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15 June 2010 @ 01:01 pm
To branch out artistically, or ... not?  
So, I'm a writer. I get how that works; I hope that I'm steadily improving and learning, but I'm not worried about the basics. I'm also a lazy bastard; writing doesn't feel much like work to me, even when I'm cursing and laboring through difficult passages, but I really don't have the tenacity for anything that requires dedicated time, or a complex sequence before real results can be seen.

So of course I keep getting ideas that don't work as straight text.

The first is along fanart lines. My drawing skills are Stick Figures 101, and as much as I would love to be able to sketch, the little time I put into trying to learn was enough for me to realize that's never happening. So if I have an idea for something that's a cross between a PostSecret and a collage, or if I want to create graphics to go with a story series I'm developing ... what do I do? Would I pick up Photoshop? (If so, what version?) Would other software be better? Would any software help me find the images I'd need, or would have to be one of those folks who trolls through Google Images and "borrows" them? Would I be able to produce decent-looking stuff reasonably quickly, or would I need to spend weeks or months learning and practicing first? (Because I'm one of the more annoying kinds of perfectionist: I'd rather not do it at all if I can't make it look good.) Or should I just see if I can find someone who knows what they're doing and provide my rough layout ideas?

The second is vidding. [Insert hysterical laughter here.] I've randomly started having ideas for fanvids to go along with various songs, and for one I have a very, very rough storyboard. Is there something easy out there to use; is it good? I'm talking something with moving video and cuts timed to the music, by the way, not just music and stills (which I've also seen). I have video-capture software (InterVideo WinDVD) that I've barely poked at; is that useful, or would the Windows ... thing ... be better, or ...? (I'm on WinXP SP something-or-other.) How finicky or time-involved would it be? Because I can work through plot or dialogue problems as I drive or walk to the caf, but software tweaking ... not so much.

For either of those, are there any primers out there? "Fanvids/Fanart for the Lazy Beginner"? Some sort of dos-and-donts or general advice post would be simply fantastic.

What say you, flist?
Current Mood: creativecreative
introverteintroverte on June 15th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
I have no insight on these particular artistic endeavours, just some general encouragement. I firmly believe that creating stuff is Good For You.
michelel72: DW-Doctor-Sadfacemichelel72 on June 15th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
What, like Brussels sprouts? Or liver?

Heh. But I do thank you. Even though I'm profoundly lazy.
introverteintroverte on June 15th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Let's say more like Vitamin D. :)
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)mabfan on June 15th, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
This. I offer general encouragement as well.
michelel72: DW-DontBlinkmichelel72 on June 15th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
I do appreciate it. Thanks!
Nomignomi on June 15th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
Good luck in your artistic endeavors!

As for a Photoshop-type program, I suggest checking out picnik.com. I do some photo editing there (red eye removal, etc.), and it allows for effects such as captions and more.
michelel72: SGA-Zelenka-Intentmichelel72 on June 16th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
Come to think of it, I have ... whatever came with my digital camera ... but I'm not sure it'll handle the more abstract stuff I wanna do. But I've decided to go ahead and check out Photoshop; at worst, it won't be what I need either, right?

And thank you!
Lady Moon-Loona-cy: irritated/aggravatedjennytork on June 15th, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
At least you can DO vids.

My ideas are more along the lines of AUs with characters that have been dead for YEARS. So, I draw the storyboards....

Right now I'm working on John Entwistle and Keith Moon video for "Love Doesn't Last" by John.

michelel72: SGA-John-Hugmichelel72 on June 16th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
Ouch. Yeah, that'd be tough! (I've seen some really skillful manips, so that completely different actors/scenes are made to look like the ones you want, but I can't even imagine how much work that would be!)
Grey Lupous: hmmgreyias on June 16th, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
I don't have any free primers on hand (although I've occasionally thought about writing one for basics of vidding, since there are things that make my editor's eye twitch), but I can suggest some resources/programs/opinions!

Photoshop - daunting at first, but if you can figure out some of the basics, you'll find it's actually very easy and very robust. The best resource I found on this was a seminar I took called "The Down and Dirty Secrets of Photoshop" (there's a book version of this too.) If you do decide to use this: find a tutorial on how masking works in Photoshop, clipping masks, and adjustment layers. There is an open source variant called GIMP, but I don't know how similar it's interface is. I think that it has several of the same features. (Although nothing as cool or fun as CS5's puppet warp or intelligent fill. God, are those lifesavers!) I wound up doing the bulk of the work on my SGA Reversebang art the last day.

(I have only the basic sketching ability, so Photoshop is my only avenue for feeling like an "artist".)

Now, because I'm a professional, my opinion in this area is probably tainted, but I know of no good freeware or open source video editing software. Windows Movie Maker is good for really basic edits. Precise edits on WMM is more painful than pulling out your hair. (I'm not sure about iMovie, I know that a lot of Mac users like it, but I've heard similar complains from fellow professionals about its extreme limitations.)

If you're willing to spend some money, or give a thirty day trial a whirl, I'd recommend going with something within the Sony Vegas line. We actually use this suite at work, but for the ability to rearrange stuff freely on a timeline, and fairly intuitive editing controls, the basic "Movie Studio" version works fine. (It's limited to I think two audio tracks, and maybe three or four video tracks; but most vidders don't seem to utilize those anyway.) I actually learned video editing on a much earlier version of this product, and I had absolutely no instruction whatsoever. Once you find your way around the interface, you're zipping along.
michelel72: DW-Confusionmichelel72 on June 16th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
That's cool. I was just thinking along the lines of ... Crys hadn't touched vidding software before "Poker Face", apparently, and it came out really cool to my untutored eyes, so just knowing how she got to that point — that sort of writeup, really, for vidding or art manips, would be cool. (And if I get the gumption, I'll just email her, for example.)

If ever you want to share your thoughts on yaoi edits, I'm all ears (or eyes, whatever); even if I don't follow now, I'm always willing to keep any suggestions or complaints in mind!

I've decided to go ahead and pick up Photoshop (I can get it at a good price), so I'll have something to play with in my nonexistent free time. I'll check out those seminar/book references, thank you. I also saw recs for a book on layers (this one, actually), and I can look into that and masks and ... gromits and whatnot, heh. Thank you for the details.

A friend of mine swears by WMM, but I don't know if she's done precise timed cuts with it. Do you know anything about Adobe Premiere, pro or con, compared to the Sony Vegas line? And yeah, I sincerely doubt I'll need all that many tracks ... especially since I don't know what that even means yet! (For a programmer, I'm really quite ignorant of a lot of tech stuff, particularly hardware-related or -interfaced. But I remember 8-track tapes from my childhood! ::feels old:: )

And seriously, thank you for all the detail!

Edited at 2010-06-16 05:57 pm (UTC)
Seth Gordonsethg_prime on June 16th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
I have no particular advice on software (I use the GIMP when I have to do something with photos, but that’s because I’ve been too cheap to buy Windows, let alone Photoshop), but yes, following the Muse of whatever media strikes your fancy is a Good Thing. (It’s not like you do this art stuff for the money....)

If you ever come across a good (by which I mean, well-curated) source of clip art, I would be interested in a link. I have long envied the campy photos that Kathy Sierra used to illustrate her blog, back when she had a blog.
michelel72: DW-GeekPridemichelel72 on June 16th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
Whereas I'm too cheap time-wise to deal with setting up and keeping up with something a little more reliable than Windows, which is required for my work and was easy to get on my cheap new system. Heh. And thank you for the encouragement.

I suspect I'm going to be kinda lost when it comes to clip art, but if I do find something, I'll pass along word.
skaredykatskaredykat on June 19th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
Go for it and branch out!
Besides the resources mentioned above (I've heard there are some good "using Photoshop" video tutorials online), maybe check out elite_tutorial for tutorials on creating certain types of fanart/manips.
For vidding info, check out http://www.kekkai.org/lim/resources.html -- pointers to lots of info in one place.
Many screencappers and fanartists seem happy to have others use their base pictures (fandom-specific and stock-like, such as "nature") and brushes and stuff if credited.
Have fun!
michelel72: DS-Jon-Frightenedmichelel72 on June 20th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you for these resources!

I'm interested, and I've decided to go ahead, but ... the time it will take to learn this stuff! ::sob::
skaredykatskaredykat on June 20th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
Time, what time? It wasn't as if you were already busy with things like, oh, writing (eagerly anticipated sequels and newstuff) and RL or anything...? (*Semi-Evil Laugh of Enabling(tm)*)

Whatever you decide to do (or might even eventually decide to write off as an experiment/tangent that wasn't quite it) I will be very interested to see or read a post about it. :)