Making a Living during the Coronavirus Outbreak, part 2

A CLOWN’S QUEST TO SURVIVE LOCKDOWN

In case you missed the last post, the Corvid-19 epidemic has reduced my income to zero. This is what I am doing to survive.

My best show, now on your TV

The Problem:

My wife and business partner came up with the idea, and did a whole load of FaceBook, Instagram and email marketing, so all of a sudden we had bookings, quite a lot of them. Right now I still have to do 4 more personalised kids show video’s by the end of tomorrow.

This is great, they are only R200 each, about $11 US, but everything counts at the moment. The problem is that each video is 30 minutes long, and on my dual core celeron laptop that equates to 3 hours of rendering each if you want HD.

Get the gig first, now learn how to do it!

So I have google. I have used Kdenlive before which amazingly turns out to be a front end to a command line video editor, “melt“, who knew!

My plan (now working) was this:

  1. Render all the non-changing parts of the video (using a script – you can generate melt .mlt render files for pieces of a project inside Kdenlive and que them with bash)
  2. Script the rendering of personalised voice-over parts of the video
  3. Script the audio from the left stereo channel voice recordings over to being on both sides (why did Kdenlive do this to me?!)
  4. Script all the different pieces getting put back together (1GB file in 15 pieces takes 10 minutes, using ffmpeg)
  5. I used YouTube to help me reduce the quality (for someone who didn’t have bandwidth for 1.2GB download), uploaded to YouTube Studio and set the video to unpublished. Then downloaded lower quality again with youtube-dl, share using Google Drive.

It works, more please!

Now each new video takes about 20 minutes to do, instead of 3-4 hours previously. I am hoping to streamline this even more. I guess if I really needed to I could cobble together a system where all I have to do is say the recipient’s name and their video is generated automatically. Of course that would defeat the purpose of a “personal” video. I really do like to feel like I am giving attention to each order.

Why not order your own video for the kids? Email info@bigtop.co.za to book your personalised show!

*Update: our President just announced an extra two weeks of lockdown for everyone.

Making a living during the Corona virus outbreak..

My whole country is in lockdown right now. As a professional circus performer I am particularly affected by the order to stay at home…

As of writing this post, my last paying function, a small birthday party show, was a week and a half ago. I initially started uploading some crazy stuff to YouTube in the hopes that somebody might notice and donate to my family:

Then my wife had a great idea, why not offer an online show. Skype or Whatsapp video is a bit unreliable, so we came up with the idea of a custom, personalised video for parties, available as an mp4 download. Here is the trailer for our offering:

We have already received some enquiries about this video, here’s hoping enough people want one to make a difference to our financial situation here. I am charging $11 (US) for the full 20-25 min custom show video which will be available as a private download from my server (DigitalOcean of course)

If you are interested in booking the show, please check out https://bigtop.co.za for more details.

Finally, I uploaded an entire show I did for an audience of one (my son) last week. For all the kids who are bored at home:

I am going to continue making video’s and practising for the duration of the lockdown here, as well as working on my new CoronavirusSA tracking android app and other projects.

What are you doing to keep busy in these trying times?

tomjuggler at gmail dot com to get in touch

Remember, stay safe and wash hands people!

Traffic Light with Button

Fritzing is a great open source project. It turns out that plugging wires into a breadboard is a great way for 5 year olds to develop hand-eye co-ordination, so I have started making some kid-friendly projects for my son.

The first was a traffic light project. This is conveniently located in the Fritzing examples, although you have to go to their website (link) to get the Arduino code. They use an Uno as controller, but I prefer the breadboard-friendly Nano. I didn’t have to make any modifications to this project for it to be fun, apart from using the Nano instead of the Uno in the screenshot, and adding a blue LED with a separate switch, as my son insisted on having his favorite colour represented.

This project offered multiple opportunities for learning. For one, it’s a working traffic light, so we went over the rules with some of his lego characters, look before you cross, press the button and wait, etc. Secondly I left the jumper wires to my son to plug into the board, and tried to explain a bit about DC current as well. We had fun turning the LED’s the wrong way, I just made sure the board wasn’t powered when he was busy plugging things in.

For power I used a power bank, plugged into the nano with USB. The power bank has two outputs, so we can have two projects powered at the same time. There are quite a few projects which are fun for kids, and since my kid loves “helping his dad” it’s going to be something I will be doing a lot in the future. More to come soon.