Sunny Side Up

The are two reasons I’m posting this: a minor one and a major one.

The minor reason is that I’ve tweaked the code on this side to embed YouTube videos using the version 3 player, which gives easier access to controls such as player resolution and subtitles.

The major reason is that I think it deserves it, if only because a lot of work went into it. It came to my attention through the Creator’s Corner forum with a request to critique it.

From what I can gather, the creators, known as “What A World Films”, are a group of semi-professionals (or students, I’m not sure) who simply have a passion for making high-quality original videos. They did tell me that the budget for this one was around $500 to $700, which went mostly on props and catering.

I did have my criticisms, the most important one being that the woman’s motives are completely mysterious to the point of being senseless: a clearer indication of what exactly induced her to leave in the first place is certainly needed.

But, even if slightly clichéd, it’s a great piece of work. What it demonstrates to anyone who thinks that the ability to perform light-sabre battles is the most important thing to look out for in a video editor is that what you really need is a strong storyline, a bit of imagination and the right kind of lighting. In theory — and I never get tired of pointing this out — you could make this video with Windows Live Movie Maker and it would look just as slick.

This is something to bear in mind for anyone thinking of shelling out several hundred dollars for a “professional” editing suite.

YouTube accounts being linked to Google accounts

For some time now, anyone wanting a YouTube account has had to do so by creating a Google account, since YouTube is now a Google product. Other users have been encouraged to link their existing YouTube accounts with Google accounts, but until just a few days ago, this was always optional.

Now, some users have already been forced to link their accounts, and over the next few months all remaining accounts will need to be linked. You’ll know when your time has come when you see the usual notification asking you to link your accounts, but without the option to “skip for now”. This means that for every YouTube account you have, you must also have a Google account.

If you don’t link accounts, nothing much will happen, but you won’t be able to sign in to your YouTube channel.

Unfortunately, a small number of users have been experiencing some bugs preventing them from signing in after they linked their accounts. There is a workaround for this if it affects you, but YouTube is aware of the problem and working on it. From what I understand, the roll-out has been temporarily halted until the problem can be fixed, so in an ideal world, if you still haven’t been forced to link, the bug should never affect you (although nothing is ever guaranteed).

For more information on linking accounts, please check the official Help Centre article. If you’re having problems signing in after linking, you might want to read the first few posts of this Help Forum thread which explains a workaround you should be able to use until the bug is fixed.

How to make a funny video

I’ve long been annoyed by these “epic fail” videos where somebody doing something patently stupid — like riding a bike off a roof (I kid you not) — ends up inevitably crumpled on the ground; and then the faceplant has to be repeated multiple times at different speeds, just in case I didn’t get it. But it took actor Brandon Hardesty to make a video lampooning certain types of vlogger to spur me into action.

I now think I have the focusing right. This camera has a large aperture, which I suppose contributes to a very small depth of field in low light, but that does have the distinct advantage that I can throw the background slightly out of focus. I did this by drawing an X on a large sheet of paper and draping it over the back of the chair for me to manually focus on.

Ten vids I won’t be watching

This one grew out of a need to meddle with my new camera as part of a trial-and-error effort to work out the best settings (with thanks to my YouTube friends ebbixx and epontius for their invaluable advice). It’s a bit overexposed, and the focus appears to be slightly off, but it’s already looking infinitely better than anything done indoors with the old camera.

It’s surprisingly difficult to think of ten subjects for videos that won’t appeal to somebody.

We have a new camera!

First of all, once again I feel it necessary to renew my pledge to update this site regularly. My profound apologies, but at least it gives me a New Year’s Resolution.

So let me start the year by talking about our new camera, which, because I make money from my YouTube videos, my wife suggested we splash out on. The old camera was a cheap (but pretty good, all things considered) MiniDV camera bought on the assumption that we were going to make a few shaky holiday videos for our own amusement, little knowing that it would develop into a money-making hobby.

It’s a Panasonic HDC-SD707, which is at the upper range of the amateur market.

It’s a pretty darned good camera for the price, and one of the very few within our budget that features a viewfinder and an external microphone socket. It has its drawbacks, but in this price range, you expect that. The worst thing is the cooling fan, which is noisy enough to be picked up by the internal microphones when switched to surround sound, but who needs surround sound when all the microphones are clustered in one place, and when I get an external microphone, who will care?

The disadvantages are heavily outweighed by the advantages, not least of which is a fantastic optical image stabiliser. A much larger lens means the camera performs so much better in low light, meaning I may not have to wrestle with studio-type lighting. And best of all, I get to upload high definition videos in 1080p quality.

I have one or two other things to buy (top of the list is a microphone pre-amplifier, which I will use to improve the sound quality of commentary tracks and voiceovers), and then, it seems, the sky’s the limit. I have a hunch that the reason my previous experiments with greenscreening failed is not so much the lighting as the camera.

Looking a bit further ahead, my plan is to revisit some of the places I visited for my “Day Out In” series and make new travelogue videos in glorious HD.

This should be an interesting year for me, YouTube-wise, and there may be a few changes ahead. I hope I can summon up the stamina required to make this pay off. Wish me luck!