Music: You Are My Present

You Are My Present, a song by David Watson. Performed live to tape. Well, digital.

It’s my birthday so I put this relevant song on Facebook today, and thought I would share it here.

I wrote this song years ago, shortly after my wife gave birth to our first child, but it really does apply to all of the friends and family in my life. People around you affect you and you can find that a gift or a challenge but you can’t ignore it. Some of my songs are obscured diary pages of feelings or experiences; this one is a little less obscure.

But that’s art: Polished or raw, or somewhere in between. Be brave and share it!

—–David

P.S. Recorded on my Note 8 just to see what it sounded look like without additional editing or processing.

Music: You Are My Present was originally published on Creative Uploads

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Automatic Star Trek Post Made By A Robot!

Well, AI, but not enough people liked the Steven Spielberg – Stanley Kubrik movie

And not an android, because it doesn’t look like a human, though that would be a better title.

This video was created without editing from a pasted URL using Lumen5 AI-driven software, as reviewed the other day on this very blog. I also put up a carefully edited and fine-tuned video that began as AI and I talk about that here.

Since I talked about the rough edges of social media AI and the need for editing, I thought Star Trek might provide a perfect example of what comes straight from the mouth of machines.

Now take it away, Captain Kirk! If I may quote from “The Return of the Archons” when Kirk and Spock confront a computer projection named LANDRU that has been guiding yet stifling a civilization for 6,000 years:

KIRK: What have you done to do justice to the full potential of every individual of the Body?
LANDRU: Insufficient data.
KIRK: Without freedom of choice, there is no creativity. Without creativity, there is no life. The body dies. The fault is yours.
SPOCK: Are you aiding the body, or are you destroying it?
LANDRU: I am not programmed to answer that question.

And then Landru, the computer, shorts out. (Kirk used logic to destroy at least five computers over the course of the series. Imagine talking to Siri but your phone explodes when she doesn’t understand what you are talking about.)

So, everything in moderation? I really appreciate the software, but it hasn’t taken over yet so I reserve any future opinions.  Lumen5 does suggest that it’s a starting point, but they offer an RSS feed feature that will pop up videos for every blog you feed it, a feature they call Instant Video. Somebody is going to shortcut that, and it’s going to be a waste of their viewer’s time.

As for Star Trek predicting the future and changing the world, the original article on cheatsheet.com is here, and it’s worth a visit for even cooler pictures. Why the AI left some of them out, I do not know.

Man, I should have said I do not have that Data.

Mr. Data!

—–David

P.S. The Star Trek episode quoted above is of course copyright Paramount, or CBS, or Viacom, well maybe all of them in some way, and they reserve all rights. We have the right… they have the right. (I digress.) Anyway, it illustrates my scholarly point and probably falls into fair use.

I hope the same applies to the cheatsheet.com post, though that may fall into parody and satire, since I’m really tweaking the nose of artificial intelligence here by going back to a touchstone series that provided discourse on society’s future fears before computers were much more than adding machines.

Automatic Star Trek Post Made By A Robot! was originally published on Creative Uploads

Everyone Needs A Repurpose In Life

Playing with a new video tool called Lumen5 today, that I think may just be out of beta.

They use AI to help you quickly create social videos out of existing articles, or from scratch if you so desire. At least that’s the promise. Premise?

In real life, of course, a proper polished product takes a little more time, but Lumen5 certainly automates the beginning of a a video and gives you a structure to edit against, and for many of us wanna be procrastinators, it’s exactly the kick in the pants we need to get started on SOMETHING that we SAY we WANT!

I’m not being cruel, statistically machine learning will kick out some fantastic stuff in moments. But if you have a little more skill, technically, literarily, photographic- and video-ily (I knew the grammar was going to fall apart), you want to demonstrate it, so you’ll want to add back in the human touch.

My straight-up first experience: I created an account and logged in, then fed it a URL for an old post with cameraphone tips that urged editing to make things better. (Wow, the metaphor here runs deep!)

Original Post Here: A Little Photo Editing Goes A Long Way

It pulled in the text of the post and all the photos for easy use in their editor. Unfortunately I’d only used two photos (who writes a tip post with only two examples?) so it kindly filled in the gaps with free stock photos from their library, using keywords from the post (lots of camera stuff; actually that was pretty handy.)

It also grabs portions of text from the post (rather than trying to print the whole thing on a hour long slide show.) Great move. It preferred headers and tops of paragraphs and was okay. I edited the text on the separate slides and could move slides and the text boxes around to tell the story better.

 

Music? Yes, there’s a free library or you can add your own. There’s also a Style section to change colors font and the like.

It’s easier to use on a desktop computer, but I did begin on my iPad and got a basic edit out of that.

I decided I wanted to use my own photos, so I moved to the desktop and dug up my folders of older cameraphone pictures, which you can choose one at a time with the Uploader or drag and drop. Worked very well.

It occurs to me only now that I should have tried to use video footage as well since it’s in the stock library (some items are a “premium”). Wonder how to trim that in the simplified interface, or if it needs to be cut before uploading. 50mb limit on uploads, in jpg, png, gif, mov or mp4.

 

 

 

  • It is amazing? Yes, with limitations
  • Can you set it and forget it, just giving it an RSS feed to automatically make videos from your blog while you sleep? Yes. They call that Instant Videos.
  • Should you? Well, if you want your site to be robotic and surface, then okay. If you are going to consider them as first drafts and spend time editing the details to make it personal, then absolutely.

I imagine if you spend some time with this tool, you’ll learn to format posts for even better initial results. But remember that your final audience is human and give it a human touch.

I do love technology. But the web was built by humans on technology, and if we completely surrender our management of it to robots, it’s just going to be AI creators feeding AI readers that post AI replies to very artificial intelligence accounts. What human wants to sift through that for the good stuff? Make it good stuff first, but certainly put your hands on a cool tool.*

On that note, you can post directly to Facebook from inside the program, also Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, or download your video to share with your own methods.

It’s available at lumen5.com and yes, they offer a free version with some limitations.

—–David

P.S. The video blog post I made the other day is in this post here. And on Facebook here. It’s about using your cameraphone better and editing the images for best results.

I’ll post another test shortly and update this link when I do.

* THAT does NOT sound right.

Everyone Needs A Repurpose In Life was originally published on Creative Uploads

Wait, Video With Words On It? Cameraphone Tips Revisited

Here is a video version of an early post on cameraphone tips and editing, updated with a fresh look and more pictures than ever! Welcome to the video era, again! (Been happening since movies were invented, then TV, then TV again, then 3D and VCRs and DVDs and HD and Streaming and — it’s not a new thing. It just gets polished up and shiny again.)

20140702_164831

The video includes photos by me, not a stock library. Keeping with the cameraphone theme of the piece, they were taken in 2014 or so with my old Galaxy S3 (except the last tag slide) to show how chasing the latest greatest camera isn’t even that important for quality. Technique, patience, composition, and EDITING are, though.

But this is supposed to be a video post. So here it is on Facebook *  www.facebook.com/CreativeUploads/videos/763280090528806/

And if you don’t like that, here’s a YouTube version:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IykcktjPq_U?rel=0

—–David

P.S. We’ll talk another time about how more pixels aren’t the magic bean. Boy, I do love a new camera though.

* Wanted to test the possibility of using Facebook as a video host, in case I wanted to post in Facebook first. I have my doubts before the experiment even begins. We shall see.

Wait, Video With Words On It? Cameraphone Tips Revisited was originally published on Creative Uploads

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

Capture Creativity Quick

So one of the difference between successful people and — let’s say less successful people? — isn’t the ideas. It’s sharing them. It takes a lot of work, but we can take the first step very easily.

If your goal is producing creative content, jokes, stories, music, art, whatever…. the trick is to capture the inspiration when you have it even if you can’t devote time to it when it first arrives. It doesn’t have to be finished; you are writing a note to your future self. It can be a sketch or fragment, it just needs to last long enough that you can work on it more, or remember enough to build on it, even years later!

I’m going to talk about musical creativity, but this works for all sorts of inspirations. ’80s pop star John (Cougar) Mellencamp wrote the lyrics to one of his hit songs on the shower door with soap. Who knows how many books and businesses have been built on the backs of bar napkins? I’ve chanted things to myself all day while avoiding just writing them down, kept a notepad by my bed — though now I’ll actually write notes to myself on my phone with a stylus –- which may or may not be better than my previous habit of just getting up for an hour in the middle of the night to write whatever song started when my head hit the pillow.

Countless songwriters have sung into tape recorders over the ages or scribbled down notes . With my first camera capable phone, I would record one-handed the melody that had come to me in 15 second video clips. Sometimes, like this example, I angle my iPad on my music stand so that I can see where my fingers were later.

The improvement on this is that now as soon as I’ve come up with the fragment of a song on any instrument, I turn on the electric piano and record the phrase and following improvisation via MIDI direct into a computer. (GarageBand on iPad works pretty good too in a pinch.) Not only does this give me the exact notes I played in the very improvisation I am building on, but it means that I can edit them, fixing glitches in my spontaneous phrasing, or creating a complete arrangement on top of the original sketch and eventually moving the first take out of the mix completely.

So much easier than my early attempts with cassette tapes. Heck, I once spoke the first chapter or so of a book I never wrote into a cassette recorder while hiking, that’s hilarious to listen to. (You don’t know if I’m pausing because I needed to breathe or I didn’t know what to say next.)

Anyway, my point is this applies to anything that you want to capture organically and move into the future as a more polished product. You don’t need to rely on your memory, and you certainly don’t need the conceit that if you forget it later, it wasn’t that good an idea. Don’t be a baby: write it down or capture it, and let your future self figure out that sometimes it’s crap and sometimes it’s not.

And if you end up with too many fragments of stuff to get to, oh darn why is that a problem? Learn to filter through it and work on your favorite thing until you have something done, then climb back on the pile and see what’s next.

—–David

P.S. For the record I often use S-Note on my aging Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for writing things down, and I love Evernote but now that it is free for only two devices at a time, I am trying desperately to use Microsoft OneNote which I find much more cumbersome and harder to search. It seems like OneNote wants you to have everything local before you can search, where Evernote searches in the cloud so you can pull down what you are looking for.

I really wish there was a reasonably priced plan for Evernote that gave me more devices but the tiny amount of monthly bandwidth that I really use. The upgraded plans are still too much of a stretch for the mostly casual user.

Capture Creativity Quick was originally published on Creative Uploads

Well, That Was Fun

Sorry the site has been down for a little while. But now it’s back live again and at our very own domain name, CREATIVEUPLOADS.COM !

The megawatson.com page is still live, the /CU subdirectory takes you here, and the root is still pointed at my Tumblr for now, but we’ll see what happens in the future.

I actually registered the domain in January right before starting a new job and attacking a dance show edit, at the same time I was helping a close relative recover from surgery…. time management worked great, time availability did not. In between wondering if I should leave the site data where it was or move it and play the SEO dance, it decided to go down and I didn’t have time to fix it.

I suspect it was an implementation of some fancy caching to make things faster, but in any case, I then had to decide if I wanted to fix it, then decide whether to move it or not…. layers on layers, what I love to do! Who needs Sudoku when you have brain teasers readily available, right?

Since I had grabbed a copy of the installation mid-January using the fabulous and famous Duplicator plugin (planning ahead is time management too!), I decided to just try a fresh install on the new server, and here we are half a day later with a live site that seems to have everything in its place!

And that half day included time to go to dinner and a play, so not that bad really.

So thanks to the Duplicator folks (the Lite free version even!*) and Google for the nice searches on fixing my redirect htaccess pages, especially this one at coolestguidesontheplanet since I wanted to move the subdomain and leave the rest where it was.

And here we are!

—– David

P.S. My video edit is done, my medical charge is motivating under her own power and my new job is fun and familiar now. Plus, the site is up. I should have written all these goals down on a piece of paper to give me the psychological satisfaction of crossing them off as encouragement for future endeavors!

Ah, what the heck:

  • Edit video and produce discs
  • Play nurse
  • Enjoy work, learn new stuff and get paid 
  • Fix website

Next!

  • Backup this fresh site while everything’s updated and working!

* And you better believe if there is a business need for the Duplicator Pro version they will be my first choice: it adds better migration for multiple sites and automated backups to several cloud destinations.

Well, That Was Fun was originally published on Creative Uploads

Happy Holidays Bring A Musical “Change Of Season”

Glittering Phoenix Luminarias

Change Of Season instrumental
on BandCamp

I was a huge George Winston fan on discovering him in college (in addition to many other influences in very different genres) and always felt I didn’t play piano as well. That’s probably still true, but I can play and this song certainly touches on some of the same reflective feelings his music brings up in me.

Unlike him I usually write lyrics to my music, lots and lots of lyrics. Really surprised that I didn’t for this tune, but that’s how the song wanted it. Someday I’ll want to transcribe the music and recreate the melodic track it with a proper guitar, and I know just the guy to help.

I’ve  had a languishing BandCamp account for a while now, so I tidied up and hid a sloppy demo of something else and offered up this plaintive but optimistic gift from the hands of the creative tendrils we all share through my hands to yours. I took the photo last year as well on a trip to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Seemed fitting.

Happy Joyous __________ to you and yours.

—–David

P.S. Pretty certain you can listen to the song without having to buy it, so please enjoy in any way you can!

P.P.S. My megawatson.bandcamp.com liner notes: This reflective holiday instrumental, created in late fall 2015 using GarageBand on the iPad with midi connection to a Roland digital piano. Built out of an improvisation with a second improvisation added on top, I literally don’t remember how to play it beyond the four-chord opening that urged me to plug in the recorder. Crazy. Slightly remixed this Fall 2016.

Happy Holidays Bring A Musical “Change Of Season” was originally published on Creative Uploads