Buck Hicks - Ones and Zeros all the way down

Free Media Resources for Your Film Projects

If you are looking for some free media resources to add into your film projects. You should take the time to browse these three four sites for a large amount of media available to you (at no charge) . Canon Camera

Please check the licensing for your specific project but I think the vast majority of the content is free for non-commercial projects.

  • Filmstro – Download static versions of all our royalty-free music tracks for FREE. YouTube cleared. Explore the library and start creating!
  • BBC Sound Effects – The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license.
  • Sound Image – Free Music, Sound Effects and Images for Your Projects by Eric Matyas.
  • Premium Beats – Download free quality assets and elements for video production and film making.

FxHome Free Media ResourcesI am really new to film editing / making world but I have remained stunned at the amount of free or very low cost assets available to aspiring film makers. The amount of quality examples, samples and tutorials that you can find on You Tube and other sites is simply astounding. So far the most expensive part of this hobby has been the camera I bought. Everything else has been free or came in at a low cost to me. And speaking of quality tutorials it is hard (maybe impossible) to beat FxHome’s  comprehensive list of tutorials for their Hitfilm Express or Pro video editing suite, which includes getting started videos all the up to putting Hollywood level special effects into your own videos.

I will update this post if I find anymore and if you know of any that I don’t have please add them to the comments below.

I am an aspiring film maker

Admittedly the title of this post is a slight exaggeration. I am not really an aspiring film maker. I have, however, become obsessed with the process of film making and post production work. I have also invested a lot of time and a small sum of money to make it my favorite distraction. In this post I am going to talk about a few of the production tools, websites, books and equipment that I am using to get the full experience.

First of all I will talk about my favorite new shiny thing. I stumbled across Davinci Resolve, which was the gateway drug into video editing for me. Davinici LogoIt is a professional editing tool used in real Hollywood movies. They have a free version that has more features and possibilities than most of the boxed versions I tried before I landed on Resolve.

Next, I found The Definitive Guide to Davinci Resolve 14: Editing, Color and Audio on Amazon. If you are considering purchasing it from Amazon please click on the Davinci Resolve book image below. It will help support this site by passing a small part of the purchase to me.

From the Back of the book:

DaVinici Resolve Book CoverDaVinci Resolve 14 is the most advanced editing, color correction, and audio post production solution for feature films, television shows and commercials. Its revolutionary workflow lets you switch between tasks with a single click, so you don’t have to learn multiple applications or translate projects between different software programs. This official step-by-step training guide covers the basics of editing, color correction and audio so you can start creating your own Hollywood caliber film and video today!

Back to me:

I am about half way through the book and it does a great job of walking you step by step through the Resolve interface and feature set. It also provides a lot of tips and tricks for using the tool in a way that suits your style. At the time of this posting the Kindle version is only $9.99 (awesome deal). There is also a Kindle book for an older version of Resolve that can be bought for $2.99 (also an awesome deal). I have bought both of them and both are relevant to the current versions of Resolve.

Since I already had a green screen on hand I was interested in doing some chroma keying (green screen) in Resolve, which with a little help from You Tube was able to do in less than 10 minutes. While browsing for green screen and other special effects tools I stumbled across another AMAZING video editing tool called Hit Film Studio
Hit Fil Studio Logo
Hit Film also includes a free version (Hit Film Express) that includes most of the features of the paid version. Hit Film’s makers also make it very easy to start out at a very low price point and buy parts and pieces as you need them. From my understanding its strength is in the special effects area. Although it appears, from my brief use of it, that it is a very capable video editor.

The creators have provided a lot of free video content stepping you through doing just about anything you would ever want to do with a video editor including adding special effects to it.

For good measure I bought a few books from Amazon to help round out my education in amateur film making. Of the three I have only finished the one but I will do a review of that in another post a little later as I get closer to finishing all three.

In the Blink of An Eye Book   Shoot Video That Doesnt Suck Book   Green Screen Made Easy Book

Last of all I bought a Canon VIXIA R80 Camera (Camcorder). It’s not a camera meant for cinematography nor is it a DSLR but it is a pretty decent camera for what I am trying to do.

All that is left is to make a movie, which can’t be that difficult. Can it?

Two more tools for the digital arts

Back in October of last year I created a list of creative tools that are either free or come in at a very low cost for people looking to get started with creative projects in technology, which from now on I am going to refer to as the Digital Arts.

Recently I added two more to the list, which are OBS Studio and OpenShot. I have not had the chance to get into OpenShot yet but it looks promising and possibly a simpler version of Davinci Resolve. At some point in the near future I will open it up and play with it some so that I can do some type of review of it. I have, however, spent a fair amount of time in OBS Studio and plan to do my first instructional video soon covering how to setup and deploy green screen streaming with it.

Open Broadcasting Studio Logo OBS Studio or Open Broadcaster Software is an open source tool that makes streaming video through platforms like Twitch, Mixer, and You Tube simple. You can literally be up in running in less then 10 minutes.

Green Screen Test for my YouTube Channel

So after seeing Jeffrey Fritz do a live code stream using a green screen I was inspired to give it a try. Luckily he also provided a Live Stream 101 page that detailed his setup. So last week I downloaded the recommended software, upgraded my webcam and went to Walmart to purchase a temporary green screen, which literally was a green piece of construction paper that I scotch taped to a window screen that I leaned up against the back of my chair. I spent way to much time adjusting it to cover my entire background (It was about an inch or two too short to use it like I intended). Anyway after spending about twenty minutes trying to get that setup just right I was ready to do my First Green Screen Test for my YouTube Channel, which is what you see below.

So the first lesson I took from this test were get a real green screen, which I did. Well I have ordered the cheapest one I could find on Amazon that included a support stand. I will do a review on this one Green Screen from Amazonlater after I have had a chance to use it some. If you are thinking about ordering the same screen based on this post or my upcoming review please use the Amazon affiliate link at the bottom of this post.

The second thing I learned is that lighting is extremely important. As you can see from the off color square around my head in the video. (I think) I was pushing too much light onto my green screen, which caused it to appear a little washed out. As I said this test consisted of using construction paper taped to an object leaning against my chair so it wasn’t the best environment to do a lot of adjusting before hand and impossible to adjust while the recording was going on.

The last thing I learned from this test is that “good enough” is good enough. I must have started and stopped this recording 20 times trying to get through what I wanted to say without stuttering, tripping over my words or pausing for a second or two to arrange my thoughts between sentences.  After what must have been the 20th time I just decided to run though it one more time and be okay with any imperfections in my spoken word. – much like I do with my written word in the posts on this blog.

I will continue to update this blog with any new videos I post and with the new things I learn as I do more and more of it.  And, finally, as a reminder I am including a link ad to the green screen I ordered below. Clicking on it and ordering from Amazon will help support this site.


Three Rivers Area Creative Computer People

Next  year (January of 2018) I would like to start a Creative Computer People user Group for the Three Rivers area. In the beginning I am thinking that we would start out with the basics, which could be as basic as getting the various programs installed on the attendees computers. Next we could pick one of the programs and work with interface to become comfortable with the application and then build a basic project with it.

Ideally, for me anyway, I would like to start with Blender 3D because once you get the basics of it down working on Unity or Fusion will make more sense to the users. It is also a very powerful program that you can do some amazing projects with in a short amount of time. The major barrier in the beginning is the user interface, which is where we can put a lot of the focus in the early stages.

If you are unfamiliar with blender take some time to check out the site by clicking the logo below.
Blender LogoAlso be sure to check out the Open Projects site to see some of the amazing animations being made with this tool.

If  you have any interest in joining this group and you are in the Three Rivers Area please email me of leave a comment on this post. If I can at least two more people to commit to coming I will see about getting a room at the community center in Three Rivers.

Check out My Creative and Budget Friendly Toolbox List post to see all the tools that we could potentially work with in group meetings.

My Creative and Budget Friendly Toolbox List

Creative Tool ListFirst of all I am not an artistically creative person.  However I do aspire to be one, at least, in the digital world. And not being a creative in art, but loving the idea of doing it, has always made it hard for me to justify the cost of the tooling for “dabbling” in that world. Recently I have discovered several tools that are either free or have a very lost cost of entry, at least in the dollar sense. So if you are a creative person who would like to get into digital art but can’t afford tools like the Adobe Suite. Here is my creative and budget friendly toolbox list with a brief description of that the tool will help you get done.

  • Davinci Resolve A professional quality video and sound editor. There is a free version available, which contains a ton of great features and is probably enough for most people who are just getting started in digital creative.
  • Davinci Fusion A program for creating visual effects, 3D, VR and other motion graphics. Free and pay versions are available.
  • Blender A free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation.
  • Unity A cross-platform game engine used to develop video games for PC, consoles, mobile devices and websites. See the Unity 3d site for use restrictions but at the time of this post it is free if you company makes less then 100K in annual gross revenue.
  • Snagit A lightweight tool for capturing screen shots and doing screen casting. It is not free but the cost is very reasonable.
  • Visual Studio A tool for building desktop applications, websites, and mobile applications that run on all the major platforms. There is a community version that is free for small teams.
  • VS Code is a streamlined (cross platform) code editor with support for development operations like debugging, task running and version control. It aims to provide just the tools a developer needs for a quick code-build-debug cycle and leaves more complex workflows to fuller featured IDEs.

Edit 10/27/2017: A couple of days after I put this post up I was made aware of three more open source creative applications (for people on a budget). I haven’t used any of these three, yet, so I won’t comment on them but they do look like a good fit for this list.

  • Gimp is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
  • Inkscape is a professional quality vector graphics software. It is used by design professionals and hobbyists worldwide, for creating a wide variety of graphics such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps and web graphics.
  • Scribus is an open source page layout application with professional desktop publishing features.

Edit 11/6/2017 One more to add. It is an audio editor that I haven’t had a chance to use yet but a good friend of mine uses it all the time to edit audio files.

  • Audacity is a free, open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing.

Edit 1/2/2018 I have two more to add today.

  • OBS Studio (Open Broadcast Software) is a free, open source, cross platform software for video recording or live streaming.
  • OpenShot is a free, open source, cross platform video editing software package.

Edit 1/5/2018 Adding one more to the list.

  • Daz 3D is a Powerful 3D Composition & Rendering Software that create photo realistic results.

All of these with the exception of Snagit can be overwhelming for people who are just getting started. So if you are someone who would like to collaborate on these tools and the type of projects that you can do with them. Please contact me. I would love to create a community of digital creative types (especially but not necessarily around the South West Michigan area). A Creative Tool User Group, so to speak.

Windows Movie Maker Replacement for Windows 10

In the last few years, from time to time, I have been asked to edit some videos for my employer. The edits mostly consisted of trimming off bits and pieces of the video as well as adding intros etc. Since the edits were relatively small the built in Windows Movie Maker (Window Live Essentials) was always good enough for our needs.

However in January of 2017 Microsoft removed the download link from the site so after a clean install of a PC I was unable to download it. And even though I was able to find the setup files from my prior computer it would no longer install on the version of Windows 10 I was running. So I did a little searching and found there is a replacement coming called (I think) Microsoft Story but it is in beta now and I needed something that was ready to go right now.

After trying a few commercial programs like Pinnacle and Coral Visual Studio I decided on the Pinnacle program and almost made the purchase. The only thing that held me back was the licensing, which only allowed one install on one computer. I regularly use three different computers depending on where I am at, which meant that I was going to buy three copies. I decided to hold off and look for a open source solution.

I found a few but nothing that really impressed me much. I was almost ready to pay the money for Pinnacle when I heard about Black Magic Design’s DaVinci Resolve from the SMR Podcast.

Davinci Resolve
I immediately downloaded and tried it and was blown away with the features. Oh and I forgot to mention. It is free. There is a pay version but the only features missing from the free version are some collaboration and 3D tools so this was perfect for my needs. And if you have read this far into this post I suspect that Resolve will be perfect for your needs also.

After playing with it for a few minutes and being overwhelmed by the interface I went to the training link on the Davinci Resolve’s site and found there is a book available, which can be purchased in the Kindle format for only $2.99. The book is for the 12.5 version of Resolve but I am 5 chapters into it and haven’t found any difference in versions that I couldn’t resolve by poking around the menu a little bit.

By the way the book is the Definitive Guide to Editing with DaVinci Resolve 12.5 (Blackmagic Design Learning Series)

Another great place to find help is You Tube. There are plenty of videos available and I can recommend Casey Faris’s videos specifically

So if you have any interest in video editing and have not tried out Davinci Resolve I recommend you do so right away.

Windows Application Development Cookbook Error Help

If you, like me, purchased the Windows Application Development Cookbook and are working through the examples you may find that you get an error on the Introducing Bindings and commands in the MVVM and Data Binding section.

Suppression State Error CS0619 ‘ImplementPropertyChangedAttribute’ is Windows Application Development Cookbookobsolete: ‘This configuration option has been deprecated. The use of this attribute was to add INotifyPropertyChanged to a class with its associated event definition. After that all classes that implement INotifyPropertyChanged have their properties weaved, weather they have the ImplementPropertyChangedAttribute or not. This attribute was often incorrectly interpreted as an opt in approach to having properties weaved, which was never the intent nor how it ever operated. This attribute has been replaced by AddINotifyPropertyChangedInterfaceAttribute.’

The error is somewhat self explanatory and the answer is right there in the text but it wasn’t immediately clear to me, a MVVM novice, on how to fix it. So after a little Googling and some trial and error I was able to finish the recipe by changing the

[ImplementPropertyChanged]

in the recipe to

AddINotifyPropertyChangedInterfaceAttribute

While that worked for the sample in the book I didn’t think that was the correct (or complete) answer. So I did a little more experimenting and found that if I commented out the attribute above the class name and added INotifyPropertyChanged to the end of the class name it also worked.

//[AddINotifyPropertyChangedInterfaceAttribute]
public class MainViewModel : INotifyPropertyChanged

I have no idea of the differences between the two or if I am still doing something wrong but the second one feels like the correct version because it fits the more common model I have seen in sample code.

If you know the difference between the two or what the more correct modification is please leave a comment because I would really like to understand the differences. I have did a little searching on my own but couldn’t find anything definitive.

Oh and don’t forget to add the following to the page.

public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;

Updated 10/29/2017 – I found this post on Stack Overflow with more information about this subject.

Error on using Fody [ImplementPropertyChanged]

Little ASP.NET Core Book

Every since ASP.Net Core was released I have been chomping at the bit to convert my MVC learning project, Northern Dog Site, to a MVC Core site. I started to do the conversion early on but I had too many problems with the transition from the first release and then to 1.0 and finally 1.1 that I decided to wait it until the platform stabilized a little before going too deep into it.

So with the recent release of MVC Core 2.0 I feel that there is now some stability with the platform and the tooling so it was finally time to take the deep dive. However doing a quick search on Amazon I find there aren’t any books, available right now, that contain 2.0 content. So getting started now means relying on the few tutorials on Microsoft’s site that have been converted to 2.0. While that is better then nothing I really prefer reading from a book and working through a project chapter by chapter.

Unfortunately most of the books listed for purchase on Amazon aren’t slated to come out until spring of 2018, which meant I was just going to have to be patient. Well that was until this showed up in my Twitter Feed

The Little ASP.Net Core BookI wrote this short book to help developers and people interested in web programming learn about ASP.NET Core 2.0, a new framework for building web applications and APIs.

This short (and free!) book is structured as a tutorial. You’ll build an app from start to finish and learn:

  • How to build a web app with the ASP.NET Core framework
  • The basics of the MVC (Model-View-Controller) pattern
  • How to read and write data to a database
  • How to add log-in, registration, and security
  • How to deploy the app to the web

Don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything about ASP.NET Core (or any of the above) to get started.

It’s everything I wanted in one package. And it’s free. Perfect! Check it out yourself here on the book’s website.

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code LogoSo by now I have definitely heard the buzz around Visual Studio Code. I even downloaded and kicked the tires the same day the public beta was released. It’s just that I spend most of my time building desktop applications so I didn’t see what the big deal was and I was never drawn to it. I did use it on a regular basis as a Notepad replacement so it was top of mind when I had a project where I had to work on some HTML5.

So I tried it as a HTML editor and still wasn’t all that impressed with it (at first). All that changed after I added a few extensions, changed the theme  and altered the default font.

Visual Studio Code Window

Now it is absolutely my favorite tool for working with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The Intellisence is fast and useful, there a vast number of extensions that make it even better, it includes a built in debugging tool and the best part is that it is completely free,

You can get an idea of the its power and extensibility by checking out the Visual Studio Code Marketplace. So far my favorite extensions are

  1. Auto Close Tag
  2. C# for Visual Studio Code
  3. Custom Theme for Visual Studio Code
  4. HTML CSS Support
  5. HTML Snippets
  6. Live HTML Previewer.

I am sure there are other great extensions and can’t wait to dig deeper into the marketplace to find some of them.

For the most part I live in Visual Studio Professional and I don’t see this tool changing that for the majority of my work. However this is currently my number one choice for, I hate to say, light editing work. And to be clear I hate to say it because it is more then just a light weight text editor. It is an extremely powerful editor with professional features. So I won’t claim that it is a “must have” tool but I will say that it’s definitely a “must try” tool.

Oh and I should mention that its a cross platform editor that will run on Windows, Linux and Apple.