Category Archives: Blog

Non podcast posts

#266 Shooting Video Don’ts

A little advice about shooting better video


 
Well, it’s been over a year since my last post, but I’m not going to apologize. I’ve been busy with a lot issues I feel are more pressing. One of the more important ones has been a new podcast, The Craft Project, which began in January of this year. I am researching the meaning, purpose and value of being an artist/craftsperson through interviews with practicing artists.

I’m not interested in establishing the boundaries between categories of creative pursuits, but I am interested in what other people have to say about the decisions they have made in order to live a life in the arts. Right now I’ve limited my focus  on the visual arts because it’s the area of art I’m most familiar with. We’ll see how inclusive I can be as this show progresses.

Video/cinematography/filmmaking counts as a visual art, whether it’s experimental, narrative or documentary and since those subjects are the focus of my current job, I continue to have things to say about it as I is the case in this episode.

Essentially this post is a laundry list of ways to approach the  variety of tasks required to tell a story through video. Specifically I’m talking about shooting video. I don’t imagine I have anything new to say – really my motivation was primarily a need to write this information down so I can make room in my head for something new. Still, whether you are a beginner, journeyman or expert I’m confident you’ll find some my points with resonate with experiences you’ve undoubtedly had as you’ve pursued filmmaking.

The topics in this episode a listed in the order the occur in a real work video project, starting with Preproduction, finishing with packing up at the end of the shoot.

I don’t go into editing or distribution, that’s an episode for another day.

I hope it helps. I feel better just getting it off my chest.

Something for nothing

As I’m preparing to launch a new podcast I have been counting the cost of this one. I am paying $15 a month to Lybsyn.com for the privilege to use their server and bandwidth. Over the almost 8 years I’ve been using this service I’ve spent $2,700 for this service alone. Fifteen dollars a month seems pretty tame for a hobby but in the aggregate it really is astounding how it adds up. I guess it’s like that with most things though right – eating out at your favorite restaurants, family trips, various magazine and paper subscriptions. Over time it adds up big.

And I can’t complain about the product. I’ve been using Libsyn right from the beginning of this show and I’ve never had problems with the bandwidth or server address or file uploads. It deserves its reputation as a premiere podcast hosting site.

All the same, when I started podcasting several years ago I had no idea how long it would last and no thought about its end of life. What do you do with a podcast when you choose to stop? Even when I decide to  stop creating new podcasts for this show I would still have to pay the same monthly fee to keep the old shows available online. If I cancel my Libsyn account all the links to the audio in my blog are dead. I’d have to download all my podcast episodes, just so I could have a record for myself. The blog itself still remains because I’m hosting it on another site, BlueHost so I could transfer my files there, but there’s no point in paying someone else to host my audio, I might as well keep using Libsyn.

Of course there are lots of other reliable podcast host sites and others that offer free hosting, but you have to be careful about the “free” terms. Some offer a fixed amount of recording time per month, others a maximum file upload amount. All of them are going to insert ads into the posts or the audio itself. The reason I went with Libsyn in the first place is because I wanted to control my content and retain 100% ownership. That’s why I passed on providers such as Youtube and SoundCloud.

Also you have to be careful that your host is professional, that they don’t accidentally delete your files or your account, break your feed, or do a crappy job serving your content. Good technical support and help is also important. And you have to have confidence in their solvency. There are a lot of podcast hosting sites out there and a lot that aren’t, anymore. If you’re going to go the cheap route may get cheap service.

You can decide to set up your own server, although there’s a cost associated with it as well. Nowadays with products like Drobo it’s pretty easy to do that, though you have to manage the server software and still pay for the bandwidth through your own internet provider.

And what about DropBox? I’ve read some complaints about bandwidth problems: reviews I’ve read say it can be slow to upload. And once again, if you need to use more than a few gigs of server space you have to pay for it.

A truly free solution

I did find a reliable, truly free hosting source that is definitely going to be around a long time: Archive.org. It’s independently funded and accepts all content. No bandwidth restrictions, no file size limits.

The interface is a little clunky but there’s a way around that: Ourmedia.com. It is also free and it uses Archive.org’s servers to host media. Again, free means no frills, so it doesn’t have all the niceties that Libsyn or Blubrry have, but from what I’ve seen, it’s sufficient. After all, even free has it’s costs.

There is a problem though when hosting with or through Archive.org: once you upload media, it’s there forever, you can’t take it down. I don’t have a problem with that from an end of life archival standpoint, but if I’m continually adding shows it’s a concern. Even after 8 years I still make occasional errors and find it necessary to remove an audio file and then repost. Not being able to do that would be a frustrating limitation.

Frustrated, but wait!

Just recently I discovered that people are using Google Drive for hosting podcast files. I haven’t tried this yet, but there are lots of tutorials for setting up it up as a server, creating an RSS feed and linking it to iTunes and other Podcast aggregators, so it seems promising.

Google Drive is a simple, familiar interface, easy to administer, uploads are fast and 15gigs is a lot of space when you’re filling it with small audio files. The only thing I’m uncertain about is the bandwidth, so there’s still a little more research to do, but after a lengthy and dispiriting search I feel pretty confident that Google Drive is a way for me to go.

I’ll keep you updated.

P.S. I’ve just run across this very detailed review of podcast hosting sites by Kevin Muldoon. He compares features of 18 different services.

#265 Fork in the road

Play

I decided to take a few months off and in this show I talk about what I’ve been doing and some changes that I’m going to make in this podcast and a new podcast I’ll be starting shortly. This all turns around a return to my art/craft making roots.

Aside from personal home renovation projects I’ve spent a great deal of developing web design skills. It doesn’t come easy to me, not by a long shot, but I’ve made a lot of headway over the past few months and the first result is my own child theme for the new podcast site. The podcast is called The Craft Project and it will be about creativity, process, both of which are covered extensively in this podcast, as well as the nature of art and how to extend your creative imagination into other parts of your life.

As I’ve mentioned in this episode, I’m not abandoning The Video StudentGuy, but I won’t be posting here as often as I was during the past several years. Stay tuned.

Paul

Introducing The Craft Project

Planning a new podcast

I am in the planning stages of producing a new podcast, separate from Video StudentGuy. It’s called The Craft Project and it’s about craft and art production, lifestyle, ideas, value, teaching etc, of creativity. Each episode will present an interview with a artist or crafts person, but also a museum curator, gallery owner, teacher, cultural historian as well as anyone else who I think might have an interesting perspective on this topic.

I have the domain, but not a site. I’ve already recorded two interviews, but I haven’t begun to edit. Like this podcast, the episodes will be mostly audio, certainly in the beginning, but perhaps as I get my sea legs I will find production time for short videos. II have a lot of work to do before I put out my first episode but there are already a lot of demands on my time. A second podcast will require a delicate balance between all my obligations and interests. So that means I will be taking it slow.

I’ve been thinking about doing this podcast since 2009 but between a layoff during the recession (BTW, is that over yet?), various part time jobs, then starting a new job a few years ago and getting my life back to normal it has never been practical to do.

Last year in September I took a class at the University of Connecticut in clay sculpture, trying to reconnect with my roots in ceramics. It was very eye opening in terms of possibilities in art and craft, and the limitations of my own understanding. I think the major benefit of the experience was that I cam up with a lot of questions about how and what people learn about art in school, what is the purpose of art in our culture and how much or little esteem is paid to the artist. How do you make a living at this? What is good and what is bad and who can you trust. Are there any standards or is it a free for all.

I want to know and I need to know, enough to search out people to talk to.

When I plan things I do a lot of it in my head. Somehow I keep all these idea swirling in my mind and occasionally jog something loose through a disordered list on scraps of paper. For this project I’d like to use this blog as notebook for my thoughts as I work through this process and beyond, as I meet people and think up more questions.

I don’t believe this will compromise the current production of shows for the Video Studentguy, I’m still planning on posting one a month throughout the year. In-between you can read the about my progress of this new show through blog posts.

Learning to Build WordPress Themes

I’ve been preoccupied since December  last year, several months earlier than that even, with the goal of learning web development skills. Initially I was compelled by need, but recently, having discovered that It’s not impossible (very hard, for me certainly, but not impossible), I’ve realized that I actually enjoy the process and want to learn how to build websites. Specifically, WordPress themes.

I’ve been exposed or involved in  creating websites as early as 1995, but I had never considered it a a serious pursuit compared to print design and photography,  video or animation, These were more attractive and immediate interests than creating a website. Now, I have a job where it is necessary to create custom sites.

The evolution of CSS and Javascript has made web design significantly more accessible and meaningful to wannabe designers. Still, I wasn’t motivated to learn web development skills.  Until I became the sole, part time manager of a WordPress Multi-Site. Right now, I have reached the level of understanding that I can do anything, that I am capable of understanding this beast, even though I know there’s still a long road ahead.

Fortunately, using WordPress is another tool that makes it easy to develop websites

  • it mostly involves HTML, CSS and a little PHP
  • extending functionality is as easy as adding a preconstructed theme or plug-in
    • WordPress has a HUGE community of developers who create cool, FREE themes and plugins that can do anything you want.
  • WordPress is an open source (FREE) tool that is standards comliant
    • and that means WP sites are solid
  • there are tutorial sites, podcasts, YouTube channels, lots of free resources, just search
  • for networking and realtime learning there are WordPress Meetups in every major US city and cities around the world

That said, it’s still very  hard and frustrating for me because I’m relying on tutorials and other information that is scattered across the web. I have few personal contacts who have development skills and I have to be careful not to abuse their generosity. In my isolation, I’m finding it hard to piece together a coherent process or workflow because of the  many disparate and overlapping resources.

So, my knowledge, my learning, is full of holes. I’ve been considering taking classes, but somehow that seems too time consuming. I believe I need to start back at the beginning, perhaps with introductory web design training materials and books, beginning with HTML, then CSS, then return to WordPress development. Because I know myself. As a learner, I’m the kind of person who likes to race ahead to the good stuff when I should be methodically focusing on the step in front me.

Certainly I’m familiar with and understand HTML and CSS, but not thoroughly. I’d say I’m an intermediate beginner. And I can appreciate, through successes I’ve had from redoing  tutorials multiple times, that knowing something well enough that you don’t have to think about it is invaluable when you’re planning or troubleshooting web development.

I’m open to suggestions for a good starting point for learning HTML and CSS for building websites. Books, websites, even a learning map so I can go about this process in an orderly and productive way.

In return I’ll add stories of my trials in learning how to design websites with WordPress into the blog. I’d rather be doing video or photography, but my will to learn web design is driving the bus, at least for the remainder of the summer. Come the new fall semester things will shift and I’ll have to find slivers of time in my schedule to work on tutorials for web design. I hope it’s enough to hold on to what I’ve  learned so far.

What we’ve got here, is failure to communicate

When people begin talking to me about art, I don’t know what they mean, because there are so many meanings, so many loaded implications to that word that it may as well be a definition unique to that individual, and in a broader sense, that is unique to every individual.

In faith there is doubt, it’s what motivates us to grow internally. It is the spiritual erosion that occurs when we encounter an adamant will that is opposed to our own, forcing change upon ourselves. Without doubt, the ability to question and seek answers, you create a strong shell of faith around yourself, which never changes while inside your imagination withers away, leaving nothing but the shell.

Change is difficult, dangerous, hard work and ultimately frustrating. We might welcome the things that change brings, but no one is going to thank change for knocking them off their comfortable chair.

Ultimately someone who has a living, growing faith has faced doubt, answered questions and walked down a road that is uniquely their own. Even with a solid core of religious knowledge, these people are going to be heretics.

So when someone talks to me about art I have to ask them what art means to them and even dig deeper into their journey, however short or long it may be, into what they believe art to be. And whatever it is, I am confident I will be both contrary and sympathetic to their description and, I hope, for I am less confident of my courage to accept change, it will affect the direction of my own understanding. But I also am confident that it will not take me to the same place.