Between a borked iPhone and the temptation to use my new GoPro, I took significantly more video than photos this month, and a couple are even doing respectably on YouTube.
In lieu of a longer holiday post, here’s some violin tunes…
I’m not oblivious to the fact that my audience is minuscule.
I’ve been writing and posting content here for nearly seventeen years, and in that time I’ve covered more topics than I can remember. This blog, in other words, has been a mishmash of randomly documenting with no central topic, save one: the author.
Having a small audience in inconsequential. Sure, there are outlying posts, a handful of things that I’ve written with just enough search engine optimized keywords peppered throughout that one of my eight thousand pages of information gets a slightly higher ranking and the resulting traffic blows out of the water any other relative stat on this page.
Having a small audience is not anywhere on the list of things that are going to prevent me from randomly documenting here today, tomorrow or in the future. In fact, having a small audience allows me a great deal of flexibility in deciding what I do want to write about today, tomorrow and in the future.
For example, if I decided I want to spend my lunch hours wandering around downtown taking random video footage on my new camera, uploading that to my Youtube channel, and then posting the results here whilst I wax meta and poetic on the nature of running a blog… well, I can do just that.
Or, if I want to keep on walking past the train station after work, take the long way home by walking over the river rather than riding over it, and as I go I happen to wander over the new bridge… and happen to capture a couple minutes of nice footage of the sun setting on that bridge… and I happen to post that footage to Youtube for everyone to see… well, I can do that too.
Every once in a while I get meta here, actually. In the never-ending search for an enduring idea, I dabble online with this concept of trying to own something of value on the web, even if that something is analogous to little more than a tent pitched in a remote hinterland compared to the big-city lights of all those other websites that are likely listed in the recent history of your browser even as you read this.
This past summer I climbed up the pass of a remote Canadian mountain, hiked to the small tent-pitching campsite twenty-five kilometers from the nearest flush toilet, hiked with all our food and supplied on my back, and… I was not alone.
That kind of space didn’t have a big audience either, but it was cherished so much more because of it. I may not be a mighty forest ranger camped up and atop the pine-specked foot of an ancient glacier, but me and my kind, posting random glimpses here and safeguarding a remote corner of the web for whoever happens to wander by, we have a kind of kinship with those folks.
So… enjoy my randomness, my solitude, my simplicity. And remember to pack out your trash when you leave.
In the vast scheme of all the running folks out there, my little corner of social sharing is probably the least interesting. A forty-something guy plodding through the suburbs of a little Canadian city.
The thing is, I’ve been doing it for ten years. Well, ten years give or take a month to be precise… but basically ten years.
While we were on vacation last week — or was it two weeks ago — we were sitting in a hotel room in Houston, waiting to get on a shuttle to board our cruise ship, and the New York Marathon was on television. I was somehow once again in the US of A, but this time far from the start line and far from in shape to be there. A year ago I had run that race, finished that beast, and done so standing up. This year… well, it’s been a year since I’ve aspired to anything of that magnitude.
Sure, in 2017 I ran a couple awesome relays, finished a half marathon (or was it two?) and plodded along with my sport. In the back of my mind, however, I was giving myself a bit of a year off. Not pushing. Not exceeding. Not trying to find a new level.
Everyone needs a year off. And I think I’ve finished mine.
So… how to get things cranked back up… becomes the next tough question.
One idea I’ve had (particularly since picking up a new GoPro in the last month) was by creating some Youtube videos and effectively just vlogging about it.
Hold on. Wait just a second.
So in the past, I’ve frequently run with a video camera. This results in one of two outcomes. Either (a) I mount it to something and run past the lens in steady, serene staged clips of this-guy plodding through the scene, or (b) I run with it in my hand and I get vomit-inducing, very shaky first person clips of my run. I like both, but the first is time consuming to create and no one really wants to watch the second.
The new camera has built-in stabilization. This means I can run with it in my hand and while it’s not quite like watching a camera on rails, it’s not nearly so shaky as past videos. Have a look for yourself:
So the next question becomes… can I make these at the rate of one every couple of weeks? Will anyone watch them? And most importantly, will they inspire me to run more frequently and on more interesting routes? Can they help kick start my training back into something resembling a serious hobby?
What: Some random footage of me running with Claire and my new camera in hand.
Why: I bought that new GoPro Hero6 and I wanted to try out my new camera specifically to see how it handled all the bumping, jostling, and wobble normally associated with video that I’ve taken with my other GoPro camera while running out on the trails and asphalt.
Deets: Recorded as 2.7k60 with Protune & Video Stabilization on, but downsampled to 1080p30.
Practice Logged: 165 hours + 15 minutes
I’m taking it as a compliment, I guess.
To be clear, I’m not looking to actually make money on my videos. I upload them to YouTube and I’ve turned on the monetization feature because… well… just in case. If some of the garbage I upload happens to go viral, I wouldn’t want to have missed out on a few grand of advertising green.
That does mean, however, that whenever I upload a video the YouTube bots swing into action to ensure that I actually own the content I’m uploading.
And usually it’s never a problem.
So I record this video this morning:
…and I leave to take Claire to her art class and go for coffee.
And that’s when the email arrives on my phone.
Maybe I recorded a cover of something.
Maybe I overdubbed some audio into my homebrewed video.
They are not super-specific about what little snippet of me pointing a GoPro at my face for two minutes while I play upon my scratchy violin a song I learned just last week.
But whatever, YouTube has told me that it was good enough to summon the copyright demons to wrap their tentacles around my video and slightly restrict my ability to reap those sweet, sweet viral video dollars (should that happen to materialize.)
If this happens repeatedly, eventually I might get a little more frustrated. But for now, YouTube thinks I good enough to be treading on the toes of some actual recording artists, and I’ll take that as high praise.
In the Ninth Edition of my “Week of Lists” I tackle the high level topic: Offline versus Online Parenting, exploring the collision of ideas parents face when seeking to participate and bridge gaps between themselves and other parents… while avoiding ruining their kids lives by oversharing or mild exploitation. I’ve been dad-blogging for ten years in various forms, so I’ve thought about many of the pros and cons, like…
3 vs 3 Reasons Why Let’s Play Videos are Epic (or Awful)
I read somewhere recently that sports broadcasting is struggling. Fewer people are watching other people play sports these days.
On the other hand, I look at what occupies The Girl’s screen time for any given week, and were I to represent her viewing habits in the form of a cake, sliced into eight pieces, as much as three or four of those pieces would be her watching other people play video games.
Let’s Play is the online equivalent of perpetually waiting for your turn at the arcade, of sitting on your friends house when there’s three of you fighting over a two player game. And it’s huge.
I would say I don’t get it but then two points: (a) it’s the TSN of video gaming and (b) I watch it too, so figure that out. But are Let’s Play videos actually pretty epic… or just plain awful?
Epic #1: There is a Low Barrier to Participation
To start, anyone can do it.
Sure, the skills to put together a Let’s Play video or channel worth watching are still skills that need to be trained and honed and practiced.
But have you got a computer? Have you got an internet connection? Like playing a certain game and talking aloud as you do it?
Awful #1: There is Culture of Oppressing Outsiders
Well… almost in. You still need to get followers. You still need to find an audience. If you build it they might come… but they also might completely ignore you, or worse, decide that you are an outsider worthy of derision and hate. As a dad who is a male, I can’t genuinely speak to some of the hate I’ve witnessed against girls who attempt to push into this culture, but as a dad who has a daughter who has keenly wanted to participate, I am myself keenly aware that she is going to face some opposition if she were to try, and not opposition that either fair or free of raw sexism or entitlement.
Epic #2: All Those So-Called Anti-Social Gamers Are Now Performers
Back in the eighties and nineties, I recall growing up and being sternly informed that no one ever makes money playing video games. Of course, any parent who says that now would be laughed have, perhaps having never heard of the multi-million dollar incomes generated from the ad or subscription revenue of some of the most popular Let’s Play channels on YouTube or Twitch.
The era of the geek hidden away in his or her basement playing solo has been replaced with the era of the geek performing her video gaming prowess to a million people. And through this video gamers have become creators of culture and makers of entertainment, shaping and reshaping what we consider to be worthy of spending our entertainment time watching.
Awful #2: It Drives a Shallow Celebrity Mindset
On the other hand it seems as though every kid now dreams of being famous. Everyone is a YouTube star in waiting. Everyone is a Let’s Play god lurking in the shadows. Everyone could get discovered and be the next big thing.
Epic #3: It’s Driving Technology Growth That Has Overlapping Benefits
And the best of these people are going to be motivated to find an untapped niche market. Some of the best Let’s Play video channels I’ve watched have little to nothing to do with gaming. I remember the day I discovered that DeadMau5, the Canadian music producer and progressive house recording artist, will sometimes compose his newest work live on a Twitch stream.
If that sentence made no sense to you let me rephrase: a Canadian musician is writing music live on a self-broadcast video using the technology that most people are using to broadcast themselves playing video games.
Similarly, I’ve found channels of artists drawing or writing code. We’re toeing the line of educational programming here.
Awful #3: It’s Still Just Mostly Watching
Yet at the end of the day I can’t help notice that for every person embracing the technology and becoming a creator, there are dozens, hundreds, or hundreds of thousands of others just watching. Staring vacantly into a screen. And that part is kinda lame.
Maybe The Girl and I will just start a new channel: Let’s Bike. Let’s Hike. Let’s Playground.
Practice Logged: 137 hours + 0 minutes
Feeling: home alone
I have been making a small habit out of recording myself playing the violin. I put the little GoPro dashcam on my music stand, aim in the general direction of violin selfie mode, and start recording. After twenty or thirty minutes of varying quality of video, I usually shelve it an hope that it give me some inspiration in a few weeks or months when I look back to see how terrible I sounded.
Not that today was much of an improvement, but I figured I hadn’t polluted the Youtubes with any of my mediocre playing in a while… three months in fact… so I figured it might be worthwhile to upload something.
This is what I chose.
First is a Disney melody. Not terrible, but I’m still probably a few months away from a live performance.
And another… some Pirates fun: Two takes, where the first half of the first take was good and the second half of the second take was the best of the two, but not terrific. A few fudges and a bit of off tone nearing the end.
Now, if someone can explain why I look like a stunned hedgehog while I’m playing…
I neglected my video production duties last year.
If you know me, you’ve probably seen me wandering around with a camera in my hand at some point or another. Sometimes it’s me taking still photos, but frequently over the last five years I’ve been a lot more interested in making videos.
Or I was.
I mean, in 2013, I did my first year of “five second videos” wherein I pulled out a camera for at least five second of footage every day, no matter how dull or pointless or seemingly inconsequential the resulting footage. Four years later even the mundane “there’s us just sitting around” has a blossoming nostalgia value, though at the time it was admittedly a bit dull.
I repeated that effort in 2015, and not only did I produce the 12 monthly 5 second clip compilations and a giant end-of-the-year 1-second-per-day six minute epic video, but over the year many of the days of wandering around with camera at the ready produced a bunch of great footage that I rolled into three or five minute home movies.
On average from 2011 through 2015, I produced about 30 little self-contained videos each year.
Then in 2016 I did 5. That’s five. Five home movies.
See, I recorded a bunch of video. I took a ton of little clips. Hell, I even bought a brand new GoPro early in the year to grab footage from some of my epic runs.
But then I put off some of the production work, and then Sparkle died, we spent a bunch of our free time working on the renovation, and well there’s that part where life got stupid frustrating, and… yeah… just five videos and a hard drive full of raw footage.
Late in 2016 I declared my intention to follow what is now becoming my odd-year pattern: a five second per day video effort for 2017. See… seventeen… odd year…. 13… 15… 17?
And I’ve been doing great with that, except that on the weekend I noted that I had a month worth of video clips for January and I should probably keep on top of that or risk hitting 2018 with two years of backlog.
I made my “Five Second of January” video, and then tossed together a couple more standard videos from some of the richer footage days from earlier in the month. One was of afternoon skating, and another using the video footage I grabbed when we visited the ice castle. So, it’s February and I realized I’ve already got 3 videos done for 2017 and I still haven’t even watched half the raw footage from last summer, let alone two of our late-year vacations.
So, three days of sequestering myself in the basement in front of the computer, sorting through nearly a year’s worth of raw footage. I’ve worked my way pretty much up to the end of July 2016. A few more videos compiled. A few more sorted out and ready to piece together. A plan to tackle the backlog, if nothing else.
It’s a good thing it’s so cold out. It’s a good thing that rendering a video for twenty minutes is good opportunity to put some time in on my violin. It’s a good thing I need a distraction from the world these days.
I’m feeling a little less overwhelmed with a couple videos in the can, but knowing myself and my camera habits, that is going to turn itself around real fast, real soon.
Now, anyone wanna watch some home movies?
Having planned (promised?) to post a video of some kind after every 24 hours of accumulated violin practice, and having hit 48 hours last night, I realize I probably need to do some recording tonight.
Until September 2016 I’d never even held a violin, but learning to play was one of those things I’d been thinking about for years.
So, about two months before my 40th birthday I decided to (finally) buy an instrument and learn to play. Lessons, lots of practice, and watching countless YouTube videos.
I’m not going to promise regular uploads of my playing, but I am trying to record a bit of video every couple of weeks to get an idea of how I’m progressing… which often seems like very little when you’re listening to yourself play.
In this video:
Suzuki Book 1 – Perpetual Motion
Suzuki Book 1 – Minuet 1 (Bach)
Practice Logged: 23.5 hours
Another day, another every-day run.
I had the whole of Friday off, and having just written a post contemplating buying a new camera, I charged up my current GoPro and took it down into the trails for old times sake.
It was cloudy and windy, but the new stretch of improved trail that they’ve been slowing building since last year (and which I think they actually finished in the fall prior to the snow flying) was a pleasant surprise.
It will take some time for nature to reclaim the fringes of the packed gravel and for the area to look less like the remnants of a construction zone through the woods and more like a ribbon of trail through the wooded river valley, but for now it offered a small taste of nearby adventure… and some so-so opportunity for photos.