Tag Archives: Audio

Frontier Homestead State Park Launches TourSphere Mobile Tour

12 May Tour Stop Sign

Self-Guided Tour Offers Visitors Detailed History of Museum and Collections

Tour Stop Sign

Visitors can take a self-guided tour at Frontier Homestead State Park powered by OnCell-TourSphere.

Cedar City, UT – Frontier Homestead State Park Museum is excited to announce it has launched a new mobile tour app. The new cell phone audio tour allows park visitors access to significantly more information about artifacts and exhibits, all through their mobile devices. With almost 60 stops, visitors can enjoy little known historic details and personal reflections of yesteryear. Not only does the tour encourage visitors to explore the park at their leisure, it also allows them to take away what they have learned by providing access to the tour long after their visit.

Opened in 1973, Frontier Homestead State Park Museum interprets the history of Iron County, horse-drawn transportation, and early iron production. Attractions include the main carriage gallery, pioneer crafts, gift shop, and historic cabins.

Comprised of 27 stops inside the museum and 33 stops on the park grounds, the tour offers a glimpse into the history of Iron County, including rare wagons and carriages, historic buildings, and the realities of life on the frontier.

“We wanted to tell the story of each of the stops within the Park and Museum by looking deeper into the history of a particular topic than traditional signage alone would allow,” says Todd Prince, Park Manager. “The tour is an excellent opportunity to provide historic background, add intriguing details, and tell the special stories that make each stop memorable.”

Powered by technology provided by New York-based OnCell-TourSphere, a leader in the mobile space for cultural destinations, the Park intends to include additional tour stops as new exhibits are developed in the coming years. Development of the tour is made possible by support of the Cedar City–Brian Head Tourism Bureau.

The mobile tour can be accessed on any web-enabled device at http://frontierhomestead.toursphere.com, or by dialing (435) 868-3043. For more information call 435-586-9290. Frontier Homestead State Park is located at 635 North Main Street in Cedar City, Utah.

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About Frontier Homestead State Park

Frontier Homestead State Park Museum (FHSP) interprets the history of Iron County, Utah, horse-drawn transportation, and early iron production. Attractions include a main exhibit hall, pioneer crafts, gift shop, and historic cabins. The Park hosts various educational programs including community celebrations, public lectures, living history demonstrations, curation workshops, and volunteer programs. The north wing exhibit hall receives new exhibits every 6-8 weeks. The Museum is open year-round with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Hours are Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. September through May, and Monday-Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. June-August. For more information, contact the Park at (435) 586-9290, or by email at frontierhomestead@utah.gov

About OnCell-TourSphere

OnCell-TourSphere provides a full range of mobile tour solutions for museums and cultural destinations. With a variety of interactive services such as a DIY app builder, smartphone apps, mobile web apps, audio tours, GeoAlerts, beacons, and scavenger hunts, OnCell-TourSphere helps organizations become mobile-friendly. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts and education, the OnCell-TourSphere team has worked on over 2,000 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006.

5 Tips for DIY Audio

12 Aug

You’ve written the script for your audio tour and found your narrators. Time to hit the recording studio! Wait, what studio? Many organizations do not have the magical budget to hire professional audio production services–you’re not alone! Here are a few tips to help drastically improve your audio quality when creating it in-house.

1) Choose your location. Find a quiet, smaller room and close the door to help minimize the ambient noise. Cubicles are designed to absorb noise, so one would be great to use during off peak office hours. Keep a consistent location for your recordings and remember your setup to help ensure the same quality when recording over multiple days. If the microphone is in a different position or if the room size is different, it is very likely the audio will sound different.

2) Minimize noise. The microphone picks up all sorts of ambient noise, including fans, air conditioners, and office equipment–shut it all off. You’ll see a remarkable difference in sound quality.

3) Find a decent microphone. Acceptable low-quality audio will sound significantly better with a basic external microphone (vs your computer’s mic or a headset). Your best bet is to go with a unidirectional mic as it picks up sound from one direction–like the voice of a narrator!

4) Use a pop filter. Block the sounds of those popping p’s and b’s by placing a pop filter in front of your mic. You’ll find they can be very affordable but you can also DIY one for virtually nothing with a coat hanger and pantyhose.

5) Use an audio editor. Look for simple software that can help you add sound effects and allows for minor editing. Something like Audacity is easy (and free!) to use and makes recording a straightforward process. It also allows you to monitor the recording levels so you can adjust your mic distance or voice accordingly.

Recording content does not have to be a roadblock for creating your tour. If you find you just don’t have the time or the staff to pull it off, contact us to request a quote for our affordable editing and production services.

The Importance of Owning Your Own Content

20 Feb

Imagine hiring a carpenter to build you a new kitchen cabinet. You pay him for the job, he builds something pretty spiffy, and you’re pleased. But then you read the fine print in the contract, and you see that even though you paid him for the work, he (not you) actually owns the cabinet. 

Many museums have experienced something similar (although hopefully it didn’t come as a surprise) when creating an Audio Tour or an App. You hire an outside company to produce audio or video content, and it stipulates in the contract that they have partial or complete ownership of the content.

This means that you don’t own what you paid for. It means you have to get permission – and perhaps pay a fee – to make any changes, or to use that content in places other than your audio tour.  And it doesn’t expire after a year or two – that applies to the life of the content.

This is the way it was done, at times, in the past. Please do not let this happen again. 

Times have changed. The market is competitive. Production costs have come spiraling down. You can either produce high-quality content in-house or often hire it out for a reasonable price. And you will own the content 100%.  

Owning your content means you have FREEDOM!  It puts you and your organization in control and it means you can get more value out of your audio tour content.  If you have 10 videos that showcase your museum and its collection why not extend the use of those videos to beyond the tour?  You can place them on your website, put them on your organization’s FaceBook page, in email newsletter’s etc.  In this era of mass-consumption of information, content truly is king.  Make sure you own yours.

Have you run into this issue? Where you used a third-party to produce content – and they retained ownership? Any advice you’d give to other folks out there based on your experience?

For more on producing your own content in-house check out our do-it-yourself series.

Warm Up from Anywhere with Miami: An Insider’s Walking Tour

29 Nov

Dreaming of a beach vacation as the snow flurries start up and the temperatures drop? If you’re booking a ticket to the caliente winter destination of Miami, or if you just want to hide from the driving snow by dreaming about such a vacation, Miami: An Insider’s Walking Tour, powered by TourSphere, will give you the local’s view on some of the city’s hottest landmarks and most interesting stories.

Appropriately narrated by Claudia, a half-El Savadorean, half-Hatian bikini model, the audio tour leads you through the city step by step. Check out the site of the infamous Chainsaw scene from Scarface, then lighten the mood at the famous Wet Willie’s, where Claudia walks you through guzzling down one of their delicious, fruity, frozen cocktails.

Aside from Claudia’s narration and her insight on the sites and sounds of Miami Beach, the tour will provide you with local music and interviews with the city’s movers and shakers. From hot spots where “Miami Vice” filmed to famous art museums, the Insider’s Walking Tour allows tourists to get a more in-depth appreciation for the city for free and on their own time.

To view the Mobile Tour Miami: An Insider’s Walking Tour, visit http://miami.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Mobile Tour Miami: An Insider’s Walking Tour, visit http://miami.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

3 Mics to Turn Your Phone into a Recording Studio

31 May

This post is part of a series of “do it yourself” articles by Glenn Forsythe, Chief Soundscape Architect here at TourSphere. We hope you find it helpful when creating your own audio and video content!

As we have covered in previous installations of our DIY series, there are quite a few options for getting great production values without spending a fortune on equipment. For getting good audio, the basic elements will always be the same: clear sound source, microphone, cable and recording device.

In this post we’ll take a look at microphones that can transform your phone or tablet into that high-end field recorder without the high-end price tag.

  • Tascam iM2: If you are an iPhone-Pad-Pod user, this would be my top pick for doing any kind of recording. This stereo microphone and preamp combo uses the same mic and hardware as the DR handheld recorders, which are great portable recorders by Tascam. Full level control and adjustable stereo condenser microphones basically make this suitable for any kind of field recording. Plugs directly into the docking bay for a nice stable connection. ($65.00)

  • Tascam iXZ: This also says that it is for the iPhone, but the output is a standard eighth inch plug, which theoretically should be able to work anywhere. This is a microphone preamp, which is very useful if you already have a microphone you like to use. Other than providing an XLR input to connect a microphone, this gives you the ability to change the level of your signal, as well as providing “phantom power” for condenser microphones. ($39.00)

  • iRig Pre: Also formatted for the iPhone, this is basically the same device as the Tascam iXZ, which allows XLR microphone connections, phantom power and level control. This does have a headphone output which is quite helpful, seeing as how the headphone jack of your phone is being used by this device. Also comes with two apps for recording. ($39.00)

Do you have any secret tips for great recording on a budget? Please share! And let me know if you have any questions about recording your own audio and video!

Is that a studio in your pocket? (or “awesome apps for audio”)

30 Mar

This post is part of a series of “do it yourself” articles by Glenn Forsythe, Chief Soundscape Architect here at TourSphere. We hope you find it helpful when creating your own audio and video content!

Are you creating an audio tour or recording some audio interviews? I have good news! You need look no further than your inside pocket for a completely portable, high-quality recording device. In this post we’ll compare a few apps that can transform your phone into a your very own recording studio. (yay for technology that saves money!)

First, let’s talk about what you need in a recording app:

  1. For serious recording you should always record in an uncompressed format (.wav or PCM) and a sampling rate of at least 44.1khz. Don’t worry if this sounds too techie here, just put this on your checklist when choosing your recording app.
  2. Another basic feature that’s super helpful in recording is the pause button. You’d be surprised how many free apps out there left out the pause button in their design… it really helps! This way you can just hit “pause” instead of creating a new audio file every time you stop recording (which can get very messy in long recording sessions).
  3. The last and apparently hardest to find feature for a recording app is a nice set of level meters. Good levels are the  most critical feature for good recording quality. You NEED to monitor your input recording level.

Here’s a quick list of a few recording apps worth checking out:

PCM Recorder (Droid/Free): Very basic, but produces quality recordings. Allows sampling rates up to 48khz, which is great for recording audio for video.

 

Virtual Recorder (Droid/Free): I love that this app uses an old tape machine design for the interface. This app has many key features you want: pause recording, level meters, level boost and though it is fixed , it does have a good sampling rate.

 

Audio Recorder Machine (Droid/$3.96)This has all of the base features as Virtual Recorder but for a few bucks you can get a much slicker interface with an improved file management and sharing design.

Blue FiRe (iPhone/Free) Though lacking level monitoring, this is still a pretty straightforward free recording app for the iphone that produces high quality WAV or AIFF files.

 

FiRe Field Recorder (iPhone/$5.99) This app is by far the most complete package for recording. With a feature list longer than this post, it’s still very intuitive and easy to use. This would be worth spending a few bucks on if you want to expand your options and have an interface that gives you a more pleasant recording experience.

So there you have it, any of these apps will get the job done.  Next up, I’ll be sharing my list of preferred mics to pair with a smartphone app to give your organization the crisp, polished sound quality that will leave sound nerds wondering what recording studio you use.

Do you have any secret tips for great recording on a budget? Please share! And let me know if you have any questions about recording your own audio and video!

Optimizing Videos for Mobile: Keep it Big and Keep it Small

1 Feb

This post is part of a series of “do it yourself” articles by Glenn Forsythe, Chief Soundscape Architect here at TourSphere. We hope you find it helpful when creating your own audio and video content!

Producing videos for mobile devices is not hard to get right but its easy to get wrong. If the end result is going to be streamed over a mobile network and displayed on a screen only a few inches wide, there are 2 simple keys to keep in mind: Keep it Big and Keep it small.

Keep it Big

When I say keep it big I am referring to the visual content. Make sure all people, images and copy in your videos are large- so that people can clearly see them when viewing a 3-inch screen.

Focus of shots

Make sure the focus of your shot is large – taking up about at least 1/3 of your screen space. If you are interviewing a subject for instance, don’t use a long shot, otherwise it will be much harder to see when shrunken down. The same goes for using images. If there is a detail of an image, crop and zoom way in on it as opposed to having people squint their eyes when observing a detail.

High resolution images

In order to create those detailed crops, it is important to work with high resolution material. Though creating a very high resolution final video is not recommended due to bandwidth, the content that you are using while assembling your video should be as high resolution as possible to give plenty of headroom for downscaling. In other words, if you have an image of a painting and you want to bring out a detail in the lower left corner, you can crop it so that the detail still fills the frame of the video without becoming blurry or pixilated.

Use large, bold fonts

Though it may look a little bit silly on a normal monitor, using larger fonts for titles, lower thirds and subtitles will vastly improve legibility. I also would stay away from heavily ornamented and thinner fonts like Zapfino and the like. You just want to stick to bolder or stroner fonts, and if using a program like final cut, I wouldn’t really go below 28 for the size of your text.

Keep it Small

When I say keep it small I am referring to the output size of your video file. Though this can be an intimidating procedure with all of the different options when rendering a movie, there are really just a handful of terms that are worth familiarizing yourself with in order to get the smallest compression possible without compromising the quality.

Bit or data rate

This refers to how much information per second is in the final video, affecting the resolution or quality. This also affects file size, so if someone is downloading instead of streaming your videos, a smaller bit rate would be wise.

Frame size/dimensions

The frame size is the physical dimensions, usually in pixels, of your video. Seeing as how all mobile devices will play movie files in fullscreen, this isn’t crucial to match the output of your video’s dimensions to an iPhone, but it is good to be aware of so you don’t make a huge frame (like an HD size of 1280 x 720) and waste unnecessary file size.

Frame rate

A standard component to how video works and has always worked, the frame rate is the amount of still frames per second in your video. When making your quicktime movie, I mostly leave this one as is or whatever it was shot at. However, sometimes to help improve streaming videos if the buffering is taking a really long time, you can cut the frame rate in half for smoother streaming performance. In some cases this can make the video look worse, so always test it before publishing to make sure the video doesn’t look choppy.

If you have any other tips to share or issues you’re having that you need some help with let me know in the comments.

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