Why the long absence?


I feel like everybody who starts a blog goes through this — you’re all jazzed up to create and get your content out there, and then life happens.

Well, for sure, life has been happening for me! Over the last few years, I’ve focused heavily on my professional career and making sure I was taking care of my family. We’ve bought a house and renovated a lot of it — which has been an awesome experience.

I’ve worked a few jobs post college, and I’m still looking to beef up that experience. I feel that’ll never end, but I also recognize that  my skill set has already improved a few times over.

My podcast, The Critical Breakdown, is still going strong. I love podcasting — I want to start more! I would absolutely love to pursue podcasting as a full-time gig. Anybody out there got any leads? Hit me up!

To top it all off, I’ve written multiple drafts of my feature length screenplay and I’m working on some new short films.

So this is just a catch-all update post, but I shall have more content coming soon!


5 Podcasting Lessons I’ve Learned

File Aug 02, 11 07 50 PM

For the past few months, I’ve been contributing to a film-based podcast that consumes a good third of my week, every week.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to pursue this venture with full support from my family and friends, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot about my product, my self, and podcasting.

So I’m going to share some of these lessons with you, too!

#1. You’ll Hate Your Voice

Sure, I guess if you’ve been working in video or audio for a while, you might know this.  You’re going to hear your voice a lot. This will come from testing your audio, recording your audio, and constant playback while editing.

To be honest, your voice isn’t bad. You mostly are sick of listening to it. Get comfortable with your voice—or get someone else to edit your work!

#2. Podcasting Is a Long Process

After recording an episode, you’re going to have to edit it. Which means you’ll be sitting there, listening to the episode over and over until you get it right. How long will this take? Well, multiply your run time by 4, and you might know how long you’ll be editing.

My podcast is about movies, so it takes me and my partner watching a film, researching said film, and then recording the episode.

#3. Nobody Wants to Rate & Review Your Podcast

I have a lot of friends. I’m assuming you have a lot of friends. Hell, a lot of your friends will listen to your podcast. But hardly any of them will take you serious when you say “Leave us a rating and review.”

Don’t take it personal! They’re busy people. If they’re listening and adding to your download numbers, that’s friendship enough.

Want to increase reviews and ratings? Look into review trades, leave other podcast reviews, and just keep working at it.

#4. You’ll Never Sound Good Enough

Well, unless you’re an audio engineer, then your podcast might sound great. But your first dozen episodes? They’re practice.

After you fire those out of the chamber, you’ll start to hit a stride.

And yes, going back and listening to those first few might even hurt.

#5. Everybody Wants to Be on Your Podcast

There are two questions you’ll need to ask yourself when it comes to having guests on your podcast. The first one will be “Will this increase my audience or online reputation?”

That’s a fine consideration, and its definitely one you need to consider.

But you should also ask yourself, “Will this guest have a good conversation with me?”

I mean, the last thing you want is someone who steals your thunder or has nothing to say. Try and find a balance between the two.

Also, expect to get awkward when people say they want to be on your podcast. I’m not sure why, but it feels so intrusive—yet you’ll get asked frequently.

So go ahead and chase down that passion project you’ve been thinking about. You’re bound to learn something about the field you’ve been thinking about, as well as yourself.



Connect VCR to PC: Converting VHS for DVD & YouTube

Can you plug your old VCR into your computer? Actually, yeah. There’s a few ways to go about it, too.

If you had a video card with the proper RCA/s-video input, that would be simple. But if you don’t, you can snag a VHS converter from Amazon. It captures video at a decent resolution, and is great for archiving VHS footage before time sets in and your tape gets distorted.

The only downside is, you’ll run into some conversion errors every now and then. For example, the above clip of Toddler Max walking around with Grandpa. It wasn’t originally synced to the Pink Panther theme, but the audio and video somehow got mixed up during conversion. It looks like the audio would run at a different time if there were errors in the magnetic VHS tape.

It takes a little bit of work in a video editor to fix it up, but it is possible! It slows you down, though. If you wanted to add your own VHS look to your project, you could easily import some old tapes and overlay those clips in your project.

Have you tried to archive any old family home movies? Let me know your tricks in the comments!

Life Updates:

Thanksgiving 2015 - 12 of 56
Thanksgiving portrait with the Wife.

Ever wonder why someone would set up a blog, buy a domain, and then stop updating it?

I used to wonder that all the time. Let me explain what can happen —

You can get super busy, it turns out! Since my last solid updates, I was transferred to the marketing department at my old job, that company restructured, and I decided it was time to move on. I found a new job, where I’ll be writing a lot more. That’s awesome! Go me!

Anyway, this is more of an update than anything. I’ll have a few posts coming up soon.

Once a shy kid, now a cartoonist

Pink haired animator grew up drawing for herself, now she draws for your kids.
By Maximilian Rivera
[AP style sample profile written for my Intro to Journalism class, 2013]

(Lou Noble, via Flickr)

Check on the recently watched tab of any new parents’ Netflix feed and you would most likely find “Yo Gabba Gabba!” Created by Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz, the program grabs children with loud colors, catchy musical numbers and quirky animated bits. Subjects range from tiny, ugly germs to eating vegetables, and even mermaids.

It’s over the top and in your face, and a welcome change of pace from Dora’s blank stare as she awaits your answer.

“Yo Gabba Gabba!” is so high energy and irreverent, yet completely on the mark for children that you have to wonder who is behind it? With her pink hair, human-shark hybrid tattoo and liberal swearing, animator Julia Vickerman might not come to the forefront when picturing children’s television. But as she was lead animator and storyboard artist for the program, she has plenty of experience making cartoons.

I tried to grab an interview with Vickerman earlier in the week, but she had to reschedule because it was her roommate’s birthday. They went to dinner theater at Medieval Times. “It’s the Las Vegas of Renaissance Faires,” she said, erupting in laughter. Vickerman has been a friend for over a decade, and I know that she’s been working with the Jacobs and Schultz since the very beginning.

“When they tried to pitch ‘Yo Gabba Gabba!,’ no one wanted it. Everyone said no… So Scott and Christian made their own pilot,” Vickerman said. “They made a teaser trailer, put it online and it went viral in an hour.”

Their gambit paid off, too, with “Yo Gabba Gabba!” not only having multiple seasons, but also toys, a live show and even a guest spot in a Kia ad during the Super Bowl. “Seeing kids watch it is so gratifying,” she said. “Especially going to the live shows and seeing this giant auditorium full of people watching what you did, it’s pretty exciting.” Art is Vickerman’s livelihood. Some might believe that working artists have it easy, but the business can be daunting. Dealing with self-criticism can be harder than television executives.

“The first thing I draw, I’m just like this is awful,” Vickerman says. “But that was a big thing for me, don’t be scared of having your first few tries suck. Just don’t show anyone.”

But the responsibility of crafting visuals for children’s media builds high expectations. How do parents know kids are in good hands? Well, it turns out animation is a lifelong goal of Vickerman.

“I guess I’ve been drawing my entire life, and it’s the only thing I showed a propensity for – is that a word? […] It’s one of the only things I seemed interested in and kind of seemed okay at doing,” she says. “I really only wanted to watch cartoons all the time.”

It’s not just animation that Vickerman is known for. Over the past years, she’s curated a few art shows, including Just People, a Jurassic Park themed gallery featuring no dinosaurs, and MUCHOS KSTEW, a Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”) themed gallery.

“People […] would not have come to a Kristen Stewart show unless it was because the weird way in which I presented Kristen Stewart in my artwork,” Vickerman said. “It was supposed to be, like, a celebration of creepiness. And I think people got that.”

(Vickerman’s “Secret Vows (Equestrian KStew)“)

Having a gallery based around a relevant movie star may seem odd, especially with pieces having Stewart riding a Stewart-horse hybrid, and half-naked Stewarts doing each other’s hair. But has Stewart seen any of the pieces?

“A friend of a friend showed her one of the pieces, and [Stewart’s] response was, ‘Ummm.’ It was exciting to hear that reaction happening in real life.” Vickerman’s smile lights up her face as she talks.

It’s these charming and genuine moments that explain her so well. She’s just a big kid; still sitting alone in her room sketching ideas she’d never show anyone. “That’s been a running theme in my life – stunted maturity,” Vickerman said as she adjusted her Looney Tunes Tasmanian devil t-shirt.

While her pink hair might make it easy to spot her in a crowded room, it’s the tattoo that really sets her apart. Splashed across her forearm is an Old World style tattoo of her father’s head with a shark body. The Victorian lines and odd anatomy are as intriguing as the premise itself.

“I’ve always liked the way old scientific drawings looked,” she said. “They didn’t have cameras, so it’s not like classically trained artist were on the seven seas. A lot of old drawings of sharks had human noses or human parts. I mean, I knew I’d always like my dad and I’d always like sharks.”

With multiple projects in the pipe for Vickerman, it’s a crucial time in her career. As her brows furrow and her voice rises, she explains to me the process of development hell many shows end in. She has two pilots in the making, one which she pitched two-and-a-half years ago, the other six months ago. After having a friend’s show canned after a four year vetting process, she knows anything can happen.

“If your show goes from pilot to series within a year, you’re lucky” said Vickerman, just a hint of that shy kid trailing in her voice.

“I’m hoping this thing I’m working on for Cartoon Network becomes what I’m most proud of,” It’s Vickerman’s passion and sincerity that makes her work so genuine. Don’t trust her because she researches what kids are into these days; trust her because she taps into her childhood for her art.

“It’s helped me a lot that I kept journals and dairies as a kid,” she said. “Going back and reading what I thought was most important enough to actually write down is pretty cool.”

While she has a firm grip on life now, I wonder what is in store for Vickerman? Where will she be ten years from now?

“I want to make a surreal movie, kind of in the vein of “Labyrinth” and “Weird Science”, starring two young girls. I don’t know what it’s about, but I know the tone.” She laughs as she says it, but I can already see her filmmaking future.

“Most of my best ideas start out as jokes.”

Driving without directions

Linville River Bridge
The Wife and I being goofs at the Linville River Bridge.

I thought about titling this DO THE FRIGHT THING, but then my better judgement kicked in.

Over the past year, I’ve adopted a new policy for my life — choose the scariest option available. I know that sounds weird, but I realize that comfort can sometimes be a crutch. It sounds scary, eh?

On Wednesday, my wife and I decided to have an adventure. We packed up some trail mix and drove off, not knowing our destination. So we spent the day exploring parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway, antiquing, and exploring caverns. If you have never spent time in the area, I highly recommend it.

Linville River Gorge
The Linville River Gorge was beautiful.

Now that I’m a graduate, job hunting is kind of scary. I start searching, and I feel like I am plummeting through the atmosphere, burning up as I go. But being out in nature grounds me — my mind comes back to earth, and I can relax. Also, hiking up and down a few mountains made me realize I need to get serious about my diet and fitness again.

It was a satisfying getaway — which makes me wonder, what other hidden gems can I find in here in North Carolina?

Graduated from UNC Charlotte, now I’m job hunting!

My family at graduation.
My family at graduation.

Big announcement! I have graduated from UNCC with my BA in Communication Studies, Mass Media and a minor in Film Studies. All of this make me wonder, has it been two and a half years already? That’s wild! I still remember my first day of class, I was so intimidated that I felt sick. The worst part was that I had to take public speaking — I had attempted that two times before, but had dropped it both times.

I’ll say this much, sometimes it’s difficult making friends when you’re 30, married, and you live a half-hour drive from campus. I did make a few friends, and a lot of good connections, though. Now that it’s over, I kind of wish I had another year and a half to make four continuous years — but I think my wife would have killed me were that the choice.

So now I am on to that phase of my life known as the Great Job hunt! Ideally, I would like to become a videographer/video editor for a marketing team, or even a copywriter. Regardless, I will still work on both my writing and my video skills while applying for jobs. As for locations, I am looking in Charlotte, Greenville, and Asheville. Why not? Those are the only places in the South I really enjoy. The Wife wants to stay near our family, and I dig that.

So I am going to make it a point to keep updating my blog! Since I am done with school, I will finally have time to write for myself again. It was frustrating to step away, but necessary. I was writing papers almost weekly for the last two months. What kind of posts would interest you guys? Let me know. I can always do production posts, writing posts, slice of life posts, etc. Leave me your feedback in the comments.

Video Post – Keepin’ it reel

As I am now in my senior semester of college, I can safely say it’s job hunting season.

Of course, this is pretty scary-spooky. I’m doing my best to hold it all together but I feel like I’ve gone off the deep end. Of course, in all of this madness, I decided to make a demo reel.

I took the approach of short and sweet. I picked out some of my favorite shots and editing bits from last year’s work. I have a few projects lined up right now that’ll be added to the reel in a month or so. It was tricky picking out what I wanted to include — but all my research said 60-90 seconds is the best duration.

Let me know what you think!

I’ve come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.


Readers! I must apologize for my absence. Senior semester of college is tough, I have to say. Almost every week I have a major assignment due — which has caused me to neglect you! So I am going to make a return to blogging, but probably only at a weekly rate. As for this post, I’ll update you guys on what I’ve been up to.

I wanted some new lenses for my Canon 70D, so I’ve been scouring nearby antique stores and internet vendors for cheap, vintage SLR lenses. If you find the right brands, you can get a nice cinematic look about them. Here are two links that tell you more: Vintage Manual Lenses for Video & Better Lenses for Less Money. And here are two lens tests I did with my new (old) YUS Automatic 135mm f2.8.

Finally, I found some cool contests to enter this year. I’ll post more details as those come around, but I am in planning stages on that. I’m also still planning out my web series pilot, another Sammy tape, and a few documentary ideas. I also worked as DP on a classmates production, and that was really fun. I’ll work that into my demo reel hopefully! So what have you guys been up to?