Sunday, November 24, 2013

Animation, tougher and more time-consuming than what may appear to be.

It takes much more time to animate in the traditional, cell animation style than with 3D, mainly because the 3D suite(program) automates the process with bones, skinning and inverse kinetics. With 2D cell animation, the burden is on the animator to visualize test and move each section of the character.

Now that I am with a button animation of a breathing character, I realize that animating with GAP does take a lot of time. It allow to create animations reminiscent of the old days, but the sacrifice is time consumption.

Blender seems a nice platform to start animations. But for time constrains, I am unable to create the animations there. Another year may pass before I am able to animate in Blender though.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Animation and humour

One of the reasons that educational videos aren't as popular as the rest of videos(entertainment, mostly) is because they tend to sacrifice amusement for substance. Whilst it is more efficient in the short term(get away with the information as soon as possible), in the long term it is better to add humour and creative value that will make the audience crave more.

My recent attempt to add this is being challenged by the fact that animation does take a long time, even dimple ones like maraca shaking and caricaturesque breathing movements.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to de-es a track in post-production.

First of all, remember that the best de-esser is done whilst recording, with the pop filter and conscious attenuated 's's, 'p's, 'c's and 't's. If in case you apply a compressor for augmenting the loudness and diminishing the dynamic range, as I do, you will notice these consonants' amplitude to be increased(because the compressor I use increases the amplitude of lower volume waves and mitigates|or wholly halts| the amplification of higher volume waves.) That's what this mini-guide is all about.

Procedure to de-es a vocal track the fastest possible way.

First of all avoid hard sibilants and plosives while recording. When mistakes are made, use Audacity to edit the vocal track.

First of all, duplicate twice the original vocal track and name the original: “original vocal” so that we can work on the copies whilst the original is left unchanged. Name the duplicate: “duplicate”, and the other duplicate: “just in case.”

On the “just in case” track, apply the spitFish de-esser, available for free, as a VSTi plug-in. Audacity accepts the plug-in as long as you put the DLL on the “plugins” folder where Audacity was saved.

Instead of using the default settings use the sense and depth at max and tune at 5.5 Khz . Most importantly activate the “listen” switch which will cause the detected specified samples to remain, instead of being eliminated. Clicking on “OK” will create an “S” sounding track. Check whether only "S"s were highlighted, otherwise silence(«ctrl+l» while selected) the samples that do not inhere.

Play it back checking once again that it did avoid non "S"s like "SH"s, "CH" and occasionally "T"s. Otherwise recheck the "just in case track" for non pertaining samples and silence them(«ctrl+l» while selected).
Amplify those "S"s that seem to attenuated, and call the "compressor" plugin in case you are in hurry, and can't bother to verify each "S"s decent amplitude.

Using the “duplicate” track, and ensuring that the "just in case" track is bellow it, apply the auto duck (included by default with Audacity) with the following parameters:

Duck amount: 28,625 dB
Outer fade down length: 0,02 seconds
Inner fade down length: 0,14 seconds
Maximum pause: 0,15 seconds
Outer fade up length: 0,02 seconds
Inner fade up length: 0,14 seconds
Threshold: -37,128 dB

Once clicked on OK, you will observe the “S”s highly reduced in amplitude on the "duplicate" track.  Now try Compress dynamics with the following parameters:

Compress ratio: 1,0
Compression hardness: 0,905
Floor: -46,1
Noise gate falloff: 7,9
Maximum amplitude: 0,99

And later reapply the AutoDuck filter on the same "duplicate" track, using the "just in case" track as the side-chaining accomplice. Checking whether it reduced the amplitude of a non “S” is redundant(since you already rechecked it in the first pass).

You have finished.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Offering screencasting services.

I will add a screencasting service page on this blog to see how many customers I have from all the prospects.

The main venue has been oDesk and personal contacts but it seems that after receiving almost 40,000 visits in my YouTube channel and 14,000 visits on this blog, that I am wasting a lot of prospects that may turn into leads(marketing term that refers to converted customers).

If even %1 of those were turned into customers, it would mean I would have 382 customers assured.
Well, time to start building such page.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Podcast regarding screencasting

Starting from today I will attempt to create a podcast every day to show fluidyity and continuity in the work I do as screencaster. Since Podcasts are much simpler to create since the hassle of creating and synchronizing with the video is spared. Also people may want to download it and hear it on the way to school/work with their portable multifunctional phones / music players.

Here is today's podcast it is in OGG format, any respectable multimedia player like Adobe Flash and VLC should be able to play it.
I talk about how screencasts are created, in the most general fashion. I will delve into more details in later chapters.

Recording: in one shot, in various takes, dealing with rehearsals, audio recorded on post production for perfecting the original audio from the screencast, online media hosting sites and much more.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dubbing procedure.

Many screencasters have different screencasting techniques. Some start by creating the rough video screencast with basic dialogue and then polish the audio first and the video second or viceversa. Others start with the video only and add the audio accordingly. If the audio is more important, the starting point is the audio and the video is developed following the timing of the audio(this method is mostly recommended for video presentation and animated diagrams instead of screencasts).

Recently, I managed to understand the main tune changer in the voice when recording the audio dubbing track in many takes: the distance of the microphone. If the distance of the microphone is different, the levels shown on the hardware/software audio interface will be the same if you increase your voice's volume, which in turn morphs the pitch and possibly the colour of the voice as well. If in one take the microphone is positioned slightly different, such changes will not be perceivable neither by the volume level bars nor by the direct sound feedback from the hardware/software interface. It will only be noticeable once both tracks(or if the software; like Cubase LE, supports it, takes) are bound together, and played back a few seconds before the bending point.

I have two microphones, one was held by hand, the other by a stand. So apart from having all main objects placed as before around my desk(including sound attenuating sheets), my main trouble arouse from my hand getting tired and slowly distancing the microphone from the pop filter(which is right after my lips), so when the first section is over, that small distance difference altered the sound's overall tone, and putting the microphone back near the pop filter did not always coincide with the position that I previously held in the previous take.

Of course that the solution was to wrap the first microphone to the second one in the stand, in such a way that I could simply perform with my voice without worrying about the right microphone's distance.

It is a 7:42.500 audio track, which basically makes it impossible to do it in one straight dialogue line, unless one possesses the equivalent of 10 normal human lungs, so various takes are inevitable.

The other possibility is to avoid video tutorials longer than 2:00 minutes.
Other tutors prefer to create naturally occurring pauses that are heard in everyday dialogue, however, I do not opt for that because it prolongs unnecessarily the duration of the video and it becomes more tedious for the audience. For those who are slower to learn, they can either watch the video more times or lower the playback rate as I show in this video.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

GIMP Screencasts.

As I had announced earlier, the edutainment video is still work in progress, while I plan contemporarily to create a series of videos that will teach the basics of the latest version of GIMP with a humourous twist. As you all know, that may be the deal that breaks it or makes it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Intricacies of a failed system.

Developing the mind requires a lot of effort, but seems that surviving with so much abundance shouldn't be an issue. It has always surprised me how only money is able to organize some people.

Hunter gatherer homo sapiens had gift societies in place, and people simply organized as the resources(food, cloth, hunting weapons, kitchen tools, toys, etc.) were acquired through inspection of their surroundings. Now with commerce in place, the movement of money seems the only factor to organize resource allocation, but society's communal properties vanished.

Now people seem more interested in gaining resources through manipulation and other people's endeavours than by personal or group effort. The community is degraded and even relationships turn into usable commodities. It is no wonder why many of today's urban couples view themselves as toilette paper, to be used for the moment of need and thrown to the garbage bin when finished.

Also, sustainability has been given less priority, giving hedonists a paradise, but future generations a potential hell.

Nonetheless, hope is not lost. I am working on creating aquaponics systems with some Madrid residents, and at august I depart to Italy in order to partake in the maintenance of a sustainable park.

Once certain level of self sufficiency is achieved, I will be able to produce more tutorials and free/open source software promotions.

Capitalism has not treated me well, despite my capacities as a labourer. That is why I and all people with enough self-esteem should embark in self-sufficiency and reduce the dependency to commerce and money, otherwise we cannot help the community.

I am working on the edutainment explanation, dubbed in Italian, but captions and subtitles in English, Spanish and Japanese will be available for international viewers.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

GIF to AVI conversion of file.

In this tutorial I aim at explaining the details within GIMP and GAP(GIMP Animation Package) in order to convert a GIF (created elsewhere) to an AVI container with MPEG4 format.

The procedures are simple, but the details are many. The layers in the layers dialog within GIMP indicate the frames within the potential video(which will actually be processed by a program contained within the GAP package known as Master Video Encoder, which, well, encodes the video from the frames.)

We take a look at freaky video details like GOP , maximum/minimum quantizer scale, bitrate, framecount, framerate and so on.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stroking angular lines in GIMP

I have always wondered how to make perfectly angled(by degrees) lines. Well at least in GIMP 2.8.2(And probably previous versions) such feature can be obtained by guide addition when using the measure tool(«Shift»+«M»):

by pressing «Ctr»+«Alt» and left mouse click on both nodes:
 Guides are added.

Then simply use the brush stroke on a path, using the guides' intersection as snap points.

Here is a video showing how to stroke a path.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

High contrast option in Windows to appease reading and editing.

There have been many inventions, like the e-book reader, that allow to look at a steady screen for long hours without compromising the optical organs.

As more e-book readers are sold, the prices will lower to the point of being accessible like a cheap $15 cell phone. The Amazon Kindle is sold in USA for $60 .

If one wants to edit text or other high contrasting images(which are the most stressful for the eyes), e.g. a notepad file with a bunch of subtitles with their timings, like in my case:

The requirements are none. Just press «Shift»+«Alt»+«Print Screen» and you will prompted with a message asking whether you are sure to enter High contrast mode. Once you have clicked on «OK», the background which tends to be white will be black, and the text which tends to be black will be white. This is much easier on the eyes.

The other aspect you can change in your computer monitor and graphics card options is to increment the vertical update frequency to the maximum available for the hardware combination. Most modern monitors support 60Hz, but the high end ones may reach 120Hz and perhaps 240Hzs. The higher the frequency the less eyestrain you will experience.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

どちらがいい? "," とか «,»

A note on text style for tutorials and subtitles(captions if it is the same language as the played audio).

I was in a dilemma as to what type quotations to use in captions and text tutorials, regarding special words or input(I only knew that " and ' existed). Figuring out that by pressing «Alt»+«0171» in any QWERTY Windows keyboard one can obtain the « character; and by pressing «Alt»+«0187» one obtains the » character; I decided to use both characters « and » in subtitled words that indicate mutable concepts or options selected or input by the user.

In text formats, as in this very example, I generally use italics for newly introduced concepts(like in the first usage of the " « " and " » " characters in this very blog post) and bold style for highlighting text. Since those are not supported by the SubRIP specification I will avoid such highlights. For immutable and predefined strings I will use the double quotes("") encompassing it, and for alleged characteristics(perhaps with a hint of sarcasm) I will use single quotes('') encompassing it.

Using spaces before and after quotations, e.g. :

  • Input « "hallelujah Bro!" » on the input box.
  • At the right side of the left column, we can read " "He will be angry about it. Honestly." " 

Is the solution I have come up with for avoiding ambiguity between instruction indicative quotations and literal quotations(like in the second example, a direct speech, AKA non reported).

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Programming does not equal a sedentary life.

In society there are a lot of stereotypes and annoying insinuations, that somehow permeate, especially westernised cultures.

Programmers don't have to be 2 inches-thick wearing glasses gals/guys with an insurmountable hunchback, saggy buttocks and insolent attitudes when confronted with situations out of their comfort zone. Those are all stereotypes.

A programmer is simply a person that programs a computer. In between programming sessions, a programmer can find balance in life by physically exercising, meditating, hanging out with friends, eating healthy etc.

I have another blog which expounds on health and workout matters. Varied nutrition and daily exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle that everyone should aspire to self-prescribe.

Plenty scientific evidence supports the notion that a healthy body entails a healthy mind, ergo better programs and scripts come out of exercised people.

My workout blog will focus on exercises and workouts without having to spend significant amounts of money for equipment.

Good sleep and social interactions are also key for a happier and healthier life. Be sure to follow the workout blog to balance life in the most meaningful and positive way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The constant update necessity of on-line producers.

As intricate as the title may sound, in reality it is simple: one must update the blog and social networks, at least to let people know that one is alive and that work is being made directed toward the intended audience.

The reason why blogs are so famous is because one needs very little time to spend on its design and implementation, updates are fast, and it is a personal vision of the subject matters treated.

Writing is easy, nonetheless, writing sensible and coherent things is more challenging. Especially technical and intellectual subject matters.

As you all may well know, screencasting, microphone/voice acting techniques, image/audio/video editing, translation, computer programming/scripting and didactics are not easy subject matters.

Combining all of them puts a huge burden on the author for content accuracy and quality. Updating, even small portions, is a challenge.

Trouble withstanding, the video tutorial regarding recording audio/video streams is in its final stage. I will link to the workout videos I am also working when they are finished as well(those, nevertheless, are hosted in my workout blog).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Audio editing and hell semantics.

I am working on the edition of audio, by moving, translating, subtitling and testing alternative takes that may match the parts that in the main take were missing or defective.

I have found out that by making video tutorials about video capture, and talking about the audio editing of the resulting video tutorial, the semantics go crazy. This will help me understand and develop with the NLTK Python toolkit. For example:

The audio editing of a video tutorial about video and audio stream recording is almost finished.

That was quite understandable, however there was a lot of word repetition, each word, meaning different things. Also 'video and audio stream' can be linking 'stream' to 'video and audio'; or just 'audio', leaving 'video' semantically linked with 'recording' or alone.

Another more confusing example:

The video tutorial audio editing regarding video and audio stream recording is almost finished.

Modifier nouns are used which turn the associations further complicated.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Recording risks

Screencast narration on a technical subject matter is the hardest that dubbing can get. Although I have never done voice acting, just by allowing you artistic freedom voice acting allows much more space for variances and experimentation. With technical screencasts, like in my case, One has to follow along the many entrenched paths that accuracy encompasses. As the video advances, one has to anticipate what comes next in order to turn the audio experience into something fluid for the audience. Otherwise it sounds forced or inexperienced. Rehearsal helps, but ultimately, mastery of the subject matter treated and experience with microphone and breathing techniques will trump all other virtues.

There are 3 distinct ways of screencasting:

  • Direct screencasting. 
  • Video first
  • Audio first

Direct screencasting
Is simply screencasting while one demonstrates the software. This has the burden of making it all seem fluent and eloquent while at the same time maintaing technical accuracy. The huge advantage though, is that it takes much less time. Audio and video retouching can still be made at post-production.

This is the technique I currently use for fast and short screencasts.

Video first
Allows the video to be recorded in a more laid back way. The audio, however, must match the video by replaying the video and activating the record function of Audacity or any other recorder in a fast move(alt-tabbing may work). Following along, talking about what is displayed in the video is much easier than narrating along with the mouse and keyboard. This allows for a much more professional sounding screencast, at the expense of time consumption trying to make it fit the video, and since the aim is too make it sound more professional, the rehearsal might take longer.

I currently use this for the middle quality screencasts.

Audio first
This technique becomes easy if one has written the script beforehand, and simply reads it along. Once the audio is ready(which is the easy part), the video must be synchronized with the audio(considering the timing based on the current video's framerates in VirtuaDub and milliseconds played in Audacity can be easily translatable.) It is hard to come up with a rhythmic and well timed screencast using this method. It is best left for more elaborate presentations(live footage, animations, composited images and partly screencasts)

This technique I currently use for elaborate, time consuming presentations.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Different video hosting sites for different purposes.

Vimeo is problematic when uploading videos. Not only does it not offer advertising partnership, but it puts ads around one's video without sharing with the content creator! Add to that, the fact that my Zoom demo video is still in processing(which really isn't, it probably simply is timed to be available when it is programmed to, to persuade the standard account user to buy the Vimeo Plus account.) To solve that, I have other accounts in other less known video hosting sites, like Trilulilu, where I uploaded the Zoom tool demonstration for VirtualDub.

YouTube is the ruler, as it offers advertising partnership, allowing independent screencasters to flourish(still pending for me). It also offers from the lowest resolution to the highest of HD, unfortunately adds black strips at the sides if the aspect ratio is not 16:9 .

 ShowMeDo has halted, and is not allowing videos to be uploaded. The uploader is buggy.

Facebook allows video uploading, but the quality isn't high.

I was surprised that Blogspot(Google's Blogger) allows small resolution uploads of videos, with a Flash player reminiscent of YouTube.

The other option is to buy web hosting services, but that is the last option, because one is the payer, rather than the other way around(Like in the case of YouTube ad partnership.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Zoom tool(motion filter) in VirtualDub

A small illustration of how the zoom tool works. Notice it is a high quality zooming algorithm(Lanczos3).


Watch it on Vimeo for higher quality.

The VirtualDub plug-in is available at Ben Greenwoods homepage.

The VDF file must be placed at the plugins32(VirtualDub 1.10.3) directory

or plugins(in VirtualDub 1.9.11) directory.

Motion Filter tool by Ben Greenwood in VirtualDub

So yesterday I expressed how useless the Zoom 1.2 filter(plug-in) by Donald Graft And Avery Lee for VirtualDub is. 999x999 wasn't a modern resolution. However, there is another tool called the 'motion filter', which allows higher resolutions, and as a bonus, it also allows rotation and panning.

Of course, this is excellent for non-elaborate screencasts in which one needs a fast zoom to a part where one forgot to do it in the screen-capturing session with the excellent tool ZoomIt.

It is always a great idea to rely on various tools as back-up mechanisms for features. In this case a zoom missed in production(with ZoomIt) can be corrected in post-production with VirtualDub and this excellent motion filter tool by Ben Greenwood.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

VirtualDub Zoom

Unfortunately VirtualDub's Zoom tool Does not possess the features I am looking for in high quality video zoom tools. The problem, and very serious one, is that the output can only yield a resolution not higher than 999x999! Yes, you read it right, this means no HD!

So back when I created screencasts at ShowMeDo at 800x600 this gave me no problem at all, but now that YouTube accepts the HD options(for people with high Internet bandwidth), capturing the desktop at higher resolutions and rates has become feasable and recommendable(since YouTube's internal processing will offer lower resolutions than the original, for lower Internet bandwidth users).

Which leaves me with GIMP/GAP for zooming.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Crude Video editing

One of my previous posts dealt with the task of creating a video file out of a still frame. That is as low as video editing can get. Perhaps Assembly rasterisation could be the next lowest level.

All this to prove that simple tools(like VirtualDub, MSpaint, and batch or AVIsynty scripts) can become extremely useful when dealing with problems such as a capture program such as Camstudio not allowing screencapturing its own video options menu.

There are other FOSS(free and open source) screencapturing programs, but that will be a left for a future blog post.

For now, learning that VirtualDub will only append equally formatted video files together(this includes the audio bit depth and sampling frequency) is more than enough.

By the way, recording at a faster sampling rate(AKA frequency) and changing the audio to a lower sampling rate, will turn the sound graver, whilst the contrary, that is from a slower sampling rate (i.e. 44.1Khz) to a faster sampling rate (i.e. 96Khz) will create an acuter sound. Thankfully I dealt with silence on those parts, as the narration is appended later in the post-processing of the video.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Planned videos.

I have been working on the screencasting with Camstudio video. Despite the tiredness from little sleep today, at least I will update with the order of the release of the screencasts and video presentations I have at store:

  • Internet stream recording with Camstudio
  • 'Programmazione in C'
  • GIF to AVI with GIMP GAP
  • Edutainment promotion video.