Inktober’s almost here!


Remember Inktober?

What began as a creative exercise for Jake Parker in 2009 has since been adopted by artists worldwide, thanks in no small part to social media. Beginning October 1, if you see the hashtag #Inktober in your Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or other social channels, you know why.

I discovered Inktober about a week or so into October of last year. I tried to play a little catch-up with the project and really enjoyed getting back into drawing on a semi-regular basis. I drew a variety, from comic book characters to my pup, Missy.

But this year, I’m approaching Inktober with more of a plan. Because of the obvious connections to the month of October, my drawings will all be of the monster kind. Classic horror icons, contemporary frights and maybe some original creations will be my subjects.

And I would love to hear from you. Throughout the month of Inktober, let me know what monsters and horror characters you’d like me to draw. You can connect with me through various social channels (see below). I’ll try and incorporate as many into the series as possible.

Be sure to follow me. Who knows? I may even Periscope a drawing session or three.

Happy Inktober, everyone!

Stay connected on social media

Instagram: @christopherarnolddesigns

Twitter: @carnolddesigns

Periscope: @carnolddesigns

YouTube: carnoldphotovideo

Giddy about ‘Star Wars’ land at Disney

I felt a great disturbance in my Twitter feed, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in excitement.

And I was one of them.

At its D23 Fan Expo over the weekend, Disney made a ton of announcements that rival they type of news we expect out of Comic Con each year. But one item made me especially giddy.

The ‘Star Wars’ universe is expanding at Disney theme parks. Disneyland in California and Hollywood Studios in Florida will see a significant Star Wars footprint — 14 acres in each park — with opportunities to experience the Cantina, fly the Millenium Falcon and more.

I can’t wait.

Now if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to leave Hollywood Studios and head up I-4 to an entertainment rival of Disney: Universal Orlando. I had the opportunity in 2014 to visit that park’s newest and highly-anticipated expansion: Diagon Alley (you can read more about that experience here). I was not a die-hard Harry Potter enthusiast, however. Don’t misunderstand: I did not dislike the series, I just had not read the books or seen the films at the time. I appreciated the fandom and franchise from afar.

So when I first stepped into Diagon Alley, my amazement was different than those around me. I loved all of the details for their aesthetics, but was not fully aware of their significance to those characters in that world. It was all so beautiful and engaging and completely immersive, and despite my ignorance of much of the original text, I was in awe.

So much so, in fact, that I began reading the series and watching the films AFTER visiting the theme park.

I use that detour for this reason: I was not ‘in’ the Harry Potter world when I visited Diagon Alley. But I am very much ‘in’ the Star Wars universe. I grew up on those characters, their worlds and adventures. And I will follow the growth of Disney’s new ‘Star Wars’ expansion very closely, chomping at the bit until I can walk into the wretched hive of scum and villainy, the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs and all else that Disney has in store.

I expect to be as giddy as those Potter fans around me entering Diagon Alley were.

I can’t wait.

Periscope and traditional video


I’m not sure I know who I am anymore.

Since writing about Periscope and Meerkat back in March, I’ve continued to test out the apps. Over time I’ve gravitated more to the Twitter-owned Periscope, and so my more-recent interactions have been with it.

I was impressed by how quickly both apps made their way to Android devices, after each began in the Apple environment. There are still features I’d like to see, and hope are coming soon, which you can read about in that earlier post.

But as I continue to experiment with Periscope, both on my own and for the news website ( that I work for, I’ve begun to notice something.

The way I talk about video with my peers has changed.

If this were a Star Trek episode, the version of me talking would have a dark goatee and possibly a scar above my left eye.

You see, before Meerkat and Periscope became a thing, a conversation about video — and specifically, smartphone video — might have gone something like this:

Peer: What if I did a 10-minute video?

Me: Please don’t. Try to keep it around a minute.

Peer: Okay. By the way, all I have is a ‘talking head.’ That’s okay, right?

Me (eye beginning to twitch): In most cases, viewers don’t want to watch a person talking at them. Please get some b-roll.

Peer: Okay. By the way, I shot my video vertically. 

Me (At this point, I’m banging my head against my desk.): Please remember to hold your phone horizontally — in landscape orientation — when recording video. Thanks.


But now, thanks to Periscope, my conversations are beginning to sound like this:

Peer: Okay, so based on past conversations, I should only Periscope for about a minute, right?

Me: Well, to give viewers a chance to find you and for you to engage with them, you may want to go longer. Maybe aim for about 10 minutes as a starting point.

Peer: Okay. So, how do I include b-roll?

Me: You can show some visual aids if you have them, or flip the camera and show viewers what you’re seeing, but it’s pretty much just going to be ‘talking head.’

Peer: Um, okay. Well, don’t worry, I’ll shoot the video horizontally like you want.

Me: Yeah, about that…


Sigh. I’m not sure I know who I am anymore.

Meerkat and Periscope

If you’re active on Twitter, you’ve probably started seeing more and more tweets like these:

I started noticing Meerkat in my feed about a week ago and I have since been testing it. As I was preparing to (finally) write this blog about it, Periscope became available and now seems to be — on Twitter at least — the “must have” app.

I won’t go into the specifics of each, other than to say that they enable iPhone users to stream live video to their followers, where there’s a decent connection. Most of those followers come through Twitter and the streaming is synced up with that network. Periscope is produced by the folks at Twitter, by the way. You can learn more about Meerkat here. You can learn more about Periscope here.

What I will mention are my own observations and comparisons of each.


Each app is easy to use. I was up and running and broadcasting from each platform in minutes.

Each is also really fun, once you get past those initial “this is my desk” streams. I live streamed from my drawing board as a test of each service and had some good interactions with folks.

Each app has lots of buzz right now, too. I imagine that “ease of use” and “fun” are big reasons why, but they also offer a logical “next step” to a generation accustomed to social sharing.

I like that Meerkat lets you schedule a stream and that Periscope gives you some basic stats, as well as a roster of viewers, when you complete a live session. I think both apps have a clean, simple look, although I would give Periscope the advantage when it comes to aesthetics.


Vertical video? I have to admit, when I started using Meerkat, I was streaming my video with my iPhone in the horizontal position, as pictured below. That’s how I’m accustomed to shooting and watching video on my devices. And the Meerkat app looked like it was allowing me to shoot it that way, as the screen naturally auto-rotates. It wasn’t until I saved that stream to my phone that I realized it was cropping my horizontal stream into a vertical video.

Meerkat at sunset

Call me a video snob if you wish, but if this remains a “vertical-only” medium, I might just tap out. I understand that vertical video is not going away. But neither is horizontal video. Let us have the option to shoot/stream in either orientation, please.

By the time I tried Periscope, I was expecting vertical video. To its credit, at least, the app does not auto-rotate when you turn your phone. So I didn’t have the impression that it was recording in widescreen.


As I tested each app, I started to get the impression that maybe, just maybe, I’m not their target audience. Not only do I want my video widescreen, but I want content that can be permanent. In reading about Meerkat and Periscope, I’ve begun to see multiple parallels to Snapchat, which I briefly attempted to use but quickly disregarded. The biggest thing I know about Snapchat is that its moments are fleeting.

And in these early versions of Meerkat and Periscope, so are their broadcasts. You can save the streams to your phone, which you would then have to upload to YouTube or some other host to archive it and replay it. Not a horrible scenario, unless your video is vertical, which is not copacetic with devices other than smart phones. I also noticed that Meerkat streams did not save completely to my iPhone — I suspect my storage space might have been the culprit. Periscope, however, did seem to save the entire broadcasts as videos to my camera roll.

You can view video streams on multiple devices or online in your browser. You can participate in them by using each app on your iPhone or iPad. Neither app is yet available on Android devices.

But neither of those services offers embed code to share video streams elsewhere on the web. Perhaps because streams are too ephemeral?

A possible solution? Allow Periscope broadcasts to display inside of a tweet (as opposed to clicking a link now). Then, you could embed that tweet in a blog post or news story and display the live stream.


Part of the reason I was testing out these apps is because I work with journalists whose iPhones have becomes essential tools of the trade. We tweet photos, record video, file updates and more from the scenes of various events. The ability to easily live stream — and interact with people while doing so — from those places is very appealing. But we also need to be able to easily re-use and archive those streams to make our coverage complete. Saving those streams to our phones gives us an option, at least for now.


I think these apps are worth watching, and I look forward to seeing what future releases look like. I hope that those releases include:

  • An option to broadcast and save horizontal video;
  • The ability to embed live streams;
  • Android versions of the apps;
  • Better filtering and searching of streams;

What do you think about the apps? Leave your comments below, or find me on Twitter (@carnolddesigns)