Here is the 2016 yule video from the Laurelin hobbits!
Best wishes for the yuletide! I hope yer all have some relaxing days with friends and family, filled with Christmas cheer. To help yer get in the yuletide mood, here is this year’s yule video from the hobbits on Laurelin. I hope yer like it!
The 2016 yule video
The last few years, I have made hobbity yule videos. As always, I had a lot of help this year too. Many hobbits on Laurelin helped by attending the video shoots, sending in screenshots and offering up ideas. 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 2016 Laurelin hobbit yule video (full-screen and high-definition recommended)!2016 Yule Video
The making of the video
Here’s how I usually go about making these yule videos:
- I announce a few dates and ask lots of hobbits to come, preferably looking all yule-ish and festive
- I have a very loose idea of what to do on any given date, but things are very flexible
- On each shoot, I have between 1-1,5 hours to herd the hobbit actors through various scenes, by giving directions in raid chat
This means that each shoot is a crazy busy time management challenge, battling with the creaky LOTRO game engine, hoping that latency, hitches or glitches won’t ruin fine shots, switching between fullscreen (for shooting video) and UI (for giving instructions), and praying that the actors will do what I try to convey through my text directions. It usually works out somehow, but detailed planning in advance has about a snowball’s chance in Mordor to survive. Instead, I try to keep the camera rolling as much as possible, and then try make sense of it all when I put the footage into my video editor afterwards.
This can be somewhat challenging at best. This year, I also had very little time for the editing process. After the first shoot in early December, I managed to edit the first part of the video, the yule tree search. After this was done, I was more or less away on travel all the time until yule. The latter part of the video, from Step 2 onwards, was spliced together during a few quick hours on December 23. I did not have much time to tinker with the song lines and titles, adding pictures, tuning colours and brightness and so on, so things might be a bit rough here and there. I am reasonably happy with it at first glance, though.
The yule videos have developed into a “tale of two stories” by now. It usually starts with a slow first half, until it speeds up for a livelier second. So also this year. But which stories to tell? Well, here’s how it all ended up this year.
Which slow story to tell?
Early on, I had a general idea for the 2016 video: “How would hobbits prepare for yule”? Naturally, I figured they would need a yule tree, and this simple idea turned into the storyline for the first video. It is basically hobbits walking into the woods to look for a fine tree.
Where to look? My favourite winter zone in LOTRO is Forochel, not least because of the wide snowy areas and the lovely night skies. However, the area doesn’t really have any fine-looking yule trees, at least not any that are hobbit-sized. Another option is the Misty Mountains, which has lots of fine trees, but the land tends to be somewhat misty (!) at night. So, once again we went to Ered Luin and the lands outside of Thorin’s Gate: It is safe and frienly for lower-level hobbits, has a few fine snow areas, and there are some suitable-looking trees. Finding the one we used in the video took some time, though. Our tree was picked during the last ride-through of the area with Tibba the hour before the shoot started.
Much like last year, I wanted the camera to move a lot, sort of tracking the actors, sometimes dancing around them, to add a fair bit of dynamic visuals to the story. Obviously, in LOTRO I am limited to what my character can see in-game. So panning shots around or over the actors is hard to pull off. What I wouldn’t give to have free floating camera tools in-game… Instead, I have to:
- 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 a low DPI setting on your mouse helps keep things steady and smooth.
- Using all sorts of running skills for “tracking” shots, running sideways or even backwards, but still keeping up with the others
For this year’s walk, though, I generally didn’t pan and crop so much. Given that we had a slow walk through the woods, I tried to move faster than the other actors instead and keep the original resolution of the video. Another challenge was to avoid catching my own footprints in the snow while shooting, so that meant trying to look in one direction while moving in another, using sideways movement liberally. This is hazardous in itself. Running sideways alongside the actors stops you from noticing any ledges or long falls (ouch…).
In the end, we lucked out with the lighting for the video. Due to a server reboot just a few days before shooting this segment, we started work at around midnight in-game (instead of early morning, like we were originally scheduled to). This gave the dark, cold blue snow colour in the early part of the segment, which gets progressively brighter as we near the yule tree. After all, finding the yule tree should be a light and happy thing!
Which fast story to tell?
Last year I had considered to turn “The twelve days of Christmas” into the basis of a band of merry hobbits preparing for yule. I never quite got around to it, ending up with a visit to the dwarves and a run through Forochel instead. Always happy to recycle old unused ideas, I tried again this year, not least because someone mentioned we could try celebrate yule in the snowless homesteads instead of running off into the cold every time. Good one!
I asked the Grand Order hobbits for input on what scenes to film for the yule party and got lots of suggestions (not least from Pycella – thanks!). However, with my rather casual approach to planning scenes, I was more or less certain we would not be able to match the numbered counts in the original lyrics with hobbits in each scene (for instance – 11 hobbits for 11 pipers, and so on). In the end, that turned into a joke in itself in the video, as the numbers and lyrics start messing up halfway through and goes completely bonkers near the end. Much like I suppose a fine hobbit yule party would!
Shooting inside the homesteads proved challenging too. For some reason, lighting inside the huge hobbit kinhouses in 4 Brookbank Street is bugged, which means that the room looks darker or brighter depending on where you are in the burrow or even which way you look (you can see an example of this in the barrel panning shot for the first “Five dozen ales” scene). This ruined a few fine takes, and as a result I needed to chop and edit this segment a bit more than I had planned to, leading to a rather frantic last half. Then again, I think this gives a nice contrast to the yule tree search.
Oh, and remember. Around yule, beware the pink furry snow beasts!
Old yule videos
Here are my old yule videos, if this year’s isn’t enough for yer. Merry yule everyone!2012 Yule Video 2013 Yule Video 2014 Yule Video 2015 Yule Video