Yep, this is now officially a blog post series. (Click here to see the first entry.)
I could have done better with the title of this episode. I could have called it "Spider Ambush", "The Mine", "Mine Own Mine", or even "Wandering with Half a Heart". But instead I called it "Obsessive Torch-Placement Disorder", a name which I thought was a funny joke based off of an odd moment near the end of the episode where I was being picky about where I placed torches on my newly-constructed fence around my crops.
Looking back, however, the torch scene isn't quite as funny, dramatic, or even as long as I remember it being, and I feel like the title is therefore not really very descriptive of this episode, and it also doesn't really work that well as a joke.
But title aside, episode 2 of SuperGeniusZeb Plays Minecraft is definitely an improvement over the last one… which was also the first one. (I guess the first became last and the last became first. 😋) This episode has my first timelapses (which I mistakenly kept calling "montages" in the episodes and their descriptions), which cut down on the length of the episode considerably. This, combined with me accomplishing a lot more in less time compared to the first episode, makes episode 2 a lot more enjoyable to watch.
But "a lot more enjoyable" is a relative term that refers to episode 1. Can episode 2 stand on its own merits? I'd say that in its original form… no, not really. There's still a lot of problems with this episode, though it's definitely better than the one that came before it.
The timelapses, while better than no editing whatsoever, are not as well-edited as they could have been, and sometimes they drag on for too long with too little happening to keep the viewer's interest. The Kevin MacLeod music is probably the best part about them, but I made the mistake of limiting the speed of the timelapses so that more of the music would play, which was partially to blame for the aforementioned problem of the timelapses going on for too long.
The lack of interesting things happening in the timelapses also contributed to the problem. It's okay to have a timelapse with repetitive actions, but the timelapse has to be short so the viewer doesn't lose interest. If your timelapse is long, there needs to be variety in the stuff happening on-screen. You can't just mine a couple blocks, run up a ladder, craft some stuff, run down a ladder, and then do that same process over and over again and expect a timelapse to make it more interesting. The timelapse may greatly reduce the amount of time that the activity takes up in the video, but it won't automatically make the activity twice as interesting or anything like that.
If I had made this episode today, I probably wouldn't have even used timelapses for the mining segments, unless I was going to do something special with Replay Mod, which doesn't exist for Minecraft 1.5.2. Quick and simple timelapses for mundane actions are okay, but often you don't even need them at all. Cutting to the end of a simple and repetitive action is often both the best move and the easiest move. If you're going to do a timelapse or sped-up segment, it needs to either have a variety of things happen in it, or be pretty short.
You can also try and do what I've seen Etho do in a lot of his videos: use a quick montage (as in an actual montage, not a timelapse) to show a series of key moments in a series of related tasks/actions, but don't show the "empty" time or spend too much time on any particular action. Here's an example of what I mean. It's a great way to give the viewer a taste of what you're doing, without lingering on it too long and eating up time in the episode, and also does it in a way that can be a lot more fun to watch. I've been trying to implement some of this quick montage style stuff into my recent videos, including the re-edits of my old videos.
And speaking of re-edits, I have uploaded the re-edited version of SGZ Plays Minecraft episode 2 to LBRY & YouTube, so make sure to check it out if you've been wanting to watch through the entirety of SuperGeniusZeb Plays Minecraft but don't want to waste a lot of time watching all the boring parts… or if re-edited versions of old videos just happen to interest you.
Side note: with the episode 2 re-edit, I made sure to set the project framerate in Kdenlive to 60fps, so this re-edit is the same framerate as the original, unlike the episode 1 re-edit, which had a framerate of 29.97fps. No, I can't just change the framerate in the project settings and re-export the episode 1 re-edit. Unfortunately Kdenlive doesn't handle project framerate changes very well, and all the titles, effects, & transitions got messed up.
This re-edit trims the time down from about 30 minutes to around 20… it's not as much of a length reduction as episode 1 got in its re-edit, but that's because episode 2 didn't have as much dead time, and it was also shorter than episode 1 in the first place. I could have saved a bit more time if I had cut out some of the timelapses, but since not much else happens in the episode, and since they were the first timelapses I ever did, I decided to keep them and go the route of adding yellow commentary text to the longest and most boring one.
One of the things I noticed while rewatching and re-editing this and the first episode was that I used to be a lot more dramatic in expressing my frustration at certain things. Situations, which, in hindsight, weren't really that annoying. These days I would probably just laugh at something annoying, and maybe take a deep breath and sigh or something. But in these early videos, I seemed to get almost angry at the situation. I was actually surprised by how loud and frustrated I sounded during a couple parts of episode 2. In the re-edit, I decided to cut out some of these moments, because they sounded kind of whiny and annoying, and most of them were from unimportant parts of the episode that probably would have been cut out anyway.
I'm not sure whether I was really as frustrated as I sounded, or if it was just part of the way I talked during recordings back then. I know I tried to speak louder than usual during recordings so my voice could be heard, so maybe that was part of the issue. Whatever the case, these moments definitely weren't very enjoyable parts of the episode for me, and I doubt other people would want to listen to them.
In addition to trying to reduce the amount of annoying moments in the episode, I also tried to add in a bit of humor in the re-edit using the yellow commentary text, as well as using the magic of video editing to make a certain silly moment even sillier. I think it turned out quite well.
Looking back, I've realized that the main premise of this episode would probably only take up about 2 minutes in a modern episode of SGZ Plays Minecraft, and that alone says a lot about how different my new videos are compared to my old ones. I can also see how I was already trying to improve upon the shortcomings of the first episode, as well as how much more I still needed to improve.
And I still have much to improve upon even to this day. You're never done learning, and I've learned that making good videos takes practice, an understanding of what is interesting, what isn't, and also how to use editing to shape your footage into something that is enjoyable to watch. My old videos served as practice that helped me to make better ones later, and watching my own videos and those of others helped me to learn more about the art of video editing and knowing when to stop recording. And now my latest videos will serve as practice for the ones that come after them, and I hope to continue learning more about making videos, so that my content will continue to improve.
I hope this blog post series will be interesting and/or helpful to anyone reading it. Perhaps if you are just starting out with making videos then these posts will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. I certainly hope so. Until next time, this has been SuperGeniusZeb, and I thank you for reading.