Ten years ago I made a handful of videos analyzing SC2 but drawing principles of what made BW great. They did reasonably well as there was a large captured audience on TL in those days. But while I still stand by the insights truthfully, the videos were not great production. I wasn't good at talking and playing at the same time and really they were thrown together in an effort to get my blog word count down (which were getting pretty long at the time.)
You can still find those videos in my old blogs. However, I stopped playing SC2 and reached the limit of having meaningful analysis on a game I didn't play so the design blogs and videos stopped.
Fast forward to the pandemic and my teaching job went online. Hey! All that knowledge of capturing video via OBS (I had also experimented in livestreaming a bit) was suddenly applicable. My gaming hobby helped my job. I had also since learned how to use Davinci Resolve. I think I made 70 30-45 minutes recorded lessons in 70 days. I didn't sleep well and gained a lot of weight (two years to lose it) and gained incessant heel pain that's never truly gone away, but I got through the lockdown.
Novels and Youtube Channel
Last year, I finished my third fantasy novel and started flogging it to literary agents while starting my fourth. I started thinking maybe I could restart my youtube channel, rebranding it to analyze books and movies in fantasy and sci fi (which I know something about- certainly more than SC2 game design these days.)
Initially I thought maybe I could illustrate it using simple cartoons and bought one of those digital pads so I could hand sketch on the computer. However, I quickly realized my drawing skills had degraded since high school. I needed the images to be quick to draw but stylized enough that it looked intentionally cartoony rather than simply amateurish and bad. Maybe if I had taken art rather than band, I would have learned to draw via that shape structure method and could dash off dynamic looking drawings in a hurry. However, I already have a full time job and was trying to squash in writing on the side. To make youtube videos AND learn to cartoon was a bridge too far.
Which brought me to Midjourney
I was drawn to it because of the fantastical imagery it could create, and I initially thought I would just generate random fantasy backgrounds but I quickly started trying to match what I was saying onscreen with some sort of generated illustration... or else screen cap from videos.
I will say AI Art will not replace commissioned art any time soon. It's okay at generating something unexpected. But if you have anything in particular in mind, it's very difficult to create. Maybe Midjourney 5 is different as it is supposed to be less opinionated. However, my first forays into MJ5 were disappointing as it had lost the cool fantastical aesthetic that I loved and I wasn't sure what prompts would recapture it, so I've been sticking with MJ 4.
Examples of Limitations
I could not shift objects within an image. If you know anything about negative space from photography/ film, I was hoping to have a tower in the left third and negative space/ background in the other two thirds. No such luck. MJ will always place said tower in the centre of the image.
It's very difficult to combine separate objects in the same image and I had better success creating the elements separately and bashing them together myself on paint or Davinci's Fusion (something like Photoshop.)
Example. I had settled on Of Elves and Droids as my channel name (a metonymy of the two genres I am covering: Fantasy and Sci Fi) and I wanted to create a Janus head of an Elf facing one way and a Droid the other. Unfortunately, Midjourney kept overwriting the droid aesthetic onto both.
The bottom right was getting close to the morphing of heads I wanted, but there was no obvious distinction between droid on one side and elf on the other.
Fine. I'll do it myself:
I finally just generated an elf and droid head separately, then dropped them together and put a Canucks green circle around them.
I also wanted wanted a background image of a fantasy tower on the left and a sci-fi city on the right with some fantastical background that tied them altogether... I had to abandon the idea altogether. I tried the same trick of creating three separate elements and bashing it together myself for my first video. However, it wasn't a visually interesting piece and I ended up just reusing my logo as the background for my successive videos.
I similarly discovered some hard-coded AI definitions for a 'Knight'
I really wanted to create a black knight in the style of the Teutonic Crusaders and with a single-bladed battle axe. (Mimics the style of an old Ivanoe illustrated book with King Richard as the black knight with no sigil.)
Well, MJ always wants to add plate armour to its knights. No pure chainmail and crusader mantle and a great helm. No matter what I do it also wants to add a sword.
You can use --no as a command to eliminate certain objects.
However if you --no plate armour and --no sword
Midjourney just breaks. Error does not compute:
I have gotten a lot of value of making little goblins because they are just so adorably cute/ ugly. The hand/ finger problem in Midjourney 4 also doesn't really matter with goblins because they are goblins! Maybe they have really goofy looking hands.
The last video I made turned out to have three videos worth of ideas to keep the length down. (My goal is around the 10 minute mark, but most have been 11-12 minutes.) However, I need to do something that's less labour intensive. The latest video is comprised of at least 200 separate images. And I have a folder of 2000 screen shots taken from a half dozen different films. I know it took me a full 12 hours yesterday to bring the project that had finished audio and half the illustrations to completion and published. So I suspect it took me 20 hours for that one video.
That's... not sustainable. I missed two writing days because of that (and I'm kicking myself for it.) I can do it now because I'm on Spring Break. But... I probably need to go easier on matching illustration to audio. It's fun, but time consuming. Other youtube channels have the advantage of just putting themselves on screen so they don't need visuals running all the time. But at this point, I do not wish to appear on camera, so the pictures have to do the heavy lifting.
After I finish the next two videos, I'd like to do one on my problems with Plot Armour. I hate the concept of Plot Armour and I'd like to detail why.
Well, it's been an interesting learning curve. Thanks for reading. And if you do watch my video and you enjoyed it, throw a like at it. Every little bit counts