Monday, July 31, 2006

The View from Then

Formerly Boy Fishing. Now has shooting schedule. I have changed plans on how to handle remote collaboration because of limitations of the blog format. David Laundra showed me how to do a shot list the way the big boys do. I decided that the communication on this could best be done in html. So I have posted the shot list on my website under the (new) section title:
How to succeed in vidding when you don’t know what you’re doing.
(My title. David knows what he is doing. But I want to speak to the intellectually dispossesed masses who know even less than I do.)

David is now set up on Skype, so he and I will use it for an audio conference on the shot list today and for talk during the shoot. I will then be able to set busy and turn off the bottom UI.

Over time, I will move all the blog material about Boy Fishing to my website. And put in a storyboard, even though it is too late to help this time. It will thus serve as an example of how we did a story in SL, going from story idea to shot list. Maybe some notes on the shooting. And a link to the final product.

This means that the page contents in the link above will change to an overview, but all the material there now will stay, reached by links from this page.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

EEGG content plans

Xenon is developing the character of Marta Stewpot. Marta is modeled after Martha Stewart in appearance and demeanor. Examples can be found at:
Videos of Martha Stewart. If this search link has expired, you should be able to get it with a new search at CBS News.

I am developing a new character, Antonio Claun, as Marta’s assistant. My source for Tony is Harpo Marx. (The secret of creativity is drawing on good sources.) The av will look like a clown. And be transferable, because I don’t want to take vid and play Tony at the same time.

Tony is mischievous, irreverent, and authority-blind (not defiant, just can’t see the power of authority.) As her assistant on stage, he will contrast with her prim, authoritative, didactic performance.

Each vid will be a skit. The skit will open (voice over title) with Marta reprimanding Tony about something relevant to the topic and designed to elicit interest+ curiosity:
“Get that cleaver out of you head, Antonio. I do want them to see it until cover that topic.”

Tony will not speak. He may communicate with the audience by releasing cartoon bubbles, as I presently done by Pinky. I suppose he will wear an invisible thought bubbler.

The skit will end with some amusing use of the instructional content, as in Tony setting himself on fire.

The Mystery of the Big Pipe

This is a quickie scenario to demo the use of the Treasure Hunt model. There is an oil rig in the water near Hobo Village. It has a big pipe running to shore just a pistol shot down the beach for Hobo Village. That is the setting for the story.

Characters: Barbara (last name TBD). She is about 16. Much like Nancy Drew, but more assertive. She is good looking but not beautiful. She dresses in ways that do not attract attention. Her actions will be much like Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew.

James (same surname as Barbara). He is her younger brother, about 14. To imagine his role, think Series of Unfortunate Events. Combine that with robin in the old Batman series. Add in what you would expect of these kids as older sister and younger brother.

Opening scene: James finds the pipe, calls in Barbara. They start to explore asking question about why it is here, what it is for, whether it is in use. (The treasure, at this point is a resolution to those questions.) The fly along the pipe, above and below the water. (The may find some clues here.) Soon they see in the distance a What-is -that? As they approach they see the platform and verify that the pipe comes from it.

Now they have a set of questions about the platform. They fly to the water level landing and climb the stairs. They investigate the platform. They note that the machinery is in operation, but wonder what it I doing. If it were pumping oil, the oil should be flowing through the pipe. But it is not.

This vid probably ends with the discovery that it is pumping wooden boxes. A conveyer belt carries them into another room, where they vanish. This vid probably ends with this discovery and the obvious question it raises.

I don’t know the final resolution of the story. Usually this pattern suggests some kind of misdirection (Doyle, “The Red Headed League”). But I leave plans for finishing it to the future. If people like the first episode, we might make more. And making more might depend on cooperation from the Lindens (who own the build).

I see Xenon as playing Barb. Maybe we can get Zed to debut as James. James will have the adult male voice, but needs a touch of adolescence. And maybe an occasional break. I can try but I am hoping Zed can do it.

I will want us to develop a more detailed scenario, with all the cue points specified. Then I will write a rough dialog script. We will have to work carefully on this, as it will have to carry the story. I will want to make a shot list, though not nearly as elaborate as the one for boy fishing.

Thinkerer Studios

A ground breaking event. I just bought some land next Hobo Village (other side of the bridge). I will be setting up various activities related to our vid activities. Pictures of all our stars (current and prospective). Sets (such as the one for Marta). A Prop Box with most of the props used in the vids. Some way for people to get into the vids. I might post a notice:

Open casting call: Improvs. Show us what you got. If it looks good on vid, we put it on YouTube. Improvs start at (time).

Xenon note: this derives from your idea. See what else you can do with it.

The land will be available for sets by other people, after I figure out how to do it. I expect Xenon will tell me

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

EEGGs technical stuff

Here are some technical plans, Xenon sent me in a note card. The content below is slightly revised as result of a Skype meeting I had with her.

Word of caution. Note cards are not always correctly handled if recipient is off-line. This may be a particular risk if the system goes down in the meantime. Best route for blog members: post it as a separate post. If you put it in a comment, you need to send e-mail to the people you want to see it. Comments from blog members do not produce any notification to other people. I you post a new item, I will see it (via RSS) within a few hours.

Goals (If you don’t know your goals, you won’t know when you’ve won.)

Learners will be able to:

- copy an object (Take copy, as in that command)
- find the object in inventory (Find by search, using the name of the object)
- bring the object out of inventory (Rez the object)
- Open contents of the package object (Using open command, not edit)
- copy/move contents to inventory (Using relevant command after open)
- find objects copied/moved to inventory (with search, again)
- wear a wearable object (using wear command)

Objectives of video
During the video, learners will:
- Observe the detailed user-system interactions for copying an object
- Observe the detailed user-system interactions for finding the object in inventory
- Observe the detailed user-system interactions for rezzing/bringing the object out of inventory
- Observe the detailed user-system interactions for opening contents of the package object
- Observe the detailed user-system interactions for copying/moving contents to inventory
- Observe the detailed user-system interactions for finding objects copied/moved to inventory
- Observe the detailed user-system interactions for wearing a wearable object

Notes. Observe is all we can say happened it the viewer watched the video. The expression detailed user-system interactions implies that we display a readable menu and illustrate the user action.


Concepts/Considerations/prerequisite skills:

> What is inventory and how to view by search.
SE: Open inventory is a prerequisite, but will be partly to thoroughly known by our prime audience. They met the operation during introduction. And they must bring with them (to SL) the more general concept of opening folder on the desk top. I favor brief mention of Inventory as folder and display of bottom bar with some action on the Inventory item.

> Concept of rezzing,
SE: Not clear what the concept is. Act of rez is in the objectives. Event will be in the vid. Once the object is rezzed, the relevant concept seems to be object rather than rez. Perhaps you mean conditions of rez, such as permissions and whether the system accepts your placement.
-
?? how to tell if you can rez an object by looking at the menu bar title (based on sim permissions)??
SE: I favor brief mention of restrictions as existing, no details. Advice to learner: If you get the EEGG at Hobo Village do you try-outs there. You can rez there and things will stay for a while.

> Moving v copying to inventory
SE: Need more detail. What is the distinction they need to understand?

> Mention no copy objects, show floating tab
SE: Can do as part of showing Free to copy. designation.

> Differentiate between wear and attach - mention in this vid, maybe cover attach in a follow up vid.
SE: We will need to mention this distinction at the menu choice point. And say the words that delight all learners, “We’ll skip attach for now. You can find out about it later.”

Comment from SE: This section represents things we need to think about. How we handle them depends on whether they are parent skills (prerequisites), sibling skills (may be useful along with), or child skills (what you can learn them next).

Next steps: Task Analysis for objectives

Zed, Teller of Tales

Now comes into our midst Zed Drebin, the Teller of Tales. He is a member of Starfleet, SLQ and will probably be working with us on a series of stories in the Galaxy System. I have in mind a “detective story” model, subset of the Treasure Hunt model I posted about earlier.

Zed already has some story elements in mind. He told them to the Starfleet people a few weeks ago. I hope he will tell them again here. I don’t think we can challenge a story like that yet. But notice that last word. Yet. One of my favorite words.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stories: the treasure hunt model

SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.

So begins one of the best known adventure stories in the English language. Awkward language. Strunk and White would see it as a horror story. But notice that opening. The birthmark of the treasure hunt model. The hook is in the first paragraph.

Why do I bring up the treasure hunt model here? (Choose one)
1. It fits well with the vid structure.
2. It works well for adventure, detective, mystery, and sci-fi stories.
3. I plan to work with Zed Drebin on a story that will use it.
4. It presents a model for educational presentations that I may use with Xenon Darrow.
5. All of the above.

Here is a quick summary of the treasure hunt model:
The story opens with something that evokes curiosity and suggests important things to come.
The story continues in short chapters, with each chapter resolving some issue and disclosing more things to be curious about. Except for the last chapter, when everything is resolved.

To work with this model, we need an overall scenario with a treasure, a set of clues that take you to the treasure, and a treasure (resolution) that will be worth the quest. In a detective story, this might be discover the murder or prevent the crime. In an adventure story, this might be to reach the treasure. In an educational context, the best widely available example would be Myth Busters.

And in the context of a blog about story vids, the resolution is set of vids that tell a story. And what does that have to do with education? Maybe that is one of those issues yet to be resolved.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Boy fishing, shot list, closure (10)

Story objective: Show plot event: closure. Man jumps into car, showing decision and rejuvenation.
Location: Hobo village. Near bridge-out sign.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: Car is parked as he left it. Road obstacles are gone.
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot. has left the drum and is approaching car. Completes approach and jumps into car. Camera sees that he is barefoot (during jump). Once in car, turns it around and goes back the way he came. Dissolve to credits as he drives to distance.
Camera: View is probably from near the drum. Tagged. Follows man and car.
Notes: We need to be sure we get a good shot of the bare feet. If needed, I will pull a .jpg from the sequence and cut it back in for a more emphatic shot. We may do this shot out of sequence, right after Shot 2. So the Kronos car is still in place.
I an not sure we will use the car driving off. As I watch it (in my head), I am coming to like the image of a freeze (JPEG) as we see the jump and bare feet. Maybe zoom in on feet. Fade to white and roll credits. I think we should take the raw vid to leave both options. Then make final decision when we can look at it.
Audio; Suburban sounds. Wind. Car. Happy voices (like party) play over the credits.

No 10. Glance shots
Story objective: show back thinking, recall of bridge.
From near car, View of roard he came in on.
Time: 10 sec.

No. 10. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
View into car.

Boy fishing, shot list, close, 9

Story objective: Show plot event: resolution. Letter goes into burning drum.
Location: Hobo village. Near red boxcar.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is, except fire drum is visible.
Time: 10 sec.
Character:/action: No person. Letter falls into fire in drum.
SL special effects. One version of letter prop (Prop PT letter) has physics and temp rez. For realistic fall, multiple tries
Camera: looking into drum as letter falls.
Notes: Letter is dropped from above camera view. My tests show that if av stands at invisiguard, Av can drag PropPT letter to a point apparently above the drum and the letter will drop realistically. Letter may escape from drum during fall, but not in camera view.
Audio; Suburban sounds. Wind. Possibly crackling fire..

No 9. Glance shots
Story objective: None

No. 9. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
None

Boy fishing, shot list, resolution and closure (No 8)

Story objective: Show plot event: resolution. Man leaves letter to burn.
Location: Hobo village. Near red boxcar.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is, except fire drum is pressent.
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot, carrying letter, walks from bridge, past end of boxcar, toward car. About two pauses to show hesitation. Voice reads part of letter. Finally (with determination, no pause), he walks toward burning drum and holds it toward the drum. Stop mark is invisiguard. Will stop him at drum. Cut
Animation: TBD by David, drawing from anim used in Lip Flap.
Camera: View from near the burning drum. Tagged. Follow man (side view). Probably looking toward Hobo Village (and away from road).
Props: Invisiguard to keep man from walking into drum. I will place. Actor can set highlight transparent to see location.
Notes: May try to show hand empty. But not important. Be sure car is in place if the shot will show the where car was. SE remember to remove invisiguard along with drum.
Audio; Suburban sounds. Faint voice reading from the letter again.

No 8. Glance shots
Story objective: show intent
Look down into burning drum. (No av visible)
Time: 10 sec.

No. 8. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
Hobo village from near drum.

Boy fishing, shot list, Middle 7

No: 7
Story objective: Show plot event: boy leaves bridge. Reverts to adult.
Location: Hobo village. Bridge. Near and on land.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is, except fire drum is visible.
Time: 30 sec.
Character:/action: Boy, approaching land. May have moved a few feet since last shot.
Costume: (after morph) As in shot 1, except that man is barefoot. (Not shown on camera till shot 10.)
Boy is still carrying the pole. Pauses as he steps off bridge, Morphs back into man. Pole is gone, replaced by letter in his right hand. Fish gone. Cut
New prop: Letter for wearing. Ready. Named: PropAt Letter
Camera: View from far side of bridge to show burning drum in background. Follow boy (tagged, side view).
Notes: This morph may be done with cut and dissolve because of changing attachments. After morph, camera does not see man’s feet until end of shot 10.
Audio; Waterfront sounds, merging into suburban sounds. Faint voice reading from the letter again.

No 7. Glance shots
Story objective: show back thinking, recall of bridge.
From end of bridge, look out over bridge and water (sun setting).
Time: 10 sec.

No. 7. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
Hobo village from morph point.

Planning for EEggs

Xenon and I talked about the EEgg project. Here are some summary thoughts I got from the discussion.

The Lindens may be willing to provide support. Xenon will contact them on that. I will write some of our plans as I would for a proposal, highlighting items of interest to Linden Labs and noting why we need support

Xenon is working on Marta Stewpot. That will include av appearance and clothing. Since Marta is a TV personality, she will need a variety of clothes. She may complain (as if off camera, but audible) about her wardrobe. That would be part of her perfectionism. Lindens: We need a costume budget.

Xenon is also working on Marta’s character and speech patterns. My main suggestion is, don’t be subtle. Subtle may work in an hour show, but it will go nowhere in 6 minutes. One characteristic that I recommend is that she jumps all over terms like noob, nuby, or other slang terms that are sometimes applied to recent arrivals. She considers these terms politically incorrect. We will need to give her an acceptable term. And it won’t end in “challenged.”

For educational purposes, we will need to specify learning objectives and current skills. People bring with them some preliminary skills. What will we assume and what will we teach? We probably ought to start with a list of all the skills needed early in SL. I am asking Xenon to start looking for such a list. Probably by asking Linden Labs. If they have no such list, that will point up a need for supporting our project: if we can’t find a list, we till have to make one. TBD.

Some of our demonstrations will require working with menus. I am inclined to display menus as textures on prims. One such prim might rise up out of the ground, or emerge thru the (phantom) wall of the set. Possibly to the monolith theme from 2001 (thus spake Z…) I have made some test versions and show readable results. Final versions, I will do with green screen, and make the green transparent. I may mark up the menus to show key points. I will probably include menus as objects in the EEgg.

Someone might walk on them in the vid. One point here is that people remember places more effectively than they remember words. I will explore the possibilities

For our first production, we are looking for things that a person could wear in an interesting way. I have already picked fire as the closing shot (Sam the Sham becomes burning man.) We might use the bracelights at Hobo City. We would like to find others, preferably free to copy or things we make ourselves. . Another budget item here. We might buy the full rights (copy/modify, transfer) to something we want in a vid.

Action Items Selby
Develop ways of presenting menus that are interesting on video.
Identify needed budget items: Props. Costume. Extras (performance fee).
Look for interesting (novel) things a person can wear.
Think of non-pejorative terms to apply to recent arrivals

Action Items Xenon
Continue working on Marta character.
Look for, ask for, list of relevant skills in SL. (what is taught nat the intro sites?)
See if Lindens are interested in giving budget. See what they want as request/proposal.
Identify needed budget items
Look for interesting (novel) things a person can wear.
Think of non-pejorative terms to apply to recent arrivals

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Boy fishing, shot list, Middle 6

No: 6
Story objective: Show plot event: time passes. Boy quits fishing, starts back.
Location: Hobo village. Bridge. Near area where all side-boards are missing.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is from shot 5, except that box is moved and boy sits on it.
Time: 30 sec.
Character:/action: Boy is seated on box, still fishing.. Boy leaves position, pauses (hesitation, reluctance) walks back toward land. Cut part way down the bridge.
New prop: several fish, on stringer, attached to boy’s hip. (I have to make these. No detail, no close-up. TBD)
Camera: View from off the side of the bridge, as before. Tagged. Follow boy as he starts back.
Notes: We need to work on details of stand up from box. Boy is likely to fall into water. Move farther back? Put up barrier? Cut out the fall? We will test. TBD.
Audio; Waterfront sounds (seagulls, boar horn, waves lapping).

No 6. Glance shots
Story objective: show forward thinking, return to reality.
Time: 10 sec.
View back to shore, end of red boxcar. (Be sure fire drum is still in place.)

No. 6. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
Hobo village from bridge on boy’s path.

Boy fishing, shot list, Middle 5

No: 5
Story objective: Show plot event: start fishing.
Location: Hobo village. Bridge. Near area where all side-boards are missing.
Scene: There is an incidental box near the fishing mark. I will put up invisible board to keep boy from falling over.
Time: 40 sec.
Character:/action: Boy, just morphed. Position continuous with previous shot. Boy walks to invisible board. (It will serve as mark.) Boy stops and fishes. We keep shooting till we get a good shot of caught fish on bridge. Cut before fish flops into water.
Camera: View from off the side of the bridge (about like previous vid). Tagged (no visible Thinkerer.). Follows boy as he hits fish mark. View is just off frontal at fish mark.
POV alt view from behind boy at start mark. No tag. Fix camera and he walks to long shot.
Prop: Box near fish mark. I have and will place as needed.
Notes:
Audio: Waterfront sounds (seagulls, boat horn, waves lapping).

No 5. Glance shots
None

No. 5. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
Hobo village from fishing mark.
Water front area in front of boy.
Off-shore area from fishing mark.
Fish flopping on bridge.
Wide shot of boy fishing or boom shot down on boy fishing (from back)

Boy fishing, shot list, Middle 4

No: 4
Story objective: Show plot event: move onto bridge. Take pole, morph into boy.
Location: Hobo village. Area between red boxcar and fishing pole on bridge.
Scene: As is, except that there will be a second fish pole, placed (and owned) by actor. And drum should still be in place in case its position is incidentally visible.
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot passing red boxcar. Position continuous with previous shot. Letter no longer in hand. Prot continues on bridge, stops at fish pole. Takes (owned) fish pole. Wears fish pole. Morphs into boy. Cut with boy standing.
AV: Typical boy, about 12. Blond will help. Kronos has AV
Costume: (for boy) Huck Finn appearance. Kronos has clothes and shape.
New prop: Fish pole. Prot places owned pole ahead of shot. Then takes it so it vanishes on camera
Camera: View from bridge Tagged. Following prot as he approaches camera (front view)
POV alt1: View from far side of bridge, with Hobo Village in background. Follow Prot tagged.
POV alt2: View from bridge. Tag the bridge near fish pole. Let Prot walk into close shot.
Notes: Check on need for box described in shot 5. We will probably do the morph at least twice. This will work well if the asset server is not too loaded. We may want to set the time of the show to avoid the heaviest loads.
Audio; Suburban sounds: Dog barking in distance, bird calls, merging into waterfront sounds (seagulls, boar horn, waves lapping). Voices in head fade as he walls onto bridge. Vanish completely when he morphs.

No 4. Glance shots
Story objective: Emphasize Prot noticing pole
Time: 15 sec.
Camera: From boxcar mark. Tag fish pole and zoom in on it.

No. 4. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
Hobo village from bridge. POV of man near fish pole.

Boy fishing, shot list, Middle 3

No: 3
Story objective: Show plot event: move from car toward bridge. Establish burning drum.
Location: Hobo village. Area next to rail cars (where doors are open).
Scene: modified by adding drum (with fire) to right of prot as he walks to bridge.
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot standing near car and if he just go out. Letter in right hand. Walks by box cars. Stops to show curiosity at the 2 doors. Walks on toward bridge. Cut as he passes the red box car.
New prop: drum with fire. I have it and will place it for shoot.
Camera: view from side, far enough out so the drum is in the picture as he passes it. Tagged. Following prot (side view)
Notes: Is the letter in the right hand too obvious here? Does it look right?
Audio; Suburban sounds: Dog barking in distance, bird calls. Voices in head, but lower volume and less frequent.

No 3. Glance shots
Prot’s viewpoint. Look out on bridge. Toward fishing poles. Zoom on actor’s pole.

No. 3. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
View of the path as from POV of Prot (Prot not visible). Do the whole walk.

Boy fishing, voices in head, speech script

Here are my current ideas on the speech script. These are independent items, so they could be voiced independently and posted on the Laundra site. One mp3 file would be best.

The order here is not relevant. I will use (and reuse) the clips to arrange the audio track. These are all voices in the man’s head. He is recalling or imaging what the people (might) say. Note that these voices are prominent as he drives up. They diminish (volume down as at distance) and vanish as he goes on the bridge. The are not heard as he returns, except for the one about prompt reply, which is heard just before the letter toss.

Business voice (reading from letter): We believe this offer is a substantial advance in your career.

Business voice (reading from letter): We have been impressed by the work you have been doing in your current position.

Business voice (reading from letter): We will need a prompt reply.

Business voice (reading from letter): We hope you will find this an attractive offer.

Man’s voice (informal, worried): It’s a long commute. I wouldn’t get home till late.

Man’s voice (informal, worried): Maybe we could move closer.

Man’s voice (irritated): Damn! Why can’t they keep their hay on the truck?

Man’s voice (irritated): Damn! Why do they let those rock haulers on this raod?

Man’s voice (informal, worried): I’m still in the middle of the Benton project. Who could take over?

Man’s voice (informal, worried): Joe could take over. But I don’t think he’s really ready.

Man’s voice (informal, worried): Nobody around Saturday. Maybe I can get the project in shape for Joe to take over.

Man’s voice: (dragging from memory) I’ve been here before. (wistful, hint of regret) But it’s been a long time.

Wife’s voice (concerned): If we move there, we’ll be in a different school district.

Wife’s voice (concerned): If you commute you’d be an hour later. I’d have to feed the kids earlier.

Boy’s voice (probably done by female): When can you play catch with me, Dad?

Boy’s voice (probably done by female): When can we go fishing, Dad?

Teen girl’s voice (matter of fact): Dad, can you help me with an algebra problem now?

I think these will tell the story. But I am open to more suggestions. And I understand that actors work their own phrasing. Repeats with variation are fine.

Boy fishing, shot list, opening 2

No: 2
Story objective: Show plot event, forced to stop at Hobo Village
Location: Calleta: Approach to bridge-out sign at Hobo village
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot, driving car, sees hay bales (or large rocks) blocking road. Stops. Cut after stop.
New prop: hay bales or large rocks to block road. I have both and will put them out as needed.
Camera: view from behind, Tagged. Following car
Alternative POV: view from far side of road. Including Hobo Village.
Notes: Car may drive up to the bridge-out sign to use it as stopping mark. Car will stop there if moving slowly. Mark car left wheel spots with invisiprims. Car (owned by actor) will be collected by cleaning routines. I can place car with tag to stay. Since Kronos has modified car, he will need to give me his version if (when) I have to place car.
I was going to use hay bales. but now think about using rocks and using the title “Sermons in Stones.”
Audio; Sound of car. Voices in head. Add frustration from prot about having to stop “with all I’ve got to do.” Indication that he remembers the place from earlier time and that he will get out to look around.

No 2. Glance shots
A. Story objective: Emphasize obstacles in road
Time: 15 sec.
Camera: On road, about where Prot’s eyes would be. Sees objects in the road.
Audio; Sound of car. Voices in head, described in earlier blog. Probably cursing object I nroad.
B. Story objective: Show Prot remembering bridge and Hobo Village.
Time: 15 sec.
Camera: In eye position. Looks to right at Hobo Village and bridge. Camera traces bridge outward toward fishing spot.
Note: check on need for box out on bridge, cited in shot 5.
Prop: Car, burning drum.
Audio: Voice in head: “I’ve been here before. But it’s been a long time”

No. 2. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
Close up of bridge out sign. (Still)
View of Hobo Village from road. As from moving car. Try in moving car with another driver.

NOTE: Get shot 10 here, with car still in place.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Boy fishing, shot list, opening 1

No. 1
Story objective: Establish main character, Prot (temp name).
Establish conflict situation: job offer versus family and work responsibilities. Establish letter (visually). Establish story-telling mode: voices in head.
Location: Occulea road toward Calleta.
Lighting: Set to noon. Same till shot 6.
Time: 35 sec.
Character:/action: Prot, driving car toward CalletaAV: Man, about 38, average height and shape.
Costume: Casual. Appropriate for middle class man on Saturday driving to workplace to do extra work. TBD. Continue till shot 4.
Camera: view from behind, Tagged. Following car
Alternative POV: Moving scenery without car in shot.
Prop: car. Open convertible, not fancy. Available and useable.
Notes: May not be able to do this in one shot because of problems controlling car. May try transparent barrier to get more control on car. May use moving scenery shot. I may be able to get better control of the car with a different script I have found. May try to turn off car's script and attach it to me to get more control over motion.
Audio; Sound of car. Voices in head, described in earlier blog. These are not closely keyed to the action.

No 1. Glance shots
Story objective: Establish plot element: letter
Time: 15 sec.
Camera: Above. Shows letter on seat beside prot.
Prop: letter. Business letter. Available and useable
Notes: Timed to match voice reading the letter.
Audio; Sound of car. Voices in head, described in earlier blog.

No. 1. Cut-away shots
Objective: cover cuts. Allow timing adjustments.
Drivers POV of hands on steering wheel and the road ahead
Camera moves into road ahead, no car visible.

Boy fishing, story view

I have decided that the shot list is too wordy to put in 3 posts (as I did before). So I will post each shot separately and put in an overview first.

No. 1
Story objective: Establish main character, Prot (temp name).
Establish conflict situation: job offer versus family and work responsibilities. Establish letter (visually). Establish story-telling mode: voices in head
No: 2
Story objective: Show plot event, forced to stop at Hobo Village
No: 3
Story objective: Show plot event: move from car toward bridge. Establish burning drum.
No: 4
Story objective: Show plot event: move onto bridge. Take pole, morph into boy.
No: 5
Story objective: Show plot event: start fishing
No: 6
Story objective: Show plot event: time passes. Boy quits fishing, starts back.
No: 7
Story objective: Show plot event: boy leaves bridge. Reverts to adult.
No: 8
Story objective: Show plot event: resolution. Man leaves letter to burn.
No: 9
Story objective: Show plot event: resolution. Letter goes into burning drum.
No: 10
Story objective: Show plot event: closure. Man jumps into car, showing decision and rejuvenation.

Revised shot list calls for costume specs, cut-away shots, glance shots, and alterative camera viewpoints. I added this last item because I realized that there is almost no cost to extra takes in SL. So we can consider alternative views and take them if they look promising. Don’t have to use them. Might cut between them.

Possible titles:
Sermons in Stones (stones block car)
The View from Then.
(We have a while yet before we fix the title.)

Selby’s action items:
Find clothes for man. (They are in my head. I just have to find something to match.)
Finalize methods of car control. (Have several, Just need to find best.)
Make string of fish for Huck
Post next version of shot list
Review shot list (separately) from POV of storyteller, director, cameraman, editor, and vierwer.
Review, write, and finalize script for voices in head.

David’s action items
Review Selby’s revised shot list.
Consider options on voices in head:

Man (David) does it all, talking to himself about letter, offer, attractiveness of offer, responsibilities to current job, concerns of wife and kids.

Man and wife (David and wife) do it. He is remembering or anticipating wife’s reaction. No necessarily dialog. Maybe separate (and separable) speeches. And not necessarily in logical order. They could be reused.

We get voices for each person (man, wife, letter, current supervisor, teen daughter, son just before voice change, about the age of our Huck.)

The lat one is stronger, but hard to cast. In the first two we have to make the words establish the age of the boy. (Maybe just mention his baseball team.)

Look this stuff over to see what Selby left out.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cut-away shots and glance shots

Kronos: You’ve probably thought about this but since I didn’t see it in the blog entry I thought it might be worth mentioning how valuable cut away shots can be.

A cut away is a shot which does not include the actor or only a small detail of the actor. It might be a close up of an object or a shot of the scenery, something that relates to the story.

SE: No, I had not thought if it. I did pick up a related idea from the Lip Flap vid. The dialog mentions a missing shoe. The lady looks down and the camera shows the feet that she sees. I will call this a glance shot (maybe there is a standard name). This is a storyteller’s concept. It is used to help tell the story. I did put one of those in the shot list, a shot of the letter on the seat of the car. That was after I realized that the visual letter has a big role at the end and should be established visually at the beginning.

I see the value of both kinds of shots and will rework the shot list to include them in the schema I am using for shot lists in SL video work. I am taking the view that glance shots are important in telling the story, while cut-away shots are mainly to help the video editing by covering transitions. The can also help in time adjustments since you have some flexibility in the time the stay on the screen.

We will particularly want cut-away shots in shots 1 and 2 because the car is hard to control and we will need to cover its wanderings. We may also save ourselves time by using the driver’s POV of scenery passing. The timing on the first two scenes is driven by the time it takes for the voices in head to establish the story situation. So we don’t have to show the car all the time. I can fly down the road and collect the moving scenery.

As Kronos says, the shots are easy at the time of the shoot. And it you go back later, the scenery may have changed.

I will go back and edit my the existing posts, rather than post new versions. That way there is only one version, the most current.

Sunset Boulevard and LOD

Good line. And maybe suggestive. We will need a back story to give character to Marta. Perhaps she was a morning host on a local TV show in Peoria. She did shows in the Martha Stewart style. They replaced her with a show featuring weight loss pills, male enhancement, and Denture-Cream.

Now she is on our show. Not happy with the set (Hobo Village) and complaining at least once in each vid about the set, technical support, or personnel. Sam the Sham may work as an extra from time to time. And we will start with a set like the one I made for the first EEgg vid. The back screen will probably fall over in some vids to show Hobo Village. Scene contrast.

She will probably also complain about Thinkerer’s previous EEgg vid.

She is a bit of a perfectionist, but gets sympathy on that because her main concern is looking out for the interests of the viewer.

LOD. That’s learning on demand. We have VOD for video on demand. And POD, which, Creative Labs insists, stands for play on demand. So here is a slogan name for this kind on project. Ready when you are. School kids should be so lucky!

The main things we are looking for now are ideas for amusing attachments. Either existing attachments (free to copy), or ones I can make. I have a fire for the “wear fire” scene. What other available objects would make novel and amusing attachments?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Marta Stewpot, at your service!

Xenon Darrow here, ready to assume my acting identity - Marta Stewpot! (I am ready for my close-up, Mr. Melville! - hmmmm, THAt was a little close to home!)

Regarding your comments on creating objectives prior to creating the video - that is one of the first principles of instructional systems design (ISD) - and it absolutely helps you define your module scope. Learners can only handle so much at a time - 3- 5 objectives in a module is a good rule to start with! Of course, all depends on how complicated the exercise..and other variables.

This is an exciting project to work on! Let's get this party started! :D

Xe

New Kid on the Blog

Xenon Darrow will be joining us on this blog. Xenon has been featured on my last 2 vids. Now she plans to take a big role in the Easter Egg product line. She will probably appear as Marta Stewpot, someone who could show us how to make picture frames out of old newspapers and coffee grounds. For the present, however, she will focus on building a fire under our EEggs.

First, I will review my vision for the EEggs line. This is for Xenon especially, but I hope for ideas from everybody. An EEgg is simply an object publicly available, free to copy, and offering something of interest or value to newcomers in SL. I have put some around Hobo village. The EEgg line of vids is intended to promote creative uses of SL by providing the relevant assets in an Easter Egg and using the vid to illustrate how to use them creatively.

My original vid in this line illustrates what I have in mind. The teaching objective was to give students the following abilities:
>>Copy a free-to-copy object.
>>Rez a copied object in a chosen location
>>Edit a rezed object into a preferred orientation and position.
>>Drop a texture (image) onto the object
>>Adjust the shape of the object and the texture positioning to display the image as desired.

I realize now that I tried to cover too much. I should have listed the objectives before doing the vid. Then I would have seen that this list is too long for a 6 min. vid. A more effective presentation, for example, would have been to do the copy-res-place objectives about three times. The first demo (take some fire, place it in the bandstand) was good. And was repeated at the end. That is a good pattern for learning and gives good closure at the end. But the instruction would have been more effective if I had repeated the pattern with two other examples, assuming that I could have found two other interesting examples.

The general pattern, then, is to pick some simple skill set that can produce a interesting result. Then design about three examples of how to produce that result. Any needed assets would be in the Easter Egg. The vid would open with Marta announcing what she is ging to show us, going to the Easter Egg (in Hobo Village), taking it, and rezzing it in some way that makes an interesting story.

My first candidate for the new Marta’s New Egg Show is to give the student these abilities:
>>Copy free-to-copy object. (Avoid assuming that the viewer has seen the previous vids.)
>>Attach a copied object to your av in some interesting way.
An example that I will probably use to close this show: Sam the Sham (see my latest vid) attaches fire to his back, then runs off the set and into the nearby water as if really on fire.

Xenon has installed Audacity and is able to make voice clips. She and I will work together on the script (probably using Skype). Then she will do Marta and I will do Sam. We will make a shot list and a tentative script for each shot. The reading time will probably drive the shot length. Then we will take the vid. If necessary, I will post the vid on YouTube as private. She can then voice her part while viewing the vid. I will do the same with my part.

It is not easy to match the timing on the vid to the timing on the audio. (For now, I am glad the lips don’t move.) I am still working on that.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cut Aways -- Kronos

[Here is a comment by Kronos It is much too important to be buried as a comment, so I am reposting it as a stand-alone. I will later post about how I am using it to revised the shot lists. --SE]

You’ve probably thought about this but since I didn’t see it in the blog entry I thought it might be worth mentioning how valuable cut away shots can be.

A cut away is a shot which does not include the actor or only a small detail of the actor. It might be a close up of an object or a shot of the scenery, something that relates to the story.

The value of the cut away is that it lets you change shots easily and can often save a sequence where you want to move from one take to another but to do so directly won’t work. The actor may be in a different position and a direct cut would be a jump cut where the position would suddenly change and be jarring to the viewer.

Student filmmakers usually don’t get it, don’t understand the value of having cut away shots until they get into the edit. For instance, the top of take 1 is excellent but then the actor flubs a line. The lines are fine in take 3 but there is no way to cut between them without a jump cut. If only there were a shot of the clock on the table by the bed, they could cut to that for a second or two and then come back to take 3 and no one would notice the switch.

Potential cut away shots for the Boy Fishing

CU of letter on the seat next to driver.
Drivers POV of hands on steering wheel and the road ahead
CU of fishing pole leaning against pier
CU of letter in hand
CU of fish flopping on pier
Characters POV of Hobo Village
Close shot on oil drum with fire
Wide shot of man standing on pier
Wide shot of boy fishing

These are just suggestions for possible cut away shots. There are an infinite number of such shots and the trick is just to remember to shoot them. Best to include suggested shots in the shot list so that the director will remember to include them. They are usually quick and easy to do and well worth the effort.

Having said that I should point out that I forgot to include any cut away shots in the Lip Flap shoot and there were places I could have used them. One short sequence was cut because I couldn’t make the angles match with a direct cut. It would have been easy to do if I’d included a few cut aways.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Boy fishing, shot list, resolution and closure

No: 8
Story objective: Show plot event: resolution. Man leaves letter to burn.
Location: Hobo village. Near red boxcar.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is, except fire drum is visible.
Time: 30 sec.
Character:/action: Prot, carrying letter, walks from bridge, past end of boxcar, toward car. About two pauses to show hesitation. Voice reads part of letter. Finally (with determination, no pause), he walks toward burning drum and holds it toward the drum. Cut
Animation: TBD by David, drawing from anim used in Lip Flap.
Camera: View from near the burning drum. Tagged. Follow man (side view). Probably looking toward Hobo Village (and away from road).
Notes: May try to show hand empty. But not important. Be sure car is in place if the shot will show the where car was.
Audio; Suburban sounds. Faint voice reading from the letter again.

No: 9
Story objective: Show plot event: resolution. Letter goes into burning drum.
Location: Hobo village. Near red boxcar.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is, except fire drum is visible.
Time: 10 sec.
Character:/action: No person. Letter falls into fire in drum.
SL special effects. One version of letter prop has physics and temp rez. For realistic fall.
Camera: looking into drum as letter falls. .
Notes: Letter is dropped from above camera view. We may need to place something at drop point to let us find and repeat the correct drop point. I can modify the drum, so I will probably put a transparent, phantom stick in it.
Audio; Suburban sounds. Wind. Possibly crackling fire..


No: 10
Story objective: Show plot event: closure. Man jumps into car, showing decision and rejuvenation.
Location: Hobo village. Near bridge-out sign.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is, except car is parked as he left it.
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot. has left the drum and is approaching car. Completes approach and jumps into car. Camera sees that he is barefoot (preferably during jump). Once in car, turns it around and goes back the way he came. Dissolve to credits as he drives to distance.
Camera: View is probably from near the drum. Tagged. Follows man and car.
Notes: We need to be sure we get a good shot of the bare feet. If needed, I will pull a .jpg from the sequence and cut it back in for a more emphatic shot. We may do this shot out sequence, right after Shot 2. So the Kronos car is still in place. I an not sure we will use the car driving off. As I watch it (in my head), I am coming to like the image of a freeze (JPEG) as we see the jump and bare feet. Maybe zoom in on feet. Fade to white and roll credits. I think we should take the raw vid to leave those options. Then make final decision when we can look at it.
Audio; Suburban sounds. Wind. Car. Happy voices (like party) play over the credits.

I favor having the credits carry the professional names of professional actors (as voice-acting.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Boy fishing, shot list, Middle

No: 3
Story objective: Show plot event: move from car toward bridge. Establish burning drum.
Location: Hobo village. Area next to rail cars (where doors are open).
Scene: modified by adding drum (with fire) to right of prot as he walks to bridge.
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot standing near car and if he just go out. Walks by box cars. Stops to show curiosity at the 2 doors. Walks on toward bridge. Cut as he passes the red box car.
New prop: drum with fire. I have it and will place it for shoot.
Camera: view from side Tagged. Following prot (side view)
Notes:
Audio; Suburban sounds: Dog barking in distance, bird calls. Voices in head, but lower volume and less frequent.

No: 4
Story objective: Show plot event: move onto bridge. Take pole, morph into boy.
Location: Hobo village. Area between red car and fishing pole on bridge.
Scene: As is, except that drum is still visible in part of shot.
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot passing red box car. Position continuous with previous shot. Prot continues on bridge, stops at fish pole. Takes fish pole. Wears fish pole. Morphs into boy. Cut with boy standing.
New prop: Fish pole. (present, but prot may place his own, so it will vanish when he takes it.)
Camera: View from bridge Tagged. Following prot as he approaches camera (front view)
Notes: I think we can do this in one tagged shot, but we will need to test whether the tag will hold over the distance.
Audio; Suburban sounds: Dog barking in distance, bird calls, merging into waterfront sounds (seagulls, boar horn, waves lapping). Voices in head, fade as he walls onto bridge. Vanish completely when he morphs.

No: 5
Story objective: Show plot event: start fishing. .
Location: Hobo village. Bridge. Near area where all side-boards are missing.
Scene: As is, except I will put up invisible board to keep boy from falling over.
Time: 40 sec.
Character:/action: Boy, just morphed. Position continuous with previous shot. Boy walks to invisible board. (It will serve as mark.) Boy stops and catches fish. Cut here.
New prop: none
Camera: View from off the side of the bridge (about like previous vid. Tagged (no visible Thinkerer.). Follows boy as he hits fish mark. View is frontal at fish mark. Notes: Lets see whether the boy can sit and fish. If not, I will put out a box he can lean against.
Audio; Waterfront sounds (seagulls, boat horn, waves lapping).

No: 6
Story objective: Show plot event: time passes. Boy quits fishing, starts back.
Location: Hobo village. Bridge. Near area where all side-boards are missing.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is
Time: 30 sec.
Character:/action: Boy, fishing, as before. Position roughly continuous with previous shot. Boy leaves position, walks back toward land. Cut part way down the bridge.
New prop: several fish, on stringer, attached to boy’s hip. (I have to make these. No detail, no close-up.)
Camera: View from off the side of the bridge, as before. Tagged. Follow boy as he starts back.
Notes: none
Audio; Waterfront sounds (seagulls, boar horn, waves lapping).

No: 7
Story objective: Show plot event: boy leaves bridge. Reverts to adult.
Location: Hobo village. Bridge. Near and on land.
Lighting: Set to sunset. Continues to end.
Scene: As is, except fire drum is visible.
Time: 30 sec.
Character:/action: Boy, approaching land. May have moved a a few feet since last shot. Boy is still carrying the pole. Pauses as he steps off bridge, Morphs back into man. Pole is gone, replaced by letter in his right hand. Fish gone. Cut
New prop: Letter. Ready.
Camera: View from other side of bridge to show burning drum. Tagged. Follow boy (side view). Note: after morph, camera does not see man’s feet until end of shot 10l.
Notes: This morph may be done with cut and dissolve because of changing attachments.
Audio; Waterfront sounds, merging into suburban sounds. Faint voice reading from the letter again.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Boy fishing, shot list, opening

No: 1
Story objective: Establish main character, Prot (temp name).
Establish conflict situation: job offer versus family and work responsibilities
Establish story-telling mode: voices in head.
Location: Occulea road toward Calleta.
Lighting: Set to noon. Same till shot 6.
Time: 35 sec.
Character:/action: Prot, driving car toward Calleta
Camera: view from behind, Tagged. Following car
Prop: car. Available and useable
Notes: May not be able to do this in one shot because of problems controlling car. May try transparent barrier to get more control on car. Maybe I should cut in a close-up of the letter, to establish it visually. Would be timed to match voice reading the letter.
Audio; Sound of car. Voices in head, described in earlier blog. These are not closely keyed to the action.

No: 1.1
Story objective: Establish plot element: letter
Location: Occulea road toward Calleta.
Lighting: Set to noon.
Time: 8 sec.
Character:/action: Prot, driving car as in shot 1
Camera: Above. Shows letter on seat beside prot.
Prop: letter. Available and useable
Notes: Would be timed to match voice reading the letter. May be at end of shot 1 or cut into it. Audio; Sound of car. Voices in head, described in earlier blog. Voice of letter keyed here.

No: 2
Story objective: Show plot event, forced to stop at Hobo Village
Location: Calleta: Approach to bridge-out sign at Hobo village
Time: 20 sec.
Character:/action: Prot, driving car, sees hay bales (or large rocks) blocking road. Stops. Cut after stop.
New prop: hay bales or large rocks to block road. I have both and will put them out as needed .
Camera: view from behind, Tagged. Following car
Notes: Car may drive up to the bridge-out sign to use it as stopping mark. Car will stop there if moving slowly. I was going to use hay bales. but think about using rocks and using the title “Sermons on Stones.” Some people will wonder where they heard that phrase.
Audio; Sound of car. Voices in head. Add frustration from prot about having to stop “with all I’ve got to do.” Indication that he remembers the place (or a place like it) from childhood and that he will get out to look around.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Future animation plans

Robin Linden just posted a blog on thin subject: Notes From Second Life Views: Part I

Discussion Notes: Physical Avatar
- in world poser
- expressive puppeteering

When implemented, the project would give users a much easier way to control the Av. Facial expressions are on the agenda, although they present difficult issues.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tech Notes: Avatar’s Guide

My latest vid, “Here Be Dragons,” includes a new gimmick, so I’ll explain it here. I got some good raw vid of dragon. And my dragons stories seem to be popular. So I wanted to make it into a finished vid. But I didn’t want to reuse the same (newsman) treatment. So I used and idea from Douglas Adams. (The secret of creativity is to draw on good sources.)

The result is the Avatar’s Guide to Reality, as introduced in the vid. I expect it will be a recurring character. Let’s me break up the narrative. Also fits in well with SL. I am making an object with the same image. I will carry it in later vids. I will also make it into an Easter Egg, with audio clips from the vid, an audio player script, and a note card with instructions on how to put you own clips in it. I will leave that somewhere in Hobo Village. One of the interesting things about doing these vids is that the audience can later visit the set and take a copy of the props.

I read the guide script myself (using standard voice projection and pompous enunciation), then use Audacity to drop the frequency from F to D and reshape to fft to boost the low and high frequencies. The sound I am trying for is the one you get from movie projectors when they show and instructional movie in class.