Directions for 2014

2014As New Year’s resolutions seem almost made to be broken, I thought that instead of making new New Year’s resolutions this year, as I have done in the past, I am going to set a more practical direction for this year. Instead of making a list of things that I will do “some time” during next year, I have made a list of skills and habits that I will work on for one month at a time.

The way this is going to work is that I will pick one skill or habit to focus on each month, and by the end of the year, hopefully some of these habits and skills will have stuck.

I won’t stop learning the skill or practicing the habit at the end of each month however, but instead add another skill to my repertoire to work on. What sticks will stick, what doesn’t feel worthwhile will fall away. If I throughout the month feel like I don’t want to continue, that is fine too, but at least I will have learned something.

stretchingThe first habit I will be working on is stretching. My goal is to stretch for about 20 minutes in the evening before going to bed. This is something I should have started with a long time ago, especially with how hard I have been working out. Better late than never, I suppose. I was reminded of how stiff I was and how necessary it is that I stretch when I made an offhand joke to a friend of mine that I don’t need to stretch, while at the gym. I thought about it afterwards and told myself that from now on, I will be stretching more. I never did. Now however, with the turn of the new year and in deciding that I will pursue one new habit each month, I felt it was time to get started once and for all.

Another habit I really want to set, is to get a proper morning routine. Right now my mornings mostly consist of me waking up to my alarm telling me that I need to wolf down some food and get out the door, which starts my day out in a rush. Instead, I want to wake up, do something productive, eat breakfast in peace and go to work without stressing. 

Other habits that I haven’t decided in which order to do yet, as I have the two first months planned, has still to be set. If you have any suggestions for skills or habits to work on, let me know and I might incorporate it into my list and into my schedule.

  • Improving my photographyimprove-photography
  • Write two new blog posts every month
  • Cooking better food
  • Learning to write short-hand
  • Learning to play poker well
  • Shoot well with bow and arrows
  • Become better at mental mathematics
  • Learning to beat-box
  • Learning some cool magic tricks
  • Improving various IT skills
  • Learning super-spy skills (à la Jason Bourne)

 

So, what skills and habits are you going to work on during 2014?

How will you make this your best year yet?

Korean Hangul in 20 minutes

If you have never tried to learn another script, anything that you see in a different script looks mysterious, strange and difficult to understand. There are many different kinds of scripts in the world, but few as simple as the Korean Hangul.

Creating Hangul

If you’ve seen the writing systems that look like strange scribbles from the far eastern countries, you probably also come across the Korean writing system known as Hangul. Hangul is actually a proper alphabet that was created rather than developed over time. The story goes that a Korean king named Sejong the Great wanted to promote literacy in Korea, especially among his own soldiers, and thought that the Chinese writing system (called hanzi in Chinese, hanja in Korean) was too complicated and didn’t properly correlate to the way Korean was spoken. He set up a competition for linguists to create a writing system specially designed for Korean, which was to be as simple as possible so that anyone could learn it. There were many scripts that were developed in this competition, and the Hangul we see now was elected the winner of the competition.

Well, if the idea was to make a simple writing system, why does it look so complicated, you may ask. Well it really isn’t complicated at all. You just haven’t tried to learn it yet, and as you know, anything you haven’t tried to learn could either be extremely complicated or very easy to learn. In this case, you just don’t know how easy it is just yet.

Hangul is Easy

I believe that anyone can learn to read and write Hangul in less than an hour, no matter what excuses you may come up with, that you just don’t have a mind for languages, that you are too old, or anything else. I also firmly believe that most people can learn it in 20 minutes or less. How cool wouldn’t it be if you could learn a completely new writing system in as much time as it takes to watch an episode of The Simpsons? Continue reading Korean Hangul in 20 minutes

How to Tie a Tie – Exotic Style

In my previous post about classic tie knots I showed you how to tie the four classical tie knots. In this post we will go well beyond the basics and focus on a few really cool looking tie knots that can best be described as exotic and definitely will draw attention.

Exotic tie knots that draw attention!

Never heard of a tie knot drawing attention before? Well, now you’re going to learn several that do. I have found these knots in various places on the internet and just like with the classic knots, I haven’t invented them myself, but they are nevertheless very cool.

The Eldredge Knot

We start off with my new favourite knot; The Eldredge knot. It looks pretty amazing, don’t you think?

eldredge-knot Continue reading How to Tie a Tie – Exotic Style

How to Tie a Tie – The Classics

There are basically four tie knots that can be classified as the classics, namely the Four in Hand, Half Windsor, Full Windsor and the Shell Knot. I will describe how to tie them individually in this post as well, but feel free to copy the following diagram to your computer, print it and put it up on your wall or memorize it if you like.

Classics

1. Four in Hand

The easiest one of the classics is the Four in Hand knot, doesn’t take much time at all to learn. It looks alright and is a handy one to know. The negative thing about the Four in Hand knot is that it is asymmetrical, which gives you a slanting line at the top.

four-in-hand

Here is how you tie the Four in Hand:

  1. Begin by crossing the wide end over the narrow end.
  2. Fold the wide end underneath the narrow end.
  3. Pass the wide end horizontally over the narrow end again.
  4. Take the wide end up and through the loop around your neck.
  5. Take the wide end through the knot in front. Proceed to tighten the knot and pull it up to your collar.

2. Half Windsor

The second one of the classics that everybody should know is the Half Windsor. It looks fantastic, it’s symmetrical and it suits almost all occasions. This is your go-to knot most of the time. The Half Windsor works very well for ties made of thick fabric.

half-windsor

Here is how you tie the Half Windsor:

  1. Begin by crossing the wide end over the narrow end.
  2. Fold the wide end underneath the narrow end.
  3. Pull the wide end up.
  4. Take the wide end back down through the loop.
  5. Move the wide end horizontally over the narrow end.
  6. Take the wide end up through the loop.
  7. Pull the wide end through the knot in front. Proceed to tighten the knot and pull it up to your collar.

3. Full Windsor

The third classic knot is the Full Windsor. It looks great, it’s symmetrical and it suits almost all occasions and looks more business style than the Half Windsor knot. This is the one to use when you go to the office or if you have a thin fabric tie.

full-windsor

Here is how you tie the Full Windsor:

  1. Begin by crossing the wide end over the narrow end.
  2. Take the wide end back through the loop around your neck.
  3. Take the wide end over the narrow end in the same direction you crossed it at step 1.
  4. Fold the wide end underneath the narrow end.
  5. Take the wide end up…
  6. And back through the loop in the same direction as step 4.
  7. Fold the wide end horizontally over the narrow end.
  8. Bring the wide end up through the loop once more, like you did in step 2.
  9. Pull the wide end through the knot.

4. Shell Knot

The last of the classics is the Shell Knot, also known as the Shellby Knot and Pratt Knot. It’s easy to make, it’s symmetrical and doesn’t feel as imposing as the Windsor knots. This knot can be used almost at any time. In size it’s roughly between the Four in Hand and Half Windsor knots.

shell-knot

Here is how you tie the Shell Knot:

  1. Begin by crossing the wide end under the narrow end, while the tie hangs inside out around your neck.
  2. Pull the wide end up over the narrow end.
  3. Take the wide end down through the loop and tighten the knot.
  4. Move the wide end horizontally over the narrow end.
  5. Pull the wide end back up through the  loop.
  6. Pull the wide end through the knot in front. Proceed to tighten the knot and pull it up to your collar.

These are the classic tie knots that everybody should know. There are several ways of tying the Half and Full Windsor knots, so if you’re interested, feel free to roam the web in search of more.

I hope you have learned a lot! However, there are still a lot of other styles of tie knots, if you are interested. In the next post I will teach you how to make even fancier and more exotic knots! Check it out here!

Learn to Relax

Learning to relax is something very important. Almost as important as drinking enough water. Many of us don’t take time to relax enough, and when we set out to relax, we often just sit in a sofa in front of the TV or in a chair in front of the computer. I know that I do. This doesn’t allow the body to fully relax, so it’s good to sometimes just take a break and really relax for real. This problem also ties into being able to fall asleep. Because we don’t allow our minds and bodies to be relaxed before we sleep, we often make it harder for ourselves when the time comes to go to bed.

How to fall asleep is quite an interesting topic to discuss. For some people it’s quite difficult to manage to fall asleep, for some people it’s quite easy and for some people who are suffering from different forms of sleeping disorders, it’s near impossible.

At times in my life I have had huge problems with falling asleep. My brain just keeps churning things over, making it impossible to shut out the chatter from inside my own head. It was during the time that I had the most problems with these things that I read quite a lot about relaxation techniques, ways of making yourself falling asleep etc, and eventually I developed two techniques that work really well for me. One to relax my body completely, or at least as completely as it’s possible to relax oneself, and the other to blank out my mind and relax my mind. And from that relaxed state of mind, I found that it was much easier to fall asleep.

My body relaxation technique might look like some other techniques that you’ve seen somewhere else and since as far as I know it hasn’t been patented, you can feel free to claim it as your own as well. If you’ve seen or used a technique similar to this, write a comment and tell me your experience with it, that would be really cool.

 Relaxed Body

For the first technique, you can either sit in a comfortable chair or lay down on a bench, bed, or on the floor. Keep your arms by the side of your body, be comfortable, and make sure you’re not going to get too cold or too warm for the next half an hour or so.

Close your eyes, and breathe through your nose. Take deep long breaths and just get used to breathing this way for about ten seconds or so. Once you have gotten used to the rhythm, breathe in, and as you breathe out, give a huge sigh and just relax your muscles as much as possible, just let everything go. Try to sink into the floor or mattress as much as possible. Become a puddle of goo.

This is where it becomes a bit more difficult and the real relaxation will start. The idea of the relaxation technique is to relax body-part by body-part one by one, starting from the head. I like to start from the face, but you might as well do it from your feet and go upwards. I like to start from the top, because you have loads of muscles in your face, and to me, the head, neck and shoulders are the most important to relax, to be able to continue relaxing the rest of the body.

Start by allowing your face muscles relax. Let them sink back, your eyebrows relax and your cheeks get loose. Open your lips ever so slightly and relax your tongue. It might feel like it’s going to block your throat, but you are breathing through your nose, so don’t worry. Continue focusing on relaxing one muscle group at the time in your face, then your neck, shoulders and arms, etc. Really focus on relaxing and letting go of any tension you have.

Keep it to one muscle per breath or slower if you can. The more times that you use this technique, the more muscles you will find to relax. If you want, have a look at a drawing of the human physiology and imagine going through all those muscles when you’re relaxing. Just keep going through the whole of your body until you’ve reached your legs and feet. Once you have, just go through your body one more time and make sure that you’re completely relaxed.

The first time you try this technique, you might not get further than a couple of muscles in your face before you lose focus. Don’t worry about it, but just keep trying. You’ll get it eventually.

Mind Relaxation

For the mind-relaxation technique, I needed to add a couple of triggers to make it work properly for myself. My mind is very active, and thus will always want to think of two or three other things at the same time, even if I try to tone it down. This can be quite disturbing when trying to focus on this technique, because the purpose of it is to empty out your mind, slow yourself down into a relaxed state of mind and ultimately either just relax or get a chance to peacefully fall asleep.

Visualize a huge clock in front of you. The clock only has one arm, the seconds arm. The other arms of the clock are irrelevant, so you leave them out or visualize them as you like. Just firmly burn the image of the clock into your mind and let the seconds tick away. Make the image clearer, the white of the clock face whiter, bigger and brighter. Shut everything else out but the face of the clock.

Once you have a firm image of the clock face and the seconds arm in your mind, match the speed of the arm’s ticking to your own heartbeat and just watch it tick on as you feel your heart beating. Keep letting it tick, and make the image stick in your mind.

As you get used to the rhythm, you start to will the arm to tick slower, as you observe it, obstruct it in your mind, and at the same time you keep matching it to the pace of your heartbeat. Keep willing it to move slower and slower, feeling your heart beat slower and slower as you will the clock to tick slower. Keep going and keep focusing on the clock, the ticking of the arm and your own heartbeat.

At first you will find that a lot of distractions will try to obstruct you from fully visualizing the clock, from matching the ticking of the arm to the beating of your heart and from willing it to slow down. As the distractions keep coming in, acknowledge them and let them go. It’s much more difficult to getting rid of an image or thought if you don’t acknowledge that it’s there, but as soon as you have, focus even harder on the clock. Make it brighter, bigger and more tangible in your mind. Keep it going and you’ll soon be able to summon that clock at any given time.

Energy Booster

I also have another technique, to boost my energy, that I had almost forgotten about. I just remembered it when I was discussing this article with a friend of mine, so I thought it could be cool to add it in here as well. As I said, I had almost forgotten about it because I haven’t been using it for years. I don’t know why or when I really stopped using it, but it’s well worth a mention.

Basically what I do is that when I’m in a relaxed state, I focus my energy on the inside of my eyelids or just above my eyes, and breathe through my nose. I inhale carefully, but exhale with a bit of force. Not so much as if I was blowing my nose, but almost as if I was blowing up a very light balloon. I keep the focus and try to visualize energy and adrenaline pumping through my body. With every breath I keep this going and visualize that I have a torrent of energy that goes from the top of my head, down my back and up through my chest. I keep feeding this torrent with more and more energy, starting to move my body ever so slightly, rolling my shoulders, and let the energy flow through me.

Then I open my eyes and go about my business, feeling much more energized than before.

 Combination

You can also combine all three of these techniques, once you have gotten used to them. First, relax your body, then your mind and as you decide to come to, or if you’ve set an alarm for a certain period of time, use the energy-boost technique just to get a little extra kick.

If you decide to try any of these techniques out, please tell me how your experience with them was, comment if there is anything that you’re wondering about and share it if it has been beneficial to you.

How Language Exchange is like Tug of War

Tug of War

How language exchange is like tug of war

When you learn a language you will eventually come to the stage where you want to practice what you have learned and start using it in real situations. When you come to this stage, you might start looking for a native speaker of your target language, who is in turn learning your native language. When you do find someone who is willing to practice with you, it can lead to a mutually beneficial language exchange and even good friendship. More about this in a little bit.

When should I start with language exchanges?

Some people will tell you that you should start speaking right away, using what you know and push yourself to gain better understanding through putting yourself out there, while others will tell you that you should first internalize the language, the rhythm, the sounds and gain a lot of vocabulary  before you speak. Some even go so far as to say that you shouldn’t speak at all  until you have a better understanding of the language you’re learning. Whatever way you choose to go, there will at some point come a time where you need to start speaking, if you want to be able to use the language.

You probably will benefit the most from language exchanges once you reach an intermediate level in your languages (due to being able to express yourself better and being able to understand explanations and replies given in the language), but in my experience, it is good to get speaking practice even from when you are in the early stages of your learning, just to get used to producing the sounds of the language. If you keep putting it off for later, when you know the language better, you might get caught in the trap of understanding a language, but not being able to speak it at all. It’s good to progress your level evenly over the different areas of learning a language, so make sure that you don’t only build up a passive vocabulary. This is where you need practice speaking the language.

Finding a language exchange partner

Finding someone to practice with can be quite difficult, if you are learning a rare or exotic language, but the most difficult thing is to find someone who you enjoy talking with and who can help you with your language learning. There are many websites for getting in contact with people who want to practice languages such as sharedtalkbusuu, and livemocha. There are a lot of them, so you only have to search on Google for language exchange and you will find more sites than you’ll ever be able to go through.

Once you have found a language exchange partner, the initial session is in my opinion the far most important one. That’s where you decide what languages are going to be practiced, and you get to know each other.

Tug of war

When you start talking to each other, it’s usually the one who has the biggest vocabulary or has the most confidence in speaking their target language that sets the common communication language (or the language that you use to talk, most of the time). Of course, you will want to practice your target language and your language exchange partner will want to practice his/her target language. This can lead to a conflict of interests, like a tug of war. Usually the language that you use to communicate between yourselves will be set in the first few sessions, after which it will be a bit more difficult to change the dynamics of your exchange, unless you address the issue directly and talk about it.

So, let’s say that you are learning Hindi, and you meet someone online and start talking. After a while you will have used up much of your vocabulary in the language you are practising and you might fall back on your native language, so that the conversation will have a better flow. Do this, and you will be doing yourself a disservice in the end. Once you start getting more comfortable and get back to your native language, you are on a slippery slope and it will take more energy to get back to the language you want to practice again. It is better to struggle a bit, and taste the sweet taste of victory when you find that you can express yourself in your target language. If you don’t try, you might get stuck talking in your native language with this person for as long as you know him/her.

Solution

There are many ways to deal with this issue, but the best thing you can do is to be prepared for a language exchange and have a clear idea of how it can be the most beneficial for you and what things you need specific help with. Make sure that you know for yourself what it is that you need from the language exchange. Maybe you need to practice some grammar points or want to make sure with a native speaker that you’re using the grammar correctly; this could be a much more fun way to go through grammar exercises. Or maybe you need to practice reading out loud and want to make sure that you are pronouncing things correctly and have the correct speed and intonation for the language. If you really want to work on your pronunciation I would recommend that you record yourself as well when you read out loud, that way you would also be able to tell from listening to yourself where you need to improve. Communicate your needs and expectations to your language exchange partner in the beginning of getting to know each other, and he/she will be able to help you out a lot more as well.

A language exchange can be a great thing and it should be both fun and beneficial for the both of you. Take turns talking in your native language and the language you want to learn, and use a timer, if you want. Make sure that you speak equally much in both languages and make sure that you know what your language exchange partner expects from you as well. That way the exchange will be beneficial for both of you, and you wouldn’t need to feel like it’s unnatural to switch between languages, talk about grammar exercises or just read texts out loud to each other. Just set the guidelines when you get started and you will benefit a lot more from language exchanges. Also, make sure that you update your goals regularly, so that you don’t start feeling too comfortable talking about only one thing, but push your limits as well. You will become more productive and will help your language exchange partner a lot more too!

I would also like to add that if you are feeling adventurous or feel very confident, the best kind of language exchange partner is not a language exchange partner at all, but a friend who doesn’t share any common language with you, except for the language you are learning. That way, you force yourself to stay with the language and you will most definitely get the best kind of practice there is. It is more challenging and especially in the beginning it can be quite tiresome, but it will leave you feeling amazing. (I still remember the first time I talked with a guy from Vietnam who didn’t know any English at all. We were talking about shopping and buying shoes or something like that, something that I’m not interested in at all, but it still made me feel really good about myself, being able to express myself in Vietnamese for the first time.) Just do what you feel you are capable of, and have fun!

Summary

To sum it all up

  • Look for a language partner you feel comfortable talking to. There are many websites available to look for people to talk to.
  • Make sure you know what it is that you need to improve on in the language.
  • Agree on how you will divide your time between your languages and stick to it.
  • Stick to the language you are learning even though it’s difficult at times and slows the conversation down, you will thank yourself later for doing it.
  • Use a timer to divide your time if it makes you more comfortable.
  • Change to more difficult topics when you start getting comfortable at the level you are right now, to push yourself to learn.
  • The best language exchange partner is someone who isn’t interested in learning from you, but talking to you naturally (in his/her own language).
  • Have fun and enjoy your progress! Savour the moments of breakthrough!

I had originally written this article as a guest blogpost for my friend Luca on his blog www.thepolyglotdream.com

The biggest secret of learning a new language

The most difficult step in learning a new language is getting started. I have heard countless people say that they wish they knew how to speak another language, but that they don’t have the time, don’t have talent for languages or a million other excuses.

Have you have ever dreamt about being able to speak Spanish fluently, being able to follow Anime completely without subtitles, or understanding the songs in your favourite Bollywood movies? I am here to tell you that you CAN! You don’t have to be a genius, move to a different country or set aside hours every day to learn. My point is, if you want to learn another language, you can!

The only thing holding you back from being able to is that you haven’t started yet.

The problem is not that you can’t find the perfect material, find the perfect teacher or having the right circumstances to learn. If you want to learn, the only thing you have to do is start. Start right now.

Take a moment right now and think of what language you want to learn. This article can wait, just write it down somewhere. Write “I am learning” followed by the language you have decided on.

Now that you know what it is that you want to learn, you can start acting on it. Don’t give excuses for why you can’t, or why you should wait with it. You have been carrying it around for quite some time already, so why would you want to push it further into the future? Today is the day you start! Go on, tell a friend about it, write it on your Facebook wall, tweet it out, make it public!

Congratulations! You are now enrolled and you owe it to yourself to take the next step in learning, to find material. I promise you, it’s not that difficult. Google is a great place to start. Just start by typing “Learning [language]” and see what you get. You can even get a lot of material on YouTube nowadays, so you might want to check that out too. 🙂

Now suddenly you are not stuck in the limbo of wanting to learn. You can with confidence say that you have taken the first step. From now on, you just need to continue doing what you have started.

The next biggest secret to learning a language is to continue doing something every day. As long as you show up, you win. The day you stop, you lose. Don’t lose your language.

New Year Vows Update

In January this year, I made a few New Year vows. This post is to account for what I have been able to keep and what I haven’t. And for you who are too lazy to read the whole blog post, at the end I have listed all the goals in categories; success, partial success and failure.

New Year Vows for 2011:

  • Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits
  • Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it
  • Learn the basics of Russian
  • Start with, and succeed with my projects
  • Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects
  • Buff up and get more flexible
  • Get an apartment of my own
  • Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer
  • Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Now I will do a rundown of each of these vows to see what I have been able to do and what I have failed to do this year.

Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits

This summer when I went to India together with Mehek, I did buy a lot of clothes. I actually thought that I had packed too much, but we actually didn’t cross the weight limit. I also bought three tailor made suits that I am extremely happy about. I still have a lot of clothes in my wardrobe that I don’t use any more, so I should go through it and remove what I don’t need any more. But I consider this a success.

Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it

I can’t say that I am able to speak Hindi as well as I understand it, but then again, I might speak Hindi almost as well as I understood it by last year. I have learned a lot and I do understand much more now than I did before. Passive understanding of a language is always bigger than active knowledge of a language. I consider this a partial success.

 Learn the basics of Russian

It was not until about a month ago that I actually started learning Russian seriously, and since then I have been skipping days and missing out a lot, but I have gotten started. I am very proud that I have taken the first steps, even though I don’t know what I would consider being the basics of Russian quite yet, so I will consider this a partial success.

Start with and succeed with my projects

I have started way too many projects, so a lot of them have been terminated and a few others put on hold. But I guess that I’ve been able to do what matters. Success.

Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects

I haven’t started any projects that would generate any revenue yet. Failure.

Buff up and get more flexible

In the beginning of the year, I went to the gym almost 3 times per week, every week. I am very proud of this. But then the summer came, I got lazy and never really got back into the habit of going to the gym. I guess that going to the gym for about 6 months at least counts for something, so I’ll give this a partial success.

Get an apartment of my own

After much searching during the spring, Mehek and I finally found an apartment that we are renting. Success.

Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer

In May this year I bought the Samsung Galaxy SII, which I really really love. It’s the best phone that I have tried and I’m super happy with it. I didn’t build a desktop computer however, but instead I bought a new really amazing laptop. I would call this a success.

Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Now this is a big one. I have way too much stuff and I like a lot of it way too much. I know that I shouldn’t keep a lot of it, but it has sentimental value or something of the sort, so I haven’t been able to throw everything out yet. I have however gotten rid of a lot of things, and a lot of new things have taken their place. I guess this is a partial success.

So let’s break it down.

Success:

  • Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits
  • Start with, and succeed with my projects
  • Get an apartment of my own
  • Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer

Partial success:

  • Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it
  • Learn the basics of Russian
  • Buff up and get more flexible
  • Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Failure:

  • Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects

So it would seem that I have been able to do at least most of the things that I set out to do this year. Some things partially, some things fully and I only failed to do one thing that I set out to do. I guess I should be proud of myself.

How have you fared with your own New Year vows? Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook.

Weekend on the Boat and Learning to Film Update

Last weekend, Mehek, my parents and I spent some time on the boat, and in preparation for my trip to India, I recorded a few clips every day just to get used to using my camera and things like that. I have learned a few new features that my phone has. Among other things that I can use the volume buttons to zoom, which I didn’t during this trip, but this feature might come in handy.

The things I have learned so far are:

  1. I need to have a clear idea of what it is that I want to film. The better I know what will come up, and when it will end, the better videos I can make.
  2. Every video must have a start, middle and a finish.
  3. Audio quality is much more important than you might think at first.
  4. Zooming around, tilting and panning should not be overused for simple projects.

So, I’ve made up my mind that I will, while still being flexible, take a short clip before the day starts out and talk a little bit about what I’m expecting from the day, then film some during the events happen. This of course will be completely spontaneous and I have no idea how much of this kind of video I will shoot. And then in the end of the day, I will recap what has happened, include some photos and then try to edit it all up and upload it.

So far I haven’t settled for any computer-based editing program. I have downloaded a trial version of Adobe After Effects, so I will try that out a bit, but I’m still not sure if I’m going to bring the computer with me or not. I am leaning towards bringing it, since I want to be able to free up space on my phone, and it would be handy to be able to edit the video a little bit better than I can on the phone. The videos I have made so far have been completely edited on the phone though, and I’m pretty happy with the result.

Regarding a tripod, I still haven’t found one to buy, but I am still on the lookout. If I can’t find one here in Sweden, I might buy one when I am in India, or make one myself. I have seen a few tutorials for how to make one, and it doesn’t look all too complicated. Not sure how much time it would take though.

I am still learning a lot when it comes to shooting video and everything surrounding that. And I’m looking forward to the trip more than anything else right now. It will be the best trip ever, I’m sure of that. But for now, here’s the video from the weekend:

A little heads up: At roughly 3:50 the audio is pretty terrible, so you might want to either turn off the audio or lower it down a lot. That section of the clip will last for about 30 seconds.

Learning to make short films

To prepare for my trip to India, I have started learning about making vacation films, as I want to be able to remember as much of it as possible, as well as share it with everybody back home. In my opinion, video is one of the best ways to remember things by. It not only includes images, but also sounds and other things that can trigger your memory. And in this day and age, it’s not really that hard to shoot video, anywhere at any time. But, the challenge is to do it well, so that it will be enjoyed. And I am a complete beginner when it comes to image composition, writing outlines and filming serious projects, except for what I learned back in my Multimedia classes. I have always been interested in videomaking though, so this is a great first project to embark on.

Especially one blog got me really hooked on the thought of making my own vacation videos, and that is the RTWblog No Baggage Challenge. I myself don’t intend to travel without any luggage at all, but I don’t plan to bring too much with me either. Perhaps I will bring a ton of stuff back home, but that’s another story. Anyway, this blog really got me thinking that perhaps I can make an awesome video-log of when I’m out traveling too.

I will try to learn as much as possible about how to make good videos before I leave, and share it with you guys, but please do share any and all tips you have for me as well. I am, after all, a beginner when it comes to videomaking. Best practices as well as things not to do are always useful to know. I expect to learn a lot both before I go and while I’m actually in India. But most of all, I want to share my experiences with you.

So, where do I start?I have read a few blogposts about how to make a good vacation video, but somehow I don’t really feel too confident about my abilities yet. I made a short video after work, eating pizza downtown with my parents and girlfriend, but I feel like I need to really up my level for the project to be interesting enough to follow as well as follow through with.

The equipment that I’m planning to use is actually only my cameraphone, the Samsung Galaxy S2. I know, it’s not the best choice in the world, but I don’t have a DSLR, SLR camera or a dedicated video camera. I am thinking about buying a tripod and/or a shoulder support for the camera, but I am not sure what to get, or if I even should, on this first trip. I am thinking that I might use this trip as a learning experience for future vacation videos as well, and that I by next vacation will have bought better gear. I really want to get a good HD videocamera, a dedicated external microphone for optimal audio and some kind of support, so that I will be able to shoot better and more stable video.

Let me know what you think, or if you have suggestions to what I should buy. I am not going to give the videomaking part too big a budget for this trip, but please shoot any suggestions you have my way, even if I won’t buy some things until the next trip. I will also continue learning, so let’s hope for the best.