Sunday, September 30, 2012

Microcosm












click to see all images at larger size

As promised: the world of the very small ... the forest floor at Belair National Park on June 1, 2009. These are a small selection of the images I shot -- and lost for three years! While searching for something else, I stumbled over them. I never forgot taking these pictures. It was a magical day, not really cold, just chilly, misty, dead of winter ... the sun would come out for a while then vanish again as the next bank of clouds came over.

The hardest thing was choosing a dozen from the shoot to upload here! The "first pick" was over 60, and whittling it down was tough. One of the "filters" was to take out everything that didn't pertain to the "Microcosm" theme. Before getting these images, Dave and I had stopped for lunch at another region of the park, Playford Lake. There were birds galore -- a whole flock of Ibis on the lake, and a lot more, including the male superb fairy wren ... and he stood still long enough for me to get two pictures -- which was no mean trick, when you consider he's the size of your thumb! Then, after getting these pictures, we took a hike in a third region of the park, and I was photographing koalas and kangaroos. So -- out they all went, leaving only the "Microcosm" theme. Even then, I had to cut about 40 images to 12, soooo...

I thought to myself, how about whacking the rest of them into a video? Which reminded me that I'd bought Corel Video Studio 2010, back in, uh, 2010. 

Next step: get the program installed on The Mighty Thor, and try desperately to remember how to use it. Figure out that it hadn't installed properly, because nothing worked. Uninstall it. Restart the computer. Reinstall it. Try again. Hey, it worked the second time around! (Thanks to Dave for jumping through the last couple of these hoops. I woke up with a migraine today, and if it had been up to me, I'd have frisbee'd the installation DVD back into the corner. Dave had more persistence!)

The soundtrack is empty: silent. You're not missing anything, and you haven't left the sound muted! It's just that I can't afford a hundred bucks to put halfway decent-sounding legal music on this little show. You know that YouTube is recently using a kind of "audio proofreading software" which scans the audio content of whatever you upload? You'll soon get a strange little email from them to the effect that you're breaching copyright law and will be investigated in due course. Don't want to go there ... also, I do understand about copyright. It's always so infuriating when people pirate ebooks, so in come to think of it ... why would I blithely "borrow" the music of some musician who also has to buy groceries and pay power bills? However --

I did take a look around at available canned music, before making the decision to upload this little show silent. Cheap music sounds dreadful -- it would actually detract from the quality of the video. By the time you get up to anything that sounds decent, you're looking at $100 investment. It's out there, and there's plenty of it. I've bookmarked a site called Royalty Free Music Dot Com ... guess what their URL is. (No, really?!) LOL ... if/when I ever get  seriously  into making YouTube videos, I'll get a bunch of stuff from http://www.royaltyfreemusic.com/ and will do the remix, mashup thing, which is perfectly legal.

[Note to musicians: if you charged $10 for decent music, not $100, about a million people would pay you. Charging $100 just makes folks like myself say, "Not today, thanks." Makes sense to anybody???]

Till I feel ready to invest hundreds of bucks on soundtrack elements ... well, silence was good enough for Charlie Chaplin! Or --

Wing it, guys. All you gotta do is play an MP3 in the background while looking at this show. YouTube doesn't have an argument with that!

So, here's the video ... [drum roll, cymbal clash] ...


My reactions to Corel Video Studio? Not bad, but it's not as flexible as I'd have hoped, for $90, or whatever the pricetag was. It has a very annoying feature that you can not turn off: it's panning and zooming all over the images. All I actually wanted was a static slideshow! Noooo way to stop this, sorry. So long as the subject matter is landscapes, scenery etc., it doesn't really make much difference, but the first time I used this software was to make DVDs of people pictures, for my Mom to watch on TV. With Corel's panning and zooming, you mostly got people from the nose to the chin, or the hairline upwards! It was disastrous. I wound up making individual slideshows in Windows Movie Maker on my laptop, and then importing these segments, daisy-chain fashion, into Corel to master the DVD. How silly is that? But for sheer convenience I did this one, here, in Corel...

The output was wmv, and the upload to YouTube took a looooong time. I assume they compress the movie at their end before displaying it??? To this point, I admit, I don't know much about YouTube videos, but I suspect I shall learn. Incidentally, if you're looking for a really nice, quick way to daisy-chain video clips, though, Corel is perfect. Let's say you have a couple of dozen clips from a trip ... all the best bits chopped out ... the parts where the camera is blessedly still and the image is in focus! All you have to do is drag them into the "timeline," and then tell Corel to burn a DVD at HD quality. Couldn't be easier. Which makes it all the more weird that you can't stop the program panning and zooming over stills. Hmmm.

So there you have it: see the whole "Macrocosm" set of images, if you're inclined, without having to download about ten yards of pictures to the body of the blog. Neat. 

I might disappear on you for a couple of weeks, but don't be alarmed that the blog is abandoned. Far from it. I just have a bunch of things to do, and I don't think I'll have much time for art, more's the pity. But I do have some ideas percolating in the back of my mind!

Jade, September 30
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