100 things I learned from Youtube

Talk for Bitnorth 2019.

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01. The silkworm moth is super cute, and totally domesticated. It can’t live without human help. Once it turns into a moth all it does is have sex and die - it doesn’t eat.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt-DkhVLqp8

01. The silkworm moth is super cute, and totally domesticated. It can’t live without human help. Once it turns into a moth all it does is have sex and die - it doesn’t eat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt-DkhVLqp8

02: A quartz watch works because the quartz crystal tuning fork vibrates 32,768 times a second  https://youtu.be/_2By2ane2I4

02: A quartz watch works because the quartz crystal tuning fork vibrates 32,768 times a second https://youtu.be/_2By2ane2I4

03: You can’t plead insanity in Alaska, Kansas, Utah, Idaho or Montana:  https://youtu.be/i-YPZ1_h7g

03: You can’t plead insanity in Alaska, Kansas, Utah, Idaho or Montana: https://youtu.be/i-YPZ1_h7g

04: Weaver ants use their larvae as glue guns, pointing them at the leaf walls of their homes and squeezing them. This releases silk that glues the leaves together:  https://youtu.be/G_dv_dNJf3U

04: Weaver ants use their larvae as glue guns, pointing them at the leaf walls of their homes and squeezing them. This releases silk that glues the leaves together: https://youtu.be/G_dv_dNJf3U

05: Kale, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and about dozen other things we eat all derive from the same plant, called Brassica oleracea, because millions of years ago this plant had an ancestor that tripled it’s genome, making genetic variation a lot greater in this family of plants  https://youtu.be/JcVJDz1-8Lc

05: Kale, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and about dozen other things we eat all derive from the same plant, called Brassica oleracea, because millions of years ago this plant had an ancestor that tripled it’s genome, making genetic variation a lot greater in this family of plants https://youtu.be/JcVJDz1-8Lc

06: The Tantalus or Pythagoras cup is a roman bowl that works as a kind of siphon. When you fill it up to a certain point, it will start draining out the base of the bowl and you can’t stop it from draining completely. It’s one of the oldest known prank devices.  https://youtu.be/JtYC974tWrI

06: The Tantalus or Pythagoras cup is a roman bowl that works as a kind of siphon. When you fill it up to a certain point, it will start draining out the base of the bowl and you can’t stop it from draining completely. It’s one of the oldest known prank devices. https://youtu.be/JtYC974tWrI

07: Salt is one of the key ingredients in our diets and our chemistry. But black pepper originated in India and was mainly used to make rotten meat taste better. When the French got pepper, Louis the 14th made it a standard in our cuisine because he was a picky eater and didn’t like flavour.  https://youtu.be/yzBIarGJjHk

07: Salt is one of the key ingredients in our diets and our chemistry. But black pepper originated in India and was mainly used to make rotten meat taste better. When the French got pepper, Louis the 14th made it a standard in our cuisine because he was a picky eater and didn’t like flavour. https://youtu.be/yzBIarGJjHk

08: Xenophyophores are single-celled ocean organisms that can grow as large as 20cm.  https://youtu.be/szIcnSIlrDE

08: Xenophyophores are single-celled ocean organisms that can grow as large as 20cm. https://youtu.be/szIcnSIlrDE

09: There are badass birds called Fire Hawks in Australia who intentionally start fires.  https://youtu.be/5zcJs16aZ5s

09: There are badass birds called Fire Hawks in Australia who intentionally start fires. https://youtu.be/5zcJs16aZ5s

10: In most places in the world, power is sent using 3 phase alternating current. Using an alternating current makes it easier to step up or down the voltage using a simple transformer, and 3 phase cycle is the lowest number of phases we can combine to get a pretty smooth supply of power.  https://youtu.be/AHFZVn38dTM

10: In most places in the world, power is sent using 3 phase alternating current. Using an alternating current makes it easier to step up or down the voltage using a simple transformer, and 3 phase cycle is the lowest number of phases we can combine to get a pretty smooth supply of power. https://youtu.be/AHFZVn38dTM

11: Cougars are the biggest cats who purr and meow.  https://youtu.be/BXhfZRE08ko

11: Cougars are the biggest cats who purr and meow. https://youtu.be/BXhfZRE08ko

12: At Johnson Matthey Noble Metals, they refine such expensive metals, a special brush is used to collect dust from the shoes of visitors and workers, recovering dust with the equivalent worth of a big new car every year.  https://youtu.be/Fg2WzCzKpYU

12: At Johnson Matthey Noble Metals, they refine such expensive metals, a special brush is used to collect dust from the shoes of visitors and workers, recovering dust with the equivalent worth of a big new car every year. https://youtu.be/Fg2WzCzKpYU

13: This guy is David Hahn. In 1994, when he was 17 he built a nuclear reactor in his Michigan backyard, exposing his neighbourhood to 1000x the regular dosage of background radiation and his community was declared a superfund site.  https://youtu.be/SHZAaGidUbg

13: This guy is David Hahn. In 1994, when he was 17 he built a nuclear reactor in his Michigan backyard, exposing his neighbourhood to 1000x the regular dosage of background radiation and his community was declared a superfund site. https://youtu.be/SHZAaGidUbg

14: David Hahn was arrested in 2007 for stealing smoke detectors, and he died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 39.  https://youtu.be/G0QMeTjcJDA

14: David Hahn was arrested in 2007 for stealing smoke detectors, and he died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 39. https://youtu.be/G0QMeTjcJDA

15: Due to the restaurant's reputation for staying open in extreme weather, the so-called “Waffle House Index” is informally used by FEMA to gauge storm severity.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMPRLxNRS4I

15: Due to the restaurant's reputation for staying open in extreme weather, the so-called “Waffle House Index” is informally used by FEMA to gauge storm severity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMPRLxNRS4I

16: Since 1600 in Japan, there’s been a baby crying festival where sumo wrestlers make babies cry to protect them from evil spirits.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I8ROyD85S4

16: Since 1600 in Japan, there’s been a baby crying festival where sumo wrestlers make babies cry to protect them from evil spirits. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I8ROyD85S4

17: Parasitic wasps inject their eggs under oak tree cells in leaves and bark, The eggs release chemicals that tell the tree how to build a custom gall to protect the egg.  https://youtu.be/lOgP5NzcTuA

17: Parasitic wasps inject their eggs under oak tree cells in leaves and bark, The eggs release chemicals that tell the tree how to build a custom gall to protect the egg. https://youtu.be/lOgP5NzcTuA

18: This is called an anti-oliod and it rolls smoothly with a constant centre of mass.  https://youtu.be/Kx3QtNmhN-o

18: This is called an anti-oliod and it rolls smoothly with a constant centre of mass. https://youtu.be/Kx3QtNmhN-o

19: Schlieren imaging, a technique used to detect tiny differences in air, can be accomplished using a spherical concave mirror, a bright LED flashlight, a razor blade or coloured filters, some tin foil, and a camera.  https://youtu.be/K7pQsR8WFSo

19: Schlieren imaging, a technique used to detect tiny differences in air, can be accomplished using a spherical concave mirror, a bright LED flashlight, a razor blade or coloured filters, some tin foil, and a camera. https://youtu.be/K7pQsR8WFSo

20: The hardest catch you can achieve with the Kendema Japanese toy is to spear the ball on the point of the handle. The trick is to use angular momentum - if you spin the ball around it’s vertical axis, the hole will stay at the bottom and you can catch it on the point.  https://youtu.be/TkGawXjsltc

20: The hardest catch you can achieve with the Kendema Japanese toy is to spear the ball on the point of the handle. The trick is to use angular momentum - if you spin the ball around it’s vertical axis, the hole will stay at the bottom and you can catch it on the point. https://youtu.be/TkGawXjsltc

21: You can get shrunken coins at  http://capturedlightning.com/frames/interesting1.html . The way they are shrunk is with a really strong electromagnetic field around a coin using 8000v to produce a field of 50,000 amps (which is like 5 typical lighting bolts). This drives the magnetic field up and delivers 26 megawats to the coin, but most of the charge stays on the outside of the coin experts a force inwards, which shrinks the coin, at least until the coil explodes.  https://youtu.be/d2TDXKfBaMQ

21: You can get shrunken coins at http://capturedlightning.com/frames/interesting1.html. The way they are shrunk is with a really strong electromagnetic field around a coin using 8000v to produce a field of 50,000 amps (which is like 5 typical lighting bolts). This drives the magnetic field up and delivers 26 megawats to the coin, but most of the charge stays on the outside of the coin experts a force inwards, which shrinks the coin, at least until the coil explodes. https://youtu.be/d2TDXKfBaMQ

22: An easy way to tell if a corner is square is to measure 3 units from one of the square corners and 4 units from the other, and them confirm that the hypotenuse between those two points is 5 units. If it’s not, your corner isn’t square.  https://youtu.be/NG_y1nr9Kxo

22: An easy way to tell if a corner is square is to measure 3 units from one of the square corners and 4 units from the other, and them confirm that the hypotenuse between those two points is 5 units. If it’s not, your corner isn’t square. https://youtu.be/NG_y1nr9Kxo

23: A man named  Mattias Pilhede ’s grandfather was single handedly responsible for getting monkeys banned as pets in Sweden.  https://youtu.be/cKOtPR0DZdU

23: A man named Mattias Pilhede’s grandfather was single handedly responsible for getting monkeys banned as pets in Sweden. https://youtu.be/cKOtPR0DZdU

24: you can melt and recycle HDPE plastic (like the kind milk jugs are made of) using a sandwich press at 180-190c without causing fumes.  https://youtu.be/W_XUJwINdLw

24: you can melt and recycle HDPE plastic (like the kind milk jugs are made of) using a sandwich press at 180-190c without causing fumes. https://youtu.be/W_XUJwINdLw

25: Scientists have found evidence of takeout restaurants in Pompeii.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BQ5JSbVWiw

25: Scientists have found evidence of takeout restaurants in Pompeii. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BQ5JSbVWiw

26: You lose 1/3rd of your gut microbiome every time you poop.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jijuG9tyoR0&t=468s

26: You lose 1/3rd of your gut microbiome every time you poop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jijuG9tyoR0&t=468s

27: It rains diamonds on Saturn  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niw_n34lcAI

27: It rains diamonds on Saturn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niw_n34lcAI

28: The Burj Khalifa building in Dubai is so tall that the sun sets 3 minutes later on the top floor than it does on the ground floor  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exeNXXH-Y3o

28: The Burj Khalifa building in Dubai is so tall that the sun sets 3 minutes later on the top floor than it does on the ground floor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exeNXXH-Y3o

29: Mercury is the closest planet to Earth on average:  https://youtu.be/GDgbVIqGADQ

29: Mercury is the closest planet to Earth on average: https://youtu.be/GDgbVIqGADQ

30: American flags on military uniforms and vehicles are shown "backwards" (the blue canton with the stars in on the right instead of the left) when on the right sleeve/side of a vehicle to emulate a flag being held on a pole while running forwards:  https://youtu.be/iXAQFvro7GU

30: American flags on military uniforms and vehicles are shown "backwards" (the blue canton with the stars in on the right instead of the left) when on the right sleeve/side of a vehicle to emulate a flag being held on a pole while running forwards: https://youtu.be/iXAQFvro7GU

31: When it was first invented, the SOS morse-code distress call didn’t actually mean anything. it was just an easy-to-remember and easy-to-recognize pattern of arbitrary letters  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNoOYeS0gs0

31: When it was first invented, the SOS morse-code distress call didn’t actually mean anything. it was just an easy-to-remember and easy-to-recognize pattern of arbitrary letters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNoOYeS0gs0

32: The maned wolf isn’t a fox or a wolf.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSQ_ajl3cvE

32: The maned wolf isn’t a fox or a wolf. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSQ_ajl3cvE

33: Moby used to live and record in an old factory that was a prison hospital and a slaughterhouse, and it has 3 levels of basement:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EFPQpVFdPs

33: Moby used to live and record in an old factory that was a prison hospital and a slaughterhouse, and it has 3 levels of basement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EFPQpVFdPs

34: Trains in Switzerland are forbidden from having exactly 256 axles because if they do, the train-detecting hardware will suffer an integer overflow and report 0 axles, which is interpreted as there not actually being a train at all  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34detVy-Hiw

34: Trains in Switzerland are forbidden from having exactly 256 axles because if they do, the train-detecting hardware will suffer an integer overflow and report 0 axles, which is interpreted as there not actually being a train at all https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34detVy-Hiw

35: Space smells like  diesel fumes, gunpowder, and barbecue .  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp1Mgbu4H3o

35: Space smells like diesel fumes, gunpowder, and barbecue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp1Mgbu4H3o

36: Water can boil and freeze at the same time:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Juz9pVVsmQQ

36: Water can boil and freeze at the same time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Juz9pVVsmQQ

37: You can bend a laser beam with a water stream:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifbCsha7Syc

37: You can bend a laser beam with a water stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifbCsha7Syc

38: The chevrotain or lesser mouse deer looks like a tiny deer with fangs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKLoaU0f3jU

38: The chevrotain or lesser mouse deer looks like a tiny deer with fangs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKLoaU0f3jU

39: If you crack an egg deep enough underwater, it just stays together as though it’s still in a shell:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJmoROaMduQ

39: If you crack an egg deep enough underwater, it just stays together as though it’s still in a shell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJmoROaMduQ

40:  In a room of just 23 people there’s a 50% chance that two people have the same birthday.   https://youtu.be/Jn2s1BSMQyM

40: In a room of just 23 people there’s a 50% chance that two people have the same birthday. https://youtu.be/Jn2s1BSMQyM

41: This is how your face develops in the womb:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFY_KPFS3LA

41: This is how your face develops in the womb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFY_KPFS3LA

42: If you shuffle a pack of cards properly, chances are that exact order has never been seen before in the whole history of the universe.  https://youtu.be/uNS1QvDzCVw

42: If you shuffle a pack of cards properly, chances are that exact order has never been seen before in the whole history of the universe. https://youtu.be/uNS1QvDzCVw

43: Tigers have striped skin.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjjkXdbpo18

43: Tigers have striped skin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjjkXdbpo18

44: Cicadas use prime numbers as an evolutionary strategy:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjLiWy2nT7U

44: Cicadas use prime numbers as an evolutionary strategy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjLiWy2nT7U

45: There is enough DNA in the average person’s body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back — 17 times.  https://youtu.be/0EUi3bJJnzc

45: There is enough DNA in the average person’s body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back — 17 times. https://youtu.be/0EUi3bJJnzc

46: Masturbating an elephant for sperm collection involves an enema and some pretty robust prostate stimulation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q01T0AnVlSI  (NSFW)

46: Masturbating an elephant for sperm collection involves an enema and some pretty robust prostate stimulation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q01T0AnVlSI (NSFW)

47: The first person to die while building the Hoover Dam was John Gregory Tierney, and the last was Patrick William Tierney, his son, exactly 14 years later.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2wHCvPDt-E

47: The first person to die while building the Hoover Dam was John Gregory Tierney, and the last was Patrick William Tierney, his son, exactly 14 years later. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2wHCvPDt-E

48: Two neurotransmitters, GABA and glycine, work together to paralyze you as you fall asleep every night. Scientists theorize that people twitch themselves awake when they start dreaming before this process is complete.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hehY2FCWuDo

48: Two neurotransmitters, GABA and glycine, work together to paralyze you as you fall asleep every night. Scientists theorize that people twitch themselves awake when they start dreaming before this process is complete. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hehY2FCWuDo

49: In the early 1900’s, a doctor named John Brinkley offered a cure for impotence that involved implanting goat testicles in his patients.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08HgcD5vIjI&t=131s

49: In the early 1900’s, a doctor named John Brinkley offered a cure for impotence that involved implanting goat testicles in his patients. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08HgcD5vIjI&t=131s

50: Both cats and dogs will eat their owners faces (and other parts), sometimes only hours after they die.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGr2KgWBy7U

50: Both cats and dogs will eat their owners faces (and other parts), sometimes only hours after they die. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGr2KgWBy7U

51: The Flinstones was originally aimed at adults and sponsored by Winston cigarettes, and everybody smoked. It was also the first tv show to show a married couple sharing the same bed on TV.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNtk1dirZvI

51: The Flinstones was originally aimed at adults and sponsored by Winston cigarettes, and everybody smoked. It was also the first tv show to show a married couple sharing the same bed on TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNtk1dirZvI

52: You get a whole new skin every two to four weeks.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqJWSyUbmkw

52: You get a whole new skin every two to four weeks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqJWSyUbmkw

53: Snails with right-handed shells cannot mate with those with left-handed ones. But you can predict the presence of oil in a location by looking at their ratios.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEvsjMvztUs

53: Snails with right-handed shells cannot mate with those with left-handed ones. But you can predict the presence of oil in a location by looking at their ratios. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEvsjMvztUs

54: The spokes on a rolling wheel are blurrier in the top half of the wheel than the bottom half because the point of rotation at the bottom of the wheel is motionless relative to the ground.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLV4NMsWxUc

54: The spokes on a rolling wheel are blurrier in the top half of the wheel than the bottom half because the point of rotation at the bottom of the wheel is motionless relative to the ground. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLV4NMsWxUc

55: You can make plasma by microwaving grapes.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCrtk-pyP0I

55: You can make plasma by microwaving grapes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCrtk-pyP0I

56: Pet bobcats pee in the toilet or sink without training because they prefer to pee in running water in the wild.:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOgZDUFvk4Y

56: Pet bobcats pee in the toilet or sink without training because they prefer to pee in running water in the wild.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOgZDUFvk4Y

57: The Japanese giant hornet’s venom is so powerful that it can actually dissolve human flesh:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7VMcMJBjD4

57: The Japanese giant hornet’s venom is so powerful that it can actually dissolve human flesh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7VMcMJBjD4

58: Whether a fetus is right or left handed can be predicted by its position in the womb.:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGLYcYCm2FM

58: Whether a fetus is right or left handed can be predicted by its position in the womb.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGLYcYCm2FM

59: The FDA says there are an average of 30 insect fragments and 1 rodent hair in every jar of peanut butter.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyLmINv4Joo

59: The FDA says there are an average of 30 insect fragments and 1 rodent hair in every jar of peanut butter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyLmINv4Joo

60: The reason we can’t observe the behaviour of a particle without changing its behaviour is because at super tiny scales, there is no way to make an observation without smacking the particle around with some kind of energy. There’s no such thing as a passive measurement.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6fAcigk3Ys

60: The reason we can’t observe the behaviour of a particle without changing its behaviour is because at super tiny scales, there is no way to make an observation without smacking the particle around with some kind of energy. There’s no such thing as a passive measurement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6fAcigk3Ys

61: If you look at the table of the international phonetics alphabet, you can easily see the sounds that a human mouth can’t make by looking at the empty cells.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uZam0ubq-Y

61: If you look at the table of the international phonetics alphabet, you can easily see the sounds that a human mouth can’t make by looking at the empty cells. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uZam0ubq-Y

62: Thanks to something called the no slip boundary condition, you can drop multiple colored drops of corn syrup in a tube of clear corn syrup around a rotating inner drum, spin it til it’s mixed, and then unmix it by spinning the inner drum in reverse.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2_dJY_mIys

62: Thanks to something called the no slip boundary condition, you can drop multiple colored drops of corn syrup in a tube of clear corn syrup around a rotating inner drum, spin it til it’s mixed, and then unmix it by spinning the inner drum in reverse. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2_dJY_mIys

63: There is a Mars Helicopter, the first powered flying device being sent to another planet, in a lab in Pasadena. Flying it on Mars will be like flying a helicopter at 100,000 feet on Earth. 40,000 feet is the record for a helicopter flight on Earth.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhsZUZmJvaM

63: There is a Mars Helicopter, the first powered flying device being sent to another planet, in a lab in Pasadena. Flying it on Mars will be like flying a helicopter at 100,000 feet on Earth. 40,000 feet is the record for a helicopter flight on Earth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhsZUZmJvaM

64: China’s artificial sun reaches 100 million degrees:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRa798QVEFQ

64: China’s artificial sun reaches 100 million degrees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRa798QVEFQ

65: Sodium flames can appear black in the light of a sodium lamp.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn2OyQh6o7U

65: Sodium flames can appear black in the light of a sodium lamp. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn2OyQh6o7U

66: Canadians apologize so much that BC passed a law called the Apology Act that says saying ‘Sorry’ does not imply an admission of fault in a court of law.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-z5YrLa6KE

66: Canadians apologize so much that BC passed a law called the Apology Act that says saying ‘Sorry’ does not imply an admission of fault in a court of law. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-z5YrLa6KE

67: There were probably active volcanos on the moon as recently as the cretaceous period.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53TGz30Z1sM

67: There were probably active volcanos on the moon as recently as the cretaceous period. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53TGz30Z1sM

68: The only letter missing from the periodic table is J.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz4Dd1I_fX0

68: The only letter missing from the periodic table is J. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz4Dd1I_fX0

69: When a grizzly and a polar bear breed, they make either a Puzzle Bear or a Growlar Bear.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyX7HH0omIU

69: When a grizzly and a polar bear breed, they make either a Puzzle Bear or a Growlar Bear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyX7HH0omIU

70: Calling shotgun when riding in a car comes from the term ‘shotgun messenger’ which was used to refer to the guard who sat next to the stagecoach driver.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny3v5YF9lgY

70: Calling shotgun when riding in a car comes from the term ‘shotgun messenger’ which was used to refer to the guard who sat next to the stagecoach driver. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny3v5YF9lgY

71: Nintendo trademarked the phrase ‘It’s on like Donkey Kong’ in 2010.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrYlMWIXrf0

71: Nintendo trademarked the phrase ‘It’s on like Donkey Kong’ in 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrYlMWIXrf0

72: Leonardo Di Caprio improvised the phrase ‘I’m king of the world’ in Titanic.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmMvgisxymE

72: Leonardo Di Caprio improvised the phrase ‘I’m king of the world’ in Titanic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmMvgisxymE

73: Pastafarian heaven is full of beer volcanos and stripper factories:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqPw_kZRtj4

73: Pastafarian heaven is full of beer volcanos and stripper factories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqPw_kZRtj4

74: Coffins and caskets are different because of their shapes.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUaqKZnClGQ

74: Coffins and caskets are different because of their shapes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUaqKZnClGQ

75: Sunflowers can help clean radioactivity from soil.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2pQ9guh27s

75: Sunflowers can help clean radioactivity from soil. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2pQ9guh27s

76: Colorado has an active volcano, and we don’t know why it exists:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax2RBPmPveg

76: Colorado has an active volcano, and we don’t know why it exists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax2RBPmPveg

77: You can improve the range of the signal from your car remote by pointing it at your head:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYeXuM_xL1M

77: You can improve the range of the signal from your car remote by pointing it at your head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYeXuM_xL1M

78: African elephants are evolving without tusks and the leading theory is that this is a selection bias that protects them from poachers.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8EVQdIUWBE

78: African elephants are evolving without tusks and the leading theory is that this is a selection bias that protects them from poachers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8EVQdIUWBE

79: In 1923, a jockey named Frank Hayes died on his horse during a race, but his horse won, making him the first jockey to win a race after dying.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYJwFTU6xII

79: In 1923, a jockey named Frank Hayes died on his horse during a race, but his horse won, making him the first jockey to win a race after dying. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYJwFTU6xII

80: The world’s largest piano was built by a 15 year old in New Zealand. It took him 2 years.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x57kcRdojrY

80: The world’s largest piano was built by a 15 year old in New Zealand. It took him 2 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x57kcRdojrY

81: Spiked dog collars were invented by the Greeks to protect dogs from having their throats bitten by wolves.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkmwSZ4K7d0

81: Spiked dog collars were invented by the Greeks to protect dogs from having their throats bitten by wolves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkmwSZ4K7d0

82: The founder of Jake Daniels died from kicking a safe, breaking his toe, and getting a lethal infection that progressed over a period of 5 years.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W8AbnqqBpw

82: The founder of Jake Daniels died from kicking a safe, breaking his toe, and getting a lethal infection that progressed over a period of 5 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W8AbnqqBpw

83: The planet Pluto was named by an 11 year old girl.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BESfWDMO-v0

83: The planet Pluto was named by an 11 year old girl. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BESfWDMO-v0

84: Spongebob and Karen are married in real life.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=al6w3CPPUWQ&t=7s

84: Spongebob and Karen are married in real life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=al6w3CPPUWQ&t=7s

85: In 2009, Steven Hawkins threw a party for time travellers, and didn’t tell anyone until after. That way, only time travellers would be able to attend. No one showed up.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elah3i_WiFI

85: In 2009, Steven Hawkins threw a party for time travellers, and didn’t tell anyone until after. That way, only time travellers would be able to attend. No one showed up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elah3i_WiFI

86: Bulls don’t care about the color red. They’re color blind.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZwS0U17hF0

86: Bulls don’t care about the color red. They’re color blind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZwS0U17hF0

87: Some types of herring fish communicate by farting.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcwCYIfm6eA

87: Some types of herring fish communicate by farting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcwCYIfm6eA

88: Ben and Jerry’s has a graveyard for their dead flavours.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClkM4nSr2Bc

88: Ben and Jerry’s has a graveyard for their dead flavours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClkM4nSr2Bc

89: Scientists have discovered sharks living in an active underwater volcano, but scientists can’t dive to investigate them because they would get burned.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e3t18rrjOA

89: Scientists have discovered sharks living in an active underwater volcano, but scientists can’t dive to investigate them because they would get burned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e3t18rrjOA

90: The Ethiopian calendar is 7.5 years behind the Gregorian calendar because it has 13 months.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDG71FqBIm0

90: The Ethiopian calendar is 7.5 years behind the Gregorian calendar because it has 13 months. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDG71FqBIm0

91: China is building panda shaped solar farms to interest young people in renewable energy.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7sy85kHKDk

91: China is building panda shaped solar farms to interest young people in renewable energy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7sy85kHKDk

92: Underwater rugby is a real sport.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjxkk8VJBd0

92: Underwater rugby is a real sport. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjxkk8VJBd0

93: In 1324 two Italian city states fought a war over a bucket that resulted in 2000 deaths. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cln0J87vulU

93: In 1324 two Italian city states fought a war over a bucket that resulted in 2000 deaths. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cln0J87vulU

94:It is illegal to die in Longyearbyen Norway:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kETYvHON_I

94:It is illegal to die in Longyearbyen Norway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kETYvHON_I

95: Emilia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt once ducked out of a White House dinner to commandeer an airplane and go for a ride, and there’s a kid’s book about it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pq8WiupeYg

95: Emilia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt once ducked out of a White House dinner to commandeer an airplane and go for a ride, and there’s a kid’s book about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pq8WiupeYg

96: During prohibition, bootleggers wore cow shows to avoid being caught.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6sg7EBqJZk

96: During prohibition, bootleggers wore cow shows to avoid being caught. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6sg7EBqJZk

97: Some cats are allergic to people.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcrssvIt10

97: Some cats are allergic to people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcrssvIt10

98: Melbourne trees were given email addresses so citizens could report problems. People sent the trees love letters.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnZ_c5LEbKw

98: Melbourne trees were given email addresses so citizens could report problems. People sent the trees love letters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnZ_c5LEbKw

99: The large synoptic survey telescope will collect more data in the first year than every other telescope combined has ever collected. And then it will keep doing that for ten years.  https://youtu.be/33UMkPe93Ko

99: The large synoptic survey telescope will collect more data in the first year than every other telescope combined has ever collected. And then it will keep doing that for ten years. https://youtu.be/33UMkPe93Ko

100: This is how you synthesize plutonium 238 for your spacecraft.  https://youtu.be/-sh5XZo5wRE

100: This is how you synthesize plutonium 238 for your spacecraft. https://youtu.be/-sh5XZo5wRE

Thanks.jpg

The Clover Show

My Dad was the guidance counsellor for a whole bunch of schools in northern Manitoba when I was a kid. When I was in elementary school, he’d bring me to different schools to perform in a puppet show with him.

I was a raccoon named Rehoboth, a cat, a beaver, and a bear. The puppet show was about important kid things - not being a bully, not doing drugs, what to do if you get sad... there were even songs in the shows sometimes. I have no idea if they were actually part of the show, or just me erupting into song because it seemed like the right thing to do.

I'm in my 40s now, and I finally made a puppet and wrote a song and got on stage to see if being a puppet is as fun as I remembered it being. It totally was. :)

(Thanks Dad).

What Next

If you know me at all, you probably know that I suck at doing things half-assed. I wasn’t satisfied just being in a live puppet show; I also designed and hand-sewed the puppet, wrote the song, made a karaoke style video so the audience could sing along, and produced some merchandise in the form of enamel pins. I did not do these things in a sensible order, either.

It took the better part of a year to do everything, and now that I’ve performed with Clover I want to start making regular videos with her. My plan is to continue workshopping her character by recording short videos for my friend’s children. (If you want me to make a video for you, contact me).

I still haven’t figured out how to properly light a green screen, my microphone is not ideal for this, and building the puppet so my hand goes in at the base of her neck wasn’t the greatest plan, but I still think this is a pretty great hobby. I’m going to keep working on it, and I’ve registered theclovershow.com especially for this project.

Designing the Character - 1 month

Clover started as a simple vector design that was just a head. I used the final design as my personal avatar for a few months to see if I’d get bored with the character, or if I’d want to continue developing it after looking at it for a while.

Clover_Early_Designs.png

The initial design was intended to have a really earnest, excited vibe. At the time, this was the opposite of how I was actually feeling, but it’s a pretty big part of who I am normally, and I thought it might be fun to develop a character who’s always super excited and eager to explore the world.

After a few months of staring at this face, I still liked it. When I ordered some enamel pins from True Metal Works for my company, I ordered some Clover pins at the same time. This was a bit of a process, since the design wasn’t intended for pins, and making the borders a similar dark blue involved actually coating the metal with paint. The result was pretty amazing, though.

The pin on the right is the old logo for  Lumo Play , my software company.

The pin on the right is the old logo for Lumo Play, my software company.

Once I was committed to the character, I drew the rest of the body, and used the project file to learn the basics of Adobe Character Animator. Here’s a short video I made using audio provided by friend Bradley and his son.

When I started working on the character, it was much younger, and gender neutral - I still may revert to a non-binary character, but in my mind she’s female at this point.

Naming the Character - 5 minutes

My Dad chose the name Clover, even though he doesn’t remember doing it. As a child, Watership Down was one of my favorite books, and Clover is one of the few female characters (she escapes from Nuthanger Farm with Hazel). Maybe Dad subconsciously remembers me pretending to be Clover when I was a kid. I definitely spent a lot of my childhood being a rabbit.

Making a Puppet - 3 weeks

I wanted to make a puppet for this character long before I knew I would be on stage with it. Puppets have always fascinated me, and I’ve wanted to create some kind of linear children’s content for a while. The freedom afforded by puppetry and the possibilities for interesting narrative combinations when combining live action and animation made me want to have both a live puppet and an animated 2D rig as options.

My friend Rylaan told me about an event in Winnipeg called Puppet Slam, so I signed up to do a solo performance during my next visit home. This was an amazing forcing factor - not only did it give me a deadline to get the puppet finished, it also gave me a timeframe to plan a first performance, and the initiative to practice.

The main resource I used was Adam Kreutinger’s youtube channel; this guy knows literally everything there is to know about building puppets, and he’s a great teacher. The first video I watched involved making a form out of clay, covering it with masking tape, and using the flattened masking tape to make a fabric pattern.

I decided to skip the clay form and just carve the head directly out of foam, and use the actual foam to make the fabric pattern. Turns out this wasn’t a great plan; masking tape doesn’t stick to foam all that well, and making the head out of solid foam means the puppet’s a lot heavier than it probably needs to be. But for my first puppet, I think it turned out pretty well.

01 Carved Head.JPG
02 Carved Body.JPG

Because of the way the head was carved, the entry hole for my hand had to be at the back of the head rather than through the body if I wanted to avoid the entire body flapping every time I opened the mouth. To accomplish this, I finished applying fabric to the head and the body separately, and attached them together at the end.

03 Adding Fabric.JPG
04 Sculptey Party.JPG

The teeth and eyes were made from Sculpey Polymer Clay, painted with acrylic paint, and varnished a few times with a spray on furniture varnish.

05 Final Puppet.JPG

Once Clover was complete, I started practicing with her.

Writing a Puppet Song - 3 days

I’ve been writing songs since I was a kid, but I’ve never written one for someone else to sing.

This is what writing a puppet song is like. Without knowing much about my character’s opinions or history, I had to write something she could sing in her own voice.

I started workshopping the character while she was still a detached foam head, which was weird, but also necessary given the time constraints.

Clover seems older in puppet form than she is in cartoon form, but she’s still pretty young. She’s basically a tween, but owing to rabbits kicking their kids out at a young age, she’s on her own for the first time. Like me, she’s been thinking about her family a lot. She’s more interested in things like Big History and physics than pop culture, fashion, or age-appropriate children’s entertainment. Despite that, she’s got a sort of naive and earnest charm that actually makes her a bit younger mentally than other rabbits about to enter puberty.

I wrote a lullaby for her to sing; something fatalistic but weirdly uplifting that a prey animal might sing to it’s statistically mostly doomed offspring. The overall theme is to enjoy life while you have it because it’s short and the end is unpredictable, unavoidable, and often comical. Here are the complete lyrics:

Lullaby for Quarry

I have a story that I would like to share with you

When I’m afraid, or when I’m feeling kind of blue

I just remember a song my mommy sang to me

So listen close, this is my whole philosophy


Might as well enjoy life

One day we all die

Lots of things can kill you

That’s what mommy said


Cars and plague and poison

Lightning and trans fats

Smoking, quicksand, drowning

Someday you’ll be dead


No need to worry about your family or your friends

Heat death will take it all; everything ends


You’re part of a great amazing mystery

Stop worrying why and sing along with me


Let’s all sing together

‘til something kills us

There’s no point in crying

Bears and guns and snakes


Earthquakes and volcanoes

Oil spills and knife fights

Cannon balls and spiders

Terrible mistakes


Alien invasions

Hurricanes and hitmen

Evil supervillians

Someday you’ll be dead


Might as well enjoy life

One day we all die

Lots of things can kill you

That’s what mommy said

I wrote the entire song in Ableton Live while flying from Montreal to Portland. I was on my way to XOXO 2018, which is an experimental festival for online creators. Throughout the festival, I’d slip off to work on the track and practice singing the words. The puppet was still a foam head at this point, so the song and the puppet were kind of developed together.

Performing Live - 3.5 minutes

I arrived in Winnipeg the night before the performance. The other performers had been working and practicing together for a while, but Curtis Wiebe, the artist who organizes Winnipeg’s puppet community and produces Puppet Slam, agreed to let me do a standalone performance.

I sent Curtis email updates as I worked on my performance, so he was aware of the progress and concept, but I didn’t really know too much about what the other performers would be doing until the night I arrived. We took turns presenting each skit the night before the show, and we did a dry run before the final performance, which was pretty cool, but I was still extremely nervous.

Clover backstage at the Gas Station Theatre in Winnipeg

Clover backstage at the Gas Station Theatre in Winnipeg

The nice thing about Puppet Slam is that it’s kind of a mix between planned performances and improv, and the community is really supportive, so being nervous wasn’t a problem.

In the end, I wish I’d practiced more, (I overdubbed the final video with a pre-recorded version of the song because I didn’t remember to stay in the character’s voice very well onstage), and I also wish I’d worn a completely black suit. There were a few available, but I had problems reading the lyrics through the hood, and still hadn’t memorized the song. Even black gloves would have been a bit better.

Clover 06.jpg

Considering it was my first time performing onstage with a puppet, and that I invented the character, made the puppet from scratch, and wrote an original song for her, I think it went really well. I’m going to continue exploring Clover’s world and see where it takes me.

X-ray Animal Friends

I run a company that makes interactive display software, and I've been working on some tutorial videos so that people can learn how to use our content creation tools.

As part of this, I'm designing my own assets and releasing them for free so people have artwork to practice with.

The first tutorial I finished is for a simple effect we call Fog Reveal, where one picture is stacked on another, and moving or touching a screen reveals the image underneath. It's a really popular effect for advertising, but I think it's actually pretty useful for education, too. So I decided to design something aimed at kids, showing animal doctors taking an x-ray.

cute animals xray.jpg

I recorded every stage of the first tutorial, including the making of the graphic itself, and when I started to edit the video, it really drove home that designing an interactive display is a lot more work than most people probably realize. 

X-Ray Animal Friends Timelapse.gif

Now that we've automated a lot of the business development and support tasks at work, I'm looking forward to drawing and animating more, but another thing I noticed while making this tutorial is how out of practice I am.

Here's what the interactive display looked like in the end:

If you're interested in downloading the working files for this project, learning more about Lumo Play, or checking out the full tutorial, here it is:

I'm going to be sketching and finishing more characters over the next month or so, to get back into the habit of drawing and processing my vector art. If you have requests, please let me know.

Purridot

My first attempt at fan art happened as a result of having inherited a gem collection from my Aunty Jean. Turns out there are a lot of peridots, garnets, a couple amethysts, a bunch of emeralds, some rubies, a bunch of topaz and rhodenite (which I guess is a kind of garnet?) some sapphires, rose quartz, and even an aquamarine.

Purridot-01-MegRabbit.jpg

Anyway, turns out when I try to sketch stuff it automatically turns into animals. So here's Purridot. Maybe I'll do Amyth-Hiss, Garmitts, and Steven.

Original-Purridot-Sketch.jpg

The reason I tried to draw Peridot at all is that I thought 'Maybe I should make little resin cast Peridot models and put actual Peridots on them.' Because obviously that's what you do when you have a inherited gem collection and you love Steven Universe.

Gems.jpg

I'd love feedback! Let me know if you wanna see more SU cats, some little gem sculptures, or anything else. :)

The Making of Bereavement Seats

About two months ago, I decided to make a video for a song my son Dylan wrote. This isn't the first time I've wanted to make a video for one of his songs. In the fall of 2014, he wrote a song called Fuck You, Martha Stewart. I don't think I heard it until the following year. When I did, it broke me a little bit. That was a really difficult time for us - Dyl was graduating, and I'd left a long term relationship, moved to L.A., and put our house up for sale. Everything felt like it was dissolving.

A concept sketch from the storyboard for Fuck You Martha Stewart.

A concept sketch from the storyboard for Fuck You Martha Stewart.

The concept I had for the first video was a sort of fairy tale re-casting of Dyl's entire childhood, from his early years growing up with parents struggling with addiction, to the years leading up to his ultimate independence - a path I've always interpreted through the lens of my own childhood.

I sketched the storyboard while I was living in a small, cantilevered room in a warehouse in L.A., surrounded by career artists working on multi-million dollar projects. This definitely impacted how ambitious my idea was, and the final concept was too complex for me to execute on my own. I didn't (and still don't) have the budget to hire an animation team, but I'd still love to make that video one day.


I've been sitting on the first storyboard for one of Dyl's songs for over 3 years, so I didn't want to end up designing a video concept for yet another song and never getting it finished. Going into this project, my greatest fear was not being able to complete it.

The Final Video

Before I describe the project, here's the final video:

How This Started

Original board art for Bereavement Seats

Original board art for Bereavement Seats

I first heard Bereavement Seats in the background of another project Dyl was working on, and I asked if I could make a video for it. I hadn't listened to the whole song, so I didn't know what it was about until he sent me the entire recording.

I realized it was about grief, and also that this wasn't going to be a video project I could just phone in. The year Dyl wrote this song, we'd attended multiple funerals. One of them was my Mom's.

The song made me think about how awkward funerals are, and how disconnected I am from my family, and by proxy, how disconnected Dyl might feel. Except for my Mom, we barely knew any of the people who died last year, but we attended their funerals and graves nonetheless.

After listening to the song several dozen times, I created a simple timing reel. At that point, I was assuming the entire video would be animated, so the initial concept was really minimal.

Then I discovered The Heidelberg Project on a road trip to Detroit, which changed the video almost completely. Art is like that sometimes - things that seem incidental at the time can have a huge impact.

The Heidelberg Project - https://www.heidelberg.org/

The Heidelberg Project - https://www.heidelberg.org/

The Heidelberg Project

I'd planned to illustrate a background based on photos of the graveyard where my Mom is buried, and places around Windsor Ontario, the town where she grew up, so I went on a road trip with friends to visit Windsor. My friend Holly wanted to visit the Heidelberg Project across the river in Detroit, so we spent a morning exploring it. This was when I decided the video should be a combination of film footage and animation.

The Heidelberg Project https://www.heidelberg.org

The Heidelberg Project https://www.heidelberg.org

The Heidelberg Project describes itself as "an outdoor art environment in the heart of an urban area, and a Detroit based community organization with a mission to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art."

Several city blocks are involved in this art installation, which has been evolving and growing for more than two decades. Mountains of found objects represent the grief and hope of a single artist; a man who's watched his neighbourhood change dramatically. His life's work is a shifting monument to a past that needs and deserves to be remembered. Regardless of how people feel about The Heidelberg Project aesthetically, it serves a real function - to commemorate the past, and protect the remaining residents - and it was therefore a beautiful and appropriate backdrop for Dylan's song.

The song speaks clearly of grief, but it also addresses the awkward distance created when you're alone in your experience, and trying to interact normally with the rest of the world. It was the same awkwardness I felt as a tourist, walking through a neighbourhood of found art, populated mostly by ghosts.

Learning New Stuff

The hard work started once I had a bunch of footage and a few rough storyboards, and no idea how to put them together. I needed a plan that I could execute on my own. Frame by frame rotoscope animation wasn't going to work.

I spent a bit of time on Youtube looking for ideas, and found two tutorials that would teach me what I needed to know to make a cohesive video with the resources I had.

To animate the character, I decided to use Adobe's Character Animator.

To composite the character onto the video, I found a simple Adobe After Effects motion tracking tutorial.

weird head.gif

I didn't have an isolated vocal track for the song, so I had to record myself saying the words, and use that recording to do the lip syncing. What's cool about Character Animator is that you can record different parts at different times, and then layer the motion.

Things were a little weird until I figured out how to constrain layers on the z axis, because the face kept morphing in weird, amazing ways.

I was able to do different takes to record the lip syncing, act out the little bobbing dance, and move the arms to make the character play guitar. The way the recording works allows you to combine all your takes, and even blend some takes in if you want to re-record just one small part. It's insanely fun and I spent a ridiculous amount of time just giggling and doing dumb stuff.

Adobe Character Animator. This is really fun, and everyone should try it.

Adobe Character Animator. This is really fun, and everyone should try it.

When you design a character for Character Animator, you do it on layers in Illustrator or Photoshop (I used Photoshop). This means you can turn layers on and off really easily, so I added a guitar layer, and rendered the character's full animation twice; once with the guitar on and one with the guitar off. This made it really easy to sync the character in After Effects - I just imported both sequences, made a composition with each sequence as a layer, and turned each layer on and off at the right time.

After Effects - motion tracking is basically just a button. It was a lot easier than I thought.

After Effects - motion tracking is basically just a button. It was a lot easier than I thought.

Dylan's Response

This is our first public project together. Dyl's not a public sorta person, and he doesn't share the things he makes, so I asked him if it was okay first. I did the entire project knowing that he might not be willing to share it, so I was okay with keeping it private, but I really love the song, so I'm glad he's letting me share it.

Here's our text conversation, where we decide everyone should get discount flights when Cher dies.

text.jpg

Final Comments

I should probably mention that because I run an interactive display software company, I have a Creative Cloud account, which includes all the apps I used for this project. I've also been using Adobe design software since I graduated from college in 1997, so I find a lot of the tools pretty intuitive now.

Having said that, I still think this level of work is super easy for a beginner, as long as you have the right tools and the patience to watch a bunch of free tutorials. If you've read this far and you're thinking about making something like this project, please feel free to reach out if you need help!

My First Ludum Dare

Ludum Dare is the original, and also easily the largest, game jam in the world. A game jam is a challenge to make a game from start to finish in a super short time period, usually 48 - 72 hours, depending on the size of your team and the scope of the theme.

In past years, I've participated in Peg Jam, our local game jam, and even hosted a few jams in our office for new students looking for work experience. It's a great way to evaluate a new team's strengths and weaknesses, and it can be a real forcing factor when you're trying to learn new skills really fast.

Our completed LD game.

Our completed LD game.

Ludum Dare has been happening 3 times a year for the past 16 years, and last weekend's event was the 41st round. Themes are proposed by participants and voted on, and the winning theme is announced as soon as the event starts and your time starts ticking. The theme this time was 'Combine Two Incompatible Genres', which took our team a while to wrap our heads around. Luckily we have a wide breathe of experience, and we each had a clear idea what we wanted to get out of the weekend.

After 72 hours, we'd created a game that the combined random number generation of a card game with the intense concentration of a rhythm game. If you have a few minutes to kill, you can play our game here: https://megrabbit.itch.io/flower-hero

The Process

This 2D mockup was super useful in communicating the asset requirements, timing, and gameplay structure.

This 2D mockup was super useful in communicating the asset requirements, timing, and gameplay structure.

Making a fairly polished game in 72 hours involves a lot of multitasking and team communication. While Curtis Wachs worked on the actual game development, I created a workable UI and game elements. Alistair Croll created all the music and after being taught to make the scroll generation images (which are what we used to time the assets to the music), he did those too. Liem Nyugen worked across town making the 3D models and animations of the characters I designed for us.

Animated GIF-downsized_large (3).gif

As a team, we all came to this project wanting to learn specific things. Curt and I are releasing Unity support on our own software platform in a few months, so we wanted to practice our workflow on a non-critical project.

Alistair's been wanted to practice with his Push for a while now, and has always wanted to design sound for a game using Ableton. In the end he produced 4 songs and the menu screen loop in 3 days. Liem just loves making 3D art for mini-games and wanted to be part of a Ludum Dare project. Plus he's a superstar and he can whip out amazing 3D animations in his sleep.

Takeaways

My personal takeaways included learning how to:

  • Co-develop a shared Unity comp
  • Export elements as a package
  • Export the project for HTML5
  • Create scriptable objects and prefabs

I'm a pretty huge fan of Ludum Dare. Our game received great feedback, and while we normally wouldn't probably pursue making this game into anything bigger, some of the feedback is actually so good we want to implement it just to see what happens. The community is incredibly supportive. I was worried that the amount of graphic polish we brought to our game would earn us criticism, since an overwhelming majority of Ludum Dare participants are developers, and developer art is absolutely celebrated and encouraged, but this was not the case. The feedback we received was universally considerate and thoughtful.

If you're running a design or game studio, and at least one of your team members can (or would like to learn how to) develop simple games using pretty much any platform (participants in this round received Game Maker Studio for free if they wanted it), you can't really beat Ludum Dare as a positive team building activity.

Learning Unity From a Goat

I've been doing online Unity tutorials for about a month now. Here's a peek at the project I'm currently working on. I drew and animated the goat myself, but the other graphics came from this cool site.

The tutorials I've been following are mainly provided by Brackeys and AbleGamesDev, and they've been super easy to keep up with while travelling. I really hope to someday be able to take a class with other humans, though.

As of this moment, I've learned to make and import sprite sequences, create menus and multiple levels, control players in 2D and 3D (kind of), make stuff break apart when you hit it, and do some stuff with both 2D and 3D physics. I still suck at particles and creating multiple conditions, but I'm working on it.


Here's the first project I did in Unity
goat-3-cycles.gif

I'm really enjoying learning to make games, even though the goat game has already been perfected with Goat Simulator.

I'm thinking I'd like to make a game where this goat confronts a bunch of his issues, like feeling antisocial to an unhealthy degree, comfort eating food that sucks for him, and being insensitive to his friends.

But maybe I'll just make an endless runner with a lot of stuff he can break instead. :)