Thursday, May 02, 2013

(Anatomy of a) Gag Reflex

Greetings Crimefighters!

Slaving away here in the Batcave, sometimes you forget about time slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. Yet it does. So here we are, months from my previous post. ***Thanks a lot, Alfred, for not making me aware of the time (but thanks for the watercress sandwiches, they were great!).*** Would it help to tell you that I have had 3 posts started but never completed? No, I guess it wouldn't. However, now I have one that you might find interesting.

Our pastor was at the pulpit a couple of weeks back and mentioned that sometime near the end of Paul the Apostle's life, Nero had begun his reign of terror, mostly of the Christians, whom he persecuted to no end. He also mentioned Nero's wife, who liked to, of all things, take baths in donkey's milk (Nero maintained a herd for just this purpose) and also used (gak!) crocodile mucous to keep her skin soft. Pastor Phil, never to leave a pun unused, phoned me the following week and asked if I could come up with something as a joke, seeing Mother's Day was approaching, using that little tidbit of info.

I hemmed and hawed (as I usually do) complaining that it was the middle of the week, I had to pick my daughter up from school, yadda, yadda, yadda. So he graciously said only if I had the time. I hung up the phone and ideas started to pour into my head. Divine inspiration? Quite possibly. The next day my work load was light, so I started kicking the idea around. We had done some made up TV spots in the past and thought this might be the way to go. I don't have a cast, crew and soundstage at my disposal, so maybe some kind of slideshow with a voiceover.

Mentally, I made a checklist:

  1. Products
  2. Images
  3. Script
  4. Voiceover
  5. Assembly
1. Products. Well, got those. Donkey's milk and crocodile mucous. Blech. However, they needed branding.

2. Images. Google image search to the rescue. Nero came to mind more than the wife, he was instantly recognizable and there were some key images associated with him. The laurel crown, fiddling, Rome burning, etc. I searched for laurel crowns, Ceasar and Nero. What did I find? Newman's Own Caesar Dressing. OMG! See where this is going?

2.5) I found some great images of containers I could use for the products, one of a decorative milk bottle from Crate & Barrel and another generic cold cream container. I used Adobe Fireworks, my favorite web graphic application, and silhouetted the items and removed any labels and such. Grabbed an image from the Newman's Own Caesar Dressing bottle, and away we go!

3. Script. Who knew a Communications degree from BU would come in so handy (well actually I did, I use it all the time)? I sat down and wrote a late-night TV marketing script. I sent a couple of images to a few people for review and got some good feedback, even a headline for one of the slides and wrote that into the script.

4. Voiceover. Everyone says I have a great voice for radio or as an announcer, so I put that into practice. Did a couple of takes and edited out the bad stuff using Felttip's SoundStudio, my go-to app for audio editing since SoundEdit 16 (back in Macromedia days).

5. Assembly. Now most of the time I would have used iMovie to assemble the pieces for something like this and for the purposes of this project, it was a little overkill. So instead I went into my folder full of apps and chose FotoMagico. Using this app was like the hitting the Staples button (that was easy).

Dragged in the images, dragged in the voiceover, added markers right in the app for the slide timing and chose the transitions. Then exported the whole thing as a MP4. Piece of cake. See for yourself:

video

And that, my friends, is the anatomy of a gag reflex. Have a good one.