The OOZ Labs project

Posted on January 26, 2015

In the past few months I’ve been quietly working at a new project with a couple of friends–Nuno Correia and Luís Correia–which I am now ready to talk about. The project is called OOZ Labs and it is mainly focused on a Youtube channel and a blog in which we show how to make stuff.
The first series, for example, is all about assembling a quadcopter and making it fly.

You did what now?

But really, what is this all about?

Well, “OOZ” is a reference to the group of crazy people that make up the “One Over Zero” gang (to which I’ve alluded here before) and as for the “Labs” part, this show is based on some of the things we come up with in our labs! (which is to say, Nuno Correia’s awesome garage workshop.)
We’ve been making cool (or sometimes simply fun) things together in Nuno’s garage for a long time now–did you catch our foray into making longboard skates, for example?–and we came up with the idea that we could create a show around our “Maker” activities, teaching people (portuguese speaking people, more specifically) how to do some of these things and letting them see that in general this is really not so hard.

So we made a plan to start off with something we were all confortable building–a quadcopter–, got our own equipment together (we bought very few equipment for this project and what little we bought, we mainly used the show as an excuse to buy it for ourselves anyway), started making some test shots in the garage, learned a lot from them, Luís put together things like studio lights with some ingenuity and a shoestring budget, we ordered the parts for the quadcopter from Hobby King and Ebay and started shooting for real sometime around October.
In mid-December we finished shooting the first season and by then I already had most of the twenty-something videos that comprise that season edited and ready to post.
To me (well, to all of us, really) this is a gigantic project. We shoot in the evenings, after work, and when we’re not shooting I’m editing video and the other guys are preparing stuff for the next shooting session.

My part in it

So what is my role in all this? I decided to tackle a few things, mainly because I didn’t know how to do them and I wanted to learn something new and challenging. There’s really no better motivation, right?

I edit the videos (and audio, we use separate audio from the cameras, sometimes with one microphone per person).
I strictly use whatever software I already had available to me, which amounts to iMovie 10 for the video itself and Keynote for the “cards” we need to have in the videos. No other animation or video editing software is used (apart from QuickTime for the screen casts we had to do later on in the series).

We definitely did not want to get mired in the video and audio copyright cesspool, so we needed some original music for the show. We wanted something fresh and upbeat, something that stuck to the ear and was easily recognizable.
With that in mind I whipped out my copy of Garage Band and sketched a few possible theme songs, until we got to the one we’re using now (for the first season, at least).
Fresh, upbeat, catchy, easily recognizable and copyright-free. Well, one out of five is not so bad, now is it?

I also decided to play the producer role in this project. In that role I have to make sure things are there when we need them, people do what they have to do on time and I organize everything and everyone for the show to happen when it must. Not an easy job, but I like to organize things so it was a natural fit for me.

I present the show–we all do, at least in this first series–because I actually have built a quad, so I do have some relevant knowledge to impart.
I will probably not have much screen time on season 2, but I’ll definitely be all over the screen on season 3. :-)

Then, at the end of the process, I am usually the one that takes care of launching the videos and blog posts and I generally handle the social media side of things (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and so on), with some help from the guys.

Obviously this being a three-person project, we all end up doing a bit of everything and when push comes to shove, we all get down there on the “studio floor” and hammer away at whatever needs hammering, but broadly speaking each one of us has a few roles he adheres more to, and these are mine.

So far…

So far the experience has been really fulfilling.

The learning curve for iMovie–which I’ve used before but never on a project of this scale–has been steep, but I am now comfortable enough with it as to be able to edit a small video in just a few hours.
The producing and organizing side of things has been a real challenge. It is such a chaotic mess just getting things set up to film an episode, let alone all the rest of the stuff that has to happen for the show to go on…

But I’m loving it all and I have already fulfilled at least part of my goals: I have learned a lot with all of this!