Archive for the ‘Reflection’Category

You are not too good for iMovie.

Editor Rob Ashe is doling out some great words of wisdom on his new website. Ashe is both a professional editor and former instructor in his field, so some of his posts strongly relate to concepts I try to teach my Electronic Communications students. In a recent post, Ashe wrote about how many editors are rabid fanboy/fangirls of a particular editing program for no substantial reason, much in the same way people are staunchly pro-Mac or  pro-Microsoft.

It’s discouraging to see this attitude develop among some of my students. For example, a few of them were visibly disappointed last semester when I said we were going to use iMovie to make their very first videos. Somehow, the students already had the impression that they had to use Final Cut Pro if the videos were going to be any good.  To them, the quality of the video hinged on the program, not their ability.

In communications-related industries, it’s counter-productive to work under the impression that there’s only one program to do the job. You’re eliminating job and work opportunities if you focus on the program instead of the skill.  Employers want to hire people who are adept at learning, using and modifying a variety of resources (software and otherwise) to get work done efficiently and effectively.  And yes, that may mean editing videos in iMovie or photos in Corel.  Sure, one program might have more bells and whistles, or do something a little better than another program.  But that’s part of what an employer is looking for – someone who knows what program to use and when to use it over others. Software is just a tool and is not vitally important; one’s ability to craft the content is.

To combat this attitude, we have to help others learn how to learn other programs. Once a person has the fundamental skills down, it becomes a matter of understanding different interfaces. A cut is still a cut and a fade is still a fade no matter what program you’re in.


02 2011

Breaking up with your footage.

I recently re-watched this segment of Ira Glass on Storytelling while discussing the series with my class.  Ira’s message about being a ‘ruthless killer’ and cutting anything that doesn’t add to the story is really ringing true for me this week. I’m working on two more videos for Stan Clark Co.’s 20-year service award recipients, which is a huge undertaking.  I had less raw footage to deal with this time, but taking 6+ hours of video down to an end-product that’s 15 minutes long is still a monumental task! Adding to this challenge is the story’s form – I’m letting the interview subjects tell the recipient’s story with no voice-over or scripted narration.

With every cut and cull, I find myself asking if I’m ‘propping-up’ the recipient’s story or confusing the story’s natural flow. Particularly when there’s no script involved, one has to pay careful attention to editing, so that the interviewee’s statements make sense in context with others around it; and also that these statements aren’t edited so as to deceive their true meaning. This leads to situations wherein I have an amazing clip – the person is saying something funny, deep, or genuine and it really sings – but I don’t have any other material to support it and make it the best it can be. If I keep the clip, I’m only doing so because I selfishly love it; not because that’s the best context or helps the story. Thus, even though I’ve fallen in love with the clip, I have to let it go. It hurts for now, but with Ira’s support I’m sure I’ll have a story that’s a lot stronger in the end.


02 2011

New Old Cameras

I love old consumer-grade cameras because they give me a greater appreciation of today’s media technology.  It’s one thing to read about how pictures and movies were produced “back in the day” and entirely another to touch the process firsthand.  I recently added three new cameras to my old camera collection, and it’s been fun to research where these models fit in the hundred-year history of amateur photography.

Kodak Brownie 8 Movie Camera

Manufactured beginning in 1951, the Brownie 8 represents post-war consumerism and an increasingly mobile middle-class.  Kodak called it “Everybody’s Movie Camera,” and for the low price of about $25, it was.  Instead of a battery, the camera used a hand-crank motor that was activated upon pressing the only button at the front of the camera beneath the lens. The camera took Kodak’s standard 8mm film, which was sold in spools of 25 feet.  As the film advanced through the camera, it re-spooled on a second spool. The spools were then switched to expose the second side, resulting in 50 feet of exposed movie film. Processing the film required a film technician to cut the film down the middle and edit the two 25-foot strips together, resulting in a spool of 50 feet of film that could be projected using the Brownie 8 Movie Projector.  I’m told there’s still film to be found for these cameras, but I haven’t tracked any down yet.

June Cleaver is Operating a Brownie 8.

It's Everybody's Movie Camera!

Argus C44

Argus C-series cameras were popular throughout the 40s & 50s for their reliable handling of 35mm film, and their solid chrome and plastic bodies.  Manufactured by Argus Camera Company from 1956-1957, the C44 was a 35mm camera with interchangeable lenses and lots of accessories for the hobby photographer.  It was one of the last 35mm rangefinder cameras Argus produced, partly due to the interchangeable lens system.  The lenses for the C44 were not compatible with other C-series cameras, and the lens mount system was notoriously difficult. It was also an expensive camera; the purchase price for a C44 with a 50mm lens was $99.50. Accessories such as the leather carrying case and flash brought the total to $117 for the camera pictured above. If the camera still worked (it doesn’t) it would take modern 35mm film with little to no problem.

Kodak Disc 6000

The Kodak Disc 3000, 4000, 6000 and 8000 were manufactured between 1982 and 1984 and retailed for between $57 and $143.  They have the unique distinction of being the only cameras Kodak manufactured that used HR Discs instead of film. The Disc system was almost entirely automated, making the loading of film and picture-taking itself much simpler for the consumer. Even the battery was not user-serviceable; the 3v lithium battery had to be replaced by Kodak. Despite the ease of use of these cameras, they didn’t quite take off and were quickly discontinued.  Apparently the picture quality was lacking, and consumers were disappointed by the final prints. Kodak finally discontinued the HR disc in 1999.

Although these cameras are new to me, I’m actually taking stewardship of them from a wonderful man, Dominick Giammario.  Sadly, “Grandpa Dom” passed away in December. I am very grateful to the Giammario family for trusting me with this part of their family history. I look forward to telling people about Grandpa Dom’s cameras for years to come.


02 2011