Goodbye Anaheim 2011…

I’m back in my digs after a two day hiatus to the southlands. Getting a bit old and creaky for this semi-annual run, but the few hours of dancing around in front of an audience and seeing students play with toys was worth it.

What made it different this year? Well, when I’ve gone to conferences and workshops, I’ve always loved to get my grubbies on gear. Listening is all very well and good and educational, but I’m a hands-on type of person. So this year I took a bunch of new and old equipment so the workshop participants could do the same.

“Establishing a Broadcasting Program” had a mini-studio setup, with my (older) Sima video switcher, two cameras, and monitor. Nothing fancy, but enough so that folks could see how a very basic two-camera setup works. We even did a trial talk-through of a show (Camera one on two-shot, camera two one-shot of anchor two, take camera one, switch to camera two…camera one QUICK! get in on one-shot of anchor one, take camera one…). Also went over EVERYTHING I could think of that you might need for a basic broadcasting program and what each piece of gear does. Hung onto the mike topic a mite long…but pushing for good audio is important.

The workshop that really got going was “Painting with Light.” Took the attendees from using natural light to reflectors to a one-light setup with umbrella and on to three-point lighting. Kinda hard in a room where I had no control over the ambient lighting AND had to demo using an LCD projector (washing out the image a bit with the lights). But when the workshop was over the KIDS came up front and stayed for half an hour to play with lights and the effects of moving lights up/down/around. Backlighting was their favorite from what I could see. Oh…that and down-under-up-in-your-face Halloween lighting.

They left happy and I was left exhausted. But happy too. Thanks all for dropping by and hoped you took something away with you.

COUPLE OF CLOSING NOTES.
1. Yes the camera (HMC150) was in manual mode. I told ya I don’t like auto mode, so the zoom was NOT in servo.
2. Yes the lights ARE hot. Use the C-47 aka clothespin.
3. What I use works for me…what I brought is what works for me. What you need may be something totally different…which means research (and yes, I’d be glad to show you how I research for gear).
4. Safety first and safety always. The lights are hot. Folks are gonna trip over cables and can get hurt. And please please be very very careful about posting student images online without all of the necessary paperwork. I may moan and groan about how restrictive administrators/districts are about allowing easy access for posting videos online…but I do NOT want to be the one responsible for any repercussions resulting from thoughtlessly putting a student in harm’s way.
5. About that printout of the Powerpoint I handed out? Teachers – the basic lessons are in the “Lessons” category on this blog if you are interested. Try looking at earlier postings, say from spring of 2007 on. Or use the search function and look for “Basic Shots,” “Animation,” “Autobiography.”

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Powering down in Portland…

Changing gear was the challenging workshop at the JEA/NSPA conference in Portland…at least for me. I’d done my research and the sad news there were no clear-cut solutions to the issues between the proliferation of consumer cameras and their various video file formats.

Carol Knopes with the Radio Televison Digital News Association (yep – they changed their name to fit the times) says she purchased a bunch of new video cameras and it caused such a hassle trying to decipher the file formats that she sent them back. I’ve had students laboring with similar problems, trying to use their new cameras and running into problems with the files not being recognized by their editing programs.

A tiny but passionate group sat in describing problems from issues with firewire ports going out on cameras to new cameras that weren’t recognized by their editing programs.

The only truth: everything is backward compatible. Nothing is forward compatible. Now that’s a generalization…but what it means is if you buy a computer or software, you can open older documents or files. You (again, generally) cannot open files from newer software. I ran into that when a student brought in a PowerPoint presentation I couldn’t open. Solution: go on the Internet and find a program that will convert/decipher it so my older software could read it.

I suspect until a definitive format emerges for video, there will be a battle between manufacturers as they push their proprietary formats, hoping they will be the winner. There’s copyright bucks involved.

So the (temporary and frustrating) is as follows.

1. Do your homework. Research your camera, know your software and computer…they are all parts of the same team and must work together and communicate and understand each other.
2. If you’ve made the mistake of buying something that does not work – be it software or hardware, begin your search for a solution.

I suggested to attendees that they use fileinfo.com for information about their video file format and links to free downlaods that will convert to a more useable format.

Wouldn’t you know it – one of the attendees suggested what may be a better solution: anyvideo which he says will convert any video to another file format.

Let me know how these two work for you. I suspect (since this is only the beginning of the problem) this will be a big workshop next year.

On the ground and running (kind of)…

…or rather limping. Kathy Newell and I arrived last night in Portland for the JEA/NSPA conference. It’s nice to be in a city where the public transit not only works, but is reasonably priced.

We both have sessions this morning and tomorrow. Today is critiquing student videos. Tomorrow is workshops.

Oh – and the limping. Well, I have a bad knee (courtesy of a line drive by Willie McCovy back in the late 70’s) and had a ton of fun walking around the convention center district. Today is payback. The knee went out, so I’m confined to short hops.

Heading for JEA/NSPA…

Come April 15 I won’t be worrying about what I owe (or get back) from Uncle Sam…I’ll be white-lining it north to Portland for a conference. Kind of a good feeling – my very first conference as a teacher was the same JEA/NSPA gathering in the same city. Difference is – this time I AM a teacher…not just a wanna-be.

Buddy Kathy Newell is coming along for the fun. We considered flying up for about a millisecond…but since all flights seem to go somewhere else first, a straight drive is the solution. Oh, and we’ll be loaded for bear with light kits and toys too…so FTR is simplest.

We’re putting on three workshops. Basic Light (aka using what is there or natlight), Advanced Light (bring in the light stands!) and another we haven’t titled, but we hope will cover the compatibility issues between PCs/Macs, nonlinear software, and the different format that hard drive/memory card cameras shoot to.

If you’re heading that way too and have questions or issues you’d like answered (or at least tossed out for discussion) give me a shout.

And see you there…

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