Monday, December 17, 2018

Random Annoyances, And Why I Need More Chainsaw Bar Oil

I've been interested in technology since discovering the second generation of Tom Swift books, reading Popular Science and Popular Mechanics in the barber shop while waiting my turn, and since visiting the Museum Of Science and Industry, back when L.A. was a world-class city and not yet a world-class third-world sh*thole.

That would be a very, very long time ago.

So on the whole, for my edification, instruction, and entertainment, I adore it when someone comes along and explains anything they're Subject-Matter Experts on, in language anyone can grasp, and with suitable illustration of major concepts and particular details. Bonus: for free!

And if Thomas Edison hadn't invented motion pictures in the 1890s, talkies hadn't come along in the 1920s, television in the 1930s, and YouTube hadn't been around since 2005, I wouldn't be so quick to bring this up. But it's not like anything I'm about to say should be news to anyone. Yet, it is.

But the two worst things on the internet, bar none, are amateurs on YouTube etc. who don't know WTF they're doing, and professionals on YouTube etc. who don't know WTF they're doing.

Whether you can't help whipping out your idiotPhone 27 and filming the grandkid's birthday like you were having a seizure during DTs, some idiot savant backyard wizard with the production values of Ed Wood and the plot coherence of Robert Altman, or just some BBC fucktard with way too much caffeine and a raging logorrhea syndrome, trust me when I tell you This book is for YOU.

Read it, learn it, live it, love it. Or else die. Of dick cancer. In a pool of hungry crocodiles. With frickin' laser beams on their heads.

For the short-attention-span TL;DR crowd, a brief summary.

1) Shakespeare died in 1616. It's a f**king VIDEO. So don't tell me, SHOW me.

If you don't get this, and TV looks easy to you, trust me when I tell you: it's because you're a retard. GTFO of the Internet forever.

When Peter Falk tells pre-pubescent Fred Savage in The Princess Bride "Back when I was your age, television was called books", it's witheringly funny. But nota bene, Gentle Reader, that neither consummate director Rob Reiner, nor maestro screenplay author William Goldman then proceeded to give us nothing but Peter Falk droning on from the book for the next two hours. Because it's a frickin' MOVIE!!

Today's f*cktard-fail case in point (and the reason for my rash today about the topic):

Stop. Do not watch!

*I* wanted to watch this. I wanted to hear the information, and more importantly, see the story. Not attend an endless lecture with some insane effing blabbermouth. Otherwise, I could have tuned it in on a podcast, or read the damned book. Don't bother watching this, let me summarize it in nine words, and a much briefer video clip:
"Insane homeless guy breaks into museum to explain history." - best comment under this video at the site
Here's the entire 25 minute video summarized , in only 24 seconds:

World of Warships insanely sponsored the content in question, and I'm here to tell those guys: you were ripped off, and you're mega-idiots for paying money for this. That video is an enthusiastic moron in love with the sound of his own voice, and a sadistic glee in torturing a trapped audience, with no more idea of how to use the camera to tell a story than he has of how to build a warp drive with household tools. He needs a beating with heavy pipes and a sock full of rocks. If he wants to lecture to mopes in person who're free to walk away or throw rotten fruit, fine, but he should GTFO YouTube for life, before he has an accident. Involving a dull rusty chainsaw.

There's one YouTuber, a former USAF ATC, on ATC flightSims who responds to that much blather without any purpose succinctly:

"That's great; blog it."
This is dumbass code for STFU already.

You want to see how to combine a story with visuals?
Here's your guys:

Anything with James Burke. 40 years old and more, and still brilliant exposition.

2) Yes, it's a video. No, the video isn't the most important thing.

Learn a lesson:
People will watch sh*t video with great sound forever:
Blair Witch Project - $140.5M profit on a production budget of $60K.

People will drop sh*t sound in 0.3 seconds:
you, every time your friend calls you on his cheap ass cell phone from the bottom of a well.

If you can't get flawless audio on your video (unless it's man-in-the-street action, like a car crash or a gunfight in progress), shitcan that audio recorded from up your @$$, and dub over that.
There are only 1000 sound editing programs, and any microphone at RadioShack or WalMart is better that the p.o.s. in your cell phone, or even on the video cam you bought. Guaranteed.

Put a wind sock on that mike outside. No one wants to hear the hurricane, or you puffing and panting. Not even on your own sex tape.
Tie the dog to the car bumper, and drive it away. No, really.
Don't shoot under the airport landing pattern, next to the freight train yard, or anywhere else bystanders are wearing earmuffs because of OSHA requirements.
Otherwise, the above comment regarding dick cancer and crocodiles applies to you too.

3) But it's still a video. Get a tripod.

No shaky video unless you're recreating a Saturn V moon launch.
And every time you get the urge to whip-pan while the video is rolling (unless the Blue Angels are flying right overhead at Mach 0.8 and 200'AGL), stick your tongue in a live light socket. Repeat until that urge passes.
If a tripod is illegal, get a monopod.
If a monopod is illegal, get a sandbag or a square of wood with a 1/4"x20 threaded bolt (the size of every tripod socket since about ever), and put it on a stable surface.
If those won't work, take your buddy, the one who wanted to do all those puke-your-lunch whip-pan shots, and once the tongue-in-the-socket electric shocks render him unconscious, duct tape the camera to his torso. And get your shot, with no seizure-shakey cam.

4) Pencil and paper have been around for centuries.

a) Write a script. Shakespeare died, but the idea of knowing what you're going to say before you say it hasn't.
Every time you say "Um"? Tongue. Light socket. Repeat until the problem resolves.
Won't resolve? Dick cancer. Crocodiles. Frickin' laser beams.

b) Make a shot list.
What shots do you need to have for the script? Get them.
Telling us about a tiny detail (By which I mean showing us a tiny detail)? Insert shot: a super close-up shot of the exact detail in question. (E.g., guy defusing a bomb, someone setting their watch, etc.)
Watch the James Burke video at 5:21ff above, and compare that clip with the lack of anything like that in the perfectly awful Turbinia video, at least in the 90 seconds I could stand to watch it before my blogging fingers started twitching. Worse than a crime, it's a tragedy.

c) You can use online tools like Sketch-Up, or even a crayon, and draw out a stickman storyboard just like a comic book and combine the shot you want with the dialogue/voice-over for that shot, and then go out and shoot it. Check them off when you get them. (That's how you know you got what you came for.)
Just like they do in Hollywood on multi-hundred-million-dollar movies.

Now see if you can figure out why Marvel Comics is making the most and best franchise movies in the last 20 years, bar none, and Stan Lee is and will remain the most successful movie writer in history.

5) EDIT!!!!!

Take out every boring second. Every bungled attempt. Random noise. Cars honking, dogs barking, dumbasses screaming into the microphone. Every last flaming thing that isn't 5-star flawless, or 4 stars and salvageable with some editing magic. Like Hollywood does because they're pros, and you don't because you're a lazy bastard.

Accept one-take magic if it happens. That Tiger Woods Nike commercial back in the day, bouncing a golf ball on the club head for 28 seconds, and then whacking the ball to Antarctica?

One take. Screwing around during an all-day shoot. Which became the commercial.

I was working on Just Shoot Me once, in an episode where George Segal's character had bet Donald Trump he could beat him at golf, in a dress. (No, I didn't get to meet pre-presidential Trumpster.) But we went on location to a local golf course. In the script, Segal had to sink a putt that was at least 30'. In a dress.
We had a golf pro. A coach. Ten dozen brand new golf balls. Entire crew, and truck load of film. Segal showed up, walked over to wardrobe, came out in the dress over his regular wardrobe, walked over to the green, took a few air swings, and we settled in for what was to be a long afternoon trying to get the shot.
So for the take, Segal walked up to the first ball, lines up the shot, tapped it perfectly, and it rolled straight to the hole like it was on a rail, and dropped in with a sound-perfect plunk in one take. "Do you want another one?" he asked.
Director says, "Nope. We're done. That's a wrap." Everyone home early, for a shot that was 2 seconds of TV on a minor sitcom.

A friend of mine worked on a beer commercial, with a Professional Pourer. (Yes, it's a thing, apparently.) Take One, the guy pours the product into the pilsner glass, it swirls in a perfect amber-colored maelstrom of hoppy wonderfulness, the foam head gets to just over the lip, and one absolutely perfect drop of foam overflows, and dribbles right down across the logo. Absolute artistic orgasm of a shot.(Which is why there are Professional Pourers.)
Director says, "Let's get one more good take, just in case the client wants another version."
Seven cases of beer and fourteen hours of filming later, they hadn't replicated the first one, nor even come close. Guess which take they used in the final cut...?

Bottom line, know what you want, and chop out everything that isn't that. First take, eightieth take, doesn't matter. But if it is take 80, get rid of the other 79 before you post the thing.
Nobody cares about all the extraneous crap, and they'll appreciate not wasting half their day waiting for your video to get to the point. More importantly, they might stick around long enough to see the whole thing.

(I just saved you $200K for the most important 95% of things you'll learn at film school. You're welcome. Now buy the book above for the other 5%. Mine was shorter and cheaper, but that one is definitely better.)

Those five weird tricks will move you from the ranks of the 99% of people on YouTube, Vimeo, etc. who deserve dick cancer and a bloody, laser-scorched end, and move you to the top tier of production, whether it's a 5 second gif shot, or a garage-band feature film.

And I won't have to hunt you down and kill you, slowly, with a dull chainsaw, starting at the toes.

{Aesop has worked in Hollywood for over twenty-five years on everything from feature films to Top 40 TV shows to commercials to low-budget award-winning short films to homemade music videos, and has produced, directed, shot, miked, lit, gripped, propped, wardrobed, EFX'ed and more, times beyond counting. And has a growing list of people on his To-Be-Chainsawed List, while the grains of his life ebb away one by one. Please, he yells because he cares, but he's not above thinning out the gene pool.)


Cetera said...

This is why I can't understand why anyone would ever pay money to watch anything on YouTube. There is the random odd show that might actually be worth a bare handful of dollars (Vsauce is the only thing I can think of) and everything else is trash.

I actually do watch/listen to Lindybeige's videos while I'm going other things at work, and occasionally when I am looking for some piece of historical analysis on spears and shields (rare, believe me). But I fully recognize that his videos suck. The production quality sucks. The video content sucks. The editing sucks. His sound sucks. His voice sucks. But the ideas and even some of the content can be decent.

The problem with YouTube is that Most People Are Idiots. Being idiots, they are incapable of producing good anything and almost never have any training in understanding how to do a job right. Also being idiots, they have no taste, and can generally not recognize differences in quality -- see the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

The other problem with YouTube is that content isn't king. Volume is. It literally doesn't matter what you're doing, or how well you are doing it, until you get in the neighborhood of 50k subscribers. Up to that point, you're not going to make a dime. The only way to get those subscribers is to be dumping content constantly. The more, the better. You're just hoping for some spaghetti to stick to the damn wall and someone to see it and link it to someone else.

It drives production quality down. It drives effort down. It turns out that catering to the lowest common denominator results in some really, really catastrophically bad crap. Because MPAI.

Anonymous said...

May I recommend the Tom Sharpe books

A distinct challenge and nay I say excellent source for your future wit?


Anonymous said...

I used to watch some AR-15 assembly videos on you tube until I realized they all had the crows foot extending beyond the end of the torque wrench, and then I gave up on you tube. Untrained, uninformed idiots.

Anonymous said...

I watched a video on YouTube today of a man gluing himself to a large piece of plywood. No, I know, it was on the sidebar of a better video of an engineer creating a glitter bomb to deal with porch pirates (hugely entertaining, even though the engineer is full of himself and obviously doesn't have access to a machinist), and even the man gluing himself to plywood was filmed better than some guy standing in front of a ship and yammering.

I understand the ship was important in some way because of steam, but just gave up. If you're going to stand and jabber, do a TED talk or something. You did warn me not to watch, and my eyes have stopped glazing over, but yes, that was awful. Videos are to SHOW people, not yammer on incessantly. I've seen mediocre chess players on Twitch who are more interesting, and I'm serious.

My son and I are planning on a spoof movie to spoof some horror movie tropes, and yes, there are storyboards, a plot, a professional photographer/cameraman (my son-in-law - luckily, he'll work for food!), and that's just for a fun 6 minute YouTube video. Hey, "Lights Out" started as YouTube video as well, done by a couple (in fact the short is better). Modern horror tropes are ripe for the plucking.

Anyhow, yes, everything you said. 100 times. Drilled into people's heads.

Aesop said...

I'm more than willing to do that using an actual drill.

John Wilder said...

James Burke. Genius. Great explanatory power, great predictive power. I saw him in 1990, talking about how the future didn't consist of knowing things, it consisted of pulling the things together - everyone would know facts.

Bought the book. Thanks.

June J said...

I’ve missed watching a lot of you tube videos I thought would have good info because I simply couldn’t get through the horrible and useless intro music.

On the other hand, I’ve watched plenty of 3-5 minute videos that simply showed what the subject was about in a clear and concise way, without fancy graphics and pounding intro music.

Despite your warning I watched the video, sort of, if less than a minute counts. If he wants to see a real history changing steam turbine driven ship there’s one in Groton, CT called USS Nautilus.

Anonymous said...

James Burke was a key component of our homeschooling our kids. Burke's videos and books, Legos, model rockets, "fun math" (figure out the volume of this cake, estimate the actual size of EPCOT Center from this map). So wish I'd been homeschooled, but it did them well. By the time they got to community college, they crushed it.

Spousal Unit and I are astounded homeschooling is even a legal thing in this environment. We never wasted time in gender studies, social studies. They understood the Renaissance occurred because white Christian men were searching for the answers to the universe and actually found some of them.

Thanks Aesop. Looking forward to inflicting Burke and other real educational tools on the grandchildren . . .

Bill Cthulhu

Monty James said...

The Forgotten Weapons guy on YouTube simply sits there with a firearm and talks about it and field strips it, and I can watch those videos for hours. I have. I think it's because he does the script and audio things well, or at least good enough to help me focus on the subject.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Never thought about this much, never noticed that I was going to the next video because of this. Now I will never see video's the same. J.J. my friends father was one of the first to serve on that vessel. He was a great man even before I learned that. Had the plaque in his house and I asked my friend and that is how I learned that tidbit.

Aesop said...

FTR, if you find anything written by or starring James Burke, you should get it.
You will be brighter and better-informed at the end of any of it.
The Day The Universe Changed, book and videos, coupled with lectures and lab, should be the entire freshman year of college.

The bibliography of that book alone would suffice for all of college itself, and stand you in good stead.

Sanders said...

I recently got a GoPro Hero 5 Black - well, before they came out with the 6, and now they just came out with the 7. The main reason I got it was to make videos of the trails I drive my 4x4 on.

So far, I haven't uploaded anything to Youtube - editing is a stone cold bitch. I have a new respect for a lot of those Youtube people who produce quality work.

I did upload a dashcam video (from my Cobra dashcam) to Youtube of my trip down Black Bear Road a couple years ago. I cut a 2 hour video down to 1 hour, and it is still too long - most people don't watch it all the way through.

Anonymous said...

Two of my pet peeves re: 99.99999% of youtube vids 1. sucky intro music blasting at decibel levels that split eardrums 2. vid hosts that blah blah blahbedy blah blah on for minutes without GETTING TO THE FUCKING POINT. You summed them up well and informed the ignorant how to do it better. Of course, 99.9999% of youtube producers will never get the message, but thanks for trying.