Susan Layton

Film Producer - ASL Performer - Life Learner

Tag: technology

“iZombie” – My Version of Alex Boye’s “African Zombie”




 An ASL Music Video With a Moral to the Story.

The first time I heard the song “African Zombie” by Alex Boye’, I knew I wanted to use it in an ASL music video  — with the focus on our now-a-day obsession of electronics and such devices!  But for whatever reason, I could not get it done.Zombie 1 The next year came and I told my family, let’s do it!  And then again, I just couldn’t get it done!  I think my biggest hangup is the daunting task to film it myself, while I’m trying to be in the shot at the same time, and not use a tripod (cuz I prefer movement than still shots for some videos and this video needed movement).  So, this year rolled around and I got on my fix again and said, “Let’s do it!” but timing was yet again difficult.  The evening before Halloween, I thought to myself, “If I don’t do it this year, the same thing will happen next year and the next.  So either I do it now or I don’ t do it at all!”  And when I have a strong vision for a video, I can’t just leave it by the wayside.  I told my family, “Get your makeup on, hair done, change your clothes, we’re doing “African Zombie”!!!”   Actually, Ryan, my hubby, was at the store and I texted him to say, “Oh by the way, we’re filming tonight”.  He’s always a good sport.  😀 Phew!

Although I knew what I wanted as the bones of the story, we still had to figure out some things as the video developed.  Since Ryan wasn’t home yet, we began with a couple of the opening and closing scenes.

Pix12Once Ryan got home, dinner was ready, we ate and filmed at the same time.  I told him to tell some funny jokes so I could get everyone smiling (haha) … so out came the “Knock, Knock” Halloween jokes.  They were pretty funny!  But of course, he found the jokes on the internet using his iPad, and the iPad was on the table – so I had to remind him what this video was about.  Smile.

I do have to put in a little plug, since I kind of brought the subject up. 😀  I am not anti-electronic device or anti-technology.  I do believe there is a purpose in having this awesome technology that we all use today and some enjoyment using it is always nice, too!  Of course, I filmed this using an electronic device and I’m typing this blog post using an electronic device.  My husband’s job is performed solely using electronic devices. Pix14 We really can’t live without electronics and technology these days!  I get that!  I guess what I have seen in the world today, and even in my own life, is that living life becomes more about what we are doing electronically than actually living and being present with the other living beings on this earth.  That’s where my vision in this song came from.  I’ll be honest, if my kids are on any electronic – iPad, computer, or TV for too long, they become little Zombies.  In the ASL world, I would add the comment, “True business!”  That means that I’m not kidding! (I chuckle inside when I call them little Zombies – but I’m sure you can see what I mean by that).  I do have great kids, I must say!  But I do put a timer on electronic anything.  I’ll end my little plug here.  Hope you get what I’m saying and understand the purpose behind my vision – smile!

Back to the making.  Pix7There is a part in the video where I have one of my girls on the floor with a remote control in her hand and other remotes and movies and an empty bag of chips and tons or candy wrappers and other candies laying beside her.  She played that part perfectly! It makes me smile each time I watch it.  But what I didn’t get in the final shot was the book that was lying next to the pile of movies.  That was her contribution to the creation of the scene.  As we were setting it up, I asked her why her book was lying there and she said, “To make it look like reading is second rate.”  Oh, so clever!  But I couldn’t get it in with the timing we had.  Drats!

My little boy is not a redo kind of guy.  I can get him to Pix15redo a shot two times, three if I’m really lucky.  So if I don’t get what I want, I have to use what I have. The cool thing about filming him is that I rarely tell him what to do, because he is just so young and innocent,Pix10 he does what comes natural and doesn’t think about the steps, which is almost always SO perfect in filming! He has one of the funniest zombie faces. I wanted to use it but told him he had to drool out his Cookies and Scream ice cream dessert so I PIx11could use it at the end of the video.  Ha. Then soon after dinner, my little girl fell asleep, so I thought, let’s just film her to look like she fell asleep playing a game on the iPad and have little guy be sneaky and get the iPad from her.  One time he came up so sneaky and then turned away from the camera.  So we shot it again and he turned with a huge grin, as if to say “Nana Nana Boo Boo, I got the iPad!”  It was bed time after that so I told him no iPad.  He didn’t think too fondly of that idea.  Haha.

Pix2My two older girls really helped me a lot in this video.  They shared the camera duties and helped me with several scene placement ideas.  As I shared earlier, we started this whole thing in the evening.  After my two littlest people were fast asleep, my two older stayed up filming.  These two good sports stayed up ’til almost one o’clock in the morning.  Then the next day, we still had to shoot a few more parts. They didn’t complain once. Of course, they got to wear makeup and so that was Pix9kind of payment enough for them.  Ha. The scene at the table was fun.  Well, the floor too, and the couch.  They were just a great help throughout! We shot most parts several times with some feedback along the way but overall I had a lot of good shots to choose from.  Of course, if you know editing, that’s good and bad – but more good than bad.  😀 …  The one with the shorter hair helps to keep me balanced and thinking straight. I need that when I’m under stress for sure!  She is almost always the one behind the camera when I am not.  Thank goodness I have her! The one with the long hair is a hair guru, seriously!Zombie  And on Halloween (ha- her one day a year to be awesome at it) she is a makeup extraordinaire!  Her artistry is quite amazing too!  Anyways, our friend said to her after she saw the video, “I can’t believe you let someone mess up your hair like that and have a dirty face!”  To which she responded, “I did that!”  The friend said, “Well, then you did a mighty fine job!” … To film this in 6 hours total, including eating dinner and everything that comes with that, I really could not have done it without them!

One of my most favorite parts of the video, and I laugh every time, is where I have my youngest daughter stand at the island in the kitchen playing the iPad.  Pix1I wanted to show the idea that when we are so engrossed in our electronic-whatevers, that we become oblivious to life around us.  The drops of ketchup on the counter was what I saw in my original vision!  The part we didn’t include was where she was “so engrossed in her iPad game that she put her hand in the ketchup like she was grabbing a nugget and then proceeded to eat it, at the same time I was directly above her eating the nugget.”  Of course, I thought the nugget was just as disgusting as she thought the ketchup was.  Haha.  Again, timing didn’t allow that I add that part.  But the ketchup on the counter was what I loved the most!   I’m thrilled that it came out so well!

If timing allowed, I was going to add one last shot before you saw the family Pix8at the table eating dinner together.  That shot was going to be seeing all the electronic devices left on the couch.  Spending family time together or time with those around you or sharing a conversation with a loved one far away is far more valuable than sitting on a computer or playing a video game or anything else like that.  My hubby and I remind my kids, himself and myself of that all the time.  It’s easy and fun to sit on Facebook or play games or watch “Halloween Cupcake Wars” or do work on-the-go, but it’s funner (not a word, but using it anyhow) to be in the present with those in the living.

That’s my “iZombie” story.  And I’m stickin’ to it!


Sincerely, Susan


I’d love to read how electronic stuff has made your life more easy and more valuable.  I’d also love to know how you keep your life in balance when it comes to life with technology.  Share with me your thoughts below!

To watch this video: “iZombie” (my version of Alex Boye’s “African Zombie”) click here!

(Don’t miss the couple of blooper scenes at the end of the video.)

Thank you Alex Boye’ for an amazing, fun song! – “African Zombie”




Apple Watch Reveal (ASL)

Have you seen Apple’s newest family member yet … Yes, the very cool, crisp and shiny Apple Watch! …


Who better to share the news, the ins and outs, and how the new Apple Watch compares to the very first Smartwatch “Pebble”, than this die-hard Apple techie guru guy, Ryan Layton.  In this video, Ryan will reveal the big anticipated Apple Watch!

YT Photo 1 Apple Watch


If you like this video, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to!  (Don’t miss out on all the videos coming your way!)

IMG_7795Please consider supporting me and the making of these videos through making your purchases to places like Amazon (and others listed on my Support page) or any ads/links on

The Official Trailer for ‘Apple Watch Reveal (ASL)’
AW YT Trailer Pix
‘Apple Watch Reveal (ASL)’ full video
YT Photo 1 Apple Watch


I *heart* ASL Stories! (Apps)

App of the Week: VL2 Storybooks

(4 ASL Storybook Apps that are pretty awesome!)

I love a good story and when it’s done right in ASL, it’s absolutely beautiful! I thought I’d share one of my favorite apps (actually there are 4 apps but all are from the same place).

IMG_7306The Baobab – Gallaudet University,

The Boy Who Cried Wolf VL2 Storybook – Gallaudet University,

The Blue Lobster – Gallaudet University,

The Solar System VL2 Storybook – Gallaudet University

These storybook apps were created by VL2 (Visual Language and Visual Learning), a Science and Learning Center based at Gallaudet University, ‘the world’s only university with programs and services specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students’.* IMG_7312

These apps are interactive, using content based ASL signs (which is very important! One sign doesn’t fit every meaning for the same English word); include a comprehensive glossary of words used within the story; and are rich with color! Not only that, these apps are designed based on proven research in bilingualism and visual learning.  I love them!  (My kids love them too!)

The Baobab – Gallaudet University,

The Boy Who Cried Wolf VL2 Storybook – Gallaudet University,

The Blue Lobster – Gallaudet University,IMG_7300

The Solar System VL2 Storybook – Gallaudet University

Each of these 4 apps include the option to watch the story (narrator on the story background), have the story text at the bottom with narrator on screen, and include ASL vocabulary used in the story (and beautiful expansions of those words).

Now, for those in more advanced stages of learning sign or even working to become an interpreter, I think these videos could be of great value to you, as well.  IMG_7320You will find their use of classifiers, facial expressions, use of space and many other ASL components are amazing to watch and would be useful in mirroring and expounding on in your own practice.  Not only that, the ‘Watch’ section of the apps give you a beautiful opportunity to practice voicing.

Anyways, check out these 4 beautiful storybook apps!  ….

In ASL, “I *heart* ASL Stories” would look like this: “ASL Stories Kiss-Fist!” … That means I REALLY love ASL stories!  … SMILES!



*Gallaudet description: Quoted from their website.

**P.S. My opinion/warning regarding ASL apps: It really is tough to find ASL apps that I would trust my family to.  Sure, there are some ASL apps out there (and I’ll share some other ones at a later time) that I believe use (or teach signs) with accuracy and effectively, four of which are these VL2 apps.   But there are several apps that are very poor, that I believe either do not sign with accuracy or teach ASL poorly.  That’s the unfortunate part of having anything at your fingertips.  No one has to be ‘qualified’ just money to fork the app costs.  And then those who buy the app suffer.  Even more so, the Deaf suffer by having to try and piece together the inaccurate ASL, which man not necessarily be at the fault of the user! You just have to know which apps are good and trustworthy and go with those! So, there you have it.  ….Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now.  Ha.

‘Live Positive’ App

App of the week: Live Positive –

IMG_6885I went out to lunch with Hilary Weeks, the smile and brains behind Live Positive –, a few weeks back and had a great time!  We talked about performing, kids, husbands, her new adventures, my new adventures, Disneyland, and of course, “how many calories do you think that butter has?”  Yes! Super serious!  Ha.  She is as real and genuine as she appeared to me over Facebook!

After our lunch, I thought I’d see what her app, Live Positive –, is all about.  I am the kind that thinks, “I can do (whatever) without (whatever)”  … So, here I was thinking, “I can ‘be positive’ without an ‘app'” … but I did want to give it a try, just to say I tried!  I sat in my car and challenged myself to think of 20 things positive IMG_7144about myself.  I realized my positivity level was not all what I cracked it up to be!  I was hard on myself.  I would think “I’m good at cleaning my house, well, no, not really because my dishes are still not done from last night” *hold that click* … “I am, well, no not really” *no click, keep thinking* … “I have a nice smile, well, oh my goodness! I got food in my teeth, oh, that’s great” *put down the phone! Was that there when I was visiting with Hilary?!* … I realized that the “yeah, but not really” ‘s about myself and life were really stacked up high against me!  I needed help being positive!  So sitting in my car, I decided I wasn’t going anywhere till I hit my 20.  I sat there for 45 minutes!  Wow, I quickly realized I NEEDED this app! And I have used it everyday since!  I first focus on myself: my positive traits, personality, my strengths, abilities, things I’ve accomplished, and then I think of positive things around me: my kids, my home, my family. IMG_0035 I find my days are full of life, happiness, more positivity, and are so much more meaningful, because I am training myself to be more positive.

One day, I was particularly hard on myself and feeling down.  I got out my Live Positive – app and said, “Dang it! I am good at, at …. *searching around my room* …. at hanging up my belt!!!” And I stomped over and grabbed my belt and hung it up!  *CLICK!* Then I thought of some other things that I “can do” and did it and clicked.  It took several of those and then I said, “See! I accomplish! and I am proud of myself!” *CLICK!*  Boy, was that a roughIMG_7143 day for me!  Really, looking back, those were silly things (although at the time they were real struggles and real accomplishments!).  This app kept me going.  I needed the click – I needed to find the positive!

Everyday, I click!  It is easier for me to see the bright side of things, of people, and especially of myself.  I LOVE the Live Positive –!

Think positive! Live positive!


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