New YouTube Partner Requirements

March 4th, 2018

I got an email the other day that said I was no longer eligible to put ads on my videos because they changed the requirements. Now you have to have at least:

  • 1000 subscribers to your channel and
  • 4000 hours worth of your videos have to watched by people in the past 12 months

It’s not a big deal since I only made, like, a couple bucks a month off YouTube. Mostly, it was kinda funny to be able to say that I was a professional YouTuber. So I was curious how close I was to the new requirements and I was surprised to find out that I actually had already met the first one. That’s surprising because I don’t know of anyone that’s subscribed to my channel. My wife doesn’t even watch my videos. I was also surprised to see that I was actually about a quarter of the way to the second requirement. So that’s what gave me the idea to do this video.

My kid asked me why it takes so long to make a video. In his mind, if it’s 7 minutes long, it should take 7 minutes to make. Well, here’s a rough breakdown for this video:

  • 1 hour for the script
  • 1 hour for prep (costumes, accents, locations)
  • 6 hours for principal photography (costume changes and many, many takes because I mess up a lot)
  • 2 hours for post (adding music and editing)

My revenue is typically a little under $1 for 1000 and I generally get 100-200 views per video (which is about 99-199 more than I would expect). Even if I could put ads on this video, I’d guess it’d generate about 25 cents of revenue, which is a hilariously low return for 10 hours of work. So that joke in there about it being less than minimum wage at even 125 times the revenue is true.

So why do I do it? I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing a lot lately. When I started, I had these fantasies about being able to do this kinda thing for a living. And I’d get kinda stressed about it. But now, it’s just a fun thing to do. I think having a good job and stable finances is a big part of it. The tricky part is finding the time to do it all because, as you can see, I’m pretty slow at this. But as it turns out, Dyson had a track meet and a kid birthday party to go to this weekend and my wife was fine with taking him on her own.

Oh, about the “music” in the video: I just made up the “outro” thing and improvised the cheesy piano thing at the end. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were things my unconscious remembered hearing from somewhere else. These are things I’d be concerned about if I were doing this professionally. But one of the joys of doing something as a hobby is that you don’t have to worry about these kinds of things.

A Japanese Haircut

February 5th, 2018

I’ve been cutting my hair more or less the same way for a while so this time I decided to switch it up a bit. I think the biggest difference is that I kept it a bit longer on the sides.

On a meta note, do people even blog anymore? Or has it all gone to social media? I have no idea if anybody even reads this site but even if they don’t, it’s kind of a nice way to record stuff I did, for myself.

I do Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and at some point, I might even Instagram but it’s all over the place. So it’s nice to have one collection of everything I’ve done and a blog seems well suited for that, even if no one else ever sees it.

Selector iOS Update

May 24th, 2017

Selector icon progression.

Ooh, new flat icon style. So modern…

I’ve updated my iOS app, Selector, and you can get it now on the iTunes store. Years ago, I made this simple little iOS app where a number of people touch the screen and it selects one. That’s it. Oh, it also has a clock, a compass, and lets you draw because … reasons.

It’s a modest app, getting a couple downloads a week, but I hadn’t updated it in years and people were getting notices that it would stop working on future versions of iOS. Surprisingly, I even got a few emails about it. So this past weekend, I decided to do something about it. I mean, how long could it possible take?

11 hours later…

Well, okay, that took a little longer than I thought. Here’s what it entailed:

  • Downloaded the latest Xcode and updated all the provisioning stuff.
  • Fixed aspect ratio by updating the launch image with a storyboard.
  • Updated NIB files.
  • Created a new icon.
  • Switched from deprecated UIAccelerometer to CMMotionManager.
  • Replaced deprecated AudioSessionGetProperty() function calls.
  • Updated screenshots.

Psychic Retirement Planning Services

May 6th, 2017

I was chatting with a friend a while back and had this silly idea: what if the person helping you plan your retirement was psychic? I didn’t do much with the idea until this weekend when my wife and kid were out for the afternoon and suddenly, I had time to actually do something with it.

So I wrote a quick script, figured out my second location, and then shot the thing. It took a few hours because I kept on messing up my lines. (It’s hard being the director, cinematographer, and actor simultaneously!) And then came the editing, which I thought might be interesting to talk about. Take a look at this bit of the timeline from my project (in Final Cut Pro):


Notice anything? “Charles” is the more laid back character and “Tyler” is the more frenetic one. You can see that in the where because Tyler starts his lines before Charles even finishes. It’s a pretty subtle effect but hopefully adds to the overall flow of the piece.

And this has been your director commentary for a 2-minute short.

Kitten Quest

February 17th, 2017

WorkInProgressI made a children’s book! For an audience of one, that is.

Dyson wanted a kitten for his birthday but I’m all, like, noooo, kittens are so much work. But then I thought, hey, maybe the kid could do it. And then I remembered that Tracy bought these blank books for Dyson to write stories in and I had this idea of writing a story about a knight who goes on a quest to prove he’s responsible enough to take care of a cat, complete with checklists for some chores he has to do, first.

So … a few days of penciling, inking, and coloring later, I had a children’s book. Some notes:

  • I didn’t want the ink bleeding through the inside pages, so I used a ball point pen.
  • Watercolor based pencils are lots of fun. Mostly I just used them like pencils but I also used a brush dipped in water in a few places.
  • 8 pages takes a long time to fill up.

Powerup Haircut

December 11th, 2016

Our team had a company party on Saturday. The theme was “Past and Future” so I figured I’d wear my old-fashioned kimono and do something “futuristic” with my hair. Then I figured I’d try to make a quick video out of it. What I didn’t count on was the power going out for several hours in the middle of all that. So … that’s why there’s one really dark scene in the video.

Anyways, here’s me in a kimono!

The Halloween Video I Didn’t Make

November 13th, 2016

So I had this silly idea for a Halloween video with my kid:


TYLER is working on his computer at home when he hears a knock at the door. He walks over, opens the door, and sees KID VAMPIRE.




Err ... hi?


Can I come in?


Are you a vampire?




Oh, okay.



TYLER is lying on the floor and KID VAMPIRE is biting his neck.


Although vampires can not enter a household without first being invited in, they can, in fact, lie. Protect yourself by following these precautions:


TYLER is shoving GARLIC towards KID VAMPIRE, outside the door.






TYLER is splashing HOLY WATER on KID VAMPIRE, outside the door.


Holy water.




TYLER is waving a CRUCIFIX on KID VAMPIRE, outside the door.


Or a crucifix.


What’s that?


Note, crucifixes may not be effective against heathen vampires.

I thought it was cute. I told my wife about it and she thought it was hilarious. So she asked Dyson if he was excited to make a video with Papa and he said, “I don’t want to.” And that was that. I mean, I tried asking a couple times after that, even offering bribes of video game time. But if you’ve ever been in a contest of wills with a six-year-old, you know how it ends. Also, making videos is my thing, not his.

I’ll be honest. I was a little crestfallen. I had visions of us having fun together making silly videos like this, especially at this age because he’s adorable. But he takes after his mom and he hates performing. He’s much more interested in baseball and running cross country, which I have no idea where he gets. Fortunately, he’s really into video games and cartoons like me, so we bonded over that instead.

Anyways, it can be disappointing when things don’t turn out the way you hope, but you can’t control other people and it’s important to focus on what you can do and what is good.

And yes, this has been a metaphor for how I dealt with the election.

The Making of “Undecided Vote”

October 8th, 2016

I haven’t made one of these in years. But then I had a stupid idea and a free afternoon, so here we are.

It was a good couple hours for principle photography and a few hours of editing. The trickiest part, by far, was getting the 3-way split screen shot. It’s incredibly challenging to say lines timed with imaginary performances of yourself (for me, anyways). I was nowhere close so I had to fix a lot of it in post. But it helped a lot to have a rough script written. Other challenges:

  • Finishing principle photography with a kid in the house.
  • Finding three locations in my house that looked different enough.
  • Pronouncing the Russian. I took a bit of it in college, but I’m really rusty.

Dyson and I play Beethoven

August 4th, 2016–XiQ

We have a digital piano at home and one day Dyson asked for piano lessons. I think he’s starting earlier than I did. So he’s probably better than I was at that age. And if he keeps up with it, he’ll be better than I am now.

It kinda embarrasses me / fills me with me pride, but there are already things he’s better than me at:

  • Running continuously for 2 miles.
  • Playing Connect Four.
  • Holding a plank position.
  • Being cute.

Fortunately, there are still things I’m better at:

  • Playing the piano.
  • Playing chess.
  • Programming computers.
  • Public speaking.

Well, at least … for now. As time goes on, the top list will grow and the bottom list will shrink. I suppose that’s ever the way with being a parent. I just didn’t think it’d start happening when he was six!

Demo Reel

June 13th, 2016

I used to work on effects in the entertainment industry and when you’re in effects, you create demo reels to show what you worked on. This was mine from 2002 (plus some other stuff).

Most of the footage comes from this movie called Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s because nobody went to see it in the theaters (it premiered in third place after Legally Blonde and Cats and Dogs), and so the studio I worked for closed down which is why I needed to make a demo reel in the first place. The rest of the stuff came from a short film called Final Flight of the Osiris, which was part of a series of animated shorts in the world of The Matrix.

It was a lot of fun working in computer graphics those days. It was early enough that you could pretty much do anything in that area and be the first person to do that thing. Like, I think I might have written the first volumetric shader with lighting used in a feature film. But there were only, like, 5 other CG feature films out by that point. Making iPhone apps in 2008 and working on virtual reality stuff now feel kinda similar. There’s something exciting about being on the frontier and exploring, working with other people trying to figure out how it all works. It’s a little scary and exhilarating at the same time.