I’ll Read This Again: Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 10 Tips For Screenwriters

The writers of “The Lego Movie” (and others, including the upcoming “Han Solo”) gave a talk for BAFTA’s Screenwriters’ Lecture master class, which is online in its entirety.

Creative upload stage curtain theater movie lights

I’m posting this partly to bookmark it so I can watch that video when I have time and focus, but meanwhile, here is a nice list-length summary of some things to think about the next time you are writing a script or story long enough to need sharply defined characters.*

Highlights for me: Make the story your own; it’s always about relationships; get and use feedback; and after using a positive creative experience phase you should use a critical phase to vet what you have created to make sure everything has a reason to stay in the script.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 10 Tips For Screenwriters: Learn Their Tricks of the Trade

http://flip.it/4MZ5zo

(Link via Indiewire. )

—–David

* And you should always have sharply defined characters, even if the definition is that they are dull. So it’s a trick that I said it any other way.

I’ll Read This Again: Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 10 Tips For Screenwriters was originally published on Creative Uploads

Free NPR Audio Training Online

A primer on audio issues with tips on preferably preventing them or trying to fix them after. This is fantastic if you use a microphone to record anything, for audio, video, music, podcasts, whatever. It will make you think first and have (less) problems later.

At the very least, you’ll learn the vocabulary so you can act all knowledgeable about things you are still learning. At the most, you’ll get better at what you do when creating cool things and improve your process. 

http://training.npr.org/audio/the-ear-training-guide-for-audio-producers/

And it has example audio clips for everything being discussed.

—–David

P.S. You’re still learning aren’t you? If you are still alive, it’s really the only way to go. And a bit of knowledge knocks the crap out of that self-doubt that keeps you in your shell.

P.P.S. Free. Go!

Free NPR Audio Training Online was originally published on Creative Uploads

Build A Better Mousetrap

“And the world will beat a path to your door.” That’s the saying, isn’t it?
I don’t know why the mice-killers get all the foot traffic, but I get it. Who wouldn’t want to be able to mass murder cute little rodents? (I wonder what Walt Disney would counter with. I suppose he just made better mouse)

creative uploads mousetrap photography dream inspiration

Of course the point was, if you can improve upon something simple with something just as effective but better, people will want it. Doesn’t even have to be cheaper. (Heck, these days a lot of people think more expensive is better. Suckers.)

Now in the creative engineering field that’s a good goal, but in the creative entertainment arena, better is relative. I write songs, for example, and I think some of them are just as good or better than songs by some of my musical heroes. That’s my opinion of course, but we all start with our own opinion, so there I go. Some of them, not at all.

So a better song than the pied piper, I suppose.

For creative types with more arbitrary measurements, this phrase could be reduced to “build better.” And measure against yourself. And while I write songs, I’ve properly recorded only a few with any patience and care. That’s the “building” part I’m leaving off. (Something my heroes excelled at.)

Goals are funny complicated things that we think are easy. We come up with the end of them in a snap. But even a complete basic mousetrap has a process. You have to prepare the cheese, set the spring, and put the trap carefully in the right spot to get to the snap in the first place. Also watch your fingers.

Build better. One step at a time. You can make many complicated steps or a few simple ones; it depends on what kind of cheese your mice likes, and how long you are willing to spend to get to your goal, but realize it’s more than one step. Build.

And once you have the staircase…. it’s a snap.

—–David

P.S. I didn’t have “Mousetrap” when I was a kid, just the commercials and friends with the game, so I loved it of course. Never got the chance to be bored with it. Friends always have the shiny stuff you never get to play with, while you are stuck at home on rainy days ignoring the boring toys you never bother to play with that make your friends envious. I have a bunch of creative toys now I am just waiting for a rainy day to play with, because I figured out a trick to try. It’s even in two steps:

  • Pretend they aren’t my toys so they seem fresh.
  • Point a hose at the roof so I can imagine it’s raining.

P.P.S. This works for all sorts of things, music, writing, photography and video projects. Heck, grocery lists if you like to buy more interesting stuff when shopping. But if you’ve read this far you’re probably creative enough to figure that out, so this is a just a complimentary confirmation bias.

Build A Better Mousetrap was originally published on Creative Uploads

Stick Up Your Cams

Creative uploads photography videotaping videography

Been doing some timelapse captures. Going to have to finish another video edit before I get to them. But here’s a #Prisma of my GoPro twelve feet in the air. (Comic style)

I also grabbed some really low shots. But I do like the high overhead angles, what I used to refer to as the Hitchcock shot (mostly because of staircase shots in “Psycho” — as if he only had one angle himself).

I also “edited” in camera, shooting one angle at a time and basically deciding on the next shot during the previous and saving a few shots for certain steps in the timelapse process. So hopefully I have enough coverage since I won’t have another shot to cut in if something didn’t work.

That’s another thing that Hitchcock supposedly did, not shooting extra footage to prevent studios from taking his movie and re-editing his cuts. If he didn’t want a wide shot he didn’t shoot it, so that left only the tighter intercuts he intended.

It was a little bit of self-promotion on his part; I think sometimes he shot more than he admitted. And I wasn’t being too cocky, I had hours to plan shots since I was only grabbing a few stills each minute. When you add up the frames it’s perhaps one second for every four minutes, even less when I decided to play it even faster during the edit and I will.

Anyway, get a backup battery and don’t drop your camera by accident.

—–David

P.S. I really should make chart for timelapse purposes instead of doing a bunch of math on my head. Had to plan for 24 or 30 frames a second, because that greatly affects the math. A shot every ten seconds garners 24 in four minutes and 30 in five, so am I getting twenty percent more or less footage based on that one choice? Then do I need to get more frames or can I afford less depending on how much motion I need to show? Water flows smoothly so that should be smooth, but a static shot of construction could be shot on an otherwise jumpy frame rate. Things to ponder.

Stick Up Your Cams was originally published on Creative Uploads

As Seen on TV! Close Captioning For YouTube

So I suppose you were aware you could add closed captions to YouTube videos? What’s that mean? It means you can add text to your video that viewers can turn off or on, and it’s generally used to allow the hard of hearing to read along with what is actually being said in the video. I can imagine some other ways to use it, as subtext and commentary but let’s start with the intended choice, which most of us are familiar with from television.

 

Anyway beginning with this song, a parody of David Bowie’s Space Oddity I called “Space Oddity 1998 aka Major Glenn” in honor of the old spaceman when I wrote it in 1998, and the then late John Glenn when I recorded it recently, I decided to explore the caption options available in YouTube. You don’t have to do them before you create the video, and in fact you can revisit any of your videos and add captions.

I picked this one because frankly I had the lyrics all typed up already and that was most of the content.  There was more to it than that though.

In the YouTube video manager on the left I chose a video and click the Edit button for it, then in the tabs along the top row clicked Subtitles and CC (closed captions) which opened up the utility page. You have the option to pay someone to do them, even, and you can have them done in another language. That means you can buy a translation if your target audience is only not your native language, but I will leave the idea of subtitles to you to consider. You’ll have to set a primary language for the video first. Then you can click a blue button upper right to add them, which gives you these choices: Upload a file, Transcribe and auto-sync, Create new subtitles of CC, Buy subtitles.

I uploaded my lyric file. You might want to transcribe. Your instructions are to “Type everything that’s spoken in the video here, then click “Set timings” to automatically line up your text with the speech in the video.” with a convenient box to cut and paste if you prefer. An automatically checked box pauses the video as you type so you can enter a few words, it will play a few more seconds and you can type more. Really a fantastic setup. I had an intro so I added that part in front of the lyrics and then clicked Set timings.

It chugged along for a while and then took me to the page you see above. This is probably the page you get if you straight up decide to transcribe and I found it pretty intuitive. Thanks, Google!

Here is where you can play your video as a preview and then use the boxes shown below the video to adjust the caption display. In my case it didn’t do a great job of aligning the words with when they were sung and I imagine it’s better for just speech soundtracks. Also I wanted the captions to lag a little behind the singing so as not to spoil the joke for people who could hear and read fast. So I scooted the boxes on the lower right over (you can drag either end to adjust the display length, start and end times).

I also copied and pasted lines out of some boxes to the next ones (as seen on the left ), and sometimes clicked the little plus box to get a new child box to add a break to the display and make the captions fit better. You know when you read something it’s kind of annoying to have it break in the middle and start a new thought at the same time? I tried to arrange the caption boxes so they held one thought, or maybe a rhyming couplet, instead of ending a verse with one line and shaving the line beneath it starting the next sentence but not finishing it until the next caption.

Then I previewed it and fine-tuned my edit. You may not want your timing as precise as I did, but it’s nice to have the option of perfection.

Now because I am a smart alec I do see the amusement in captioning a musical song for the deaf, but hard of hearing people can enjoy musical and performance content on levels you may not even consider. Aside from the visual of the performance and lyrical content, sound is a vibration and that relies on a different sense: touch. If you have a well-functioning ear that vibration touches your eardrum and manages to get converted into electric nerve impulses that your brain feeds you as sound. If you have a sense of touch you can feel the rhythms and vibrations by touch, through your feet, hands or even chest if the bass is pounding enough (flashback to a very uncomfortable set at a Justin Timberlake concert I attended with my wife.) But I have seen deaf people put speakers facedown on the floor and shoes off, trip the light fantastic. Plus good lyrics are poetry however you receive them.

Not these lyrics of course, they are literally a joke. 🙂

—-David

P.S. You can click the link above to see this video, then turn on captions to see how it turned out. If you like it, click like and I will feel special.

P.P.S. Off topic: Wow, the iOS WordPress app really doesn’t care if you are trying to make a draft and just throws it up online. I probably clicked the wrong button but I accidentally posted this days ago while I was just making a note to write it. So pay attention to the screens and notifications flashing by, right? I ended up immediately setting it to private so I could decide whether to keep, edit, delete or set the post to draft like I meant to do in the first place.

 

 

As Seen on TV! Close Captioning For YouTube was originally published on Creative Uploads

Good Dog! Happy Dog!

Funny thing is the video that this comes from went on for a long, long time without even being a gif.

Wag wag wag

Happy Dog

—–David

P.S. Created by Google Photo Assistant. Well, I took the video on the first place, but all the times I meant to make an animated GIF of something I never did, or found a simple app to do it, so yeah! Couldn’t figure out how to link it live in WordPress of course, but one thing at a time. I could only create it as a link in the mobile app, but I was able to open the draft post in a web browser, click add media, then paste in a copied URL to an option on the left with that name. I got the URL from the “Copy Image Address” you usually get when you right-click an image in a web browser. Or when you long press and hold an image in a mobile browser.

P.P.S. The dog is not wagging his tail to the beat of the parody song I posted the other day, but he might be wagging it at the same tempo. If you want to check this theory you can sing along here. I put captions on it just to see how easy it would be. (Spoiler: pretty easy but took a little time to fine tune the timing. I’ll have to write a post on that, it’s a good way to expand your audience plus it’s a responsible thing to do.)

Good Dog! Happy Dog! was originally published on Creative Uploads

Hey, Mr. Spaceman – The Musical

I decided to finally record the John Glenn parody song I posted lyrics for the other day.

Here’s the YouTube blurb as background:

Honoring astronaut John Glenn’s passing: in 1998 there was some controversy on sending John Glenn on the space shuttle at 77 in an expensive mission instead of other qualified candidates. I wrote this tongue-in-cheek political parody to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” but never recorded it. So here’s a recording, with all the possible verses (in the real world some would have been dropped to fit the original song). Hey 2016, thanks for bookending the inspiration. Now quit it.

Since this blog is about the dreaming, creation and publication of artistic endeavors, it felt like I ought to finally record a version and share it somehow, right? At least it took me less than twenty years. And I didn’t have the publication outlets then that we do know, where it can not exist one day and be available worldwide the next (not necessary known but at least available).

I also left in all the verses, breaking an important rule of parody songs: get in, state the joke and get out before it’s worn out it’s welcome. Hey, that applies top a lot of other things too. But it’s a historical document at this point, so there’s the whole draft. Just to show how editing can help focus something and make it better even if you have to leave out a joke you like.

Hope you make it to the end.

—–David

P.S. Tang really was marketed as the breakfast drink of the astronauts. There’s a hilarious double entendre in that these days but it was a more innocent time. By the shuttle missions Welch’s had replaced it as the powdered drink sent up on missions. Ironically, Congress likes to welch on their promises to properly fund NASA. Go figure.

P.P.S.
I just imagined
how long an unedited
haiku would become, i mean can you imagine if the guy just wouldn’t shut up and kept spouting aphorisms and potentially insightful observations with no understanding of the reader’s mental digestion ability?

Note to self: edit more, talk less.

 

Hey, Mr. Spaceman – The Musical was originally published on Creative Uploads

Christmas Timelapse Is Here Again

Christmastime.

So much decorating and moving boxes around. Don’t you wish it could go faster? I know I do. I have a time machine, but it only works after the fact. That is, I travel through at regular speed, then I have a windows where I can view the events at any speed I want, forward or backward, random or not, but I can no longer interact with them.

Boy, except for that first part of the real-time experience, it works great.

I shot the initial portion as video in case there was some interaction I could pull out by slowing the video for it, but then I couldn’t find what I thought I had shot when I go to editing.

This is where planning to edit encourages a careful process. I was so perplexed by this I went back to the camera card to figure out the time I caught a picture on my Canon camera and see what the GoPro was doing, because my project folder didn’t have anything for that time. It was perfectly possible I had accidentally left the camera off, but I could check because of my workflow. So there’s another good reason to edit besides polishing your material.

TIP: Don’t format your memory cards until you have to, even in the middle of a minor project or ahead of a large one (like when you clear a bunch of cards the might before so you can swap at will.) Even then, do a quick review to ensure you have actually copied important files or folders to one or two places. This makes the SD Cards in your camera bag a temporary backup. It’s not a perfect method, but it’s a lottery ticket against disaster. Maybe a sandbag against being broke? Whichever.

Anyway, when I copied the GoPro files initially I ran out of space at the original location and switched to another drive, but there were two GoPro folders on the camera and I forgot to get the larger video files out of both, leaving two behind! Once discovered, a long file copy later, I got back to the half-drawn board and a little more editing. Funny enough, I had a feeling it wasn’t quite right so I hadn’t published the video yet!

Back to our story: I framed my opening video shot from a birds-eye angle to set the scene of large scale chaos and the bleakness of the soldier fighting holiday light sets….

After the initial scene, I used a different angle to bring the viewer into the experience and provide a little more detail. In concept I thought about a much closer shot on the tree, but realized that any one spot would get one ornament, which would require bouncing around the tree, and not getting a cool montage. So I didn’t zoom in quite so dramatically during editing after all.

I switched to photo timelapse on the second angle (7 megapixels every 10 seconds — could do 12 mp but seemed overkill.) That gave me the ability to crop to at least quarter of the screen before getting below the 1920×1080 full HD pixel resolution (and you can push on that) but again, I didn’t feel the need to go in that tight. As I write this, I realize I could have shot at 4K/15 frames a second, for a little smoother motion since I actually slowed down these segments to 33% instead of speeding them up, but I was planning for more pixels at the time.

Besides, zooms in and out in a clip are tricky to do in GoPro Studio. You can have four keyframes per clip but you can’t slide them around after creation that I saw, and lacking a zoom feature on the edit timeline that shows you where the keyframes are, placement of these keyframes is not optimal. You can fine-tune the placement but you then want to watch it and tweak it, and you can’t fine-tune what you want to tweak by moving it. You have to delete and recreate it in the new place. Ugh.

Even so, I think it turned out fine. And special thanks to Beatle and solo performer Ringo Starr who is always with us at the start of the holidays whether he knows it or not. Get his album “I Want To Be Santa Claus”* if you can find it. Charming fun.

—-David.

* Apparently, it’ s been remastered as the Ringo Starr Christmas Collection. BUY IT!

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P.S. Does anyone like the stupid GoPro file naming convention when it has to break longer files? It doesn’t sort correctly and I am only finally feeling it when I am on the timeline trying to make sure my split files from a long recording session are in the proper order. Here’s an example from a different shoot: If you keep takes short it’s GOPR0001.mp4 GOPR0002. Great, but the letter O and number 0 look really similar in computer fonts. If it runs longer then  you get GOPR1798 GP011798 GP021798 GP031798, which can be in order unless there are MORE long takes after, in my case I was looking at GOPR1797 GOPR1798 GOPR2887 GOPR3052 GP011797 GP011798 GP021798 GP031798. So there were a couple together then it ran off the rails. Oh well.

P.S.S. The music here is from Garageband iOS Loops with some custom piano ones created for the Christmas mood. It was meant for shorter segments originally so the long form sometimes repeats itself, but all holiday music gets a little repetitive in the end, so the mood is set!

P.S.S.S. Save your projects as you go as PROJECT FILES. I know , it’s a short thing and you won’t need it. But having done so,  I was able to add to my set instead of recreating it. At other times it’s rescued me : prep time from a crash, necessary reboot, stupid mistake in a title, viewer’s suggestion for edit, and for you, maybe a copyright infringement where you have to change out the music so YouTube will post it with a soundtrack (fingers crossed, Ringo).  Why recreate the wheel when you can save what you did in the editing software you so carefully arranged it?

Christmas Timelapse Is Here Again was originally published on Creative Uploads

Fade To Black aka Blanket of Night

Another timelapse from Thanksgiving Day, this time of the sunset. I was pleasantly surprised how this turned out given a cloudless sky doesn’t always make for the most appealing textural video.

Shot with GoPro Hero 3+ Thanksgiving evening 2016 (Watch for the horse!). Processed in GoPro Studio with fresh music by me from an iPad app called Pattern Music. I haven’t used it very often and I liked the variation in the instrument choices it provides and got a nice moody effect from it. It’s set up with a grid system so I was really expecting a more rigid musical result and it fell into place nicely in the middle.

I’ve mentioned before an ambivalent view of GoPro Studio. I don’t like that you have to convert everything when you bring it in, so the app can feel snappy during the editing function. That’s a good idea, but the best workflow is to ingest your video and very quickly get it processing while you go do something else. You also have to have a lot of hard drive space for these giant copies it makes so your video card doesn’t have to fight to decode the compressed video or multiple high res images you shot as it flies through them or applies filter effects. I get it. I don’t love it.

And when you import and it crashes of hangs on converting something, only my Google love and ability to find a suggestion to change the framerate saved me from a very frustrating failure to edit.

I also really hate that you can’t zoom in on the timeline when making cuts, and if you can toggle along a frame at a time to find the right spot, I’ve forgotten how. Then when you do make the cut, every clip on your timeline is the same inch long size, with no indication of how long it really is. Ooh, like Legos. But I am not working with Legos. And I understand the simplicity of it, but the workflow is not creative to me, it’s blocky.

—–David.

P.S. I don’t use GoPro software to import my video, preferring to bring it in using Windows Explorer under a main GoPro folder and nowadays breaking it into a dated name folder with the subject. It comes in as 116GoPro and I will rename the relevant container as 2016_11timelapse. This date format, year-month-day, lets the folders sort properly in chronological order so I don’t have to read a giant list to find things when I know roughly when they happened.

img_1039

Fade To Black aka Blanket of Night was originally published on Creative Uploads

It Only Takes A Minute

…To set up a camera on timelapse.

Okay, maybe a few minutes, since I plugged the Go Pro via USB into a portable battery that would keep it charged and recording for the duration. Then I connected to the “Capture” GoPro app on my phone to position it just right.

Since I was planning on possible cropping and panning I decided to use Photo mode. This gave me a 4×3 frame with lots of extra pixels I could crop in on without losing quality since I only needed 1920×1080 of them versus over 5000 wide.

Sometimes I prefer shooting video then just speed it up hundreds of percentages for smoother motion on frame changes. Vehicle-driving timelapse videos benefit from this in my opinion. I don’t mind the jerkier stop-frame animation look, but in that case smoother in-between frames help convey more speed, in my opinion. You lose some detail and editing options later, since it’s already compressed. But you can also capture for longer times depending on your settings, and can pick just the right frame and smoothly adjust between different speeds.

In the end, using the Go Pro Studio program, I adjusted my shot for a distorted wide view with no cropping, tweaked to make the center less stretched, and centered on the lower edge of the captured frame since they didn’t install carpet on the covering

Oh that would look cool. Not this color though.

—–David

P.S. I love portable batteries from Anker. This is the latest upgrade from the one I have. It comes with a pouch that I also keep cables in for my iPad (and daughter’s iPhone) plus my Android phone. Since it has a micro-USB I can use the same cable to charge the battery from any USB power source.
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It Only Takes A Minute was originally published on Creative Uploads