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.)

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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.]

What I Made This Week

Last week felt more like a groundwork kind of week than a results one. I did:

* Finish “Bob“, the song that’s been in waiting for a year and a half, and

* Launch Sciencey Vids, my new… thingy… of offbeat but interesting videos on a variety of scientific topics.

* I also started, and possibly finished, the music for “This is a Galaxy”, the second Sciencey Vid.

None of those three things are really major parts of the week, though; “Bob” and Sciencey Vids were both mostly done before this week, and the music for “This is a Galaxy” really won’t be that involved.

My biggest project this week was something for my actual job. I don’t tend to discuss day-job projects here, for a number of reasons, but this one is worthy. I’m going to be making a series of videos promoting National Library Week, and I think that they will be cool.

Fairly time-consuming, too. This week I spent a lot of time pulling some excerpts from our video archives, which will form the basis of the new videos. I also found a number of music selections that may be useful for the project.

Introducing: Sciencey Vids

While much delayed from what I originally intended (it was filmed back in October), I finally completed and can share “North Pond Nature.”

As you might guess, this is a video of some of the wildlife that lives in and around North Pond—specifically, the North Pond in Lincoln Park, Chicago. The soundtrack is composed of the calls of birds that live in or migrate through the area.

It’s also the debut of Sciencey Vids, a new endeavor of mine. The channel will consist of offbeat, interesting, fun, and memorable videos on a wide range of scientific topics.

What’s my goal? There are several. First off, I like making videos, and I like science, and I like learning things, so this is a pretty perfect way to combine the three. Plus, I think these will be interesting challenges. I’ve never done anything like the soundtrack in this one, for example, and there should be a lot more where I’ll be figuring out the technique as I go.

Second, I’m available for contract work. So if you like what you see, and you want me to develop and make videos for your company or organization, get in touch with me at scienceyvids at hotmail dot com.

Third, I’ve been looking hard at what I want to do as a career, and one position that I’ve identified that might be a dream job would be a communications position for a museum. So I’m hoping that this might lead to that type of job—or, more likely, be a point in my favor when applying for that type of job.

Of course, points two and three may not come to pass. But even so, point one is enough.

Hope you enjoy!

What I Made This Week

Finally, productivity. Thanks to the Thanksgiving break—two days of which I had no other demands on by time—I actually managed to finish a couple projects:

* Volunteer Vid. I made a video to promote volunteering at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (where I am a volunteer as well). I filmed it a couple weeks ago, but finally (thanks to the time and some figuring out of stuff in Final Cut) edited it on Thanksgiving. I’ll share it as soon as the museum posts it.

* North Pond Nature. This isn’t affiliated with the museum, although it was filmed around the North Pond in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, where the museum is also situated. This is a video about the wildlife that can be found in and around the pond, set to a soundtrack composed from the calls of local birds. It’s also the launch of Sciencey Vids, a new endeavor about which I’ll be talking more soon…

These both turned out to be really big projects. Neither is long – 2 minutes for the volunteer video and 1 for North Pond Nature. But both were complicated: 20-30 cuts for each, plus the soundtrack for NPN, which is something I’ve never done before.

* “Bob.” I’d hoped to record this this week, but it looks like that won’t be happening, since most of the rest of my afternoon will be occupied. (I’ll be working the PBS pledge drive with some other museum volunteers.) But I have been rehearsing it and I’m close to being able to record it, so that should be happening soon.

* And finally, the very beginnings of writing a comedy video for Three Legged Race. It’s a bit hard to describe, save to say that it’s about a fellow trying to do a crossword puzzle.