Tuesday, January 01, 2013

And now back to Arts Coverage...

2012 was neither a great year nor a terrible year for the work I'm trying to do. Just sort of unexpected. When I last wrote a blog entry, "Culture Wire" was rolling steady: Shoot, Edit, Complete, Repeat. This Godwaffle Noise Pancakes video was shot in April, with every intention of turning it around that same month. But I was taught something in Basic Training that I had to voluntarily recall and enforce within myself.
Everybody is a unique Special Snowflake until things go all wrong. Then you are an Infantry Soldier, son. Time to fight.
In our very small shop, we lost two people to illness, three people to transfer, one to a multi-month project, and then two people were asked not to come back. Fifty per cent of the workforce was disrupted for the better part of 2012. The people left standing, such as myself, had to drop all the Special Snowflake projects, find some grit, and deal with all the everyday ugly stuff for months. And months.

At the end of this unexpected year, I was able to turn back to "Culture Wire," right where I left it. And I think the battles might have helped. This isn't the same "PBS magazine package" that I would usually crank out. It's the kind of video that plays in a museum for a self-selected audience. The editing is strangely both more affected and less manipulated. When it was finished, I had to take it home and loop it for six hours to figure out if I was truly settled with it.

But if you're not settled with it, you are welcome to remix your own version. I've made some alternate clips and released them as Creative Commons. Have fun.

Interview only - http://youtu.be/ldj0Lg0bSXs 
Black and White - http://youtu.be/pjd2Xs4kuzA
Unaltered Color - http://youtu.be/CyEpCeV0qdQ 
Extra B-roll shots - http://youtu.be/lHNEto_1ZyM
Original Aired Version - http://youtu.be/GOwp79mhw-4

Monday, April 09, 2012

Lit Event Coverage

Michelle Tea and RADAR are undeniably important to San Francisco's literary community. They deserve to be profiled on Culture Wire. The only thing is… it's just pictures of people reading.

There are only a few shots- Wide, Medium, and Tight. Fortunately, there are several authors each night… but it still doesn't add up to much. Three authors times three shots only equals nine shots per night. A camera operator costs me $65/hour, with a four hour minimum, so I'm looking at $1,000 just for acquisition. The only thing that makes this a good expenditure is that the subject is very evergreen. I can play this video for over a year.

Aside from the budget problem, the rest of it was a lot of fun. Michelle is delightful, the crowd was welcoming, and using the 1990s Indie Rock was an un-ironic pleasure for me.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nobody Loves Me!!!!!

Actually, nobody loves SFGovTV. When I post YouTube stories about arts organizations, the views all depend on whether they promote it on their own Facebook wall, web page, or Twitter feed. SFGovTV doesn't have many fans- we're a service organization without any brand identity.

I recommend -

Do not post video after 3pm. People won't see it and won't have time to share or re-tweet before the end of the work day.

No thumbnail on the video link? Delete it and post it again. And if it doesn't work, wait an hour and try again. You have to have a thumbnail to get clicks.

Do not make multiple posts at the same time. Facebook doesn't share if you overshare. You have to allow a few hours gap to make sure people see the video, instead of your other reminders.

Post to your own wall. Don't sign in as "you" and post to your organization's wall. You have to post as the organization for the video to be seen by your fans. Even if a fan posts on your wall before you do, you have to go ahead and re-post the video as the organization to spread it.

Post it again first thing on the next Monday morning. "Hey, in case you guys didn't see this last week…"

It works. Trust me.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

We were playing in the pocket by the end of the set.

A wonderful way to spend August and September- recording and editing 11 jazz concerts around San Francisco. "People In Plazas" was a discretionary budget project that I had been wanting to do for a while. This past July, the FY projections finally looked solid enough that I was given a green light.

Each concert was awarded 21 man-hours for production: three crew members for a half day, then eight hours of editing, and one hour of closed captioning. These productions had to have conservative zone-play camera operators who could keep their heads in the game for a full 60 minutes. That's a bit more of a sports analogy than I'm usually comfortable with, but that was the situation during these weeks.

The wide shot was a lock-down camera that recorded four channels of audio. The audio operator did a live mix-down on a three channel Shure feeding channels 1 and 2 on the camera. Channels 3 and 4 on the camera were direct feeds of audio from the bass and snare drums, which didn't need much babysitting during the show.

As the coach, I had to cut a few people from the roster. I gave camera ops a detailed explanation of what I wanted. If they didn't do it, I showed them their video and repeated what I was after. When they failed again, they were cut from the team. I'm sorry, but we're only doing 11 of these and I have been waiting years to see this project approved.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If you can't be deep, then be brief.

I did a 20-minute interview with the curator, covering visual specifics and making a narrative that would work for a four-minute package. Then the videographer started taking the first half dozen b-roll pictures. Which is when the lights in the museum automatically turned off for the night.

I was able to come back the next day for a b-roll shoot, but was told that I only had 35 minutes to be there. That's appropriate for a news shoot, but not for the work that I produce. I managed to machine-gun 45 shots in 35 minutes and remain polite. The 20-minute interview was no good because there just weren't enough pictures to cover the words. Instead we have a music video advertisement with a few spoken bits. I'm happy with the final product and pleased that my budget expenditure was successfully recovered. Keep moving forward, team!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Back up, pivot, go forward.

This is a news-style package about Meridian Gallery in Union Square. That wasn't the intention when I first left the office.

Profiling Meridian was originally recommended by a co-worker. When I saw there was a "world premiere" reading by 92 year old Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I thought I could make a great evergreen package about him.

Except… he's 92. The poem was only three minutes long and he didn't want to do any interviews. Since I had already invested four hours of labor into the story, I decided to reduce Ferlinghetti and make Meridian the focus. The PR contact was very accommodating and lined up an artist and a curator on the same evening as a performance. I could get sights, sounds, and words in another four hour trip. Adapt and overcome.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Holiday Special - ODC "The Velveteen Rabbit"

The arts coverage gets a little tricky in December. I always look to create evergreen programs that we can run for a few months on SFGovTV, but there are mostly holiday-themed shows happening now. My answer was to do a story about ODC's "Velveteen Rabbit" which I know we can run again next November and December.

This was a pretty easy shoot. KT Nelson was available 15 minutes before the final dress rehearsal started. We set the camera in a spot where we could talk to her quickly and then swing the camera 180 to start shooting the show right away. John R and I took turns running the the camera and just tried to make best guesses on a program that we hadn't seen before. Later during the editing, I spent 2/3 of my time working out the narrative and the audio. The pictures were fairly easy once there was a natural story to hang them onto.