pip_r_lagenta (pip_r_lagenta) wrote,

The Whys of Wheels

Take a look at the video in yesterday's post.  You'll need to know what I am talking about. (This is it, here!)

Not long ago, I had a great deal of fun making the collection of videos that can be seen at

I had made those videos (except for the one video that I linked to in yesterday's post) while experiencing multitasking problems on my computer.  In the last month, I have blogged here, on LiveJournal, extensively (and ad nauseam: "Multitasking: It Seems That I Can't Blame Vista For This [2009-07-13 11:06:00]" and "Not Blaming Vista, While At The Same Time Blaming Vista [2009-07-21 17:14:00]") upon the nature of this technical difficulty.  Suffice to say here that I needed to test my computer to see if the remedies implemented were effective.

As long planned, I filmed a set of "Friends of Old Puppy" music performed at the Nabolom Bakery gig in Berkeley on June 27, 2009.  I filmed whatever the musicians chose to play.  The Nabolom Bakery venue is very noisy.  My previous attempts to video the "Friends of Old Puppy" performances at Nablolm were hobbled by bad sound.  To get better sound this time, I used sound recording equipment separate from, and of better quality than, the video camera's built-in sound recording system.

There was more footage videoed than used.  A videoed performance was not used mostly because the musicians felt that their performance on a particular song was not up to par.  After completing the YouTube videos of the best preformed songs, I looked a second time at that video from "the cutting-room floor".  There was one thing.

The musicians had gone into their first song ("Wheels" written by Norman Petty, Richard Stevens, and James Torres) while I was still setting up my equipment.  Now here is the deal: I had turned on the sound equipment just before the first song started.  So, I had the complete sound for the first song.  There are several points early in the video where you can hear me say things like "the sound's very good" as I was adjusting the sound levels.  It was an excellent performance.  The problem was that I did not start the video camera until about half way through the song.  Then, once I got the camera running, I moved it all around to test camera angles and practice camera movement.  The end result for the first song was "sound good, video bad".  I wanted to use the sound, but what to do about the visuals?  I decided to make an art film.  Into this comes my need to test my newly repaired computer.

I use the "Windows Movie Maker" film editing program.  It is a free, low grade, simple, crude Microsoft product.  Additionally, it is a program that uses excessive amounts of CPU and motherboard resources.  As I use "Windows Movie Maker", I learn more and more about its capabilities and its limitations.  The minimalist, single-shot videos that I normally make do not push the capacities of the "Windows Movie Maker" program.  Nor, to any reasonable degree, do they add to my skill set.  Clearly, I needed to push the envelope and try new stuff.  And, by the way, I needed to test my newly repaired computer.

I suck at Photoshop.  But far be it from me to let that stop me.  I have a lot of photos that I took of the "Friends of Old Puppy" band.  I could do Photoshop things to those photos.  Photoshop is a program that uses excessive amounts of CPU and motherboard resources.  I could use Photoshopped photos in my movie.  I could do it all at once and test my newly repaired computer.

I opened Photoshop, the video editing program, the sound editing program, and I started "Windows Media Player" to play music as I worked.  I picked ten "Friends of Old Puppy" photos from my files and loaded them all into active Photoshop jobs.  I made three different versions of each one of the ten photos.  The plan was to blend the three versions into a kind of morphing effect in the movie.  The take-away lesson here was that "Windows Movie Maker" has a passable blend/fade effect.  I did not need to artificially build the effect in Photoshop.  I made similar effects among the three versions in Photoshop, when I should have made them radically different and let the video editing program blend them.

As an afterthought, I tossed into the mix a short video snippet that I had of Steven Strauss standing in the bakery.

Leaving Photoshop open, I edited the sound down to a workable size.  Leaving Photoshop and the sound editing program open, I imported all sound, stills, and video into the "Windows Movie Maker" video editing program.  Then I really went to town.

I filled the first half of the movie (where I had not yet turned on the camera) with the snippet of Steven, and the thirty stills that I had made in Photoshop.  The second half of the movie had the jerky-ass video that I shot just after I turned on the camera.

I very carefully synchronized the video to the sound.  If I cut the video in any way, I would have to re-synchronize the video to the sound.  Therefore, I made no cuts to the video in the second half of the movie.  I understand that it appears as if there are cuts in that video, but let me assure you, there are none.  I synchronized the sound only once.

I did, however, "split" the video into bits.  "Splitting" is an important addition to my skill set.  "Splitting" does not necessitate re-synchronization.  "Splitting" cuts the video into parts that can then have effects applied to them.

The raw video had a lot of movement in it.  There was no way I could remove the movement from the video.  So, in for a penny, in for a pound: I added movement.  The "Windows Movie Maker" video editing program has a small selection of built-in effects.  I slammed in as many as I thought were ever-so-slightly-beyond-reasonable.  Where the camera moved, I added more movement-style effects.  Where the camera did not move, I added slow moving effects.  I would leave the camera from time to time to go re-check sound levels.  At these points, I walked in front of the camera.  I added extra heavy effects at these points, to hide the fact that I was on-freeking-camera.  And here and there, I just added EFFECTS.

Between the "splitting" and the effects, it looks as if there are cuts in the video portion of the movie.  Let me confirm once again, there are no cuts.  Cuts CAN be done; it is just a lot of work, a lot of re-syncing work.  However, as I become better, and more confident, at using my cheap-ass film editing program, I think that I may be able to start putting cuts and edits into the videos.

I added to my skill set.  It is experiments such as the making of this one video that do, in fact, make me better, and more confident, at using my cheap-ass film editing program.

I also tested my newly repaired computer.  Works fine.

 --Pip R. Lagenta

Tags: computer, friends of old puppy, microsoft, nabolom, photoshop, steven strauss, video, wheels, windows movie maker, youtube
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