Friday, 26 December 2008

Creating a video for "Toys" by Frost* (Part 10)

Happy Christmas everyone!

Ok, it was yesterday I know but I've only just got around to finishing off the tale of the video!

Well, I did it! I'm not sure how but I managed to put a disk containing my finished video into Jem's hand at The Peel! The amazing thing was how it coame together in the last 3 or 4 hours of the Saturday morning.

When I got in from work on the Friday night I was looking at having to do everything from the end of the piano part of the solo to the end of the track - something like 45 seconds of action. This was extremely unlikely given the previous rate of about 12 seconds a night. I started slowly too, seemingly taking forever to get the "crowd" characters (jumping people in black Frost* hoodies) to move correctly and not break each other. Then I had to do it all again viewed from the side.

In the end, I was amazed at how well these scenes worked. The impression of a gig-lit venue full of bodies bouncing ended up working very well, despite the very shallow scene depth.

Then I had to come up with the final chorus' "ride". I had planned this to be a rocket-powered thing, like a jet-pack but there was just no time to invent and tweak anything that complex.

I was also still stuck for how to get the character from the piano solo to somewhere "above" the gig. In the end I just used the Tardis again (meaning to re-film the piano bit showing our hero jumping into the Tardis at the end of his run but that never happened either) allowing the viewer to just assume the last bit of the Tardis flight had happened.

The ride ended up being a hot air balloon (the e-Go! ride was originally going to be an airship/blimp but that was not immediate enough so this spare idea was still hanging around waiting to be used). Inventing a Hot Air Balloon company call "Forum Air" I rigged it so the gondola would become detached shortly after take-off, providing the last "go down now, around now" bit and dumping our hero at the gig. This needed to be close to night time but making it dark enough for night made it too dark to see so I added red/green navigation lights to the gondola - to help the viewer see the motion.

Rigging the flight took far longer than I wanted and it was past 4am when I got this recorded. The transition between flight and landding outside the gig is a bit off but I was past caring.

I had planned for our hero to arrive on the stage just too late, just as the lights go out and the band have left the stage (squeal of feedback followed by silence, crying etc.). However, there was no way I would have time to set this up in time so I decided that our hero had had enough bad luck and that he would be seen happily on my original test stage with the balloon character band members.

Into the last hour of filming time I sorted the stage out and realised that it looked a bit boring, with the balloon band members just sitting there so I got our here to run around and "pull" the balloon strings of all 5 of them which made them sway side-to-side gently - at least this looked a bit more interesting.

So only the Christmas message scene to go - this was done in 20 minutes and turned out just good enough.

Back on the PC, I pushed the last few clips around and put in the closing caption. I also added the opening caption. Then I exported the whole movie for the first time - which took a what seemed like forever. All that was left was to upload it to YouTube (which took even longer and failed with "unknown" errors twice!).

At long last, the video was there on YouTube and looked....well, a bit rough really. Quite a bit of the small text was unreadable and some other details were motion-blurred beyond legibility but, despite that, it actually worked!

Mrs Pedro had here first proper look at the whole thing and her reaction was exactly what I was hoping for. So I burned some DVD copies and printed inlays to go with the discs - had a shower and got in the car to drive down to The Peel.

Mission accomplished!

PS Reaction to the video has been fantastic, so many people saying really nice things about it - better than I could have hoped for really.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Creating a video for "Toys" by Frost* (Part 9)

I have no idea if that is (or will ever be) a real word but I found myself using it a lot yesterday.
I guess it's intended as an amalgamation of "Shocking" and "Wonky" and thus it perfectly describes the crazy set-up I've been using to get my video from the Playstation3 to the PC.
It sounded so simple really; record the PS3 output using the DVD recorder. Put the DVD-RW into the PC and import the VOB files into MoviePlus. Edit, arrange and serve on a bed of roughly chopped storyline with a well seasoned reference or two. What could be easier?
Well, all of it really….
Problem 1 - Pilot error
I'm having to "perform" every scene "live", as it were, in a game where things can (and therefore do) go wrong - frequently.
Stand in the wrong place, forget to look scared/happy/angry at the right moment, go the wrong way, miss the jump, get squashed by falling objects….
Problem 2 - Slow technology….and more pilot error
Each of these mis-fires triggers a cycle of :-
- stopping the DVD recorder (waiting for that to be ready to record again). My Philips DVD Recorder isn't very fast at updating the disk and the remote control is, well, "shonky".
- re-cueing the mp3 player (cos I'm timing my actions to the music). My old iPod is a little slow to respond sometimes, so getting to the screen to "jog" fwd or bkwd is quite frustrating
- re-starting the "level" in LBP - having corrected anything that was was working
- hitting record on the DVD and play on the iPod and re-performing
Rinse and Repeat….until the DVD is stuffed with very similar, un-named clips - mostly worthless.
Problem 3 - The world is a dangerous place - particularly when designed by "erroneous pilots" like me!
Each "play" through of my "scenes" reveals a different and usually unexpected way for things to go wrong, not to fit, be too slow or too fast, be written too small to survive the resolution crush on the way to YouTube….and so on….
Problem 4 - My Windows PC….need I say more?
Well, I will. I've been using a single DVD-RW to transfer the files to the PC. So I put the disk in the first time and it correctly read the files.
I took the disk out, erased it in the DVD recorder, and put some new files on it.
I put it back in the PC….and it showed me the first set of files again….not the new ones!
It took me a while to work out what was wrong but if I put a different DVD in the PC first, read that, then put my DVD-RW with the new files in,it read the new files ok! Coupled with this, reading any disk on a PC takes longer when you are waiting for it.
…and so on.
So what progress?
Well, I've now only got the solo section and the last chorus to do….so I'm into the last 3rd.
I have most of it "built" in LittleBigPlanet too. Just need to get it set up and then "film" it.
I do have to go back and refilm the Intro and Waterfall sections (because I got the resolution wrong when importing them) but that *should* be fairly quick.
There are other bits that I think could be better but, hey, I'm not going to Cannes with it!
Then I just need to glue the bits together, export the finished movie, check it over and shove it up the YouTube!
Jem has said he's just too madly busy to give it the once over so I'll just have to loose it on the world and hope he gets to see it at some point.
Then I shall sleep…on purpose this time!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Creating a video for "Toys" by Frost* (Part 8)

Well, three days later and there has been some good last!

I managed to avoid the lure of the all-nighter and got in three reasonable days of forward motion. I've broken the song down into about 12 - 15 sections and I managed to complete about 3 sections this (long) weekend. The second bit of the solo (man that took some setting up!) and the "I'm an accident, a secret, I'll bother you for years" section are done and decorated. I also got the first and some of the second part of the final chorus done too. The final chorus is different from the previous two because the "story" has to get to the end - rather than tracking the lyrics so much. The first chorus is probably the biggest bit yet to be started - I've left it because it is just a (p)re-hash of what I've already done for the second chorus - should be simple, right?

So I've got about 10 sections just about "done" now, with only some tarting up required. Hopefully I can complete the missing sections in the week, ready for dress rehearsals and the beginning of princple photography (posh name for me hit record, stop delete, record, stop, etc. on the DVD recorder) next weekend. I've taken that Monday off too so hopefully on Tuesday or Wednesday I can get it under Jem's nose for "sign-off" as it were. Then hopefully the Frost*iverse will get to see it....and collectively say; "what the -?" :o)

Friday, 5 December 2008

Creating a video for "Toys" by Frost* (Part 7)

Hell's teeth! I fell asleep AGAIN!!

Woke up at 5am again and fiddled around for a bit but that's another evening gone. It's December 5th today and The Peel gig is two weeks tomorrow.....Waaaah!

Right, I've booked Monday off work so I can hopefully get a whole shed-load done this weekend. I really need to get 9 or 10 of the 11 sections done by Tuesday if I'm going to stand a chance of getting it polished up ready to get Jem's approval prior to the gig weekend.

Hmm...that's a big ask...actually, no....ASK....that is....

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Creating a video for "Toys" by Frost* (Part 6)

After the relative success of the weekend (getting almost a whole chorus complete) I have all but ground to a halt again.... :o( It's not a lack of ideas or lack of interest....I just can't stay awake!!

I'm in a definite cycle of productive "all-nighter" followed by two or three "useless" evenings.

This is extremely frustrating!

Last night (well, this morning when I woke up at 5am) I managed to get my concept for the first bridge (the "Ego come, ego go" one) to work in very simple block form.
It's a bit surreal, but then the whole thing is a lot surreal really so I guess it fits!

I've been spending a fair amount of time on the Frost* forum recently too - hopefully trying to help it to get it over a recent bumpy patch - looking good now I think.

So, no excuses not to get on with it tonight then.........(yawn)