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The Imagineer's Workshop

Discussion in 'Imagineer' started by englanddg, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    Many thanks for the kind words.

    The avatar artwork i also drew.
    Did it last year immediately after Tony announced his 'retirement'.

    Had to show some support for the man, and what he stands for.

    :D
     
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  2. northmusic

    northmusic Member

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    Great thread!

    It's always nice to see other people's ideas on the Imagineering section of the forum, but seeing actual work that some of you have produced is especially cool. There's a lot of talent on here for sure!

    While I'm nowhere near as talented as most of you, the majority of my creative work is done in the music realm. Most of my work is made with computers/electronics, but I also play the trumpet from time to time.

    In creating music, I've used a lot of tools over the years, but in my most recent work, I use:
    - Cubase for a digital audio workstation (DAW)
    - Various virtual synth applications to generate sound.
    - A fairly robust Windows based PC so that it can handle all of the processing.

    For anyone interested, here is a sample of a song I did for a video game tribute album:


    I also like to play "imagineer" from time to time as well, and managed to put the following together for Halloween this year. How it was made:
    - I created an audio file using various clips from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"
    - Mapped out the animation, and had a very talented artist animate Linus on a black background for me (this was way beyond my abilities, so I had to get help).
    - Made a screen out of wood/fabric that I could project the animation onto.
    - Surrounded Linus with pumpkins, and tried to creatively light the surrounding areas for effect.


    I know there are better examples out there, but I hope you enjoy none the less. :)

    Steve
    www.northsounds.com
     
  3. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    I guess I could get into this, eh?
     
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  4. Zweiland

    Zweiland Well-Known Member

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    Yes, please!
     
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  5. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    Video Editing and Production - Get an Editor

    So, I'll get into video production and editing. This may be over several posts...

    I'll be going through several different videos I've produced and discussing what I used to create them.

    I made this one with Movie Maker on Vista, but starting with Windows 7, MS changed out Movie Maker in an attempt to make it more "user friendly", and as a result removed a lot of the more advanced features...now it is far more templated and restricting.

    This was made with Movie Maker on Windows Vista.


    But, if you have XP / Vista still, you can do some pretty decent video editing in it. It takes a lot of time, and you should SAVE OFTEN!!! (I am gonna say it again...SAVE OFTEN!!!)

    But, it's free and it works.

    I spent a LOT of time in the timeline (read on about that) to get the audio and video to line up with the upbeats and downbeats of the music. WAY more than I would now, due to the limitations of the tool (Windows Movie Maker) that I was using at the time.

    Before going further, there are a few aspects you should look for with a video editor.

    1) Timeline

    I can't stress this more, a good video editor should have a timeline screen. iMovie, Final Cut Pro, the older Movie Maker (before Win 7), and other video editors (Adobe Premier, Pinnacle Videospin, Pinnacle / Avid Studio, etc.) all have this feature. If Win 7 / 8 Movie Maker has it, I haven't been able to figure out how to make it work properly, and at this point, I don't care.

    If you don't see a timeline view, you should move on to something else. It allows you to align all the media elements in a visual manner and set up your cues (making the music match the video, etc.)

    Untitled.jpg

    You'll notice the layers (I labeled them). The software I use (Pinnacle Studio 15) has another video layer that I left hidden for overlays and green screen effects. Other suites (like Adobe Premier) offer even more flexibility in this regard.

    2) Media Formatting, Capturing and Conversion

    I highly recommend you spend the money to get a good media conversion utility. They aren't terribly expensive, but will save you lots of headaches. The one I use is Wondershare Ultimate. I think it's around $60 for a one time license.

    There are several reasons for this. First, if you gank (old school for...ahem...borrow) media (which I'll get into in a later post), you may find the format isn't something you desire. If you do work with After Effects or something that likes to export to avi (which can create massively huge files that slog your system, required for HD production, but not web production (even HD web production), it can be invaluable. Also, right now mp3 and mp4 are acceptable through the HTML5 in most browsers, but not Firefox, where you'll need to convert to ogg.

    Here's a rather decent breakdown of what video file formats mean, and what they do. There is no "best" format. Rather, it's what you intend to do with the video that matters.

    http://www.videomaker.com/article/15362-video-formats-explained

    _______________________

    From this point on, most video suites will offer a variety of options, such as templates, animated text overlays, etc...the specifics will vary, but they will all generally have one form of them or another.

    Which are best? Well, I think Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premier have the best "out of the box" suites, but Pinnacle has an enormous (not always free) add on library that easily brings it up to par. However, with the pricing changes Adobe has done with CC being a monthly subscription service, and the fact Apple has been putting Final Cut Pro on sale quite often, I'd say go for one of those platforms.

    At my time of purchase, Pinnacle Studio was the best value on the market (I also got it as a large bundle with a lot of plusses). But, if I were to purchase today, I wouldn't say that is the case.

    Now, as we move into something a bit more complex (dealing with editing the video), I want to be clear, this is just PART of a suite of tools you'll need to make videos. This is where you put together the final product for rendering. You may do all of your composition and editing within the software, you may not.

    Read on, and you'll find out how other tools and tricks can help spruce up your videos!
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  6. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    Video Editing and Production - Learn Some Skills / Terms

    Ok, for this (because I'm going to use some of these terms as I move on), spend some time viewing this:

    1) Learn to film better raw footage / pictures with some basic understanding of cinematography / photography

    While I am far from an expert at this, I find that if you learn even a few of these lessons, even with a bunch of short raw footage clips, you can piece together a better story that communicates movement and attracts the audience.

    Some of this (most of this) is far more than the amateur will be interested in, but it's still important to consider.



    2) Learn how to "tell the story"...



    So, building on this, lets analyze (unfortunantly, I don't have the original media file anymore...long story, but it goes to something I'll say...outside of SAVE and SAVE OFTEN...BACK IT UP!!! I'll have a whole section on how to back up your media projects, much of which I've learned the hard way, in a later segment.)



    So, lets think about cuts...

    I'm going to step through the beginning video with editing commentary...

    1 - This was a stock animated intro from Windows Movie Maker. I used it simply because I wanted a "rush" feel at the beginning. In retrospect, the font is rather hard to read, but that's only after the downconvert after rendering (something to consider)...at that time, youtube was just starting HD above 480p...so keep that in mind.

    <basic cut>

    2 - Chose this B-roll of the kiddo playing with my video camera to draw the audience in. Audio is at full volume throughout, but I played with the audio levels on the Video A track for this and other scenes.

    <basic cut>

    3 - Kept the audio levels for the A track video up, but not full volume. There are some jump cuts here...to keep the tempo

    <basic jump cut to me saying "hows the ice cream">

    <basic jump cut to her giving me the "ok" sign>

    <basic cut>

    4 - Chuck E. Cheese. Kept the audio up because her voice works well with the music.

    <basic cut>

    5 - The A track audio actually is a spike, just so you hear her "squeal". It's muted for the next few scenes until the "hey, that's from Disneyworld" part. I say "yep" at the end, but couldn't quite get the cue on that just right in editing (limitations of the software)...

    <several basic cuts>

    You'll see some artifacts (the black "buzzy/fuzzy" parts on the images. This was due to the fact I was shoving HD through Windows Movie Maker on a rather old computer that couldn't handle it. Pre-render previews this didn't exist, but every render copy has it. The original media doesn't.

    I couldn't figure out how to get rid of it at the time, but I haven't had that issue with more powerful tools, so I chalk it up to pushing Windows Movie Maker to the limits (that, and the machine I was on at the time).

    Through scene 12 (the pan of the Air and Space Museum), I only used basic cuts.

    I tossed in one dissolved cut between that pan and her opening the suitcase in scene 13, where there is a jump cut to scene 14 where she says "hey it's from Disney World" (both from the same footage)...

    <basic cut to Disneyworld>

    I'll stop here, because I think you get the idea...no need to go through the whole video.

    On to the next level!
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  7. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    Video Editing and Production - Random Advice

    So, we've discussed the basic terms, and seen them applied (a basic cut is worth far more, sometimes, than a more complex one), it's time to move on to starting a project.

    This is where I'll say...once more...

    SAVE OFTEN!

    [​IMG]

    It's gotten much better with media programs that auto save, but saving at every major point is never a bad idea. Even with the more stable editors like iMovie and Adobe, you never know when it's going to go on the fritz, and the last thing you need is hours worth of work corrupting or going away.

    This actually happened to me during the competition, and the tips I'm about to share will help you, so while they sound silly and paranoid, they aren't.

    1) Create a directory / folder on your computer and put all your core media there.

    Lets take this years SA comp. I created a folder on my desktop for each new challenge. I'd call it something related to the challenge that was easy to remember. For example, for the DCL challenge, my folder was called "Ships". For the TDS challenge, my folder was called Frozen (since we were doing a frozen presentation).

    Within that folder I created subfolders for each project. The main folder was a dumping ground for media I'd find (like when looking for images that could be used in the presentation or video)...and that's why I put it on my desktop, it's easy to find and direct my browser to. More on gankin...er...borrowing images later.

    Another folder, if I was doing a video, would be called just that, Video. And in there I'd have two to four folders. One was Final Images, one was Final Video Clips. I'd use this as a dumping ground for videos and images I wanted to play with, and when I was ready to add them to my final After Effects or video, I'd move them to those folders.

    The other would be called Drafts. And another Finals. This is where I'd store my project files.

    Now, when you back all these up, it's important you take the whole folder structure with you. Because, video editors do NOT import your pictures and save them until you render. Meaning, if you have a picture you've included in a video project, but you later move the project file elsewhere, it's going to go looking for that picture, and ask you where it is (or give you an error) when you try to open it up again. This is known, in computer terms, as a dependency. It's dependent that external file until it compiles a finished work of its own.

    This is why you build a neat little file structure (whatever works for you) that allows you to keep it all condensed, and therefore easy to back up, and easy to restore if you run into an issue.

    2) Backing Up

    I'd highly recommend, if you care about your stuff, you get a cloud backup service on your machine. There are lots to choose from, but I traditionally recommend Bitcasa...though they aren't as enticing as they were a few months ago when they had an infinity solution.

    Nothing is worse than spending hours upon hours on something and your computer dies.

    If not, you can always use a program like Syncback to move things from your main drive to a backup drive without you having to remember.

    The more copies the better. I run my personal systems on a tertiary backup setup (meaning, three layers of immediate backup).

    To give you an example...

    [​IMG]

    I lost my laptop on Monday this week due to an HDD (Hard Disk) failure. I ordered a new drive same day through Amazon Prime and had the hardware replaced and OS, drivers and important software reloaded today within 3 hours.

    More importantly, I wasn't worried one bit, because all my DATA was safe due to a tertiary backup. Even if the first backup failed (which it didn't, but it could have), I had another to go to. Also, due to this, I didn't really need my laptop (nor do I need any specific computer, just an internet connection) to function.

    As we become more and more digital, this is something you really should consider and plan for. Hardware and software will fail, so copies are NEVER a bad idea.

    You don't need some complicated backup system, just copies of the important stuff. Keep all your important stuff fairly organized (you don't need to be OCD, but keep it all in the same spots on your computer) and make sure that gets backed up to iDrive, Bitcasa, Skydrive, iCloud, SOMETHING....as well as a local USB drive backup.
     
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  8. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    Video Editing and Production - After Effects vs Final Video

    So, you all probably want to know how to make something like this:



    This...



    This...



    This...



    Or this...



    That's exactly what I'll get into next post.
     
  9. Figments Friend

    Figments Friend Well-Known Member

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    I am glad you touched on this topic.
    Interesting to hear about the older versions of Movie Maker being 'better' then the newer versions.
    I did quite a bit of playing around with video editing with Movie Maker on my Windows XP laptop a few years a ago, and found it user friendly.
    Hearing about the changes is good to know. Glad to still have a older version.

    Most of my video work in the past involved stop motion animation i had done ages ago and filmed sequences featuring various marionette ( string puppet ) performances.
    I designed and built many such characters over the years and used to film the performances for those not able to attend my live shows.
    Gosh that was ions ago now it seems....
    Those old performances were filmed and edited on VHS tape, one player to another, cut together in a non-digital way.
    Today i still shoot on videotape but edit 'digitally' via Movie Maker on Microsoft XP.

    Here is a fun example, for those who might find it of interest.....if not for the subject matter, then perhaps as an example of some of the visual tricks one could do with Movie Maker.

    Here is a video i put together featuring a project i was working on a few years back.
    A series of videos featuring a life size marionette of George Harrison ( of Beatles fame ).
    The video shows a example of him performing one of his most famous solo songs, and then goes 'behind the scenes' showing how his animated performance is accomplished.

    Although the figure looks like a animatronic, it is not.
    ALL movements of this hand made figure were controlled by nylon strings from above by hand, by one puppeteer.....yours truly.

    This was filmed on VHS videotape, converted to a digital file, then edited together with Windows XP Movie Maker on a laptop.

    Have a look...and enjoy !

     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  10. IDInstitute

    IDInstitute Well-Known Member

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    I may have missed this if you covered it......because a lot of it was confusing (and by no fault of yours.....I'm terrible!:p), but do you happen to know how to record your computer screen while using it? And then use that footage as a video? I did a bit of a search, but I want to see if there is any method in particular that you recommend because it is easier or better, and plus I'm not quite sure I understand some of it.;):)

    EDIT: I have a Windows, by the way. That may be helpful:p:D
     
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  11. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    Bandicam. It will capture audio before it hits your speaker (meaning, higher quality), and video real time.

    They have a free version, but I shelled out the 30 bucks or whatever for the pro version.
     
  12. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    For youtube video / audio, you can use keepvid.com. That is free.
     
  13. IDInstitute

    IDInstitute Well-Known Member

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    Thank you! I'll start looking around at those!
     
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  14. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    More on videos later, but a short tutorial you should know and understand when you start to get into web development.

    It's not highly technical, but it does explain things you should be aware of that are going on in the background.

     
  15. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    Specifically it's why using a lot of third party includes (exterior links) is not necessarily the best way (though for the sort of sites we do, it's fine).

    The more complex you make the site (by using "free" include tools, visual elements, etc...), the more calls the browser and/or server needs to make to external objects (like object libraries, style sheets, etc.) to assemble the final page.
     
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  16. englanddg

    englanddg One Little Spark... Original Poster Premium Member

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    If you are still interested, here's a breakdown of what DNS is, and how things used to work decades ago (all this stuff he's talking about in that video isn't "new" at all, it's rather old). Years ago we would use tools, many of which would actually display these things (requests, responses, etc) in a terminal window (a command line).

    You don't see any of this happening in modern web browsers, but it still does in the background.



    (This video is from 1996...hehe)
     
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  17. Voxel

    Voxel President of Progress City Premium Member

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    I keep forgetting to write mine on sketchup.
     
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  18. Voxel

    Voxel President of Progress City Premium Member

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    Does this mean I can start my OS lecture series. I'll start with VxWorks.
     
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  19. MonorailRed

    MonorailRed Applebees Premium Member

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    I keep forgetting to do an art write up as well…
     
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  20. IDInstitute

    IDInstitute Well-Known Member

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    Are any of you familiar with Drawings on Google Docs? If so, I have a few questions on it I can't find anywhere else...:p
     
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