Sassed by a Hooker in Vegas

OK, I admit it,  Las Vegas is not my favorite place in the world, but it is thought provoking.  After spending a couple of glorious weeks in New Zealand with its dramatic natural landscapes and warm, trusting people (I was surprised to find out that they have no airport security for domestic flights in NZ), I was thrown into a culture shock by heading straight to Vegas.

Whenever I’m in Vegas, I feel like I’m in one of those awful reality shows where everyone exudes bad behavior.  What do you expect from a city that encourages bad behavior in their advertising campaign.  It’s a non-stop show of human excess and decadence.  It’s great for people-watching but it depletes the soul.

One evening a group of friends and I watched the endless parade of humanity –  at its worst.  Women wearing outfits that they definitely don’t look good in, everybody over imbibing on something or other and hustlers of all kinds – everywhere. So, I was amused when a hooker caught my glance and made a remark about me looking at her.  Isn’t that’s what she’s going for – to be noticed?

I suppose I’m at a point in my life where I have no use for an environment that is the opposite of what is important in my life – tranquility and beauty.  I wonder – what is it that attracts people to this destination – is it the chance of getting “lucky”? Or is it a place they feel they can go to be their “real” self. If so, I wonder why they need Vegas for that?

I don’t get it but I was happy to go home – or back to New Zealand.

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Making Still Images Move

Burlesque club, Las Vegas (click image for motion sample)

I’m often asked how to prep still images and how to make them move in a multimedia/video piece.  My initial response to this question is to reply with a series of questions – “Why do you want to make your images move?” “What’s your motivation? What do you want to communicate to the viewer?” “Do you need sound and movement to better tell your story?”

I’m not one to do things just because I can – I need a reason.  For me a still image is an entity in and of itself – a moment in time to be studied and contemplated.  When I present still images in a multimedia presentation – those “moments in time” become part of a greater whole.  That new entity becomes a different visual message with sound and motion becoming the underlying spine of the piece.  Added information that’s needed to convey that particular story. The still images become sequences and the sound and movement of the piece create the “feel” and “pace” of the whole.

As far as the practical aspects of creating a multimedia piece – the first step is to choose an editing software that works into your workflow.  I use Final Cut Pro Studio on a Mac.  I use Final Cut Pro (within the suite)  if I don’t have a lot of images to edit but lately I’ve been using Motion (also included in the Studio suite)  – because it’s easy – once you know it. You don’t need the depth of these software applications  to create a simple multimedia piece.  There are plenty of software applications to choose from  – iMovie and FCP Express in the Apple family, Adobe Premiere (cross platformed if using an Intel Mac) , Sony Vegas for PC’s  and simpler programs like Soundslides or Audacity.

There are many tutorials on this subject – check out Ken Stone or – both great places to learn.  In the meantime I will share my recipe for how I size and prep my images for multimedia presentations.  Like anything else, there are hundreds  of ways to get to the same end – but these are my suggestions that I find work best.  Another note – I use large image sizes so that I when I bring the images into my editing timeline – I have room to zoom into the images without having to  enlarge them beyond 100% in the video application.

My sizing/prepping suggestions for still images:

RGB color mode

Srgb color profile for SD (standard def)

HDTV (Re.709) color profile for HD (hi def)

Tiff, PSD or PNG – better than Jpeg

Don’t over sharpen image – it will jitter on screen

Use de-interlace filter for web videos – but this is something you need to test – I don’t always like the effect this filter has.

Sizing – I always upsize my images 2.5 x needed for video timeline  if I will be moving them “Ken Burns” style. Below are different specs for HD and SD and different aspect ratios:

Standard Def – DV NTSC 4:3 – 1800x1350x72 (pixels)(res)

Standard Def – NTSC 16:9 – 2132x1200x72 (pixels)(res)

HD – 720p – 3200x1800x72 (pixels)(res)

HD – 1080i – 4800x2700x72 (pixels)(res)

It’s really never been easier to prep still images in an application like Photoshop because there are lots of built in presets. I always prep all my assets and import them into my editing software before I even begin to edit.  That way I don’t need to depart from the edit and lose a train of thought whenever I need to add a still image or other graphic.

Have fun – and when you do decide to move an image – ask yourself why first?

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