Meet Dan Veaner a.k.a. Harp Like A Man

Written by Published in User Guide

Our Video Producer, Dustin, discovered Dan Veaner’s YouTube channel and raved at the full range of talents on display. Dustin said, “Check out one of our customers. I don’t think he used our products for this video but it’s too awesome not to share! He is quite prolific!” Dan taught himself to play the Celtic Harp, Wood Flute, Bongos, Maraca, Drums, Bass and Bowed Psaltery.

Dan, who lives in New York State, is a fellow FCP user and a freshly-minted Raisin Hater. We’re big fans of Dan and it was so much fun to get to know him better via a Q&A he did with our copywriter, Almond.

Here’s what Dan wrote:

What got you into YouTube?

Originally just to share some videos with friends. But when COVID hit everything got so intense, with bad news piling on more bad news, uncertainty, fear, and restrictions. So I thought folks needed a break from all that, and an old guy doing goofy stuff with a harp might help relieve some of the tension, if only for a moment at a time.

Is the Celtic harp your first love as far as string instruments go? How did you learn? Who taught you? When did you first learn the Celtic harp? (I read in your bio that you first played it in 1980)

My first love was acoustic guitar, which I started to learn when I was in Junior High School.  In the late ‘70s, I saw a band called Robin Williamson and his Merry Band, which included a Celtic Harper named Sylvia Woods.  I instantly fell in love with the harp.  Soon after that, I learned two things: first, you could get a harp kit for about $100 (it was 1980!  It was a terrible harp, but a great way to see if I would like it before investing a lot in a good instrument), and second, Sylvia had written a book called “Teach Yourself to Play The Folk Harp”.  I took that title to heart (to the harp?). So I am mostly self-taught, though I did have one lesson from Sylvia when she was passing through on tour, and I learned a lot playing in bands.

How did you learn to edit your videos? Do you edit using only Stupid Raisins plugins? How long does it take you to edit a YouTube video?

My grandfather was an award-winning amateur filmmaker, and he taught me some basics of filmmaking and composition when I was a kid. He had a 16mm film rig (he was making color 16mm films in 1939!), and he taught me how to cut and paste clips, literally cutting the film and pasting (splicing) it to the next clip. I made my first digital video in the ‘90s, working for a major online company (what would now be called a social media platform) that was launching its YouTube-like video platform. They needed a seed video – good enough to be engaging, but not so good that people would be intimidated about making and uploading their own.

(This is way TMI, but for your amusement: they knew of my theater background (my first career was theatrical scenery and lighting designer) and that I had been experimenting with placing videos on the platform, so they asked me to make the seed video for a Valentine’s Day week launch.  My boss called at 8 in the morning and asked if I’d be interested in making it.  I said yes, when do you need it?  She said, Close Of Business today.  I couldn’t round up human actors, write a script and figure out how to actually make a video that fast — that left puppets. I had never used the software before, either — it took me most of the morning to get the sound to work.  Somehow I threw it together using a flamingo puppet reciting a stupid Valentine’s poem.  

This is my first video. They loved it (turned out because of the silly Muppety voice I used).  When the feature launched my stupid puppet video ended up the number one video on the platform for that week, getting more views than the Beatles, Britney Spears, Ellen Degeneres (whose show was fairly new and they had her monologues on our platform), and a bunch of others.  I later heard they were showing it at corporate meetings. That summer I was at one of those meetings and was surprised, all of a sudden, to see my hand — ten feet tall — on the screen we had been falling asleep to PowerPoints all morning, behind our group’s VP, who was saying that the employee who made it had his finger on the pulse of the company’s membership! That led to more videos, and it is when I began loving making silly videos. The ones with people on that site were made for different holidays on that feature (it was called “Member Movies”), and the puppet ones were for fun with my kids. My favorites are “Flies” (a frog singing about how much he loves his dinner) and “Henny Youngchicken Live at Carnegie Coop” (it’s a stand-up comic chicken who only tells chicken jokes). Henny came back for a starring role in my “Chicken Dance” harp video last May, and the puppet frog band starred in my “Amphibian Blues” harp video a year and a half ago.

I stumbled my way through a few video editing programs, starting with a really simple one that came with a webcam, working my way up to Final Cut Pro. I use a variety of plugins, but mostly the ones built-in to FCP.  So I only buy plugins I think are outstanding and that can do something that will really enhance a video. When I came across Story Pop I realized it could give the video I was working on that extra… well… pop that I thought it was missing, and playing with it gave me ideas for more comic bits like the toilet paper tube binocular guys — I don’t know how I got from a hand drawing live people to toilet paper tubes, but playing around with Story Pop made me think about how I could use it more and that’s one of the things I came up with.  I used the Image and Text units, as well as the eraser transition.

The amount of time varies. Being self-taught I guess I do some things backward. I do a lot of post-production in the pre-production phase, often adding elements like the ghosts and their movement in “Village of the Dans,” but without their singing heads that I filmed later. Somehow that process helps me come up with ideas for things the Dans can do.

How long have you been a Stupid Raisins customer? How did you get wind of Stupid Raisins? What’s the first-ever Stupid Raisins plugin that you bought and used? What are your favorites?

I’m new.  I came across Stupid Raisin’s free plug-ins some time ago, maybe a year or more, but Story Pop is really my first.  I think I will eventually want to use Slice Pop and Backdrop Pop also looks like a great fit for what I do. I wish I had it when I did “Don’t Go Breaking My Harp.” The other day I spent a pleasant afternoon scrolling through all SR’s offerings and enjoying Dustin’s fun marketing videos (I also like cake. We have so much in common!) :-) 

Do people tell you that you look an awful lot like Billy Crystal? Srsly do!

You’re the first one! Hmm, could Billy Crystal impersonating be as lucrative as Elvis impersonating as a retirement career?

What makes you so awesome, dude?! Like, majorly awesome!

I don’t see myself that way, but thank you!  Or, as I might say in an upcoming video that may have an Elvis Dan in it, thank you very much! 🙂

Dan is amazing!

Raisin Haters, how ‘bout showing him our love by subscribing to Dan Harp Music? Thank you, folks.


About Dylan Higginbotham

Hey there. I'm Dylan Higginbotham, and I'm pretty dang obsessed with Final Cut Pro X plugins. Subscribe below because I love giving away free plugins and contributing great content.

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