[TECH REVIEW] During Black Friday, beauty and makeup was the largest growth sector – and that’s during a pandemic. What are all these gorgeous women doing with this makeup, one might wonder?
But when you see how we have been forced online, are hibernating inside social media platforms, have migrated onto Zoom calls, or side hustled into online businesses, you can understand that there is big business in content sharing, especially via video. Zoom exploded from 30 million users to 300 million in just a single year. And now, with South Africa’s second wave already seeing us break through 8 000 cases per day, new lockdown restrictions are being introduced more frequently.
My point? Despite the promise of a vaccine, 2021 seems as uncertain as 2020 was. Even within this depressing reality, many still made the very best of a bad situation and shifted their spare bedrooms to offices, delivering webinars, vlogs, online courses and more. These days almost everyone is, or at least has the potential to be, a self-publisher, course creator or influencer.
This pivot (sorry to use the most overused term of 2020) has coincided with the smart device’s revolution in quality, and even affordability. We are seeing the new iPhone 12 for those who can afford, or new smart device entrants like Vivo or Oppo.
Interestingly, alongside the host of functions and bonuses that have launched, Apple’s new iPhone 12 has been declared as its most robust. These phones may not meet the premium standard of a high spec video camera, but what they can do in a small package, without being so fragile, is changing the game in the video and mobile journalism industry.
There is no secret in the industry that social media content, online courses, or other storytelling formats require a steady camera, good sound, and the right lighting. But, increasingly, it also requires flexibility, mobility, so portability of that microphone and light is mighty useful if you are trying to offer the services akin to a professional-grade production studio.
A neat bundle of efficiency, The Padcaster Verse was named for its versatility. It’s an intelligent turnkey solution for filmmakers, video bloggers, mobile journalists, photographers, educators, live-streamers and content creators everywhere.
Complete with a rugged Grip and Cage, Verse is a perfect fit in two hands or one. No fidgeting. No fuss. Click in, record, click out, edit. In other words, most people that have been forced to adapt in the pandemic. It allows for a large range of smartphone sizes and even allows it to stay in the phone’s case if you prefer.
When I reviewed an Osmo Plus last year, I tightened the smartphone into the clamp too tightly and it cracked the (hideously expensive) glass case of the phone. The grip, which fits the hand well, doesn’t have to stand inside the frame only, but can be added to the top of your fluid tripod if you prefer. The modularity of the design and function of the kit has been intelligently thought through.
Its mini microphone comes with a rather professional looking outdoor windscreen, as well as TRS and TRRS cables too, means it can be used on smartphones and DSLR and audio recorders, and requires no batteries.
The kit comes with an XPod and a GPod, with the Xpod acting as the hero stand, and allowing the three legs to be clutched together to create a pistol grip. One of the stand’s three legs has USB charging which delivers power from a stored 3300 mAh battery.
Given the failing battery life of my iPhone XS Max, now beyond 18 months old, it’s proven to be rather handy. The other (second USB port) can be used for other accessories including a rather cute microlight to help you see your way around, although it isn’t strong enough for lighting a subject’s face. (The flexible GPod works nicely more for uneven surfaces, or to wrap around something, but I haven’t needed to use it that much).
It has 12 standard threads and four cold shoe mounts to add accessories as well as a safety button to lock the smartphone into place, as well robust claws that are tightened onto rubber pads so that your phone isn’t damaged.
All in all, I have been greatly impressed by the slick intelligence of how this kit functions. So far I have used it for creation for our media education course at www.MySociaLife, as well as for vlogs on Linkedin, and even used it to handle a Zoom call with a client in China while sitting on the side of the road during a business trip. Mobility and flexibility may well prove to be the goose that lays the golden egg this decade. The very reason for the easy demise of the office in this last year. Who would have guessed it?
But there’s an additional kicker. Lockdown has also improved the output and service of many ecommerce suppliers. For this particular review, I worked with Padcaster in the US who were very welcoming and open, and interacted with their local distributor, Pro Gear South Africa, who were so communicative, efficient and punctual, I twice commended them by email for their highly responsive agility. You can’t say that happens every day.
With 20 years experience as a media strategist for industry leaders, and owner of journalism hub, MediawebSA, Dean McCoubrey possesses vast experience and insight into news media, the app landscape, smart technology and social media. He has turned two decades of expertise towards his Digital Life Skills & Media Literacy’ Programme for teens and pre-teens, MySociaLife.
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