Want a white snowy yule? Here is yer chance, with the 2015 yule video from the hobbit roleplayers on Laurelin. A warm and merry yule to everyone!
The 2015 yule video
The last few years, I have made hobbity yule videos. They started out as reasonably simple affairs, mostly splicing together old screenshots made by members of the Grand Order. Eventually, I started shooting in-game videos instead, and a larger part of the community have helped with the production. Yer can see all the old videos below.
This year I also had a lot of help. Many hobbits on Laurelin helped by attending the video shoots, sending in screenshots and offering up ideas. We were also assisted by our good dwarven friends this time, and that was very much appreciated. There were simply too many helping to list yer all in the credits (and I was also afraid I might miss one or two…). Yer help, assistance and good cheer was absolutely vital for the making of this video, though!
If you think this all looks fun, please join us hobbit roleplayers on Laurelin. There are lots of things happening here: Just read about the events in my hobbit calendar or in the Bramblebury Gazette, the local hobbit newspaper.
So without further ado: The 2015 Laurelin hobbit yule video (full-screen and high-definition recommended)! Read lots more about the making of it below! Have a merry yule everyone! May yer always enjoy health, happiness and the comfort of a warm burrow with well-stocked larder.A very merry yule from the Laurelin hobbits
It could have been a different tale
Originally, I had slightly different plans for the video than what you see above. When tossing around ideas for a story, Simbo suggested that hobbits could go bring gifts to the dwarves. Very yule-ish, I am sure yer will agree!
So I started preparing a whole story about hobbits headed up to Thorin’s Hall, only to run afoul of all sorts of adventure on the way. As a result, the hobbits lost/broke/ate up all their gifts. No worries, though, since upon arrival they would be met by a host of dwarves headed for the Shire with gifts for the hobbits. Cue a grand party. Yay!
This story would have been lots of fun to do. Various options were available for making it too; perhaps a song based on “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Or even a poem with voice-over?
So why didn’t it happen? Basically, real-life intervened. November was quite hectic at work, and additionally I spent about three weeks trying to recover from a nasty cold as well. This meant there was little time left to set up a storyboarded script for the tale above.
When the days of the arranged video shoots arrived, I had to default to what we had done before: Gather a group of players, have some basic ideas of what to do, let the camera roll and see where that took us. I then retrofit the whole thing to new lyrics for “Oh Holy Night” (written last night… apologies in advance to “Oh Holy Night” purists). In the end, I think it worked out reasonably well, although it sure would have been fun to do that other story too.
You’ll still find remnants of the gift story in the video: The dwarves greeting us in Thorin’s Gate, pets roaming around near the campfire (and one poor pig even in the campfire), etc. Perhaps next time?
Move that camera
It adds a lot to the videos to have movement in them. No no, not just the crowd, but also the camera. In later videos, I have started toying around with various ways for more camera movement. I’d love to have the camera perform sort of a dance around the actors, to add a fair bit of dynamic visuals to the story.
The obvious problem in LOTRO is that I don’t have a camera. Or rather, the camera is my own character, which limits the amount of camera dancing possible. For instance, swooping in on a crowd from above is problematic: I could zoom in our out, but then I’d end up in the video myself, most often facing the other direction of the others.
My solution so far has been:
- Shoot all video in high resolutions (2560×1440), so I have more space to create some artificial movement by cropping and panning the picture when editing
- Using the mouse actively for rotating/swaying shots
- Using all sorts of running skills for “tracking” shots, running sideways or even backwards, but still keeping up with the others
In this year’s video, there are two main segments: The main story (“Oh holy night”) and the credits scene (“Come all ye faithful”). I wanted the first one to have a slow, dreamlike atmosphere. This basically meant going slo-mo, slowing the videos down to about 50% of the regular running speed. Camera moves are also slower, less abrupt. In contrast, I wanted the credits scene to zip along playfully as the hobbits ran through Sûri-Kylä. Tracking shots, rotating shots, some speedups and lots of editing tricks was involved there. It was good fun to aim for completely different styles in the two segments, and I hope yer enjoy them!
For various reasons, I ran into a few problems when editing the video: Some of the footage I shot was of less quality than I wanted it to be.
- LOTRO is an ageing game, the game engine is creaking severely, and the server performance can be somewhat spotty. This tends to introduce lag/freezes/skips in the video, often at the worst time possible. You’ll see some of these skips or camera jerks in the video, most notably during some slo-mo running scenes when players jump towards the camera.
- In the first shoot, we had a few hunters who ran with their running skills enabled when in the raid. This gives a visual effect with green dust clouds and floating leaves around the characters. I didn’t really notice during the shooting, but when editing it was easy to see that it didn’t really match well with running through snow-covered fields. It impacted some of my favourite scenes too. To solve it, I put a colour filter on those video segments. While the clouds and leaves remain, the filter nuked the green/yellow (*sobs*) colours, so they are white instead. Much more snow-appropriate, although this also reduced the yellow shine of lanterns and sparklers in those videos.
- I had upgraded to Windows 10 just before the shoots started. After this, I have noticed that my video recorder struggles in some lighting conditions in LOTRO, basically introducing lots of blurring and green shimmering in some areas. Most notably in Thorin’s Gate… *sighs*. This lead to me throwing away some grand shots, because they were just too blurry.
In the end, it took a fair bit of searching and digital trickery to find useful shots this time. Hopefully it was worth it in the end!
Old yule videos
Here are all of my previous yule videos, from 2012 onwards:Grand Order Yule Greetings 2012 Grand Order Yule Greetings 2013 Laurelin hobbits Yule Greetings 2014