Saturday, 25 June 2011


Ok, for those who don't know I've had a lot going on recently, creatively speaking.

Along with the E Sting, Jenny Ringo making of, 20 minute animation, and a host of writing plans I really need to start working on, I decided to enter a competition to make Flogging Molly's next video, Revolution.

When I say decided, I dived in basically. I've teased before about it, trying to find help on Facebook, deciding to use a puppet and such, and the final nail in the coffin, finding out that I needed to shoot in HD. But I'll get back to that.

So, there are five weeks until the deadline of 23rd June 2011, I wrack my brain for an idea. I get one. Lots of people singing the song cut together. Simple I thought, but only a handful of takers. So I go back to the drawing board.

Ok A puppet, and one person. But the person works in a shop and has a party. More sets and people required. I roughly storyboard and don't like what I see. Back to the storyboard.

This is all going on as the day job gets slowly and slowly busier, not giving me much time to focus on the video, so stress levels are rising.

Eventually I decide to scrap leaving the house (a decision I often fall back on, and is often the right choice). So the video will be 1 person, 1 puppet 1 location. Sorted. Girlfriend Charlotte stars, Brother Chris did most of the camera work and Brother Tim pressed play on the CD Player/PC (he will be more prominent in the next project.)

So I spend a week making a puppet, ready to film on the Saturday. I didn't quite get there so Sunday (12 June 2011) it is.

We begin.

We start late, around noon, film till about 5 with Brother Chris, me crawling into some seemingly impossible contortionist positions to give the puppet life. All is going well. Until I remember the specifications of the video "ALL VIDEO MUST BE IN 16:9".


We shot all day in standard 4:3, as I forgot to change to widescreen. We grab a couple more shots, now in widescreen and call it a day to reasses.

The widescreen I decide I can get around, not in the best way, but I can crop the edges of the 4:3.

So we continue to film over the next couple of evenings. By now I only have just over a week to finish but by the weekend I have everything I need.

It's around this time that I find out it also has to be HD. I have been using a MiniDV camera, nothing special but it usually serves its purpose. I don't do much filming being an animator so never thought of upgrading, plus the funds I do not have.

With this problem facing us, we all decide we can get away with it, add enough of an effect to make it look as if we want it low quality. Which in a way, is the point of the video. 1 person in a house trying to find a job. It's real and down to earth. HD wouldn't add anything to the video, just quality for the sake of it. I persevere and continue on my merry way.

But now the Parents are visiting. I can't and don't want to ignore them to edit, so have to edit around them. This means on Saturday night (18/17 June 2011) I'm up until 3am editing. And I win. Edit complete. It's all working out. Then I do a quick test and it won't render/export. 2 hours later I get the program to export properly and retreat to bed at 5 o'clock in the morning.

5 hours later I'm awake to start again. I need to get it uploaded on the Tuesday so I'm getting panicky. I needed Sunday to do the rendering but instead spend the day working on the little effects shots. By Sunday night it's ready. I start it exporting and wait. But the file's massive. Managing to watch it on th PS3 on the 32inch HD TV, all looks good. Except the effect is too much and doesn't work.

It's getting late. It takes hours to render so I have to leave the PC on overnight. I go to sleep then to work. Monday evening (20 June 2011) I get the video which hasn't worked. I need to render out again. Once again it doesn't quite work and the file size is massive. Stress levels are at max as I have to leave it until Tuesday. The day I needed to upload it.

At this time I have checked the specs and realise it has to be no larger that 300Mb. At the moment I'm clocking in at 700Mb.

Tuesday evening, I get in and go back to basics. Cut out everything that isn't needed for a smooth render/export, simplify the effect, do a bit of online research and email a couple of friends about compression. Deciding to reduce the bit rate I get it down to 287Mb. Excellent.

We watch and it's all good. Excellent.

I upload it and wait for the response...

"Hi Peter,

Do you have a higher quality version of your video you can upload? We're a platform for official music videos and only publish entries we believe have the potential to be used in that capacity. The version you uploaded seems to be fairly low resolution, even when watched in HD.


Crap. I didn't fool anyone.

At this point there was a mad dash to try an make it better quality, around going to see Green Lantern...

(Side Note: I enjoyed the film, however, the four writers really didn't help. There was lot's going on, but then at the same time, lot's of hanging around. Kind of like Thor. I think if they were introducig Oa and the Green Lantern Corps then they should have used them, rather than as a short "this is what's happening, let's train, ok done." It should have been more earth based to give more room to play with the ring and the things it can do. Overall it was just too jumbled. Ryan Reynolds was good, the CG was ok, reminding me of the original Tron. Not sure if this was their goal. I think WB need to stop thinking about money and get the animated movie writers to make a live action leap, or at least consult. As I've said before, they need to employ someone to say "Yep, that doesn't really work")

...but ultimately time was up. I had been denied entry to the competition for not having an HD camera, and ultimately for not having money.

This is the state of the world we live in. I wrote a nice calm reply back stating that it's supposed to look a bit rough as an artistic choice. I also took this chance to had a quick stab at their insane requirements. They want their videos to be HD so they can show them on a variety of formats. Another of their specifications is for the video to be 1920x1080 pixels. For those that don't know, this is the size of a small house. Well ok, not really, but it is roughly the size of a large TV. Yet the website that host the video is on a tiny little window itself. So to be helpful, I did point out that most of these formats were on the internet, iphones and such. Where mostly the video is in a small window.

Anyway, I reasoned that to fit into there MASSIVE specs but reach the TINY files size something had to go, so this could also be the reason.

At this point I wished him on his merry way.

So thats the end of my epic tale of stress. I am happy with the result and think I've made a great video, and think it would have had a chance at winning.

But there's one thing that still frustrates me. All the time and effort that I've used, has ultimately gone into a fan video. A copyright infringement heavy video that can only be seen on the youtube.

If I'd know this was the was it would end, I could have just edited together shots of Buffy and Angel or the Bella/Edward/Jacob love triangle and been done in 20 minutes. But at least it will get seen.

So on that defeatists note I bring to you my rejected entry for Flogging Molly's Revolution:-

Flogging Molly - Revolution

A short afterthought:-
Youtube like to crack down on copyrighted material so I'm not sure how long this will exist on youtube. They've already flagged it up, not sure what their policy is these days.

I'mm pretty sure the puppet (Marshall Bravestarr) will return in something much much better. Mark my words, my puppeteering hands are not dead yet.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

...and shit it is...

That was in reference to my job. It got busy. It got annoying. It got in the way of trying to finish the music video in a week.

Except I'd like to upload it before the deadline so less than a week.

I have less than a week to film three more shots, capture the footage, edit the footage, make sure it all looks 16:9 (forgot about this when we started filming), give it a nice visual look...

...and it will be complete.

Except now I find out it had to be in HD!?!?!?!?!

I think I can get away with it. I think I can magic Standard Definition to High Definition.

There's a puppet for gods sake. Surely you can accept an SD video if it has a puppet.

...I may have bodged.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Everyone loves a puppet...

So all of a sudden it's June. Which means it's technically summer and my day job is about to become a joyous, wonderful place to work, with rainbows and unicorns. Obviously there are lashings of sarcasm on that last desctiption.
Basically it will be shit.

But enough about that.

I haven't blogged much due to general busy-ness, hence my last blog giving a quick run down of what I have going on at the moment. But now that's all changed.

I say it's all changed, but really I've just added another project. Another music video in which I haev until 23rd June to complete. That's just 21 days from now to complete.

So I imagined a quick idea, put a call out on the facebook and got 3 replies. Not this was kind of a test as I needed at least 7 responses. Granted I didn't go about this the right way, but with only 21 days, who can be bothered with casting call outs wen friedn will do.

So with only a handful of people I went back to the drawing board to see what else I could come up with. What else did I have at my disposal?

I have a puppet!

And as I said before everyone likes a puppet.