Sunday, September 29, 2013

Countdown To The Challenge!

Here we are on Sunday, and the Challenge starts Tuesday. Am I ready? Well, not really. I don't think I could ever really prepare for something like this. Although I have a pretty good idea of where I'm going to start, looking ahead I see nothing but questions. Like: why did I get myself into this?

But, in fact, I'm looking forward to getting started. I already know what my first song will be (I'll be finishing something I started in songwriting class), what my first Kindle article will be, and even what my first book will be. I know what I'm planning to do for at least a few of the first videos. The screenplay is still a mystery, but it won't be for long.

I've been flexing my creative muscles by working on assignments for my Survey of Music Technology class, the results of which have been posted to my SoundCloud stream. You're not following it yet? Shame on you!

Really, the more people follow this venture, the more likely I am to get it done. So, if you haven't already, follow me on Twitter, SoundCloud, and YouTube, and subscribe to the feed for this blog. And tell everyone else to do it, too.

It's time to put the pressure on!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Easy Being Green. And Cheap

For the first time since my first attempt to shoot I Dream In Color, I'm putting my green screen to work. And since then I've set it up it my basement to make it easier to light (and no trouble to set up since it just hangs on the wall all the time).

I've also started using iMovie 11 since then, and that's made my keying work much, much easier. Here's a little video I made about my green screen:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Of course, one does not approach a project like this without some tools. What amazes me is that most of the tools that I need are things that most people have for personal use anyway. Two of my three video cameras are my digital still camera and my cell phone (the third is a dedicated camcorder that I picked up on eBay for $13, and is the lowest-quality camera of the three).

My computer is not the top of the line either; it is, in fact, the least expensive Mac that you can buy, and I got it at a discount. Of course, having a Mac instead of a PC means that I get iMovie and Garage Band to help me along, but I could dig up usable free tools for PC (or perhaps Linux) as well.

Most of my software is either open-source or included with the Mac. (Some of it is commercial software that I bought when I had more money, but it's so old I have to run it on my old computers and then port the result to the new Mac Mini.)

Probably the most important piece of equipment I have that most people wouldn't is my Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, and all-in-one microphone and recording device that I use to record music, ambient sound, and the sound tracks for my videos.

Of course, the most valuable tools I have are the techniques I've learned. For my songwriting, I just acquired a great new set of tools from the Berklee School of Music, via Coursera. For writing, I have tools collected through years of practice.

My tools for moviemaking are a little rusty, but I hope that I can manage, through careful recollection and hard work, to bring them back to like-new condition.

And then, of course, there's the Internet, a tool that I didn't have too much use for in my career in animation and interactive entertainment; it just wasn't mature enough back then to serve as the amazing distribution platform that it has become.

And really, that, more than any of the other tools in my kit, is what has made this whole insane idea even remotely plausible.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What's It All About?

So, what are all of these videos, songs, articles, and books—not to mention that screenplay—going to be about?

Well, love, of course.

No, not really. My mind refuses to focus that narrowly. Oh, some themes will recur, as you will see if you keep up with this project, but generally speaking, it will all be pretty unpredictable.

If you want an inkling of how unpredictable, go over and visit me on Soundcloud to see how varied just the few songs I recorded for my songwriting class were.

The videos will range from talking head rants—though I hope not too many of those—to comedy to animation to documentary to experimental. Probably not a lot on the drama front. But who knows?

One of the books will be an interactive, choose-your-own-path book, something I've wanted to do ever since I discovered that Kindle books can included links to pages within the book.

And the screenplay? Well, I'm keeping that a secret for now.

Even from myself.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Why Should You Care?

What should it matter to you if some old former animation director decides to accept a challenge he himself proposed? It shouldn't. I just hope you'll follow along on the hope that, along the way, you will be entertained by the results (or by the tragi-comedy of my epic failure).

I make this challenge publicly for my own selfish purposes, to make the deadlines harder to push off. And pushing things off is what I've been doing, and so many of us are doing, for such a long time.

What have you been putting off creating? Because, as I get older, I realize that I'm running out of time. Not that I expect to die young—hardly anyone in my family has.

But it doesn't matter if you're 56, as I am, or 18, because no one knows for certain how long they are going to live. So it doesn't make any sense, really, to put anything off. Hell, I wouldn't even be waiting until October if I didn't have some very specific planning and preparation to do.

So if there's some you've always wanted to do, why not join me and start your own 52-week creative challenge? Then email me at and tell me where to follow your progress.

I plan to be on Facebook. And YouTube of course. I'm already on Twitter and Soundcloud. Follow me. Everywhere. Be my stalker.

I'll try to keep it entertaining.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fed Up!

This weekend I finished the last assignment for a source I've been taking online in songwriting, created by the master teacher of songwriting, Pat Pattison. And I feel terrible. Not because I didn't enjoy the class, or because I did a bad job on my song, but because it's over.

I've discovered that I'm pretty miserable when I'm not creating something. And so I've decided that it's time to stop spending time not creating things. If I can come up with an original song in just a little over two weeks for an online course, then why can't I do it for myself?

Again. And again.

I am a filmmaker and a writer. I am not being paid to be either of these right now. I am, in fact, eking out something less than a living as a publisher, and only some of what I've published is my own work.

But that's no excuse, especially in this age when the tools for creating video, music, and published writing are so cheap!

So, having run out of excuses, I've set myself a challenge. For one year, starting October 1, 2013, I am going to create:

  • 52 videos. I make no guarantee as to their quality, and I don't promise exactly one a week, but at the end of the year there will be 52.

  • 26 original songs. Some of them may be based on ideas I scribbled down years ago, and again, I can't guarantee they will actually be good songs. But 26.

  • 12 Kindle articles. Published and available to purchase.

  • 4 books. I not talking about great American novels. At least I don't think I am. One will probably be a children's book. At least one will be nonfiction. But four.

  • And, this is the kicker: One feature-length screenplay.

Whew! Busy year. Can I do it?

Damned if I know. But it's certainly not going to happen if I don't try!

Introductory video to be posted to my YouTube account and linked here soon. Let the games begin!