Need freelance help to provide free legal info

I am a legal services lawyer at an organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income people. Because we recently lost a lot of staff, we need to ramp up our ability to provide useful legal information through online video, and I’m working to create a process to use Blender to do that. I need some help with certain aspects of the software and would like to pay for help.

I can pay up to $200 out of my own pocket, through Paypal, but I’d also like to get feedback about how best to ask for this kind of help. My organization can pay contractors for this work, but we will most likely have to use standard Request For Proposal procedures in addition to posting the job here.

Basically, a video will walk a viewer through a one-page handout and a voice-over, explaining something like how to defend yourself when you’re being evicted. This process will allow the information to be presented in different forms for different types of learners - printed on a piece of paper, a video, an audiotrack.

I’m using Blender in this unconventional way to meet one of the most important goals of this information, in my opinion - providing the specific info that clients need about a specific court. The service area of my organization is 32 counties and even more courts. The general information that’s available can end up confusing clients more, if it has to say “Check your local rules.”

I hope to find somebody who is excited about helping make our legal system more comprehensible to more people. We ask attorneys to volunteer for us, but I believe that Blender artists should be paid for their work. After all, Blender artists didn’t help create our mess of a legal system like the attorneys do! :wink: Especially since this isn’t the typical, amazing 3d modeling that you all are doing.

We have software that can guide user input and create a database out of the answers in the interview/meeting. We will use this to conduct meetings to create the language for the handout. The software guide can remind us to use Plain English principles.

I would like help creating an add-on for Blender that can take that database and import it into Blender as an .svg, basically automating the process of creating the hand-out and a basic video design. We could then print the handout and have the basic framework for the video. We could then open it in Blender and add voice-over, sync the animation of the camera to the voice-over, and add other video and pictures manually.

Two jobs:

  • Writing a blender add-on that allows easy import and creating a video tutorial explaining the process.

  • Designing a hand-out template that is attractive, adaptable and understandable per

If either of these jobs can be done for less than $200, then I can pay for it myself. If these are bigger jobs, then any estimates and feedback about the best way to describe the job will allow my organization to post an RFP here and other places.

I can see you are really an experienced lawyer; after reading your LONG post I am unsure of what you are asking. :wink:
Sorry I couldn’t resist. I hope you are good-humored and I do appreciate the compliments you said about us. Anyway all joking aside I will make some suggestions bases on what I think you want.

  1. Making something for print would probably best be done in other software, perhaps Inkscape, or InDesign? But blender could be used for many of the graphics that would go into the hand-out.

  2. Blender does not have the ability to record audio but it can import just about any audio file. Maybe use Audacity for voice-over recording, and then just drop the files into blender?

  3. A scripts probably would be easy to make for the video part. Maybe just something that matches a image to the length of an audio file adds a slight Ken Burns effect and adds a transition to the next segment?
    Really this last item would be really easy for an experienced blender user to do with out a script. Maybe you just need a tutorial on how to do this in blender? I could make the tutorial for you if you want.

  4. I am confused about the import database as svg. What kind of data (answers?) and how do would want it to look once in blender?
    Blender does have a svg importer, its just disabled by default.
    To enable click on File → User Preferences → Addons. Then in the search box (upper left) type in svg. Click the check box and then click “Save User Setting”. Then you will see the option under File → import.

I hope this is at least some-what helpful.
-David

No offense taken at all! I know I have trouble writing clearly, like many of my fellow members of the bar, and especially when it’s not a topic of expertise. That’s part of the point of the project - to force us lawyers to communicate legal info more clearly.

I really appreciate all the tips, and I’ve been incorporating some of them, like recording audio in Audacity and screen recorders and adding them in the VSE. Here’s a video that I quickly made explaining the process and using the process - however, again I lost my battle with brevity and made a 26 minute video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvVmMYly5Do It’s a video for people with zero experience with Blender.

Let me just answer your fourth point. We use software (A2J - designed specifically for legal services) to create guided interviews, which asks the user a question, and can store the answers in a database and use the answers with tree logic to determine future questions. I plan to use the guided interview software in meetings of lawyers and non-lawyers.

“Plain English” principals recommend that legal information materials be organized with a topic and 3-5 subheadings. So the meeting will start with people identifying the topic and potential subheadings.

The guided interview will then remind the users of Plain English principals - things like avoiding jargon and passive language - for each topic identified. The users will rewrite the topics and prioritize the subheadings, and be able to add additional information for the subheadings. Importantly, the users will also be able to identify information specific to one court - instead of saying, “Use your local court’s form, if available”, we can say “Use the form provided by YOUR COURT at THIS LOCATION.”

After the meeting, we will have a database of the content to use as the topic, subheadings and more. What I need to figure out - what’s the best way to plug that database into a template that will work both as a print handout and the basis for a Blender animation?

I think I can figure out how to automatically make a document (we also use HotDocs). One nice thing about creating a document that can be viewed and edited in Word is that my coworkers can use it. This is what I’ve been basically doing so far - creating a document in LibreOffice or Word, exporting it as a pdf, then using GIMP to convert it as a jpg, then importing the image as a plane.

This loses a lot of the functionality that I want in using the Blender animation. Instead of being able to have text over whatever background I want, I have to use the handout as the background and add stuff on top of it.

Maybe the best thing to do is to figure out how to feed the database into Inkscape. But I am having a lot of trouble importing SVG text into Blender - a lower case “e” has the top filled in and such.

I thought Blender experts might be able to show me how to either more reliably import SVGs, or possibly create the text directly in Blender using the database created by the guided interview.

I hope that’s a little clearer (although it’s not any shorter!) I really appreciate your help.

Wahtevery it is,i think i got it,and i help you :),

I just had a quick look at your video and I already see a few ways you could speed up your work flow. I will try to watch the whole thing tonight when I get home from work, and give you some pointers. Sorry for the delay.

Ok I had a look at the video and I can give you some options to speed up your work-flow. All will be faster then the methods you are using. One possibility could cut your rendering time by about 92%! Really. My test went from about 30 frames per minute to about 900. I will try to make a video tutorial tomorrow.

creating a document in LibreOffice or Word, exporting it as a pdf, then using GIMP to convert it as a jpg, then importing the image as a plane.

That is kind of a complicated and long workflow to bring text into blender.
You could save your text into a txt file and then import it to blender. or you just copy and paste it into an Empty Tex Editor “text”.

So what you need is a Blender Layout like this:


It’s simple:

  • Top Left is 3D View
  • Bottem Left is Text Editor
  • Right Side is Properties

So first example Copy & Paste Text.

  1. Open your Text Document with any software (i tested Open Office and Windows Text Editor)
  2. Mark the text you want to copy and press Ctrl+C
  3. Switch to the Blendfile
  4. Hover your Mouse over the Text Editor Panel and Press Ctrl + V

Now your text is in the Text Editor.
To bring it to the Scene you have to click the followng on the Texteditor Header:
Edit->Text to 3D Object->One Object
Now in the 3D View you can adjust the text by scaling (Hotkey S) and grabbing (Hotkey G)

Instead of Copy & Paste the text, you can also import an txt-File. just select following in the Text Editor:
Text->Open Text Block
or Hotkey Alt+O

For a fast workflow i would recommend to just save your text into a txt-file and use the hotkeys.

Summary:
-Adjust Blender Layout
-Mouse over Text editor, Alt+O
-Search for your text and import
-Mouse over Text editor, Alt+M
-Mouse over 3D View, adjust with S-Key and G-Key.

with a bit of practice and learning the hotkeys, it takes about 10 seconds to bring the text from the textfile to the Blender Scene.

I hope this helps a bit :-).