Monday, August 15, 2011

Recording Recap

As reported yesterday, I have completed my video playthrough of Mega Man 6 after a year of interruptions, delays, and chipping away at recording whenever a spare moment presented itself. My Mega Man videos have a history of show-stopping technological problems, most notably the entire process of making my first videos, and that time I had to re-record half of Mega Man 5, but never have they been plagued by so many problems from all across the spectrum than this time around.

I had to unexpectedly reinstall Windows...twice in one week. I found myself moving to a different state with barely five weeks to prepare, and three of those weekends spent out of town for a graduation and two weddings, respectively. I myself got engaged and have been helping to plan the wedding since the beginning of the year. This is a good thing, but from a recording standpoint, it's a problem. Please still marry me.

Alex and I had to deal with a messy situation caused by a blog thief, which dragged on for uncomfortably long. I covered ten consecutive days of posting on this blog (including one guest post I edited) which kept my creative focus on writing instead of recording until Alex returned from a necessary blogging hiatus. I agreed to write GameCola reviews for two brand-new games whose review copies I had acquired, Gemini Rue and Tobe's Vertical Adventure, which required me to pretty much drop everything else I was doing in order to produce completed reviews in any kind of timely fashion.

The final installment of my Mega Man 6 playthrough was stricken with inconsistent audio volume issues that caused me to re-process the entire video no fewer than four times before getting it right (a procedure that can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on where the problem lies). Along the way, I found Windows Movie Maker to be taking longer and longer to load my audio and video files. Once everything was loaded, about 50% of my attempts to record commentary while viewing the video footage ended up misfiring, because the video would skip and stutter well beyond acceptable parameters during playback--which is especially irksome when it takes me 37 takes on average to record commentary a 45-second clip.

And that's to say nothing of the times when I was too sniffly, tired, or uncreative to record.

Yet despite setback after interruption after delay, my video series of Mega Man 6 was eventually finished. According to the feedback I've been hearing for the past year from my viewers, this playthrough is as impressive and entertaining as always, if not more so. The initial responses to my most recent video have been overwhelmingly positive; aside from one person who expressed disappointment in the final installment, the consensus so far is that I have produced a satisfying conclusion that was worth the 4-1/2 month wait since the last video.

I'm truly astounded by how well everything came together. Often times entire weeks went by between the recording of one sentence to the next, especially in the final video. Part 3 sounds the most disjointed out of all of them, I think--circumstances required me to record everything piecemeal, and I tried to cram in almost too many ideas--but overall, I'm impressed with how focused and vocally consistent I was across the whole series.

The fact that I ended up with an hour and seventeen minutes of (mostly) coherent commentary after a year of stop-and-go recording is mind boggling enough; the fact that people actually like it, especially with the high expectations that tend to accompany prolonged anticipation, still blows me away. It's no wonder I've been so curious to hear about what went right and what went wrong with Duke Nukem Forever; in many ways, I've been in the same boat that the people on Duke's design team.

I came to realize a few things during the course of recording this latest video series, which I expect will impact how I record in the future. First, recording during the summer is a lost cause until everyone on the face of the planet is permanently married, owns a home they never want to move out of, and has transitioned from a vacation-happy graduate school to a full-time job. Between the fun social get-togethers and the Big Life Stuff, I've been home and completely free to record maybe one weekend each month for the past two summers.

Second, I need to upgrade my technology. My current recording solutions are more or less fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants workarounds that miraculously work well enough. If I'm going to continue with this, it's in my best interests to switch to recording and video editing software that won't require so much time and effort put in, only to yield audio and video quality that's acceptable but by no means completely professional. My microphone is part of the issue here--I need to jack up the volume on anything I record until it almost sounds a little fuzzy (and believe me, I've played with all the settings and couldn't find a better fix). One way or another, I suspect I'll be changing my recording setup somewhat by the time Mega Man 7 rolls around.

Third, when I'm recording, I need to make recording my creative priority. YouTube, GameCola, and this blog are my three ongoing geek projects, and I naturally gravitate a little more toward one of them at a time; it's rare that my focus is equally split amongst all three, but it's also rare that my focus is centered entirely on just one. Given how long it takes me to record, I need to record little bits at a time on a regular basis, or dedicate a few entire afternoons/evenings to finishing up a video. If I can start writing posts and articles in advance while I'm still on a writing kick, I'll be able to give my full attention to recording when I'm actively working on a video.

Fourth, and lastly, YouTube's current time limit of 15 minutes per video (upped from 10) is intimidating to me. Just because I can make a video that long doesn't mean I have to--a mentality I've held for quite some time about any technological advancements--so I might find it easier to record if I occasionally break things up a little sooner than is technically necessary. Quicker turnaround times for each installment and more frequent feelings of satisfaction at finishing a job might help me from struggling so hard to keep these videos going at a reasonable pace when the going gets busy.

One thing's for certain: I am relieved that I am finished with Mega Man 6. It's been fun, but it's also been an entire year. I still have at least one bonus video with bloopers and glitches in store, but for now, I'm taking a much-needed break. For a few days, at least.


JoeReviewer said...

Actually, I belive that now anyone can post a video longer than 15 min. I say this because I somehow have the ability to do so, and if I got it, then I'm sure everyone did.

But personnally, between 10 and 15 minutes is about my attention span, and it's a short enough time that rewatching a video for your favorite part doesn't become tedious.

Flashman85 said...

I think you're right about the video lengths, but even 15 minutes felt like pushing it at first.