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Blog posts from April 2013

Hello Batman

Tossing a coin is SO 2012.

If you need to make a snap decision then the best decider is not heads or tails, but instead:

helloorhello-batman

“Oh my goodness, how have I been so naive all this time? I had no idea that these two obviously juxtaposed items could be used to determine the choice of a binary decision!”… I hear you cry (or that could be the voices in my head).

It’s rather obvious when it’s presented to you, isn’t it?

“No but seriously, what the hell is this?”

I… it’s hard to explain. My mate Pete was bought the domain as a present at the Dynamo PR Christmas do.

“Why?”

REASONS, that’s why.

Anyway, he wanted to use it as more ludicrous enjoyable alternative to sometimesredsometimesblue.com (yes, that does what you think it does).

So – combined with web fonts, some funky JavaScript to size the text to your screen, Pete saying a particular phrase on page load (or on tap on iOS… grrr) – I made it.

Hello Batman.

Tarrah,

Pat

HelloScarlettJohannson

Posted on Tue 30 Apr in Coding,Creative,Fun,Web Design with No Comments

Just Love Safe

Oh no! It’s come to this, the horrible day has finally hit us… and pop music will never be the same again. Until the next generic, well-produced set of pretty looking people do well in the X-Factor and release some records, that is.

But until then we are lost… for JLS have split up!

Who?

You know, the handsome foursome of Marvin, Alan, Humphrey and Tiberius (I might have these slightly wrong). To mark this momentous of occasions and to once again take some time to think about the existence of the JLS-branded Durex condoms (“Just Love Safe”… yes, it really did happen), I decided to create a cartoon…


(Click to view a larger (a.k.a. readable) version)

Fnar!

Pat

Posted on Wed 24 Apr in Cartoons,Creative,Fun with No Comments

Strip Search!

Ok, you.

Stand still.

Brace yourself.

Get ready to bare all and…

DRAW!

Draw? Yes, draw. For Strip Search is the name of a brilliant Apprentice-style talent contest (not a phrase I thought I’d ever, ever utter) from the awesome guys at Penny Arcade: the world’s most popular web comic.

The prize? To work at Penny Arcade for a year, and $15,000.

The contestants? A whole load of AMAZINGLY TALENTED artists / cartoonists.

The challenges? Lots and lots of varied tasks.

The consequence of failure? Well, I’ll come to that.

Here’s the first episode, just to give you a tease:

And yes, you’re right: the theme tune is pretty awesome.

A new episode is unveiled on Tuesdays and Fridays online at the Strip Search web site, and I sat and watched all of them up to today’s over the weekend. It’s really addictive, very very funny in places AND – unlike most talent shows of this nature – the contestants and the judges are all really lovely.

The best part of the show has to be the elimination, which comes once every three episodes (don’t ask) and features the two bottom candidates of a day’s tasks battling against each other to create a comic based on two randomly selected words – in 90 minutes.

It’s damn hard, and it’s made harder because a) they’re on a stage in front of judges Mike and Jerry, the PA creators and b) said judges deliberately try to put them off with probing questions, fake time announcements and… well, I’ll not spoil the fun.

Today, I decided to play along, so following the show set myself 90 minutes to create a comic based on two words:

Mermaids

and

Ukulele

So… here it is:

Be gentle. I only had 90 minutes. 🙂

Next time, Pauly G’s promised me he’ll ask me lots of distracting questions over Twitter. I just hope he doesn’t drink my comic…

Pat

Posted on Tue 23 Apr in Cartoons,Creative,Fun,Review with Comments (2)

Making a Marryoke Video: Some Tips

Marry What Now?

Allow me to explain.  A month and a half ago my awesome youngest brother Andrew was married to his awesome long-time girlfriend Sally.  As part of the day, they’d asked me if I’d be up for recording people at various points of the day miming to Five’s “Keep on Moving”, to later composite together over the song itself.  I, of course, said “hell yeah!”, thinking it was the most bizarre yet hilarious idea.

It turn out that this was already a phenomenon… known as Marryoke.

What Did You Make?

Before I show you, I want to admit something: the production quality’s not amazing.  In my defence my brief was “just record bits I you get a chance, don’t spend all your time on it, you’ve gotta have fun”.  So unlike in other Marryoke videos, I didn’t want to take over the wedding with it – i.e. no bits with the bride and groom at the actual ceremony, no bits with the confetti, no bits at the speeches.  I don’t see that as a bad thing: it was an intentional decision.  One thing that I regretted was a lack of a plan: in the end I had tonnes of material for particular parts of the song and hardly any for other bits.  Also, as – er – certain liquids were consumed, the filming quality was – er – altered… 🙂

But to be honest, I’m being picky here: the key aim of the marryoke video was to act as a great way to remember the fun of the day.  And I’m happy to say it’s served its purpose.

Anyway, all excuses aside, here it is:

So, Any Tips?

Well, yes.

I certainly learned some lessons for this, and I offer them to you in case you fancy having a crack at it.

I’m not going to offer any “pro tips” such as filming / editing techniques, nor suggest camera models / ideal tripod positioning etc. I’m just offering some practical tips to make sure the content of your marryoke video is as good as possible.

TL;DR Tips

  • Keep track of what you’ve recorded / what you need
  • Make sure the key people are included
  • Have the audio handy
  • Record more than you need
  • Record positioner sections
  • Bring a Charger and Spare Battery
  • Editing: Use a decent video editor
  • Editing: Test the Lip Synch

Tips in Full

Keep track of what you’ve recorded / what you need

This is really, really important so that you avoid the situation I put myself in with loads of clips for certain sections of the song and hardly any of the other.

marryokeThe simplest way is to bring the lyrics of the song, which you can mark off as you go, but bear in mind you need to also make a note of which parts of the instrumental you’ve got clips for.

You could be as nerdy as creating something like that to the right, or you could be a little less anal.  I only originally had a list of the lyrics.  Would I go so far as to the anal list of things to the right next time?  Peh, come on now, I’m not that much of a gee… ok, ok, yes of course I am.

Make sure the key people are included

Again, really important.  Get a list of the people you’ll definitely need in it: the bride and groom (duh), their family, the bridesmaids and ushers.  Even if it’s just to have them smile and wave at the camera, getting them all in there is really important and you’ll have to scour through other clips, speeches etc. to grab them otherwise.  Trust me on this.

Have the audio handy

Not everyone will know the song you’ve chosen, nor have an idea of pace.  Having the audio handy to play them is really useful.  Ideally you’d have it split into various files, so you can easily play people the small part of the song they need to sing.  You can easily split an mp3 into various smaller ones using something like Audacity or the brilliant REAPER.

Record more than you need

You never know whether the people you’re filming will muck up, or whether something unexpected might’ve happened to the recording.  So record loads.  You’ll thank yourself for it.

Record positioner sections

Not all of your song will have lyrics in it, so make sure you record a good couple of minutes of “positioner” shots: outside the venue, inside the venue, the bride coming down the aisle (if possible), confetti being thrown etc.  It not only helps fill the gaps but it really rounds the video off and makes it more of a keepsake of the day.

Bring a Charger and Spare Battery

My goodness, this is a good thing to remember.  If you have neither, you might well be stuffed.  We had a charger available for the camera, but no spare battery, which meant that we had to have the camera out of action for an hour or so during filming various clips.

As a result, some of the footage was taken on alternate cameras, some of which weren’t amazing in low light.  A spare battery would’ve been hugely helpful.  Better still a spare (identical in quality) camera, but I understand we’re not made of money. 🙂

Editing: Use a decent video editor

This is really important in terms of being able stretch clips to fit to time (you WILL need to do this as some people will sing your song to quickly, others too slowly etc – even if you’re playing them the audio at the time).

It doesn’t have to be Hollywood-grade, but something like Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum (rolls off the tongue, no?) is both cost effective (~£100) and allows complete control over the positioning and length of your clips along with a decent range of effects.  Plus it natively exports up to YouTube, which is very handy for sharing.  There are plenty of other decent programs out there, and many offer demos so you can test out the features.

Editing: Test the Lip Synch

One thing I found when using Sony Vegas Movie Stu… Vegas was that although the lip synch appeared perfect when previewing in the program itself, the audio was around 0.25 seconds off from the video once a video was exported. 

The best way to test this is to select a few seconds of your clip that appears fine, export it at high quality (low quality can cock up the lip synch of its own accord in my experience) and see for yourself.

Fine tune the positioning of the music audio track (the whole thing, not just a few seconds of it – as you want the fine tuning to affect the entire video of course) and export again.  It’s rather iterative but it’s worth it.

Well, there you go.  A ramble about something you will probably not be inclined to ever do.  You’re most, most welcome.

Toodles,

Pat

Posted on Wed 17 Apr in Creative,Thoughts,Video with No Comments

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