Personalized Birthday Videos

So I Tried Basic Animation

Yeah, you heard me. I tried animating. Send help.

In humble pursuits of my Happy Birthday project, I knew it would come to this. I really did. But nothing could prepare me for the amount of work it took to just do a real little bit.

Last time we spoke, I had made my beautiful balloon letters. I wanted to make the balloon letters inflate, float, and pop as the music continues. I didn’t realize what a mess this would create.

Layers on Layers

I tried first to animate each word. My main reason for doing this was that editing is done in layers. Layers are exactly what they sound like: each object lays on top of the other. More layers tends to get a little messier as it’s harder to manage and Premiere can get a little angry at you. So I created the words in Photoshop to only have four layers at a time (happy, birthday, to, you).

Once I finished, I tried to make them float like balloons. But since the entire word moved together, it looked really clunky. Definitely not like how a balloon moves. And that was the moment I knew I needed to animate each letter one-by-one. So I quickly went from a manageable amount of layers, to a not-so-manageable amount.

Each of these letters I made pop up to look like they were inflated. I did this by starting a letter at 0 size, increasing the size over a few frames. I made a cartoony pop by making it get a little too big and then dropping down the size to where I wanted it.

To make the letters float: I randomly changed the vertical height and also added a little rotation.

All in all, it turned out like this:

I’m pretty happy with it – as someone with very minimal experience editing, I’m realizing that it is possible to learn how to edit.

But it’s not entirely smooth sailing – I’m struggling a bit with how to make the balloons pop. I’m probably going to have to rethink the motion. Maybe instead they’ll deflate or something, I don’t know.

Personalizing Each Name

I want each of these videos to have a person’s name. But seeing as how much work it is to animate each balloon letter, that’s just not feasible. I’m trying to come up with a cute way to have each person’s name show up without giving me editing hell. Some considerations right now are: writing the person’s name in clouds (there’ll be a sky in the background of the balloons), an airplane banner, a name in fireworks, etc.

I have no idea where to go with that, but it’s probably the next step after making a sky background. As usual, to be continued.

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Personalized Birthday Videos

Spicing Up Your Typography

In humble pursuits of my birthday video business idea, I may have gone a little overboard.

You see, I started trying to make my own personal rendition of happy birthday and it wasn’t going well. While I’ve shared my music production skills (some may call them attempts), in the past, I just couldn’t find my mojo. Every instrument I tried sounded wrong to my ear.

Let There Be Video

In an effort to save the day, I switched over to making the video. Here’s what I know I want in each video:

  • The person’s name
  • Lyrics on-screen (for our hard-of-hearing friends!)
  • Some animations

And that’s as far as I got.

After a little brainstorming I came up with the idea to have the lyrics on balloons or frosted on cakes. Since “Happy Birthday” is a 10-second song and I’ll probably be playing it twice anyway, why not both? So today I tried doing both.

The Importance of Typography

Before I go any further, I want to briefly mention how important font choice and typography is. Since this is my entire birthday video, it’s especially important to nail in this video since it’ll be the only thing people see. But even on our blogs it’s important. We can convey feeling and honestly, a sense of competency. Personally, I take blogs with nice graphics and fonts more seriously than ones with mismatching ones.

But on most WordPress plans, there isn’t really much of an option with fonts. The next best thing without emptying your wallet is to focusing on graphics within posts. I’ll do my best to provide as much information as I can below so you can implement any strategies you see fit to your future graphic design pursuits.

The Balloon Text

It may go without saying, but this morning I had no idea how to make text look like a balloon. Shocking, I know.

So I spent a few minutes perusing the internet to find a handy tutorial and lo and behold, YouTube had exactly what I needed. Here’s a link if you’re interested:

While I am no stranger to Photoshop, this tutorial was a doozy. I’m not kidding, it was probably about 200 steps. Thankfully, the guy that narrates it took it nice and slow and was very easy to follow. After beveling and embossing until my fingers bled, I managed to obtain a pretty similar result:

Not bad if I do say so myself. For my reproduction, I used the public domain font Fulbo Tano which produced a nice balloon shape.

The only downside to this effect was that it wasn’t really a font. While in the video the narrator explains how you can get the text to read other things, my Photoshop had enough of me and was throwing a bit of a tantrum. In efforts not to anger the Adobe gods, I just created PNGs of the alphabet. So to “type” anything, I have to copy letter-by-letter. Maybe I’ll try and fix this later, but I am so over it for now.

The Frosting Text

Riding my highs of my last beautiful plastic-y creation, I turned to make a frosting text. Again, I found a handy tutorial, though this one was an article. Look at how cute it is!

Final product image
From (tutorial linked here)

Loving the piped work, I set my sights on sugary glory only to fall flat on my face. I have followed each step and it stamps on instead of paints? As of my last attempt, I’m stuck with something that looks like it lost a gingerbread contest:

I’m giving up for today, but in the back of my mind part of me is hopeful I can also master the ambitious no-video tutorial.

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Personalized Birthday Videos

Celebrating Good Times with My First Start-Up!

In returning to my blog, one thing I wanted to focus on was exploring business ideas. So while my usual content was focused on only projects – projects that grow skills, not wallets – I decided to dive a little deeper in my return with a side hustle.

In picking something to do, I wanted to pick something that was a little intensive from the get go, but after, completely hands-off. I have some time during winter break to kill after all, so I thought I could make good use of my time.

My only criteria in picking a business idea was that I wanted it to be cheap. Like very cheap. I’m not about to commit to some serious cash when I’m not willing to commit to heavy amounts of time.

So of course that led me to a pretty obvious starting point: a business that can grow entirely online. After recently having edited a video myself (I mentioned this briefly in my last post), I thought I could do some videos.

Now I don’t have a camera. I don’t want to throw my face out to the internet arbitrarily either. So I was left a little stumped.

That’s when it hit me.

The Birth of an Idea

My birthday was just a few days ago. All last month while contemplating how life could go on now that I was inexcusably an adult at 24, I did think about how unfortunate it was that there could be no celebration, even if I had wanted one. This was also while my cousin-in-law was collecting videos to send to my cousin who was deployed this Christmas.

Then I realized I could use my newfound editing videos for good.

I thought it would be nice to spread a little joy by making personalized birthday videos. I’ll admit, this isn’t exactly a new concept. My family and I used to send around Epic Happy Birthday Videos to one another before and let me just tell you, they are awesome. Allow me to introduce you to one:

Pretty great, right? Now these guys seemed to just disappear. They made videos for every name they could come up with and just watched the views roll in.

Understandably, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I thought I could fill the void with a more general birthday video. The song “Happy Birthday” is not copyrighted and can be used in videos royalty-free. Several channels have done the same thing I have, but I believe I can do it as well, if not better, than the ones I’ve seen. Besides, it’ll be a fun little experiment to see if I can break into a market.

Progress and Future Planning

As of right now, I’ve come up with a name. I’ve also created a website for it, but am still in the process of acquiring the domain, hence the reason I’m keeping the name secret for now. Once the website is running on it’s domain, I’ll share it.

I’ve begun to create my own music. I’ve shared a little before about my music production past, so I thought I’d create the audio just to have complete control over the entire video. Again, since “Happy Birthday” is not copyrighted, I can recreate the melody without worrying about legal repercussions. Hopefully the song can be finished soon.

From there, I’ll record vocals which definitely has me nervous. I am by no means a singer, but since I’ll be making videos for each and every name I can think of, I’m going to have to be the one to sing each name. I’m hoping my audio engineering can help me autotune my way to partial glory. We’ll see. This will certainly be the most difficult part.

After, I’ll create a template video which I’ll share with you all. Once I have the template, I can just add names in one-by-one and crank out videos at a rapid speed. I think I’ll have to test out different marketing strategies to see what I can get to stick. To be honest, I haven’t really gotten there in my head yet.

That’s where I’m at for now. I wanted to announce this last week, but well, it was my birthday. It felt a little weird to talk about birthdays on my birthday, so I saved this gem for ya. I’m glad to be back and I’m really excited about what may be ahead.

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Projects Before the Blog – A Look at My Antics with Abbey

Saturday was my cousin Abbey’s birthday. She’s a regular here on the blog, you’ve probably read a book review or two by her.

I’ve alluded to the fact that we’re no strangers to doing projects together. Hidden away in a shared Google Drive folder named The X Files, we have projects we’ve done for the past five plus years. I thought in honor of her big 2-5, I’d share some of the projects in The X Files that were completed before I made the blog.

The Cocktail Book

I’ve alluded to this one before, but we wrote a cocktail book a few years back. Our Christmas parties tend to get a little out of hand – we have themes and everything. One year our theme was “You Are What You Drink.” We all dressed up as our favorite drinks. Abbey had the cutest champagne costume and as a broke college student, I was a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

We like giving a gift to our large extended family each year as a way to say thank you to our parents and the aunts and uncles that make for such a special holiday. That year, we wrote a cocktail book with a different drink for each member of the family.

The book turned out real cute and with lots of yummy recipes. We have a few hardcover books lying around that come out around the holidays each year.

The South Park Animated Video

Another Christmas gift: we turned everyone into South Park characters.

As if that weren’t enough, we created a rendition of “Christmas Don’t Be Late” and changed the lyrics to correspond with each of our family member’s secret Christmas wishes. Unfortunately, my chipmunk singing was not the best and using Windows Movie Maker made it a frame-by-frame mess. But we certainly all made cute South Park characters.

The Trivia

Continuing in the Christmas spirit, last year’s theme was Disney Christmas. This year, paired with Abbey’s growing love of trivia, we made an epic Disney trivia. There were deep cuts and the slideshow was beautiful. Most of the slides relied on gifs, videos, and music, so posting pictures almost doesn’t do it justice. But here’s a few to give you an idea:

(My parents, brother, and I made a fantastic Incredible family, by the way.)

Other Projects

Aside from these, we’ve built board games, created a (horrible) podcast, and many more dumb ideas. Maybe someday I’ll tell those stories, but for now, a big happy birthday to Abbey – here’s to the next wave of our projects!

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