It’s been an odd week, with lots of rain and too little sleep, but I have been fairly productive. First up is my latest how-to video: ‘ESO – how to build a pointy wall’. It’s quite a long video so I don’t expect anyone to watch it all the way through!
The reason I’m showcasing this video is because of the new skills I’ve learned using VideoStudio Pro 2021, my video editing software.
The first thing I learned was how to create short, animated visual directions. The video below is only a few seconds long and demonstrates what I mean about a ‘visual direction’:
The animation is created from within VideoStudio Pro 2021 using the Painting Tool. I can see this tool getting a lot of use once I start making how-to videos for self-publishing.
The second thing I learned was how to manually fade the background music in and out. VideoStudio Pro 2021 has a feature called ‘Audio Ducking’ which is supposed to make the music go quiet when there’s narration on the video. The feature is okay, but I wasn’t too impressed with when it decided to raise and lower the volume of the music. So I went looking for a manual solution and found one. 😀
The blue track is the music track, and the purple one is for narration. When I’m talking, I want the music to be very soft, but when there’s a gap in the narration, I want the music to swell. The section of the tracks I’ve circled in red is one of those gaps. As you can see, the white line showing the volume of the music goes up – i.e. becomes louder – while I’m not talking.
To make VideoStudio Pro display the audio controls, press the icon circled in red below:
Controlling the volume of the music manually is a bit time-consuming and ‘clunky’, but I think the end result is much better.
In case anyone is interested, the music was created by Peritune, a Japanese composer who writes lovely, non-jarring music that compliments my videos beautifully.
And last but not least, I’ve just made my new Youtube ‘handle’ :
I’m not quite sure how the handle is actually supposed to work, but apparently in time, it will be used to personalise the URL of my Youtube channel. A small thing, but Indies have to grab their branding where they find it!
It’s Sunday here in Melbourne, and for a wonder the rain has stopped so I’m going to do a garden promenade with the animals.
After the amazing PowerPoint effects achieved by Diana Wallace Peach in my previous post, I just had to see if I could master some of those techniques myself. The answer is…kind of. This is my, ahem, masterpiece:
I don’t think I’ll be headed to Cannes any time soon. But…I did learn some really useful skills, and today I’ll walk you through the PowerPoint ‘Remove Background’ option. If you’ve tried this option before and given up in frustration, don’t worry, I had the same problems so we’ll do it step by step. 🙂
The first step is to open PowerPoint [hereafter known as PP] and select a blank slide.
Next, click the ‘Insert’ option on the Ribbon and find an image that you want to work with:
The image below is the first one I worked with:
The picture frame looks as if it’s empty, but in reality the middle is not transparent at all. It’s white.
In order to have the mask appear as if it were inside the frame, I had to get rid of the white in the middle. Easier said than done. When I tried to remove the background in PowerPoint, PP wanted to delete the frame, not the white in the middle!
PP helpfully colours the area[s] to be removed in purple. Pity that’s precisely what I want to keep. -rolls eyes-
I guess the default setting assumes that whatever you want to keep will be in the middle…. Trust me to do everything backwards. In my own defence, however, the labels on the buttons and the explanations of those buttons only made sense after I’d finally worked out what to do and how to do it. -grumble-
Anyway, allow me to explain the buttons:
Mark Areas to Keep
If you hover your mouse over the ‘Mark Areas to Keep’ button, you’ll get a tooltip that says: ‘Draw lines to mark areas to keep in the picture’. I assumed that the word ‘lines’ had to be some kind of misnomer. It would take a lifetime to draw enough lines to take out half a picture! Ditto for the ‘Mark areas to Remove’ button. I was wrong.
When you click on the ‘Mark Areas to Keep button’, and then draw any kind of line across your picture, a whole section of the picture will be selected. In the following screenshot, I clicked ‘Mark Areas to Keep’ and then drew a line from the top left of the picture frame to a point near the bottom. The line was not straight:
Given that the picture frame is made up of straight lines, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to ‘fill in’ the frame properly. What I discovered was that the ‘line’ is not set until you release the mouse button at the end point.
In other words, you click the mouse at your start point and hold it down as you drawn the line. If the line is wonky, you can straighten it just by moving the mouse. So long as you keep the mouse button held down, you can keep moving the line wherever you want:
Mark Areas to Remove
Once I’d ‘marked’ all the purple areas and changed them to ‘keeps’, it was time to mark the middle as an ‘Area to Remove’. The principle is the same as for marking areas to keep: click the ‘Mark Areas to Remove’ button, click the mouse on an area to be removed, hold down the mouse button as you move the mouse across the image, release the mouse button to trigger the ‘remove’:
If you make a mistake, you can undo the last line by clicking the ‘Delete Mark’ button and then clicking the line you wish to remove. That second part is critical as nothing will happen unless you do. You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL-Z to ‘undo’ the last thing you did. So much easier.
Discard All Changes
This is like a global undo. If you select this button you will delete every single change you have made. Use with caution.
This is the button you hit once you’ve done all that you want to do to the image. ‘Keep Changes’ bakes all the changes so they ‘stick’. No more undoing any of the changes. It’s the last step in the whole process.
And now for those eyeballs.
PP is very good at detecting curves so long as there is a strong contrast between the object and its background. The eyeball I wanted to use is perfect…except for the bit at the top where the eyelashes are basically the same colour as that part of the eye.
To excavate that eyeball from the eyelashes, I made the image as big as possible using the slider down in the status bar [bottom of screen]. Then I clicked on ‘Mark Areas to Remove’ and drew teensy weensy little lines. <<cue grinding of teeth>>
My stubbornness persistence paid off because I managed to get an almost circular eyeball, but when I tried it in the mask, the not-quite-perfect curve was noticeable. So I cheated. I turned the eyeball upside down. 🙂
I should say here that the easiest image to clean up was the mask!
Although the left side of the mask is in shadow, the shadow is a different colour AND there’s still enough contrast to allow PP to detect the edges.
All in all, I’m loving the ‘Remove Background’ function in PP. It has limitations – the lack of curved lines is a big one – but for large jobs that can be a little rough, it’s miles easier than vectoring an image in Corel. As always though, you have to use the right tool for the right job.
My thanks to Diana for introducing me to a very useful tool indeed. 😀
I never, ever, thought I’d be writing a post like this, but the man in this video – Beau – makes sense. Forget the hat, the beard and the accent. He’s distilled real, practical information from a number of sources, and if you watch the video, you’ll realise how deceptive appearances can be:
Before deciding to share this video I scuttled around trying to find out who this Beau character is, and whether I should listen to him. Is he some mad survivalist who’s plucked a bunch of survival tips from thin air? Or is he someone who actually knows what he’s talking about?
For starters, Beau is a nickname and his real name is Justin King. So…is he putting it on?
”For the record, my accent is what you hear on most of the current videos. I do, at times, play it up still. Beau is a nickname, and the whole thing kind of started as a gag when other journalists found out I had an accent.”
That sounds a bit like me and Meeka. I can live with that. But what is Beau, aka Justin King, about?
In his ‘About’ page he says ‘The discussions of a southern journalist who is tired of a lack of common sense’. Is he? A journalist?
According to the FCSR [Florida Citizens for Social Reform] ‘Justin currently serves as the Editor of The Fifth Column, The Pontiac Tribune, Sleeper Cells, and is an outside adviser to Greed Media.’ Okay, so he is a journalist, but what kind of news outlets does he work for?
According to the Media Bias/Fact Check website, The Fifth Column is ‘left biased’ and the reporting is factually ‘mixed’:
The Media Bias article goes on to say:
‘The Fifth Column is a news and opinion website that publishes from a mostly progressive perspective. According to their about page “The Fifth Column provides you with insights that aren’t available on other news outlets. With a focus on long-form journalism and exclusive reports, The Column strives for excellence in adversarial journalism. Our exclusive reports find their way into one of our unique sections.”
The website lacks transparency as they do not disclose ownership and article authors do not have detailed bios.’
So the Fifth Column and Justin King are Left Biased. Tick. Can definitely live with that, but the real question is still ‘how factual is the advice’?
I found the answer to that question on the www.ready.gov website. Almost every thing Beau/Justin King talked about in his video is in the official, US government info sheet on what to do in case of a nuclear attack. The only thing I didn’t see was the info. about conditioner. Everything else was there, but as a way to communicate vital information, Beau’s video does it better. Much better.
So…having done my due diligence, I feel justified in sharing Beau’s advice with you. Chances are none of us will ever need to put any of this advice into practice, but knowing the facts never hurt anyone. By contrast, ignorance kills.
Down the bottom you can see a number of playlists. They’re just categories of videos. The how-to playlist only contains one video, but in time, I intend to create videos for all of the relevant sections of the free ‘How to print your novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ book.
I’m not there yet in terms of skill, but the video below is my first attempt to do a how-to for the ESO housing editor:
This video will be the first in a series, but boy was it hard to do. Having a chatty narration ‘style’ is one thing, waffling on is another.
Lesson number 1: boring viewers is a cardinal sin!
Lesson number 2: waffling on is boring, especially when the viewer only wants information. 😦
As my narration style is naturally, um, ‘chatty’, I’ve had to do a lot of cutting and splicing to get rid of the waffle. Great practice in editing, not so great for the sound quality which waxed and waned with each splice. In the end, I was forced to do one long take with deliberate pauses so I could edit out the worst of the gaffs without affecting the sound quality too much.
Those hiccups aside, I’m really enjoying this learning curve. If any of you are already experienced in creating videos or have recommendations for tools to use, I’d love to hear them. I’m currently using RecMaster which is a great entry level video recorder, but maybe not quite powerful enough for my ambitious projects.
I also have a favour to ask – could you please subscribe to my channel? Youtube will allow me to have a customised URL for my channel – i.e. something with my name in it instead of hieroglyphics – but only after I reach the magic number of 100 subscribers. At the moment I have 4. It’s a big ask, I know, but I would really appreciate your help on this one.
Apologies! I mixed up the names of two of the houses, both of which are getting videos. The first video is of ‘LUCKY CAT LANDING’, not Cat’s Cradle. -sigh- It’s the second one that’s called ‘Lion’s Cradle’.
I’ve updated the subtitles etc but otherwise the video is exactly the same as before. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend watching it on Youtube as it’s much bigger than what you’ll see here on WordPress:
My cinematography is still a bit too fast and ‘jerky’, but I’m getting pretty good at the editing. The finished video is at least a third smaller than the raw video I shot. Ums, ahs, stammers and oopsies all gone. 😀 Oh, and I learned how to put in subtitles!
I don’t actually like the taste of sourdough, sorry, but I absolutely loved this Youtube demonstration of how to create your own sourdough starter.
You know how I’m obsessed with teaching ‘absolute beginners’? Well, this video how-to is literally the best I have seen. It’s clear, perfectly paced and step-by-step, with no small-but-vital bits of knowledge taken for granted.
Seriously, if sourdough is your thing, this video could change your life.
As I’ve probably mentioned before, there are all sorts of autoimmune diseases in my extended family, so this novel corona virus is of huge concern. People I love are amongst those who are most likely to die from this virus, yet the message in the media seems to be ‘it’s okay, you probably don’t have anything to worry about’.
‘You’ personally? Maybe not, but what about those you may infect?
What about the frail elderly in nursing homes?
What about those over 65 in the community?
What about young people with diabetes? asthma? multiple sclerosis? lung conditions? heart conditions?
These people are not expendable. Grrrr….
Anyway, in order to protect people in my family, and ensure that I don’t bring Covid-19 home to them, I went searching for information. The best information I’ve found so far has come from an English gentleman by the name of Dr John Campbell. This is his Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Campbellteaching
John Campbell is not a medical doctor, but he has been a medical practitioner all his life. He also has a couple of medically related PhDs. That’s where the ‘Dr’ title comes from.
I say all this so that you understand that he is a teacher in the field and knows how to do research in the field. He is not at the front line of Covid-19 research, but he is very good at explaining what is known…to us.
John Campbell’s videos also include a host of practical info that I certainly didn’t know about – such as how to wash your hands properly. I know, sounds utterly basic doesn’t it? All I can say is, watch the video and learn how to protect yourself a little better.