Why do you write?

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I was asked the question, why do you write, the other day. It came point blank and out of nowhere. I could have made an off the cuff remark, something like, I write because I write, I write because I have always read a lot and well the obvious one, because I like to. I’m a thinker though, so I have gone away and reflected upon it. I mean you could think yourself into knots, I probably do at times. But this is what I have come up with at this point in time. There are various reasons, why I write and why writing resonates with me, so without further wait, here we go.

Firstly, I would say and this is the closest I probably have to an altruistic reason. I want to share with the world, a love and passion for reading and inspire it. To bestow the joy of the imagination, of thinking, characters and other worlds. I always think reading is amazing, not only does it provide an endless source of entertainment, but it challenges our ideas, teaches us and makes us grow as human beings. They say walk a mile in another person’s shoes, well a book plunges you in to other lives. You experience, infinite experiences, endless worlds, a different point of view and in many ways and drawn to empathise within characters whose ideas aren’t your own. I think reading, transfers and cultivates empathy to your everyday life. Yet of course even with all this exposure to experiences, there is just the sheer entertainment side, in which books are very much able to stand on their own two feet for.

Secondly, I have grown up with a love of reading. Writing is not as easy, as reading, in fact at times it can be damn hard, but I love experiencing these different worlds, getting to know different characters, the imagination and exploring. There is this aspect of why I write, because of the way I write. When I write, I am on the same journey as when a reader looks at my manuscript. I just write, it comes out and I end up in my imagination, where ever my imagination takes me. It is an amazing adventure, even when characters don’t cooperate with what you want them to do.

People ask me what am I writing about, the answer is usually, I’m keeping it a secret or if I am honest, I don’t know. The reality is usually, I don’t know until it is written. Sure sometimes there is an idea, but who know were the path will lead. I therefore like to wait till the end, when I have the big picture before I give a proper answer. The fact I am just as much in the dark, really is part of it. I must admit, I think if I the author were omniscient, I wouldn’t pick up a pen or put fingers to keyboard. I’d get bored.

Why do I write science fiction? Well to be honest, I grew up on Star Trek. I was absolutely captivated. The Star Trek Universe asks a lot of the big questions, it explores an endless amount of themes. Growing older, the thing that has stood out has always been the sheer optimism for the future, the goodness of humanity and things we can aspire for. Patrick Stewart as Picard and the morals, the society established really resonates. What Star Trek to me is like a beacon of hope. I think that if there was something I would like to capture for my writing it is this optimism for the future, it is this innate goodness in humanity and of course it is the awe of space. The need to reach out and explore that final frontier. It is heart breaking to see all this dystopia fiction, played out as the main thing for science fiction. The future is a lot brighter than that, there is a lot more to science fiction and I have an unwavering faith in Humanity to see us to a future that is amazing.

So with Star trek as the start for my love of science fiction, I got to watching, and reading, a lot of science fiction over the years. I really migrated to science fiction from fantasy, but generally drift between the two. What sort of books did I read that inspire me in the genre, well it is more authors, Neal Asher’s, Jack Campbell (John G. Hemry)  and Ian M Banks for a start. Charles Stross.  My love of science fiction naturally, made it became a home genre for me. I probably won’t ever write hard/high science fiction, because sadly I am not a theoretical physicist and it really is characters that captivate me rather than numbers. That said that doesn’t erase the need for diligent research and reasonable speculation!

Why do I write fantasy? I write fantasy, principally for the magic and just like science fiction, there are an endless amount of interesting worlds you come across. This is my other genre I grew up with. Think of books like, Forgotten Realms books, The Black Magician trilogy, Rift War Saga and many others. There is a very immense amount of freedoms given to writers in the genre and well you can explore lots of themes and ideas. It is also an incredible amount of fun to write.

I guess this at the moment is why I write. My reasons probably will change and grow, as I change as a person over the years. So I will say, this is why I write at this point in time. I hope that when I do get published, you as the reader are able to get the same amount of enjoyment, as I have writing and go on to read widely.

So let me pass the question along to other writers and authors. Why do you write? Feel free to comment below or on social media.

Have a great day where ever you are in the world.

 

YouTube – The Next Mountain

mountains

Thank god, I don’t have to climb that mountain. I’m only going to be talking about figurative mountains. On my side quest, constructing a YouTube channel, I hit this mountain like an express train. What’s the issue? Well I thought I had my OBS settings perfect, but it appears this isn’t the case. The recordings are experiencing visual feed lag, even though the audio is coming out fine,

The scuttle butt is that if you are recording, you are using double the CPU and GPU power. The frame rate itself drops off astronomically on the recorded feed, unless you have a really powerful rig. So you could be getting 60fps in game, but the recording could come out the other end at 20fps as it generates the next screen.

I am using my laptop and not my desktop/server for recording, I just prefer using it, but that comes with its own price. Even though it has an I-7 4 core processor, 8g ram and a NVidia 650m. I had a chat with a few guys at my Star Citizen organisation and they were very helpful in chipping in some ideas on what to do.

A sudden idea had occurred to me after there advice had filtered through (takes a day cause of time zones). It was to force OBS to use my Nvidia card out of the Nvidia card manager, but this resulted in a black screen. I did this because normally my laptop fights over using the weaker intel card to save battery with fullscreen programs, rather than the Nvida. Whatever the reason, OBS chucked a wobbly. So I let it have its way and returned it to the intel card in the Nvida manager and just let it use the Nvidia from OBS’ own internal settings.

Anyway the recommendations were to drop the bit rate from 30,000 to 12,000-16,000, drop frame rate to lock in at 30fps output (Because at 60fps it just keeps demanding resources regardless of them being there) and also dropped the output to 720p HD. In addition, since I was using my laptop to use less intensive games like Battlefield 4. Well I am an optimist. So I kept with Star Citizen (Since its the most intensive game I have apart from DOOM), then tried each setting one at a time in the recording

Sure enough after this trial and error, it brought the video feed into alignment with what I was actually getting onscreen in game. OBS suddenly became quite smooth in its recording. So I think I am laughing now. All setup for the recording side in game. Here are my current video settings in OBS if you are curious. Hopefully that is of some use to you:

settings 1settings 2

Anyway that wraps it up for this segment, next time we are going to look at editing software. Have you used OBS, how are you finding it? Feel free to comment below or o my social media. Hope you have a great day wherever you are in the world.

Writing Update – Sharing is not publishing – A sunken ship

Time for a writing update.

I have wanted to share my work with you guys for sometime. It always feels to me like here I am blogging away and tweeting. Making grandiose claims to word count or amount of writing work I am doing, without anything to back it up. So, as I said I would, I investigated with the outlets I intended to publish at, if there was a limit to what I could share with you guys.

Sadly, I got a very gentle tap on the wrist so to speak. It appears for purpose of sharing my work on here, that even extracts or voice works of the extracts count as prior publication. Which means there is no look in to being published at an already small amount of outlets to get short stories published and from what I can tell, the big publishers are pretty much the same policy. If I think about it fair enough, they need something that nobody has seen, so people will pay money to read it. I mean why pay money, if it is already free somewhere on the web.

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(Naturally, yet unexpectedly, my front doorstep provided a sunken ship)

It does not mean, that I won’t in the end share with you guys. It just means that the only things that I am going to share are from work that has been knocked back by everywhere conceivable. I am working on a checklist and there might just be a few stories, I am willing to chuck up extracts from, in a few months time.

A man with a plan, as they say. I am going to in the final act, end up creating an anthology of all the works that didn’t quite make it into places of publication and probably E-Publish. Which kind of makes me feel just that little bit sad, because I don’t feel that it is the achievement of truly getting published then. Before I reach that stage, I am going to get a bit more beta reader feed back.

Anyway that’s were publishing extracts goes for me. It is off the table for now.

YouTube Channel Update – Best laid plans…

Alright folks, as the saying goes, ‘the best laid plays go astray.’ I hit a minor hurdle with the banner, well not a super hurdle, but an annoying one. YouTube tells you its recommended banner size is 2560 X 1440 pixels. What it doesn’t alert you to, is the fact this is the banner size for all mediums, specifically it has TV’s in mind. So when it comes to looking at the banner on a laptop, you miss pretty much everything, but the centre. I tested out that first nebula field background experimentally and I only got blue and some stars. I am not saying it’s terrible, but considering the hard work that went into making planets happen, it was a little bit annoying.

That’s easy fixed though, just means moving in the planets, adjusting the background here and there. She’ll be right again before we know it. Onwards and upwards, I did a little bit of research into recording software and tried out FRAPS and OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). FRAPS doesn’t seem to like windows ten or at least doesn’t like my laptop. I jumped straight into a game of Stellaris, hit record and all I got after I had finished up, was sound and a black screen. It’s highly likely it could be my knowledge of the program, but it seemed to be working perfectly fine.

So back to the drawing board after FRAPS (It was the main one I knew). I had a hunt around, looked through forums and posted on the website for the organisation I am a part of for Star Citizen. I even managed to get into contact with ‘BoredGamer,’ a YouTube veteran I’m subscribed to.

After a few really helpful people chucked in their two cents, I did some more research, ummed and ahhed, then tried out a few more recording software. I am currently on OBS or Open Broadcaster Software, freebie and open source.

OBS

I’m no video techie, but I managed to get it recording, utilising different sources e.g. my display, video camera and Stellaris. The quality out the other end was brilliant. Most of the hard yards was done by a setup wizard which is in beta, but I had a bit of a looksee in the settings.

Stating the obvious, you don’t want to change your file format to one with any compression for recording, lose quality (Think lossless image format like PNG then going to JPEG or something) and if it’s like any video software I used back in 2006….. Very bad things happen.

Here is a link to OBS if you are interested: https://obsproject.com/

Anyway, when plans go astray, just come up with a new idea. At present OBS is it, my placeholder draft banner can be modified and the next stage is finding some video editing software.  I will probably start by looking at Adobe Premiere, cause that’s what I know, but I will most likely do research and throw my net wide to find the best thing for me. Most likely a free open source alternative to begin the experiment.

If you have any thoughts on good video software, free or otherwise, feel free to comment or tweet me.  Happy also for any advice, video editing, banner creation etc etc.

Take care now.

Seb

 

 

YouTube Banner – A human needs a ship

There is of course the most important feature missing from my universe designs. That is a spaceship. What sort of spaceship? Well I am thinking of maybe trying to create a spaceship for one of my races in my sci fi universe from my stories. Going with sleek and elegant with a very advanced tech feel that outpaces humanity by a crazy long time.

What inspires me for ships currently well at the moment one of my favourite ships is a Romulan D’Deridex Warbird out of Star Trek the Next Generation onwards. I love the profile and the sleekness of the vessel and whilst it is sleek it is also intimidating in appearance. I mean look at them wings and profile. See that decloak and you sure as hell are not going to hang around for long.

Here is a picture of a model I own:
warbird
You can see a much cooler picture, which Memory Beta have used here: https://goo.gl/images/bBVPAS

My next inspiration is Star Trek Voyager, I mean Voyager is a real smart looking ship that also gives it an air of speed. The slight ovoid primary section and streamline nature of the vessel just is cool.

If you haven’t see Voyager before, here is a link to Memory Alpha’s picture of it: https://goo.gl/images/bgDygZ

Ok ok, so from that info we know I’m a fan of Star Trek (My childhood), but I also have inspirations from outside that.

Turning to Star Citizen, the Endeavour class science ship. I love the fact she is big, sleek for a big ship and still manages to pull off a science look. Even with out bio domes attached, it looks pretty damn nifty. Gives me the feel, of older science fiction. Big lumbering behemoths, ploughing through space. Very very cool.
Image with bio domes: https://goo.gl/images/1UFtE4
Image without: https://goo.gl/images/dt4sED

I really like the reliant from Star Lancer, for similar heavy set old school feel that isn’t too old school sci fi. It of course like that D’Deridex is more military focused.
Image: https://goo.gl/images/DwQyvf

So these inspirations, what does that bring to the table? Well it brings me sitting at the table, trying to remember how to sketch and draw, another skill I haven’t used since the dawn of time.
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Let’s just say work in progress. I also need to devise how to turn an end product sketch into a fully blown 3Dish ship for the banner. But you know, I’m sure I will either figure it out or find a tutorial for that. I think it extends a bit beyond my grade 8 or 9, digital production skills.

I really want that advanced exploration feel, without dipping into old school or completely retro sci fi ship concepts/hard sci fi (E.g. no big rings for gravity or super bubble ships).  But we shall just have to see were my imagination takes me on this one.
Anyway, I am all up for tips, any thoughts or advice, feel free to comment.

A YouTube Banner – Designing Begins

On to banner design for the YouTube Channel. Time to dust of the old skills, unused since 2005 or was it 2004. I don’t quite remember, that’s how long ago it has been since I have done digital imagery things. I guess somethings you learn in school do stay with you, even if they are lost in back half of the filing cabinet of the mind.

So this will take a bit longer I think. I’m not sure were I want to take it yet, so it will involve playing around and experimenting. So let’s start with what I think I want shall we. That would have to be, to make the banner, science fiction to the max. There needs to be stars, endless universe, maybe nebulas, a few planets and well what’s not more space opera than having a starship!

Let’s begin and see what GIMP and my rusty skills can do.

Here is me playing around with a few design ideas:

I wasn’t sure about this first design. That primary star and planet looked a bit odd and the scene looked a bit overcrowded with the nebula. I was going to put in a moon as well, but it isn’t in there for the same reason. I think it will fit a starship coming in from the right hand side though. Would really enjoy putting in a few more planets and make it a larger star system. What do you guys think? I feel like its a not bad effort first effort, got a long way to come but we are getting there.

Space background 1

My second design:

I think the stars are a bit dull. You kind of need to zoom in to see them. I am loving the blue gas giant though. I found a really useful texture website https://www.textures.com/. It essentially gives you x amount of free credits to download textures usable in anyway you choose, pretty much, except reselling them as textures (Their website has a full FAQ on what they will and won’t let you do with it). I completely forgot about using textures to be honest and used some internal gimp effects on the previous planet. I’m loving what the texture pulled off. Bit of Gausian Blur and some motion blur really altered the ice texture to look like layers of gas.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make planetary rings in GIMP, everything was coming out a bit like lines, but you know the internet provides (http://www.scottphotographics.com/creating-planets-and-planetary-rings-in-gimp/). That link takes you to Michael Scott’s website and step 6 is were I learnt how to do the whole planetary ring thing.

Part of me is not liking that I seem to keep these planets to that lower left hand corner, but I guess it is as good as any.

attempt with rings

Third design so far:

So here is my third design so far and I am loving the ice planets. Main issues in this one really are the overcrowding. I was going to try and fix up the spacing so I can put in a star with GIMPS supernova effect and the use lighting effects to have the shadows across the planets, but then I won’t be able to fit a space ship in. Once again the background stars seem to be a problem. Too dim.

A new attempt

Overall that is my first three designs, I am not sure were I will take the next design. I might try and go for a multi-planet view with better spacing. Experiment more with nebulas. Do I want asteroid belts? Naaah I probably don’t want asteroid belts. Most importantly, I need to design and stick in a spaceship.

On a side note on the software I used:  GIMP is a free open source editing tool. Pretty much download and off you go. If you need more scripts or bits and bobs just add em in there. It appears to have a huge crowd of people around it. So far I am really satisfied with the program, considering A. my rusty skills B. Macromedia Fireworks is extinct. It is a close enough substitute for my skills and knowledge so I can’t complain. In all honesty in this case, it’s not a case of you get what you pay for. It’s a pretty damn good program and I am a happy chap. If this experiment is a success, I may move to photo shop or something else later.

Anyway, here there be planets. Feel free to offer any tips, thoughts and advice in the comments section. Have a great day!

P.S. This is actually surprisingly a really fun challenge. I mean I know stories will be my thing, but this has definitely been a fun adventure so far.