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Monday 26 March 2007

Free books

Project Gutenberg has 20,000 free out-of-copyright books online. Page By Page Books is also worth a visit.


Filed under: Net & technology — GS @ 2:03 am
Friday 10 November 2006

How submitting your video content to the BBC could cost you money

Quality content and creativity are valuable things. If you need proof, just look at the millions of pounds that businesses earn from back catalogues of music, films, TV shows and news footage.

(more…)


Filed under: The media,TV & film,Video-making — GS @ 9:57 pm
Wednesday 23 August 2006

Here Come the Double Deckers

One of my favourite TV programmes as a kid.

As far as I can make out, this series has never been released on video or DVD in the UK (and probably not in the US either). The last time I remember it being on terrestrial TV here was in the Granada ITV region in 1990.

This is one of a vast number of British television programmes and films that remain unseen, languishing in a vault somewhere. There are British films that I’ve never been able to watch and there is no way to see them because they are not available anywhere.

As a content producer myself I understand the need for copyright. But, is it right that companies can deny us access to our cultural heritage and prevent us from viewing these for decades? Simply because they can’t be bothered, or can’t make a profit by releasing them.

There should be some way for people to see these. Either require the companies to make a copy available that people can borrow from a local library. Or make it legal to share non-profit copies of commercially unavailable material.


Filed under: TV & film — GS @ 11:02 pm

Rushes: bluescreen test – mailbag

UPDATE (October 2008): this video has ‘retired’ into the archives. I’ve left the production notes below.

Posts that begin with the word ‘rushes’ contain unedited footage, tests, bloopers and experiments.

I mess around with a lot of stuff which, up to now, has never seen the light of day. Also I’m a bit of a perfectionist and can easily spend twelve hours editing a four-minute video.

But, in recent months the tapes of master footage have been piling up, with not enough time to edit them.

I’m not sure how this will work or where I’m going with it. Some edits always have to be made for privacy and copyright reasons. But at least this way you get to see something. I think it can be fun to see what does and doesn’t work.

Either you can take a look at the rough stuff or ignore the posts marked ‘rushes’ and wait for the polished final products :-)

I wanted some practice at building a sequence using a bluescreen effect. It’s fairly simple if you stick with one wide shot only. But what happens when you cut in for closer shots? You need extra backgrounds from a narrower angle, possibly blurred to give that ‘zoomed in close-up’ effect.

We were thinking of including a mailbag section in our Bargain Hunters show, where we would read some of the email we receive. I shot still pics for the backgrounds (video would be nicer) and we ad-libbed this. The ‘indoor’ sound quality is a dead giveaway (as it was a test we relied on the camera mic).

It’s also a bit more experience of what lighting works best. I used an amber filter on a backlight. This warm rimlight is meant to help the separation between the subject and blue background to give a cleaner ‘keying’ effect. Strangely the backlight seems to work best at head height, even though that isn’t very naturalistic. Though in theory it could be from the sun setting I suppose.


Filed under: Rushes — GS @ 2:34 am
Wednesday 1 March 2006

Video music

One of my friends has said the music in my videos always sounds the same.

I think it’s true and a consequence of me using Acid Pro to make ‘music’ from loops. That combined with the fact that I’m just not very musical.

I really want to keep away from having any commercial music in my videos. The fact is, you are infringing copyright even if the music is at a low volume in the background and you just happened to pick it up.

Channel Four’s FourDocs website has some excellent information about copyright and other legal issues that affect UK videomakers.

I’ve found a couple of places that offer free original music in exchange for a credit. Now I just need some videos to go around that specific music!

Recently I spent some time building a completely new soundtrack for some video of a Manchester gay event from 1991. In the original footage, half a dozen music tracks from the time can be heard quite prominently on the soundtrack.

I took some crowd noise that I’d recorded at another gay event. Made up some (hopefully) Hi-NRG-sounding loops in Acid Pro and added some echo to them to make it sound as if it was all happening ‘live’ in Sackville Park (which is surrounded by tall buildings). A car-interior effect was added to one scene and a few seconds have some original sound that included no music.

Hugely time-consuming: a couple of hours to fix up a one minute clip. Here it is.

I think it works pretty well. You may think it’s ‘fake’ but, the fact is, TV and film editors do exactly the same thing all the time.

Currently many bloggers and other sites are getting away with using copyright material in a way that traditional publishers and TV companies wouldn’t dare. It is especially serious if they have ads on their site and are earning an income. I reckon the media companies and music industry will start picking on them very soon…


Filed under: Net & technology,Video-making — GS @ 1:11 am
 
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