Well, I know, I know, it’s been another long dry spell. From early summer until now I’ve had no new posts. That’s not because stuff wasn’t happening, but it was stuff that took me completely off the rails.
First, as you may recall, I had a total knee replacement. Finally my right knee gave out completely and I could barely walk even with a cane. But unlike normal folks, in my case the initial damage was July 27, 1967 when I was blown up. The impact and joint trauma seems to have initiated severe osteoarthritis in most of my major joints and as that has progressed and my movement and flexibility have decreased steadily over the ensuing years, so has the quality of the soft tissue such as tendons, ligaments, and supporting muscle tissue involved with those joints.
Replacing the knee was pretty standard procedure these days. But the soft tissue was so atrophied and damaged trying to get back any even semi normal range of movement has proven much more difficult than I imagined even though the doctor did forewarn me.
An incredibly good friend from back in the New England days flew out to help and only that help made it possible for me. I’m a terrible patient; I do not do “helpless” with any degree of patience or acceptance so care-givers for me need to be extraordinarily long suffering and thick skinned. I hated every moment of it. But I could not have gotten through it without Don’s help even though it was a terrible time for him to be away from his family. I will be forever grateful.
So my plan for getting completely ready for the new world of online courses ran headlong into an unexpected (for me) reality. I planned on digging out my video gear and shooting some pro-level intros for the various modules because I am appalled at the “talking head” and terminally boring videos I watched from other instructors. Those would have me, as a student, asleep in my chair in mere seconds. But due to the slower than expected (by me) knee recovery, the new semester was virtually ready to start before I could seriously plan some location shoots at all.
A couple of opportunities had arisen, such as during a workshop, but that help fell through and I do know one cannot do pro-quality as a one-man band especially if that one person is also the on-camera talent as is mandated by the State who wants students to be able to feel more connected with the actual instructor and so wants us to use video to help in that connection. I so desperately wanted to use a “spokesperson” for the class instead of myself. I’m very comfortable producing the videos but I have zero interest in being on camera and am most uncomfortable at it.
But there was no help for it. Then the second slap in the face by reality came when my plan to use student help fell through with no one interested in spending the time and effort. Finally my shooting partner, Cynthia was free and we did the first ones. But, I was unable to walk well and so ended up doing what I hate, being a talking head except at least I was out on location and not in my office using the pathetic little computer camera and built-in microphone.
Finally by the 3rd module I was walking a bit more steadily. Cynthia was busy but Steve Burns agreed to help and we shot an intro for the first editing module that was closer to what I wanted. By the end of the day my leg was totally shot but at least we had one done. The next week Steve was busy but Cynthia was free so we did the intro to the module on depth of field and my walking was much improved. But now I am literally trying to create content and do the videos the week before they “air.” The mandatory captioning is a major pain and YouTube’s auto caption function (the district OLS, “Blackboard,” has some tie-in with YouTube so we are supposed to use them to host the videos) is essentially worthless. Oh well. Since, as was always my habit, I work from a script, I also have something to copy and paste as a start unless I flub some line.
The good news is that once done, I have made sure they are timeless and can be reused though I do want to completely re-do the first ones over the long holiday break.
Anyway, for your amusement, here are some of the intro/welcoming videos. They are about 2 minutes each. I think of them as a combination commercial and trailer for the modules they introduce, and as a way for the students to have some virtual “face time” with their instructor. I’ve also had fun trying to pick locations where the viewer had to think about the possible connections between location and topic. Creativity is very largely a unique juxtaposing of otherwise disparate things (words, picture elements, etc.) so this lets me have some fun with their minds as well.
Here is the dirct YouTube URL for the intro on motion rendering:
And here is the welcoming video for working with Grayscale. (In the preview it looks like the sound synch is off but I’m not sure how that is possible…)
I did get some still shooting completed on the Bristlecone Pines trip but that too turned chaotic when on Thursday, as we were driving to our first rendezvous, I got a call from the Research Station where we were staying that they had to close because of a tick infestation. Wow, it was a panic filled moment. Then on Friday as we were leaving to go up for a night shoot I got a message from school saying we had to immediately get a revised schedule in due to cancelled classes or the admin would just decide on more cuts themselves. So while my friend Lee Peterson, who knew the area well, led the students up the hill, I stayed behind on my computer and emailer to help resolve that issue.
We did get to spend some time at the Laws Train Museum (slightly north of Bishop, CA) and that was very cool. Here is a shot from there.
But since I’ve been back (that was early August) I’ve not had a chance to do any more than to download those images and think, frustratingly, about them. This is the only one worked on.
So that brings my terribly busy but horribly unproductive last few months more or less up to date so you all know I’m still alive. It looks like there will be no let up any time soon. Over the Thanksgiving Break I plan to go see my friend Jim in Santa Fe for a very seriously needed few days “off” but would also like to be able to do some work on that trip. Hopefully over the long winter break I can return to a more or less normal routine.
Meantime I promise to try to do a little better. We’ll see…