Fun & Games

What I’m doing… making an Atari video!

A lot of my time this week has been spent trying to do something a little different to my normal blogging routine and that is to make a video for YouTube! Nothing too fancy – just a chance to play some games on my Atari 130XE and record it for show. Think of it as a medley of games that I was playing on a couple of nights. I thought it might be easy enough… after all, I did edit my wedding video… but it’s also worth noting that I did take 9 years to finish that so there’s a serious delay factor that may be worth considering!

Hopefully I can get it posted up to YouTube next week. With my currently slow Internet I unfortunately can’t do it from home so will need to sort it out when I return to the office after the weekend. It’s a shame it has to wait because I’m keen to just be able to say “it’s done” and have it out in the wild despite numerous flaws. It’s my first creative pursuit in a while that I was able to get to a completion stage in such a short period of time which is at least exciting for me.

I’m not sure yet if I will make another attempt in the near future as it absorbed a great deal of my personal time outside of work. At least three nights of the week I spent 3-4 hours trying to get it working.

Time to show off the old girl. 🙂

Through this experience there’s been plenty of lessons learned:

Video cameras don’t record TV well… EVER

I already knew that this one was going to be a problem but was hoping that I might be able to find ways to lessen the impact. Since I don’t have any video capture hardware I was relying on my trusty old Sony Handycam pointing at a CRT and made quite a few mistakes in relation to getting the image focus right as well as a decent audio volume. If there is one part of the video that I am going to constantly grumble over it’s the image and sound quality but I suppose I can also be positive in that maybe it helps with getting that “retro” feeling…

If I try this again I think I’ll need to experiment more and see if I can find ways to get better results… a different screen is certainly an option. It’d be nice in the future to get the composite output straight from the 130XE and into my computer so as to avoid all the background noise as I had plenty of button clicks and talking that needed to be trimmed out. Or at least as much as I could get away with. 🙂

You record WAY more than you need… and that’s a great thing

To get enough games for my 30 minute video I ended up recording well over two hours of footage. In my case that was a blessing as the above issues with the camera and television left me with a lot of things that I could safely leave out. I’m probably doing something wrong with just how much bad (or worse) video I recorded but the nice thing with digital cameras is that you can just keep on shooting and tidy it all up later.

If there’s a downside to recording a lot is that you then have so much more you have to sort through to pick out the good stuff. It’s also a lot easier to miss something good or bad if you rush yourself by skipping through parts – I had to make sure I sat down to watch it all.

Get good with your tools

I’ve been using Vegas Movie Studio for editing videos for almost ten years now and though I am still very much a hobbyist (ie. wedding video), I do know at least what I’m able to get out of it, even with my limited experience. I had to trim a lot of excess footage from the dozen recordings I had made and rearrange them into the order that I wanted to use and the program is great at letting you break up videos and trim them to your heart’s desire. Even then I changed my mind and reordered them a second time before I was happy. A few of the videos were recorded at a slight angle so I was glad to use the rotation tools to get them lined up.

The Gnu Image Manipulation Program (aka GIMP) is just a great program to have on your PC whenever you need to touch up images or in this case, whip up some titles. Vegas does support creating titles too but I found it quicker to get what I wanted using GIMP. I wouldn’t say it succeeds as an “art” program (I’m not fond of trying to draw in it) but for everything else you need in fixing up images it’s definitely worth having around. Best of all it’s free.

I really should do a voice over…

Even with the suspect video quality, what might truly sink my efforts is that I was intimidated at the prospect of recording my own voice for the video so I didn’t do any voice overs which could be a mistake seeing as it’s quite a lengthy video. You know that phrase about people who love the sound of their own voice? I’m the opposite of that and would find it a lot harder to edit anything if I had to keep hearing myself over and over again. That’s one phobia I really have to shake off if I decide to have another go at this.

My 130XE running with the Ballblazer title screen on display.

It’s been good to do something a little different for a change and irrespective of the success (or lack thereof) of what I spent the week doing I’ve enjoyed trying my best. I’ll post up the details when it’s finally uploaded… I’m fully expecting to be advised to “not give up my day job” but I think I’d be okay with that. 😉

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