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.


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

Get: Really Useful Digital Video Recording Tools Vol. 1

(It’s just going to be the first volume. We all know it. We have too many tools we like to share and talk about when we love doing something, and work becomes playtime and they become toys.)

This post was inspired by what I thought was a quick post about some HDMI cables I like, but then I started talking about how I was using them and with what, and that’s where this list came from. I happily use all this stuff but may not have bought it from the exact store linked; you can research for yourself:

The Atomos store has a lot of cool things to help you get even higher quality digital video into your workflow. I like to go there and dream of big budgets and bank accounts: Atomos stuff on Amazon

A few months ago, I picked up this model of an Atomos Ninja Blade with an LCD screen.


The screen is larger than any of my camcorder’s (though lower resolution than some) and can be positioned anywhere, but now I can record 4.2.2 colorspace 1920P HD video with less compression straight to disk from my old HV20 camera compared to when it went to tape at 1440×1080 in 4.2.0 using HDV compression. There are other video formats too depending on your needs. Yeah, the camera’s HDMI out gives a straight feed of better quality, and now I don’t have to scrounge for mini-DV tapes or deal with dropouts from dirty heads and old reused tapes! (I do miss that my tapes were a backup; and I will need to buy more hard drives to keep copies, but quality takes a little extra room, right?)

Unfortunately, the price doesn’t include any hard drives but comes with two empty drive sleds. But that means you can finesse the drive budget in the beginning and grow into it.

There are a lot of pricey Solid State Drives and other fast Hard Disk Drives on the Recommended Drive list, but it seemed a little outdated when I pored over it in April so it was tricky. You can use a pricier SSD to make a shockproof system, or get more space on a cheaper HDD. I have another camera for running around with, so I like to shoot static on a tripod with it for now but can always swap out the drive (two hot swappable trays!). I picked this standard spinning 500GB hard disk drive for $50. There are others on the Atomos list and some that could be. like this one. I wasn’t sure it worked when I bought it, but it does! The model is:
Seagate 500GB HDD 7MM ST500LT025
in case you need to search Google or your favorite site for it. But that line turns up nothing in the Amazon search because some of the details are too specific even though there are numerous sellers. So sometimes if you can’t find it in Amazon, start at a search engine instead. Anyway I found one but cutting out some keywords:

Listed as Seagate 500GB Momentus Thin SATA 3Gb/s 16MB Cache 2.5-Inch Internal Notebook Hard Drive (ST500LT025).

So their search was screwed up by HDD and 7mm (the drive height)? Really stupid.

Oh, you don’t have an HV20? Then hook it up to your Canon Rebel whatever model, or any digital camera with an HDMI out! I even connected it to my TiVo DVR and while the cable and pay channels are sadly copy-protected and can’t be recorded, I could make copies of anything from broadcast television right off the DVR and download into my computer (Yeah, there’s a program for that too). Your DVR mileage may vary.

Compatible Cameras? Look Here. Depending on your camera you may need an HDMI adapter to micro or mini, or a cable (I prefer the adapters so you aren’t looking through a pike for the one cable you need; some may be afraid to misplaced the one adapter they need. Keep it in a ziplock in your camera bag’s most obvious pouch.) Here’s a good collection for a nice price
I just added it to my own wishlist while researching this very article.

You also need to research your camera to figure out how to keep from recording the display overlay on the HDMI out unless that’s the look you want, and set your camera to stay on if you aren’t recording to internal media (which can be a great backup, or make the Ninja into the backup). You can do it. Just read the fine manual. Or Google it.

Last, that 15-foot white Monoprice cable (I got it direct from ages ago but they do seem to be on Amazon as Monoprice). Like I said, it still works but now has a short due to pulling it at a bad angle. It’s long which is helpful and white so I know it’s mine at the end of the shoot. I wouldn’t use it in more rugged conditions, and it worked fine at home before I finally damaged it on that shoot.

Anyway, a few helpful toys. Tools!

— David

Note: I set up an Amazon store to share product links for items I am happy to own, to provide readers an honest recommendation and review from a real person. I get a percentage of any sale made through my Amazon affiliate link at no additional cost to customers, which I think is fantastic. I’ve just used my order history to link literally to the exact products I am happy I bought, when possible to the same company my order came through inside the Amazon umbrella.

Get: Really Useful Digital Video Recording Tools Vol. 1 was originally published on Creative Uploads

Get: Cheap Quality HDMI Cables (plus…)

I’ve set up an Amazon store to share product links for items I am happy to own, to provide readers an honest recommendation and review from a real person. 

Twisted Vein HDMI Cables
Twisted Veins Two Pack of 6 ft. High Speed HDMI Cables + Right Angle Adapter and Velcro Cable Ties (Latest Version Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return).

Decent webbing-wrapped cables to connect both your devices for viewing or your devices for production (I use one now to take the HDMI off an old Canon HV20 digital tape recorder into a Ninja Digital Recorder I picked up from Adorama. Not only do the cables work great, but:

  • They come with a right-angle adapter to get around tight turns or reduce strain on a connection
  • Wish I had both cable and adapter on a shoot where I provided video monitoring to a puppeteer and damaged a long cable by stepping on it while moving the tripod.* This cable likely wouldn’t have bent enough to short out, or in the adapter the cable would have pulled safely out instead.
  • Free shipping available on orders over $35 (if you don’t already have Amazon Prime. What? You don’t? Just do this now and come back, I’ll wait. Try Amazon Prime Free for 30 Days)

I’m not going to write a sonnet for these: they work great, include Velcro ties since we forget that’s a good thing to use with cables, bonus adapter, and they are stylish enough that you know which ones are yours in the pile of boring black plastic ones when it’s time to pack up.


* At least it wasn’t the camera port, which I had feared!.

P.S. I still use my broken 15′ long white cable from Monoprice but not in production environments. If you set it down just right and don’t move it, it works fine. like when I am on a trip and want to plug the iPad into hotel tv to look at the day’s photos. Oh, there’s a bunch of little add-ones that make that easier too. Another time.

P.P.S. This other post has links to other items mentioned in this article so you can research them if interested, without having to go into a lot of detail here. (The items but not necessarily the store I used.)  Call them Really Useful Digital Video Recording Tools Vol. 1.

Note: I get a percentage of any sale made through my Amazon affiliate link at no additional cost to customers, which I think is fantastic. I’ve just used my order history to link literally to the exact products I am happy I bought, when possible to the same company my order came through inside the Amazon umbrella.


Get: Cheap Quality HDMI Cables (plus…) was originally published on Creative Uploads