Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

The Escape OKC


If being locked in a room with your friends for an hour while finding clues to solves puzzles and ultimately getting the code to escape sounds like fun, then I recommend visiting The Escape. In my latest Uncovering Oklahoma video, I interviewed Bridget Trowbridge, James Gibbons, and Shey Ramsey about the live action escape the room game in Oklahoma City. The Escape also has locations in Tulsa and Omaha, with the OKC location being the flag-ship store. This video has been approved to contain no spoilers!

For some history, real life escape rooms are based off computer games of the same theme, but brought into real life. It’s all hands on, but also there’s no cheat sheet as it’s all up to you and whoever you bring. Also just so I’m clear: you’re not going to get murdered in these rooms. There’s nothing that can injury or hurt anyone. No one other than your team will actually be in the room, unlike some other escape places.

This is was my first video shot in 4K with my Panasonic GH4! There was no difference in my workflow. Rendering on my MacBook Pro didn’t take long either. While filming, I did encounter an issue I’ve never faced before with the florescent lighting creating bars on my video. It drove me nuts because at the time I had no idea how to fix it, so I worked around it or with it. The best way to learn things is to do things.

Overall, I’m happy with this video. I especially loved the introduction for it. I don’t care to use my voice, but with that modulation it worked so well. This was actually a happy accident. I had recorded audio to act as a place holder and have Leslie do the lines, but I was playing about with the audio effects and ended up with what you hear. I did consider doing the whole project in the style of the intro, but decided against it for timing, annoyance, and how other Uncovering Oklahoma interviews flowed.

For the first time, Uncovering Oklahoma’s The Escape OKC video featured music by a local band, Larry Chin. (I usually used a royalty free track.) I had told Jennifer Maynord of Cellar Door Music Group I was planning to do a video on The Escape and asked for recommendation for a song to use with it. She sent me a pre-release version of a song Larry Chin were working on and got me in touch with the band. I look forward to our continued partnership and working with more local bands in the future!

2015-07-24 Crop Circles-01

“Crop Circles”


Leslie and I took a bike ride Friday morning and she noticed these “crop circles” near the OU campus.

MOB Grill Interview

For Uncovering Oklahoma, I did a mafia inspired interview from inside my car truck with food truck owner, Seth Barker, of MOB Grill. The whole thing started off as a silly joke on Twitter when I tweeted:

MOB Grill replied saying it sounded like a fun idea and after an email exchange to make sure they were seriously interested, we actually filmed the interview in my car trunk. We of course took safety precautions. Leslie stood outside the car, the trunk was never completely closed, the car was equipped with a handle inside the trunk, and the back seats to the trunk were down as well. We both got hot and sweaty rather fast, but it was quick interview and it was worth it to do something unique.

After the video was released, Seth sent me an email saying, “That is AWESOME!!! The video is fantastic, you did a phenomenal job! My phone is blowing up with people talking about. WOW! Thanks a million times over!” His response made my day.

This was my first time using my new Panasonic GH4 camera for an interview. Still learning everything about it. I’m happy as to how well this whole video turned out!

Road Trip: Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Turner Falls

Today I took a road trip to doing some hiking at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur, Oklahoma. I was there last fall and wanted to go back to see the area filled with water since the drought ended last month.

During the trip, I also stopped at Bedré Fine Chocolates for some chocolates of course and the scenic lookout for Turner Falls in Davis, Oklahoma. Above are my favorite pictures from the trip.

First Impressions: Pebble Time

Pebble Box
I was part of the group of the first 10,000 Kickstart backers who got the early bird special for the new Pebble Time watch! Since I loved my original Pebble, I’d thought I would write about my first impressions.

The Pebble Time Unboxed
On Friday, June 5th I finally received my Pebble Time in the mail. However, due to some drama and/or issues with Apple, the required companion app wasn’t available on the iPhone app store until the next day. Still, I pulled the clever cardboard zipper and opened the box. I couldn’t do anything without setting it up with the companion app first, but now it’s all set up and on my wrist.

The Pebble Time on my wrist
My first impressions are positive. I love the color screen and I’m able to read it in bright and low light with a shake or button press to activate the backlight. There is a setting to always leave the backlight on too.

I can feel the lighter weight difference immediately on my wrist. While washing dishes, cleaning house, playing videos games, writing, and bike riding the watch never got in my way, unlike my headphones that wanted to get caught on everything…

Timeline with Backlight On
The timeline feature is fun, which I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it at first, but I like it now. Pressing the down arrow to see my daily outlook is a nice compliment to my Today Notifications on my iPhone, but does not have the detail, such as driving times, to replace it.

The vibration of notifications is as strong and noticeable as the original. If you’ve never had a smartwatch, I recommended getting one to cure phantom phone vibrations.

As with my last Pebble watch, I felt it got better as updates were pushed out and I’m sure the Pebble Time will be the same. Being an iPhone user, the microphone is useless at the moment.

This is a minor gripe, but I am going to say it so people can be aware of it. The Pebble Time did require a smartphone to set it up. Without setting it up, it won’t even tell the time. This may have been logistics solution for the first batch of watches. In their defense, why would buy such as watch without having a smartphone? Thought I’d mention it anyway.

With it being brand new, not every app has been updated for the color screen yet. None of the apps I own at the moment have an icon for them in the menu screen like Pebble’s Music and Settings. It’s just text. There’s a loading bar when opening some apps, which may be a feature to save on battery/memory.

Pebble Time's Music App
The first thing that has bugged me has been some the smaller text, like the time display in music. I have to bring the watch closer and steadier to my face to read it than I did with the classic Pebble watch. It could just be me, my surroundings, and the automatic backlight I had it set on. In any case, I bet there will be some update tweaks to make everything better.

Overall, I’m excited to own the new Pebble Time and I’m looking forward to future updates.

I updated this post on June 7 to elaborate more. Follow me on Twitter for more updates.

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