Roughly a year ago I bought myself an Apple MacIntosh computer to use for doing special T & T projects. One of the things that talked me into it was the built in IMovie program that would allow me to make talking head videos of myself whenever I wanted to. I did use the computer to make a special Tunnels and Trolls calendar last Spring. I learned a few things by doing that, and produced a monsterpiece which was not the most popular thing I’ve ever done. 🙂 Here’s a picture of it.
That art might look familiar. Yes, it is some of Liz Danforth’s work, as collaged together into a single painting via the photoshop skills of Steve Crompton. And yes, we have re-used it as part of the publicity art for this Kickstarter project. One thing I learned long ago from movie-makers: re-use your footage. The trouble with it as a T & T calendar is that there are no trolls in the picture. I got this picture because I paid Liz a small commission to let me use her art.
Let me make this clear, dear reader. I am not rich, or even very well off. Tunnels and Trolls never got mass market distribution the way that other game did, and as a result, my earnings from the game are usually a couple of thousand dollars a year–that is, I made that much on the good years. My lifelong career as a public librarian for the City of Phoenix left me with an adequate retirement fund, most of which is going to someone else (personal story, let’s not go there). When I come up with a hundred dollars or so to pay an artist, that’s a significant fraction of my monthly income. And I grew up back in the 50s and 60s when money used to mean something, so I’m naturally tight-fisted.
But artists should be paid for their work. They work hard and add so much value to any product, especially a fantasy game like Tunnels and Trolls. It has been my extreme good fortune over the years to have some amazing artists illustrate my work. Early T & T had Rob Carver and Liz Danforth, just about the only artists I knew in those days. How lucky was that! I’ve always said it is better to be lucky than good. The British edition got Josh Kirby, and that’s a big name in fantasy illustration.
(I love art. I used to try to do my own freehand versions of J. Allen St. John’s illustrations for the works of Edgar Rick Burroughs. My Tarzan and the Golden Lion looked a lot like Alley Oop and some mutant cat-thing. When I took life drawing in college, the teacher passed me only because I had perfect attendance and turned in every assignment. I was best with charcoal–the blurrier I could make the picture and still claim it was art, the better it looked. I used to spend hours with colored pencils coloring the black and white comic art in magazines like Eerie or Savage Tales. Horrible, horrible stuff! Really, you are all so lucky I didn’t have to illustrate my own writings, much as I would like to.)
So when Steve told me that we needed a video of me talking about this Kickstarter project, I thought this would finally be my chance to use my Macintosh and do a talking head video. I found the Imovie program, wrote myself a script, and sat down a couple of weeks ago to make a home video. It took me a while to figure out to use the program–these things are supposed to be intuitive, right? They’re not. After a good deal of moaning and groaning, and cursing and fumbling with my computer, I made my IQ saving roll, and googled “How to make a video with Imovie” and found a video tutorial that got me going at last. I could have saved my time and computer memory. The results were hideous beyond belief. When I read the script it didn’t sound bad, but when I tried to do it on computer camera, it simply didn’t work. I had to stop and memorize the next line, and I leaned in and out to see things, and it was incredibly painful to watch. (Not that I like watching myself on camera anyway!)
However, the St. Andre luck came to my rescue again. Someone befriended me on Facebook, and I recognized that she and her mate, Jim Miller, had done the camera work for Vul-Con, a gaming convention held last Spring in Phoenix, where I was lucky enough to be a guest. I got in touch with Jim Miller and he said yes he could do some video work for me. I offered him a modest fee; he came over and spent a couple of hours taking shots, and helping me relax in front of the camera, and we did get an acceptable video of me describing the Kickstarter for Deluxe T & T, and why I wanted to do it. Jim not only edited together a video of me from many, many takes, but also added the music you hear. Then he sent it to Steve Crompton who compiled the whole video with Liz’s segment and the Trollworld stuff, and created the Kickstarter video we wound up using. We’ve received a lot of compliments on that video.
The point is that I had a job to do, and it wasn’t going well, but I didn’t give up–I used the St. Andre luck and memory (I truly believe that one makes his own luck by the way one lives and the things one does.), and with a lot of help from my (new) friend, Jim Miller, the video got made. Steve Crompton got something to work with. The Kickstarter is off to a great start–thank you, pledgers, you know who your are.
I feel the same way about getting the Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls edition published. I have a plan, and with the team of talented people I have helping me, (or maybe I’m helping them–it is a team effort) you know it’s going to happen.
Well, that was a long, dull story, and for your patience in reading through it all, I’m going to reward you with something a little different. Here is the best out-take blooper piece of footage that came out of that video session. It will also show you what a truly crazed personality I am, but I hope you won’t hold that against me. After all, I’ve spent most of my life in fandom among gamers like you–you really can’t expect me to be normal and dull.
If you like the video or the story, leave a comment. The FOTT (Fellowship of the Troll) loves to hear from you.