Back at it, glitches, and some garden flowers

Been a couple weeks since I wrote one of these… well, it’s been a busy month from time management Hell.

So… when last I wrote a Saturday blog, I had only put out the first video for The Nick White Show, “The Smoke Pit,” and was working on the second one, the actual trailer.

Cool… since then I’ve done two more, “Paddy’s Day” and “Meet Nick White” which was a long one and a major pain in the ass.

Then I missed my deadline for this past week’s video for reasons I’ll get into shortly.

But along the way it started to occur to me that I have to really streamline how I make these, especially for longer videos like “Meet Nick White,” which was a bit of a disaster.

First of all, it was a 20 page script. I had done a test recording of the audio in January to test some EQ settings etc and it clocked in around 15 minutes.

Which is a ton of video to shoot in one week.

But hey, I figured worst case scenario, I’d have to do it in 3 parts so I pressed on.

First step is usually to do the real version of the audio. Which I expected to take a few hours.

Here you can see a YouTube video with an interview of Simon Le Bon, for accent reference, mere moments before the Pro Tools rig went to shit that day…

45 minutes in, I got a failure in Pro Tools that has happened a time or two before: Loud squeal noise, then nasty hum/static in the monitors and no input would go in through the mic to the MBox.

Now, this has happened before and usually if I unplug everything, turn the computer off, and let things sit for a bit, it’ll be fine.

This time it wasn’t.

I tested the signal chain using an old Behringer mini-mixer: the mic was fine, the cables were fine, the tube re-amp was fine, the MBox was still fucked.

Well. Shit.

But I didn’t want to miss my schedule and while it was only Wednesday night, I already felt behind.

Plan B: I have a Yeti USB mic and Garageband on my new iMac. I had never used either one before, but some Googling and trial and error and I was away and had the full 14 minutes of audio done for Nick’s interview by 1am.

I swear the pitch shifting plug-in in GarageBand makes Nick sound a little sloshed, but… well, he’s a chronic drunk anyway, so I guess that’s a bonus.

And I had the weirdest feeling, like I’d passed a test. I remember in Steven Pressfield’s books The War of Art and Turning Pro where he talks about remembering the day he turned “pro” as a writer and actually finished his first novel. I hadn’t slept well the night before and woke at 5 to see that a fast medium telephoto lens I’d had in my Amazon wishlist had dropped $105 off its price, so I’d bit the bullet and ordered it for still photos for the show.

Pictured here earlier this week after it arrived from Amazon.

This 85mm lens can go as far as f1.8, before that I was using an 18-55mm that wouldn’t go more open than maybe f5.6 at full length, and since it’s not super bright where I shoot, I was ending up with shutter speeds slower than the 1/50th of a second recommended for handheld shots (which I kinda have to do to get the angles I want with the set in the way of a tripod) and sometimes it was as slow as 1/2 second. The new one has been shooting as open as f2.8 and I don’t think any shot has been slower than 1/200th of a second in the exact same lighting conditions. Worth every penny!

So… I’d started the day with a big purchase for the show and ended it with troubleshooting and successfully achieving plan B to stick to the schedule.

And thus I knew what Pressfield meant.

Anyway, I took the MBox to my electrician dad who dabbles with various electronics and he found nothing wrong with it. This happened once last year, too… it makes me wonder if there might be a somewhat loose connector in it somewhere and the drive to Dad’s place over some sorta-bumpy backroads realigns it? Dunno, but for now it’s fine. And I bought a second identical MBox off eBay which has now arrived (I still need to test it, but it was supposed to be working.)

But back to the episode: so the audio was done and I had to start filming. I ended up getting 12 minutes in the first batch of filming and a few hundred stills, and I decided to go over my shot list/storyboard to see if there were any similar enough to reuse since I was so close to having enough footage to cover it, time-wise.

That ended up working quite nicely, just leaving a dozen or so spots where I needed to get the required shots.

So, with some reshoots and a couple long days, I got the video done in one piece and posted in the wee hours of the Tuesday morning… AAAAAAAND YouTube thought the bed track music, an instrumental mix of one of my old maQLu songs, “Liberation,” was actually Mötley Crüe’s “Girls Girls Girls.”


Now, false copyright claims are a thing that happens and that can be appealed, but that takes time and also is a hassle. I figured since I’d only just bounced it out of Final Cut, I would just swap the song for another instrumental, “Ginger,” and so I did and re-uploaded.

And thought I was done with the video, but I was worried the new audio track was annoying. And a friend mentioned that he found the music in “Paddy’s Day” made it hard to hear some of the dialogue, which was one that I didn’t think was an issue, so… if that was actually an issue then it definitely was a problem in the new one.

So the next day I went back into Final Cut, faded the music down at the beginning and back up at the end so there was no background music for the majority of the video. And then re-re-uploaded.

Third time’s the charm. Phew!

Anyway, onto the next episode, a little skit about that Oscars slap… which is now going to be late.

See, I got a little bit behind on shooting it but since the audio is done and I knew it would only be 3 1/2 mins long so I wasn’t as worried about getting everything done early.

That turned out to be a problem because reasons…

From a FB post I made Sunday afternoon:

Woke up, heart rate spiked and wouldn’t come down despite the yoga breathing. My watch that has a HR function for workouts said 198, stayed over 150 for 30 mins, so I called an ambulance and went to ER.

By that point the HR was… well, acceptable… around 100 though my normal resting rate is around 68.

Paramedics thought it could be blood sugar and my finger tip test showed super low sugar even for first thing in the morning so I got a sugar water IV.

But at the hospital, the bloodwork was normal including blood sugar and they did an ECG which was also normal so we have no clue what the Hell that was this morning. And the doc said a HR spike can suck all the sugar out of your blood just as easily as low blood sugar can cause a HR spike, so we have a chicken and egg situation here.

And yeah: double dose of Moderna for those who are wondering. First thing that crossed my mind this morning, too… I live in Canada and want to leave so I had to get that garbage in the fall. They can shove their boosters up their asses, though.

Anyway, all’s well that ends in no one died, especially when the one in question is me.

And I was wiped for all of Sunday through Tuesday with fatigue.

Hence why the next video wasn’t posted this week.

Anyway, I’ve got more than 2/3 of the footage/stills I need for this new video and will finish shooting tonight.

Along the way, I’ve realized I’m going to have to build a library of footage to reuse as needed so if I have 4 skits where Nick and Joanne are arguing in bed, I can reuse most of the shots and only have to shoot new footage for specific poses I don’t already have instead of shooting the entire episodes’ worth of footage every time.

So… in theory it becomes faster to make these as time wears on.

I have a new 2TB drive that just arrived and I need to start copying things over to that and organize it by character, then location if a specific one is obvious, then pose, then background color if a specific one is used beyond the general set.

For example, a shot like this would be:

Fictional Bono > sitting > plain black background > filename

(It’s not an actual footage shot, but a behind-the-scenes joke shot.)

Or this one (also not actual footage but an iPhone pic for Instagram):

Nick and Joanne > bedroom > reading in bed

(Well, Joanne is reading. Nick is looking at pictures.)

So, I’ll try to get that whipped up in the next few days.

The next video is Pádraig being interviewed by Ginger. There’s a bunch of footage of Ginger I can reuse from the Nick interview, but I will need to shoot the rest.

However, the script is half the length of the Nick interview and Pádraig also talks faster, so there won’t as much footage to cover.

What else? I did do a tiny bit of weeding but not enough. But I’ll get on that, especially in the veggie patch before I plant it in 2-3 weeks.

In the meantime, let’s wrap up with some garden pics from earlier this week (things look the same today):

Tulip “Quebec”
Daffodil “Sunny Girlfriend”
Not sure which hellebore this is, but it’s one of the Winter Gems ones