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Showing posts with label Videographer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Videographer. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Picture Perfect: Jackson Redstar Videographer - Seersha Heart Reporting...

 I spoke with Jackson Redstarof  He is a seasoned SL resident with a little bit of experience in almost everything.  He is now one of the hottest videographers in SL posting music videos with original choreography, SL Events [such as weddings] and some SL Advertising.  I will ask him about some of his work and his ideas in our interview.  I wonder how many of you had seen or heard of machinma and do not know what it is…we will be speaking about that today too.  Let’s welcome Jackson.

Seersha Heart: Jackson, thank you for agreeing to share your art with the readers of SL Enquirer.

Jackson:  Thank you for interviewing me

Seersha Heart:     I learned of your videography when a facebook friend shared your Comfortably Numb video.  I visited your youtube page and I was blown away by your diversity and the sheer volume of your work.  Of course, I subscribed to your page right away.  Let’s begin with something basic to help the readers get to know you.  How did you originally come to live in SL?  Any experience you wish to share?

Jackson: I came in SL in 2007, when it was featured on a CSI NY show had to go check it out and never left. I've done all sorts of things over the years from combat RP to western RP where I RP'd as a Native American, I spent over year here as a big ole fat bear, I tried building a bit built a few houses back in the day then got into photography when I finally had a strong enough laptop to handle the load

Seersha: When did you first begin filming in SL?  Do you film in other virtual worlds?

Jackson: I believe it was about 2 years ago or so I started getting into the filming, and at the time I used Windows Movie Maker, then I decided I wanted to shoot weddings as I was already photographing them, so I sat down and learned Adobe Premiere.

I did, I believe, (create)  the first ever music video in Sansar, Queensryche - Silent Lucidity. Not a big fan of Sansar, yet. While graphically amazing, it is just all set. The user can't change anything in the environment and the cam controls arrgh!

Seersha:  Sansar has so far been “the greatest thing that isn’t” to me.  All those promises.  Getting back to you, from what I was able to see on your youtube page, this is a business of yours in rl and sl.  Do you have an sl store or location people may visit?

Jackson: I used to in RL do Real Estate photography on the side though not any more. As far as a store here, no, all my work relies on word of mouth. My 'store' is youtube and flickr.

Seersha:  Tell me about the computer you use for filming.  It is my understanding to film as you do requires a durable computer. What kind of computer are you running on?  Will you share the software you use?

Jackson: I used to do my work on a pretty strong Dell laptop, but it really struggled shooting weddings and got very hot, so I decided I needed a desktop. Here I have to thank Strawberry Signh I have been a follower of her for a while and she wrote a piece on what her computer was with all the components, so I basically followed her list and built my desktop. In a nutshell, it is a core i7, 16 gigs of ram and a Nvidia GTX 970, and I use 2 monitors, a 27” inch ISP, and a standard 23” inch monitor.

For editing and color grading, I currently use Adobe Premiere Pro, and sometimes use After Effects. Used to use SpeedGrade for colorizing, but sadly Adobe jettisoned that and put it all inside of Premiere.

Seersha:  Years ago the programs used most for videography were Fraps and Bandicam.  What requirements does a software need to meet for you to use it?

Jackson: I uses fraps for screen record. I like software that is reliable and easy to use with a logical UI. I have been using Adobe since we installed photoshop with like 15 disks, so all of their software the UI is roughly the same so it is easy to learn a new Adobe product.

Seersha:  What does it mean to capture pictures in SL?  Will you explain the process of what you are recording?

Jackson: Well, in Fraps, you record the entire active screen, so you need to set your screen size to the appropriate ratio. for full 16:9 HD, that is 1920x1080, and that setting is found in the advanced menu. I also use what is known as a virtual flycam that works like a 3D mouse, but uses the keyboard to move the cam. It was a beta when I installed it, and it appears the guy who created it gave it up. But on that I can turn off the HUDS and UI for recording, otherwise, you need to use keyboard shortcuts to do that.

Optimally I want to get at least 12fps so I can move the camera smoothly - often at weddings that isn't possible. Movies are usually set at either 30 or 24 fps. Recording our screen of SL we are basically taking  x amount of snapshots per second so if a sim will give you 30fps, it is taking 30 snapshots per second and everything should be pretty smooth. If I want to do some slomo in post, it needs to get up to about 60 fps at least for smooth slomo in post. But lag is almost present, so I have to work with what I got. The more lag the slower I can move the cam without jitter. Sometimes just a still video then I can scale up a little in post to give the appearance of a slow zoom in.

Because I use the software flycam, often I need to set up the shot first, get the right angle zoom in turns, etc then record it, or in some cases I might be zooming through a scene and do the turns and adjust height etc on the fly. Not nearly as easy as using a 3D mouse to do that kind of camera work.

Then there is the whole issue of poses and animations and body parts going through things and other people, clothing breaking in some poses etc... so the angles have to be chosen carefully to hide that or at least minimize it if I can.  I use one HUD that can change the pose of an avi on a pose, works even on animated poses as long as the priority isn't too high. I also use the Lumi Pro Hud a lot, for either lites on an avi that can be worn or using the projector lamps which can be used to add color lights in a scene or spotlight an avi. They can be either rezzed or attached to the avi.

Seersha:  I can tell that your process is second nature to you now.  It sounds complicated to me.  I recently worked with a photographer on a full-blown shoot.  I had no idea all the items that had to be “just right” to take the pictures.  Makes my screen shots seem a bit lazy :)   On your YouTube page, are the types of things you will record and upload for viewing?

Jackson: Being on youtube, of course, cannot be anything adult. Even though I may have had the occasional accidental nip slip (woops). But I enjoy doing music videos, sometimes they are just fun, others I try to weave a story into it. And I really do like doing wedding videos for couples. I like to be able to capture their special virtual day for them and they can watch it and share it any time with people outside of the virtual world. Some of the comments I get, usually from brides, makes it all worthwhile.

Besides that, I also have been doing adverts for some vendors and events

Seersha:  How long does it take for you to edit a, say, wedding you film?

Jackson: That can all vary on the wedding but usually a few hours. The couple select the music track they want used and how many songs, then I edit to the music. But editing film from SL is 2 parts - the editing of the footage, then color grading. I like to get it about 95% what I want inworld, I create a new windlight for every wedding I do, then enhance it further in color grading. And until just recently, uploading has always been a nightmare. My broadband upload speed was painfully slow, like 85kbs, which is barely faster than 1990s dial up, so a 8 minute video could take at least 7 hours to upload. I've shot a couple hour long events for people that took almost 4 days to upload!

Seersha: GASPS

Jackson: Music videos that can be a whole different story. I always edit to the music, but some is simple editing and simple cuts, and some are really wild like with my Physcosocial by Slipnot video. I tend to do a lot more color grading in music videos as well to try to set a particular mood or feeling for that scene.

Seersha:  My favorites on your page is Comfortably Numb Pink Floyd Second Life and Blue Ain’t Your Color Second Life.  What drew me to Blue was the name and then I look and it is in black and white.  Clever!  I would consider Blue to be artistic, not really a music video.  Will you tell me a little about this video?  The inspiration?

Jackson: Well I was thinking what other genres of music I could do, I really am a metal head, so was searching country music and heard this song. When I listen to some songs I might get a story pop up in my mind and I start piecing it together mentally. Keith Urban shot that in BW and that sparked the idea, never having done a SL music video in BW before, which believe me, is much harder than you would think. After that it was recruiting an actress (I was the mean jerk BF in that video) and finding animations - which can be one of the most time-consuming parts to creating a music vid. I have a pretty big inventory of LMs so I already had some locations in mind. And often when shooting I'll listen to the music over and over. I'm not a storyboarder - everything is in my head.

Seersha:  Sounds like you have a full head **laughs**.  What viewer do you use?  Is Black Dragon(BD) your favorite?

Jackson: I used to use Black Dragon all the time, back even when it was Nirans. But I think a lot of the recent changes in SL made it a little more unstable, and for doing machinima Firestorm's phototool panel is first rate. I crashed a couple times at a wedding on BD so after that it was always Firestorm. I go back now and then and use BD and it seems it has been updated a lot, it is, in my opinion, still better graphics, the shadow system is better and DOF is better, and of course there is Tone Mapping which is fantastic when shooing really dark scenes. But my everyday viewer and Weddings is Firestorm. But again, knowing how to do color grading in post, I can enhance the look of any footage so the advantages BD may have graphically is more 'straight out of the camera'.

Seersha: How would you define machinma?  Videography in SL?  Just an example for a simple thinker like myself.

Jackson:                I personally dislike the word machinima. It sounds steam punkish. To me, this is videography. We might not have the actual camera, but we can change the camera lens zoom like in RL, we can add fill lighting, zoom, pan and  sweep the camera  - almost everything one would do in RL videography.. And of course one advantage here is that at weddings, we can sit in the back row, get great footage, and not be in anyone's way or annoy  the officiant!

Seersha: I take videos in world using Quicktime screen capture.  Would it be any value to edit and to process it?  It is probably the worst quality.

Jackson:  I tried camtasia early on I just didn't like the whole interface. For some it works perfectly. I just prefer Fraps as it is very light, easy to use, and captures standard .avi files, which is uncompressed video footage. But those would be the only 2 programs I tried for capture here.

Almost all footage needs to be edited in some fashion to make a final video. And yes to have the ability to do some minor color correction as brightness, contrast,  temperature would be nice too. I sometimes help someone who vlogs and uses Camtasia studio - and while 99% of the videos turn out great as she uses good windlight in world, on some rare occasions when color correction is needed that is not available in that software. There are some other editors i have looked at that do those basic functions at a fraction of the cost of using Adobe software.

Seersha:  I have one last question for you, at least for now.  Is there anything, advice, information, that you would like to pass along to our readers?

Jackson: I wish more people did video in SL. It seems vastly under appreciated. Everybody does photos and there are hundreds of awesomely talented photographers, but not very much in the way of video. And sadly, the most popular SL videos are the lame trolling videos. We are seeing more and more videos now as vlogging has started taking off which is great.

But keep in mind that what sometimes can take RL CGI people months to create a 'virtual world' or colorize a film in a unique way, a lot of that is at our fingertips in SL. We can create almost any avi we need, we can defy gravity, we can jump off of the tallest skyscraper and never break a leg. We can create the atmosphere and lighting to almost anything we can dream up. We may be limited with the ability to "act" and we have to find animations for everything, but Bento is now getting the acting up to speed. I'd like to see more people give video a shot makes it as big as photography is today in SL. And that right now can also be one of the frustrating parts of doing video in SL, is putting all the time and effort and even money into doing a vid, for it to get maybe 200-300 views. There is editing software out there that is really good and not nearly as expensive as Adobe software and tons of tutorials on youtube on all aspects of video editing and color grading as well.

And I wanted to add one more thing about Youtube and copyrighted music as there is so much misinformation about this. Youtube has an extensive database of almost every song one can think of and have a policy for usage rights that the copyright owner sets. Just search for the song then look at its usage rights. Most will be viewable worldwide. Some might restrict certain countries and oddly enough, on certain devices like mobile phones, and very few are not permitted to use at all. No need to say anything in the description, Youtube's Content Aware knows exactly what music that was uploaded and sets the policy for it. The link is Of course, one can always use attribution music which there is a lot out there, just give the artist credit in the description.

Seersha:  Thank you for chatting with me today.  So you heard him readers; let’s check out some video taken in SL then give it a try ourselves.

Contact Info:
Twitter: @jacksonredstar