What it likes to be, to make videos?

Oh, you really want the answer in a word? Solitude. That’s all you want!

Cristian Mihai puts it quite cleverly

“Solitude grants you this freedom, filling your mind with questions and answers and noise and stories.”

It’s true. Any artistic goal (whether its’ writing, drawing, footage or music) demands you to be alone. And, believe me, only because I’m alone, I can think & do all these things. Honestly, I didn’t come out of my room for two days (neglecting eating, bathing, brushing etc. stuff)…

How to get started?

I had this rule in mind. My videos shouldn’t be the kind of “lecturing” and stuff. I don’t want my face dancing around! It shouldn’t be the Khan-academy kind either, where you write & speak simultaneously. Instead, it’d be better if it were like Minute Physics or Doodle Science. You know, this “drawing & sketching” kind.

I remember Henry talking about making good science videos. He shot the tactical points. If you’re gonna make videos, this would be really helpful (else, it’s tortoise-ish, and somewhat boring)…

A few things caught me…

In the internet, if you’re not appropriate, and precise with what you’re talking about, then you’re in the risk of getting endangered.

Videos from Khan academy are educational, but those don’t attract people. People come in, because they just want to know how to solve a particular problem (not the understanding part!). That’s what Henry says, “It’s basically like the text book is being read to you”.

In the meantime, adding your voice is something risky. No matter how well you stuff graphics into your video, if the audio quality is bad, it’s a flaw. It’s gonna make you look uglier.

The next part goes with the synchronization. Your voice should be dissolved in a video. I mean, it should come along with it. You shouldn’t just cram things up! So, the video should get some nice footage, and a good-quality voice, that finally hugs with it.

Even after knowing about the dangers, I got struck here. My voice is grievous. It’s somewhat loud, frustrating, and annoying (let’s say, all at once!). Moreover, my English is just too bad! So, I thought of giving the job to my phone (i.e.) to read my written script. It has a high-quality speech engine “IVONA“, and it’s free.

But, I made the situation much riskier, that I decided to speak all by myself.

What about the prerequisites?

My videos aren’t as good as Henry’s. He does a lot – animation, stop-motion kinda cameras, lights around plastic nets, etc. So far, I just told how the videos should be. And, it’s a video that only covers my course. I can’t even expect my classmates to view that (let alone the internet users!)…

When I thought of making videos, I initialized my mind with one condition. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re gonna do it forever or not (you’re unstable anyway), just start with the basics, with what you’ve got now!” You know, improvised environment.

This is what I meant by “solitude”. It’s early morning. Look how it is! Doors were shut for 3 days!!!

This was all I could gather…

  • A digital camera from a friend of uncle’s
  • A drafting instrument (my college gave it to me!)
  • Old A3 sheets when I was a drafter (part of my engineering course)
  • Old marker (when I was a lecturer to my friends – didn’t last long)
  • An emergency lamp from the neighbor
  • Glass sheets from my uncle
  • Oh yeah, and my drawing environment – my steel cot…

I didn’t plan anything. These things came out only after a heck of trials. At the start, I only had a camera, marker, and a paper.

For example, I got the glass because I decided to not waste paper, and buy more. Gah, this is my first time, and my writings are crappy.  So, I need some trials. And, I was right. I couldn’t write well with the marker. The trials went for about two hours.

The idea was this. I could use my board marker to write on glass, and rub it off. Nice & easy… But, do believe me when I tell you, it was really hard. I took about a hundred (I’m serious!) takes, just to draw a whole circle (sigh)

Setting things up!

The setup goes like this. I fixed the drafter to my table, and then the camera to the tip of the drafter, with a plastic tag. Then, the glass sheet over the bunch of old A3 papers. With my 2.1 surround playing the long relaxing instrumental music, I kneel down, and begin recording my artwork for the footage.

There’s another condition. I can’t record during the day. The camera records some kinda silhouette instead of my hand. Light through the windows cause shadows. At night, the fluorescent light causes shadows. Here comes the emergency lamp, which acts like a focus light (more or less).

It took about 10 hours to finish off the recording satisfactorily. My situation was far worse. While the recording goes very well, either the lamp  goes out, or the camera goes out! (stupid battery power!).

And then, my drafter takes unnecessary revenge. Being a cantilever beam (speaking as an engineer), it deflects by its own weight, and also by my “often” pausing/stopping/screwing the camera. You know, normal force (applied due to dissatisfaction). Moreover, my drafter is a double cantilever, which amplifies my disastrous situation…

Finally, Victory! Videos are done. Next stop – Audio recording.

For my voice recording, I wrote the necessary scripts (each taking a “blog post” of words!). Now, I’m in need of a nice environment, something like a sound-proof room. To my luck, my family members went on a vacation to my hometown. Frankly, no one home. Indoor noise is reduced…

But still, my room can’t be the right one because it’s close to the (noisy) street, and also has two doors (which can let in outdoor-noise pretty much easily) while my uncle’s bedroom has only one door (it’s air-conditioned). I went under the bed furniture (well, it’s wood, it can reduce much of the outdoor-noise). Trust me here. When I listened to the track for the first time, I heard bike horns (which should’ve blown hundreds of yards away)…

Anyways, collectively it took about five hours to get the audio samples satisfactorily (with somewhat relatively better English pronunciation).

These are behind the scenes… (you can now visualize what I just said above)

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Audio processing was quite fun, thanks to my all-time favorite Audacity! It has a wonderful magic touch for noise-removal. If I give the right noise profile, and ask it to remove the similar regions, it smoothens those elevations quite perfectly. To my surprise, for a certain value, it smoothened my voice too…

The pronunciation was bad (I admit!), but the quality was crystal-clear, much like something electronic. It was the most mind-boggling effect I’ve ever seen in Audacity.

The next part – Simulation! It was again hard because, I don’t have enough knowledge in Mathematica. I got help from the fellas specialized in it (Stack Exchange strikes again!). This simulation sucked about 12 hard hours from me.

The last and the risky part – “synchronizing” the video, and my voice. I got suggestions from the Graphic-design fellas. But soon, I found myself lying with movie maker (both live & XP versions).

Using the basic speed-up & fade effects, my video-making was done. Compilation, and a YouTube channel with some “name” on it, was all I required. I came up with an interestingly unrelated name,

Peanut Science!

Alright, I’ve done the last thing I didn’t do so far (in the internet)…

How do you relate yours to Henry’s anyway?

Pfft… I just took Henry’s advice. That’s it. How can I relate this “ugly thing” to Henry at all? I’m not, and I won’t! Moreover, these are engineering concepts. Who bothers looking into these?


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