Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#161 Things I learned this year

I've got some end of the year reflections in this show. I've had a busy year, full of a variety of different jobs. I've learneda number of things that are important to keep in mind for anyone who is looking to enter the video production playground.

Even if you're already looking, as I am, I hope you can use some of these personal insights to keep yourself moving ahead. Here's a list as a reminder, but listen to the show:

• Let time do the heaving lifting
• Work for free, but not for nothing
• Life is not a zero sum game
• Be bold
• Surround yourself with motivated people
• Network, a lot
• Say yes first
• Persevere
• Be positive about things you can't control
• Know your value
• Learning is cumulative
• Share your goals with others
• Ask for help
• Learn to trust yourself
• Don't compare yourself to other people
• Define success for yourself

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

#160 Working on a crew

I've got a lot on my plate in December. But I enjoy the work.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

#159 New Podcast

I've been busy over the holidays producing a new podcast. It's called the Post-Movie Podcast and it's a conversation between two film reviewers on recent films. Radical right?

I've also have a lot of irons in the fire production-wise and I hope to tell you more about it in upcoming shows. I'm going to be busy for a while.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

#158 Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday is the mega shopping day in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving day. Stores open at 4am, even earlier and there are lines and crowds of people hours before the stores open.

The sound is a little poor, but hopefully this explains why I missed posting for a couple days.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

#157 The price of free

On my way home in the rain on Thanksgiving eve I stopped in at the local turnpike service center and spoke my mind.

You get what you pay for and tnstaafl (there's no such thing as a free lunch)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

#157 White Noise

Excerpts from a podcast recording session.

Monday, November 23, 2009

#156 Creative Exercise

Journal entry about my current frame of mind about what to do next.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

#155 It's a Wordpress World

If you want to put your video on the web and you don't know a lick about website creation, look into Wordpress.

Producing media and distributing it online requires a platform that provides a base from you can attract interest and develop a community. I think its fair to say that self promotion on the internet is not a common skill set of most production oriented media producers. One of the best ways to step into this critical space and feel as though you have some control over the process is to produce a blog using Wordpress.

Wordpress is one of many different blogging software platforms, such as Typepad, Blogger and Drupal, however I think it is the best combination of flexibility, power and accessibility for non web developers. There's a tremendous amount of learning resources for the uninitiated, with tutorials for the beginner at and online in general. Even easier, you can go to, create an account and start blogging in 10 minutes. There is even a video channel, Wordpress.TV that offers up a hefty dose of information for newbies.

There are meetups that take place all over the country, all over the world! I just found a Wordpress meetup in Boston that I'll be attending next month. Last month there was presentation by Adam Wood on how to customize a theme called Atahualpa which you can follow here. I found an interesting review of Thesis, another popular theme, containing lots of information about how a good theme simplifies blogging.

The really valuable thing about Wordpress is that is is more than just a blogging tool. It's a content management system (CMS) the organizes your content, tracks your marketing efforts and does other things CMS software does.

Finally you can attend, for next to nothing, Wordpress Camps all over the country. I just found one will be in Boston, close to where I live, in January. Even if you can't attend one, or you want to know what kind of sessions occur you can check out past unconferences online. A recent Wordpress Camp in Phoenix has some video of some their sessions, including how to put video online. Last week, about 700 attended WP Camp New York City and going by the list of sessions it must have been amazing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

#154 Value Add Proposition

I have a few thoughts I want to share, somewhat motivated by an article I read on TalentZoo, a hub for people who work in the Advertising field.

Knowledge of who you are and how to promote your value to clients are important factors in creating and sustaining a successful business.

Handmade in America

Friday, November 20, 2009

#153 Podcast Production Part 1

Producing a podcast includes creating a destination. There are lots of things to consider if you want to create a community around your content and demonstrate to potential sponsors you can keep them around.

Hosting sites:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

#152 4.0 on the Avid MC Scale

A loose review of an event I attended this evening focusing on the launch of Avid Media Composer 4.0, Avid's mainstream digital video editing tool. At two thousand plus dollars it's not for everyone. But for anyone interested in a career in video and especially feature motion picture editing, it's the gorilla in the living-room.

A lot of technical stuff was presented but I've chosen to talk about a few features that I thought were particularly interesting and useful, including an open plug-in format that allows Avid to ingest media directly from AVC, P2, SxS and other solid state camera media cards without converting it to the Avid MXF file format - saving time and space on your drive.

Media Composer now allows you to store files it's using anywhere on your computer, but there are risks involved. The tracking feature allows you to stabilize the picture on the frame and it automatically resizes the image so it completely fills the width of the frame. The remarkable thing about this stabilization tracking feature is that instead of the standard practice of using one or several bright spots in the frame as reference points for holding the image in the same location, it uses the entire screen. This is better because, depending on the footage, reference point objects, usually very bright points of lights, like reflections off shiny objects, can be blocked from view during capture. Not a problem now.

The last new feature I mention is the ability to place clips on the same timeline with different frame rates. Something Apple has been able to do for a number of years. Avid says it does the conversion in realtime, faster and with better results than Final Cut Pro. There's certainly enough settings to adjust to make it so. Providing you have the time and money to figure it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

#151 Slaying the beast

I have overcome and more than happy to tell you about it. The DVD portion of this project I'm working on has come to a close and you can reap the fruit of my head-banging efforts in this post about DVD Studio Pro.

Not definitive by any means, but there are a few problems you could learn to sidestep if you're interested in learning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

#150 Juggling Dull Chainsaws

I'm busy, I only noticed I hadn't taken care of feeding this podcast when I looked at the time and it reminded me I haven't done a thing for the show. That's how busy is.

Maybe when I'm done tomorrow I can put things in perspective. Right now I'll make another cup of tea and keep my frustration to myself.

Monday, November 16, 2009

#149 Free Books

In case you didn't know, you should get a library card. It's free, you can get just about any book, magazine, movie and lots of other stuff. If you're a student you could probably get books from outside your school delivered right to your room.

Okay, right to your dorm room is stretching it a little, but still, almost.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

#148 The Dark Art of Compression

Controlling this wild magic

File compression. It's the last thing you do at the end of the project, but it should be among the top things to consider and settle with your client before you begin. Otherwise, things could be very dark indeed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

#147 Job Fair

I visited a job fair in western Massachusetts recently.

Friday, November 13, 2009

#146 Remembering and Remembrance Day

Reflections on the cost of war from newspapers, podcasts, twitter and magazines. Check out the link to the November 11th post No Mood Swing and listen to Valerie read the Toronto Star article about the Boys of Major Street.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

#145 Sony EDCAM EX-1 Review

Ergonomics, slow motion and media

I recorded the review of this camera before I began the One a Day series and I'm not going to hold on to it until December. Since making this recording I've been able to use this camera several times and it's been a real pleasure.

It's well designed and I believe that's why it hasn't been difficult to learn how to use it. The media is easy to use, really not that much different from the P2, but it feels more comfortable to work with. I mentioned the Hoodman in this episode as a low cost replacement for the SxS from Sony. Kensington also has a low cost alternative you should look into.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

#144 Thinking out Loud

One Thought leads to another.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

#143 Steve Audette

I attended an Boston Avid User Group meeting which was held at WGBH in Boston. The speaker, Steve Audette is a veteran producer and editor on programs such as Nova and Frontline. He is an excellent entertaining and informative presenter with a lot of valuable insights into editing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

#142 Podcamp NH09 Day 2

Podcamp New Hampshire 09
"Conversations That Matter"

Handmade in America

Social Media Levels the Media Distribution Field

Example of artist who has successfully promoted herself through social media:
Social Media resources for independent filmmakers:
Podcamp NH 2010 June or July

Sunday, November 8, 2009

#141 Podcamp NH09 Day-1

Podcamp NH 09

New Hampton School

Distributed video production podcast:

Dan Freund

Saturday, November 7, 2009

#140 Podcamp NH Road Trip

Driving up to New Hampshire for Podcamp NH 09. Lovely cold fall day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

#139 One a day

Spontaneity, serendipity and simplicity.

Today I'm beginning an experiment simply because I was challenged by a podcast. Listening to Description: Valerie in Toronto, a podcaster I met at Podcaster's Across Borders, held in Kingston this past June. I learned about a challenge to podcasters called National Podcaster's Post Month, where people are encouraged to post their podcast every day through November and keep it under 10 minutes.

I don't know what the other restrictions for posting are, but it doesn't matter because it's November 6 and I'm posting on my host not theirs, so I can do what I want.

But it's not simply because of Valerie's post that I'm choosing this challenge. I picked up a book recently by Chris Orwig, a photographer and teacher, which I mistakenly referred to as Visual Photography, a bit redundant that, right? It's called Visual Poetry and his premise is seeking ways to reinvigorate, inspire and step outside your creative routine. Take some risks.

So talking without the intention of editing, without even a clear idea of what I plan to say is a big risk for me and I'll post as consistently as I can, each day from this point forward until my I reach the limit on my server or I can't take it anymore. I don't even think I'll write these long show notes. I'll just try to keep everything to a minimum. Just the links maybe, like CBC Radio Spark Episode 90.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

#138 Drawing on the right side…

I'm using the last show as a starting point for this show, about an idea I want to put out there for helping students learn how to better produce content and how to produce better content. I believe school is the place where this learning can and should take place, but it's success depends on how well it's presented and maintained. You'll have to listen to learn more.

At the end I give a brief review of two books, Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Shirky and The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida. They're not light reading but I think each one has something important to say about how the internet is changing the way we produce media.

Friday, September 25, 2009

#137 Teach your children well

This show is about two experiences that were bouncing around in my head and collided. First, a podcast about technology and second,, conversations with educators lead me to consider the necessity of providing some kind of multimedia literacy as part of the higher education experience. Sort of like directed play in the schoolyard to avoid bullying.

My thought is not only how to produce content that hits the intended mark, but also present the impact and responsibilities, both personally and to others that being a broadcasting entails.

There was a time when it was rare and seemingly ridiculous to require students to attend schools with a computer. Not so ridiculous now. I think the time is coming to accept the responsibilities that private broadcaster carries. I don't have any solutions to offer, but I think we should be thinking about this.

Here are some links to people and places mentioned in the show.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

#136 Something from Nothing

Listening to this show and trying to reach from what I know to what the least informed person knows is very difficult. It's hard to record a session of me talking off the cuff, just using notes, because I end up using a lot of shorthand without explain things. I need a glossary.

I don't have one, but I have included some brief explanations of some of the video codewords I've mentioned in passing, in this show. If you follow the links you'll find more thorough descriptions. It can get pretty thick, but it really helps to know these things.

This episode begins with a recent revelation about my goals and future direction as a filmmaking professional. I've also included details I've gleaned from blogs, podcasts and presentations at a recent meeting of the Boston FCP User's Group.

This has been a busy summer of media events. I've attended Podcamp Boston 4, Podcaster's Across Borders in Kingston Ontario, the Boston Media Makers get together which meets in Jamaica Plains the first Sunday of every month and the annual Avid Summer BBQ.

I wanted to attend Podcamp Montreal, which takes place in a couple weeks, but I think I need to stay at home. There is also a Podcamp New Hampshire, taking place in Portsmouth in November.

It was at the Boston Final Cut Pro User's group that took place in August that I saw Philip Hodgetts present an overview of new features for FCP7. I've also included information I've gleaned from Apple's FCS site and the Digital Production Buzz. You can also find video tutorials online that demonstrate what the new features are in all applications within the suite.

One of the warm up presentations that I thought was particularly noteworthy was for Mocha for FCP from Imagineer Systems. Check out the link above for videos that explain image tracking and rotoscoping in a way that will quickly make sense. Here's my abbreviated version:

Imagine you're seeing a movie and there's a scene at a football stadium. There's a huge video screen that shows instant replays and and short commercials. The people who made that movie didn't record the information on that screen when they shot the footage of the stadium, they inserted their own footage on the screen in the editing suite. Maybe an advertisement for a product that they're getting paid to place in the movie.

In a still image you can select the space inside the frame of the jumbotron and remove it and insert what ever image you choose. In a moving image, the shape of the screen and position of the screen in the frame is changing in every frame if the camera is moving.

You accomplish this difficult task by marking places in the frame that are always visible (bright white points usually) and then making sure they remain in place as the camera pans across or zooms out. Now that you've got the location of the anchor points, you create a mask that fits inside the screen area of the jumbotron and then make sure that mask is linked to those anchor points that are being tracked. That is called rotoscoping. Then you drop in your video and make it look like it was always there.

For sure, that's a gross simplification, but I hope it gets the idea across.

The new version of the Final Cut Suite (no number, should be #3 tho) include new feature updates for all the produces (except for DVD Studio Pro), but Philip was there to cover just Final Cut Pro 7.

Because I clumsily referred to ProRez 422 in passing, give me a moment to explain what an intermediate codec is and what 422 color space and 4444 refers to.

A color space is the limited range of color that can be viewed from the entire spectrum of color. Humans can see a wide swath of color between ultra violet and infra red (violet to red). Some insects and animals can see beyond that range. Mechanical devices, like monitors and cameras and capture and display color in a variety color spaces depending on type of color space. HSB (Hue Saturation and Brightness) is one space, RGB (Red, Green and Blue) is another.

Video cameras generally use a color space called YCC, which is roughly RGB. The Y is the luma quality and the two Cs are the chroma, or color qualities. Those are the three values in a camera that shoots 4.2.2.

Our eyes are more sensitive to luma than chroma, so in a 4.2.2 color space there's twice as much luma, or light, as there is color. Web and DVD video use a 4.2.0 space and the DV standard uses 4.1.1.

Think of the 3 areas of information captured by a 4.2.2 camera as distinct channels of light or color. Like channels in photoshop. There is 4th channel of visual information which cameras won't capture because it is created in post production, the alpha channel.

Alpha channels are used in Photoshop, After Effects and Final Cut Pro are an additional layer of information that can be used to remove areas of the frame so that something else can be seen through it. Or it can act as a selection area of a moving object in the frame so an effect or filter can be applied to it.

Hold that thought for a moment and let me move on to a codec. Among other things, it's a software program that compresses a moving digital image. There are a variety of codecs that compress video as a camera records it, and decompresses it as a DVD player plays it. It's a lossy process, which means digital information is lost when it's compressed. The greater compression, the more minutes of video can be shushed into a gigabyte of storage space.

Still with me?

There are a lot of codecs out there and the variety is necessary because of how you're using them. Camera codecs need to compress data a certain way to retain the most information to fit on the storage medium, tape, drive or solid state card. Cameras are capturing video for one purpose only, to store it. You aren't using it, cutting it into pieces, so it can squeeze it really tight.

Cutting video in a codec designed for camera capture, particularly HDV, is not a pleasure to cut. It's doable, but has problems that I'm not going to get into. If you're producing a feature length movie or TV video you want to work in a codec that will give you more freedom to edit. That's what an intermediate codec is.

One codec for capture, another for playback (sometimes the same one) and one in-between for the edit. Prorez is an intermediate codec.

You capture the video from the camera as you do normally, then select the footage in FCP and then convert it to a Prorez codec.

Hang in there, I'm coming to the end.

When you convert footage captured by a camera using a codec using the 4.1.1 or 4.2.0 color space to, say, Prorez 4.2.2, does that mean you're getting a better quality out of the footage you shot?


Footage captured in every DV or HDV camera is being compressed on the fly using whatever color space the camera uses. That compress, being lossy discards anything that doesn't fit. So when you convert it to a high resolution color space, it's got a bunch space it isn't using. When you shake it, you can hear it rattle.

So why would you convert it to the 4.2.2 space, or for that matter, 4.4.4?

One reason is these other codecs have other characters that make it more efficient for your editing software to edit, render and export the video. More importantly though, and this IS the reason you would use Prorez 4x4 ( is that anything else you add, a still image, motions graphics from After Effects or Motion, or 3D animation from Maya or 3D Studio Max will be added at their full, mostly likely higher color and image resolution.

These additional elements, even something as simple as title text have to be massaged by various filters and often moved in and out of other programs to make them feel like they're as real as the realness of the video footage. Have a space that allows you to work with the maximum amount of resolution of color and pixel depth offers the kind of control the people with the big bucks are looking for.

You and I are just lucky that we don't have to have big bucks to get into this party.

As hard as that was to read, and I congratulate you if you got this far, it was no picnic figuring how to say it. And be careful, don't use this in your research paper.

I'm not going to put links to all this stuff. I've put out the bare bones. If you need to know more you can look it up for yourself.

I hope it's been useful.

You can find pricing for educational software at Journey Ed and Academic Superstore. I've used them both and they're fast.

Mike Jones at Digital Basin has a good review of the suite upgrade, including what's missing. And check out the Film School Drinking game which I found in the same article. It's an education in itself.

Finally, if you're on the fence about getting the Snow Leopard update, Leo Laporte and his gang of usual suspects provide a definitve thrashing of the pros and cons in #156 of Macbreak Weekly.

Friday, August 7, 2009

#135 What Good is It?

This week's show is the second part of my thoughts about craft and art, this show focusing more art.

Right off the bat let me confess that not once did I get the title of the book by John Carrey that I keep refering to, which is What Good are the Arts. Terrible oversight on my part and while there is no defense let me repeat that the book and it's correct name is less important to my remarks than the thoughts and ideas that were spurred by it. With that in mind, here's a link to The Craftsman by Richard Sennett. I think it has a lot to say about methods of producing quality work for anyone, including filmmakers.

The great thing about having all these diverse sources of information and opinion is not so much the opportunity to learn as it is the ideas and where they take me, and the things I think and believe.

I generally find that I come to understand what I think and believe by saying it out loud, either to myself, to others or to you in this time shifted fashion. There's a monitor in my head as the words come out that evaluate the rightness of what I'm saying against what I think. Sometimes when they are at odds I find that what I have said is more true to what I believe than what I was actually thinking. The sense of smell and taste comes to mind as a comparable experience. Often they are very different experiences and one or the other will become the defining sensation.

So despite how dense, or confusing this all may sound, I found it necessary to work it out, out loud and as I say in the end, I have a better understanding of how I think and feel on this subject, for the present time.

But I feel a need to say these things not only to clarify my own thoughts, but because this is an important issue we all have to face and settle for our own selves. Everyone in the world is a creator and the more culture and technology enables anyone to share to larger groups of people, the more the question of craft versus art comes back at us.

Speaking of which, I'm currently reading a fascinating book, Here comes Everyone by Clay Shirky. It addresses the impact of social media on creativity and the changes it has had and will continue to have in the future. You should read it.

Finally, as I was putting together the links for this post I came across a comment ( from a reader of John Carrey's book who was disappointed that they didn't finish the book with clearer understanding of what art is. Diana commented that his definition of a work of art is 'anything that anyone has ever considered a work of art'. She goes on to say, "In other words anything, and correspondingly, nothing" A few more thoughtful reviews are found on the Times Online, Denis Dutton Online and The Reason Online.

This perspective, which is the cultural norm, that calling something art acts as a qualifier, sieve, gate and value judgment. Defining art is like separating the sheep from the goats. Not only does this approach lead to fruitless and unending debate, I think it's destructive and wrong.

I couldn't find a way to artfully add a couple links into the show notes, so I'll just list them here:

The Emoti-Chair

CBC Spark episode # 71 about the Emoti-Chair

Here's the transcript of the show, it may or may not help.

Let me know what you think.

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Hi, and welcome to the Video StudentGuy show, the weekly journal of a video student. I'm the guy, Paul Lyzun.

This is the second part to a show I posted a few weeks ago, Show #128, which was about Craft. In this show I'm gong to be talking a little bit more about art and some more about craft,

I began that show by talking about the path you might follow to make a film. I just wanted to sum it up in a tight little package, from my own narrow little perspective.

Along the way I got lost talking about craftsmanship. I don't apologize for wandering off the path, craftsmanship is the subject of my recent film. Craftsmanship is integral to filmmaking, and for myself, the duality of Craft and Art has been a lifelong tug of war.

I think I did a passing fair explanation of what I felt craft was, and by implication, what it's value is. I'll work hard not to go over the same ground in this episode. Let me just mention one more time how much I enjoyed the book, The Craftsman, by Richard Sennett, and if you are at all interested, as I am, in the meaning of art and craft, particularly what it means in your creative process, I strongly recommend you find a copy and read it a couple times.

The last two things I mentioned in episode #128 that leads into today's portion of the conversation are that art, or better and broader yet, creative expression, is a form of communication, and the other is the question and the book that bears the name, What is Art Good For, by John Carey.

Let me start with the idea that I got form the book, which is what good is art for? Let me start with the idea that was spawned by the book, which is, what is art good for?

The first thing I'm going to do is dispense with the word Art – it's a loaded word meaning everything and nothing. Just trying to narrow it's definition would take more time than it's worth.

I'm going to use "it" in exchange for Art and you can assume when I say "it", I'm saying Art.

I want to start off that way because it eliminates preconceived ideas of creativity. It eliminates pictures of what is not art and removes the risk of applying taste and prejudice (same thing? you decide) to the topic.

That frees me up for a few minutes to look at the question itself, which is really very telling.

To rephrase the question, "what is it good for" is a universal and a common, commonly asked question. It places the focus on the practical and pragmatic. Things exist because they perform a function. In a Darwinian sense, you could say things exist because they're food for something else, or are means of avoiding being food. Every detail in the construction and appearance of everything has a purpose. I believe that's true whether you believe in a higher power or the evolutionary process, or both. This isn't about who's responsible, this is about dealing with the way things are.

So, asking what is it good for implies there must be a purpose, that things exist for a reason. As I just describe, I concede they do exist for a reason.

Imagine that I made something. At a very minimalist level it is good for being the result of an effort of realizing an idea in the real world, the world outside our minds. We're thinking things all the time. Making stuff up that never was, and is not. But when someone takes an idea and makes it, physically, it becomes separate from the maker, beyond their control.

Now, why would anyone want to do that? Well, perhaps to get a more concrete grasp of this idea, Looking at it externally allows me to refine it's nature until it matches my expectations OR it changes the way I think.

Once I put an idea in the physical world, my mind isn't solely in control of it's idenity. The world that we both occupy now has some claim to it's meaning and in the process I can change as well as it can.

The thing I made changes me.

THAT, is the real power of creativity!

Being able to change yourself.

That makes it worth the effort alone, just to experience change in how I perceive the world I live in.

But it doesn't end with communicating with the world separate from myself. When I put it out there in a world of other individuals I open it and myself up to further change through the reactions of other people and how they view themselves and the world, the same world I live in objectively, but not subjectively.

It's a means of expressing a human experience and a means of sharing a human experience

Sounds complicated eh?

Well, getting back to the main question, what is it good for?

It's good for changing myself, changing other people – changing the world.

What is it again?

It is art, it is creativity, it is human expression, it is communication.

Everything changes all the time. Scale isn't the issue. We are bombarded, shot through every iota of a moment with information that changes our world view and I'm guessing here, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me we don't register most of it.

So the volume and the scale, it doesn't matter very much. Everything changes, all the time. You can't take it all in.

That's why we're all different right, we are the sum of what we choose to perceive.

Now, lets get a little more concrete. I want to talk about the book "What is Art Good For? by John Carey.

Because once we get past the abstract, fundamental view I've just presented, things get immediately sticky and oh so thick. Watch out that you don't loose a shoe in the mud.

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I have not read this book, I'll tell you right up front and as long as I'm being honest I'll say that in all likelihood I won't.

I think I would enjoy his writing and find I would agree with a lot of what he has to say. I just don't have the time or inclination. I'm not saying this a means of passing judgement on his book, it's just a matter of personal bandwidth.

By all accounts John Carey is a good writer and very convincing in his arguments. He is witty, intelligent and dead on in his ability to deconstruct and lay bare the self serving mystification of the art establishment. His books are a pleasure to read. One author thought he was just a little too forgiving in his appraisal of the one medium he feels is superior, but overall, he thinks that it's a good book.

I've read a number of reviews and I've put a couple links on the blog page if you'd like to read them as well. After several different articles read, I feel I can made some generalizations (obviously without having read the book) and offer this simple, perhaps unfair generalization.

He says that the art culture is pompous and hypocritical
and that greatest art is literature.

See the time I saved you!?

The primary reason I'm discussing it here is to present an alternative view to his perception that all other creative works are subordinate to literature. And since I haven't read his book I'm not going to indict him personally, he may very well feel misunderstood on that count, I just want to use his premise as a jumping off point for this idea of a hierarchy in value to art – that there's always a pecking order.

The more we embrace technology in our lives, the further we become removed from our origins, the places and things that have shaped us as human beings over our time here on earth. Despite the pervasiveness of the technology surrounding us today, it still doesn't have the same impact on the way we think act and feel as "natural" environmental shapers.

So, we've surrounded ourselves with an environment of our own making – which is alien to us in a historically cultural sense. Plastic, steel concrete – they register in our higher functioning brain, but not in our unconscious mind, which got us by for hundreds of thousands of years before we began collecting together to build farms, towns and cities.

The invention of writing and the ability to read has had a profound impact on our culture, both as a means of advancing it, and archiving it. Certainly our success in living in an artificial environment is due mainly in part to reading and writing. But whatever we've read, whatever has been written, is a memory that connects us to a real experience of something we've felt, touched, smelled, seen and heard at an earlier time. I believe these senses are more immediate and transfer information to our brains in a more visceral and direct way. And yet, the further we move into the future, the less exposure we have to these sense touchstones. It's sort of like living without knowing what the midnight sky looks like without light pollution.

How much are we really missing? How much are we really separated from the past, from the real world in terms of the artificial world that we've created for ourselves?

Well, if you're honest, you know you can't beat a tornado. The best you can do is hunker down with Auntie Em. And how different is that from hiding from a tiger in a cave.

Of course it can be rightly said that writing presents information in an organized manner. After all, how valuable can art be that slips by your conscious understanding and sits like undigested meat in your colon until it finally integrates into your body you're not even aware of the cause of any change that's taken place? Or that change has taken place.

Actually, I think change that occurs without knowing is an an awesome power.

So think about music, the texture of a basket or the smell of a leather coat. It's a message organized in a different way. Nonlinear, holistic.

And you could say that writing has achieved a greater cumulative scale in meaning than any other media, but I reject the importance of volume and scale, in favor of the specific impact a creative work can have on an individual.

Let me use a specific instance to clarify what I mean about this unique effect that non verbal art can have on different individuals.

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About communication through the other senses
Spark #71

I listened to a show called Spark . It's from CBC Radio in Canada. It's a great show. Each show has several stories of different length about current and bleeding edge technology and how it's transforming people's lives. I like it mainly because, although it's all about technology, it dares to find ways in which technology is changing the way we live – as we're living it. Right now! That, is cool.

One of the stories in a recent episode, episode number 71, was a conversation about the creation of an emoti-chair, a device which produces electrical impulses, tiny shocks, that are triggered by the sounds in music.

When you sit in this chair it actually – it can actually feel like something is touching you. The creators of this technology have developed a new form of expression based on the sense of touch.It has begun to morph quickly. One example is that deaf people can sense music in a greater dimension.

Someone who was deaf described how at a party everyone who couldn't hear would hear the music through feeling the vibrations, barefoot, through the wooden floors. The difference with the emoti-chair is that each instrument creates a different sensation. Instead of all of the music coming through as one vibration, you had different vibrations at different locations on the chair, which of course affected different parts of your body. For each instrument. This mechanism allowed a deaf person the ability to experience music through assimilating multiple layers of sensation, in this case tactile, which mirrored closely the manner in which a hearing person experienced music through their ears.

Another person, one without hearing limitations found that the emotional impact of the music was intensified with the combination of the sensations that were generated by the emoti-chair. It literally brought her to tears in a way the music did not.

Finally, a musician who was composing music for the chair found that he was able to elevate the effect that the chair on the senses, not by writing a great song, but writing the music based on the sensations produced by sitting in the chair.

So the chair itself was his feedback loop, not his ears.

Is this any less the impact that literature has? Is the argument that literature is more powerful as a single force and to the greatest number of people because of it's ability to cross reference itself and establish a more cohesive, inter-referential whole? Is it because it's easier to document and catalog it's impact that sets it apart in value from all other forms? Is it the consistency of the media over generations that makes it easier to judge?

Okay, this is where you're saying, well Paul, you should just read the book and find out. Find out why he thinks that way!

Well, my point at it's very heart is that any creative expression has to be judged on it's own and by an individual.

So, the first point is that there's all this bogus mysticism about art, and it's being propped up by museums, and art collectors, and art speculators and so forth. That has, for generations and hundreds of years even, affected the way we perceive art. Remember, there was a time when art and craft were one thing. They were just simply creative expressions. At least in western culture, it wasn't until the Renaissance that they sort of split apart. And so there was a humbler form of creativity, and a higher form of creativity.

But, that was just simply a societal choice. Up to that point people didn't make that distinction and there was no need to make that distinction. And I believe very much that that was generated by money.

If people valued it and therefore they had to identify that it had a special, unique value, that set it apart. Supply and demand so to speak.

So however powerful any work of art can be, I just don't believe that there is a greatest hits of art. There is great art, there is universal art, but I think it's important to value work based on a personal level.

Just as one's knowledge and understanding of math and science is easier to measure compared to the arts in general, like in SAT scores, so society believes that's the better organized the information is, the better it represents a higher intelligence.

After all, isn't that how we were able to create a sophisticated culture? And I'm not saying that we can throw that away, but I think that it would be good to embraced that disorganized, holistic, intuitive aspect of ourselves just as much. This is what we're starving [for], currently, in our culture

So the idea of having the ability to quantify and categorize and hierarchize and organize art - that makes it much easier sort-of-like to build a mountain of blocks and then see which comes upon top.
Is that the reason literature achieves greater significance over the other arts?

I'm not going to enter into that argument. I can only say that measuring the value of something through the volume of it's impact is dehumanizing. Creativity is expressed on a personal level and impressed on individuals in the same way. Hundreds of people can view a painting at a museum in a single day. Thousands of people can hear a musical performance at one time in a concert. Millions of people can watch a movie on TV simultaneously. But every person internalizes that experience on a personal level.

Painting, music, literature, origami, everything touches everyone of us in a different way at different times and while you generalize about the critical defining characteristics of one medium, you also lose a lot in the streamlining process. And in that process you disenfranchise a lot of people from a lot of creativity.

It's not just about what you see and identify as art, it's what you allow yourself to believe what you can do, as far as art. And if you think that knitting is secondary to some other art form, then you're always going to feel like a second class citizen of art. Of creativity, forget the art word.

[Streamlining, simplifying art is a form of marketing. For money, for ideology, take your pick. The honest reaction of an individual to a single creative expression cannot be calculated, summed and expressed in anything more than a gross generalization that distorts its value.]

But I'm not interested in changing the world on this point. For myself, I feel that holding this thought, this consideration, as I create, will help me keep my balance against any outside pressure of generalized, common knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

Well, now that that's over I don't think I enjoyed it very much at all. How about you? It was hard work and I don't think it makes any difference.

Well, maybe a little difference. Now that I've written this down and thought about it, I have a better idea of what I think I think, and I can consider whether it makes sense or not. I don't know about you.

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After I wrote all this that I just told you, I had some other thoughts and I decided that, instead of integrating them, I'd just simply leave them as a footnote at the end .

I think the reason I'm going on and on about the idea of craft and art is this (and remember when I say art, I mean an expression of creativity and a desire to communicate):

Art with a capital A, as I've tried to identify earlier, creates a sense of heightened expectations. Somedays you don't feel inspired, you're glad you can drag your sad butt out of bed and put your shoes on the right feet.

Days like that can make you wonder if you should even put in the time. Everyone has days like that and you can't control when they happen. Frankly, I don't want to live with the weight of expectations about what I'm going to do or how well I'm going to do it, while I'm in the middle of my work. I don't want to be distracted, I want the creativity to flow out of me without any speedbumps.

That's the feeling I want, regardless of how useful, attractive or successful is the thing I end up creating. When I'm in that frame of mind, what I make is almost always good and whether it's what I want or not, it leaves me feeling good about the work and myself. And that just perpetuates more creativity.

[So I think all the talk about art is an after the fact thing. It's hindsight. Who knows how many trials, experiments or dead ends any creative person has to pass through before the finished work of art is delivered. No one wants to know, no one cares. So why do people who are making the thing itself have to think about it.]

I know, there's all kind of situations where you have to keep your eye on the deadline, measure the work you're doing against the anticipated product, keeping customers happy, keeping the business flowing.

I'm not saying you can dispense with all those voices, I only want to provide a little breathing room so we can create and build, At the same time I'm also listening to myself think, I can watch myself work, think about what I'm doing and have enough presence of mind to evaluate it, or re-evaluate it and then proceed forward to the next step.

When the focus is on craft you can have that kind of internal conversation, just you and the thing you're creating. And you can feel good about what you're doing, because you can see how you're doing.

Immediate feedback loop.


There's something about big people and little people when it comes to creative endeavors and I don't like the mentality that we qualify the creative value of something based on it's ROI. Yeah, we got a great economic steamroller of a system, but when I make things, I'm answering a need that places money below first place.

I'm not saying that we can live in a world where doesn't money matter, only that we should choose to live in a world where it matters a lot less than it does.


If you're still listening, I applaud your fortitude. Thanks for letting me talk this thing out. I think next week I'll do a short show about something superficial.

I've got links on the blog to the various podcasts, or books that I've talked about. Take a look at You can also leave a comment or a criticism at the website. Or you can send me an email at

Despite how I may come off, I am interested in what you think, even if we disagree. In fact, I reserve the right to disagree with myself sometime in the future.

I'm Paul, the videostudentguy, thanks for listening,

I'll talk to you later,

in the meantime, be creative.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

#134 PAB09 Afterthoughts

What's in this show:

I'm going to talk mostly about some of the events at PAB 09 in Kingston. It's been a month and I'm just now getting my thoughts down. My apologies to Bob and Mark, the show's promoters, and thanks guys, for once again producing a first class happening.

First I have some updates about my computer. Then, after I give you a quick reminder of what PAB is all about, I talk about Jowie Taylor and the Six String Nation Guitar. Check out the site, it's full of really interesting stories that I can talk about only in passing. Better yet, if you can attend an event where Jowi Taylor speaks(his schedule is right on the homepage) about this remarkable artifact, you should attend and get your picture taken holding it.

As a counterpoint to Jowi's story I discuss some sobering and pragmatic information presented by Chris Penn of the Financial Aid Podcast and Marketing over Coffee. This guy's good!

All this leads me to talking about identity, personal and national, and the power of the stories that people tell

I'm serious about my offer to interview any Canadian expatriate, or emigrant to Canada. Send me an email at and we can talk via skype. It's easy!

Oh, if you can help me understand what to do with Twitter (@bermamot), I'd be very grateful.

This is a long show, about 45 minutes so I've listed the time-code for the sections so that if you want to get on to another subject you can scrub your way forward.

00:16 Introduction
06:47 What is PAB?
08:55 Jowi Taylor and 6 String Nation Guitar
25:04 Chris Penn
32:14 Networking 101
33:41 Social Media History
35:51 Personal History
37:29 Call to Action
40:42 Good Intentions
45:46 Close

Sunday, July 5, 2009

#133 Laptop Down

Talking about hardware problems with my car, my own mental wiring and my laptop, leading up to attending Podcaster's across Borders in Kingston Ontario. I made it there an back, but I'll have to give you the high points in the next show.

Check out these shows,

Also, google PAB09. Every attendee who writes a blog or posts a podcast/vidcast will put this tag in their RSS fee.

In the process of troubleshooting problems with my laptop, using tools such as Techtool Pro, Carbon Copy Cloner and and Apple Disk Utility, the drive and the motherboard failed and an emergency trip to the Apple Store Genius Bar resulted in it being pronounced DOA.

All that I can do at this point is offer some cautionary advice on how to prepare, and deal with the inevitable computer meltdown.

Finally I go over some of the critical features I'm looking for in my next laptop.

  1. I made an error in describing the pixel dimension of the MacBook Pro 15" laptop. It is 1440x900, which is identical to the highest resolution on my PowerBook 1.67 Ghz 17" laptop.
  2. Also I was wrong about the price difference. There is only a $200 price difference, not $400.
  3. Finally, the factory warranty is one year and you can purchase AppleCare, an extended warranty for a maximum of 3 years (not 4 years). A real bargain at $350. It covers any defective parts and service to replace them.
  4. There are two graphics cards in both the 15" and 17' which have 2.8Ghz processors, and they function the same. There are other, slower processor 15" MacBook Pros and their hardware configurations are very different.

Here's the primary differences between the two laptops as far as I can determine right now.

15" 17"

• Cost Difference $200 less
• Two video cards Yes Yes
• Drive 500 Gig 500 Gig
• Card Slots SD ExpressCard/34
• Display Good Larger, HiRez
• Battery 7 hours 8 hours

The 17" is a good deal for the extra $200, no question about that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

#132 Handmade Film Screening

In this show you can hear a recent screening of the film, Handmade in America at the Community School of the Arts in Mansfield CT.

Heather Bunnell, the Arts Coordinator of the school and Susan Gerr, one of the potters featured in my film, start off the show with introductions, as do I, to a crowd of of over 100 people.

I don't include the recording of people watching the film, but you can view the complete 20 minute film at Vimeo using the password: lorezfile.

The remainder of the show is a Q&A with the audience.

Friday, May 29, 2009

#131 An Interview with an Intern

This show is a summing up of my recent experience interning at a documentary film production house as a production assistant. It was a good sized business, about 20 to 30 people, depending on the business climate. I didn't really comment about this in the show, but now, during this economic pit we're in, now has been a very good time to observe how a business like this functions.

Filmmaking may or may not be recession proof, but there's no question this time around a lot of money has dried up. I saw a lot of resourcefulness at work.

If you listen to this show I hope you'll get an idea of what an internship can offer you beyond your formal education. I also talk about some valuable lessons I learned and generalized how to go about getting what you want from this learning experience.

I have no doubts that internships aren't about the money, the time you spend or the sacrifices you make. In a nutshell about temporarily living the life you think you want. You can't see more than a small part of it, but it's a lot more than you see any other way. In the end the value you get out of it rests entirely on your effort to learn what you want.

Oh, an one correction, there is no such thing as JUST an assistant.

In the beginning of the show I mentioned I was interviewed by John Meadows for his show On the Log and we discussed the future of filmmaking. The show, Lights Camera and Interaction was broken into Part 1 and Part 2.

And I'm serious about the offer of interviewing you over Skype. If you would like to be on this show and you think you have something interesting, even half interesting, to say about filmmaking, video production, editing, motion graphics, even internship, let me know by leaving a comment here on the blog or emailing me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

#130 Catching the Big Fish - Review

I've just finished a book by David Lynch, writer and directory of many movies, including Eraserhead, Dune and Twin Peaks. Catching the Big Fish is a the author's reflections on how he has and others can find ideas, big ideas through TM, Transcendental Meditation.

But the book isn't about the workings of TM, it's about his experiences as a filmmaker trying to solve puzzles as he worked on his films.

It's a quick read and has a lot of interesting reflections in it. You won't find a lot of practical information, but you will get a glimpse of the man and the way he thinks, and what he thinks about storytelling.

I hadn't finished reading the book before I recorded this episode so I didn't get to mention that he spends a few pages talking about digital video and it's impact on him and the Hollywood film industry. I'm always interested to learn how established filmmakers view this new technology and his response is blunt and pragmatic.

Here are a few links to comments I made about another filmmaker who writes and is written about, Walter Murch. He wrote a great book about editing, In the Blink of an Eye. He was the subject of another book I highly recommend called, The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. Finally, though I haven't read it yet, I would suggest you look at, Behind the Seen: How Walter Murch Edited Cold Mountain Using Apple's Final Cut Pro and What This Means for Cinema, it's a little dated, written in 2004, but between the history and biography I'm certain it's an interesting read.

Leave a me a comment or send me an an email

Sunday, April 26, 2009

#129 I'm on the Radio!

Towards the end of last year I had so many things to do I switched from a weekly to a bi-weekly show. I thought I could switch back, but I still don't have enough time, so for the foreseeable future I'll work hard to get one out every two weeks.

This week is kind of short, but a lot has been happening. Following a screening of my film a couple weeks ago I got an invite to a local radio to talk about the film and pottery. I was joined by Linda Gerr of Birch Mountain Pottery, who is one of the subjects in my documentary.

By the way, send me an email and ask me for a link to the full film and I'll be glad to send it to you.There's a link in the show a one or two episodes back if you thinking looking for it is easier.'

The radio call letters are WILI, you can find the link to the audio online here (posted April 23) or you can link directly to the audio file. Watch out, it's a Windows Media file.

Bill Meems left a comment on show #86, which was about the National Association of Broadcaster's show in Las Vega that I attended and commented on this time last year. Thanks Bill. I mentioned the Digital Production Buzz show as a source of news about industry announcements during the event. I've gone for the past two years and enjoyed it a great deal, but I'm glad for the chance to take a year off.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

#127 Intern Again

I have certainly been very busy, and certainly not with preparing podcasts, but that's about to change soon.

I have finally put up a gallery page on the website with production stills. The interface still needs a little neatening up, but it's working. I also found IE on PCs don't work well with the copy of the trailer that I had linked it to (it wasn't playing, it would load, but it wouldn't play.!) Rather than figure it out I loaded a new one and it seems to work. Let me know if I'm still wrong.

This show is a 15 minute ramble about things I'm doing as an intern. As you know I'm working as a production assistant at a documentary production company for a few months and I'm trying to make sense of the experience.

I think part of the problem is that I've worked in the same company for 10 years and I'm being throttled by change, down to the elementary level. That changes how you look at and think about everything. But I'm getting better. That or I'm numb.

I also have a screening at a local community center Friday April 10th. Here's a copy of the announcement (warning, it's a PDF) and if you're in the area and would like to come by - do so. And come up and talk to me to let me know you did.

For everyone else, I am ready to release the film, at least in a limited way. You can find the film here and the password is lorezfile. It's twenty minutes long and may take a while to load depending on your connection. If I already have your email address I'll be sending you an email with the same information.

If you have any feedback, good or bad, leave a comment here or on the Vimeo site.

Finally, there's going to be a local screening of the film at the Community School for the Arts on April 10. This is on the old UConn campus in Storrs Connecticut at 7:30. There is no charge, but if you can bring a baked food item that would be great. Download the flyer, which is a pdf file.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

#126 I Am Intern

I am starting a 3 month internship this week. I'll be a production assistant at a production company in Boston, so there'll be a lot to say about that in the next few months.

The big news is that I finally have enough of a website of the film to put online. Still rough and incomplete, it felt good to put it out there, sort of draw a line in the sand.

You can find it at, there were no's available. Send me any suggestions, really, I'm not looking for congrats here, I think it's very rough and really only in phase one. Still I would like to know if there are things I can do to make it easier to use, or I've overlooked some content I should be displaying.

It's tricky because it's not just a website, it's a website for a movie, so if it doesn't pique your interest, or satisfy it, it's not working.

There's a trailer you can watch on the Trailer page. If you're really fast it will load slowly. I'm going to be recompressing the file and uploading it to Vimeo, the hosting site I"m using, then updating the link in the next few days.

By the way, if you're curious about that process, let me know, I can spend a show talking about that too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

#125 Stanford Documentary Film Program

In this week's show I talk with Jamie Meltzer, filmmaking instructor at Stanford University. Stanford has a separate film program for documentary filmmaking and Jamie was generous with his time to tell all about it.

Stanford University Documentary Film Program

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

#124 Film Trailers

I'm still in a bunker state of mind.

This show a little catch up on the state of the film.
I leave you with a little ramble about being done vs being finished.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

#123 What is New Media?

Hi there, Happy New Year.

I've been hunkering down in the editing bunker through the holidays and came up long enough to leave you this note and the latest show.

My film is done. It's called Handmade in America. I'll be posting it online later this month and when I do I'll let you know now you can watch it.

I was thinking about the nature of social media and spoke about that a little bit in the show. I also wanted to let you know about a website and a podcast you should check out if you're interested learning how to make money through online distribution of your media, specifically audio and video podcasts.

Here's the links for things I mentioned in the show.

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