New Video: Eco-Comedy

A bit of non-job-related, non-citizen science productivity that I finished this week: This is my entry for the Eco-Comedy Video Competition, sponsored by the Sierra Club and American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking.

This was a bit of an unusual project for me… it coincided with a big life change [see: new job] so my work on it was a bit fragmented. On the happier side, it’s the first time I’ve done any kind of mouth-animation, so it’s nice to be able to learn new techniques.

A Video (semi-)Brag

Recently, I’ve been dabbling in entering video contests. It’s fun, and a nicely directed creative outlet. I haven’t won any yet, although my entry for the Property Room “Journey to Auction” contest was a runner-up and won me a nice gift card.

I’ve got a second instance of near-victory to report. I entered the Language Addicts “State the Obvious” contest. While I didn’t win anything, I did place a couple of videos in the “showcase of a handful of our more notable entries.” It’s nice to be able to come close, at least.

These are simple videos, with good reason: They’re for a language-learning company for use to help people learn English.

More videos are on their way. I’m working on one for another contest, and I’ve been rolling around an idea for a set of comedy videos as well.


While this has nothing to do with video, it does have something to do with citizen science. This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, a 4-day count that is working to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are in North America. It’s a relatively quick and easy project suitable for beginners, requiring only 15 minutes of observation, although it’s worth reviewing local species before starting if you’re not a bird expert.

Video contest

One of the strange things of unemployment that I’m now enjoying is the time that I have to do stuff. And some of these things are stuff that I normally never would have any inclination for.

Such as this:

This is a video that I made for Tootsie Pops’ “How Many Licks” contest. The contest is pretty straight-forward (make a video that answers the question from the old ads). While my natural tendencies aren’t toward shilling for candy, I’ll admit I had a great time coming up with the video and figuring out how to make it. The threads you can see; I hope that I managed to get what used to be a bicycle wheel completely out of frame throughout. Also, apart from the blast-off section, all of this was shot in my shower.

I’ll probably be doing more of this kind of contest in the near future, both for the pleasure of making things and the potential of winning fabulous prizes (which would be nice for, you know, paying rent and stuff.) Which reminds me: If you’re interested in helping this one win, vote for it. (I think you’ll need a Facebook account, and that you’ll need to allow it to install the voting app.) Thanks!

What I Made This Week

Not much. It was the holiday, and I was visiting relatives. While I had great intentions, my actual output didn’t amount to much. Basically just a bunch of tiny bits that will hopefully develop into stuff:

“For When Your Soul is Dying” and “For Duke” — these are a pair of song fragments that I’m going to save to work any more on for February and FAWM. What I did on them might technically be cheating, but the earth will continue to spin, I think.

“Esther Jenkins, Senior Ninja” — a silly little comedy song that’s currently in my sights to finish quickly. There’s really nothing too deep about it.

“Whiffenpoofs”, “Hats”, and “Pregnant” — potential bits for season 2 of Three Legged Race‘s Weathered Adolescents. That’s a long way off, though.

“Moose Hunt” — this was originally intended to be a Weathered Adolescent bit, but I’m going to propose it instead as a standalone video. Mainly because I want to play a character different than the one that I would be playing if it is a WA scene.


What I Made This Week

An odd little amalgam of stuff happened this week. Not shocking, I suppose, considering the imminent holidayness, but… Here’s what it included:

* The Democracy Burlesque Holiday Radio Show, which I recorded bits for on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

* Wrote what I hope will be the next installment of Sciencey Vids, “A Field Guide to Physical Phenomena.” It will be, as you might gather, a field guide to some of the physics phenomena that you might find in the Western Hemisphere. (And funny, too.)

* Wrote a bunch of bits for possible inclusion in the next season of Three Legged Race‘s Weathered Adolescents web series, the first season of which will be released starting in late February, 2011. Topics include all-male acapella singing, hat sales, and pregnancy (as one of the actors from the first season is pregnant, and that’s just too joyous an experience to not use for our own purposes.)

What I Made This Week: Complicated edition

Here’s what I got done did, and the toughest parts of done doing them:

* Produced “This is a Galaxy,” the second of my Sciencey Vids. It’s a rhythmic songy thing about astronomy. With a few additional touches. Among them, Menudo. The most complicated bit: Tracking down photos.

* Wrote “Will Shortz is Slipping,” a video for Three Legged Race. The most complicated bit will be convincing the group to go along with something that’s hard to see. Oh, and timing.

* Planned the video for “Bob,” a song also written for Three Legged Race. The most complicated bit? Will be editing. There are about 40 shots that I’ve called for, which really shouldn’t be that hard to shoot (all are short and will be in only a few locations) but that much cutting will take time.

* Worked on editing Weathered Adolescents, a Three Legged Race web series. This is an odd entry; I did most of the editing quite a while ago, but now I’m going in and finalizing things like titles and scene transitions and sound effects. The most complicated bit: Details, details, details. There are a lot, and they need to be right.

* Some further work on the National Library Week videos for my actual job, although most of that was discovering that the free software package that I need to do some of the sound editing will work on none of the computers I have access to, for reasons varied and often silly. Today, hopefully, will solve that, through resourcefulness and plying a friend with beer. (That sounds weird; I just mean that he’s going to let me use his computer for several hours, and I’ll bring him beer for his trouble.) The most complicated bit: Well, it’s something for my job, which means that it’s inherently a minefield of horror, and there are several months left for previously unimagined stuff to crop up.

Sciencey Vids: This is a Galaxy

This is the second installment of my Sciencey Vids, a picture-based music video about astronomy. And a few other things, including Daleks, rubber duckies, Halle Berry, Glenn Beck, port-a-potties, inflatable sheep, and pregnant cakes.

What did I learn from this one? I’ve actually never done a photo-based video like this, and it’s not a strategy I’m going to go out of my way to use again. Finding the images, and making sure they are public domain or Creative Commons-licensed, was awfully time-consuming. I’m not really a fan of the technique overall, although I think it’s effective for this particular video. I certainly have a better sense of what NASA offers and how to find it now!

The music is quite simple, but despite or because of that, I’m pleased with the effect. I got to explore some of the instruments available in my keyboard, in particular a couple of specialized ones that I wouldn’t have thought would have much use.

Hope you’ll watch it and find it infectious.

[Edited to add: The frame that appears as the video tease was automatically generated and unintentional. But utterly delightful.]