Category: video

Campaign video for Number 2

It’s been quite awhile ago, but for week 5 for #prisoner106 one of the assignments was to create a campaign video because we seemed to be missing a Number 2 and we might need to hold an election.

I’m treating this very belated video as a kind of final project, since for it I made:

… all of which were created specifically for this video. Yes, it took me a long time to finally finish the video, but I decided I wanted to follow through on my idea for it even if it’s very late!

 

 

The Process

  1. I did screen recordings of several clips of The Prisoner (the episodes are all found on the #prisoner106 site) to use in this video (see credits for which episodes0. Since I didn’t need audio I just used screencast-o-matic, which is a free screen recorder (though with the paid version, which is very cheap, you can avoid the watermark with the company logo on it, which I did). I thought I might want audio with one of the clips, and followed instructions here for how to use Quicktime and Soundflower on my Mac to record the screen and system audio. Problem was that I got a horrendous echo. Actually, the effect was kind of cool, but not really what I was going for. Good thing I decided I didn’t need the audio recorded, but when I do I’ll need to figure out how to do it right.

2. I was a bit stymied by how to get my animated gif into the video. I thought maybe I could just import it into iMovie and it would work, but no go. There are a number of workarounds posted on the web, but they were time consuming and didn’t seem to lead to the result I wanted anyway. So I just did a screen recording of the gif against a white background. Since I had made the gif pretty small in order to reduce the file size, it doesn’t show up very large in the video. I could have scaled it up using GIMP, but in my experience, once I try scaling something up from when it was smaller the quality goes way down.

3. The images were imported directly into iMovie and I used the “Ken Burns” effect to give them a little movement. The one with the campaign poster was a little challenging because it was so long vertically, but hopefully the panning down works okay. Images I didn’t make myself (the question marks and the number 2) were CC0 from Pixabay.

4. I recorded the voiceover audio in Audacity, where it’s much easier to edit than in iMovie, and then imported it. I wasn’t sure how to add the voiceover to the video, but selecting it and dragging it over the video put it in the right place (leaving room for background music below the video). Since the voiceover and the video weren’t synced up well, I had to cut up the imported audio and make space between the parts to sync with the video. I looked online to find out how to do that in iMovie (click on the voiceover, go to “Modify,” then “split clip”).

5. Background music came next (see credits below). I wanted the first part of the video to be a kind of “retrospective” of past Number 2’s, a bit nostalgic and somewhat sad. Then I wanted the second part, where I talk about the Village Philosopher as saving the day, to be rather over the top patriotic or heroic. Kevin MacLeod’s great site, imcompetech.com, has wonderful descriptors to help you find the right thing (the “epic” category was great for finding the second piece of music!).

6. After realizing that I had used many pieces of music from MacLeod, and that I wanted to thank him for providing such great music with a CC BY license, I went to his donate page and donated. I have decided that when I can, I usually prefer to pay for some great service or app or something rather than “paying” in other ways like having lots of data collected about me and used in ways I don’t really understand. Plus, people like him are doing a great thing and I want to say thank you!

 

Music credits:

“Stages of Grief” by Kevin MacLeod (imcompetech.com) is licensed under CC Attribution 3.0. Direct Link: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100408.

 

“Hero Down” by Kevin MacLeod (imcompetech.com) is licensed under CC Attribution 3.0. Direct Link: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100880.

How I came to the Village

A belated video introduction to the Village philosopher for #prisoner106.

The process

This was a new one for me–it’s very simple, but I had never done a video that had both still images and moving video footage in it. Video is the one thing in #ds106 that I feel least adept at.

I used iMovie for this video. It was surprisingly difficult to figure out how to create a new “event.” Honestly, the way iMovie organizes things into movies, events and projects…I’m not sure I’ll ever get it all straight. I had to do a web search just to get a new event started. And now I can’t remember how I did it. Sigh.

After that, things were mostly easy:

1. I used the “down arrow ” sign to import media. Importing images, videos and audio all worked in the same way.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 9.43.30 AM

2. Then, when the media was in the top left window of iMovie (honestly, I don’t know what these areas are called), then I moved it down to the bottom, editing area. The music file just slotted right into the right place, and the images worked just like video–they were automatically set at a few seconds long, and with the “Ken Burns” effect.

3. I altered the Ken Burns on the images by clicking on the image in the bottom window, and it shows up on the top right window. Then I click on the little “crop” tool on the top right, and can adjust the Ken Burns effect on the image (or get rid of it).

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 9.46.02 AM

4. I recorded the voiceover in Audacity and imported it into iMovie–that way I could do edits in Audacity, which is quite easy. I didn’t know what it would be like doing audio edits in iMovie (and, given what I describe below, I’m glad I did it this way). The timing of the images and video just fit with the voiceover. I made sure the voiceover was the length I wanted, and then just trimmed the images and video to fit.

5. Perhaps the hardest part was reducing the volume of the music after the intro titles so that the voiceover could be heard. Again, I needed to do a web search to figure out how to do this, because it was not simple.

  • Option-click on the music track, and you get a little diamond. Option-click on another place in the video and you get another little diamond. These can then be adjusted up or down to raise or lower the volume. I tried to do a kind of “fade out” to a low volume before the voiceover started, but the adjustments on those diamonds is really, really coarse. I couldn’t even seem to move the diamonds right or left after I placed them, which was a real pain. Probably there is some way to do it that I am not aware of.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 9.51.59 AM

Every time I tried to adjust the diamonds on the right to lower the volume, it jumped from like 60% volume to 20% or 13% or something. There didn’t seem to be much in between.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 9.54.04 AMI was then able to click on a small piece of the audio line and go to the top right window, under the “volume” icon, and adjust the volume there. But sometimes that adjusted the volume of the whole music clip rather than just that portion.

Somehow, eventually, I managed to get the music to a decent volume level, and though it didn’t fade smoothly like I wanted, it was good enough.

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 9.58.08 AM5. Fading out the music track at the end was much easier. There is a little circle at the beginning and end of the music track; just drag that and you get a fade out as long as you want. That worked beautifully. But if you wanted to have fine control over the fade as well as the length of it, you might be back to the diamonds of doom.

6. Then it was time to “share” (that’s what “export” is in iMovie). For some unknown reason, every time I tried to save it to a file, one of the end titles was empty (it just said “TITLE”, even though when I previewed it in iMovie it had the right text in there. So I just deleted that title and added a new one with the text and finally it worked.

 

Other Mac video editing software?

I’m not thrilled with iMovie. Does anyone know of good video editing software for a Mac? I’m willing to pay money, but not a really large amount. Suggestions appreciated!

 

 

 

Reading a video ad

For week 2 of the GMU #ds106 course that’s being taught this Spring by Alan Levine, one of the assignments given was to analyze an advertisement as a short story. We were to choose an ad from this YouTube search and analyze it in 5 second increments.

I went a little bit down the list and just decided to watch this one. I was instantly hooked because of the little kid who looks about the size of my 6-year-old son. I can imagine him doing exactly this. That’s probably why I’m drawn to this one and decided to analyze it!

It’s not clear whether the kid is a boy or a girl, and I just thought of him/her as a boy because I imagined my son…but there’s a reason we might think of her as a girl (see below, under 0:15-0:20).

Here’s my 5-second-interval play-by-play.

1. 0:00 to 0:05

— We are introduced to the character. The camera starts off on her feet and slowly moves up her body to her head. We get a sense that she’s a small-ish child.

— She’s moving along a white corridor, which is vaguely reminiscent of a white interior to a spaceship. There is a bright light behind her.

— Then the camera angle switches to the rear and we see her cape swishing after her as she goes down the hall. Now the bright light is in front of her—she’s walking towards it.

— Throughout, the “Star Wars Theme” is playing. Wonder how much they had to pay to use that music?

2. 0:05 to 0:10

— There is a quick cut and suddenly Darth Vader is walking slowly towards an exercise bike as the music builds. There is a bright light coming from a large window behind both Vader and the bike. We get a shot from the side as she takes a couple of steps. She is on the left of the bike.

— Then the camera angle switches to being ahead and somewhat above her, accentuating her small size as she purposefully puts out her hand towards the exercise bike.

— At first I wasn’t sure just what the heck she was doing. But after a few more seconds it became clear.

3. 0:10 to 0:15

— Quick cut to Darth Vader standing in front of a dog in a dog bed, lying down. Vader is to the right of the dog in the video. Again with the forceful hand gestures, this time two hands purposefully aimed at the dog.

— Quick cut to closeup of the dog’s face, still lying down in the dog bed. The dog doesn’t raise its head, but only lifts its eyebrows and ears a little (do dogs have eyebrows?). It’s clear that the dog could pretty much care less.

— Back to the original camera angle of Vader and the dog, and Vader lowers her hands in a kind of dejected fashion.

4. 0:15 to 0:20

— Quick cut to a much more forceful gesture in front of the washer and dryer—stepping forward with one foot as well as using both hands. This lasts just one second or so. The step is in time to the music as it builds even more. The camera is slowly panning inwards.

— Quick cut to a side view of Vader standing at the foot of her bed, with a doll sitting on the edge of the bed. Vader is to the left of the doll. This time she puts one hand out, then the other, again in time to the music. The room is decorated in somewhat girlish colours, and the doll suggests a girl as Vader. But then again, this is pretty sex-stereotypical of me to assume. But assume I am.

— Quick cut to a closeup of the doll’s face, which of course remains impassive. The camera is slowly panning in towards the doll. The doll cares even less than the dog.

5. 0:20 to 0:25

— Cut back to the side view of Vader and the doll on the bed, with the camera still panning inwards. Vader lowers her hand dejectedly and slumps her shoulders and head, giving what looks like a heavy sigh.

— Cut to a side view of a hallway; the dog passes by with Vader walking close behind, holding her hands out towards the dog. Clearly she’s trying to get the dog to do something, and the dog just wants to get away.

6. 0:25 to 0:30

— Cut to Vader sitting at a kitchen counter, moving her hands as if to do something, but we can’t see what. She’s aiming at something outside of the view of the camera.

— Cut to a bigger picture of the same scene, and her mother pushes a plate towards Vader as she moves her hands along with the plate—as if trying to move the plate herself.

— This is the only place I noticed so far where there is another sound besides the music—the sound of the plate going across the counter is layered on top of the music.

— Vader visibly crumples her body again, putting her hand to her helmet as if disappointed.

7. 0:30 to 0:35

— Cut to a view of a driveway and a car pulling into the driveway.

— Cut to Vader with her head in her hand. The dog barks, and she lifts her head, as if she knows what the dog barking means.

— Cut back to the driveway, and Vader’s dad gets out of the car with a briefcase. We hear the sound of the car door close. He walks toward the house with his arms outstretched a bit.

8. 0:35 to 0:40

— Camera angle from behind the father, with just one of his hands visible in the shot (the one with the briefcase), outstretched a bit. We can hear birds.

— Vader comes running out of the house, shakes her head at her dad with her hands out in front of her (the same gesture she’s been doing); we get a bit more of the dad in the shot and see both his arms fall.

— Cut to an interior shot of the car, looking at the dashboard and through the windshield at Vader, who stops in front of the car. Nice way of getting the dash into the ad!

— We also see the dad walking towards the house through this view though the dash. It’s clear he’s just going inside and letting his daughter be.

9. 0:40 to 0:45

— Side view of Vader standing in front of the car. This is similar to the side shots of her standing in front of the dog and the doll, though she’s back on the right this time.

— We catch a bit of the dad’s body walking out of the camera to the left, apparently into the house while Vader stands in front of the car with her hands outstretched.

— The music builds to a climax as she moves her hands backwards to push them forward again.

— Cut to a closeup shot of Vader from the side; the music falls as she pushes her hands forward; the music suddenly gets much quieter. Clearly something is going to happen.

10. 0:45 to 0:50

— Cut to a rear-side closeup of Vader and the car. Only the front grill and headlights of the car are visible, with the car logo clearly prominent.

— Vader stands still with her hands aimed at the car, as the music goes quietly forward, with her cape billowing in the wind a bit behind her.

— Suddenly the signal lights flash and the car starts. She jumps back, visibly startled. The music stops completely.

— Cut to a closeup of the remote for the car, held in a hand. A thumb moves away from one of the buttons.

— The music from the beginning starts up again as we see the dad and mom at the kitchen window, the dad’s arm at an angle that one would use if one had the remote in one’s hand.

11. 0:50 to 0:55

— We see the mom only from behind and the dad only from the side, but the dad lifts his eyebrows just a bit and they both turn back towards the window. A wonderfully subtle gesture that says it all.

— Cut back to Vader and the car in the driveway, but this time with more of Vader and less of the car in the shot. She turns forcefully from the side to a frontal view, unsteady on her feet a bit, as if to be looking into the kitchen window.

— Cut to a wider view of Vader and the car in which we see the whole car again, from the side-front view. It’s a very typical view of a car in a car ad. It’s like there’s a “car-in-a-car-ad” angle, and this is it. There is a subtle light on the front of the car that looks like it could be the beginnings of sunset.

— She turns forcefully back towards the car, using her hand to move her cape out of the way in a kind of strong, “I did it” gesture. She is master of the car.

12. 0:55 to 1:00

— Cut to a title screen with information about the car.

— A circular cut (I’m sure there’s some other word for it) with the sound of a light saber—the title screen becomes the car logo as the cut moves around a circle.

— Music fades quickly.

Some overall thoughts

I thought I’d try to analyze this commercial  according to some of the ideas in this post about JCVD’s ad with Vovlo involving the splits, and a little bit using the "story spine" idea from Ken Addams.

— The beginning, and all the way through to 0:40, is the beginning part of the story spine, the “once upon a time.” The character and her routine are established. She tries and tries, but the force isn’t working for her. This is the storyline.

— This also establishes empathy—we feel bad for the poor kid who can’t use the force like she wants to. She is really trying, over and over. And what’s more, she tries harder with each attempt. As the music builds, she uses one hand (with the bike), then two hands (dog), then steps forward with two hands (washer and dryer), then does one hand forcefully and then the other with one foot forward (doll). But it just isn’t working. And then the ultimate embarrassment—her mom has to push her sandwich towards her. Head in hand, indeed.

— The “then one day” part of the story spine is when she stands in front of the car and the music changes. There is a clear sense of anticipation for a second or two as the music completely changes to much quieter and she stands still. Then the car starts and she jumps backwards. This is clearly the surprising revelation in the JCVD post. We know something is going to happen from the music, but we’re not sure what.

— I don’t know if there’s a sense of admiration and awe in the audience at this point (JCVD post), but there is certainly a sense of awe in Vader!

— And by the end, she has achieved “mastery”—she has mastered the force.

— There isn’t the full story spine here, since there isn’t a “because of that, and because of that,” and then a “since that day” ending. But we can get a sense as viewers of what she thinks the future will bring—success in using the force. We can also get a sense that she might end up being disappointed again, which is a bit of a downer. 

I really enjoyed doing this assignment. I caught so much more by focusing on each 5-second interval. I noticed the change in music, the change in camera angles, the fact that Vader tries harder with each attempt and that the music builds as she does so.

I was impressed by the way the story is told in such a short time period, while still showcasing the car as the main point of the ad. Having the view of Vader through the inside of the car was pretty darn cool as an idea to get the interior shot of the car in the ad without breaking up the story. All that was needed from the dad was a short, small, subtle gesture of the eyebrows, mirroring to some extent that of the dog earlier in the ad.

I was able to notice how the side views of Vader and other things are switched: when she approaches the bike she’s on the left, when she’s standing in front of the dog she’s on the right, when she’s standing in front of the doll she’s on the left, when she’s standing in front of the car she’s on the right. I would never have noticed this balance without stopping every 5 seconds.

I got quite a great respect for telling stories within one minute through this assignment and the things we watched/read for it. Amazing what can be done in a short period of time!

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