May 042015
 Posted by on UTC 2015.05.04Mon at 12:39 copyright N0ICOR, Uncategorized, video or movie MJJIHI  Add comments


Finding “Little Things”


Video Club of Laguna Woods

I’ve long been fascinated with the tiny decorative touches that my friend of many years, Jinny Robertson, creates around her home in Northern California. I was planning to visit the Robertsons during the summer of 2014, and my original idea for this video was to take pictures of what I saw and to assemble the photos into a short video, cutting quickly between photos on the beat of some appropriate music. I actually planned it as a gift for my friends. I thought it was much too small a concept to consider entering in the Video Club’s annual contest.

Let me say here that my thinking was “old thinking,” from many years as a still photographer – before I got involved in video. Although it’s less than a year later – today I would shoot video clips rather than still photos. You can extract good stills from high definition video – but, even editing carefully with pan and zoom, you cannot add full motion to stills – and, of course, you don’t have any sound.

A second creative influence was our past-president Scott Marvel and his insistence – something I originally pooh-poohed – that serious videography can be done on phones. That was what led me to get in touch with Susy Botello of the International Mobil Film Festival in San Diego – and last summer I was already angling to bring her to our club as a speaker – which we did last November. Another factor was that, before taking my trip last summer, I had bought a high-quality mobile phone – a Samsung Galaxy S-III, capable of taking quite good photos.

So I set myself the challenge of shooting the video with my phone. But I was still thinking in stills. When it came to the only video footage in the project, I shot it on the Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot that I always carry in my purse. I had to use maximum zoom to get the shot, and the Nikon still does a better job of zooming, since currently the phone’s zoom is digital, not optical. I guess I’m just not yet comfortable fully relying on my phone. Otherwise, why would I have covered the Mobil Film Festival in San Diego last month with my camcorder? I also recently bought a DSLR, primarily for video, and am learning its features. Why use only one kind of camera?

Anyway, I shot everything I could think of at my friends’ house, including them, but I didn’t tell them what I was up to. Then I came home and tried to make a video out of it. Needless to say, there were shots I had missed because I hadn’t written a script or made a shot list, and now I couldn’t get them. If anything, I was focusing primarily on the house – and the charming address – “35 Yankee Point.” But the truth is, I didn’t know what my video was about. Was it about home decorating? About friendship? About how people’s settings reveal their personalities? I really didn’t know.

One thing I felt sure of was that I didn’t want to use ProShowGold to edit it. I own ProShow and have used it for other projects. I respect the program and realize that it’s capable of far more than “instant video.” But I didn’t want the slick, professionial feel that comes with most of its themes. I wanted something simpler and, hopefully, more real.

Another thing I knew was that the right music would be essential and, if possible, that I should use music that was copyright-free, so I turned to You might want to write that down – one word – “” And there I found two pieces that fit. The first had a clanging sound like the bell on a ship or bouy that I planned to use for the opening, emphasizing that my friends lived by the ocean. This, I hoped, would help establish a mood of ocean timelessness. The second piece had an anticipatory sound which I thought would lead nicely into the main part of the video, when we go up to and finally into my friends’ home.

By the way, that second piece of music is by a British composer, Dexter Britain, and I had used one of his compositions before – in the green-screen video I created several years ago for a friend to put on YouTube. She’s used it to get teaching gigs on cruise ships. FreeMusicArchive provides contact information for their artists, so I emailed Mr. Britain and had no trouble getting his permission to use his music for that video.

So far so good. But then I ran into a buzz-saw. Nothing seemed to fit the rest of the video. And the way I envisioned it, without the right music, this video would be nothing.

I wanted a lively, folky sound – something kind of British or Scottish. Jinny is from Maine and her husband Tom is originally from Scotland. But nothing worked. In desperation, I turned to my own music collection, which, of course, I don’t have any right to put into a video just because I own the CDs. I love folk music and I found a lively dulcimer tune that felt good for quick cuts between shots of the decorations around my friend’s house.

By this time I had also found a series of shots I had taken of the couple on my last day there. You know how you do when you’re visiting and about to leave? Line people up for final photos. Well, when I arranged them in a certain order, I found that they told a story, at least in my mind, of a couple who are close and have known each other for a long time. That series of shots, by the way, might have been even more effective as a video – but I was still shooting stills.

So now I was thinking about a couple growing old together – which was taking my video in a whole new direction, although I didn’t yet realize it. I decided to stay with the dulcimer sound and picked a familiar song which suggests aging – “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” – off a CD I had bought from a singer and dulcimer-player when I attended her concert. I could probably contact her through her website – though her permission still wouldn’t give me full rights to use the song – just her performance. I’ve also found that the other dulcimer player has a website and might be reachable, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten with music rights.

Thus, I have not yet put the video on YouTube – or anywhere online – even though my friends love it and would be happy to have me do so. They don’t even mind that the video mentions their address, which I probably wouldn’t have done if I had started with a different concept. Actually, I think it’s a mistake to use a real address in a public video and eventually I may take it out.

So basically, I’m still trying to learn how to get rights to the music. If at all possible, you want to avoid that dilemma.

And there’s one last point I’d like to make about audio – because, as amateurs, we almost always underrate its importance. Sound is incredibly powerful and necessary. For example, let me play the ocean scene that I used to open and close my video. Actually, Jinny and I were at an ocean-view restaurant and I took it through the window. I didn’t know what I would do with it. I just liked the look. Take a listen.


Later, I grabbed some ocean footage from YouTube and borrowed the sound track – and that’s what you hear on my video. The match between my wave motion and the sound isn’t dead-on, but we’re forgiving when we see and hear what we expect to see and hear.

I also used Google Earth to establish “place” in my video, and you could do the same. I put my friends’ address into Google Earth and used Corel Screen Capture – which is on all our Lab computers – to capture the sequence. I’d never done it before and it wasn’t hard.

Anyway, I put my video together and I was pretty happy with it, so I decided to show it to my daughter who, over the past few years, has become a professional videographer. This is what I showed her. In the interest of time, I’m going to skip part of the middle because it’s pretty much the same as what you’ll see in the final video.


Well, my daughter was very critical. Even though she agreed I had some good material, she took my video apart. I have to set the scene for you. We were seated in front of her large-screen iMac, and my eight-year-old granddaughter was sitting on my lap. And when my daughter began citing one flaw after another in my video, my granddaughter jumped to my defense: “Gee, Nana, I thought it was pretty good.”

Well, what my granddaughter didn’t understand was that her mom was doing me a favor. She kept asking, “What is your video about? Is it about the house? Is it about Aunt Jinny and Uncle Tom?” – which is what my kids have always called them.

She went into individual shots. “Here you mention the word ‘friendship,’ but we’re looking at the ocean, not at the picture of you and your friend. Here you use a photo that’s out of focus.” When I protested that I was running low on pictures of plants, she was adamant. “Well, you can’t use that one. Figure something out. And at the end, you stop too quickly. You don’t give us time to absorb it.”

Then she gave me an especially good piece of advice – something she’d learned in two years at Saddleback College and which she incorporates into her own work: “When people watch a video, they want to get a benefit. They want something to take away, something they have learned, or that makes them take action, or feel good, or feel sad, or feel something. At this point your video doesn’t do that for me.”

And she had one final suggestion that really helped: “Maybe you should look for a quotation.” Yes!

I jumped on the Internet and found a quote that pulled it all together!

“Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back

and realize they were the big things.”

– Robert Brault

It seems that Robert Brault is an Internet phonomenon – someone who became a writer after retiring from a completely different career. And what he writes are aphorisms – short bits of wisdom that he puts online and then compiles into books. I picked one of his most popular quotations – and while I haven’t tried, I think I can get permission to quote him, since I clearly give him credit. Robert Brault loves to be quoted.

Well, with quotation in hand, I changed the title from “35 Yankee Point” to “Little Things” and finally knew where I was going – and why I had instinctively arranged the pictures to take the viewer more and more deeply into the lives of the subjects – who I now saw as not just as my friends Jinny and Tom, but, hopefully, as symbols of a life lived together and made up of little things – as all our lives really are. The pictures start outside the house, come in the door, look around, first at the decorations, then at the family photos, see my friends in their setting, then interacting with each other. I found that combining the quote with a return to the ocean allows time for viewers to absorb what they have seen and, hopefully, to apply it to their own friends and lives. At least, that’s what I was trying to do. The fact is, many of these are not especially good photos and I know it. Individually, they would never win awards. But I did try to use them to tell a story.



  1. NO58BP:  Post History in order:
    1. NO58CV:  Originally, starting “‎Monday, ‎May ‎04, ‎2015, ‏‎7:32:57 AM”. at “C:\Users\LucyMS\Documents\lvparker\My Writing\Talks, Presentations\Little Things-Project Day-5-4-15.odt”;
      1. NO5BC5:  in prep to move to there, create , publish 1.
      2. NO58MU:  I presented (without giving out copies) at “PROJECT DAY, MAY 4, 2015”, also announcing that it would be here on
      3. NO58R2:  based on feedback, I edited the file with small improvements, last mod “‎Wednesday, ‎May ‎06, ‎2015, ‏‎9:48:30 PM”
    2. NO58TO:  now (2015.05.10Sun1006) move source from previous to this post
    3. NO59L8:  categories: none now, adding some:
      1. NO59W7:  add to “video or movie MJJIHI”
      2. NO5A1Q:  add to “copyright N0ICOR”
      3. NO5A4Q:  add to “Lucy V. Parker MECTUI”
    4. NO5A5D:  now 2015.05.10Sun1034 add CSS to set content & background color to be traditional:
      1. NO5B7F:  around all post text, <div id=”NO5AK4″ style=”color: #000000; background-color: #ffffff; padding: 1ex 1ex 1ex 3ex;”> including per and
    5. NO5B83:  looks good, so publish 2 now 2015.05.10Sun1100.