26 January 2009

It's not easy being Green... or Blue for that matter

I attended the DC Podcaster Alliance meetup over the weekend and much to my delight, the topic of the day was using Chroma Key (commonly referred to as Green Screen) in your podcast. Although at times it was slow to explain or information too basic or not much use, the talk given by Ray, the author of the Produce Picker podcast (see comments), was excellent and rather enjoyable. The meeting was crammed to the gills as this talk was apparently a very popular topic. I previously attended a meetup in November which was about legal issues with respect to protecting your podcast which has me seriously thinking about designing a trademark for my production company, TimeHorse, Multimedia — as well as simply incorporating, like the folks at Green Dragonfly, LLC.

I do dream of Project KronoSphere being a live-action drama, with real actors and computer generated special effects, and Chroma Key would make that a lot easier. None the less, the Computer Generated Images (CGI) alone are quite beyond me, having cut my chops on POV-Ray many a moon ago only to be completely frustrated with how difficult it is to create even the simplest of landscapes. And POV-Ray would only generate a single frame of video, never mind animating this creature or that monster or even a simple moving table. And then there is the problem that a proper drama should have 3 cameras to switch between close-ups and long shots, and I don't even have one. Finally, I think it will be deathly hard to get simple voice actors to voice Episode 4a, never mind do live-action. It all boils down to who will do it for a proportion of the money I plan to make on this, which is currently $0? I might be able to do all the male voices for a given script, but I'm at a loss when it comes to sounding feminine. I will probably ask folks in the various clubs and associations I belong to, asking for volunteers, but let me finish the script for Episode 4a first, and then worry about actors.

Finally, as a follow-up to yesterday's post, I was thinking of attending The Washington Area Novel Writers' Critique Group this weekend, but was too knackered and decided to bugger it off instead. I'm still pretty bummed out about the incident from a couple weeks ago, so I haven't make any progress on Episode 4a since my last update about it. Finally, for those wondering about the title: on film it is often easier to use blue as the Chroma Key rather than green.

23 January 2009

Writing in a Vacuum

As a writer, I sometimes long for input. I have asked a few friends to take a look at my work, and 2 of them have given fair and valuable critique but I really wish I could find more like-minded, aspiring writers. My wife has always resented my writing; she thinks it is a pointless enterprise as it may never generate revenue and what is the point of my life if not to generate revenue? Well, I love my wife more than words can express, and there is no way I'm going to quit my day job for the life of an aspiring writer, so in that sense she is absolutely right. But I still have a story to tell — this story — and wish I could spend time with others like myself who just need to write. I did have one aspiring writer friend — the one you, good reader, are no doubt getting sick of hearing about at this point — but trying to connect with her on this issue lead to the result I discussed in my last entry, so there is no need to rehash that sad tale. I discussed this issue with someone earlier this week, and that person suggested that I would be better served finding a local writers' group to help spur my creative spirit and hopefully replace my muse.

So this day, a lovely warm Friday in the mid-Atlantic region of the nation the Chinese call beautiful, I decided to go to my local library and ask the kind and friendly librarian whether she knew of any amateur writers' groups that meet in this area. Well, we searched meetup.com and The Virginia Writers Club for information, and both look promising but neither quite hits the mark. The main problem with The Virginia Writers Club is that it costs money to join. As someone starting out, I would have to join as an Associate member, and the cost would be, as far as I can tell, $30 (US) per year. There is also a $100 annual level and a $500 lifetime level to join this 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization. All in all, The Virginia Writers Club seems like a nice idea, but I think I'm too early in my development to be thinking so big. However, they do have a meeting in a nearby library so if I did join, it would not be too inconvenient.

This leaves me the meetup option. There were 2 groups of interest on meetup.com, The Washington Area Novel Writers' Critique Group, which meets a bit farther than I'd like to travel for such a group, and the Aspiring Women Novelists Meet-up, which meets at an inconvenient time and, well, the other obvious problem. The Washington Area Novel Writers' Critique Group meets on the weekend, making them time-convenient if not for the fact that I prefer spending my weekend with my wife as I don't get to see her much of the week. None the less, I do like their motto and hope to attend a meeting sometime.

As for the Aspiring Women Novelists Meet-up, it meets at a very inconvenient time: 10:00 in the morning on a weekday, which is no doubt chosen to keep males like me away. I do tend to have unusual hours, so for instance I don't like meetings that take place much after 19:00 since I generally have to get up the next day at 03:00 in the morning. However, what I consider convenient, namely 16:00 weekdays, is generally out of reach for most working professionals. So ironically, had this group chosen 16:00 as a time to avoid working professionals — and were it not for the other, obvious reason I would not be allowed to attend — I might find this group the most convenient of the lot. But, then there is that other problem, since last time I checked, through no fault of my own, I am not a woman. Since I really do want to join a society that is positive-reinforcing and goal-oriented, the Aspiring Women Novelists Meet-up does seem like a perfect match for me, but there's no point lamenting what we can't change so alas, they may be for me, but I am clearly not for them.

Finally, I looked into creating my own positive-reinforcing and goal-oriented, free-membership, locally run, 16:00 on a weekday meetup. Meetup.com wanted money. Since a podcast will likely net me $0 per everything, I don't think I can afford this approach. So there you have it, my options to join with my fellow writers for my ambitious writing project are not great, but they exist. And if that's not good enough, there's always Craig's List...

22 January 2009

Progress at last, Scene 8 version 2 takes shape

Well, after the events of 14 January 1988 — oh, wait, no, we don't want to get into that lamentable tale from my past — I mean the more recent, sad tale from just over a week ago, 14 January 2009. On that day, I broke a month-long writer's block and started writing the second half of the Episode 4a script. After I finished the first part, Scene 8, I decided I should check my latest work into my Subversion repository for safe keeping. Before I check my update in, I wanted to do some final formatting which, long story short, caused all of what I had just written to disappear. (Stupid Aquamacs) So then I went for a walk outside in the cold without a coat to try and cool off because I was in shock that the technology could behave so abominably. As I completed my mile-long trek, I was treated to my body's propensity to bleed through the nose. Maybe one day I will have some surgery to get that fixed, but that's another story. Returning to my desk, I proceeded to add regret to injury by sending out a rueful message to an on-again, off-again, fair-weather friend, whom I ostensibly first met on 14 September 1987: another lamentable 14. This action caused this friend, my muse for the creative spurt, to promptly cease all association with myself. No doubt this was because of my tendency to come across as both needy and arrogant and my unfortunately regrettable habit of phrasing things passive-aggressively, even though I don't mean to. Some people smoke, I write passive-aggressively. Bugger, can someone please invent some passive-aggressivitol?

Anyway, so here I am, sick with another cold thanks to the walk my mother would have advised me not to take if my mother ever paid attention to whatever I was up to on any given day, and I have good news to report! No, my muse and I have not reconciled — that must wait until emotions are less flared and an apology worthy of the wrong can be conceived. No, after stumbling and blundering over what the new first line of Scene 8 should be and who would speak it, I had a breakthrough! I now have the first half of a new version of the lost Scene 8 crafted much to my satisfaction. It even has ideas that I would have added to the original had I though about it again, though I still have the sinking feeling that I may have lost some gems from the original in the retelling. There is still the rest of the scene to write from the part where they sneak past the mid-section of the Red Dragon, but progress is progress and progress has been made!

In some ways, writing is like recovering from an addiction: you can't say the productive streak will last forever, but you just have to take it one day at a time...

17 January 2009


I decided, after writing an e-mail to a dear, dear friend and fellow writer which promptly caused her to delist me from her list of friends and mark me enemy number 1, that I may as well just create a public blog where I could let whoever is interested know how my progress on the Project KronoSphere dream is evolving.

As of today, here is where things stand:
  • The Series Bible is stalled because it is difficult to work out the 500 year genealogy of the main protagonist. This genealogy is dense and may end up containing over 1,000 names when complete, thus making the exercise of generating so many for the most part off-screen characters consistently quite tedious. It is so complex that I wanted to write some software (in python) to try and help manage all the various links (keeping a google spreadsheet as the back-end database). This project is currently languishing, meaning the Bible is also quite stalled. None the less, the first 3 generations have been properly generated and there is a running narative that covers each person from their respective generation.
  • Also working on setting up Script Note files — breaking up the once large file that contains an unstructured list of program notes — for each story and trying to come up with a Production Coding system that I can use for naming Stories. These Codes would be Writers Codes and may not be the same as true Production Codes because when actors are brought in to record the various episodes, they may be produced in a different order.
  • Episode 1 Script is complete with a first draft. Some edits are required, including a few extra minutes of dialog but nothing major.
  • Episode 2 Script [part 1 of 2] is complete, though I need to add another scene to the tag because I think Episode 3 should focus on its events and not focus on off-screen events that may have occurred between the two.
  • Episode 3 Script [part 2 of 2] has been started, but is on hold due to both requiring more research and the desire to get Episode 4a done sooner.
  • Episode 4a Script is half-done. This episode occurs chronologically between Episodes 4 and 5. I have notes for the remaining Scenes which require writing and did have a complete Scene 8, but it was lost due to a calamity with the Aquamacs editor. When Scene 8 was written, my muse and dear friend mentioned above had broken a month-long writer's block; now that I have lost my friend and the text of Scene 8, I am again blocked, fearing that rewriting Scene 8 will never be as good as the first. I milltuppled the undo buffers in Aquamacs and Emacs but too little too late, and that won't bring back my friend! None the less, I want to have this script finished soon -- indeed, I wanted to finish it by 31 December 2008 -- but even finishing it by February seems unlikely at this point. I really miss my friend!
  • No idea yet how I will get [voice] actors to appear in the Project KronoSphere pre-pilot pilot (Episode 4a), but I will face that when Episode 4a is finished.
Well, that just about summarizes the state of the Project KronoSphere concept as of today. I'm not sure how often I will blog here, but if things pick up, expect more posts. As it is, now this blog is all that I can write due to the current block and I've said about all I can say now.

One last caveat is that I may eventually move this blog to the official Project KronoSphere server at project-kronosphere.timehore.com; for now, enjoy it here on Google Blogger.