Heard Mr. Welling say this on a podcast a while back and it rank so very true to me. Life can be a genuine struggle, full of ups and downs, fears and anxiety… BUT those can be overcome with perseverance, dedication and faith in reaching the outcome you desire.
And not with wishful thinking but instead with actionable steps.
This truth is one of the things that the “3 keys to content creation” workshop was built on. By carving out and dedicating as little as 5 minutes of an hour, you can chop away at the perceived mountains in front of you. “But I don’t have even 5 minutes.”
That’s not a true statement because you just read this and probably another 10 to 15 posts on your feed.
So “Threads” didn’t pop. No surprise if we’re looking at the current state of online connecting and distribution. “Why’s that, Jim? Billionaires, entrepreneurs and online pundits want to know!” In my view it’s simple: it’s an over saturated industry that has peaked. As such it’s ran its course.
This is nothing new. It’s happened time and time again since man started writing things down and figuring out better ways to share the messages. It was a matter of technology evolving more so than just new and shiny spokes for the wheel. The papyrus scrolls were a magical advancement from the stone and chisel as was the printing press after the aforementioned papyrus pieces. And with each one came a bunch of equally relieved and terrified members of their respective industries. The stone cutters and carriers were much happier with the lighter load of the paper but the quarry owners were surely pondering; “Now what am I gonna do with all these slabs of rock?!? They took our jobs!!!” Thats not to mention all the blinded monks questioning what that loud noise was in the background that was periodically pounding down on a sheet of paper behind them. If you don’t get that reference, we can chat about that later.
In the end, the latest “greatest thing since sliced bread” has always come and gone so many times since those loaves were even split up and dished out. We of the 20th century saw tons of this. From vinyl to tape to cd’s and then MP3’s. And that’s just portable audio evolution through technology. The same timeline flows for video as well. Film to tape to DVD (all the other type discs offer little more than more storage capacity, so apologies to BluRay and 4KUltraHD snobs. They ain’t that special).
Now thinking about the forms of distribution (newspaper to radio to television to smartphones ) all of those instruments replaced the others taking along with them the best of their predecessors and making them more practical and accessible. With the final stop being the smartphone we find that social media platforms appear to be the final stop on this piece of techs journey. So what’s next?
In pondering this curiosity, the best I’ve got is going to be the device that allows for total immersion via control by thought both in and out. We’re practically there with the exception of the delivery device. I really creeped myself out a bit in thinking about this when I realized that the smartphones coupled with cellular wave riding, has actually made that very possible. Hear me out…
With social media and all that goes into its workings and machinations of collecting, tracking and processing what we all do in our usage of these platforms, the computers that process and store all of this data have indeed nearly perfect clones of our thoughts, actions, desires and intentions. Not that they can read our minds but instead have nearly all the variables to make a damn good guess at what we’re going to do or even think next. The scary part is that with that much information it is absolutely possible to manipulate and influence choices and opinions with ease. I won’t go any further down that rabbit hole but to say that the future is now and the brain wave pounding and sucking device that Edward Nigma created in the movie “Batman Forever” way back in 1995, could be the device… if only people actually sat in front of the television. Perhaps the Riddler could attempt it to an app.
That’s my curiosity for the day. What day you? What comes next in the world of mass information and entertainment distribution and communication?
With todays prompt from Jetpack via WordPress, I was pretty pumped to share my story… because it’s a SPOOKY one! Bwahahahahaahahahaha!!!
Okay, maybe not spooky enough to warrant all the maniacal laughter but it does had a nice chill and thrill to the day. I’m speaking of my favorite online radio site; Halloween Radio.
While there are a handful of Halloween themed online radio stations and playlists available, they all pale in comparison to what you will be treated to at Halloweenradio.net . Plus, being working as a traditional radio station, the playlist never stops and you never know exactly what your going to get. So suspenseful! However there are options available via the main page.
You can choose from oldies, the main feed, kid friendly or ambient sounds in regards to the channels they offer. Each and every one of them go far beyond “The Monster Mash” and Michael Jackson’s “”Thriller”. Way beyond!
There are so many tunes from the genre out there that if you’re a fan of the creepiest time of the year, Halloween Radio will most seriously make you scream with delight all year round!
I invite you all to join me on a journey full of creativity, organization and growing Jim’s Toy Box.
What’s in it for you?
My pledge to all you dear readers is a story and tale of encouragement. Regardless of what your online motivations are, I do believe that many of my insights can benefit you in business, organizations and hobbies if creating and distributing content is your wants, needs and goals.
My intent is to provide as much useful free content as possible in those pursuits but there will also be more in-depth online courses and in person training sessions and consultations available for a few. I assure you this, in all of those I will be giving you the best I’ve got from decades of experience in what to do and not to do.
What’s in it for me?
In doing this I get the opportunity to do focus in on the things o love to do best: inform, entertain and create not compete. When I say focus that in itself is a lesson that I will share along the way and with reason. With a lifetime spent learning and doing, it can get overwhelming and become scattered when attempting to launch a service and training business that is concise and uncomplicated.
For way too long and up to this point, describing what I do and can provide folks has really become a chore. The best way I could put was that I am a storyteller who has learned multiple ways of telling those stories for people. It is with that in mind that I am branding those efforts as “AMP Multi Media” (Advertising, Marketing and Promotion).
All I truly ask…
The number one thing that is. So very crucial to my goals and efforts is this one thing: Engagement. So please, when you learn or enjoy something I post here or on my social media streams, please be kind and like, comment, share and subscribe. It means the world and in that, another lesson is shared.
WordPress is a platform and provider that I have come to really appreciate for its dependability and functionality. As such, recommending it for anyone needing a new web host is a no brainer for me. It’s served me well since 2010. In the recent past, the upgrades with Jetpack have also been very helpful and useful. This leads to taking the bait with todays prompt about “10 things you know to be absolutely certain about.”
The short answer: that’s actually a pretty tough and deep thought.
That observation comes from an understanding that for me, absolutes can be a very limiting thing. So I guess that would be one thing that I am indeed very certain of. There’s always three sides to ever story. Perspectives from me, you and then the truth in the middle. To that thought I will add this; I don’t have to be right and you don’t have to be wrong. In that philosophy, I have found a sense of peace and balance in the way o observe the world. Perhaps that can help you as it’s helped me.
Another thing that I am most certainly sure of is that there is a higher power / creator that has in motion a guide for us all to follow. The sticky wicket there is the ins and outs of the “why’s and how’s”. In that I will point you back to the last paragraph.
A third thing that is certain in my perspective and experience is the importance of story, organization and sharing knowledge, information and entertainment. Those are the skills and results that in my opinion will allow us all to work better together collectively and for a genuine greater good.
Fourthly, I feel pretty certain that the imagination is a window from the soul that allows us to truly be all that we can be and more as we embrace it as the tool and gift that it is.
Number 5 would be (and these aren’t in a particular order per se, just rolling with free flow thought), the importance of a website in the modern information distribution age. To me a website is my online home that I can invite folks to come and visit, free from the noise and distractions of social media feeds. We can literally hang out here with an assumption of likemindedness.
Sixth would be how important it is to understand that reality is a matter of perception. While there are certain elements that are universal and impact is all the same way (gravity for example) but how we respond to even that can be a matter of debate based on perspective.
In this seventh spot, my hat would have to tip in the need to always be learning. Be it something that enhances what you know or instead, something totally new that enhances us in general and dare I say randomly, it’s imperative to truly experiencing all that life has to offer. With that said I will segue into…
Number 8 – Learn, train, work at learning how to stop. I mean full stop. Turn off the mind. Say no to unnecessary spit of the moment choices that you don’t really have an interest in when a nap would serve you better. Having been a “multi-tasker” for way too long, this necessity has come to me (be it slowly) over the past three years, and only now do I get it and embrace it.
Ninth, I would say is to be understanding to yourself when the to do list doesn’t get done. My experience has shown me that in most instances for me, I made the list to long, wide and deep to ever get it done in the time frame I ascribed to it. Perfect example is the one I made for myself last night. Meditation, prayer and sleep showed me this morning that in reality what I made was a list for the WEEK and it’s a good one. When this one is finished up by Sunday, I will have accomplished the most incredible amount of progress to my greater goals in YEARS.
And finally in the “10 spot”, I would say with certainty that I know I’m my heart and soul that anyone reading this has more potential than they themselves have realized until they take the time to ponder a random writing prompt.
Today I played with an idea using Augmented Reality. Amazing tech that allows your 2D materials to offer more interactive 3D experiences.
In this example of an example, use your phone to scan the QR code on the image below. Of course that only works if you’re reading this on a pc or print the pic off. Check it out though and let your imagination run wild with the possibilities of what this type of tech could do for you…
A couple of the hardest things to do for me is to 1. Put together a demo reel and 2. Narrow down and pidgin hole my interests. That’s what led me to throw my hair down and do what I encourage everyone be they content consumer or client: Go Play!
So what do I mean? What am I saying in a silly, 1:27 video that features talking toys with a spooky ambience? How does this serve me or you in a professional manner? I discovered that there are actually a few different ways.
Process – How I made it from idea to final cut.
Software and Assets- What I used to make it.
Distribute – Getting it in front of you.
Pitch – How I monetize it.
Scalability – What all can be done from here
Before we dive into all of those, I want to back up a give a shoutout to Dan Koe and his “Creator Economy” themed content. If you haven’t checked out his stuff you should. It’s very insightful for todays content service providers. I also find it very, very true. As a lifelong “content creator” in traditional and online broadcasting, his line of thought sums up the reality of purpose for a guy like me. The trick? How does one harness it all without coming off as a know it all jerk? Just be real, or as the modern lexicon describes it: be authentic. That video coupled with this post has helped me do that.
One of the biggest secrets I’ll share with you is that in almost all my years of doing these things, it’s never been about “me” and my interests as a motivation. My pleasure and satisfaction comes from helping others see their visions coke to life for the betterment of their work or play. Sure, there have been times with certain promotions and programs I was looking to prove a point and that was all “me” in being bullheaded, not to be right as much as it was an example of dragging a horse to water or like Nada getting Frank to put the glasses on in “They Live”. Or in other words, I saw what was either to come or working now and the folks I was working with had their blinders of habit on for so long (or their fear of change) that their lack of action and innovation was hurting them.
I can of course point that spotlight right back on myself in that, for my own blinders, I set up massive mental blocks that caused me to be nervous about exposing myself and methods to the masses. This of course didn’t make any sense considering I sincerely LOVE helping people learn and equally LOVE watching their dreams come to fruition. So why the reservations? The conflict.
That’s not to say that I’m not one to go to the mat for something I believe in. Far from it. In my younger days, I’d be a bit more hot headed about it but with years and experience, I’ve learned how to better discuss and debate a perspective. However, in working for other companies time and again I would find myself conflicted with “the customers always right” (so long as they’re signing the check) philosophy. I absolutely believe in top shelf customer service no matter what industry, service or genre one may be servicing, but sometimes that means telling them “No, that’s not a good idea at all” especially when I know the desired outcome is not going to deliver the desired results.
The main instance where this occurred was in the realm of radio and television advertising. I have no idea what rates are today but I do know that the impact of that ad buy is not going to have the results it did 20 years ago (even 5 years ago the same can be said) without a clear understanding of what the desired outcome of the campaign is. That was always the case but certainly now more than ever. I can go on and on with that and give you plenty of examples but for now and not to venture too far off point, if you are buying radio and TV the best suggestions I’ll make is to either sponsor very time specific elements such as news and weather or understand that your campaign should focus on branding over one off special event unless you are doing one helluva blanket push for a special event. It’s in that where I find myself conflicted in offering services that I know I can provide but not necessarily what you need. So how does the we remedy that? Offer it all up a’la carte. And that’s where it gets really shaky in building a sustainable business. “Enough complaining, Jim!” I say to myself. “So what’s the solution?” That’s where I point back to Dan and the Creator Economy.
It’s in that where I use the video at the top of this post as Exhibit A in what I do and how I can either do it for you or teach you. Now I’m going to fight my Achilles Heel of droning exposition and just get after it. Let’s dive in…
It’s Sunday, April 23, 2023. I’m in what seems to have been a perpetual rut when it comes to career. There’s plenty of services I can perform for businesses, organizations and individuals in the content creation and education space. But what? I’ve got a laundry list of skills I’ve developed, used and sold over the past 35 years of my professional life. So why can’t I get focused and get it off the ground? Get focused? Stay consistent? Utilize the skills of persistence that have kept me moving forward my whole life. So what gives?
One thing I do know that is universal for all of us and is the benchmark for all that I show and tell as a service provider and teacher, is that everything starts with an idea. The imagination is a powerful tool, always ready for you to access it and channel it into creative expression. But what about when we get stuck? Such was the case here for me. To fight through that, I looked around me and pondered the things that entertain and inspire me the most and dedicate todays creative energy solely to playing. That was harder to do then I care to admit because, embarrassingly enough, for so long now my efforts have been super pointed towards building a new business. But now it was time to stop and play. Damn it!
Process – How I made it from idea to final cut.
All things start with an idea. Brainstorming with a pen and paper is always my method of choice regardless of tech at hand. Something about the organic and physical nature of that old school stone and chisel works for me. But you do you. Just do.
As noted in the intro, I looked around my nest and pondered. The two hobbies of mine that jumped out because, well, they always do, are action figures made by the Mego Corporation and the paranormal (we’ve been binging a lot of Haunt TV and the WB Supernatural channels in the ROKU Channel). From there I thought; “Okay, how do I combine them into something that although asinine will make some sort of sense?” The answer I came up with is the Final Cut you see at the top of the page. Now here’s how I got there…
Software and assets – What I used to make it.
Now that I had a vague and admittedly goofy idea solely for my own amusement, I needed to figure out how to go from paper to pixels. Going with the concept of mashing up my interests in the paranormal and acation figures, I thought what would be funny to see would be my army of Mego 50th anniversary action figures serving as the testimony givers for a “paranormal survivor” type of show. I’ll be honest here, none of this was outside of my “wheel well” as far as interests and tools so the speed at which I worked had a decided advantage (tip to top took about 6 hours).
For the sake of this example, I’m going to go as linear as possible to hopefully avoid any confusion.
Step 1: The script – As I noted, my brainstorming starts with a pen and paper. From there I slid over to the PC, opened up Libre Office (Great and free alternative to Microsoft Open) and typed in my notes and flushed the idea out a bit better. From there I decided to play with another favorite shiny object of the now: Artificial Intelligence.
I copy and pasted my rough outline into ChatGPT to see what it would come up with. it was quite impressive really, for a soul trapping line of code. I’m kidding, I’m kidding (maybe. The jury is still out). I’m not an AI hater but I’m also not all in either. As I’ve noted in previous posts, a tool is no more nefarious than its user but this one has no real restrictions on it compared to other potentially dangerous tools. Moving on…
With the script now copy and pasted into my Libre Office document, I began imagining what the actors and scenes should look like. I also started to “hear” the soundtrack. *The best way I can describe my soundtrack process is this: I hear it on my head and then deconstruct it element by element and then actually build it out on the timeline of my video editor. We’ll discuss that more in a bit.
I figured I’d plug some image ideas into Bing Create to see what that AI influence would look like. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed. I did use a couple images in the final but in the end, stock video and animated graphics popped better for me. *For funnsies, I put together this gallery to show you what the machine considers campfire spooky…
Now that I had a basic idea of visual elements, I then needed practical footage of my actors. For this I used the iPhone 14 Plus that’s in my hand right now. I set up a crude backdrop and lined the figures out as if they were around a campfire with the intent to always photoshop the actual background in. I made a couple changes to that idea for the final mainly because of time and I got a little flustered due to the heat in my office room. I tell you more about why the room was so hot in a few but for now, I’ll keep it linear and share this gallery of pre edited pics that ended up in the final cut.
The next round of assets that I needed to gather were the voices. In my younger days, I might have been able to handle 3/4 of them myself. But honestly, my chops are out of shape for that heavy a load. So, why not let another AI take off some of that weight? Wouldn’t be nearly as good as an organic human voice but again, this is for me and for fun. On that note I could have done the narrator part myself but there was a big obstacle to creating a solid, professional audio recording (this will also explain why the room was so warm)…. A baby chick…
Anyway, I turned to an online, cloud based platform I actually purchased months ago before the AI boom exploded onto the mainstream. It’s called Vidvoicer and it was very interesting to play with back then. Of course the works of Eleven Labs has far surpassed this dinosaur of a software but such is technology.
It’s at this point I don’t want to go too far into the weeds of describing exactly the editing process. Not that I don’t wanna share, but it’s too intricate a process and would make this article ever the longer. I will share this much though, when it comes to editing both audio and video, for me, I watch the whole thing in my head. And then deconstruct it into its elements and then put them altogether in the software. From there it’s a dance. I can show you those steps for sure but it’s a private dance 😉 . I will also note that I used the PC and the Mobile apps that I have for this. The PC for the facial animation using Crazy Talk and then Sony for the actual timeline. The mobile app, Power Director Pro, came into play for its allowance of licensed stock footage since it is a paid app. Meaning, I was able to legally and lawfully use licensed footage. *This alone shows how content creation ideas are truly endless. Wow!
Below are links to all of the software and platforms mentioned above.
Libre Open Office – a powerful tool that certainly rivals the Microsoft suite. And it’s free.
Adobe Photoshop CS4 – this is a way “outdated” version but is still a physical copy that I’ve used since it was released a decade ago. I have no idea if you can even get a copy and make it work but the Adobe Cloud services are fine if you are good with the subscription based products. There are also a mountain of photo editing apps out there both free and paid that can do everything I’ve done here.
Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD – Bought this one off the shelf many many moons ago. Sony doesn’t even offer Vegas anymore to the best of my knowledge. But like I’ve mentioned, it still does everything I need it to do. Again, there are so many video editing apps and options there really is no one better other than your budget and your commitment to the learning curves that each has.
Power Director Pro for mobile – now this one is the most modern of softwares that I have. Currently, I am using the latest version on my iPhone 14 Pro but I first discovered it years back on my old Samsung phone and it’s served me well ever since. It’s a literal full service production room in your pocket.
Vidvoicer for AI voice overs – I wouldn’t recommend this one. At the time, about 5 months ago, it seemed fresh and new but it’s limitations are massive even with the paid version I have. It has lots of paid “upgrades” you can do but frankly, don’t. The AI space is flooded with free and much lower cost tools that give you more.
Open AI Chat – I’m using the free version and all thing considered, I have no reason to upgrade to a paid account. While it is a very handy tool and I’m sure will only get more and more so, at this moment in time the free version is all I need. I will not that downloading it to your local machine may not be a great idea as it eats up a lot of ram and I honestly have no idea what all its till doing when I shut it off.
Bing Create – To me this one is nothing more than a toy but a good visualizer. And notice I said good and not great. But it’s free so go play
Crazy Talk Animator – Realillusion is the granddaddy of desktop animation software. I have another of their products (Animator, that does more full body stuff) but I don’t use it. I will recommend them however on the whole of you are wanting to get into 3D animation and all that entails nowadays. Very powerful and easy to use software for sure.
Distribute – Getting it in front of you.
Social media is pretty much the necessary evil.
Pitch – How I monetize it.
This was a matter of using my affiliate account with Amazon.
Scalability – What all can be done from here
First and foremost is this article. While it is at its core meant for my amusement more than anything. It certainly gives me opportunity to talk about everything you’ve read here in individual detail.
Conclusion and final pitch
So what’s it all mean at the end of this rather lengthy article? For me it has been incredibly fulfilling. I got to share with you what I needed to share with myself: my purpose. And what’s that? To do my part in helping you learn how to use the many avenues and tools available in this amazingly interesting time to be alive. Be they for business, Play or just because, the ability to learn and communicate are the the things that I truly believe are the bedrocks of a good, healthy and hearty society. It’s in those two truths for me that give me a reason to push on every day.
I hope you learned as much as I did in this and I hope you’ll gain something from it. As such I do hope you’ll be kind enough to like, comment and share this article to help me grow the blog and feeds. And if you have interest in learning any of my methods or would like me to provide a service for you, email me now at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time to chat. I truly appreciate you exploring this leg of my journey that will hopefully help you add to yours.
Now, Go Play!
P.S. I was considering doing this same type of thing with a few other videos I’ve created recently as well as some others I’ve done in the past. There is still a mountain of educational/ content worth in them. You can find a ton of them on my YouTube channel.
PSS- what did you decide to be today? That’s a like of thought I’d like to explore in the near future.
As a child of the 70s, Star Wars was an integral part of my childhood. I remember the excitement of going to the store and seeing the latest action figures from the movies. One of my favorite figures was Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, from Return of the Jedi. Fast forward to today, and the Star Wars Retro Collection has brought back that nostalgic feeling with figures inspired by the original 1970s Kenner line. As a collector, there are pros and cons to both vintage figures produced 40 years ago and retro figures produced now.
Pros of Vintage Figures:
1. Authenticity – The vintage figures are the real deal and were produced at the time of the movie’s release. They have a unique charm and character that cannot be replicated.
2. Rarity – Some vintage figures are incredibly rare and can be difficult to find, making them valuable to collectors.
3. Historical Significance – The vintage figures are a piece of Star Wars history and have played a significant role in shaping pop culture.
4. Quality – Many collectors appreciate the quality of vintage figures, as they were built to last and were made with sturdy materials.
5. Sentimental Value – For those who grew up with the original figures, they hold a sentimental value and bring back memories of childhood.
Cons of Vintage Figures:
1. Condition – Vintage figures can be hard to find in good condition, and even those that are well-preserved can show signs of wear and tear.
2. Cost – Because of their rarity and historical significance, vintage figures can be expensive to purchase.
3. Availability – Finding vintage figures can be a challenge, especially if you are looking for a specific character or variant.
4. Uniqueness – Each vintage figure is unique, which can be a pro or a con depending on your collecting preferences.
5. Limited Articulation – Vintage figures have limited articulation, which can be a drawback for collectors who prefer more posable figures.
Pros of Retro Figures:
1. Availability – The retro figures are widely available at retailers and online, making them easy to find and purchase.
2. Affordability – Compared to vintage figures, the retro figures are generally more affordable and accessible to collectors on a budget.
3. Detail – The retro figures have the same level of detail as the vintage figures, capturing the look and feel of the original Kenner line.
4. Articulation – Retro figures typically have more articulation than vintage figures, making them more poseable and versatile for play and display.
5. Familiarity – The retro figures bring back a sense of familiarity and nostalgia for those who grew up with the original Kenner line.
Cons of Retro Figures:
1. Replicas – While the retro figures capture the look and feel of the original line, they are replicas and lack the same historical significance as the vintage figures.
2. Material Quality – Retro figures are often made with cheaper materials than vintage figures, making them less sturdy and durable.
3. Modern Design Elements – Some collectors may not appreciate the addition of modern design elements, such as extra articulation or modern packaging.
4. Limited Selection – The retro line may not include all the characters or variants that were produced in the original Kenner line.
5. Lack of Rarity – Retro figures lack the rarity of vintage figures, which can be a drawback for collectors who value rarity and uniqueness.
In conclusion, both vintage and retro figures have their pros and cons. Vintage figures have a historical significance and authenticity that cannot be replicated, but they can be expensive and difficult to find in good condition. Retro figures capture the look and feel of the original Kenner line and are more accessible and affordable for collectors, but they lack the same historical significance and rarity of vintage figures. Ultimately, the choice between vintage and retro figures comes down to personal collecting preferences