Video Project: Week 1

10/9/10

Major hiccup.

And this isn’t in regards to the Diet Mountain Dew I just threw back. This is in regards to me biting off more than I can chew. And this is another habit that I really have to change (the Mountain Dew part, not the biting part….okay, maybe the biting part too). If I’m ready to engage in some serious time on a project such as this, I have to fuel up on a highly caffeinated, sparkly beverage. Not cool when I just finished a couple of cups of coffee and now my eyes are focusing on things that are on opposite sides of the room. Not cool when I have other obligations coming at me like a mudslide, like a 9 year old’s birthday. But still, I’m a good boy all week and a little jacking up won’t hurt for a day or so. Sometimes, it’s the only way to get the lawn mowed.

About a week previous, I was going about doing my nightly YouTube trolling duties. Off to the side of my  home page, where the showcase the brand new shiny videos. I clicked on this one, it itself was brand new; barely 500 hits, yet it was trending upward, so it was worthy of a view.

Blown away. End of story. In my opinion, it was on par with anything that comes out of the House of Mouse or Dreamworks, but on a different level. What blew me away even further, was the way it was produced.

For a fraction of the cost of a usual summer blockbuster (almost $600,000, the lion’s share coming from online donations), groups of animators and amateur filmmakers from around the world contributed time, money and talent to finish this project in a matter of months. This almost fifteen minute long epic wasn’t the product of HP or anything belongs in the Apple library, this was made with something called Blender. Now, for the untold hundreds of you using a Linux operating system, please allow me to break it down to my underprivileged Windows-Using Folk.

Since the inception of Windows 7, Widows People, like me, who like to post things on YouTube and in the process, finally got used to the persistently buggy Windows Movie Maker were faced with the terrible dilemma of freedom. The latest version of the Widows operating system does NOT include Movie Maker (a fact in which I’m still scratching my head over, because the computer that we got is specifically designed to handle massive amounts of media…whatever). Faced with the absence of the only movie editor one has ever known, one would be presented with a number of options. The first would be to be one of the devoted, go to the Windows Live website, download the latest version of Movie Maker, grin and bear it (even with the latest version, it’s still a little wonky), and go about your business of stitching together pictures of your grandmother’s birthday party with some cheesy transition effects, throwing in whatever music you have lying around over it and calling it good. OR, capturing and posting your latest accomplishment of leveling up on Call of Duty so you can brag about it to the world. The second would be to totally freak out and get a Mac (!). The third, and I think this is what the developers had in mind all along, is that you go out on your own to either purchase software, or to find a comparable application. Hopefully for free. The terrible dilemma here is that it’s a huge market with many caveats and pitfalls. You just want something that works, something that’s friendly, that isn’t going to bust you, and maybe just evolve with you as your talent grows.

So, where to begin?

Before I go any further, I’d just like to point out that I finally, after years it seems, took a legitimate vacation. The type of vacation that let’s get out of Dodge for a while, not the kind where you stay at home in your pajamas. A real vacation! I took pictures on this trip, as anyone going on a trip would do. I also took some video with my little Sony Digital Camera that I bought years ago. But my footage wasn’t of anything significant, it was more like B-roll. It was B-roll that was shot with full intention of it becoming B-roll. Before I snapped my first picture on this trip, I was committed to the idea that I was going to make a small movie that was disguised as a vlog with dreams of becoming a documentary. I had an ambition to make it better than the first one I made. It was time to move forward and become an actual filmmaker, and to finally admit to myself that I didn’t give up the fight. After all these years, I still have at least one creative bone in my body.

Okay, back to the present…

So, I watched the video above, fell in love with it, left a comment on it to the effect of, “Well I was going to start on my video project this weekend, but after seeing this, I kind of don’t see the point now. *sulk*” Which prompted the weekend video warriors to come out of the woodwork and exclaim, “No! Go for it!” etc. One such person engaged me in a game of message tag.

He asked why I was using Windows Movie Maker.
I told him that that was the only option available to me.
He told me that the movie I just watched and commented on was made on Blender, which I could find online and use for free.
I said, “No way?!”
He said, “Way!”
I said, “I have to have this!” Because anything that is capable of making a movie like this that’s available to the public like books in a library is damn near impossible for me to pass up. Especially when I’m looking to step up my game. Not that I’m planning on producing any animated epics…yet, but if their editing applications fit what I’m looking for, this will be mine. Oh yes…this WILL be mine!

He then directed me to something called kdenlive, an open source video editor which works and plays well with Blender, and at first glance, looks like it may crush anything that Windows ever made as far as movie editing applications. After some research, I felt the deep, primal need to use this and to hide it under rock in case tribe from other village come and take.

Now, this is how the rest of my week went:

In order for me to get this application, I have to download it. In order to download it, I have to have Linux (even though they say you can do this in Windows, what they really mean is that you have to have Linux in the mix on another partition). In order to do that, I may have to make some room on my hard drive, which I’m not too crazy about. But, wait! There’s a way that I can get what I need without performing brain surgery on my computer!

Visions of a super-neato-keen operating system are all I see. 

So without giving it another thought, I get myself an 8GB USB Flash Drive. It came in about 3 days, this was a good time to further investigate the operating system that I will be using. It’s called Ubuntu; think of the all the highlights of Windows, Mac and Linux, thrown into a casserole dish, baked at 350° for 45 minutes and served with a side of asparagus. By this time, it was the weekend again. By this time, my message tagging friend contacted me after a few days after I tried to confirm with him that I can do a full install on a flash drive. Taking these baby steps kind of bothers me. My days are taken up, but at night, I try to get in as much of this as I can between familial obligations and sleep, which leaves a very small window. He says that I can load it directly on the flash drive, but it won’t be a complete install. If I booted from a disc, let the operating system load, it should give me a prompt where I can load it on to the flash drive.

So, now I need a blank disc.

Borrowed one from my mother in law, went through the steps, got the installer, started loading it on the disc… ERROR! Bad disc. Since it wasn’t re-writable, I was screwed until a got a fresh disc. Went to Office Depot, got a fat stack of discs (preparing for the worst), started over again, SUCCESS!

It is now a week later. I have the hardware. I have the software. I have the time. I have the frosty beverage. I have the ambition.

Now, I need to take the red pill and see how far the rabbit hole goes…..

……anytime, now……

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