I Don’t Have Writer’s Block, You Have Writer’s Block

No really, I don’t get writer’s block. There’s always another idea.

Oh, you want a specific idea in a narrow set of parameters, like a blog post maybe, that provides some sort of example or instruction with a smidge of encouragement and a pinch of humor?

Sure. In the meantime, here’s an unrelated picture I took on a trip. Not a metaphor.

Brick wall building creative uploads

Nice, huh? Wait, seriously, you don’t think that’s a brick wall, do you? I mean there are windows and a door — clearly you could get through it unless the windows are closed and the place is locked.

Or you could break a window, pick the lock, and tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev.

I really don’t get writer’s block, and neither do you. So don’t embrace the delusion that you do. That freezes you in a giant bear hug that keeps you from moving any direction.

Some things I embrace instead:

  • Procrastination
  • Depression *
  • Television
  • Anything Amusing
  • Laundry
  • Long Naps

My point is if you need to “not do,” try that out for a little bit. You don’t have to put a timer on it, but be reasonable and then start doing again. I don’t think I get “writers block,” because I could write whatever it is I need to, if I just started doing it, at least a first draft.

Like today: I wasn’t writing a post because I didn’t start thinking about a post because I wanted to do something else. I had stepped outside the process flow.

And then I wrote a post, because I started writing the post.

Now the simple fact that the draft probably needed editing and cuts, like chopping off the first paragraph or so to get to the point quicker — even if I threw everything out and started over again — that’s not writer’s block, that’s editing, and editing is part of the process of writing.

Calling it “writer’s block” is making an excuse for not doing something because you feel like doing something else instead.

In the same way, writing is an excuse for not screwing around. (Or when you are really good, an excuse for not doing housework!)

What do you love more at this moment? Do that thing. Then switch. But switch soon-ish, especially if you have a deadline.

—–David

P.S. I call this methodology “proactive procrastination.” Yeah, I may put off a priority but if I get something else out of the way , it won’t interrupt me or be an excuse later.

* Depression can be a small dip or a giant cliff, either way it’s a speed bump even if it’s not “clinical” depression. It’s a lower energy that doesn’t feed you.

I enjoy it as a break because it’s never felt permanent for me, but — and I’m not a qualified source here — if it’s not “temporary” for you, seek help from someone who can guide you to a shovel or sherpa and climb out of it at least once in a while. Even night gives way to day with persistence (and yes, vice versa) and with regularity.

P.P.S. A slightly related musing from the archives, and this watch again post on procrastination.

I Don’t Have Writer’s Block, You Have Writer’s Block was originally published on Creative Uploads

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Bark! Insert Dog Pun (And Video) Here

Amy the Dog in “Dog Years,” a movie made with Google Assistant. A few years ago I wrote * about how cool this app was and how easy it made it to share pictures and video snippets in video form. It’s better and worse, but still neat and still only on Android and iOS.


Click To See the video from the new Google+ post here!

Thanks to face recognition in the Google Photos ecosystem, you can make a quick movie featuring a specific individual, or even your dog if you have enough pictures. I literally picked a sideways shot with Amy in it and Photos Assistant found the rest of the pictures based off of that, always including her in the ones it chose. It seems to be in chronological order too, which I like as a default, although you can and I did rearrange some of the order and timing of the images, which is really easy to do with the very basic graphical editor.

Amy The Dog Photos Movies On Creative Uploads

The music? I let Google pick the music and it’s perfectly cheesy and appropriate for such an experiment as this.

This movie was made on my iPad, and now I am going to have to explore the Android version again, because at least in iOS it has been simplified and lost some of the things I thought made it unique, in favor of other cheesier looking templates. But let me check the more native version and get back to you. It looks like it doesn’t support titles over the video anymore (although if you post to YouTube you can overlay text on existing video so you can mimic that kind of presentation.)

Some other Assistant Tricks shown on the Google Photos Assistant page - Creative Uploads

In the meantime, here’s a cute timeline of one of my dogs.

—–David

P.S. This was originally posted on our “Creative Upload” Google+ page to experiment with how the links all worked out, but as I write this it occurs to me that this updated post will probably cross post back…. Sorry about that but at least there’s more stuff.

* Another still useful post on Google Assistant is here though it mentions some now absent features.

Bark! Insert Dog Pun (And Video) Here was originally published on Creative Uploads

Solo Work Gets A Gold Star

Saw this recently in a teacher lounge. It gave me A New Hope.

Han Solo Star Wars pun creative uploads

And a bad pun.

What inspires you to make things, even silly ones? Does it come naturally or do you cultivate opportunities to improve your productivity?

I used to have some concerns with that, perhaps thinking if it wasn’t organic it might not be pure enough to reach artistic heights.

That’s crap. Improvisation, serendipity, structure, craven commercialism, planning, editing, incremental steps: they all have a place in creation and can bring us to an artistic result.

Or not.

But that’s for the audience to judge. And you can’t be the audience in the middle of creation; you’re too close in space and time to get the full picture.

First, make something. Then step back and let somebody else look at it.

Who cares what they think? That’s a different story.

—–David

P.S. I like a lot of stuff I put together; some people hate their own stuff. But I enjoy the process and that’s enough to get to the next thing. Which is sometimes the salve on the wounds from the previous experience.

Solo Work Gets A Gold Star was originally published on Creative Uploads

So Many Apps: Microsoft Hyperlapse

Part one of who knows how many:

I thought I would test one of the many camera apps on my phone that I have most forgotten about, waiting for another soccer game to start (which I was filming for a Florida company with a pretty cool setup I may discuss later.)

This was done on my Android-based Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in Microsoft’s Hyperlapse app, which I rather like because it lets you film something and then choose the speed of playback afterward, 1x to 32x. It defaults to 4x. You can choose front or rear selfie camera, turn on your flashlight, and there is an option to import a video.

Microsoft Hyperlapse initial screen controls

It opened in a forced wide format (turn your phone sideways!), unlike Instagram’s app with the same name, which appeared to be in square format with vertical controls. (Strangely Instagram’s then saved a tall video on my device, which led me to try turning it sideways, which lets you film wide. The interface occasionally showed a black area under the record control regardless of which direction I had turned it leading me to frame it incorrectly. In the end it correctly saved a wide or tall video based on the orientation of the device, either wide or tall. )

What I don’t like on both is you apparently have to complete one video at a time, because I did not see a selection for the three videos I was shooting to test and the phone crashed – probably not the app’s fault – and then I found these in my Google Photos later so they weren’t deleted but they were not easily available in the app for further editing.

When you process your video you see icons to share it (on my Note you can pretty much pick any app), create another version at a new speed, or start a new video. You can also press the (grayed out) play button which shows the processed video on your default video app, leaving Hyperlapse open. This means you can preview your work before deciding that you want to share or edit the speed by returning to the app.

But the caution is to save the video in the app through the share button otherwise you may lose it. Preview your work, but don’t forget to share and save it before exiting the app or choosing a new playback speed. I can see reasons that they did that: they don’t have to develop an integrated media player, and they don’t force you to save a file for every test version at different speeds. Now saying that, I couldn’t easily find my first experiments on my phone, but Google Photos found and uploaded something to the Internet so it may not be totally gone…. (UPDATE: on my Android device they were stored in a “Movies” folder on the device, not the “Hyperlapse” album I created and saved others to.)

Instagram’s app lets you choose 1x to 80x and lets you save to the camera roll or direct to Facebook or Instagram.

Hyperlapse strips the audio but of course you can bring it into another editor and add in what you want, though that does fight the immediacy of creating something and posting it quickly.

—–David

P.S. I have so many apps on my devices (yes, hundreds) because I think they are going to help me be creative or productive or entertained, and it’s probably a bad habit. But at least most of them were free. If only I had more free time.

p

So Many Apps: Microsoft Hyperlapse was originally published on Creative Uploads

It’s Creepy Coffee Time!

I don’t drink coffee, but the women in my family do. This is what it feels like as an outsider.

Keep an eye on your coffee or she will

I made this on my phone a while ago, possibly using the built-in Android camera, but I don’t recall, and I just wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to make the file smaller in WordPress, and in Adobe Premiere and Photoshop. Nothing quite wanted to behave, so I tried posting full size. (Also nope*)

—–David

P.S. Does this mean animated GIFs could pop up at any time now that I’ve experimented? Of course. Or it could mean I drop the entire thing and follow something else shiny and easier to resize. Who knows?

* So the full size (just 5.82MB, width: 792px, height: 446px, frames: 148) seemed to be tanking my post editing pages. Ridiculous. Found this free tool online at https://ezgif.com/resize (this one scales it down, there are crop and other options as well) to make it behave.

It’s Creepy Coffee Time! was originally published on Creative Uploads

I Can Haz Prisma Update? 

Creative uploads prisma cat photography cameraphone filter

Prisma on Android is up to date like its IOS sibling with a feature I CAN put my finger on. You can drag and drop your chosen styles into whatever order you want.

Just press, hold and drag to rearrange your favorites. This is in addition to the Store icon you see on the lower left, which lets you manage styles, add some new ones and “remove” ones you don’t want (essentially hiding them.) That’s been there for a while.

Still all free (though I have my suspicions there will be premium ones someday), the real app links are at http://prisma-ai.com (many spoof versions out there.)

Quibbles:

  •  Hey, I don’t miss the auto crop to square, but I would like to be able to crop in the app someday. 
  • In an earlier post about Prisma I mentioned (and then emailed Prisma support about) possible privacy issues in their social site, which forces you to enable location settings to post, so they can localize the feed. But they never got back to me about my questions of whether it then embedded the location info in the pictures themselves. Concern and caution but not yet a deal-breaker for me in the app, just still don’t use the social site.

But look, catz!

—–David

P.S. This is my accountant’s cat. It’s sweet but I’m allergic, so in lieu if petting it I told it I would make it internet famous. Well, we meowed at each other, I don’t speak fluent cat….

Creative uploads prisma cat photography cameraphone filter

I really do enjoy these silly styles. This one’s “Vivid,”one of the new ones, “Udnie” is the featured image, always one of my favorites. The one atop this page literally tells you what it is.

I Can Haz Prisma Update?  was originally published on Creative Uploads

GarageBand IOS iCloud Bug trashes the local original file

Just a little public safety note that I discovered, and I am not particularly angry yet, because for some reason I had made a back up before I tried to upload my file to keep a back up safe.

Creative uploads iOS GarageBand iCloud bug music

There seems to be a bug when using iCloud to backup a project file in GarageBand iOS that destroys your original local copy while also failing to create the backup.

So I use Windows PCs primarily, so I know that I cannot back up my GarageBand files directly to it. There is some evilness going on where Windows sees the song’s  .band back up file as a folder, and I have never seen a way to get around it. That means if you make a back up by having GarageBand create one for iTunes, then you have to sync with iTunes on a Mac in order to see it correctly and get it off of the iPad.

So generally I create a back up on iCloud. And this recent instance I had first copied the file that I wanted to back up inside GarageBand iOS, because I thought I might do some additional editing on it but I wanted to keep the original version safe.  So I trigger the iCloud backup and it spun for a little bit and then gave me this error message: it couldn’t back it up because it was damaged or in an incompatible format. In fact what had happened is an 8-kilobyte file was created in iCloud and it also overwrote the original project file ON THE IPAD.

If I had not made a copy, my work would have been destroyed. After some experimentation and troubleshooting — with many copies, thank you very much — I discovered that it was happening when I was uploading to the subfolder I created in iCloud for my music; it’s called garagebandmusic. No fancy spaces or anything. 

When I copied the GarageBand project file to the main folder file it uploaded successfully. At this point I am not moving it inside iCloud to the folder that I want to use, because I don’t know what the bug is. But I will be hooking my iPad up to a Mac as soon as possible and copying everything off again to have a safe back up.

If you don’t have space on your device I would suggest at the very least making a high-quality copy of your song and mailing it to yourself, or making “stems” which is exporting each track separately from the mix, by muting each track in turn and creating a full length audio file for each track individually. So tedious, and that’s how I used to have to make a backup of all my songs before the iCloud feature was added, because it let me use the tracks in something else, remix later and have some flexibility, although I did lose the ability to edit MIDI data that way, since it was converted to the final audio file.

It’s better than losing everything though.

—–David

P.S. If you are writing music for video or film, stems are terrifically useful alongside the final mix, because you can steal a chord from one section, repeat a bridge with cleaner edits, even create new interludes right in your editing software when an edit changes just a little. Imagine the flexibility you have with time in film applied to the musical layers. This is great if your composer can’t help in a time crunch, or even if  you are the composer.

I used these tricks when I made a short film for Phoenix Comicon a few years ago.  I actually wrote and recorded most of the music I used while still writing the script, before I had even shot anything. It came to me in moments of inspiration during the screenwriting and script editing,  so I composed and recorded a mini soundtrack as a suite, basically. 

In video editing, I found some lengths didn’t fit perfectly. Rather than re-record everything to fit my new desired timing, or worse, leaving timing in place on the film but forcing it to match the music despite the visual rhythms’ own desires, I could pull out pieces, or use shorter bars, vamps and stingers exactly how I wanted. And all on GarageBand iOS, with no iCloud or project backup available at the time.

P.P.S. It’s called Take Me 2 UR Leader and it was a final selection for the Film Challenge that year, not top prize or anything but a rare group. Plus I made a movie in 30 days where I got to handle everything but the acting roles (well, I did do one). I will tell you that’s great fun but collaboration is really great too.

GarageBand IOS iCloud Bug trashes the local original file was originally published on Creative Uploads

Android Catches Up On Prisma

Not only did the photo-into-painting Prisma app create a style for International Women’s Day (nice),

Creative upload photo camera

… they have also already updated the Android app to match the Store feature just added on the iOS app.

I talked about that here in more detail. There are a few interface differences, and you have to add your desired styles on each device, but the feature set seems complete.

—– David

P.S. I wrote Prisma-ai.com support to ask about my location information concerns in their social section, but they haven’t gotten back to me.

P.P.S. Fiery Horse from one of the new styles in the store (sorry, forgot which one).

Creative upload camera photo prisma style

Android Catches Up On Prisma was originally published on Creative Uploads

What Does Prisma Have In Store For Us?

The iOS Prisma app (and presumably Android soon) now has a Store, represented by a tiny little storefront icon. Click on it to open the Store page and you will be greeted by a bunch of little icons.

Creative uploads Prisma app style filter store

There are a bunch of new “styles” though to be fair they include a lot of color swap type filters rather than the more artistically textured ones I like. But there are texture tricks here as well, like “Bubbles”, “Stones” and “Crystal”, which offers sharp edges and a blue cast. All these “New Releases” are still free, although I don’t know if they will figure out a way to start charging for them — I can’t imagine in this day and age that they won’t, at least for certain premium ones.

Below that is a “Popular In Your Country” section, which is self-explanatory and jibes with the international feel but localized content Prisma is pushing, especially in their social site, which forces you to turn on geolocation features to populate your feed with people near you.

Under there are “All The Old Styles” in case you missed something.

But my favorite feature is actually under the ribbon at the top of the page.

It takes you to a “My Styles”section where you can manage the styles you see in the app when processing photos.


Even better, you can tap any of the icons to see a collection of photos processed with that style, which lets you learn how it looks in different situations. This means that you can, as I like to urge you, pick the best style for your photo, and in fact shoot photos with the style in mind.

But it doesn’t stop there. With this update you can remove styles that you don’t care to use. What if you remove one that you want back? At the top of this ribbon page you can manage your style collection, adding and removing styles from the complete list of those available.

As a very early adopter I can tell you that it doesn’t have the “Palmolive” style that it launched with, for example, so the advertising styles seem temporary and I don’t know if they get renamed and come back — so far it doesn’t look like it.

All in all a pretty cool update, although I will say that I do not see the styles I added to the list on my iPad showing up in my Android app yet. I would imagine that is because you cannot yet “manage” the list in Android (which has not been updated as I write this; it always lags behind), not because the styles are incompatible.

As always I will note there are many fake copies of this app out there. The one I use is available through Prisma-ai.com and is a universal free app. Don’t pay some scammer $10 for an iPad version.

.—– David

P.S. Can I say: I don’t feel insecure about giving Prisma my location info for the feed. My personal problem is that I do not like to take photos that I post publicly with location information embedded in them, and I do not know if allowing the app to see the info will in fact embed very specific coordinates in the image, or if it simply uses it to group my feed with the city I live in, and not, let’s say, center the map on my house.

I turn on location info when I’m on a trip because I don’t care about people knowing where I’ve been, but I don’t publicly advertise addresses where I sleep and work.

What Does Prisma Have In Store For Us? was originally published on Creative Uploads