YouTube Tutorial - How To Make A Video

Amateur Video

YouTube is great. With millions of videos available on any subject you want. Including entertainment, music, sport, keep-fit, education, religion, inspiration, motivation, business, cartoons and more.

Thousands of videos are uploaded each week, by entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and amateurs. And it shows. In the poor presentation, format, production, direction and execution.

I'm no auteur, but I've watched enough poorly produced videos on YouTube, to offer some advice. You can tell right away if the video is a professional product.

In an effort to improve the experience on behalf of thousands of hapless viewers, here are some tips to improve your YouTube home-made video.

1. Prepare a script

That's right, just like the big boys in Hollywood. The studios know how to do it. Learn from them. Listening to you um, errhh and ad-lib, while losing your way and your thought train, is no fun. Its distracting and a turn off. Prepare a tight script, that encapsulates what you wanna say, and say it. Use bullet points. Stay focused. Stay on topic.

2. Prepare Your Apps

Sitting watching you fumble around the menu for an application hi-lights how innept you can be. You can't find and launch an application? How do you expect me to follow you after that? Create a link / shortcut and put it on the desktop so you can locate it and hit it first time.

3. Mouse Movements

Want me to watch your mouse movements and follow you around the screen? Then stop jumping around like a cat walking on hot coals. Plan your mouse pointer movements in advance. Watching your mouse jump around is making me sick as a roller-coaster ride after 10 beers. Keep your mouse movements to a minimum. Make them precise. Keep unnecessary mouse movements to a minimum. Even better, eliminate them.

4. Clear Your Desktop

You love your desktop. Its the cooler that Justin Beiber. I know you just love the fancy graphics and thousands of folders and shortcuts you have sitting there, but they are a distraction. Make your desktop black, navy blue or white. Keep it to one color and keep it empty. Make it plain, so I can see what is happening. Camouflage is great for warfare, but not when I'm trying to follow your tutorial.

5. Clarify Your Message

Decide. Before you fire up that application your wanna show, decide what your gonna show and how your gonna show it. Following you and your mouse jumping around the screen while you vacillate indecisively, makes me want to hit the kill switch.

6. Sit Still

I know your nervous, but if you want to do a face to cam presentation, sit still while you convey your message. Watching you swing circles in your high-back leather chair is annoying. Sit still dammit. TV news readers sit still. Why do they do that? Think focus.

7. Cam Shake

Keep the camera still. Cam shake makes me wanna throw up. I know its vogue to recreate the experience of the first person point-of-view. Camera shake sucks. If the camera is embedded in your laptop, place the laptop on a firm. stable surface such as a desk. It will bounce around on the bed and I will chuck.

8. Lighting

This is important. Don't sit in the dark. You want your face on cam? Use lighting. Don't put the light behind you. You'll be thrown into silhouette. Place the light source behind the camera or beside the camera. Light needs to flood your face so we can see you.

9. Dry Run

Whatever it is you wish to show, demonstrate, convey, enlighten, elucidate, do a dry run first. Review it critically to see how it fares. Do more than one take. In theatre, they practice and practice and practice. When almost there, they do a dress rehearsal, before the show begins. Don't assume the product in the 'can' is the finished product. It may not be.

10. Review Your Takes

Genius like Orson Welles produce perfect cinema in one take. Us lesser folk must toil to reach their sublime and elevated levels of technical creativity. Until then, review your takes. Watch it "critically and objectively". I know its your work and it may hurt, but if the first take (or second or third, etc) is poor. Scrub it and do another.

11. Independent Input/Peer Review

We don't like to be criticised, but sometimes in producing your masterpiece, its essential. Get others to review your video. Best friend, girlfriend, mum, uncle, dad, grandma. These are good starting points, but they may not want to hurt your delicate sensibilities. Find someone more detached who does not mind trashing your efforts. Ask them to be cold, clinical, level headed, but fair. They dont have to understand the technical nuances of your work, but they may let you know if it sucks. If it does, ditch it and do another.

12. Learn From The Pros

Go to VideoJug. Watch some of their videos and get cues on lighting, camera angles, camera position, movement, and so on. These videos are produced by pros who know what they are doing. Learn from them. Aspire to match the quality of their product. Keep trying. Keep refining. Keep learning.

If you want me and others to come back and view your future efforts, please consider these minor points. Or I may not bother.

Emacs Shell


I used to run XTerm sessions for command-line work or house keeping. If you run Emacs, you can run 'Terminal Emulation' in a buffer.

Emacs has a number of different shells to choose from. There's  'Shell', 'Eshell' and 'Ansi-term'.

Emacs Ansi-Term behaves closely to a regular XTerm session.

To get started in Emacs do:

m-x ansi-term [enter]

Emacs will quiz ya if ya want to run /bin/bash. Hit enter to accept, and you have a fresh terminal up and running.

You can switch between buffers and terminal sessions without the mouse, along with all the other goodies Emacs has to offer.


New Calendar

Bye Bye Gregorian
A new calendar has been developed by researchers at John Hopkins University, that eliminates the leap year. It does it in a very sly way. Instead of a leap year, we now have a mini-month (actually its a week) called 'Xtr', every 5 or 6 years.

The new calendar means ya never have to worry about which day Xmas or New Year falls on. Another benefit is planning each years holidays are simplified as they always fall on the same day. No more juggling who starts their vacation when. 

Xmas Day and New Years Day will always fall on the same day.

Go take a look for more details and take a peek at the calendar in all its glory.


Emacs Recently Opened Files

Deja Vu

Emacs has a nice add-on to show recently opened files. It's simple to set up and simple to use.

Add the following code to your Emacs init file (.emacs) which should reside in your home directory. ~/.emacs. Use ls -la to find it, or in Emacs use Ctrl-x Ctrl-f ~/.emacs.

; Recently Opened Files - use recentf
(require 'recentf)
; Enable recentf mode
(recentf-mode t)
; Show last 10 files
(setq recentf-max-menu-items 10)
; Reset C-x C-r to display recently opened files
(global-set-key "\C-x\ \C-r" 'recentf-open-files)

As you probably know, in Emacs init file, any line starting with a semi-colon (;) is a comment and ignored by Emacs.

Save the init file and restart Emacs.

Hit Ctrl-x Ctrl-r to get a list of recently opened files.

Scroll to the file you want open and hit enter.


Kodak's Demise

Disruptive Technologies
I read today that Eastman Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. It's unbelievable the company that gave the world photography and produced so many innovations is almost bust.

A few years back I bought and read The Innovators Dilemma by Clayton M Christensen, a Harvard Professor. The book provided an insightful perspective on the impact new technology has on existing businesses.

In his book, Christensen explains how large companies sometimes develop new and revolutionary technologies, but are unable to profit from them. The marketing department test the new product on their existing customers to gauge feedback and decide how much development funding to sink into it. Often feedback is negative or poor. Think of the quality of traditional film against digital camera images when digicams first appeared. Even today, digital cameras cannot match the crisp sharp image of chemical film and photo. In time this will change.

The new product/technology may be ground breaking, but inferior to existing products. Management must decide how best to market the new product in view of the poor / negative response from its existing customers. This is the 'Innovators Dilemma'. Management base their decisions on their existing customer's expressed wants / needs and their existing product base.

Many times, the new technology is adopted by a smaller competitor to its advantage, taking market share, and leaving the innovator in their wake, to pick up crumbs.

At Kodak a young engineer was assigned the task of creating a camera that would capture a digital image, without the use of film. The engineer's name was Steve Sasson. In December 1975 he and his team produced the worlds first digital camera. It used a CCD for image capture and cassette tape for storage. The camera weighed 8lbs and was the size of a small briefcase.

Kodak were the world leader in chemical film products and had now developed a revolutionary new product, although it was the size of a small suitcase. The problem for Kodak, was how to develop this technology without cannibalizing their existing products profitability or market share.

This is the same problem all large companies face. How do you develop a new technology, a revolutionary technology without killing your cash cow? In 1991 Kodak brought to market a professional digital SLR camera, the DCS-100 at a price of $13,000. This was a high end product, definitely not for holiday snaps on the beach.

The Japanese were not sitting on their hands. 1996 saw the release of the Canon Powershot 600, Olympus D-200L, Casio QV-300. In 1997 more Japanese digicams hit the market. Olympus D-500L, Fuji DS-300, Canon Powershot 350, Nikon Coolpix 100 and Coolpix 300. 

It was 1998 before Kodak brought their low-end consumer digital products to market. In that year, Sony, Agfa, Ricoh, Minolta, Toshiba, Leica and H.P. also released consumer products. Any lead Kodak hoped to have on their competitors had evaporated. It had been 23 years since their innovative breakthrough.

Kodak were too heavily reliant on their profitable old chemical film and photo business to take advantage of the emerging digital camera market.

The Japanese and Korean electronics industries were not slow to see the possibilities. The Asians have always been savvy mass marketeers. Getting products to market in record time, on the back of a continuous cycle of development, feedback and improvement, driven by consumer research. 

In 2004 Kodak closed its factories in the UK and Australia. 2006 saw Canon, Nikon and Minolta end the manufacture of their film cameras. Only digital from here on. In 2007 Kodak closed their paper manufacturing plant in China. Kodak was too slow to see the future though it had a big hand in creating it. The writing was on the wall. 

After filing for bankruptcy, Kodak negotiated a $950 million credit line in the hope it can turn its business around. Kodak is banking its future on printer and printer cartridge sales. You've probably seen their ads on TV for cheap printing. Watch out H.P. Not.


Emacs Default Directory

Open Here

Sometimes you want Emacs to start up in a directory, other than your home dir. You may have a project you're working on or you want to work a set of files in special dir.

You can easily achieve this by adding an entry to Emacs config file which resides in your home dir.


Open the dot.emacs file using any plain text file editor (emacs?) and add the following:

; Start emacs in project directory
(setq default-directory "/home/stray/projects/")

Save your .emacs file.

Close and restart Emacs for changes to take effect.

Here I used projects as the directory Emacs will open in. You give it any directory name you wish.


Liverpool Pain Continues

Woeful Performance
This is a not a football blog, so I resisted the urge to post on Liverpool's recent poor performances. Liverpool were held to a 0 - 0 draw against Wigan who sat in the bottom three of the Premier League on the 21 December 2011. On the 26 December 2011, Blackburn who sat bottom of the league, held Liverpool to a 1 - 1 draw. On the 5 December 2011 Liverpool were beaten 1 - 0 by mid-table Fulham.

It's not a one-off. Liverpool have been consistently poor against lowly sides. If Liverpool cannot cane a team dwindling in the relegation zone (the bottom three), they have a mountain to climb. Any hopes of becoming a dominant force in English and European football are grossly misplaced. Delusional.

Yesterday, Manchester City thumped Liverpool 3 - 0. Liverpool's aspirations to be a top four side and get back into the European Champions League are at best pitiful.

The £35 Million purchase of Andy Carroll looks like a bad move as Carroll has underperformed and failed to score consistently. Carroll scored 5 goals in 29 appearances. Compare that with Sergio Aguero who moved to Man City, in July 2011. Aguero cost Man City £38 Million. Aguero has scored 17 goals in 27 games.

Liverpool lack a goal scorer, a poacher. The likes of Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler or Torres. Fowler scored 183 goals in 369 games. An average of a goal every two games. Rush scored 346 goals in 660 games. Again an average of a goal every two games.

Liverpool desperately need a goal scorer. They are badly lacking in that department. They cannot find the net. Defensively Liverpool appear tight. Midfield they have muscle, though they now miss Lucas since his awful injury.

Liverpool have no fire power up front. They are lame and ineffective. Before Liverpool played Man City and ??? a 3 - 0 thumping, Liverpool had conceded the least number of goals in the Premier League. That's quite a defensive achievement.

Man City have scored 56 goals. Man Utd have scored 49. Chelsea have scored 39. While Liverpool have scored a pitiful 24. Less than half Man City or Man Utd managed.

Liverpool miss Fernando Torres. At his peak Fernando was hitting 3 goals every 4 games. Even the legendary Ian Rush cannot match that statistic. Torres was on fire in the 07 - 08 and 09 - 10 seasons. Sadly in his last season at Liverpool Torres netted only 9 goals in 26 appearance.

Since his move to Chelsea, Torres has scored 5 goals in 30 appearances, making Andy Carrolls goal tally look almost acceptable. Liverpool miss Torres and Torres misses Liverpool.

This is an easy question that answers much. If you look at the top team in Europe, say Barcelona or Real Madrid, how many of the current Liverpool squad would make it into the Barca team? How many would make t into the Real Madrid team? This is a good gauge to measure the quality of your team.

In answer to the question, I guess only 3 or 4 of the current squad would make it into the Barca or Real teams.

Not wishing to be an I-Told-You-So, but I told you so. I earnestly believe Kenny Dalglish is not the right man for the job. He's past his sell-by-date. When you look at the achievements of Pepe Gardiola and Jose Marienho, you can only conclude that 'King Kenny' is no longer 'King'.

Liverpool have to stop looking to the past and start creating the future. They need a young, technically minded, continental, forward looking coach to rediscover their glory days. The game has moved on. Liverpool need to.

Easy Money

Loan Sharks
Here in the UK there's been a recent proliferation of companies offering easy short term loans. These are frequently advertised as pay-day loans. The ads are full of slick young things sitting relaxed in the comfort of their smart homes checking out the loans on their brand new laptop computers.

In the advertising they push the fact you can get a 10 minute response if you apply online and the money's in your account the same day.

They bait the hook with a 10% discount if you include a discount code when you apply. Wow. That's a full 10% discount off the APR. What they don't push quite so openly are the interest rates charged on the loan. The rates are astronomical.

Some of the interest rates on offer for payday loans:

QuickQuid charges 359% per annum
Wonga charges 360% per annum
Paydayuk charges 348% per annum

What bargains. And you can get 10% off. Great. Sign me up.

Here are some of the big UK banks and their overdraft charges:

Barclays charges 19% per annum
Lloydstsb charges 24% per annum
Nationwide charges 19% per annum

Lets take a look at the cost of borrowing £400 for 30 days:

QuickQuid charge £117.70
Wonga charge £118.356
Paydayuk charge £114.41

Now the banks overdraft charges on £400 for 30 days:

Barclays charge £6.25
Lloydstsb charge £7.89
Nationwide charge £6.25

The banks may levy a charge for setting up the overdraft.

Bear in mind that banks are NOT cheap. Banks exist to fleece you of your money and let you think they are doing you a favour.