Dissecting video

A few weeks ago, the fine folks over at Limebird Writers celebrated their first anniversary. To commemorate, they had a contest with a bunch of fantabulous prizes that would make any aspiring writer’s quill quiver with eager excitement, mine included. My video didn’t win, but the process was such fun – and so easy – I thought I’d share a few of my production steps.

1. Text.

Every story starts with text. (Well, every story starts with an idea, but you need to put the idea on paper if you want to be able to share it.) I wrote a (very loose and very silly) poem, which you can read below:

“Happy birthday, Limebirds!”

Just one short year ago today
The Web was graced with an idea so bright
A place for writers to tell their stories
To craft and let their words take flight

Safe harbor from the fright’ning storm
Of jealous trolls and arbalests
Where artists could be free and nurtured
‘Til they’re ready to leave their nests.

The word rang out to authors round
And the name came to be known.
Storytellers settled in
And so the family’s grown.

No matter what your pen may favor –
Poetry, horror, SF, YA –
You’ll always have a friend with
The Limebirds UK.

Yes, I know the meter is inconsistent, and the sentiment is a bit heavy-handed…but I wanted to do something fun, especially since it was going to be sung.

2. Audio.

Despite it being called a “video,” audio is perhaps the most important part of any video project. You can cover up crappy video, but you can’t cover up crappy audio. I recorded my audio using Audacity, a great piece of cross-platform shareware Β available from Sourceforge. I recommend Audacity mostly because it’s easy to use and free to download, and exports to MP3 with very little issue.

audacity

An example Audacity window.

(As for the tune, B came up with that herself. I was trying to find some music to go with the cadence, but she just ran with it, so that’s what I kept.)

3. Video/Images.

This isn’t really a video, per se, since it’s just static images sewn together with Final Cut Pro.

limebirds final cut

My Limebirds anniversary project, in process

I use FCP because it’s what I’m used to, but Adobe’s Premiere product is very good, too. (For those of you who are students or work at a college or university, make sure to ask for the educator’s discount!) If you’re not interested in shelling out lots of money for either of these programs, Apple’s iMovie and Windows Movie Maker are adequate – if not very powerful – substitutes.

I sized and cropped each of the images for video (720×480) in Adobe Photoshop (again, because that’s what I’m used to). If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on Photoshop, though, check out a nice little freeware program called GIMP, which is, frankly, a great alternative. (GIMP does not have quite as many bells and whistles as Adobe’s products, but it is a powerful little program.)

I did make sure to use public domain images so I wouldn’t infringe on anyone’s creative art. Wikimedia Commons is a great place to get royalty-free, open-access imagery. Just make sure to pay attention to the usage rights attached to each image, as these are specified by the original artist, and we don’t want to exploit anyone else’s work. πŸ™‚

The Wikimedia Commons front page. All you need for royalty-free.

So! Here’s the full video. At 01:19, it’s a bit long for what it is, but it’s difficult to tell a kid to hurry it up. πŸ˜‰

Have you ever experimented with video? What kind of video did you make…or would you like to make? Let me know! Oh, and do make sure to stop by the Limebird Writers. They’ve always got great things to say!

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5 thoughts on “Dissecting video

  1. As one of the Limebirds of which you speak, I loved your video Mayumi, and it’s great to hear here how you put it together, and how much went into it!

    To answer your question, I do some acting, and have also done a little bit of production, so I’ve been involved in making videos from different sides.

    Thanks for the shout out for Limebirds too!

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    • Thanks, Vanessa. πŸ™‚

      Most of the video I do for work is academic talking heads, which is pretty boring, so this was a fun change of pace, for me. Student productions are another matter – much more exciting! – but I only get to work with them a few times a year.

      I’ve always been a ham, so I loved being in front of the camera when I was a kid. But doing theatre tech at university (after I didn’t get a part in my first play) made me appreciate the production side of things. Now, I don’t think I could go back to not seeing what’s in the monitor. πŸ™‚

      Your life sounds super exciting to me: journalist, travelogue, actress, novelist, production person, skydiver…! If your children don’t already know how awesome their mom is, they need to be reminded! πŸ˜€

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  2. Wow, this is amazing Mayumi! We really appreciate all of the effort that you went to to produce this video! I wondered who was singing, hehe! Thanks for giving us a big shoutout, you’re the best! πŸ™‚

    Well, the only videoing that I’ve done is the 50,000 views one and that was just me talking to my webcam, then I used movie maker to edit it. Technical stuff! πŸ˜›
    B

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    • Thanks, Beth. πŸ™‚

      Video is one of those easy-but-tricky things. I’ve been at it for almost ten years “professionally”, but I still learn new parts to it every day.

      I hope to make better videos for the blogosphere in the future. If you ever want any tech help with one, feel free to let me know!

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