Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pythagoras was right!

Pythagoras advocating vegetarianism (1618-20); Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). Still Life, Frans Snyders (1579–1657). The Royal Collection (of the British Royal Family). Public domain.
One of the directions that I hope to go in video production lies toward the instructional and educational: not vlogs, not personal essays, but impersonal discourse on one of the many subjects that steal my interest from time to time. Yes, I will do the vlogs too—indeed, vlogs are technically easier—but these discourses might well be my priority in time. Already I've done some lectures on Taoist insights into the New Testament and more recently a quick rubric on when to tell the truth and when to lie (Tarly and the Pilot). Tonight's all-nighter is accompanied by Anoushka's soft strumming—so good tonight with a guest violinist accustomed to playing in the Indian style, so it's not one of those Western/Eastern kluges but faithful to the purer tradition. The end result is a simple proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.
I envisioned something much prettier and entertaining graphically than they came out,  but the rule that finishing is more important than perfection kicked in early tonight, and the hour hand on the clock ran as quickly as the sweeping arm of a stopwatch, so it quickly became a matter of getting it done as expediently as possible. I really have neither the hardware nor the software to do this well. Audacity works beautifully on my Ubuntu Linux machine, but OpenShot Video Editor has inconvenient limitations as well as a few bugs. What I really want, though, isn't so much editing software as animation software. I want my words to tango across the screen, my characters to tap their feet impatiently, my graphs to explode in real time.

Over a year ago I exorcised the Satanic Demon Microsoft from my life, which was an exhilarating life passage—a bit like a lifelong revolutionary finally seeing his flag flying over the White House. I installed Ubuntu Linux in its place, but there are inconveniences associated with dependence upon the Open Source Software community. I have no objection to paying for software either if it works, but even video editing software for pay is hard to find for Linux.

These problems are compounded by a lack of time. The obvious first suggestion is to partition the disk and install—shudder—Microsoft Windows as an alternate operating system, yet time is a restraint here as well. Going partway back to Microsoft would give me access to a much larger software market. Yet it takes time to figure out how to partition the disk, and time to browse the Microsoft site to figure out what I need and want. On top of that, most people who edit video do so on Apple equipment, and I'm not fond of Apple and its forsaking of the industrial revolution and interchangeable parts for the sake of price gouging: "If you're gonna need Part A or Cable B, you're gonna have to buy ours, and it's gonna cost you."

So I have to kluge and hack things together. Compromise is the order of the day. Fortunately YouTube has its own video editor, which has its own set of limitations, but they are different from OpenShot's limitations, so the two somewhat complement each other. So some portions of the project get passed back and forth between YouTube and OpenShot. Adding audio tracks to video isn't too bad in OpenShot, however, I can't play back the sound inside the editor. It's like editing audio deaf.

* * *

Mark Wiens, the foodie YouTuber in Southeast Asia, decided to take a trip in his and his wife's hometown of Bangkok. So they checked into a hotel a few miles from their apartment, and made a great series of videos about Bangkok's best cafes for street food and the most impressive temples and shopping spots. Sometime—whether next year or five years from now—I will begin to travel, and I wonder with how little equipment I can get by. I'd like to think that even a laptop isn't necessary. But it seems that the thing to do, rather like Mark & Ying checking into a cross-town hotel, would be to use at home just the equipment I'd have on the road for a week. Really I'd like to do it all on my Smart Phone. For one thing, I'd feel safer carrying only a smart phone down the dusty alleys of Latin America, but the main thing on my mind is traveling light. I note that the Google Play Store offers several free video editors, and as far as I know, I might even be able to find some animation software.

* * *

The question on every beginning blogger's mind is of course: Is it working? Success in ventures like this is often asymptotic, and I expect to brush over the treetops for a while yet until some updraft, a minor viral event if I'm lucky, pushes me up a bit higher. I'm using Google's Blogger because Word Press glitches required too much time coding in PHP, but Blogger's statistics seem a bit obscure to me, so those numbers don't give me a certain idea of growth. Probably, but not certain. The stirrings of my Twitter account seem encouraging though, or so says my non-numerical intuition. So it's too soon to say. One minor heartbreak is that occasionally I've asked people for interviews or permission to use a photo, and they ask for the blog information, and I never hear from them. Presumably they don't like what they're seeing. But I am convinced to the point of certainty that if I stay with the daily contributions—this is daily blog number sixty-three—I will find my audience.

In the meantime, if anyone has a burning desire to help my efforts, I have a Patreon page.

Have a great weekend!