Planning for Video, Part 1: The Seed

Sony HDR FX1EAs a multimedia producer, I've been planning and delivering video projects in various forms for nearly fifteen years now. Back in the early days, it was hard to find learning materials, the technology was complicated and bulky, and I'm sure I made more mistakes than not. Today, however, it's far easier (and less expensive) for prospective producers to jump into the fray and create near-professional videos and films without dealing with the hassles of even a decade ago. The key to it all is not luck nor technical aptitude (although those can help): it's planning.

This is the first of a series of articles about planning for a top-notch video project, from the initial seed through pre-production, shooting, editing and distribution. It's meant chiefly for beginners, but I invite more advanced producers and videographers to jump in with their own advice. I'll also be releasing new video production D*I*Y Planner forms as they become relevant. If you've ever had an inclination to produce a video, now's your chance to follow along and get started.

Planning Projects with Pen n' Paper…

Heracles does battle with procrastination

This month I return with a primer on the planning long term projects (i.e. lasting longer than a year) with the aid of papery products and a really nice pen or pencil.

According to ‘Joe Stalin’s Airbrushed History of the Universe’ productivity started with Drucker, moved swiftly through Covey until Olaf the Viking (Olaf Bluetooth) discovered a way to bring about world peace through shaking hands (The Olaf protocol). Unfortunately for the world his scribe carved it on the end of a very long and runic to-do list. Finally the 21st Century appeared and with it Allen’s GTD. However GTD is not without it’s faults….

Please note this article is not a critique of GTD or a replacement for one’s current system. It has been written as simple supplement to aid one’s personal system. However, as with most of the this article is system agnostic and extremely witty.

The Versatile Notebook: A Modular Circa Setup

Yes, there is something a little sensual about writing with a quality fountain pen in a nicely bound journal like the Epica, or perhaps a Moleskine inside a rustic Renaissance Art cover. They exude a certain romance, evoking a cafe Hemingway or a WWII pilot jotting down his desperate days in a foreign land. But, romantic as that is, it's often not very practical in a workplace environment. (Would you jot random boardroom notes in an exquisite $100 leather journal? I think not.)

However, these past few days, I've experienced a shining example of how the modularity of disc-based notebook systems like the Circa/Rollabind and Myndology/Atoma ones can be extremely practical from an informational and organisational standpoint.

Although the nature of my job dictates a degree of confidentiality, and thus I can't get into specifics, I've been recently working on a video project that involves a lot of notetaking, paper-shuffling, scheduling, file-toting and creative exercises. While some might prefer a laptop for such things, carrying one in this case would not be a particularly bright idea. Walking outdoors in semi-mountainous terrain, I had to keep my weight low, and had to expect both rain and extremely dusty conditions with little notice.

Holding ALL Your Places: Making a Multi-threaded Bookmark

Picture this, you're reading a book and you come across a passage or page that you want to recall for later. Maybe it's for your college studies, or maybe it's a recipe you want to cook up later in the week. As you continue reading, you find YET ANOTHER passage you want to mark. What do you do?

So, you hunt down for a slip of paper, maybe you remove it from your planner or notebook. Or you grab a sticky note and start jotting down notes and comments about the pages you're bookmarking. Then the nagging starts. Slowly and silently at first... appearing in the farthest corner in the back of your mind. That environmentalist guilt trip that reminds you that all this paper, those sticky notes, will do nothing to help the environment. That using more paper just creates more waste. That you'll lose the slips and lose your place and never find it again. There, you sit... paper in hand, wishing there was a better alternative to keeping track of multiple spots than using junk mail, index cards or sticky notes.

One bookmark cannot possibly hold two places, right? Wrong. Instead of ripping up valuable sticky notes that you'll trash or recycle later, why not create a multi-threaded bookmark to save your places in those books.

Take a Note...

Headed-notepaperToday’s guest poster is unavailable for comment following a open toe sandal incident earlier today. Therefore inno once more wheeled me into the breech like a colossal wooden badger, set on promoting his own thoughts and ideas on papery note makin'...

Information and knowledge are not the preserve of the lecture hall nor the text book, they surround us filling our senses and yet so familiar are they we barely take time to acknowledge them before new information takes their place. Every day we find ourselves bombarded with more and more – some surf over the top leading to mediocre thinking, still others splash and play. Another group find themselves drowning in a sea of ‘stuff’ which in turn lead to procrastination. Only by critical thinking and making notes are we are able to sift through the detritus to reveal the nuggets of information on which the empires of knowledge are built upon.

Our Template Contest Winner: Bill Parker!

Well, the template contest competition was very stiff, and the results very close. Of the 18 submissions we received, then winnowed down to five for voting by the community, it was Bill Parker (willhparker) and his Recipe Jotter template that finally came out on top. Knowing that templates are generally borne of necessity (woe to he who crosses magentalizarin), I asked Bill about his inspiration and process for making the template.

The seed idea was from my wife, who wanted something besides the blank pages in her planner to jot a recipe down on when someone was telling her a recipe. She travels extensively with her job and is forever in an airport or at some function where she is talking to people. She wanted prompts on the page to help her remember to ask for time, cooking temperature, etc., and wanted something that would fit into her planner. (She's been a Franklin/Covey fan for years).

I ran across your site by accident while searching for health forms for a planner setup for my own planner (for when I had to take the kids to the doctor - I have a hard time remembering what illnesses I've had, let alone the ones theirs) and was truly inspired by the great designs. It took me no time at all to get hooked on the classic core package for my own planner and that's what I based the recipe jotter on - what I hoped for was a clean design with a good balance of prompts. She loved the design from the start, although the design that I finally posted went through a couple of minor changes from her first one. I downloaded the OpenOffice files (which were very intuitive, I had no real problems with them at all) and the rest, as they say, is history!

Bill will be receiving a fantastic little package of Levenger goodies: a Card Wallet Writer and a Walletini Pen.

Thanks for all the great entries, folks! Shall we do this again sometime?

Creating a Custom Circa Notebook Cover

When I was in high school back last century, it was before computers had taken ahold of society. There were no inkjets and no print-it-yourself scrapbooking ephemera from CD-ROM collections, and even "clip art" collections --usually of the Dover variety-- where generally only available in messy third-generation Gestetner reproductions from unclean woodcuts and etchings. (You folks older than 35 probably know what I'm talking about... you kids, you just hug your svelte little Macbooks and thank heaven for Epson.) In short, it was nowhere near as easy to create a custom notebook or journal without grabbing your X-Acto knives, some glue, scraps of leatherette or thick paper, and a bunch of markers or paints. Yup, those were actually a lot of fun, those little craft projects, but for every personalised tome worthy of keeping, there would inevitably be five sorry-looking collections of folded scraps sporting misshapen heads you drew, glued beads and plastic charms from gumball machines that would fall off within two days, and perhaps a photo-machine strip of yourself and a friend making goofy faces. Not that these didn't have a personal connection of some type, but you just knew everybody would make fun of you if you took it out of your knapsack in public.

Now, it's not so much that a Levenger Circa Notebook out of the box is a plain thing. In fact, it's rather elegant in a way. But sometimes you just want to make something your own.

Making CD and DVD Labels with Templates

I'm quite honoured to present a new article by Solveig Haugland, whom I consider to be the guru when it comes to the suite. As a matter of fact, almost everything I know about OOo actually came from her first OOo book The 1.0 Resource Kit. Her new book The 2 Guidebook is sure to be a must-read if you're interested in exploring the power of OOo, as is her blog. --DJ

Printing labels for your CDs and DVDs using can help you not only easily organize your media storage but make it look good, too. This article talks about how to use with the free WorldLabel templates.

Mind Mapping Resources and Wrap-up

Two weeks ago, we kicked this series off with an introduction to mind mapping. There we learned what mind maps are and how to make a simple one. Last week, I took the series one step further and showed you how you could apply mind maps to various aspects of a single project from brainstorming phase to project wrap up. Today, I'm going to get to the fun part that I'm sure all of you have been waiting for. The books and applications (online and desktop) that can help make your mind maps appear polished and professional. I'll give you my thoughts on each item listed here and hopefully help you form an opinion on what techniques you want to try. Of course, you may just want to stick with paper and pen... and that's fine too. I know that depending on where I am at, I sometimes want to use an computer based application for my maps; while others, I want to use my moleskine and pen set.