Monday, December 13, 2010

First item: Summer Job!

I've been too busy to post during the past few months, but that means I have a bunch of good stories to share during the Christmas break. First item: Summer Job!

My full time employer, The City & County of San Francisco, had to reduce the pay of 25,000 workers by roughly 5.5%. This meant I would have 12 unpaid days of furlough coming up in the fiscal year, so I found a part-time job as a videographer and editor for Bigge Crane & Rigging.

The company is a market leader in the US for rentals of cranes, but they had no video presence on the web. Bigge wanted a half-dozen direct sales videos to be done quickly. Management was interested in creating softer videos, like recruiting and overview pieces, but they didn't want to waste time by doing those first.

The camera was a Canon Vixia 30 with a shotgun mic. By setting it the camera to "auto-everything" I had good pictures 90% of the time. The CMOS sensor "jelly" effect ruined a few shots and the auto-iris became confused by foggy weather sometimes, but for speedy production I could ignore the few bad takes. During this job I edited on Sony Vegas for the first time. It was a great product that filled the niche between Avid and low end tools like MovieMaker. For editing news-style pieces, it was a snap. The compression tools were a time-killer though. If you work with HDV and output m2t files, you'll be fine, but many people can't play m2t on their desktops. For internal review I needed mp4 or .mov, and Vegas is very slow to compress those.

After making five or six of these of these videos, we had a script template and the production process was understood by the full time Bigge staff. I knew that I was leaving in a few weeks, so I created another short piece to use as a template.

This was made from an old press realease that I found on their website and a half dozen photos from Bigge's archives. I thought it was a good example of how to turn old content into a new experience. Bigge has hundreds of photos in their archive, dating back to the 1920s. I enjoyed seeing them, so I assume that others will as well. These videos only take a few hours to knock out and can be done when other shoots are delayed. It's a good corporate image series to complement the hard sell of the other pieces.

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