Hi all - today is my last day as a Whiskey Media video producer. It has been an incredible experience that I feel extremely lucky to have had, and leaving has been a very hard choice. Long story short, I need to get back to New York. I wasn't born there, but it's my home, and much of my life is still there. Today I've been saying my goodbyes to all my great coworkers at Whiskey, but there's something I want to say to you users specifically. Here it is:
In October 2009, I answered a job posting for a video internship at a company called Whiskey Media. I knew little about the company at first, but I'd worked on web shows dealing with comics and convention coverage before, so I expected to use my skills in the same general way as I had before.
What I didn't expect was that my internship would turn into a full-time job that would keep me in San Francisco for over two years. I didn't expect I would be assigned to work on a new site, Tested.com, or that I would have the unique opportunity to help develop the personality and style of Tested's video content from the ground up. I didn't think I'd be working in an incredibly cool office with a bar, a multi-camera live production studio, and a bunch of incredibly talented, funny and hard-working people.
But in complete honesty, nothing surprised me more than the users. Never before have I had the experience of shooting a video, editing it, posting it, and moments later having tons of feedback from people who are genuinely and enthusiastically interested in the work I produced. I got to know many of you through comment threads, forums, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, even Rdio and Turntable.fm. As a group I've found Whiskey Users to remarkably smart, funny, respectful and creative people. Those are not qualities I have often found in groups of people on the internet. The community you've all created through these sites has inspired me and motivated me to do some of the best work I think I've ever produced.
I will really miss making videos for you guys.
Last year I went as Brodyquest, because Brodyquest was the most important thing to happen to me in all of 2010. This year, nothing has improved the quality of my life as much as Turntable.fm, so I based my costume on that.
"Hey AHawR, I weally wike youwr costume. Otaku at a Rave. That's gweat."
Just in case you missed this on my various social networks, here is a little test I conducted myself to see if I could save my roommates from a BBQ-less Fourth of July.
Shot in glorious iPhone 3G jank-o-vision.
Wallpaper size is here. Also, please make a better version of this.
I'm a really big fan of Adobe Ideas, an app for iPad and iPhone that was featured in our 10 Best Apps of 2010 video segment.
Walking home yesterday, I was thinking about Portal, as I do every day, and I had a really geeky idea for a comic. I literally could not wait to draw this stupid joke. So as soon as I got on Muni, I started drawing the comic in black and white using Idea's vector paintbrush.
By the time I got home, I had four separate canvases of comic panels. I mailed the PDFs to myself, threw them in photoshop, colored them and added text, and here was the result:
I'm not claiming this is the best representation of my artistic talents. I am however really pleased that I can throw together a comic strip in vector in 30 minutes, ready to be resized and broken into alpha channel layers for Photoshop.
In a move that surely sent Google Chat and iChat into a flailing panic, AIM recently released a free video conference program, AV by AIM. It's notable because it it supports up to four people, which is not a feature you can get on any of the other major chat clients, unless you want to pay extra on Skype.
Most of my closest friends live all around the country now, so I am a target audience.
Here's how you're supposed to use it:
Woo woo! Those cats are having mad fun. The one on the left is like "oh my gooood, you guys look greeeeeat" and the middle is like "oh shit - this is the real deal" and the girl on the right is stoned so it's REALLY messing her up.
Sadly, the audio/video fidelity and sync is slow as hell. I used AV with two of my friends on the east coast, and my admittedly mediocre internet connection was giving me at least a two second delay.
But none of that is important, because the interesting thing about AV is NOT it's functionality as a chat client.
That's right. We invented a new artform. It's kind of like playing Exquisite Corpse but much much much more confusing.
BY OUR POWERS COMBINED......
seriously, we are voltron.
This one didn't go too well but at least it shows off my years of orthodontic treatments.
I think I have enough for a gallery show, but I'm not convinced the San Francisco audience is ready.
Inspired by my fellow Whiskey video producer JoeyF's production blog, I've decided to pull back the curtain a bit on the process of making a video for Tested.
I'll start with a video segment we've only recently developed; The World's Greatest Keyboard Shortcut. This was Will's idea, and I loved it the second I heard it (Norm thought we were both insane). As a video producer, trying to make something as mundane as a browser shortcut seem exciting sounded like a fun challenge, and it was. Maybe a little more challenge than fun, but a lot of both.
Let's take a look at the Final Cut Project.
For those unfamiliar with Final Cut Pro, this is a linear timeline of my video. The blue rectangles are video clips, and the green rectangles are audio clips. The vertical line displays what all of the stacked video and audio tracks are doing during the frame the line occupies.
You'll notice that the green clips are considerably more spread-out and layered than the blue video clips. That's because the impact of this project relies heavily on sound, so at any given moment you might be hearing three different sound effects at once, in addition to the music track.
The animation for the opening title card was done by Joey in AfterEffects, based on a mockup I drew and then created in Final Cut. The "keyboard shortcut" graphic was a lot less dynamic before Joey added the wobble effect.
One of my favorite jokes in the whole video is how the earth is in the background, but when Will says the word "world" another earth rises into frame, just to emphasize the point.
The shapes around the words "keyboard shortcuts" are supposed to look like a keyboard. I'm still not sure if that reads or not.
I enjoy a good typography video, and I knew I wanted to incorporate that style into this project. I created the motion effects using a combination of Final Cut's motion tools and their video filters. In this case, I put an Earthquake effect on "CTRL" so when it snapped back to normal, it would give the letters a feeling of being in control. The next shot is the word "shift", and the letters shift to the right. Since the shortcut is the star of the show, I wanted to make it's first textual appearance really memorable.
Here's where the real work beings. How do you visually communicate what Control Shift T actually does?
Unsurprisingly, the value of opening recently closed tabs in a browser window is not immediately apparent to most people. When I showed an early draft of this video to folks in the office (smart, tech-savvy people!) their number one question afterwards was what the shortcut actually did, despite Will's narration explicitly stating just that. It's an interesting psychological phenomenon; you open and close browser tabs every day, but you rarely actually hear the words "open tabs" or "close tabs" spoken out loud, so when it does hit the ear, your brain doesn't quite know what to make of it.
The first step was to show the problem that this shortcut addresses. I figured most people could identify with the experience of filling out an online form, like for airplane tickets or a survey, then accidentally clicking it away and losing all your work. Will's narration moves very fast, so I would only have a few seconds to illustrate this experience. I created a graphic featuring a Google Document (I figured most people would immediately recognize that format) containing the words"DON'T CLOSE THIS!" in giant capital letters. It's unlikely that anyone has the time to think "Oh, whoever's document this is wrote a note to themselves or to their coworkers reminding them not to close a document - it's probably not saved", but the combination of the words on screen and the the iconic google doc interface taps in to the feeling of having a document online that you don't want to lose.
Next is how to illustrate accidentally closing a tab you didn't want to close. In Will's narration he warns of "Acidental Tab Closure" with a lot of urgency, but that's still a combination of words that don't strike fear into the heart of anyone, yet the concept of "Accidental Tab Closure" is the entire point of the shortcut. So I threw the words up on screen to underline how big a deal this problem is, and used Final Cut's motion control to fly two black mattes into frame, blocking out everything except the "Important Don't Close" tab to direct the viewers attention. Finally, I freeze framed on the mouse arrow hovering over the X, to emphasize that, again, this is the horrible occurrence the shortcut will prevent.
Also note I used the sound effect "Impact Hit Reverb" to play as the text slams in to surround the tab. It's similar to the Law and Order "DUN-DUN" in that I think it evokes darkness and despair.
Man, that's enough for one post. I'll do a Part 2 soon, wherein I discuss how to make a concept into an action hero.