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  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. 🙂

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. 😉

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6IGm6GucXs?rel=0&w=420&h=315]

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!

Scheduling with WordPress (WordPress Timey-Wimey)

Everybody knows how to schedule, right? You don’t? You mean, you sit at your computer and write all your posts “live”? You finish typing and you hit that “Publish” button right away? Well, have I got news for you: Scheduling is your friend.

Scheduling your WordPress posts allows you to coordinate your updates to be published and distributed automatically, at your convenience, without you having to sit there on a sunny Friday afternoon or whatever, just to meet a deadline. You can write up your posts well in advance (you can even keep a stash of posts ready to go), and keep your free time to yourself. Now, who doesn’t want that?

Don’t know how to Schedule? Don’t worry; we’ll go over it in a few very simple steps.

Step 1. Write your post as you normally would – proofread it, make it all nice and pretty, assign it to the right Categories and give it the proper Tags –  but don’t hit that nice blue Publish button quite yet. Instead, look where it says “Publish immediately Edit”:

Step 2. Click “Edit.” A box with the current date and time will open up:

As you can see, the “current” time corresponds to the “Publish immediately” command. If you were to press that “Publish” button right now, your post would be published at the current time (a.k.a., immediately).

But that’s not what we want to do.

Step 3. Change the date and/or time to your preferred Schedule update time. For example, I like to set my posts to publish at 5:00am (my local time, which happens to be Eastern Time, or GMT -4:00), on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. For our example, I’ll change this publish Schedule to September 1, 2012, at 5:00 am:

Note: WordPress defaults to 24-hour time (sometimes referred to as “military time”). This won’t affect your scheduling if you want to publish between 1:00am and 12:59pm, but some people aren’t familiar with the 24-hour clock. For a quick reference guide and explanation, check out this simple conversion chart: http://www.mathsisfun.com/time.html

Step 4. Once you’re settled on your Scheduled date and time, click the “OK” button (do not click “Publish”).
Once you click “OK,” you’ll notice that, where the blue button used to say, “Publish”, it now says “Schedule”:

Step 5. Now, you can click “Schedule.” This will move your post from the Draft collection to the Scheduled (or to-be-published) bin.

WordPress will take care of the rest: my post is now Scheduled for publishing on 09-Sep 1, 2012 @ 05:00. (Rather, it was published on September 1, 2012, at 5:00am ET. But, since I wrote this in advance, more than a week before its publishing date, I’m talking about it in the future. Timey-wimey, you know.)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY_Ry8J_jdw&w=420&h=315]

Hopefully, you’ve found this guide to Scheduling with WordPress helpful. If you weren’t already a master scheduler, consider yourself one, now. 🙂

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