With the help of the Xtranormal support team, I got the Xtranormal Desktop program to work. Apparently, when I first installed it, the text to voice software didn’t install properly. After I reinstalled it properly, everything was hunky dory.
I completed an initial version of The Orville Sharkbiter Interview video done. As I mentioned I developed the script from my short story Book Review: Sharkbiter – The Secret to Success http://www.dynamiclethargyfilms.ca/stories/book-review-sharkbiter-the-secret-to-success/ . I still have some work to do on it.
There are some weird pronunciations for some of the words. They suggest you misspell the word to make it come out right. . I fixed problem with the word “ganged” by spelling it as “gang’d”. Several attempts with other words have been less successful. I notice that when one voice has a problem with a word, the other voice doesn’t.
In a previous job, the person in the next cubicle was responsible for an automatic radio system that used a text to speech program similar to what Xtranormal uses. She would fiddle with the spelling for hours to get the pronunciation right. After a while, she got to know the tricks that made it easier.
The software allows you to change camera angles throughout the video, but I had some difficulty with that. I think I know how to do it now. Nevertheless, I decided to stick to one camera angle through the whole thing until I was happy with the voices and acting. I’ll add in other angles later. One option I like is to output several versions of video taken from different angles, then use Premiere Pro to edit it the same way I’d do any other video.
It isn’t as if the animations are great actors, although, for the most part, they are better than I am. The program does allow you to specify some facial expressions and some gestures. I did some of those and I think it does improve the video, so I want to add some more. Many of the gestures are really over the top, which limits me a bit.
If all goes well, I should have the video wrapped up and posted next week. I have other commitments Monday and Tuesday, so it’ll be Wednesday until I can work on it again.
I read all of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars books back when I was in junior high and senior high school. After I read them, I kept them for many years (30 years plus). I had all the Tarzan books too. It was only a few years ago that I got rid of them all.
When John Carter (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401729/) came out, I got the yen to reread them. As I often say, I only get rid of things that I want to use later. I didn’t want to buy new copies to read and while some of them were available from the library, I didn’t really want to sign them out. The early books are in the public domain now and I could download them from Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ , but I was too lazy, so I downloaded the audio versions of three books from http://librivox.org/.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but from what I’ve read it sounds like they mashed together the first three books. The main villain in the movie doesn’t show up until the second book. Some of the changes appear to make in easier for modern audiences to identify with the characters.
Of course, part of my reason why I reread the books was to see if I could gain a better understanding of how to put together a story. The Princess of Mars was the first novel that Burroughs wrote. I suspect that he studied other works before he did this story. In one article about him, they note that he used of a variety of charts when he wrote. The use of charts says to me that he had a formula he followed in his stories.
Some others have noted that the first three Mars books have pretty much the same plot, with John Carter in search of Dejah Thoris. The details of the search vary, but the goal remains the same.
Last year I studied the formula used by Lester Dent, who wrote the Doc Savage books. I could see some similarities with Burroughs’ work. Dent says you need to have the hero get into a fight every 1,500 words. In Princess of Mars, the hero gets into trouble about every 2,600 words, although this varies from one chapter to the next. It isn’t always a fight. In one case, it is a rejection from Dejah Thoris.
I have a few of observations about the book. First is that the hero has a clear goal (Dejah Thoris) throughout most of the book. While in pursuit of that goal, he runs into one crisis after another. Even while he struggles through each crisis, he thinks constantly about Dejah Thoris. Many times he gets frustrated because a crisis diverts him from his main goal.
The second point is that each chapter ends with the onset of the next problem the hero must overcome. After he has just triumphed over one foe, the next one taps in on the shoulder. The poor guy hardly gets a chance to breathe. I’ve read elsewhere that this is a well-known technique to make a book a page-turner. The hero can take a break in the middle of a crisis, but never after a crisis has passed.
The third is how lucky the hero is. For example: Dejah Thoris just happens to be in the air fleet that the Tharks attack. Dejah Thoris just happens to be on the ship that gets shot down. Dejah Thoris just happens to be the only survivor. Just by accident he is always in the right place at the right time. I didn’t notice this when I first read the story long ago, and didn’t notice it this time until I thought over the stories later. It reminded me of an incident I had in a script I wrote. The incident was a direct description of something that happened to me several times. Several readers criticised it as implausible. Maybe implausibility isn’t quite as important a problem as some people think.
The projects I have are nothing like the interplanetary adventure/love story that Burroughs wrote, but I can see how I can use some of his techniques in my stories.
It was a little bit of everything this last week. At least I made a little progress here and there.
Back in 2010, I submitted my script The Doorman’s Sacrifice to Amazon Studios. It didn’t get much interest or feedback. I lost interest in the whole thing. This week I got a note that they’d changed their rules. Initially you had to agree that you gave them an option on the script that lasted for a year and a half. If they wanted to, they could extend the option, but they would pay you for that.
The rule change was to reduce the initial year and a half option to 45 days. They also now allow you to delete the script after the option expires. I decided to delete my script. While they had an option on the script, I couldn’t really do anything else with it. Now I can. Not sure what. I can’t have all my projects on the front burner.
I only worked on Bright Freedom for a couple days this week. I still kept it to about one hour each day, so it was a tad over 2 hours I wrote. That got me about 1,800 words. That brings me close to 4,800. Altogether, I think I am almost a fifth of the way through.
I am not too happy with my writing though. It seems like I use the same phrases over and over. It will need a fair bit of rewriting to fix that. I need to talk to some people to see if the basics of the plot are realistic. I suppose I should clean it up as much as I can before I have other people read it. On the other hand, if the plot makes no sense, then that effort would be wasted.
I’ve been trying out some Google AdWords to promote my Orville Sharkbiter story. I got some free ad credits a while ago and thought I’d experiment a bit. I did a fair bit of analysis of the statistics AdWords produces. I don’t seem to have much difficulty getting people to click the ad, but if the campaign is to work, I need them to share the page. That hasn’t happened. Yet.
I read a book a short time ago called Made to Stick about how to create viral messages. I used some of the ideas to develop some Ads, but I’m afraid to use them. Some people might find them misleading, and get angry with me. It is not just a mater of attracting people, but it has to be the right kind of people.
I have a bunch of writing projects strewn about undone, so last week I set a goal that I would devote an hour per day writing. I managed to keep it until Thursday. I hope to do better this week.
I wanted to rewrite the Bright Freedom script I wrote into a novel, but hadn’t decided when I would do that. I started on it this week. I got about 2,800 words done. I think it will end up at about 28,000 words, which would make it a novella rather than a novel.
There are some problems with the story and it will need some rewrites. I find that my rewrite still sounds like script directions and not description. In a script you don’t normally describe what people look like, or dress, or behave. You leave that for the actors to develop. In a novella, you can use those descriptions to make the characters more real. It can also be used to create mood. In what I’ve done so far, I haven’t done much of that.
I still need to do some background research on the story. Are the characters believable? I don’t want them to be stereotypes, and, most assuredly, I don’t want them to be offensive stereotypes. I need to find people who have had similar life experiences and get their feedback. I thought that it would be easier if I had a story they could read.
The main character is a woman from a foreign country. I’ve never been a woman. I have visited other countries, but never emigrated to one. While I try to put myself in that mindset, it would be foolhardy of me to assume that I’ve got it right.
At my one hour a day pace, it would take me six weeks to finish the initial rewrite. I expect that I will hit the wall at some points where what I have in the script just isn’t what I want. Part of me wants to just do a straight conversion, while another part wants to rewrite as I go along.
We’ll see how it goes next week.