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April 2008 Archives

April 7, 2008

My favorite place is....first!

Ok, ya’ll…the long-awaited Florida anti-smoking campaign video coming ‘atcha!

There are so many cool things I discovered while making this production.

My whole filming-against-a-black-sheet thing worked! I was able to hang it over the door to my kitchen and then effectively use that as my backdrop so that I could add the overlay images without a prob! (My cat was probably the only obstacle in getting this filmed easily – she had to get as close as possible to the sheet and ruined my first few takes.)

With the black backdrop I could place my overlay images (popsicles, lollipop, cool car, altoids and more!) exactly where I wanted them (you can literally go into the piece of video footage and find the precise place within the segment that you want to drop the graphic; better yet, you can have it spin into the scene, tumble, creep, blink, fade in, fade out – you name it!).

The whole smoke-filled room thing totally worked – I used the footage of the smoke and dropped it in over my head so that it looked like I was in a "lounge" of sorts – I was quite pleased with the results!

So far I’ve had quite a bit of positive feedback….I’ve had a couple of thumbs down but that surely had to come from the "addicted" living in said state. Poor, poor delusional smokers.

All by way of saying, every time I use Creator I learn something new. And, I recently entered some of my music videos into the Alice 3-minute film festival (the SF-based radio station for those not familiar). I thought the best way to submit would be to use MyDVD to burn the disc - but I couldn’t figure out how to create a file that could be easily downloaded. One of my co-workers showed me that if I go into Creator and pick the “Data and Backup” tab I can create a data disc that way. Then, when someone launches the disc they aren’t automatically launching a player, but instead a list of files that they can “open”, “play”, "download", etc.

So I think I’m officially getting to the “Creator Pro” status. I’m feeling that way anyway. ;)

Then, just for kicks, I entered my bf into the GillettePhenom contest – a contest restricted to males only (what the heck???) and they have to be doing something “phenomenal” with a ball. Oh man…the paths I could go down here….anyhoo, I used some golf footage that we’d taken back in January and married it with the Gillette theme music. It looks/sounds pretty good – though I have had one comment so far that said something to the effect of “can’t anyone do this??”. Well, Mr. Bummer Bird, I suppose anyone could – but anyone (read: you) hasn’t!

I’m so naughty.

Anyway, that’s all I've got at the moment….Oh, and I didn't win the Nature Valley contest - Joel can go live in Maine and eat blueberries till he bursts for all I care. Buh. I hate losing.

April 10, 2008

Self-Help for TiVo Addicts

If you own a TiVo, you probably belong to the ranks of TiVo addicts (like me) who constantly struggle to watch their favorite shows before the hard drive fills up. That 80-hour box sounds like a lot until you start cluttering it up with movies and old episodes of “Ask This Old House” that show you how to build the deck you’ve been meaning to install for three years now...

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Ironically, since I bought the TiVo mainly because I travel a lot, I always end up madly cleaning it out just before going on a trip, to make sure that there is enough free space to record “Mystery” and “House” while I'm gone. It's become another item on my travel To Do list, along with packing and calling the petsitter. But there's not always time to zip through everything before I leave, and it's really painful to have to delete unwatched shows, or get rid of a favorite old movie.

So what's the solution for TiVo addiction and full hard drives? Assuming you have a networked Series 2, 3 or HD model, you can shell out big bucks for one of the new add-on hard disks that just came out, or you can buy a few blank DVDs, and use TiVoToGo and Roxio software to burn shows to disc or export them to your portable media player. Both Easy Media Creator 10 and Toast 9 have official TiVoToGo support.

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Now, instead of having to watch 10 shows before I leave on a trip, I can take them with me to view on my laptop, which is great for airplanes. And all those movies and shows I want to keep for posterity I can burn to DVD, instead of letting them use up hard drive space.

You can even use the editing tools in Toast and Creator to remove unwanted segments from your recordings. Usually I only want to keep one 10-minute portion of a "This Old House" episode, for example. With Creator or Toast, I can cherry-pick the good parts from lots of episodes and put them all on one DVD with a nice menu for navigation. My dream house may not be built yet, but I'll know exactly how to do it!

I just need to upgrade to an HD TiVo and I'll be in DVR heaven.

So what is your experience using TiVoToGo? Any tips? Let us know in the comments.

April 21, 2008

Look and smell your best on Mother's Day!

Sometimes I take a break from my YouTube forays to create something that doesn’t end in swift defeat (MY swift defeat). I'm no hater, but HappyJoel wins every contest I enter so I’m feeling a bit bitter these days. I think my songs are as strong as his but he looks just like Borat and creates these incredibly silly videos that seem to have mass appeal. I wonder if he uses Creator? I should ask him.

That said, I am considering entering the “raise the steaks” video contest (a video about beef and where you eat it) but I just have to finish the song and then really think hard about whether I feel like coming in second place again. ;)

So I’ve been poking around doing other things with my media…and found a fun one! At Christmas I discovered that I could put my favorite photo on a bottle of my favorite perfume – “Happy” by Clinique. So, I uploaded a super cute pic of my kitty, Peanut. Now every morning when I open my medicine cabinet and reach for my perfume, I see her sweet fuzzy face staring back at me.

CUTE!
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Well, I thought it was a one-time promo, but now I see that Clinique is running a Mother’s Day contest/opportunity to upload a picture of a fav mom moment!

Yes, it was the contest that caught my eye...but I also liked the idea as a good Mother’s Day gift! I trolled around my THOUSANDS of pics and found one that I thought would work with a little “adjusting” (read: crop the Xmas tree from the background). And, because the photo had to be a certain size I knew I’d have to make the original waaaaaaay smaller. Sooo, I opened EMC10, went to PhotoSuite, and then imported the pic I wanted to use.

I took what was a photo of my mom, sister in law and me with a Xmas tree behind us, and cropped my sis out (sorry Cindy!), minimized the tree exposure, and really made the focus of the composition me and my mom. I used “auto fix” to adjust the color (I always do this because I figure the system knows best how to adjust for poor lighting/over exposure), and voila! Perfect for a perfume bottle if I do say so myself. Take a look at the before and afters here:

BEFORE:
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AFTER:
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I’ll let you know how the gift goes over….and, I’ll let you know if I win this photo contest! (I’m kinda doubting it because babies and puppies generally rule over washed up thirty-something-year-olds in front of fake trees. Sigh). Can a girl ever get a break around here?

April 24, 2008

Ripping CDs Three at a Time

I finally managed to back up my entire CD collection onto my hard disk. Hundreds of CDs, thousands of tracks, have now been converted. When I first started this project, it seemed rather daunting, but it turned out to be less painful than I expected. Easy Media Creator 10 has a wonderful tool called Multi-CD Ripper that helped me to automate the process. Basically, it is a software utility that allowed me to rip CDs from multiple drives at the same time (I have three disc drives), while automatically tagging the files with title, author and artist information. Conveniently, files were named and placed in a folder structure per my preference based on the tag information.

The process is easy enough. I launch Easy Media Creator and select the Audio tab on the left, and then select Multi-ripper. I click the Settings button, check off the drives I want to rip from, and check the box to import from multiple drives simultaneously. Finally, I click the CDDB check box to ensure that my CDs are identified automatically by the online music identification service. The additional MusicID checkbox is for identifying tracks on compilation CDs that are not recognized by the online service – even if the CD is unrecognized, the individual tracks can still be identified.

Under Settings/File Format, I select my preferred format (MP3, though I could just as well have selected from a variety of other audio file formats). Under Filename/Folder Structure, I choose how I want to name my files and where to locate them on my hard disk. Personally, I just like the name of the song to be the title, but I could have added the artist, track number, genre and even the year to the title to the filename. Likewise, I chose genre/artist/album as the directory structure, but there are many other options.

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Now I am ready to rip. I insert an audio CD in each drive, and click the Start button. As each CD is finished, the disc ejects (I can also disable this in the Settings dialog in case I don’t want the drive tray to open), I pop in the next disc and close the drive door, and away we go. When I am done ripping, my tracks are all listed in the right pane of Multi-ripper. In case I want to change some of the tags that were provided by the online service, I can manually change title, author and other information by selecting one or more tracks in the right pane, and then selecting the Edit Audio Tags button just above the track list. I can even send my ripped files directly to a portable device like an iPod or MP3 player if I want by clicking on the "Output to" button.

So now the real problem begins – I ended up with approximately three weeks of continuous music on my hard drive, but when will I ever have time to listen to it all?

April 29, 2008

Pimp My Photos - Introducing PhotoShow!

Acquiring a company whose primary application will provide me with hours of entertainment just spells trouble. That is, if I’m still supposed to be working around here. ;)

All kidding aside, I have to say the PhotoShow platform is one of the coolest I’ve ever laid my hands on. I know Mac users get all kinds of cool stuff on the Mac, but for us PC folk, PhotoShow is our chance to create zany slideshows with animated graphics and music! I was able to create (or I should say recreate) my 36th birthday adventure out at Sea Ranch, using the nifty built-ins this app offers. I changed my appearance (often), added silly thoughts complete with bubbles over my head – even gave my bf a top-hat and revolving bow tie. Now that’s good clean fun!

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So I’m still learning a ton about the many things I can do with PhotoShow, and I’ll probably look back at this first foray (in a week) and think I was such a novice….but for now I just know that making animals talk and disco balls appear in place of ordinary light fixtures is my idea of fabulous. (Note: I am easily entertained).

Check this out and you’ll see what I mean:

So? What did you think? Cool, huh?

The best part is that I used PhotoSuite (built into Creator 10) first to clean up the photos. PhotoShow has an autofix built in to its toolset, but I love the fact that PhotoSuite lets me adjust coloring, change the aspect ratio, layer, etc.

All by way of saying, when I import into PhotoShow I’m ready to take on the fun stuff: pick my theme (and there are many), add fun transitions, adjust the speed at which I want the photos to come in, pick my background music (there are so many cool genres and options here). It’s a cornucopia of daring and provocative digital delights.

I mean, why wouldn’t EVERYONE want to kick up their photo slideshows a notch? Don’t you know your family and friends are T-I-R-E-D of the same old compositions? It’s true! I’m channeling their feelings for them!

Make your kid’s birthday slideshow different from the next guy’s and add a monkey swinging in the branches behind them. Or, have a bird poop right on their cake! Yes, it’s in there too!

The best part is that unlike most free versions, this one actually feels robust. You don’t feel gypped or like you’re cheaping out with the freebie. Don’t get me wrong – the $39 app has far more content and music – but start with the free account on PhotoShow.com and just get your feet wet. Guaranteed you’ll be diving in stat.

About April 2008

This page contains all entries posted to MyMoments in April 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

May 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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