“Sharkbiter” Update 2012 May 13

After a week or so on other projects, I got back to work on the Sharkbiter video I did with Xtranormal.

When I left off, I had created several versions of the video from different angles. This week I reviewed them in detail. I printed a copy of the script and made notes as I watched.

The first thing I looked for was pronunciation problems. A common problem with artificial voices is that they have trouble with some words. I tried to fix those with changes to the spelling. I wasn’t very successful with that. Other times I rewrote the line to avoid the problem word. Strangely enough, I found that while one voice would have trouble with a word, the other one wouldn’t. In a few cases, I could shift the phrase from one character to the other.

My next goal was to revise the script. I found that it really helped to watch the video. It made it much easier to spot problems with the dialogue. So much so, that I think I’d like to use the program with all my script writing. I’m not sure exactly why it helps. In the past, I’ve found text to voice software was useful when proofreading.

Sometimes I find it difficult to rewrite a script, but this time it was much easier. Often I’m reluctant to make changes. After I watched the video, I think it was easier to decide that the dialogue needed to change.

A third goal was to revise the expressions and gestures. Xtranormal allows you to make the character to express some emotion and make some gestures. There are only six facial expressions (anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise), which does limit you. There are almost 80 gestures, which gives me a little more flexibility.

The facial expressions allow you to change the intensity of the emotion. I found that most of the time I set the intensity too high and needed to dial them back. The gestures don’t allow you to change the intensity, although sometimes I was able to substitute a less intense gesture.

I also found I needed to change the timing of gestures and expressions. This is a bit of a trial and error process. I expect that after more experience I should be able to get it right the first time.

In the previous version, I had one camera angle for the whole video. This time I put in over the shoulder shots and close ups. I had planned to do several versions with different angles, then edit them in Premiere Pro, but I learned a few tricks over the course of the week and decided to go with what I could do in Xtranormal.

I rewrote the script, and then revised the Xtranormal input. Finally, I output a new video. I experimented with different output formats. When I tried before, I couldn’t import the AVI file into Premiere Pro. I still had that problem. I was able to work with the AVI file with Encore, Windows Media Player and Windows Movie Maker. I found that I could import the WMV files from Xtranormal into Premiere Pro. I used Premiere Pro to add the titles.

Next week I’ll review the new video and make more changes. I’m not sure how many versions I want to make before I decide to go with what I have.

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