Conclusion or Hiatus?

You always wonder when you think something is over and then it returns again. Sequels, remakes, bill collectors, relationships..

For me, it’s my college work. I was on a one year scholarship program and that year has come to a conclusion. Because we’re not financially wealthy or because I won’t take the $3500 loan they offered – which would basically cover two classes and no books, my time with Lane has perhaps, paused. My goal presently is to set aside the money to take the class I wanted to take from Day One, Video Production; having to wait to take all the other classes caused that delay and time/funding ran out.

I have made some remarkable connections with people; fellow students and instructors. I’ve learned quite a lot and look forward to putting it to use hopefully making money in Video Production. How soon that happens, I don’t know. Perhaps a financial windfall will fall my way and I can pursue the conclusion of the certification.

Or not. Remember my arch-nemesis, Math? Yes it struck once more and the preliminary class I was taking was pretty much a fail. I was struggling for some time, even with tutoring help and then when the news came about the financial support – or lack thereof, I dropped out of the class. It was..difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I had two good friends and my wife supporting me and working with me on beating this ancient pain in my assets..but it was not to be. Even with support and good spirits, the same results came once more with the same struggles I’ve had in the past. Therefore I am no closer to completing the Math requirement for the Certification than I was before and unless either I pass that Math class (Math60) or can find a way of substituting something for it, then it will be beyond my reach, not unlike the fateful pair of Navarre and Isabeau in Ladyhawke before their curse is broken.

I will catch up on some things; reach out through some connections, do some video work, maybe some other work – bills have to be paid..

For now, vale.

Reality Check

So…it’s been awhile since I posted. (April when? Crap!)

It’s been an interesting term. The photography class was informative, the writing class was challenging. (and I’m drawing an absolute blank on the third class. Oh yeah! Audio Production -thanks to a post from my buddy who was in the class with me..) was informatively challenging (?) I learned a great deal about sound and what all the knobs do on the sound board – FYI, someone just starting with a new board is just as baffled until they get all the channels set to each control they want.

And then there was Concepts of Visual Literacy. I remember thanking the instructor because this class was why I went to school. To learn what types of shots were and what it took to make a movie vs just pointing the camera at something and pushing record. I finished the class, where many others fell by the wayside. I had some seriously low grades, a shock to say the least after some of the stellar scores I’d been recording to date. Now I really had to work. It became actually fun at the point when our team was formed and we had to work on a still image slideshow set to music. It involved developing a treatment; or general plot for the story, doing storyboarding of all our proposed shots, deciding who was going to take what roles in the project including actually being in the shots as well. We all had the same unique sense of humor that helped us click immediately and there were many hours spent brainstorming in the Squid of Love Production offices (otherwise known as the cafeteria). We came up with around 73 index cards with our scenes. We shot over 800 photos, narrowed those down to our best, added special effects, set them in the slideshow w/ timing, came up with original music and previewed it in class. The moods went from, “Can we do this? We probably shouldn’t do that. Oh yeah we nailed this! The instructor said she doesn’t like what?” Concluding with basking in the applause and comments from our peers and guests in the final presentation.

We learned a lot from each other. Our quirks, hopes, pasts, possible futures. I said earlier an industry legend told the group I was with that relationships were the currency in this industry. Knowing who you can count on for what is better than gold. The lessons learned from working with Squid of Love Productions were very memorable and valuable for this middle-aged guy trying to keep up with and sometimes passing my teammembers.

This upcoming term, yes, I’m going to Summer School as it were, will have some interesting classes but it’s where I’m going to have to challenge my nemesis head-on. Math20 is the pre-requisite for Math80 (Introductory Algebra) which is required for the Multimedia Certificate. I have mentioned I hate math, right? Loathe it. The good news is two of my compatriots from SOL will be there and hopefully we can cheer each other on through this curriculum of Cthulu and to the next hurtle in our goal to be filmmakers.

By the way, I’m 47 today, yesterday, that is.

Humility

Humility (adjectival form: humble) is the quality of being modest and respectful.

Yeah, I’m the great college student, have this all down pat, coast through my classes and and it’s as easy as that – WHOA where did that grade come from? Humility can come in many forms and have many degrees it can be applied to you in. Fortunately this one arrived early in the term with room for adjustment and improvement. It was a combination of learning that some classes can be harder than others and that said classes will require some or a lot of extra work to succeed at them.

Maybe a few, ok quite a few years back, I could probably pull this off but now, not so much. Therefore, time to keep my nose to the grindstone. If you’re interested btw where that came from it’s found here.

I believe the first test of a truly great man is in his humility.
John Ruskin

 

BlkBeltHumility

What is it worth to you?

Have you ever watched a YouTube video and thought, “That looks so easy. Must be either some slacker with a camera and no job who got lucky and shot a good video that went viral. Or it’s somebody with a corporate sponsor who flies them around the world with a fat expense account.”

What if it was neither? What if it was just the single desire to be the best at something you love. If to get that 4 second shot in a 3 minute video, you got up before sunrise, hiked and swam to that one place, shot the video, then hiked to your next point. Hungry? Grab something edible on the side of the road. End of the day. Find a place you can plug all your batteries in to charge and review your shots and then go sleep in your vehicle in the parking lot. Repeat the day’s events.

All to make a 3 minute YouTube video. That’s what Devin Graham does for videos like Push the Girlfriend or his work with Lindsey Sterling or his Splinter Cell airplane video and of course all the outdoor clips he has.

I’m learning the details of what makes a scene. I haven’t used a video camera yet, I know how to shoot live video; check light levels, find the optimal shot locations, point at the stage, push record and see what happens. Now I’m learning about how sound works, what type of lighting/color/shadows affect the scene and how the viewer sees and more importantly, interprets it. What does an Over The Shoulder shot do? POV with birdseye or wormsview shots? I was ignorant and naive at the beginning thinking, I just want to shoot video. Can someone please give me a video camera? There’s so much more to MAKING film (ok Video for the purists since we’re using digital now..) vs just SHOOTING video. You can turn a camcorder on and put it on a desk and it will capture whatever goes by. Do you want to tell a story? Sell a product? Convince people to join your cause? You need to involve the viewer in the video and that can be as simply as having the coloring and lighting correct along with proper sound so they don’t get distracted by errors or arranging the elements of what they will see in a way that subtly, or not, encourages them to agree with you.

Graham offers a behind the scenes look at what he does to get his shots and the two pieces of advice he offers is you have to fight for it like no one else will. Get up early, learn your gear, learn your technique so you KNOW how to get that shot almost without thinking about the angles and the lighting and the other things that newbies (like me) are having to think their way though.  The other is Time Management. It ties partially back into focus; he mentions his friends that wanted to go out and party but he knew he had to get ready for a shoot. He mentions a quote that he lives by, “The poor man makes plans for the weekend. The rich man makes plans for four years from now.” That’s another aspect that’s particularly challenging for me. Maybe it’s the Dyscalculia or just lack of desire, making plans even months ahead has been difficult. Graham also mentions doing a shoot with Lindsey Sterling involving all four seasons. Unless you’ve got a lot of money for travel or computer time, you have to wait to get those particular images and therefore have to plan for shooting during those times.

What’s it worth to you? To be the best at what you love and want to do?

Wasssup!

Yes, the commercial is rather old but I think about the edits that soon followed, my favorite of course being with the Matrix. I’m thinking in audio terms because that’s the most recent project I worked on, collecting sounds. Unless you’re hearing challenged – ranging from natural deafness to too many concerts in the front row, our world is awash with sounds in different frequencies, ranges, levels and modulations. A recent project, a variation on the 4:33 piece, involved finding a public location, and listening. For twenty minutes. Not interacting, just listening. What you hear might surprise you, maybe not what you’re hearing, but what you might not have been aware of what you COULD hear.

There’s a story of a man walking with his Native American friend through a city when he stops and walks to a small patch of grass and gently lifts up a grasshopper. The man looks puzzled and asks how could he have heard that with all the sounds of the city around them. His friend replies that it’s what you chose to listen for. He reaches into his pocket, pulls out a handful of change and drops it on the sidewalk. Immediately everyone nearby turns and looks at the ground.

Sounds are important in our entertainment, they can make a scene when done well or confuse the audience if done poorly. This term with Audio Production and Visual Literacy; I’m being immersed in what makes a movie scene and how to communicate to the audience OR be aware of what I’m being hopefully influenced to do.

The downside of course is not being able to casually watch something without being aware of what elements are in that Media and what they’re used for. Random thought – reminds me of the cult movie; They Live, when the hero finally sees what is going on in the world around him. Knowledge can do that.

How DID they get the piano up there?

One of my favorite groups is The Piano Guys and they recently released a behind the scenes look at how they did their video “Peponi”. This is of particular interest to me in not only video production but audio production. They discussed in detail how they planned the song out, involved the guest singer, during a scouting trip for a location happened upon a resource or two and then proceeded to shoot a very awesome video on a thousand foot + cliff. And forgot to bring food or water..

They shared about how everything they did mostly was of the run and gun recording technique and being genuinely concerned about taking a $20,000 piano up on a helicopter then leaving it “on set” for four days; with no insurance.

What can an up and coming videographer learn from this? First, it’s good to have friends. Steven comments about how having a mutual friend led to the connection with the singer. Then another connection picked up the first and second helicopter. Of course having faith that everything would work and the VERY expensive piano would remain intact for the production figured in as well.

This is what inspires me to some day pull off a production like this and maybe influence someone else to do their own.

Makin’ Media

It’s the new school term, my course load has been alternately described as exciting and “Wow, are you going to be busy..” I’ll try to go for somewhere in the middle. Meeting up again again with my instructor from Intro to Media Arts, Ian. And my classmate from that class, Mike, looking at the fun in store learning about sound and what you can do with it was the plan for the day. Followed by Digital Photography. Another classmate from a previous term was there, the rest of the class seemed like a mix of knowledge levels.

Going to start looking for a digital recorder for the class. Should come in handy for my own work later for certain. The workhorse and focus of the class, ProTools, only around $299 for the student level. A little spendy, but not on Adobe’s level…and no cloud/rental option available therefore all work will be done at school.

Tomorrow is writing. Lots of it. College Writing 121 and Visual Literacy. Should be interesting I hope.

Here’s to new challenges and experiences!

Almost to Spring Break

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It’s the week before Spring Break and I only have one class left on Friday.  But since next week I’ll be cleaning out our house in WA, I’m calling this week my break. Of course plans to sleep in were interrupted by someone wanting attention ..

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/daily-prompt-menagerie/

Youthful Energy has its uses..

I had the privilege of speaking with a young entrepreneur who isn’t working on 2 projects, 3 projects or even 4 projects – 6 ongoing video projects. New Hope College, Willamette Christian Center, Churchill and Sheldon High School and eventually North Eugene Athletics with a recent addition of a mentorship  at Matthew Knight Arena and occasional freelance projects for family. Chad Luna took some time from his busy schedule of managing the video graphics at the Williamette Christian Center (WCC) Sunday service to talk with me about what his video career has entailed and where he wants to go with it.

Chad  first became involved with video productions 5 years ago working on the Tech Team at WCC but it took another year before he developed the passion that he feels now for the industry. It was the mentorship of team leaders like Alan Ecoff that helped Luna become the sought after, and therefore very busy videographer he is today. Luna’s usual job is the video graphics manager for the Sunday services at WCC where he coordinates with the stage manager for pre-set video cues and the Praise and Worship Director for displaying song lyrics on the three over head screens for the congregation and a forward facing screen to help performers with time cues and lines for drama performances. At the three schools he works with, Luna is a key person in the sports broadcasts for their respective teams. He’s recently begun a mentorship program, called shadowing, at the Matthew Knight arena where he’s learning even more about multi-camera setups and the details of collegiate team broadcasting.

I asked him what he looked to as industry resources for ongoing updates and general knowledge in the field and he said he liked Church IMAG.org but his primary information source would be word of mouth from peers in the industry. Luna’s software of choice was Final Cut 7 or 10 but he preferred 7 as it wasn’t as dumbed down as 10 was in his opinion. His preferred gear was Manfrotto- listed first and enthusiastically, Road Ready cases, Canon; “all the way!”, and Apple products.

Given his age and already impressive workload, I asked him where he saw himself in ten years. “Working as a technical director in a church, hopefully New Hope or at one of the schools he works with now. When I first started attending WCC back in June and became involved shortly thereafter with the assorted teams that make the services happen, Chad was one of the people always struck up a conversation with me about the latest news or gadget or even just to say hi. Being approachable about one’s craft in my opinion is valuable and in some ways an obligation for the next generation of videographers coming up. Granted, I might not be the next generation but Chad is always willing to talk and listen and share his thoughts about our craft.

I asked him what was a particularly memorable moment in his time working with video and he recalled December 4, 2012 when he did his first broadcast at Churchill HS. “It took 6 hrs of set up, mostly because I was rechecking everything to make sure it was the way I wanted it. It was a great feeling.” On the other side, I asked if there was a project that made him wonder why he was doing  video in the first place. A decision to relocate the video equipment from its current position to a side room at WCC was begun on a Thursday. Things were going relatively well, all the equipment had been successfully unmounted and moved to what would be the new location. And then as with many projects, one simple thing foiled them. “A 100′ piece of cable was missing. There was no way we could connect it and we had to have the system working for upcoming projects.” Everything had to be relocated back to the original location but, “We did it cleaned up and reorganized the way I liked it.”

In closing I asked Luna what advice he would give to someone starting in the media field. He immediately answered, “Slow down. Don’t try to do it all at once. That’s what I did, gogogo and, yeah. Just slow down, learn all you can.”

chad1chad

Zombies..I hate Zombies – with apologies to Dr. Jones

I LOVE audio. Making things sound differently, using special effects. It’s far cheaper to find a sound of a shotgun going off vs finding one, being able to fire it, having the look just right, capturing the sound with the video.. or just talking about it and having the iconic ‘kaKLACK’ and you know someone means business. At the radio station I worked at a long time ago (it was a dawn to dusk AM station that went through 3 formats before I left), I was rummaging around the studio and found a box of tapes, yes reel to reel, OK I said it was a long time ago.. and asked the station manager if I could use the new found treasure marked Sound Effects in some commercials that were coming up. She had her suspicions but agreed. (bwahahah!) That series of commercials were quite, memorable. The ones that were played that is. Others were deemed, “Creative, but not in the target market.” or “Are you kidding me?”

The 50’s had quite a few PSA’s of varying topics, usually with chirpy music in the background and someone either in a lighthearted or very serious tone warning the youth about assorted dangers to beware of. For my project I thought about the recent interest in Zombies, the upcoming movie Warm Bodies,  and all the others that are likely to follow in addition to the TV and Comic hit, The Walking Dead, and I knew I had my idea. Something simple about being aware of what type of monster you could be facing and how to react and some practical advice about how to deal with it. SoundCloud to the rescue along with Soundbible.com for some appropriate noise and from my own collection of Digital Juice products I used the Lighthearted Sounds StackTracks edition. Everything came together swimmingly and it’s a basis for something that could be edited and added onto later but for now, my PSA on the Undead.

 

“..the nuclear family from across the street, which, as a result of decay, truly did have 2.5 kids;”
― Robin BeckerBrains: A Zombie Memoir

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