Author Archives: Hal

Filming in Cuba

I was cleaning my desk the other day and stumbled on some old film negatives that I had never printed. Since I had just written an article about Transferring Negatives and Transparencies, I wanted to scan these long lost negatives right away and see what I was missing. Many were B&W art shots of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, New York City. But there was one intriguing 35mm color negative that had nearly been lost in the edges of my old roll-top desk. I blew the dust off and cleaned the negative.

I couldn’t tell just what I had so I popped open the flatbed scanner and set the scanner to work. Here’s what I found:

Filming In Cuba That’s me, Hal Landen, on the left looking up at the camera. Alan Schneider is on the right in sunglasses. Five down on the left is Jan-Michael Vincent. Circa 1978-79

We were in Havana, Cuba filming a scuba dive on the Cayman Wall with actors Jan-Michael Vincent and Deborah Raffin for The American Sportsman.

As I recall this was a very deep dive which they took slowly going down and even more slowly coming up. I was not filming the underwater scenes, but topside. I took a scuba lesson in the swimming pool the day before, but that’s all I knew about Scuba Diving. I do recall snorkling and diving down to where some of the divers were waiting. I was buddy breathing with their tanks so I could stay down longer. And then I started coming up. I could see the divers below frantically waving at me. I waved back not realizing they were trying to tell me to exhale as I ascended.

What a fool I was. I could have died from rising too quickly and not exhaling. Lesson learned – a one hour lesson in the pool is not enough. Cuba was fascinating and this was long before Americans could travel there. I think we had special journalist visas. The American cars from the 1940s that they kept running against all odds. Not to mention having Mojitos in Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar La Bodeguita del Medio. I seem to recall a tiny table and a dirt floor, but in any case the Mojitos were wonderous. I later learned that this may have been a publicity stunt dreamed up by the owner of the bar.

While some of the details of the trip may have faded or morphed, for the last 40 years I have boasted of that night drinking numerous Mojitos in Hemingway’s bar in Havana.

We later toured his house where you could see where he wrote and touch the actual typewriter he used.

Photographer of the Year

Photographer of the Year

Photographer of the Year

Image credit: Dr Fong Chan Onn

The Societies of Photographers is a group of UK photo organizations. The Society has awarded Dr Fong Chan Onn from Malaysia the prestigious Photographer of the Year 2019 award. Dr Fong Chan Onn, a former cabinet minister in Malaysia, is 76 years old. His photo depicts a family from Yuanyang, China. The judges commented, “This image and its huge impact held the judge’s attention for a long time. You can almost smell the smoke in the room. A travel image that will stand the test of time.”

The photo was chosen from a field of 11,320 images that entered the contest in 2019.

Videos in Google Photos Breached

Google admitted it may have accidentally sent some users’ private videos to strangers after a bug impacted its Photos service.

While Google says less than 0.01 percent of users were affected, the user base of Google Photos is over one billion users. So 10 million people’s videos are at risk. Here’s the email Google sent to those affected accounts who used Google Takeout, a software service that allows Google Photos users to download their data:

We are writing to inform you of a technical issue that affected the Google ‘Download Your Data’ service for Google Photos between November 21, 2019 and November 25, 2019, when it was fixed:

Between November 21, 2019 and November 25, 2019, our records show you requested a Google ‘Download You Data’ export which included Google Photos content.

Unfortunately during this time, some videos in Google Photos were incorrectly exported to unrelated users’ archives. One of more videos in your Google Photos account was affected by this issue.

If you downloaded your data, it may be incomplete, and it may contain videos that are not yours.

The underlying issue has been identified and resolved. We recommend you perform another export of your content and delete your prior export at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. For further assistance, contact Google Support. Please ensure you are signed into the correct account when contacting support.
If you were one of the affected users in this breach, Google sent you one or more additional followup emails.

Photoshop For iPad

Photoshop for iPad

Photoshop For iPad

Photoshop For iPad

Photoshop for iPad was re-designed from the ground up. It is now a touch based app where it was mouse and keyboard based before. On the left side of the screen are the tools, although this initial release is missing some features like the Pen Tool which draws vector-based shapes.

This product is not intended to be a complete version of Photoshop for the desktop. The Photoshop CC app for iPad allows users to open and edit PSD files giving it cross platform functionality. Adobe will in teh near future add some more features like rotate canvas, custom brushes and fonts, smart objects, grids and guides.

But like the current Photoshop, Photoshop for iPad is a subscription based software. It will not be available for outright purchase. Here’s the Adobe link which includes a free trial of Photoshop for iPad. The full release of Photoshop for iPad will be available by the end of 2019.

A better value is probably Affinity Photo from Serif Labs. $9.99 This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices.

Make Vinyl Records At Home

Make Vinyl Records At Home

Make Vinyl Records At Home

The Phonocut is an analog vinyl lathe which makes vinyl records and costs $1100.

The machine cuts 10 inch vinyl records with 10 to 15 minutes of stereo analog audio on each side. The lathe can also cut 7 inch records. The blank records will cost about $10 each, but discounts will be available for quantity purchases. The vinyl records are as durable as commercial records. Any turntable will play these records. An audio machine with an 1/8″ stereo mini jack can be source. A wireless version is in development.

The Phonocut is approximately 14 x 12 x 10 inches.

The copyright laws apply to the records just as they do when you make a mix tape. Phonocut will pay artists a Private Copying Levy as a part of the sale of each PHONOCUT and PHONOCUT blank disc.

How To Make A Vinyl Record

1) Place the Vinyl blank on the platter
2) Connect to the music input of your choice
3) Press the start button

Pre-orders are available on Kickstarter. The Phonocut Company is located in Vienna, Austria.

Check out the best value Audio-Technica turntable on Amazon.

Costco Video Transfers vs Mine

Here’s what Mimi Stevens wrote in a Google review of my service, “Recently received a couple of reels from my aunt, of my dad as a baby. I took those to Costco. They use an outside service called Yes Video. I was not happy with the transfer. In some parts the top half of the picture was on the bottom, and the bottom on the top.

Because of this experience we called a cousin for a recommendation for the rest of the reels. Hal came highly recommended and he did not disappoint. We are very happy with his work and the service he provided. Easy to get a hold of and discuss things. Pretty quick turnaround too.”

Read the Google Review.

I enjoy helping people preserve their family history from videos, films, slides, photos and more. For additional information see Transfer Your Videos.

Or call me Hal Landen at 401 253 2800. (9 – 5 EST, M – F). Thank you.

Drone Killer

Drone Killer: A Drone That Shoots Drones

Mount a shotgun on a drone. What could possibly go wrong? A Russian defense contractor has patented a 50 pound drone that uses an automatic shotgun to shoot other drones out of the sky. The shotgun has a 10-round magazine. Fortunately the drone is not autonomous. It requires an operator who wears a video visor. This enables the operator to fly the drone and aim the weapon. The shotgun is in the nose of the aircraft. The wider pattern of a shotgun compared to a rifle or pistol makes it easier to hit the target. This drone killer has an auto-follow system that takes over after the drone locks onto a target.

Drone Killer

It looks more like an airplane, but takes off and lands vertically like a conventional quadcopter. This prototype drone killer was built by the “Student Design Bureau of Aviation Modeling” at the Moscow Aviation Institute. It’s similar to a drone made for mining companies, farmers and pipeline surveyors. As one YouTuber commented “It’s amazing how passionate humans get about inventing new ways to murder each other.”

A smarter use of drones is the mini drone for under $30.

Marvel Movies

$1K to BingeWatch 20 Movies

Marvel Movies

If you love Marvel movies and want to make some extra cash, here’s a dream gig for you. is looking for someone to binge-watch all 20 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies back-to-back ahead of next month’s release of “Avengers: Endgame.” You will binge-watch more than 40 hours of Marvel movies. The binge watcher will be paid $1,000 cash and lots of Marvel prizes.

The requirements: you must 18 years or more, a US citizen. They also want a Marvel fanatic with an outgoing social media personality who would enthusiastically tweet while binge watching the Marvel movies. There’s no sleeping till “Endgame.” For complete details and an application form see the complete posting at Applications will be accepted until April 15.

Protect Videos

Protecting Video From Manipulation

Protect Videos

Video from security cameras, body cams and many other sources is important evidence for law enforcement.

But this once sacrosanct medium is easily manipulated. Right now you can download free software that uses machine learning to perform a convincing digital video face-swap. See Changing Faces.This free software utilizes deep learning to recognize and swap faces in pictures and videos. And the software is getting better.

This presents a real problem for legal matters. Is the video true or false?
There’s a new tool that can tell for sure. It’s called Amber Authenticate./ The application runs in the background on any video capturing device. At regular intervals, it generates “hashes” which are cryptographically scrambled representations of the video data. These hashes are indelibly recorded on a public blockchain. If you run that same video clip through the algorithm again, the hashes will be different if anything has changed in the file’s audio or video data—tipping you off to possible manipulation.

The interval between hashes is a critical aspect of the technology. If, for instance, you set the interval to every second on a small business surveillance camera that would be overkill. But if the interval were set to every 30 seconds on a police body camera, there is too much that could be changed to mislead people. So the operator must choose the interval carefully.

When a video is entered into evidence it’s really hard to say what’s a fake. Just look at computer generated imagery in feature films. It’s pretty hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. Detection is not a sure thing. But with Amber Authenticate either the hash matches or it doesn’t, and it’s all publicly verifiable through the blockchain.
The technology has attracted the interest of the Department of Homeland Security and many others.

Amber Authenticate is built on the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum. It includes a web platform that makes it visually simple to determine if a video clip has been manipulated. A green frame appears around footage that matches its hashes. A red frame appears around any part that does not match the hash. Amber Authenticate also shows a detailed audit trail that lists when a file was originally created, uploaded, hashed, and submitted to the blockchain.

Now it’s up to manufacturer’s of security cameras and body cams to license the technology and install it on their video devices.

Scanning Art Object

Scanning the Original Tomb of Tutankhamun

Scanning Art Object

This company operates a Renaissance-type workshop, but uses 21st century tools. They scan original ancient art objects like the original tomb of Tutankhamen. Then they print it with 3D printers.

These copies are better than the originals. You can see the surface of the tomb better in the digital files than you can see with the naked eye on site. You can keep zooming in, so it’s like a doctor using a microscope.