Bed Warmers – Testing and feedback

Our Reflections

Now that our interactive video has been constructed we are enjoying playing it through and exploring all of its different variations and plot paths. What we think we did well was building the world in which the character inhabits – playing / watching genuinely feels as though you are in the characters head, and the flow and continuity of the settings and items in the room are consistent and logical. Set pieces such as the gig, radio excerpts and photo album are entertaining and believable. There are a couple of issues, mainly tech related that could be improved upon in future. It was apparent that when using the radio (on the Mac version) that no radio tuner cursor appears until the mouse is moved, so it may not be apparent that the player should use the mouse to scan the frequencies. Another thing to note is that, being an app created in unity with the non-linear functionality of the radio tuner it is not possible to play the video in a browser, so all users must download the app. We have concluded that this is a worth while trade off as the file is available for both PC and Mac and is easily distributed due to the small file size, and the radio tuner is a crucial mechanism in our story so it is important that we did include it.

Play Testing

We also put the video in the hands of some people that had nothing to do with the creation process because as much as we enjoyed the experience, we knew what to expect and where to find all of the content. The first thing that we noticed is that the majority of players, no matter which route or outcome they finished on in the plot were intrigued by the setup, which was a good sign as our intention was to draw the player in with the introduction. Users were generally extremely keen to find the solution to the mystery, and would show genuine interest in making a decision, which we took to be a major sign of interactive engagement. Another common reaction was that most players, at the end of their plot journey would laugh heartily at the outcome, no matter which of the plot routes we took. This is interesting because we had been thinking of the outcomes as fitting into win/lose categories, however seeing as enjoyment has come from all possible outcomes, any outcome can be enjoyed by a player, and therefore can be considered a positive experience.  We found that a typical run through for a first time player was often quite quick, as they would very quickly pick an option that would lead to a conclusion. Although this did mean that our testers were successfully completing the story, we would find it meant that the majority of them were missing out on a lot of content which we would consider the most important / entertaining. This is something we have thought about improving for any future projects.

Social Media Test

Seeing as a download is required to play this game we thought it would be interesting to use social media to test it in a way that can be enjoyed by the casual online user. A Facebook Live stream was set up which incorporated the  video being played live by Niall and Ben and Facebook users could comment to suggest actions for them to take .

bedwarmerslive

The live stream got 107 views and 38 interactions. Those who interacted were often passionately trying to give their view on which action should be taken, which was the same reaction as during the play tests. The key difference was that the nature of social media meant that the live stream was viewed by an audience we did not specifically have to ask to play the video, they were casual users who just had to click a link to join in with the experience. Another interesting point is that this setup meant that users could discuss (and argue) between themselves about what the next action should be. This meant that a video we had designed as a single player experience had become in effect a multi-player platform by being incorporated into social media.

Conclusions

Overall, we did well to not only achieve our goal of creating an engaging experience, but also having the unexpected result of creating a multi-player experience with multiple entertaining outcomes. We did notice that a typical play-through can miss a lot of content which we would look to change for two reasons. The first reason is that there is content that we believe to be the most crucial or entertaining, such as the radio excerpts or the festival gig.  Another reason to make this change is that if many users have a similar experience with the video they would be able to discuss this with each other and be able to compare notes on what happened to their character, sharing their enjoyment with others. To address this we would look to create ways that any user would eventually come across certain plot points regardless of the actions they took.  In future we would look to make similar projects more complicated, with plot routes which are purposeful dead ends and loops. We would build in more structures that prioritise certain pieces of content so that more than one option leads to this piece of content meaning that although a player may be moving forward through the plot, a change of behaviour is required to break the cycle and reach a desired goal.

Mach speed!

For the past few years of listening to comedy podcasts I have heard tell of a mysterious event. Every now and then, podcasts such as Stuart Goldsmith’s Comedian’s Comedian and anarchic sketch group Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown have released episodes from what has been referred to as ‘the secret welsh festival’ or ‘the unpronounceable comedy festival’.

mach

Machynlleth Comedy Festival (or to save time ‘Mach’ pronounced like the coat) is set in an idyllic Welsh town on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, where comedy fans camp in local fields and see a variety of performers at a host of intimate local venues. This year a couple of friends and I decided would go and see for ourselves what its all about. We’ve got tickets to go the festival this weekend and we’ve carefully selected the acts to see – so here’s a run-down of some of my favourites.

Nick Helm

nick_helm_mega_myth

Nick Helm’s frantic yet tender on stage persona of a heartbroken wannabe superstar has evolved gradually over the years, and is now starting to be appreciated by many as he makes regular TV appearances on 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown and has his own BBC sitcom, Uncle. His live performances however have a reputation for being outrageous, unpredictable and shambolic, and as the Machynlleth programme states he ‘has no idea’ what his live set will be, which I’m sure means we can expect much of the same.

John Shuttleworth

John shut

John Shuttleworth has been performing his self penned songs about pigeons, switching from mains to dessert and his Y-reg Austin Ambassador for so many years now that his creator Graham Fellows says he now doesn’t have to put any make-up on when preparing to play him, as he’ finally the same age as the character. This year at Mach he will be performing a set of hit’s which I’m extremely excited about because as a long time fan of his BBC Radio 4 show I cannot wait to see them performed in the flesh.

Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown

Pappy's

The Midlands sketch trio have found a panel show format that only they could make work –  a show in which they, with two different guests each week must compete to avoid performing a household chore. Regular rounds include the ‘Flat Games’ (formerly ‘Flat Olympics’ before they received a complaint from Sebastian Coe around the time of the 2012 Games) ‘Beef Brothers’ in which Tom from Pappy’s plays his John Grisham defense lawyer character with bewildering commitment, and the show’s quickfire round, which due to Tom and Ben’s epic weekly jingles always ends up anything but.

This year’s festival runs from Friday 28th – Sunday 30th April

References

All images and information from:

http://www.machcomedyfest.co.uk (2017). Festival Programme. [online] Available at: http://machcomedyfest.co.uk/sites/default/files/Programme%201-14.pdf [Accessed 25 Apr. 2017].

Multi-Platforming

 

This week I fulfilled a small goal I have been harboring for a while – I have gone and bought myself a year’s subscription to Pro Tools. Not wanting to start from scratch on a track I fished out an old uni project which, although won me a comfortably passing grade, I feel like I never really finished to my liking. It was a cover of seventies disco pop song Yes Sir I Can Boogie by Baccara- but with a twist of analog synth and distorted guitars, as inspired by Kavinsky’s Nightcall and much of Daft Punk’s epic Random Access Memories.  The point at which I abandoned (for want of a better word) the project was when I was trying to find a vocoder to use so that the verses would be sung by a robot voice. I never found a decent hardware or software vocoder I could use, so this week my search continued.

I firstly started by looking at Pro Tools’ marketplace for plugins, but to my amazement a search for ‘vocoder’ brought up no results. I suppose I could have trawled through modulation and synthesis options to see if they provided a synth which has a vocoder function – but I’m an impatient man and I wanted a quick result. I did eventually find a highly recommended option which was Morphoder by Waves, and although $29 seems like an absolute steal, my recent purchase made even this a little tight. And who can be bothered going to a bureau de change at this time of night? So I decided to look for free of charge options. It was surprisingly easy to find free vocoder plugins, and I very quickly found TAL-Vocoder (which is yours too if you follow the link). The only problem was that being a free VST it’s not compatible with Pro Tools, so I had to go back to my trusty Ableton Live, playing the vocal part through the vocoder, adjusting the settings, then exporting to Pro Tools to see how it sounds in the mix.

Untitled

At first this seemed like a cumbersome way to work, but it became quite a neat little routine and I found I could very quickly get some results. Now, even as I speak I am being told that if I bother to try and mess with my folder structure settings and download the right software to convert it to another file type, and pray very hard and write a letter to my MP I can probably get it working in Pro Tools. But you know what – I like the idea of having Ableton as a little lab in which I can cook up some sounds to then export to Pro Tools to become part of the big picture. Like nurturing children in a little rural village, them sending them out into the big wide world to make something of themselves.

References

Image from:

Tal-software.com. (2017). TAL – Togu Audio Line: TAL-Vocoder. [online] Available at: https://tal-software.com/products/tal-vocoder [Accessed 25 Apr. 2017].

‘In a Perfect World’ (Dom’s Remix / Mashup)

Influences

From the outset I knew that for this project I wanted to do something akin to the videos I love which take television programmes and edit them i to change the meaning. One of my favourites is Armando Iannucci’s Time Trumpet (BBC 2 2006), which creates an alternative reality by taking programmes and re-editing them with original footage to make surreal situations. A more modern variation on this comes from and comedy duo Cassetteboy who make hilarious mashups such as Cassetteboy vs The Apprentice in which Alan Sugar appears to have gone mad, and asks his candidates for a kiss.

Content

A deserving subject is important for a ‘send up’ video, so I decided to use footage of ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show. This is because I see Kyle as a Public figure who depicts members of the public in a way that suits his agenda. I thought I may be able to do the same for him. I decided to cut up footage to suggest that he is propositioning one of his female guests. In an early edit of my video a woman on the show was agreeing with Kyle’s obscene suggestion but I abandoned this idea as I didn’t want it to appear as though she condones his inappropriate behaviour. As a framework I decided that I would take footage of Channel 4’s Gogglebox and make it seem as though the participants are watching the JK episode and are reacting to it it.

Video

The Jeremy Kyle footage was mostly in a lower resolution (480×854) than the Gogglebox video (1280×720) and although this does create a mismatch in quality it does reflect TV shows in which the main content is better quality than archive footage featured in the programme. Kyle’s lip syncing is mostly correct, however there are occasions on which the video does not match audio and this is visible, but I think this is acceptable because the purpose of this as in similar videos is not to convince the audience that this is a real piece of footage, but instead to satirise the original content. I found an episode of Gogglebox on YouTube which had suitable intro and ident graphics to use, and many reactions from participants for a good selection of cutaways.

Audio

The hardest element of audio editing was finding two parts of a phrase uttered by Jeremy Kyle which I could piece together for the crucial part of the dialogue, which makes it the most unrealistic sounding part of the piece. For the music I took the main theme tune from an episode of JK and segued it with the walk on music for another episode.  This transition is not very smooth but is similar to the style of JK’s official YouTube videos. For Gogglebox I recorded myself doing an impression of Gogglebox narrator Craig Cash as a voice over. I didn’t have access to a condenser mic so as a cheat I used the on board mic on my iPhone and a Shure Beta 57a dynamic mic and mixed them on Adobe Audition. To underline this I used the YouTube video of ‘Perfect World’ by ‘Kodaline’ (Gogglebox’s theme tune) as a bed.

 

References

YouTube. (2017). ‘Benefits Cheat’ Mother Accused of Working While Claiming | The Jeremy Kyle Show. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WMyxE2uz24 [Accessed 9 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Glamour Model Granny’s Naked Pictures Stun the Audience | The Jeremy Kyle Show. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak3jL8RWIh4 [Accessed 9 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Gogglebox 2013 S02E07. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvWGo_Uu2t0&t=154s [Accessed 9 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Jeremy Slams Hypocritical Mother | The Jeremy Kyle Show. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFy9J0PWRjQ [Accessed 9 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Kodaline – Perfect World. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL8pbQBhwO0 [Accessed 14 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Lie Detector Exposes ‘Love Rat’ Boyfriend | The Jeremy Kyle Show. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArqKL5Pv6gU [Accessed 9 Mar. 2017].

Appendix.

YouTube. (2017). Cassetteboy vs The Bloody Apprentice. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxi6QDwQyLU [Accessed 9 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Time Trumpet – Dragons Den – Cake Shield. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIgdGTg5mSw [Accessed 9 Mar. 2017].

 

 

 

 

Two Birds, One Stone (Dom Kerridge Phone Film)

When I told my wife I had been given the task of making a film with a mobile phone, utilising video editing apps and special techniques, she came up with a brilliant idea. ‘Why not do a time lapse of tidying the kitchen? It will look like you’re doing it super fast’. Only after she had left for work that morning did it dawn on me that she had just tricked me into doing a chore that neither of us wanted to do, but seeing as I didn’t have a better idea  I pressed on. It was very difficult to find any time lapse apps that were any better than the iPhone’s built in function, so this is what I used. As an extra dimension to the piece, I thought it would be neat to include a slow mo of a coffee being made.  I downloaded the app ‘SloMo’ by Beautiful Video Project Inc. and although this did seem to have nicer filters than the iPhone native app, it was considerably jerky, and seeing as I couldn’t pick a frame rate, I assumed it was probably taking less that the 240FPS my iPhone can achieve. This is why most of the coffee clips in my video are taken through the iPhone’s slow motion feature, but a couple are done using the SloMo app for added colour. I also used video filter apps ‘Cromic’ by Lucky Clan and ‘Video Filters’ by Jin Jeon which were able to add filters to the coffee shots I had already taken. I think my favourite setting on Cromic was ‘Gramercy Vintage’ which gave deep earthy tones to the image – it worked so well that I would rename this setting ‘coffee filter’.