My heartfelt thanks to Esme for introducing me to an artist like no other. You may or may not like the music, but you will be mesmerised by the story. I loved both, and I really didn’t think I would. Just listen :
I stumbled onto this video about Whittier, Alaska, by accident, but I kept watching because it reminded me of how I imagined life would be in the Undercity, except above ground. 🙂
So what’s so special about Whittier? It’s the fact that all 200-odd residents of the town live in one building, a building that contains a store, police station, church and pretty much everything you’d expect to find in a small town. Oh, and in winter, the kids go to school via a tunnel that connects the two buildings!
But wait, there’s more! You can only reach the building by boat, or via a long, rather scary tunnel. The tunnel is only open at certain times of the day, and at 6:00pm it’s closed to cars so the trains can come through!
If I’ve roused your curiosity, please watch the video:
At about 12:13 minutes, the lovely lady doing the tour of the building points out photos from when the building housed the officers of the US army stationed in the town. A little later on she mentions that the reason everyone withdrew from the shore was because there was an earthquake followed by a tsunami that washed much of the original town away.
At about 15:50 minutes, the tour guide casually mentions that they had to get a self-closing mechanism installed on a ground floor door because…bears would wonder in when residents forgot to close it. <<picture me with my jaw on the ground>>
That bit about the bears actually got me thinking about my Undercity concept. If the doors topside were like those big, self-opening doors installed in shops, what if a kangaroo came in to check things out? Or maybe a wombat looking for a pre-dug hole? lol
Okay, my imagination is getting a little carried away now. I’d better go outside and do some work before it starts to rain, again. Huge swathes of Melbourne and Victoria are flooded at the moment, but as we’re on a ridge, we’ve had no issues.
There, I’ve said it! At some point in the not-so-distant future, I’m going to try my hand, or voice, on an audiobook, and this 3 minute video is my first attempt at ‘acting out’ a scene:
I’ll probably cringe with embarrassment tomorrow, but for now I’m kind of proud of my first attempt, especially as it was miles harder than I thought it would be. Narrating something à la Sir David Attenborough is one thing, trying to make a story come to life is another thing entirely. It has been an immensely valuable learning experience though.
You know how we’re told to read our writing out loud to help with the editing? Well, acting it out loud exposes the shortcomings of the prose even more! I actually had to change what I’d written to give the scene enough oomph.
See if you can pick the differences. 😀 This is the ‘original’ :
“The Senior had just reached the alcove again when it finally saw the obvious: only the Triad, and the Acolyte, knew who had actually done what. And that meant the truth could be told. Only the roles needed to be re-imagined, leaving itself as the conscientious healer who stayed by the Female’s side until the other returned! The truth, but not the truth. It was perfect, or almost so. The Second already knew about the threat from the Seven, so it would see why the truth could not be told, plus the lie was close enough to the truth for it to carry off the deception without giving everything away. Which left only the two younger iVokh to worry about. In its weakened state, the Junior might not even remember the rescue, but if it did, casting it as the hero would mesh with how it saw itself. Plus it already disliked the Acolyte, so that would fit quite nicely, leaving only the Acolyte itself. The young iVokh would not like being blamed for the Junior’s faults, but it was intelligent and ambitious. If it were told about the Seven’s ultimatum, it would see itself as being both important and trusted. That would appeal to its ambition, and it would feel proud to be trusted with such a vital task… …ki, not task, mission… If the Acolyte could be made to believe the fate of the Triad depended on its intelligence and resourcefulness, it would not betray them, at least not to the Voice… …but afterward?… Being no stranger to ambition itself, the Senior had no doubt that the young iVokh would try to profit from its knowledge at some point, but as it had no intention of allowing any of them to return to the Settlement, it was not particularily worried. Kohoh was a dangerous time of year, for everyone.”
Book 2, The Suns of Vokhtah series
Messing around with videos is starting to become useful as well as fun. Who knew? lol
In a previous post I talked about how rich 38 of Australia’s billionaires really are. Today, I read a brilliant post by Robert Reich about US myths [thanks Jill!]. What really grabbed my attention was this video which debunks the myth of the self-made billionaire:
Isn’t it time we stopped idolizing these poor little rich boys?
Isn’t it time we stopped rewarding them for being more ruthless than just about everybody else on the planet?
Isn’t it time we stopped wanting to be like them… and castigating ourselves when our scruples make us ‘fail’?
I know who I admire, and it ain’t any of these guys.
My thanks to Matthew Wright for the link to this incredible video. Coincidentally, Matthew appears in the video too, helping to explain how something as simple, as real world as water can be used to create a mechanical model of what makes our world go round…money.
I’ll start with a caveat: I’m still learning the ropes when it comes to creating and editing videos, so please take the info. in this post as a starting point only.
Onward! Okay these the tools I use:
Action! video capture
Corel Draw X8 for any precise graphics
Good old Paint for quick and dirty graphics
Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021 for video editing
The microphone: Before I started doing voice overs, I did some research online and found all sorts of stuff about how to set up an area for audio recording. I also read up on the kind of equipment you would need. In the end, I bought the cheapest microphone Amazon had to offer – it was on sale – and I try to record when there’s no background noise [Offspring puttering around in the kitchen, dog barking, cat wanting to be fed etc]. That’s it. Not professional quality but…good enough.
Video capture software: I love Action! because I own it outright – no recurring subscription fees – and it’s sophisticated enough to allow me to take good quality footage. Plus it was relatively cheap.
I’ve owned and used Corel Draw X8 for a very long time. It’s a great program and I love it.
Windows Paint has been around for a very long time too, and it’s perfect for quickly resizing a screenshot, or adding some arrows and labels, or cropping out the bits I don’t want. And it’s free. Can’t argue with that.
And now to Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021…. I don’t love it. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why.
Before buying the VideoStudio editor, I tried out a number of editors, but not the Corel one. So it was an impulse buy based on Corel being a trusted brand… and it was on sale. I had trouble from the start. Installing the software and getting it to run ate up days of frustration and online searching. Once I had it running, I had trouble learning it because, although it looks pretty, the interface is weirdly unintuitive. It’s also inconsistent. It’s supposed to be great for beginners but I had trouble learning it. I’ll leave it at that.
One thing I do like is the ability to edit multiple tracks, which look something like this:
Once I have captured the actual video with Action!, I import it into VideoStudio and drag it to what’s called the ‘timeline’. The timeline can include all the tracks shown in the screenshot.
The first track to go on the timeline has to be the video track [for me]. This is my raw material. Once it’s on the timeline, I can snip out the bits I don’t like to get an overall feel for the length of the finished video and what I want/must present in that time.
The overlay track is where I place still images, or even snippets of video, that will create a ‘picture-in-a-picture’ effect. In the example above, my self portrait and the pic of Warrandyte both overlaid the video going on in the background.
Narration was always going to be important in my videos so it really helps that I can create short bits of voice-over [usually about one sentence worth] which can then be positioned at the precise locations that fit the visual narrative.
And finally there’s the music. I included music in the how-to video to provide continuity, but also to get rid of the ‘dead air’ you get in-between bits of voice-over. Essentially this dead air is the non-sound you get when the microphone is not recording. It’s quite disturbing when you first hear it. A very, very soft music track in the background just smooths the transitions from one audio clip to the next. If I could record everything in one hit, I wouldn’t need that smoothing, but I simply couldn’t do it, no matter how hard I tried. Ums, ahs, oops, coughs, and other gremlins would always creep in, even when I scripted what I wanted to say. It’s actually a lot easier deleting a blooper and re-recording a single sentence than trying to do Hamlet without a break. 😉
So that’s what I’ve learned to-date. I would recommend the KLM microphone and Action!. I would not recommend VideoStudio Pro 2021. That said, I would advise you to buy a video editor that is sophisticated enough to offer multiple tracks, including voice over, and does it without any fuss or bother. Do I know of one? No, but perhaps people will chime in, in comments.