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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That dam presentation!

Wow weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Ha! I did it!!! The presentation is complete!

I can't remember if I've talked about this here before or not, but on Thursday, I have to give a 20-minute presentation on Development Resettlement, the Chinese Governments program to deal with over 2 million people whose homes are suffering from a rather major case of damp as a result of the Three Gorges Dam (i.e. they're under 150 metres of water).

I jokingly asked my tutor, Chris Bramall, if I could just video myself giving a presentation, and show that instead of doing it in person.

"I don't see why not Comrade Tame! Yes, a splendid idea!"

Last week, when I mentioned that I'd decided not to do a video, he seemed somewhat disappointed. Thus, I resurrected my plan, and embarked upon a 40-hour project to create a 20 minute documentary presentation for class.

The whole weekend was spent searching for suitable clips and photos. Prior to that, I'd read numerous journal articles and 2 books on the 3 Gorges. Then, it was into production, Apple's Keynote '08 and iMovie HD (iMovie 08 can't handle soundtrack adjustments) my main production tools, with those special scenes in which I appear actually at the Three Gorges filmed by Photobooth.

It was a long process. I spent hours painstakingly applying subtitles to one particular sequence, only to find at the end that it was just too long - into the trash it went. Other scenes had to be filmed again and again, as I forgot my lines or the sun came out, destroying my magical blue screen effect that allowed me to be at the Three Gorges.



The final obstacle was adding narration and getting the timing right. I'd be fifteen minutes into a flawless recording, and then accidentally advance onto the next screen - back to the start I went.

[technical note: All this time I was suffering sudden system restarts - no kernal panic message, it just switched off. A bug in Keynote causes your system to suddenly restart when you click on the 'play' icon. I looked on the forums but no help there, called Apple and after an hour on the phone to 'Owen' was no closer to getting it sorted. Over time I realised that it only ever happened if I pressed play right after clicking on save, and it only seemed to happen with video-heavy presentations. Clearly, Keynote is not saving files as fast as it says it is, resulting in it trying to play a file that is halfway through being saved and thus causing a system restart, which can lead to all system preferences being reset, thus best avoided!]

Finally, about 50 minutes ago I managed a clear run through. The voice over's OK, the timing pretty much spot on. I quickly saved it on two different drives, and am now exporting it as a movie so I can just sit back and laugh at my own silliness when it's played on Thursday.

Whilst the end product is not a professional video, I am delighted to have completed the project. I don't think anyone will believe how much work went into it. I just hope that when marking it, Chris finds it in my heart for getting the name of that city wrong halfway through!

Caw, I love being 'creative'! And the sun's shining today. Oh, and just 13 days till I see my *Twinkle*!

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