Music Video Or Ad? (Always Both, Right?)

Last week I posted directly on the Facebook page for this blog after I created a promotional video for an upcoming concert and the client had issues publicizing it with their own Facebook post.

https://www.facebook.com/478531892336962/posts/875709779285836/

SERVICE WITH A SMILE

I may get into how I captured and created the visuals later, but let’s get into the technical part of serving your client. Whether they be a paying customer or a friend, if you are helping someone out, I tend to consider that as doing somebody a favor.

That’s not from arrogance; I am trading my time for someone else to benefit from and that’s a favor. It doesn’t matter if I am also getting paid for it or not. There are literally 1 million other things I could, do including nothing, including things I choose or do not choose. In turn they are doing me a favor by participating in the partnership, whether they do that well or not!

With that attitude, if someone has a problem I may be irritated but I don’t get angry about it. If someone misinterprets something or doesn’t like what I have done, I may be disappointed but I also want to solve the problem, because I try to see us as a team.

Sometimes that’s difficult or nearly impossible, but I strive at least not to let that be my fault.

This case was none of those, although he asked for changes and additions I was hoping not to make. But by doing them I made it better.

LET’S GET TECHNICAL

And now we will get into the technical part and point of this post: Facebook is really annoying. If you don’t give them the video to host, unless it’s YouTube they like to show you a link. If you want to embed your Facebook post somewhere else, like I want to do now, you will generally get a link and not the visual you like, or if you do, not in a way that you can make look prettier.

Wait, what am I saying? That the big technology players don’t see each other as a collaborative team and try to solve the problem and make it easy for the end user that works with both of them? I was just talking about. customer service….

So funny.

Anyway, I’d shared the video via OneDrive this time, and I am assuming since he was on mobile, he grabbed the link and posted it to Facebook, and because I shared it with relaxed enough permissions it did technically work.

But it didn’t auto play, had a crap thumbnail, and it branded for the Microsoft product. Plus, he need to change the name of the file which was displayed instead of something more on brand, and without the extension. But it was already on his page and he was driving and couldn’t call me back, and people were going start liking it and then when we fixed it it was going to get zapped and all those likes would go away and they weren’t going to click like and share again.*

So my solution was to immediately copy the text of his post with links intact (and a couple of improvements like a direct link that you use to get tickets for the show.) And then I uploaded the video to Facebook and created a public post on my own page and made him share that as well. Then people could share his copy of the post of my copy of the post and it would all go through the same the locus point, so as it got more views and likes it would show up better in the Facebook feed and reach other people, and he would still get likes and shares for his page. And patrons for his concert.

I think that’s a win-win. The funny thing is that solution was actually my second attempt in five minutes. My first brilliant attempt was to share a post directly on his wall, the same way you go and wish somebody happy birthday so that the video or picture shows up in their feed.

The problem we had, however, was that my post was only visible to “friends” of his page, even though I would’ve posted it publicly, because that’s what his default page settings were. So then he shares it and it’s public on his page, but fans and performers can’t share it again because the details and video won’t show up, just his header (since he didn’t have to write anything that was already right there below it in my post!

I asked him to try to change the settings on my post to public, because I know that I cannot. I never heard back if he was able to do that, which would solve the problem later, but again, he was driving, so I provided the other solution, and he shared that one. It stayed public all the way down the line.

So next time I have Facebook-targeted content, I will include a list of the steps up front that “our team” will take to share to our best effect, and a plan ahead of time. I will probably create that plan on my own, using my own account and my page, and a relative to test things on their account. Maybe a dog picture.

—–David

P.S. Funny enough, if I had known that the last edit I sent was actually going to be approved and final, I could have put it on YouTube which would have posted friendly to his page, shared easily, and put all direct video likes in the same place, slightly benefitting me in the end, and giving me a little promotion for being a producer in the first place. But once the clock was ticking, uploading again to YouTube and creating all of that data set would’ve taken more time than the two different versions that I did to solve it the way I did.

* Oh and yeah I’m trying to lay down with an ice pack because I was in a car accident recently and my back hurts if I spent too much time at the computer!

Music Video Or Ad? (Always Both, Right?) was originally published on Creative Uploads

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Sharpen Your Skills

Sharpen your skills. This is usually meant in a very specific way, whether you are studying something technical and precise, or aimed at a specific field or job.

But as a Renaissance-minded creative, or jack of all trades, or generalist, as you might call me, I see that it can apply to anything, which can make it hard to decide which skills need to be sharp.

Creative uploads pencil sharpener sharpen your skills

You can sharpen all of them. not all at once. But if you choose tasks and interests that you like, try to pick one where related skills overlap. This lets you sharpen the same skills but with more bang for your buck. Plus, that efficiency will help when you need to work on a skill that is more specific to a required task. Especially mentally, having covered several areas already reduces the stress of having to focus on one thing and make other things wait.

If you’re trying to build your muscles or exercise more, you should have a regular exercise program, but you could substitute helping people move furniture or rearranging and reorganizing your house and garage. Any excuse for lifting things is using your muscles right? *

Just make a habit of it. Being aware of what you’re doing and how it can affect your other desired skill sets.

I can type, I play piano and guitar, and I’m good at massages. All of these things use my fingers and hand muscles, and I try to improve my dexterity by changing angles, styles, or even switching to my weaker hand when doing simple tasks, which has improved my left hand bassline playing on the piano, for example.

When I quit my cubicle-based job to be a stay-at-home father for my daughter years ago, I joked that I was leaving a tiny workspace with randomized duties and a diminutive boss who would yell to get his own way, always decided he was right, and didn’t listen or care what I was saying, to take exactly the same job but with no commute.

I have used my corporate skills throughout her childhood, from organization through quality control, presentations and conflict resolution.

If you’ve been a stay-at-home parent and are reentering the business world, or joining it for the first time, realize that you can use those lessons that you learned at home with no commute everywhere else.

We are all children at heart, and the ones with less heart show their childishness even more.

The only thing missing (unfortunately) is the opportunity to call a timeout. But you can chuckle inside at the silliness of it all anywhere you go, and your sharpened skills can cut through anything.

—–David.

P.S. I miss regular pencils and that cool wall sharpener. I miss the smell from sharpening, the texture and feel of the pencil, the shading you get from holding it at an angle, and having an eraser that takes away your mistakes. I do like the convenience of mechanical pencils, until they run out of lead and you realize that you can’t just get up from your desk, walk to the wall and grind them for a few seconds so that they work right again, especially when you’re out of lead refills.

* Full disclosure: Currently recuperating from a car accident, I am taking any excuse for not lifting things. But it will come back to haunt me, as I have gained 5 pounds already.

Sharpen Your Skills was originally published on Creative Uploads

Hello, Snacking Shelled Fellow

I was having dinner with friends and they have turtles in the backyard. No, they have tortoises, because turtles tend to water and tortoises are land dwellers.

Apparently they like snacking on hibiscus flowers, so my daughter laid a path to draw them out of their nest area.

Being the photographer always looking for angles, I used two skills to grab a quick video.

  • Anticipate where your subject will likely go
  • Get on the same level as your subject

These are great tips when photographing children, and tortoises, it turns out. Both are more adorable if you can see their faces and eyes, so don’t film their backs or the top of their heads if there’s a better angle. And if they are on the move, set up in a spot where they are heading. Here I went for a likely snack.

If photographing your kids, draw them in with a toy or snack, wait at the bottom of a slide, or get a camera in front of them while playing or showing them something new and fun.

But remember to enjoy time with them too. If if they are sometimes animals.

—–David

P.S. This was shot with the stock Android app and edited with the Video Editor on my old Samsung Note 4 so I could replace the audio craziness with simple stock music, which was available right in the app, and since it’s royalty free I can post it anywhere without out being taken down. And since I could do this on my phone I didn’t have to wait to post it, or transfer video to a computer first.
Unfortunately my phone is misbehaving so that was an impediment, but a new phone is on the way and I got to be nostalgic with my classic Note.

P.P.S. Two tortoises cozy in their housetwo tortoises cozy in their house creative uploads

Hello, Snacking Shelled Fellow 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

About That Caution: Just Drive!

One more thing on that last post about caution and special events, this was on my Tumblr the other day.

Keep left! Or don’t, I mean, just barrel straight through if that’s what you want….

http://megawatson.tumblr.com/post/171568663575/keep-left-or-dont-i-mean-just-barrel-straight

https://assets.tumblr.com/post.js

Now there’s some useful advice for creativity and production!

I either think too much while I am driving, or drive too much and don’t have time to think.

—–David

P.S. I do not think there is such a thing as “thinking too much”, but “overthinking” is a road hazard when you are trying to get someplace.

P.P.S. I love this Paul Simon song so much: Think Too Much (a)  “The fact is, you don’t think as much as you should.”

 

About That Caution: Just Drive! was originally published on Creative Uploads

I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks

Came across a blog post today from Stage 32 featuring a couple of videos that might be of interest to creative types that might want to download them into their brain (see what I did there? A truly terrible attempt at a joke. That’s what you call a first draft, and would cut in editing.)

The first video is a unicorn for me, something I knew existed but has been hard to find. I’ve only ever seen ten minutes of it and was amazed by it: Michael Caine on Acting For Film. THE Michael Caine, teaching actors film techniques, filmed for a British production quite a few years ago. Caught part of it on PBS when I was younger, and even though I am not focused on the acting field, the techniques he displays and his passion for the work are inspiring.

PLUS: It’s easily adapted to directing tips, to screenwriting and storytelling. It would even help you if you are just taking a meeting. Caine advises you to “pick an eye”, and shows why.

CAINE
But if I’m talking to you, and I don’t blink,
and I just keep on going, and I don’t blink….

He goes into methods for holding focus, grabbing attention, and simple tricks to hit your mark, demonstrating everything. Filmmakers: send this link to your actors. He’s not teaching for stage, but he makes comparisons and you can see those differences yourself and find things that would help whatever your venue, like being smaller or bigger with your performance without upstaging.

I’m not going to delve too far into it, because there’s so much here you will find different things than I do.

The second video is from Actualized.org, covering techniques on How To Overcome Creative Blocks and Writer’s Block. Even if you have writer’s block and you watch it and it doesn’t help you, you can tell yourself you were trying to be productive for thirty minutes and feel better about yourself, right? (I guarantee that’s not in the video, nor is it the best tip ever. But we all do it!)

This clip is a little more valuable than that, though. (Spoiler alert: it starts with commitment.)

Click here for the Stage 32 blog post with the videos

Just do it. No apologies to Nike. Why would you steal such a powerful statement and apply it only to shoes?

—–David

P.S. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Michael Caine:


https://youtu.be/bZPLVDwEr7Y

Overcoming Creative Blocks is here:
https://youtu.be/OwgD1vmAawo

P.P.S.  I successfully broke my writing addiction when I was younger (don’t do it!) but I still write (just a little less obsessively). Which was probably a mistake. I’ll talk about that another time.

But I always said I never got writer’s block. This is true in one common perception of the term: I don’t run out of ideas. But I do block myself from writing when I should, and that’s an even more insidious issue that I will be addressing with help from sources like this one.

I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks 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

The Internet Is Just Evolution

Humanity has been learning, collecting, cataloging and sharing information since the dawn of time.

The internet is not new. It’s just a new way of doing things, and it lets us search for and find information faster if we train our brains how to use it. Imagine the evolution that will grow out of that.

Some of the information we come across in our lives is wrong, no matter where we find it, both on purpose and accidentally, and that’s always happened. (Even mom was wrong about that whole swimming after eating thing.)

But don’t fool yourself: we aren’t doing something new, we’re just doing it in a different way.

Don’t be intimidated; we aren’t doing something impossible, just more complicated.

Just do something with it. It’s the library of Alexandria, check it out!

—–David

P.S. And don’t set your assumptions in concrete and never break them apart to see if they still hold up.  Even encyclopedias got updated every so often.

 

 

The Internet Is Just Evolution was originally published on Creative Uploads

Waterproof Versus Water-Resistant

I may have dropped my GoPro in a pool the other night. Without the waterproof case on. And sworn a lot.

On the plus side, the pool was draining since we are having it resurfaced. But it wasn’t done. So the three feet of cold water in the deep end kept the GoPro from crashing into concrete ten feet down, but also: Water. No case.

pool timelapse creative upload

Half empty or half full?

My daughter was amused inside the house as I took off my shoes and phone and rushed to the shallow end so I could drop into the pool and trudge into ever deeper chilly water, which I had to reach down into to grab the camera. One shoulder stayed dry. I sloshed out shaking the camera and swearing more. Even I appreciated the sound effects. She didn’t even know what had happened having only looked out the window due to my interjections.* Hilarious. But so polite about it. She just asked me to stop swearing so much, and pretended she didn’t know why I was wet or even that I was wet.

Well, it was polite or maybe just afraid to get yelled at. Either way, respect!

Oh, why no case? Timelapse photography people already know. I needed more battery life. GoPro batteries run about an hour on video and somewhat longer for still photo timelapses, but if you have Wi-Fi on to frame your shot who knows. I’d already lost the end of an earlier timelapse angle when the battery died well before I came back to check it.

TIP: I started setting and resetting a forty-minute alarm to check in on the camera. I used our old oven timer because the buzzing amused me but you can use your phone.

So after spending my few batteries which we recharging, and since I was on the edge of the pool, literally high and dry, I had the case off with my Anker backup battery plugged into the USB port, which lets it run for hours.

Unless you drop it into a pool.

Yes, despite the brick on the plastic frame it was mounted on and the weight on the USB cord to the battery, I didn’t get a good grip on it, and that USB plug is happy to disengage. In slow motion, or so it seemed to me.

In hindsight, my first good grip should have been on the GoPro not the Anker battery when I moved the brick, because one of those is much cheaper than the other. Or I should have screwed it onto a tripod laid flat on the edge instead of the smaller frame, but I was afraid the dogs would bump it in.

So I took out the SD card and the battery, tapped the soggy camera repeatedly on my dry sleeve at all angles and put them all in a sealable plastic bag with a bunch of silica gel packets then closed it up for three laborious days to dry it out.

Yes those silly “desiccant: do not eat” packets that come in shoeboxes, with cameras and bags and hard drives. Save them! Silica just sucks up humidity like nothing else. You can dry silica gently in an oven on low to make it stay more effective over time, but Note: at some point it will have chemically bonded with too much moisture even just laying around, and will no longer do a good job. You can actually buy silica gel that changes color to let you know that. Some pros use containers they just keep in their camera bags. Here’s one example I haven’t purchased myself, yet. I do keep the little packets in my bag and try to throw them out before they rip. So far that has worked.

Two things: First, rice does work. It just doesn’t work nearly as well as silica gel. Like ten percent as well. If you care about your device, rice may be marginally better than just leaving it on a counter. Just use silica gel.

Two: Some people will put the wet electronic device, be it a phone, camera or whatever, into a bag or a sock they can swing around with the open ports to the outside of the swing, using the centrifugal force to help force the water out so whatever moisture left can evaporate faster. I think this is brilliant, except having been clumsy once I didn’t want to risk throwing my camera into the ceiling too. You can though.

TIP: If you soak your electronics in salt water, dunk the item again in fresh water first to try to rinse out the corrosive salt, which will take out your electronics in just a few hours, before it gets a handle to dry.

creative uploads Diving board pool gopro photographySo when I dunked my camera, I was angry in part for my stupidity but also because it meant I couldn’t finish the creative project I started without a camera. Isn’t that weird? Of course after I sealed up my camera to dry, I went and pulled out my video camera with the expanded battery pack and carried it into the pool. (One camera down….)

Well, I had a project! To be fair I kept a brick on the camera strap and was way over in the now empty shallow part of the pool on a tripod (actually a vinyl pod but that’s another story) and zoomed in to frame the remaining water many feet away. So I just let the video run for hours and will speed it up later in Adobe Premiere. Yes I lost a chance at a shot I wanted but just chose another angle. And I had to shoot the dusty grinding off of the old surface the next day with the same camera, on a tripod at safe distances.

In my case it all worked out. After three impatient days I didn’t want to rush in case it was too soon for whatever critical drop might still remain and short out something, the camera powers on and seems fine, with no internal lens spots or obvious defects, though I suspect its life expectancy is somewhat reduced.

Timelapse video of pool draining and resurfacing to come. After the pool guy returns. Ironically, he hasn’t been able to start on the tile yet because of excess water. It’s been raining. Go figure. My camera will be ready and waiting for the rest.

—-David

P.S. Patience is a virtue. There are times you don’t want to hear that from anyone else. What I did was schedule my thinking about or testing the camera for at least two days away, and put the baggy in a place where I would eventually notice it but wasn’t in my daily path, so if I was really good at forgetting I may have trashed my multi-hundred dollar camera and SD card, one day I might go, “Oh yeah, I was drying out that GoPro.”

P.P.S. Ignoring a potential tragedy is not as easy as I make it sound. But it helped a little.

Yes those are links through my Amazon store because these are products I use from the vendor I got them from: http://astore.amazon.com/megawatson-20/

* Interjections! Show excitement! Or emotion! They’re generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point, or by a comma when the feeling’s not as strong.

Pool drain timelapse creative uploads

Waterproof case on the pool step

Waterproof Versus Water-Resistant was originally published on Creative Uploads