Welcome to my blog of creative pastimes. I write stories, I podcast, and I sometimes animate and video edit. I also like to talk about the inspiration I find in the world around me. Since setting up this blog in 2006, I’ve mainly hoped to share my experiences about creative successes (and failures) for other aspiring authors and creatives. So whether you’re a fellow scribbler or a curious reader, feel free to drop in from time to time to follow my continuing creative adventures - Chris G. Allan
In the company of avid followers and new-found friends...
# "Look around, leaves are brown now… and the sky is a hazy shade of winter…" # – Simon & Garfunkel
I’ve been spending the last few winter months with some new-found friends and having a brilliantly creative (if a little chaotic) time of it... I’m lucky enough to have a day job where I’m able to spend some of my time at work following my creative leanings, especially in the area of books and writing, and recently I was given the chance to begin training on “AVID Media Composer”, learning how to put together short video films, specifically for a website that my own department at ITVruns called “Signed Stories”...
The site has been running for about 3 years now and has already garnered rave reviews, as well as winning a prize for "Plain English" and has even attracted an award for its humanitarian efforts. I’m quite new to the role, so thus far my involvement has been minimal, but slowly and surely I’m getting to help out with various projects that lead to a completed “signed story” in British Sign Language. The process is a collaborative one and very much a team effort, which is a great way to work – we go through quite a lengthy schedule of filming the sign-language-user in our own TV studio and then taking an original children’s picture book and recreating the narrative with inventive visual effects... My former incarnation of a day job working with television subtitleseven comes in handy, as to help viewers of the site and stories, we provide captions to add to these TV tales…
Still smiling at the creative times I'm spending in my new day job...
It’s really satisfying as an aspiring author, having the chance to work in such an environment, and for a while now I’ve been given the opportunity to help contribute to the development of the “Signed Stories” characters, including some of their back-stories, as well as their future adventures… But all that’s still a little way off and residing as rough sketches in various notebooks, suffice to say that the main challenge to myself having been traditionally a writer of "older" fiction is to hone the art of writing for a much younger age group with these characters (but I'll get there with practice!)
For now, I’m being taught the joys of the AVID machine itself, getting to know its useful tools and less-useful foibles, (and learning to curse every time it crashes!) But the toils and effort put in does yield some stunning results… Leading up to the festive season, I got to work collaboratively as an editor on some Christmas carols which were hosted on the Signed Stories site:
"Once In Royal David’s City”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”,
“We Three Kings” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”)
Earlier in the year, I also had the opportunity to help produce some AVID-edited videos from CITV’s Share-A-Story competitionin which children were invited to send in a short one-minute story, which if picked would be turned into an animated film. Our department then took the animated films and added signing and our own animation to create a BSL presentation for the Signed Stories site:
To watch CITV's fantastic "Share-A-Story" series in BSL,CLICK HEREnow.
(the particular Share-A-Story videos I worked on were:
“A Robot Who Comes to School”, “Farmer Frank”,
“When Some Aliens Came to my School”
and “A Giant Robot from Space”)
Most recently, I’ve been working on my first full-length book for Signed Stories, and it’s a BSL adaptation of Maisy’s Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins. It’s an interesting process as an editor, working closely with the director and sharing a creative vision of how a final signed story will look… As I mentioned above, the development consists of a first stage where we film our signer in studio, against the "magic" bluescreen, retelling the words of the book in British Sign Language, and then in “post-production”, we use the actual pages of the original book (with author and publishers' permissions) to create our own animated take on the narrative, using moving images, wipes, fades and dissolves, as well as sound effects – all of which the AVID engine provides.
As I’ve said, the experience of now working in a more creative day job and particularly on Signed Stories(you should check out the rest of their website when you have the chance, as well as the TV show on Mini CITV!) is not only personally satisfying but it’s also teaching me a lot about how a variety of stories are told and put together (and makes me think more about being a writer in the multimedia age…) Heading into 2012, then, my outlook for continuing this creative life on all fronts is a positive one, but it’s also going to definitely be a year where balancing a busy creative day with the amount of creative writing I want to get done with my nights of scribbling will be tested – I’m hoping I can finally get the balance right... Or maybe I shouldn't stress too much about all the mechanics of writing, and just keep on enjoying the process - maybe that's how classic characters like Maisy the mouse manifest themselves out of nowhere in a real author's mind…
# "I don't wanna feel so different, but I don't wanna be insignificant, and I don't know how to see the same things different now..." # - Counting Crows There's a great line in a classic Laurel & Hardy two-reeler short film called The Fixer Uppers that goes "Merry Christmas, Momma... Happy Birthday Ma... Hey-nonny-nonny and a ho-cha-cha!" and sitting down to write this post that line is whirling round and round in my head because I wanted to do something special to mark the 3rd anniversary of both the beginning of this, my writing blog AND my Official Writing website , yet at the same time, it's a bit odd to be patting myself on the back and saying "Happy Blogthday, Chris!" But to mark this momentus occasion I must do just that, and for anyone new to my book blog and random writing ramblings on the web, this anniversary post will hopefully also serve as a fitting introduction to who I am and what I've done so far with my
Well, it's a bit later than promised, but I've now got the results from the 1st Moon Crater Fiction Decisions Poll and I'm happy to be able to report them to you right here, right now. Loads of you responded to the call to help me decide what Billy and Jo, the main characters of the story, will look like and so without further ado, here's what the most popular results were...
# If I had a wish, or even a choice, I'd wake up to the sound of your voice # - Barenaked Ladies I've been looking forward to October for the past five months - to a nice and relaxing time, with space to breathe after my "Big Write-Up” of the novel was done... And now it's here, it also means I've got time now to post a decent report on my experience being interviewed by a local theatre about my writing which took place in June this year…