Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Before f295: Making a Pinhole video from 2001

 In 2001, I was asked to produce a narrated PowerPoint show to be placed on a CD which would be distributed to possible donors to a capital campaign to refurbish the University’s Stadium to become a city Sports Center. Handing out CD’s was the latest new thing in Public Relations. Being an up-to-date Audio-Visual professional I thought it would be much cooler to do live location interviews with the movers and shakers involved and put it as an auto-play video on the CD. I pitched the idea and they took me up on it. The problem was, I had only edited digital video once before with a utility editor that came with a Pinnacle video capture card and hadn’t edited video with tape for about five years. The video producer who worked for me was allergic to digital methods (he eventually learned to use iMovie). I had to learn to produce digital videos from start to finish. Final Cut Pro had only been released about a year before and they had spectacular educational deals for what was the premier professional editing software. I thought an instructional piece on drilling a pinhole might be useful and a good exercise to learn the digital workflow.

I found the file recently while searching for something else.

It's really low res. The file I found was already compressed severely for delivery on the internet. At the time I had dial-up at home. We had an at-the-time-wicked-fast T1 1.544 Mbps pipe at the university so I was familiar with what people were doing with video technologies that had been astronomically expensive, but were now available with consumer video and a desktop computer (Although at the time I had about the fastest computer with the most RAM of anyone on campus). YouTube was still four years away but the educational and advertising communities had lot of material on-line. It's just under six minutes long, which, again, at the time was kind of an ambitious download.

I shot it on a Sony Hi8 Camcorder which was about the smallest camera at the time. It had a Firewire connection to the computer. I was wearing a cabled Sony Lavalier mic with an XLR jack connected to a special adapter the techs in my department made for the 1/8 inch mini phone jack on the camera.

I'm a little surprised how well I did. What I remember was a long slog of repeated takes in which I flubbed or forgot the text. The script was on a sheet of paper in 18 point type next to the camera. It was shot over two days in my office after everyone else had left. I noticed that I resorted to one technique now common on YouTube but what was then anathema to the video professional - using a dissolve to cover a jumpy edit where I screwed up my lines.

My hair is kind of funny. I was really pissed off at George Bush, Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft about their promotion of what a "Real American" was like and had started growing it back to the ponytail I had from 1972 until 1985. I still have the ponytail.

I remember being amazed by the flexibility, accuracy and ease of editing. I would describe significant point editing with VHS tape but we really don't have the time.

From out of the distant past, coincidentally the first year of Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, my lesson on drilling a .5mm pinhole.

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