video files from the Insta360 ONE X2 to your computer can be really slow. To speed this up, use a USB 3 card reader. I use this one: SanDisk MobileMate USB 3.0 microSD Card Reader- SDDR-B531-GN6NN. It supports transfer speeds of up to 170 MB/s. With USB 3.0, move content up to 10x faster than USB 2.0 readers.

Extra Batteries + External Charger

The battery that comes with the Insta360 ONE X2 is good for 80 minutes. It may be a good idea to buy additional batteries just in case. I bought a pack of 2 batteries on Amazon. It comes with a charger and the batteries work.

Mount Adapter

For the adapters, this one is better because you can tighten it with the camera facing any direction you want.

Waterproof Pouches

When you’re swimming, having a waterproof pouch to keep your camera dry can give you peace of mind. Though the pouches pictured below are for phones, they fit the Insta360 X2/3 cameras as well.

Buy on Amazon

How to Customize a Hat with Appliques / Patches

While there are many services that let you buy a hat and customize it, you may not like the style, quality or fit of the hat. Also, you are limited in how you can customize it. In this post, I explain how I customized a hat I already own. Since I’m planning to go on a cruise, I wanted a hat that kinda looked like a captain’s hat. My preferred hat is a black cap that I get at a nearby mall.

I wanted to customize it with design elements from the captain hat shown below.

After much research, trial and error, I ended up with this:

Here’s how I made it.

Materials

  1. Scrambled Eggs, Embroidered, Iron on Patch (Metallic Gold)
  2. Gold Star Embroidered, Iron on Patch
  3. E6000 adhesive
  4. Gold buttons (similar to this)
  5. Sewing pins

Instructions

  1. Place the patches on the hat and secure using sewing pins.
  2. When you know where the patches should go, put sewing pins in hat at certain points along perimeter of patches to guide where the patches should go.
  3. Add glue to the back of the patches and place patches on hat.
  4. Insert sewing pins into hat through patches to secure patches in place. If necessary, clamp patches to hat using a clamp.
  5. Decide where to put the gold buttons.
  6. Drill hold in hat where gold buttons would go.
  7. Fasten gold buttons to hat via the holes you just created.

For the buttons, I actually took mine off of a cheap hat I had bought on Amazon. The buttons have 2 flat metal pins that can be folded to secure the buttons.

Editing Home Improvement Videos

There are many different ways you can edit home improvement videos. Here are some:

Make a Video From Photos

This is pretty simple to do. You can just add a bunch of photos to the video track of your video editor, animate each photo (many video editors can do this automatically), add some music to the music/audio track, and render the video. The result can be pretty good but it doesn’t really give a sense of the amount of effort or process involved. Here’s an example clip.

Regular 1x Speed Video

If you have a short video, leaving the speed at normal 1x speed might be okay. But, if your video is long, people will get bored very quickly. Since most home improvement projects take longer than 30 seconds, I don’t recommend this option, unless you are maybe adding a voiceover that explains what you are doing in the video.

Fast Speed (Timelapse) Video

Another option is to just timelapse the entire video. Some home improvement projects can take all day. Many people, including myself, will just leave a camera somewhere that will take many still photos at a set interval to create a timelapse video. You can also record an entire day’s worth of video, which I’ve also done using a WyzeCam mounted on a wall. Timelapsing an entire video is as easy as speeding up the video clip. The downside is the audio is also sped up and often doesn’t sound good so you usually mute the audio and optionally add some background music. Here’s an example.

Mixed-Speed Video

Another option is to timelapse (speed up) certain parts of the video and leave the other parts at regular 1x speed. This is definitely more work but I personally find this better than just speeding up the entire video. However, I find the best effect is when the regular speed segments are ones that have a high volume, e.g. when you’re using a tool that makes a lot of noise (drilling, jackhammering, cutting, etc). Here’s an example.

I normally use Corel VideoStudio to edit videos but for this purpose, I find Shotcut to be easier to use. Shotcut, which is free, shows the waveform very clearly, runs faster and hasn’t crashed on me yet. The UI takes some getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty simple to us. Here are the steps I follow in Shotcut to create this type of video:

  1. Open the original video in Shotcut
  2. Drag it from the player to the timeline
  3. Zoom in, if necessary, so that you can see the audio waveform
  4. Choose some or all segments where the waveform is high (high volume)
  5. Scrub the playhead until you find a segment where the waveform is high (high volume) and the segment is interesting to show at 1x speed
  6. Split the video at that playhead position.
  7. Move the playhead by where you want to end the segment. For 1x speed segments, I choose a duration of 1 second. You can advance the playhead by 1 second by going to “Player” > “Forward One Second”.
  8. Delete any segments you don’t want to keep (choose Ripple Delete to remove empty space as well)
  9. Click on a segment you want to speed up, click Properties, and change the speed. I choose 5x.
  10. Click the Export button, select “Timeline” in the From field, and click “Export File”.
I changed the speed of this segment to 5x.

Video Showing Only Selection of 1-second Segments

Another option is to create a video from a selection of 1-second segments. Some segments will probably have high volume, e.g. drilling, jackhammering, cutting, etc. , Others may not, e.g. lifting, cleaning, drawing lines, etc. Again, I find this much easier to do in Shotcut than in Corel VideoStudio. Here’s an example.

Here’s how I do it in Shotcut:

  1. Open the original video in Shotcut
  2. Drag it from the player to the timeline
  3. Zoom in, if necessary, so that you can see the audio waveform
  4. Scrub the playhead until you find an interesting segment
  5. Split the video at that position
  6. Move the playhead forward or backward by 1 second (“Player” > “Forward One Second” or “Backward One Second”.)
  7. Split the video again to create a one-second clip
  8. Repeat steps 4-7
  9. Delete all other segments (choose Ripple Delete to remove empty space as well)
  10. Click the Export button, select “Timeline” in the From field, and click “Export File”
I reduced this 3-minute long video to 3 seconds (each segment is 1-second long) where the volume was high.

Merging Clips

If you end up with a bunch of video clips that you want to merge and you don’t need to apply any transitions or effects, you can merge them almost instantly with LosslessCut.

Strong, Waterproof Glue: Liquid Nails Fuze-It Max VS Loctite PL Marine

I wanted to find a glue that was simple to use, not too expensive, was very strong, and would maintain its strength in wet conditions. There are many glue options to choose from. I ended up choosing two popular brands: Liquid Nails and Loctite. For each brand, I chose either the strongest option or the option that was designed for wet environments. I didn’t include epoxy in my test because I didn’t want to mix two parts together and apply the mixture using a stick. Below are the two options I chose.

I first glued a piece of 2×4 to a concrete landscape block.

After waiting 1.5 to 2 days to fully cure, I attached each piece of wood to a chain to suspend the wood / concrete block combo in the air.

After 2 days, both adhesives kept the wood attached to the concrete block. I then wanted to see if water would affect the bond. I submerged each test in water without having it touch the bottom of the bucket of water.

LeftL Fuze-it | Right: PL Marine

After 12 hours, the wood pieces were still connected to the concrete blocks. But, after 23 hours, the Liquid Nails Fuze-It MAX lost its strength and the wood piece became disconnected from the concrete block.

Left: Fuze-It MAX, Right: PL Marine

So, the winner is Loctite PL Marine, although if you are gluing something in a dry environment, Liquid Nails Fuze-It MAX is probably sufficient. Unsurprisingly, the Marine adhesive is stronger both in dry and wet environments, including while being completely submerged in water.