I've spent the afternoon engaged in one of my least favourite tasks - creating the sort of half educational, half promotional materials necessary to explain a new technology, service or otherwise to a fresh and 'short of attention' audience. I'm not bad with words, and I'm not bad with general media technology ... image editors, audio editors, video editors ... that sort of thing. Not good either. But this was, just, owwwww. Nasty.
So, a quick post - what went right and what went wrong. Things that went right:
* Starting with a script. Write down what you want to say, pare it down to two or three key salient points then build a script around it. For a 2-3 minute webcast you're looking at about 1/2 a page of A4 so choose your words carefully. Like all forms of planning it eventually saved my arse.
* Using Keynote. It seemed to work to translate approximately a paragraph of text into a single keynote slide with animations. A whole bunch of animation problems that would have been damn hard (tm) in flash also became extremely simple.
* Keynote will also record you speaking while advancing the animations using mouse clicks in real time. The trick here is to print out your script; go through the presentation and the script together using a highlighter pen to highlight when to click; then hit the record button and go through just reading your script while clicking when you hit the highlights and trust that you have it right. Compile it, as it were. Don't look up or you'll lose your place. Don't rush it. Use this to export to quicktime noting that for some reason Keynote doesn't export to h.264 so you'll have to recompress at some point. I'll come back to that.
* Adding some background music. Drag the exported video from Keynote into GarageBand. Note that by now there's nothing you can do about the timings so if you rushed through the keynote timings, you're now stuck with them. This is unfortunate to say the least and very like working in the 'real' post-production industry. I.e. retarded and irritating. Garage band also appears to be able to export properly, although to be honest I'd given up on h.264 at this point and was using Mpeg-4 as a lowest common denominator. I guess the world has moved on after all.
What didn't go well?
* Using my own voice and the microphone in the MacBook Pro. By far the most amateur aspect of the whole production was the daft sounding and less than entirely clear voice the audience are being asked to listen to. I may have to re-do the process and, effectively, ADR the whole thing in GarageBand (which does appear to have awesome albeit rudimentary support for such activities). It took countless takes to do the whole recording in one shot and I am not happy with the outcome.
* GarageBand's loops are too short, too few, unimaginative, clichéd and lame. Probably saves me right for wanting to just wedge the thing out the door.
* For some reason Keynote felt the urge to make the final frame black. I can presumably fix this by cutting the last frame off but for some reason that seemed just too simple. Again, I think I'm going to have to go back and have a second crack at it to get this right.
But, still, it's a startup right (the presentation was a quick introduction to Atomic Droplet) and it's more important to get it working at all than to get it working beautifully so it'll ship. For now. But I'm telling you - that was damn nearly all day, and it hurt.
Previous next big things include development of the capture and intermediate compression technology in iShowU-HD; design and implementation of a small advertising network; the refinancing, technical direction, and a lot of the donkey work for Virtual Katy; technical direction, project management and (again) donkey work for VoiceQ; creating code and intellectual property around load balancing that was acquired by Allied Telesis; and the research and an implementation of the h.264 video compression protocol.