In my day job I often do circus shows at schools, for fun days and end of year events. Having had this experience over many years, I am proud to introduce a new school show focusing on technology.
This is a motivational show aimed at school kids. The purpose of the show is to showcase some amazing tech with the goal of inspiring children to consider a career in technology.
Fun with electronics and programming, featuring WiFi controlled LED’s, a full-screen projector display and interactive audience participation.
I plan to demonstrate the Raspberry Pi (with Scratch and Processing), Makey Makey (Banana piano and some of my own creations) and some Android apps for WiFi control, as well as Arduino programmed electronics projects.
It’s becoming easier to be a programmer but at the same time there is so much choice – I will be showcasing some of the most accessible learning technologies I have found in a fun, interactive way, via a live stage show.
Check out http://show.circusscientist.com *concept website, under development. The actual content, duration and pricing is subject to change. ETA early 2023.
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 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:
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)
Script the rendering of personalised voice-over parts of the video
Script the audio from the left stereo channel voice recordings over to being on both sides (why did Kdenlive do this to me?!)
Script all the different pieces getting put back together (1GB file in 15 pieces takes 10 minutes, using ffmpeg)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to book your personalised show!
*Update: our President just announced an extra two weeks of lockdown for everyone.
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)
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.