Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

I am sorry that a whole week has blown by without a blog posting. I have been wearing so many hats these past many days that my head hurts. ArtistShare requires a tremendous amount of preparatory work (yes, I really am very close to launch) and the road is steep the first go-round because of the learning curve. I may be comfortable with words, but this being a technology-driven multimedia affair, I have been now been thrown into the deep-end of audio production, video production, and graphics design.

With still pictures I am not a complete novice, but it’s a very good thing that the final images are relatively small and of low-resolution. The human eye fills on so much that is actually missing., and 72 dpi (dots per inch) may look horrible when printed, but it looks great on a computer screen. A little trial and error and we’re good to go.

Motion Pictures, on the other hand, are more than a concept and I am suddenly the writer, director, cinematographer, on-camera talent, and film editor. I bought a little Canon vidcam that has a remote control. My friend came by with a light on a pole, scoped out my little office and place it strategically for best effect with my camera on a tripod across from my desk. (Thanks, Phil.) Now all I have to do is plug in the light, turn on the camera, sit in my assigned spot, click on the remote and begin speaking. Lights. Camera. Action. Of course that’s after I attempt hair, make-up and wardrobe. And did I mention that the camera makes you look 5-10 pounds heavier than the scale indicates?

After a few takes I stopped to figure out how to transfer the digital video onto my computer. (It helps to install the software first.) Then it’s time to edit. Unfortunately, it’s a one-shot, just me talking, so any cuts are jump-cuts…not good. I could use a disolve or some other transition, but truth is that when you’re done and have to compress the video for internet, the reduced quality made the transitions look especially crappy, so I gave up on that idea. I won’t bore you with all the video and techno-jargon I had to learn. Actually, the hardest part was being able to stand looking at and listening to myself over and over…you can’t help but notice all the tics and imperfections.

For the ~10-minute streaming audio talks I’ve been preparing, again I had to be writer, director, engineer, on-air talent, and sound editor. My first few attempts went nowhere, or so I thought. I’d turn on the mic, see that the sound appeared to be registering, deliver my pages, click on stop…and then I’d see nothing in the window. Click on play…hear nothing. Adjust a cable, reconnect, try again. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I changed mics and tried yet again. This time I heard something, but ever so faintly. So I ‘selected’ the whole 10 minutes and “boosted the gain.” Magic! But don’t ask me how long it took me to figure out what to do — why can’t they use simple words like volume? What is “gain” anyway? I thought it was a verb. Well, once I figured that out, the rest went much easier. It also helped when I realized that whenever I stumbled on a word, rather than rush in to correct myself it was better to pause for a few beats, back up to the beginning of the sentence, and repeat. That way I could simply edit out the bad seconds.

So, I have some more content to prepare before I’m ready to launch the ArtistShare site and I hope to get it all done this coming week. Meanwhile, I will don again my DevraDoWrite hat and post at least twice more this coming week. I hope you’ll hang in here with me.