My Latest Video Project

Watching Bad Videos So You Don’t Have To its what I am calling my latest project.  In each video in this series I will be spotlighting some of the better videos I find on youtube.

The idea is to help these better videos get the attention they deserve and help viewers have an easier time of finding them in the virtual ocean of crappy videos out there.

Here’s the first episode:

Technorati Tags: awesome videos, spotlight, good videos

Lights On, Nobody Home

All cities have construction contractors.  Firms of various sizes handle all of the construction from huge glass and steel office towers to new home construction and remodeling.  Here in Nutjob Hills we also have a few construction firms.  We’ve also got a self described “Construction Guru”.  This guy is a cross between a construction company, an architect, and an interior decorator.  Not only will his company build, remodel or add on to your home, He’ll also tweak the design to suit what he thinks is best and then he’ll give the interior a look that suits his impression of you.

This guy has so much of a reputation that he can now only get work from people that have never heard of him.  If things keep going at their current pace, he’s gong to end up having to find a new career due to what word of mouth is saying about how he does business.

For example in a recent remodeling job the owner had made it clear that he wanted a specific set of Murray Feiss lighting items to be used in the new den he was adding to his home.  However after meeting him, discussing the plans and looking over the existing house our “guru” decided that the owners choice simply would not do.

Once the work started he then proceeded to spend hours searching shops all over the area as well as several online retailers looking for what he thought would be much more appropriate for the owner’s new den.

I haven’t seen the place yet since construction was finished but I do know that the owner is extremely unhappy with how things turned out.  I can’t say that I blame him either.  Not only were his design choices totally ignored but I have been told that the resulting den looks more like something out of the Adams Family home.

The moral of the story is check out construction firms and their reputations before signing anything.  Have a look at some of their previous work, talk to previous customers and find out what they’ve done that wasn’t right.

Technorati Tags: odd, humor, construction, nutjob hills, weird

How To Win Quickly In A Lightsaber Battle

I was watching one of the many lightsaber duels on YouTube last night (If you haven’t seen Ryan vs Dorkman or RvD2: Ryan vs. Dorkman 2 I *Highly* recommend both of them as the best fan made lightsaber duels on all of YouTube!) when I remembered a scene from one of the Indiana Jones movies where a guy comes at him with a sword, making all kind of fancy moves with it and Indiana just whips out a pistol and shoots him.

I created the entire thing in Sony Vegas instead of using LSMaker to create the lightsaber like I’ve done in the past.  I know that the lightsaber effect came out really terrible but I decided to go ahead and post this anyway because in spite of the bad effect, I think it’s still pretty funny.

Part of the reason it turned out the way it did was because this was the first lightsaber I’ve done in Sony Vegas.  Another reason is because the lighting on my green screen was really bad and I ended up having to (ab)use the color correction tools to improve the chroma keying.  I know, I could have gone ahead and just left the green screen showing and had better results and perhaps I should have but there’s something about a green screen being visible in a shot that just grates my nerves the wrong way.  I just *had* to put something on it in spite of the bad lighting.

I’ll certainly be doing more (hopefully with better lighting!) to improve how the lightsabers turn out.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll even come up with a script for something that actually resembles a story to go with it!

Music credits:
“Exiting Trailer” and “Dangerous” by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0”

Technorati Tags: sith lord, shotgun, rotoscoping, sony vegas, arkansas, visual effect, ryan vs dorkman, chroma key, lightsaber, battle, keyframing, duel, lightsaber effect, video editing

After Effects CS3 Professional For The Wish List

Over the last couple of years I’ve managed to learn quite a bit about making videos and how to do a considerable variety of special visual effects.  I think that all things considered (most notable of which is my almost eternally empty wallet), I have been able to make considerable progress from where I started.

My very first effort with Windows Movie maker was little more than a slide-show with a music track playing in the background.  Later I managed to create some very primitive pseudo animations by using CamStudio to do a screen capture of me dragging some pictures across the recording area and then importing that into windows movie maker and putting it between a couple of brief slide shows.  It was better but to be honest, it still sucked out loud.

Then I got something that made things a little better, a webcam. though since it could only do 320 by 200 at 15 frames per second it wasn’t much better.  Later the equipment improved again with another camera that didn’t have a problem going 30 frames per second and even had over twice the resolution at 640 by 480.

Things got better in the software department with the addition of Wax 2.0, a freeware video editor that was light years ahead of Windows Movie maker in a lot of ways and also made it possible to not only do chroma key effects, but a lot more as well.  I still use wax today for some parts of effects that are too much of a pain in the backside to do otherwise and because while it’s no “particle illusion”, it does have a particle generator that is capable of quite a bit if you spend enough time tweaking it and I have occasionally used it to create a “particle effect” layer or three to use in videos.

Then along came Sony Vegas which was spelled the end of my use of Windows Movie maker almost entirely.  Chroma key became super easy as long as I had decent lighting, It didn’t take too long before I learned how to make basic use of the color corrector which made things look better overall.  And of course there’s dozens of effects tutorials on YouTube from which I’ve learned how to do all sorts of cool tricks from lightsabers and teleporting to masking and track motion.

adobe after effects cs3 professionalHowever, as good as Vegas is, it still has some limitations and that’s where my next entry for the wish list comes in: After Effects CS3 Professional.  Based on the program’s capabilities and what I’ve seen in dozens of tutorials and demo reels, this program (and a computer capable of running it!!!) is definitely moving to the top of my “gotta have it” section at the top of the Christmas, birthday or any other gift giving occasion wish list of things I want because from what I’ve seen on net about it, even if it were on sale for seventy five percent off the regular price it would be a while before I could get it myself and then there’s the matter of having a computer that could run it.  I downloaded a demo version once and it refused to install because my computer didn’t meet it’s requirements.

For capabilities this program can, by itself, do probably 95% or more of what most video editing projects will need with the possible exception of certain effects that you would use particle illusion to create.  After Effects is high end software used by a lot of professionals and though I suppose I have to wait, I’m still itching to be able to put together a copy of After Effects, a computer that can *comfortably* run it, and about two thousand hours of time to learn it and make a few videos with it using every trick I can think of.

Technorati Tags: video software, video editing software, adobe after effects, i want this, professional editing software, wish list

This has got to be one of the funniest things to come out of the 2008 Olympics.

Imagine going to the trouble and expense of making all of the travel arrangements, getting a passport and flying all the way to China to attend the Olympic games.  You are expecting to relax and take it easy while you watch all of your favorite events when all of a sudden, during the opening ceremonies, there it is.

Obviously one of the things you were looking forward to on this trip was going a few weeks without seeing it.  Yet there it is in all of it’s living blue and white horror, the Blue Screen Of Death, projected on the ceiling of the Bird’s Nest as Li Ning was making his virtual run around the top of the stadium on his way to light the torch.

It seems that the Chinese officials in charge of the technology behind the opening ceremonies decided to use Windows XP on the computers used to control the display.  Somewhere along the line somebody saw evidence of this and managed to snap a picture that showed up on Gizmodo

An extra touch to the punchline is that reportedly, Bill Gates was there.  I wonder if he saw it.

Technorati Tags: bsod, bill gates, blue screen, opening ceremonies, olympic error, windows, error message

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