Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Hey, this is Sterling! Maybe this is clickbait since I’m not in a relationship with anyone. However, I thought I’d update my progress on my ‘seconds of the day’ project. In the linked post, I’ve detailed the app I use – 1SE – and how to use it. Basically, you record a second every day and put it together after some time. Most of my seconds now revolve around my home life, and that is where I find love: with my family.

As you can see, the video contains a lot of footage of my cats. Often, they are the highlight of my day (though they can be a nuisance). Otherwise, there is a lot of my cousins, parents, and uncle. You can see things from quarantine haircuts to Zoom calls with friends. It is interesting to reflect on this footage and see how small my physical social circle has become. As you can see, I chat with my friends through video call. The first few times were just calling, but now we play online games and are trying to organize a watch party (using the browser extension Netflix Party). Once school is over, I will have to be creative and find ways to entertain myself.

Apart from reflection, I find value in these assignments (“A Day in the Life…” and “Favorite Moments in College”) because of their universal application. My ‘day’ can happen at school or at home. In some ways, I’m encapsulating an entire day at home – just spread throughout several clips. Even though it might not be my favorite moments in college anymore, isolating that section of present moments has been somewhat therapeutic. Looking towards the present and the future are valuable skills to have during this time. I’m grateful to see what a loving family I have. Even though I’ve had personal hardships being at home, these highlights are what help: it’s what we reflect on the media. They are, indeed, my ‘favorite moments’.

I’ve been able to make 1SE a part of my daily routine, and would certainly consider transferring to a different editor. I was also tempted to overlay it with music here, but the sounds and the joy in each clip all mean something to me. Even those without context should be able to find some if it entertaining as well.

Since this entry was rather short, please enjoy a couple of videos I have been featured in recently:

Anybody Have A Map? from Dear Evan Hansen – UMW Theatre Edition

The past several weeks have definitely been a challenge. Each and everyone of us has been trying to navigate this new normal, and all we can do is take it day by day. And some days, we could really use a map.Thank you so much to the support of University of Mary Washington and University of Mary Washington College of Arts and Sciences, Pasek and Paul, the creators of Dear Evan Hansen at the Music Box Theatre, who graciously approved our dialogue edits, and of course, all of our faculty, staff, and students who continue to keep our work alive, even from a distance. #OneUMW Playbill BroadwayWorld TDF Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS On Stage Blog COVID-19 Musical Theatre Nerds

Posted by UMW Theatre on Monday, April 20, 2020
A social distancing-themed music video from Dear Evan Hansen, with lyrics approved by the creators themselves!

Our sport clubs want you to know… we’re all in this together ❤️🥎🧹🥏🎾⚽️ #umwishome

Posted by UMW Campus Rec on Wednesday, April 22, 2020
A community-building video featuring club sports! (I’m #2!)

These are love as well.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

If you can’t rule the world, then why not make one? To a degree, “it’s my own design / it’s my own remorse.” I used an instrumental to the song referenced in the title in my radio bumper (how distant that feels).

Here is the song the title is from. I almost used Lorde’s cover (which I recommend) but I wanted something a little more upbeat.

Howdy y’all, and welcome back to my video assignments. This time, I chose to do the “#SixSecondArt” assignment by Ben Rimes, worth 1.5 stars. I’d like to contest for a slightly higher rating, but that’s debatable with this one. The description is as follows: “Six word stories, six word quotes, and six word poetry are all the rage. So why not six second art? Using any method of video, stop motion, or other visual medium, produce a six second video of you creating art. It could be digital art, physical art, or performance art, just create a six second video of you making it happen! Vine, Youtube, Vimeo, are all great places to host, although Vine happens to a great natural place for this type of work.”

I was really into six word stories as a kid: here’s an example from my ancient, very cringe-worthy DeviantArt.

Prompt: Imagination

Before first step – what happens next?

April 13th, 2014

Unfortunately, with the demise of Vine that wasn’t a possibility, so I focused on something I have made, something digital. Something I could deconstruct into its processes. That ended up being the map I created for my final project. I tried to record it as a time-lapse by pressing ‘undo’ repeatedly (with plans to reverse the footage) but my frequent saving hindered this method. So instead, I tried to delete the elements in the order I created them. You can view the results here:

To create this video, I loaded up Bandicam on my computer. It was convenient how I could change the dimensions of the recording window to fit specifically on the Inkarnate window (the website I used to create this map). For more context and detail on what Inkarnate is and how I created this map, please consult my final project post. Here is a screenshot of what it looked like to record:

Then, after that, I ended up not reversing the footage because I just found the process super interesting. Makes you wonder what you define as art: would this be qualified as creating art? Overall, this project was simple yet fun. I often see these art time lapse videos on social media, and it is easy to forget the amount of work that actually goes into them. To think that three hours of making this map could easily be condensed into six seconds is both unsettling yet fascinating.

Imagining someone spending even more hours on their work also feels similar.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game that has taken over the Internet since its release in March 2020. It has been known as the game to save us from quarantine boredom. Couples that were supposed to get married this spring have had their weddings on Animal Crossing. Graduating classes have also had mock ceremonies. AC memes have filled every nook and cranny of the Internet.

Some happy, modern mood music to enjoy as you read.

Hey, this is Sterling! Today, I will be sharing my experience with this subject through video. This is the “HIGHLIGHTS VIDEOGAME” assignment by Daniel Mercado. It is work 1.5 stars, though I like to think that my editing, compiling, and strive for the aesthetic makes it worth more. The description is as follows: “Do a short video highlighting how good you play the game! Does not matter how its edited as longs as it contains multiple clips of good gameplay that you consider highlight worthy!” If you know anything about Animal Crossing, it is that it’s supposed to be a fun and relaxing game that you get to play at your own pace, one day at a time (a day in-game is directly equivalent to a day in real time!)

Therefore, as you can tell my highlights are a bit different than the ones used in Mercado’s example. Mine are bits of dialogue, showing my progression and relationships with the characters. To me, Animal Crossing stands out because of its ‘cuteness’. I feel at peace and unstressed when I play it. The parts that make me smile are the ones I have chosen for my highlights: not parts where I feel like I display mastery. I’ve captioned some of them so that they can be understood better.

This assignment was somewhat more difficult than expected. Firstly, as Nintendo is, they conveniently do not have a function where you can upload your game footage. Your only options are to either use a microSD card, purchase a capture card, or upload it to Twitter/Facebook. Unfortunately, my best option was to upload to Twitter, resulting in a reduced footage quality. Then, I copied and pasted the post links into a website called Download Twitter Video. I am not sure if that further reduced the quality, but then I downloaded all 15 clips onto my phone. Then, I uploaded them to my favorite mobile video editor: YouCut Now (read about my process here). In the app, I trimmed down the clips and added the captions.

Of course, I made sure to delete all of my uploads on Twitter after I downloaded each clip. While I would love to spam my followers my favorite Animal Crossing clips, it would certainly somewhat overwhelming. Overall, this was a very fun assignment. I was able to reflect on my best moments in this game and put them together. The process was slightly tedious, and I am glad I could figure out a way to download my game footage. This also gave me more experience with YouCut, which I plan to continue using for small projects such as this.

A Walk Through a Different World

Howdy! This is Sterling, back with another week of content. This assignment began as one and kind of turned into another. My original intent was to do a modified form of “Exercise And Socialize” by Jeremy Hillberry, which has the following description: “Neighborhood walks used to be a good form of exercise and a good way to meet your neighbors. Nowadays, exercise is at the gym and socializing is online. Record a video of yourself taking a neighborhood walk and play a song in the backgorund of the video that your neighbors would enjoy. Get out there, exercise and socialize!” It is rated 2.5 stars.

I’m pretty camera shy as you will find out from the video, though I needed to get out of the house for a bit and figured I would record it. This lead to me doing a bit of narration, which made it morph a bit into “VLOG ONE DAY” by Eric, rated 3 stars. “For one day, attempt to vlog your day! What did you today? What was your favorit part about today? Who did you encounter? Let’s hear all about it!” Of course, this is quite abridged since it only centers on one walk. It also deviates from the ‘socialize’ part of the first assignment because, well, I’m practicing social distancing. And I don’t know my neighbors well enough to play music for them.

In brainstorming this assignment, I had some clear, cinematic ideas as you can tell by the clips of me getting ready to leave and opening doors. It took a lot of revisions because half of my in-house clips I had recorded in portrait mode rather than landscape. Eventually, though, I made it out the door and I found myself stumped. Vloggers don’t seem to have it as easy as I thought. I consider myself a pretty decent conversationalist, and I knew I had a lot to talk about regarding COVID-19 and my feelings on social distancing. However, as soon as I pressed the record button, I was lost for words. I was suddenly hyper-aware of the people around me even though they were several feet away.

I didn’t want to make it obvious I was recording, so I recorded my feet as I walked. I got to greet a neighbor as well. I had to delete and speed up a lot of clips of my shoes since I imagine they get quite boring after a while. Finally, I arrived at the plaza that has the grocery store. It was alarming to see so many store closures: they weren’t like that last time I was out. Marty’s (a restaurant) is only doing takeout. The beer shop is leaving. The nail salon has clearly closed. It isn’t shown, but the Great Clips that is always open has closed its doors. That is why my family and I are doing our best to support local restaurants when we can. I hadn’t considered the impact on cosmetology businesses: those involve close contact and tools used multiple times.

Then, I went into Kroger. There was a surprising number of people there. I found that the best solution was to make it into a montage of sorts so as to avoid filming people directly. The toilet paper carnage was interesting to witness for myself. Practicing social distancing was difficult: it was quite packed, and as I remark in my video, I couldn’t maintain six feet between myself and others. I also saw quite a few people I knew, and it would’ve been impossible to talk more then 4 feet apart. The end of the video tends more towards this “vlog” format as I attempt to gauge in conversation (but keep looking in the distance anyways). Definitely turned into word vomit at the end, but I hope you could garner something from it.

While I enjoyed my massage, I worked on editing the video with my phone. My first step was to delete all of the clips I messed up on (I’ve locked the door more times than I have unlocked it). After that, I still had about 60 clips to combine, crop, and edit. The app I used was YouCut: a free phone app that one can use to edit videos. It features all of the basic editing functions one might need to put together a decent video. I separated my clips into 5 sections: getting ready, walking to the store, inside the store, heading home from the store, and final words. Each section was between 1 and 2 minutes.

As you can see, YouCut offers quite a few editing options. My first step was to trim the cut down to omit the parts where I am turning the camera on or off. Then, I muted the audio if it was a montage clip and sped it up (walking was 1.6x). In clips like the one where I say goodbye to my big gray cat, it was all in that one recording. Therefore, I had to split the walking part from the cat part in order to speed it up as I wished. Finally, I combined all of my parts and put a brightening filter over all of the footage. Overall, it took around two hours to edit. It probably would’ve been easier if I used something like Windows Movie Maker or Adobe Premiere, but I wanted to curl up and make a day out of this.

My next step was to edit the audio. I uploaded the video to my computer and then used a MP4 to MP3 converter to allow me to edit it in Audacity. I did a quick little clean-up where I took out some wind and unnecessary background noise. I did not edit my voice much since it was difficult to eliminate some of the background sounds. After that, I layered Plastic Love by Mariya Takeuchi on top (from a YouTube to MP3 converter) since it matched my video length exactly. I made sure to de-amplify the sound a little bit whenever I spoke. Then, I returned to YouCut and muted the sound from the original video, replacing it with my new mix. This part took another couple of hours since everything took so long to download

There you have it! Overall, the exercise portion of this assignment was certainly beneficial given our current circumstances. It allowed me to think of ways I should take care of myself physically, mentally, and socially. I feel like it would be a very fun assignment otherwise if someone is more familiar and comfortable with their neighbors. The vlog part was certainly a new experience. I completely recommend it; we watch YouTubers daily, but do we ever put thought into what work goes into their process? I have a newfound appreciation for them after completing this assignment. Can I advocate that this project is worth at least 5 stars?

Oh, and my message at the end of the video isn’t very clear: I mostly wanted to say that it is hard to socialize with others, so we should use this time to socialize with ourselves. Please note that I do intend to privatize this video at the end of the semester since it advertises my location.

86,400 Seconds In A Day

‘Ello folk! This is Sterling. Hope you’re doing well. I’m sure you’ve heard of an app called 1SE, or ‘One Second Everyday’ where you record one second everyday. My friends have been doing it and they hooked me in November 2019. I’ve been doing my best to keep up with it, though there are certainly notable gaps. Some of it comes from me transferring to a new phone, and I still have clips to recover from it. Regardless, here is 107 days’ worth of seconds:

The first assignment I chose to combine was “A Day in the Life…” by Chloe Morton, and is worth three stars. “‘A Second A Day’ has become popular in videos recently. A moderation for this class would be taking 3-5 seconds of video at the beginning of each hour or every half hour throughout the day. The time can be adjusted as long as distance between videos is consistent. The point is to experience ‘A Day in the Life’ of YOU and everyone and everything you encounter! To make it easier set an alarm on you phone to remind you at each time interval!” Of course, I already had several videos and felt like it would be interesting to do “Four Months in the Life…” instead. In all of its ups and downs.

The other one was “Favorite Moments in College” by Kendall Resnick, and is worth two stars. The description is as follows: “Create a video using some of your favorite pictures/videos that you have taken while in school this year! Add a wide variety of pictures from throughout the year. Make sure to add some music to the video before you post it!” Since a very large portion of my seconds involve my time at UMW over the past year, I thought I would include this one. I always try to record one of my favorite moments of the day. I do keep some to myself and purposefully forget to record certain moments (lest they be ruined).

1SE is a very easy app to use. Sometimes I wish I could include multiple clips in a day, but the beauty lies in its simplistic limitations (unless you pay for premium, which also has several editing functions). One simply takes a video and then clicks on the day they wish to add it to. They can record it within the app or on their camera app. I had to go into my Google Photos to locate some of the clips that had backed up from my previous phone. It was slightly tedious to comb through it all, and to know that there were still more clips to be dealt with. However, once I downloaded them, it was easy to upload to 1SE. It was also interesting to find clips to fill in some of the ‘holes’.

The “Mash” button puts your clips together: you can select which ones it combines, too.

One thing I would consider changing as I continue to add and recover clips is music. I was initially resistant against the idea because I think it is fun to listen to some of the snippets, but they pass in a second. People would not be able to make out the context except for those involved and likely become disengaged. I would consider using music without lyrics so that people could hear the clips that are loud enough. I would also consider muting the clips that have songs playing through.

Overall, I think this assignment encompasses my life quite decently. It features some mindless clips that come from the down time in a busy day. Gaps in February come from always being on the go for theatre. TV clips represent my favorite movies and shows. It features immense highs like getting my black belt to cat videos to make me feel better. I was in VA, DC, and MD. It was very reflective to witness those moments all together. There is certainly merit to be gained from this assignment because one can learn basic video editing skills. There is no layering required other than audio. The power of mobile devices can certainly make this happen if one is seeking an easier format. To have clips only limited to a few seconds makes it flow together seamlessly.

I would definitely recommend doing this assignment: whether it be a variation or not. The end product can be re-watched for years to come.

Out of 86,400 seconds in a day, there must be something special about the ones I’ve chosen.