Wednesday, May 8, 2013

and here's another new animation

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My latest video animation The wheels on the bus go round and round. An animated song for children. Have fun

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What have I lost with the loss of digital video magazine?
Well, I did their help desk and usually one or two tutorials every month – that probably amounts to 3-500 per month. ImagineFX was 3-400 – so the loss of the magazines is quite a serious amount of my income gone… but writing for them also meant getting sent review copies of all the latest software – which I’d otherwise have to buy. And it’s not cheap – probably a couple of thousand pounds a year to keep up with products I need in my work.

Additional to that is the fact that magazine work is what makes me an “expert”… it’s a small pond and I’m a big fish in it. Not a lot of other people doing it. I don’t want to loose that. Maybe I should be looking around for online publications to work for, but I’m not sure. The magazines I’m still working for are pretty stable and do create a good basis – it’s just a pity there aren’t the specialist ones so much right now.

In addition, Lisa goes back to work in 2 weeks and I’ll be spending a day per week looking after George.

Right now, my plan is to look for more illustration/graphic design and animation work to take up the slack left by the magazines.

Looking for more work can’t be done by going out and trying to get work. I just don’t have time, so I’m relying on my advertising on google.

Basically, with google advertising, you pay for your site to be at the top of the list when people enter certain keywords. But you only pay when they click on them. You can decide on a daily budget so you decide how many clicks you get.

Up to now, I’ve found that I get someone offering me work every 1200 clicks (which works out to about £175)…. It’s not a great return, but it helps build up business. I’ve only been putting very little into it so far (about £1 per day) but I’m putting it up to £30 per day for a few days to see what happens – see if I can get a significant amount of work…

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today’s been much more relaxed, and although there was still an article to write for PC Plus, I’ve been able to do at least some editing work. The whole documentary’s coming together finally and I should have a finished version by the end of the month.

The natural history museum called. They’re looking for a producer for their new audio visual work – but it’s not me because they want someone full time. Still they’ve got an interesting set of projects going on and they seem interested in what I’m doing so I’ll go in and see them in the next few weeks.

Recently more and more people have wanted to pay me through paypal. Which is fine, but it’s now pushed my paypal account over some kind of barrier so I’ve now got to become a business user… which means lots of things I don’t understand and don’t have time to research…. Never mind.

Crisis back on
Ok – so the bottom seems to have fallen out of the magazine market. Well, that’s not quite true, but Digital Video is closing, Computer Arts isn’t doing reviews anymore and is changing its requirements. Imagine FX has taken its reviews in house….

All of which doesn’t entirely wreck my writing work, but it does pose a few questions.

There aren’t all that many hours in the day, and there are going to be less once Lisa goes back to work and I’m looking after George one day a week. In addition, looking ahead to the next few years, things are going to start getting expensive and Lisa isn’t going to have her job long term, so I’ll have to find a way to do less and earn more.

Plus, there’s a global recession on the way – at least I assume there is because all the banks and politicians keep reassuring us that there isn’t.


I’m not panicking about any of this because we’ve got backup plans and even if the financial situation gets much worse, we can still move out of London where we could have a much cheaper lifestyle because the house has gone up in value so much since we bought it….

Anyway – the point is, I need to work less and earn more – and even though I could probably replace the magazines that are going, I have to ask myself whether I really want to.

Ok, I’d certainly like to continue writing for magazines, and there are a lot of benefits to it – not least that as one of the few people who can write and do various creative videoy arty things with computers, keeping my name in the magazines means people tend to contact me with interesting projects (like the book I’m currently writing, for example).

However, if there isn’t going to be a regular magazine dedicated to filmmaking and digital video for a while, It’s going to take an awful lot of work for me to build up a similar number of commissions from other magazines – and this at a time when my illustration, animation and documentary work seem to be taking off rather well…

Perhaps it’s time to do some re-focussing….

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rendering blackberries
The last few days have been busy. Horrendously busy. I had to do the two animations I thought I was doing (Nature luckily turned out not to want the illustration they thought they were going to need) – the first went very well. The second needed a couple of alterations – nothing too difficult, but it did mean I had to do more work and start the rendering from scratch.

This was OK – I expect people to want a certain number of changes to any project and the changes will make the animation better in the long run. I’m still rendering the changes, so we’re cutting the deadline very tight.

Both the deadlines were tight – just a few days - However, I also got an email from someone in the states trying to do a videogame based on Mexican Wrestling….

This originally started out as 2 illustrations of 9 figures each with their own costume… however the deadline was tight (one day) and unfortunately, the guy talking to me was using a blackberry – so could only communicate in one line text type messages.

Trying to get a complex brief (as it turned out to be) across using only a keypad an inch across while trying to do four other things at once is kind of tricky.

Anyway, the images worked out well, but it turned out that what he was actually after was a set of animations and pictures he could use to create a videogame (or at least a Flash pitch for one). The project started to spiral – suddenly there were 8 animations to do, and 9 more pictures… then there were another 8 animations…

But the deadline didn’t shift and it was still hard to find out just what was needed.

Eventually, I think we’ve got it (after a little re-negotiation on deadlines and fees) and the result is going to look great.

However, I’ve still got the deadline for the other animation looming – and I’m now trying to render two sets of animations at once on the same machine. It’s a bit of a nightmare and a bit of a panic. I’m having to be very firm about exactly when I do each part and how much time I allow for every element of the work.

It’s a bit annoying when you can’t be as fussy about the project as you’d like to because of time constraints, but I think I’ve still exceeded the expectations of all the people giving me these commissions, so I guess that’s a plus.

The thing is, when you’ve got deadlines like these you need to make sure the brief is clear and doesn’t change. If it does, you end up having to be less fussy about the finished result because there’s no time to change things if they’re wrong.

I was thinking of getting a Blackberry, but having seen how difficult it is to communicate properly through them, I’m not so sure…

I’ve now got the commentary through for “how to colonise the stars” – it’s sounding great – if only I had time to fit it into the edit… maybe this afternoon… but then I’ve also got a book to write….

I just got told that Digital Video magazine is closing. There was a lot of talk about this happening since before Christmas, but the closure kept being postponed. It was going to be replaced by a higher-end title aimed more at semi-professional videomakers – which would have suited me just fine – but it now seems that this has been abandoned and there’s not going to be a replacement.

Apparently although there was a good readership for the magazine, advertising revenue wasn’t justifying it, so it’s been cut.

It strikes me that there will be a lot of people that miss this mag – it’s been going for a long time (under different titles) – and there are lots of people who want to hear about digital video making and how to do it. Since Future brought up Highbury, there isn’t really much competition for the magazine out there, so there will be a bit of a gap in the market.

This is probably part of the economic slowdown, and part of the general turning off of magazines that most people in the industry have been predicting for some time (as more and more people get their information online).

The problem here is that online publications don’t tend to be as authoritative – reviews are often written by PR companies, features are shorter and therefore less detailed and information isn’t quite as well researched (primarily because the authors aren’t paid or commissioned in quite the same way)….

I’m sure something will turn up to replace digital video, but I don’t know what it will be. Highbury – one of Future’s biggest rivals collapsed a couple of years ago (I ended up suing them to get paid for my work) and Future ended up with many of their mags (including Digital Video. So now, if Future aren’t replacing Digital Video, that means there’s only a couple of other publishers who could replace it.

Hmm… I think I have an idea…

On top of that, Raoul just phoned saying he has a meeting with some people at the Natural History Museum tomorrow… one of them is looking to expand their audio-visual side and wants a producer. I don’t want to do this as a job, but maybe I could do it freelance… unfortunately, this means getting a CV or something like it together today.

I haven’t had a CV since 1998….

Friday, March 7, 2008

Work is suddenly flooding in – as it always does when you’ve got tight deadlines already. Somebody who’s seen one of my animations on istockphoto wants me to make a logo animation for a corporate event. Someone else who’s seen another animation there wants (possibly) another job done. In addition, it sounds as though Nature want me to do an illustration.

The thing is, they’re all tight deadlines (two of them are for Monday!)… and given that I’m already writing the book and now have to try to get publicity for the new documentary out in the next couple of weeks – it’s looking like next week will be a bit tight.

Still, a little pressure’s good….

I spent today designing a dinosaur (or more specifically a pre-dinosaur reptile) for another project. It’s going well, but I may have to avoid the feet during rendering….

Friday, February 29, 2008

A day of frantic writing today. I managed to finish off the first of my newsletters - although because it's essentially an advertising thing, there will probably be lots of re-writes as companies tend to be quite fussy about their most visible newsletters...

I also wrote the Digital Video helpdesk - lots of questions about transfering from one format to another and I seem to be getting quite a lot about camcorders too - even though they're not specifically my area - not that it matters - I haven't found anything I can't cope with yet.

I also roughed out another article I've been asked to do for digital video on turning stills into moving footage...

something which you can do with startling realism nowadays....