Tis the season -- 12/07/07

Seven in a row...
This is the season for parties and gatherings. I had to miss two work-related holiday parties last night because of that digital design course I've been taking at RISD, but today the people in my department who used to work in our Middletown office got together for a holiday lunch reunion.

Our final project for the semester was to divide into teams to make a short video. We had to story-board it, plan out the action, videotape it, edit the raw footage, add music, a title, credits, etc.

My team (me, Ricky, Donna) wrote a brief script that involved the special security code that we have to type into a key pad to enter the building and to operate the elevators. We decided to tape someone struggling with the code in an elevator.

Two screens per computer (yes, we were using high-end Apple systems) -- the left screen is Final Cut Pro, the right screen is at an Internet music loop site.

Last week we shot our videotape footage. I ended up being the "actor," Ricky was cameraman, and Donna directed. We had shots from various vantages, but essentially the video watches me walk up to an elevator bank, push the call button. The elevator doors open and I get it. Inside the elevator I input the five digit code into a keypad. Then I do it again. Then, with increasing frustration, I enter it a third time. Then I take out my wallet, extract a piece of paper that has the security code written on it, and this time I am able to enter the code correctly and then press the button for the 3rd floor. There is a lighted floor indicator that shows 1, then 2, then 3, and the elevator door opens. The next shots are outside the elevator as I dash out of the elevator, round a corner, down a hallway, and then into a room.

After shooting it, we then came back to the classroom to edit our footage using Final Cut Pro. Despite this being the first time any of us had every touched Final Cut Pro, we actually did manage to get our movie edited. Our final cut ran just about one minute and, must to our amazement, we did actually seem to have the continuity we were supposed to demonstrate. Last night we had to do any final cutting or editing (but we were ahead of the game because we were happy with last week's work), select and add music, and add a film title and closing credits, also all in Final Cut Pro.

It was a struggle to find appropriate .wav files through searching various Internet sites (for example, Flashkit.com) that provide loops (short clips of music, sometimes just five seconds long, that can be looped) that can be downloaded for non-commercial use. Then we had to download them and move them into our folder and then get them into Final Cut Pro and pasted into our timeline. We used three different loops -- one before I enter the elevator, another loop for inside the elevator, and a third loop for my dash down the hallway. Then, running out of time, we had to figure out how to get our title ("The Code") at the start of the film (actually, we wanted to have "The daVinci Code" appear, then have "daVinci" crossed our and replaced with "RISD" but that was just too complex for our beginner level of skill and knowledge and our limited amount of time (this was the final night of the course). Then we just stuck our first names on at the end.

And then the instructor projected our video for the class and we realized how badly we had screwed up.

We had added the titles and the sound to the wrong file! Instead of our fully edited version, this was a version of the film that we had saved as a backup while we were still in the process of editing and it contained extra footage that we had deleted in our final version (a few seconds here, half a second there, five seconds of this....) Groan! But it was too late to go back and fix it. Since we had the sound files, etc. it probably only would have taken ups fifteen or twenty minutes at most to add them to the correct edited video file, but it was already past 9:30. (I had planned on putting it on YouTube, but I'm not happy with this messed up version.)

While I was in the class, some of my professional colleagues were at a holiday dinner party at a restaurant in Providence. Meanwhile, there was an unofficial party at the Newport Blues Cafe where former colleague Diane Blue was performing. So many things to do and so little time...

Today the people from my department who were in the former Middletown office got together for our annual holiday lunch. (To readers who just wandered in here via Holidailies, our employer closed our Middletown office earlier this year so we all work from home now. There are other people in our department, but it is a virtual department with people scattered across the U.S. and Canada, some working from home and some still going to offices.) Uh, yes, a couple of young kids did come along with their Moms.)

And, although it will probably all be gone by morning, right now it is snowing...

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