Nov 21, 2012

Background acting:《都是小黑惹的祸》Koffee Did It!


One day I saw my friend posting on Facebook wall about cast recruitment for a kid's drama in Singapore. She is also from Penang but studied in a polytechnic in Singapore after Form 5 in Malaysia. There was only one character that suits me - a 20+-year-old elder brother of a kid. I really did dare myself to go for the audition and so I went for the audition at the film company (Oak3 Films) at MacPherson.

Well, my friend is the assistant director for the drama and at there I was given a script which I need to sort of memorize and act, then they recorded that as reference. My friend and the main director was there for the audition and he said I sort of shivered when I was talking, but I have a very accurate and clear Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. He even asked whether I'm a stage drama actor. ^^

A few days later I actually heard from my friend that there're about 17 other people went for audition for the same role I went for. Oh my goodness, then I thought never mind, just take the audition as an experience. However, I was told a few days later, that I was selected to play the role!! That was surely one huge good news for the narcissistic me. Haha...

The drama is called 都是小黑惹的禍!(Koffee Did It!). I guess 小黑 is a panda plush doll owned by a little girl, which comes to life from time to time, like Barney the dinosaur.

My casting took place at Block 562, Hougang Street 51 on a Wednesday during the reading week. I'm only background acting so it took only one day to film my 4 scenes with other main scenes. I'm not sure but, I would regard myself as 茄哩啡, a very popular phrase in Cantonese, which means 'extra' or '臨時演員'. However I did have a script and I need to memorize and speak while acting.

I reached there earlier than the crew and spent one full hour there studying PC1432 Physics IIE (I tend to be more productive out of my room with no laptop distraction). I was quite shy when the crew reached the venue as I didn't know all of them. The two kids I'm acting with, a boy and a girl, they're really cute, and the girl is really cute and pretty. Hehe...

These are my scenes (I'm playing Jimmy by the way):
Episode & Scene no. Script (Dialog in italics)
Episode 4

Scene 18
室外。Joe的家門口。 日

Joe回到一組屋外,拿出鑰匙就要開門。時鐵門打開。一個二十多歲的男生,Jimmy已經打扮好,準備出門。Joe看到哥哥,開心的樣子。

Joe:哥!你在家?晚餐……
Jimmy:我要出門了。晚餐你自己去買。記得看門啊。



Joe失望的樣子,看著哥哥離開。

Joe:(不悅地喃喃)看門?我又不是小貓小狗……

Joe沮喪地打開門,在關上。
不遠處,瑞玲和小黑正在觀看著這一切。門一關上,瑞玲和小黑對望一眼。
Episode 4

Scene 23
外景。Joe的組屋外。 日

瑞玲來到Joe的家門前。她站在門口,正在思考要怎麼開口,這時Joe家的門打開,Jimmy出現在門口,和瑞玲對望。

瑞玲:(打招呼)Hi!請問,Joe在嗎?
Jimmy:他出去了,你找他有事嗎?



瑞玲遲疑表情。
Episode 4

Scene 27
外景。組屋樓下遊樂園。 日

瑞玲和小黑在滑梯上,看著不遠處的兩兄弟。
小黑在玩滑梯,玩得開心。瑞玲正東張西望地,好奇地想知道兄弟倆在聊什麼。
時Jimmy和Joe已經談好。祥瑞玲走過來。

Jimmy:瑞玲,謝謝你。
瑞玲:(不解)我?
Jimmy:Joe已經把全部的事情都告訴我了。他明天會主動去跟老師道歉。



一旁的Joe卻沒有反應。

Jimmy:因為我太忙,沒有時間去關心他,也沒有注意到他缺乏些什麼。他不好意思跟我開口拿多一點零用錢,才會把別人的文具拿來賣。以後我會多關心他,不會再有類似的事情發生了。Joe,對嗎?

Jimmy看Joe。Joe有點無奈地點點頭。

瑞玲:(會意)原來是這樣啊。(對Joe)我家樓下的雜貨店在請兼職呢,你要不要去面試?我跟老闆很熟的,我可以幫你問!

Joe沒有出聲。Jimmy對瑞玲微笑。

Jimmy:謝謝你,瑞玲。天要黑了,你也回家吧,不然你家人會擔心。

瑞玲點點頭。看著Joe和Jimmy離開。

瑞玲:(喃喃)就這樣?!

Unfortunately it rained that afternoon. Some outdoor scenes had to be postponed until the rain stopped. When I was taking rest, the little girl holding her pink teddy bear approached me and talked to me. She asked whether I've acted in other show before, and said my Chinese is good. LOL~ I was glad that she wasn't even afraid of approaching a stranger guy like me. And ya, my Chinese is damn good, can't help (just kidding, erm... maybe I was just good in switching between accents).

It's a wonderful experience working with the professional filming crew. They really have the equipment a that the professionals should have. Every cast has a mic tacked on the inside of the clothes. Yet they still have boom mic, external monitor for director, lighting, reflector. Every thunderstorm and lightning will make them stop the roll.

I was paid only $60 but I'm contented. I don't even mind paying them to let me act if I have to. LOL~~ I know I'm a narcissist!!
The drama will be broadcasted weekly on Channel 8 10:30am starting from 30 Dec 2012 (Sun). My scenes are in episode 4 so if everything goes fine, episode 4 should be on 20 Jan 2013. Well, I actually wonder which friends of mine watch kid's drama? On Sunday morning some more. Haha...

UPDATE: Here's the video

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Nov 18, 2012

Sia - I'm in Here (Piano/Vocal Version) (Cover by Gary Song)


Well, this time is with Gary, our prominent male vocalist from THreshold. It was almost a week before the 1st day of the exam week, but seriously, my motivation for recording a cover had more than what it takes to outweigh my study mood (but I did study, I don't wanna disappoint my parents and myself).

Gary likes to sing emo song and he hates singing funky, cute, too-well-known songs like Gotta Catch 'Em All, Dumb Ways to Die, Call Me Maybe, which he perceives as 'childish'? I'm like the completely opposite one, as I would love to perform these songs because they allow me to show more stage presence potentially. He chose to sing I'm in Here by Sia, the Australian singer-songwriter who sang Titanium. The song is a single from her album We Are Born and there're actually two versions of this song in it. Of course, Gary is singing the Piano/Vocal Version (Track No.14).

Instead of the original A minor key, we transposed the song down to F minor key (major 3rd drop). This time I harmonized, and I think the effect was ok. I turned off the band room ceiling lights and left only my mini light on, which made Gary keep complaining about the blinding bright light, but at least that brings out the emo feel, as you can see the Gary's shadow casting on the wall, haha...

If you're watching the video and listening through your laptop loudspeaker, the keyboard's sound might be too loud for the vocals. So would you kindly put on your headset or earphone while watching?

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Nov 16, 2012

YouTube Partner


I tried to apply once for monetization (Settings > Monetization) in YouTube. If you don't find the Monetization panel after clicking Settings in your YouTube account toolbar, your country is probably where YouTube Partner Program is not available, that's why I chose Singapore as Country in my channel setting. However I put Penang, Malaysia as Location, proving that I didn't forget my root.

Despite that, I failed and was told that my channel has insufficient viewership. I guess it was at the point of time when I haven't even uploaded a single instrumental cover videos. In the meantime when I go back to Monetization, there was no option for me to enable monetization but just a sentences saying Monetization is available in your country, which is just crap because even when I changed to Japan, it doesn't work. Then I found out that there is a 2-month period which I can't apply from the date of the unsuccessful application. Nothing has changed even in October and I am sure that that was already more than two months counting from the day I first applied.
Until yesterday, when I went to Monetization and there's a button to enable monetization. I clicked on it and received the following email:


Congratulations javintham, 

Your account is now enabled for monetization. To help you get started, we created the following resource to guide you through your account, our policies, and provide tips to growing your audience.

You can manage your videos and opt them into monetization from your Video Manager. Also, visit the Creator Hub to learn about the latest creator news and resources.

Have fun and good luck,


The YouTube Team



Well, it seems to be easy, so I'm not sure whether anyone can do that right now, you might want to try if you have a YouTube account with videos.

I went to my Video Manager and I noticed the difference - the extra green monetization buttons.
Apparently those videos that Matched third party content are not eligible to be monetized.

Whether I am a YouTube Partner or not, I wondered, when I found no way to customize my username above my video, and the extra 150px apace on top of my channel. But I remember the phrase I saw on YouTUbe after enabling monetization - You will become a YouTube Partner when you have at least one of your video monetized. Having a few videos of mine currently monetized, I guess I can declare now that I am officially a YouTube Partner!
Well, I better don't yell too loud, as becoming a YouTube Partner easily could become a norm. About the customizable stuffs, I guess the YouTube Partner has to be prominent enough to be like a "Business Partner" of YouTube.

Being able to monetize videos is not the end of the story yet, to get paid, I have to associate my AdSense account to YouTube. I don't really expect to get paid by the way, as my viewership is way too far from presentability.

Oh dear, talking about AdSense, I have a longer story to tell, where some unknown factors lead to the disapproval of my AdSense account. I called Google Singapore this afternoon, without having a chance to even speak to the operator, I was told by the 'automated answering officer' that issue about AdSense is currently not possible to be solved through phone call and I was asked to send email to adsense-support@google.com. This is actually not bad, as you won't be able to reach Google easily because they encourage you to post questions in their Google Product Forum, claiming that their Google Team will take a look at those queries. Right, I did so a few months ago and I didn't get a single reply.

So this is what I sent to adsense-support@google.com:


Dear Sir/Madam,

Hi, I called Google Singapore this afternoon to seek for assistance for my AdSense account and was asked to send this email because issues about AdSense is currently not able to be sought assistance for through phone.

Issue 1: Blogger
Quite some time ago (more than a year ago), I applied for AdSense for my blog in Blogger (javintham.blogspot.com) by using the URL of my blog and always being rejected because of domain ownership (which I don't really understand why because Google Ads are supposed to be able to display in Blogger), and even after I tried to create a page in Blogger and obtain new URL like javintham.blogspot.com/p/domain-ownership, I still didn't get approved.

And ever since Blogger has an updated layout I've never tried to reapply, until last few months.
In Blogger, I went to Earning, and click on "Get Started", at the Link your AdSense account panel, I was shown "Your AdSense account has been disapproved for a Terms and Conditions violation. View the AdSense Terms of Service." I honestly do not know what Terms and Conditions have I violated.

So I try to reapply through my disapproved AdSense account. When I tried to resubmit, it brings me to a new page with:
Step 1: Review your content
Step 2: Resubmit your AdSense application
and by using javintham.blogspot.com in the field "I will show ads on", I couldn't proceed and was asked to "Please register for AdSense directly from blogger.com.".
Fine, then in Blogger, I go to "Earnings" and select "Get Started", the same thing happens again as explained above.

Few months ago I actually posted this issue onto the Google Product Forum (http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!mydiscussions/adsense/OEjQJAYAP-0) but no one has replied.

Issue 2: YouTube monetization
Recently I am able to monetize my videos on YouTube and when asked to associate an AdSense account, I have two options:
Create a new AdSense account
Use an existing AdSense account
The 1st one does not work because it says that "The specified email address is already in use. If you own this AdSense account, please go back and choose 'Use Existing Account' instead." I supposed it means that the email address for my YouTube account is the same as my AdSense account, as well as my Blogger account. Hence, I have to go with the 2nd one.
For the 2nd one, when I type my email in, it says "The AdSense account for this publisher has been disapproved. We do not allow requests on a disapproved AdSense account."

In short, I need an approved AdSense account. Finally, I hereby seek for your assistance regarding this issue. I cannot reapply as I cannot use my website from Blogger to apply as it will direct me back to Blogger.
I hope that Google can reset my AdSense account so that I do not have to apply an AdSense account by having my own website but able to apply directly from Blogger or YouTube, because I do not think I have violated any Terms and Regulations for AdSense except for maybe using the Blogger URL (javintham.blogspot.com) that I used to apply for Adsense that made Google think that I am using a domain that does not belong to me, as previously Blogger did not have the function of applying AdSense directly through Blogger itself.

I deeply appreciate for understanding my current situation. Hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you very much!


Regards



I hope the relatively long email above sort of summarizes the problem I faced with AdSense. And ya I have a cool email signature, haha!

To sum it up, if I am one of the few YouTubers that are recently eligible to monetize videos, I would like to thank YouTube for recognizing my effort.

If you haven't, please subscribe to my channel! ^^

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Nov 8, 2012

Adele - Someone Like You (Cover by Smily Lock)


This cover was recorded right after we finished recording Sara Bareilles - Gravity on the same day. Previously I recorded a duplicate of me playing Someone Like You with erhu and keyboard before, this is the vocal cover for it, but not sung by me.

Initially I was to harmonize Smily's singing, but keeping the broken chords or arpeggios on right hand going while harmonizing wasn't as easy as I thought. Therefore, we re-recorded with just only her singing. We recorded quite a number of times until we got a successful one, as there was once I played wrongly and once the camera ran out of memory and we didn't get a full footage of the cover. This results in the not-so-perfect singing quality due to exhaustion (she definitely sings better than that), as compared to Gravity.

I did as what I did for the instrumental version - making the video black and white. Haha... It's taken with one shot, meaning that I didn't use multiple scenes for the cover, to save time for both recording the footage and editing it.

Smily is good at changing the lyrics of the song, from "summer haze" to "summery haze", not done on purpose though. She also added an extra word in the very last chorus of Gravity.

Check it out and hope you'll like it!

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Sara Bareilles - Gravity (Cover by Smily Lock)


Sara Bareilles, a name that I wouldn't have heard before if I didn't have a chance to perform one of her song, Gravity during Chillout, an annual internal concert organized by THreshold (Temasek Hall Band). In fact, I don't know the name of most English song singers unless they're famous enough for a non-English song listener like me.

So Smily was the singer from THreshold that performed Gravity and I accompanied her singing on keyboard. This is just another soul capturing song. Being emotional and moving, the original song is accompanied by merely piano and strings, and the specially themed MV is a one-shot one. What a pleasure to play the song when you're soaking yourself in the sea of the song's melody and arrangement.

I then invited Smily (it's her real official and registered name by the way) to make a cover for that song with me, as I found her interesting, with the potential of being wild. And one outrageous fact is, she's studying medicine. NUS really produces or admits insane talents. With her characteristic and enthusiasm I know she would agree with making a cover, and ya she did.

Having thought of shooting from multiple angles, I prefer shifting the keyboard to the center area of the bandroom because the yellow door on the right of the keyboard is gonna be scene killing. However we just moved to an area with less ceiling light coverage, and the mini light that I brought was running out of battery thus having low intensity.

But well, the post editing seems to be quite okay. And I remembered to remind Smily to follow her posture in the first successful recording of audio and video, to prevent continuity error, since I don't have more than one camera to shoot at multiple angles at the same time. The outcome was pretty smooth.

I love recording using the mixer as Adobe Audition in my laptop directly records the sound from the mixer without needing me to record with my iPhone again and import to the software and put the tracks in place. Moreover, the USB input allows internal recording compared to the 3.5mm input (usually red) that somehow always produces over-excessive noise. Nevertheless, Temasek Hall's Pro Audio Crew or THreshold should consider investing in a pop filter.

So, before summing up, please listen to the original song (the embedded YouTube video above). The unaccompanied C5 at the end of the bridge sung by Sara might take your breath away and give you goose bumps.
Finally, please enjoy our cover and subscribe to my channel! ^^


PS: Smily, you owe me a treat for removing your blemishes without hardly any hitch. :)

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist

Nov 3, 2012

Sparkz Audition @ NUS


The same six of us who've been jamming together under the name of THreshold participated in Sparkz, an annual talent show that provides a platform for all NUS students to showcase their talents.

Our singer Gary had sore throat on that very day, probably because of him drinking the night before. Moreover, we only took the practice seriously a few days before the audition, so the overall performance was definitely below par.

The song we performed is Gotta Catch 'Em All (Pokémon Theme Song)
, which Gary sang before during Rockfest 2012 in the last semester when I was in Sweden for exchange, also which he doesn't like to perform, and I have no idea why 'cause I kinda like to perform this kind of song. He was only more comfortable with performing the song after making the verse acoustic. Weird Gary.

Thanks Gary for being the driver of the day. We spent quite a while to setup the amps at the audition venue. I think the committee has no one with sufficient experience dealing with band logistic. I was pretty panic when the bass amp didn't work. I asked Justin for help, and the epic moment started. Justin plugged out the power plug and analyzing the combination of colors with earth/life for electrical wiring. He then asked the committee members about this and I bet they're scratching their head. In the end he found the correct combination from the internet and the amp was fixed. Justin is the true engineer seriously. I don't even know a single shit of this and the way of applying my knowledge even if I knew.

From my camera


From Sparkz Committee

As you can see, not really impressive, and my harmonizing was pitchy oh gosh. At least it's over, and each of us received a participating certificate, like what we always did in high school.

UPDATE: We made it to the final! Please read my new blog entry.

Javin Tham, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB Musician | Engineer | YouTube Coverist