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.

New Year Plans: Citizen Science, Communications Business, Another Book, Videos, and Fitness

2012 is gone now, and good riddance. Well, maybe that’s a bit too harsh. 2012 was a year of building foundations that will hopefully pay off in 2013 and beyond. So while there was plenty that was frustrating, it added up to a year of building hope.

What for?

* The book. Or perhaps I should spell that out: The book on citizen science that I wrote and that will be published this year. (I’m accustomed to calling it “the book,” since it’s been such a dominating part of the last year that it doesn’t need any more description for me, but other people probably aren’t in that boat.) Of course, even though the book is done, it’s not really done: I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to promote it, so that will be one of my focuses this year.

* The business. Ultimately, everyone’s in business for themselves, and since I’ve been doing some freelancing, I think it’s time to think that way. In fact, I’m even in the process of formalizing it; this site will soon be home to Landgraf Communications, a communications consultant offering writing, editing, videography, social media, Drupal, and special project services. (Don’t worry; I’ll still generally be a person, rather than a corporation.)

* Other projects. Currently on the docket is another book, one that I’m writing independently, but that I’m really excited about. It’s a comedy consisting of vignettes from the life of a very angry person and those who have enabled him, narrated by someone who’s been affected in a pretty strange way by the behavior. It’s pretty twisted, but I’m really pleased with what I’ve written so far. Especially the bit about Mark Russell with a Taser. I’ve also got some independent video projects that I’m working on.

* Fitness. In 2011, I lost about 60 pounds. I was hoping to continue that in 2012, but it didn’t happen. I kept the weight off, so 2012 wasn’t a failure on that front, but I still have some work to do, and I’m hopeful that 2013 will be the year for it.

I’ve stopped making resolutions, but I have a bunch of plans. I hope that whatever resolutions or plans you’re preparing for the new year, they bring happiness and success.

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

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.

What I Made This Week

It was a busy and yet not productive week for me, at least by some metrics. I’ve been very diligent about exercise and eating right, which is great–but it takes time from things that might show up here. Much of the rest of my productive time was spent trying to work my way through some video issues — I’ve been dealing with a few different aspect ratio issues. I haven’t resolved them necessarily, but I’ve at least got a plan of attack.

Other accomplishments:

* Week 6 of Unicorn City. AKA, closing night. This show that has been the focus of so much of my time for the past 15 months is done. It is, I think, my biggest single act of creation to date.

* “Bob” is a song that I wrote lyrics for quite a while ago, but it sort of languished because I didn’t have the wherewithal to write the music. I’ve done so and am working on being able to play it well enough to record.