Welcome again to another edition of Community Spotlight! This week’s artist is a YouTube mastermind named JHaller! You can find his YouTube work here, and you can also find him on his tumblr, AskCelestia’sDoor! Without further ado, enjoy the interview!
How long have you been making videos?
I've been making videos of any kind for about two years now.
What is your creative process? What are the steps you go through when making videos?
The very first thing you need is an idea for what you want to do. Like most artists of any kind, I tend to create things associated with something I enjoy myself, so I will often get ideas for a video after playing a video game, watching movies/shows or listening to songs in the genres that I enjoy. Once I have a general idea for what I want to do, I’ll start going over whatever the media is that I’m working with, since most of my videos are based on the audio from another source, and starting coming up with more specific ideas for what I want to do based on certain parts of the media. After that, I go into my video editing program and start plugging away at it.
How did you first get into making youtube videos? What do you like about youtube as a creative medium? Tell me a bit about your Let’s Play series. How have video games and television affected your views as an artist?
Originally I started making videos for the sole purpose of making fun of other people’s videos. There is a comedy group called Retsupurae that frequent the SomthingAwful.com Let’s Play forums, and they make videos where they do riff tracks over the videos of people who do very bad LPs. At one point, they were on a kick of doing commentary over flash animations from the website Newgrounds.com, and they encouraged other people to join in on it, so I decided to do so. I made a few videos in that style, but quickly realized I wasn’t the best at making on the fly jokes, so I stopped doing it, and I took the videos I made down for just having bad overall quality. Still, this gave me a taste of some of the most basic elements of video editing which was basically overlaying voice audio over a video.
The biggest thing I like about Youtube is that it gives almost anyone with a computer a way to get their ideas and videos put on the internet for others to see. And because it’s the most well known video hosting site on the internet, it has created a heightened stage of accessibility for people to go and find the types of videos that they want to see which encourages a tremendous variety of content to be made. I also like the other elements of the site that encourage people to make more videos such as subscribers, custom user pages, and bulletins which allow video creators to interact with the people who follow them.
As for the Let’s Play videos, I mentioned before that I hung around the SomethingAwful LP forum and it was a hobby that I started just because I enjoy playing video games and showing people things in them that they might not notice, or showing the game to someone who can’t play it because it’s an exclusive for a console that they don’t own. I had the most fun doing LPs for Alan Wake and Infamous because it was with those LPs that I started using more advanced video editing programs and techniques, and started seeing all the different things I could do with the programs.
Video games, more so than movies and TV, have shaped my ideas as an artist because I’ve experienced so many different types of stories and situations from them. And the benefit to absorbing all these different scenarios when it comes to video editing is that I may think to approach a scene in a way that others might not have thought of because it’s similar to a scene or situation in a game I’ve played. I actually find it surprising though that even though I may draw situational ideas from video games, I rarely will put direct references to them in my videos.
How did you get into creating videos about ponies? What is the inspiration behind your videos?
Part of the reason I got into the show and subsequently making videos based on it was because of the early YTPMVs. I remember seeing the Night of Pony and Corridor of Cupcakes videos from UnanimousDelivers before even knowing about the show and being intrigued enough to look into it just because of them. But it wasn’t until I had been watching the show and interacting with fans for about a month before I even thought of making videos of my own. The story behind that, is that Shadrow, one of the members of BronyComms, which is a group of two guys who do commentary over the episodes , made a pony parody trailer for Scott Pilgrim. Since I love that movie, I checked it out and for whatever reason, I started thinking about trying to make a video in the same style. But I was not sure of what movie I would do, so I went and watched the Scott Pilgrim trailer again and noticed a section where it listed the pony versions of Edgar Wright’s previous works. So for instance, instead of Shaun of the Dead it said Unicorn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz was Trot Fuzz. And while I’m not sure exactly why I thought of doing it, it was after seeing that, that I decided to try to make the video based on Hot Fuzz. So after downloading all of the released episodes up to that point which was about 22 episodes into the first season, I loaded them up into my editing program, and with barely any previous experience of doing anything like this before, I started coming up with ideas for which characters from the show would be the characters from the movie, figuring out what scenes from the show fit certain situations, and the biggest task of all which was figuring out through trial and error how to get decent lip syncing. After three days of work I released the video not knowing what to expect. That’s why I was glad when people who watched it started giving it positive feedback and it even got a spot in one of EQD’s PMV posts. But the big surprise came a day later though when I woke up to find that Edgar Wright, the director of Hot Fuzz, had made a blog entry solely about my video and also put it on the official Scott Pilgrim Facebook page. Needless to say, I had a Rainbow Dash OhMyGoshOhMyGoshOhMyGosh moment with the realization that one of my favorite film directors and subsequently quite a few of the actors involved in his films had seen my video and enjoyed it. It was a combination of that with the positive feedback from others that I decided to keep making more videos using MLP
What does it take to be a video editor? What kind of technology do you use to make the pony vids? What education/experience has helped you along those lines?
The biggest quality that I think a video editor can benefit from is patience. Video editing is often times a very trying and frustrating process. Media files disappear for no reason, your editing program might crash on you at random moments, and this is all before even mentioning some of the more tedious tasks you find yourself doing such as lip syncing or masking (cutting out animations from one scene and putting them in another). It’s important to realize and prepare for the fact that making a video can be a slow and meticulous process and you may spend weeks or even months on a project. Other qualities that are good to have are diligence and being able to keep up your motivation to work on a project. It can be very easy to let a video sit there because you can’t figure out how to go about it or because you don’t want to deal with the video making process, but by keeping a goal in mind, or thinking of the pay off when it’s finished, it can help keep you on track.
I currently use a combination of programs to make videos including Sony Vegas Pro 11, Photoshop, Audacity and After Effects.Technically, you don’t need any education or experience with video editing to make a video. I feel I represent that statement directly because when I first started making videos, I had almost no experience with the programs other than making simple video cuts with Let’s Plays, and I have never taken a class related to video editing. The cool thing about this hobby is that anyone can learn how to do it on their own if they’re dedicated enough. Previous video editing experience or education can help, but I don’t think they’re absolutely needed to make a good video.
How has collaborating with others affected your videos? Are there any people in particular that you like working with?
The only video I’ve made in collaboration with others was the PonyDocks Season One Collab video, and it was definitely a new and interesting experience with trying to communicate with the people involved and making sure everything came together in the end. Even before the collab though, I had been talking to a few other PMV artists such as BronyVids and Kybdi, and that has been invaluable to me because it’s good to have multiple people to bounce ideas off of when making these videos. Before, I worked mostly alone and almost never had feedback from other people who made videos as I was making them. And while that worked for awhile, I now prefer having other artists critique my videos as I work on them because I think it helps make the end product better. As for people I enjoy working with, I definitely enjoyed working with BronyVids and Gamerboy385 on the PonyDocks collab and I would like to someday do some kind of collab work with PMV artists like Mmmandarinorange, or Catsuhako.
What about Ponies inspires you?
What generally inspires me with the current generation of MLP is the distinct and deep characterizations of the characters, and the interesting situations that are depicted in the show itself. I will give all the credit in the world to the entire MLP team for creating a show that not only inspires me, but also so many other people to be creative, often times with mediums that we’ve never worked with before. Everything about the show is superb from the animation to the writing, to the voice acting, and the whole package combined with the ever growing fan base has made me want to contribute something memorable to the experience, not only for fans, but also for the creators of the show as well.
How have ponies affected your life in general?
I have no idea what I’d be doing right now or what life would be like if I had not discovered this show, but I would like to think that that I’m better off now than where I’d be if I had never started watching and becoming a fan. I basically have this show to thank for jump starting one of the most creative time periods of my life, and meeting a bunch of new great people throughout the fandom. All in all, I’d say life has generally improved thanks to not only the audience reaction to the videos I’ve made but also because of inspiration from the show’s positive attitude and messages.
What else do you do besides video editing (hobbies, jobs, etc.)?
One of the lesser known things I do in the fandom is run the Ask Celestia’s Door Tumblr blog, which started off as a joke after having a conversation with some other Ask Blog artists about how almost anything from the show could have an Ask Blog. But since then, it’s actually slowly grown a steady group of followers. And outside ponies and video editing, I have a pretty normal life. I hold down a job, play video games, and hang out with friends outside the internet whenever I can. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
What is your dream job?
I can never give a definite answer to this question because I’m the type of person who craves variety and can’t hold an interest in any one thing for too long before getting bored and moving on to something else (So far ponies has been the exception to this.) I have been asked if I had ever thought of doing video editing work professionally, but right now I have a lot more to learn with the programs before I would consider going that route.
Do you have any future projects that you are excited about?
I am excited about the upcoming project I have planned which is going to be another collaboration video. This video though will be a PMV with multiple people working on different parts of it, which is something I don’t think I’ve seen done before so it’ll hopefully be another interesting and fun experience.
What was your favorite project that you worked on?
This is a very hard question to answer because I have so many videos that I really enjoyed making. The PonyDocks collab is definitely up there as well as the PMV for the fan made song Proud to be a Brony. I also really enjoyed my work with the Avenue Q videos for the songs If Rainbow Dash was Gay and It Sucks to be Ponyville.
Are you working on anything currently?
As of writing this, I have just released the Ponydocks Collab, and I’m taking a short break before moving on to the next collaboration project I have planned.
What advice would you give new artists?
I would advise new artists to try and keep learning new things about their editing programs and try new techniques as they make videos. Most artists strive to improve their work and this not only keeps the video making process interesting, but also prevents you from getting stuck in making the same types of videos over and over again. You want to avoid that if you can so try watching tutorials, or play around with your program. Also, challenge yourself from time to time because that’s often where the most fun and valuable learning experiences come from.
Try to make the editing process more interesting by adding cool little details or references that people might not see the first time they look at your video. Even if they don’t see it, it’ll be at least more interesting for yourself to put it in there.
Figure out the real reason you’re making videos. I personally believe that videos shouldn’t be made for your own fame on the internet, which is nearly worthless anyways. The bottom line of doing this should be to provide entertainment for others and make someone else’s day a little better with what you make. This is a belief that I didn’t used to have when I first started making videos, but through a few hard lessons, grew to learn and embrace.
And other than that, keep your head up when the video editing process gets tough. It’s a hard process in general, so do what you need to do, whether it’s taking more time to do something, or taking a small break, to get through it without hating what you’re making before you finish it. Remember that this is supposed to be a fun hobby, and if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, chances are your audience won’t enjoy it either.
And that wraps up another edition of community spotlight! Thanks for reading and supporting these artists! Stay tuned for the next community spotlight, which will be the first of the new year! Until next time, pony fans, happy new year!