Some people who I tell about the monthly Boston Media Maker un-meetings can’t imagine getting up early on a Sunday morning and trekking across town. For me, Sunday mornings are usually reserved for slowly sipping coffee while reading the Sunday New York Times, so I can relate, however, take a look at the depth and breath of attendees and topics this month. Every month an amazing group of people ask interesting questions or talk about their new media activity in the Boston area. If you’re into new media, want to get into new media, or want to help others get into new media, Boston Media Makers is the place to be the first Sunday of every month to go around the room and ask a question, do a show and tell, share a story, or just give a quick update of what you’ve been up to.
Steve Garfield announced that we’re going to have to change meeting venues, as Sweet Finnish in Jamaica Plain has closed. We also want to expand the scope of Boston Media Makers, nothing changes regarding these meetings, but starting in May, we’d like to host a technical and/or creative in-depth demo of a tool or technique one evening in the middle of each month. We’re in the process of crystallizing this idea, so make your suggestions known on the Boston Media Maker blog.
John Herman has been working on Gravityland a new websodic. The current episode (Episode 6: Joni’s Dream) was writtend by viewers who pitched their ideas on the Gravityland blog. He just did a 48 Hour Film Project film which debuts on Tuesday. I recorded an interview with John Herman after the meeting for the next episode of my audio podcast, Art Film Talk, so if all goes well, I’ll post the interview tomorrow.
Mike Mooney, FM Crew Productions, has finished What is Joppa and he’s now involved with Dr Dunbar’s Mystery Spot.
Curtis Henderson, General Manager of Boston Neighborhood Network (BNN), reported that they are now settled in their new headquarters at 3025 Washington Street in Egleston Square, formerly an MBTA power plant. They are right in the midst of the analog to digital conversion. BNN is having an Open House Ribbon Cutting next Saturday at 1:15pm w/ Mayor Menino and other local ploticos in attendance. BNN operates Boston’s two public access cable television channels: BNN’s News & Information Channel (9 Comcast/15 RCN) and BNN’s Community Access Channel (23 Comcast/83 RCN). Membership is open to Boston residents and non-profit organizations serving the Boston community. You can learn how to create your own TV program, have it broadcast on BNN cable, or produce projects for the web. Their facilities include two studios, digital cameras, non-linear edit systems, and a mobile production truck for doing multi-camera shoots on location.
Adam Green, CEO, Grazr, talked about his social networking application which allows you to create reading lists. Adam is currently looking to hire MySQL coders, Perl programmers, and CSS experts. The basic idea behind Grazr is that Everything is Miscellaneous. Grazr is a collection of tools to create and manage multiple reading lists, and share them with others. It makes it easy to keep up-to-date with the ever-increasing number of blog posts, web pages, and tweets of interest. The key insight is that they post-filter as needed, rather that requiring you to tag and sort in advance. Grazr can search each stream by keyword, date, or media type. Free accounts can merge and filter up to 50 feeds. Paid accounts can process up to 1,500 feeds in a single stream. And you can share your Grazr results on your web site using a widget they provide. Adam also blogs at Feedonomics. And speaking of tools to make sense of all the bits in your life, check out this video from Michael Wesch: Information R/evolution.
Jason Pramas, Editor/Publisher, reported that Open Media Boston is off and running. Their next meeting will be held tomorrow (Tuesday, April 8, 2008) from 6-8 p.m. at Encuentro 5, 33 Harrison Ave., 5th Flr. in Boston Chinatown (corner of Beach St. and Harrison Ave. close to the T Orange, Green and Red Lines). They will be talking about making the site really go now that’s it’s and running and start thinking about what direction to take the site design for full launch next month). Open Media Boston is a project of Media Working Group (a non-profit organization), Open Media Boston is a new audience-centered online media outlet dedicated to publishing fair and accurate news, views, arts, and entertainment content in text, image, audio and video formats from a progressive political perspective for the Boston area. They want to balance open participation with editorial control. They are soliciting submissions and commentary from the general public using the latest social media technology while maintaining professional journalistic standards at all times. Their site was built with Drupal, an open source content management framework that has become a popular choice for people building online media community sites.
Anna Pinkert, a media producer, talked about the Women, Action & The Media Conference that was recently held at MIT. In attendance were some really cool people, but she was surprised that the ratio is still heavy on print media. She’s getting into editing and asked the group, what are the differences between Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro? Basically, Express only comes bundled with LiveType and the older 1.5 version of Soundtrack Pro. Final Cut Pro is part of a complete bundle that includes Soundtrack Pro 2 (much better than 1.5), Motion, Compressor, DVD Studio Pro, and Color. The interface is pretty much identical, especially now that the latest version of Express adds key-framing. Express does not support third party capture cards and the full range of video formats, however, it does support DV and HDV, so that covers it for most people. Express only has the secondary (two-way) color correction tool, it does not have the three-way color correction tool which once you start using it, you’ll really miss it. Also, Express limits undo to 32 levels. If you want to explore the differences in great detail, take a look at Final Cut Express Technical Specifications
and Final Cut Pro 6 Technical Specifications on the Apple web site.
Andrea Mercado, co-manager of PLA Blog, the official blog of the Public Library Association, recently aquired a Zoom H2 digital audio recorder and she’s very excited about it. I can see why, it’s a cool little recorder. One thing that makes the little H2 unique is that it has 4 built-in microphone capsules that simply put provides excellent stereo imaging.
John Carr has done short films and documentaries and is now venturing into audio. He’s getting involved in some podcasts and writing a radio drama. He’ll be doing a show at Improv Asylum on Saturday night (April 12, 2008). He’s been using Zhura, an online screenwriting application. Zhura is most easily described as Final Draft meets Google Docs. It provides a way to create formatted scripts with revision control online. Youc an create a private group and invite friends and colleagues to collaborate in a workspace. You can also use it in public mode to collaborate with others under a Creative Commons license, letting other people read and comment on your script, they can even help out with edits. Software is rapidly becoming a service and Zhura is making a play for the screewriting sector.
Jeff Cutler, who does Bowl of Cheese (self-described as “gentle, and not so gentle, ramblings about the inane and insane”) is taking some time to write.
Reiko Beach of TRB Design talked about Geek Girl Camp (which takes place on April 17, 2008 at the Heritage House in Hyannis). It’s a meetup and unconference for girls/women of all ages geared to empower, educate, evangelize, excite and improve the overall knowledge of the ever-evolving world of consumer products, computers, and the web.
Tom Beach of TRB Design recently aquired a Sony HVL-LBP LED camera light ($500, add $100 for NP-F970 battery, $100 for single charger $150 for dual charger). After the meeting we experimented with the light and I did some shooting with the light and a Sony HVR-V1 camcorder. The light is a little heavy mounted on-camera for handheld shooting, but it certainly works as a daylight balanced battery-powered LED light to add some fill or act as key when there’s not enough light to shoot sans light. It works with Sony L-series camcorder batteries, Tom discovered the smaller L-series batteries do not work with the light, it requires the higher capacity models.
In terms of price/performance I think the HVL-LBP fits somewhere between the more expensive Litepanels Mini ($740, add $164 for rechargeable battery) the less expensive Litepanels Micro ($300), a lightweight alternative to both lights that is well suited for handheld work with smaller cameras, but not as bright as the HVL-LBP and Mini. And on the high end of LED camera lights is the Zylight Z90 ($950 w/ mounting accessories, add $180 for rechargeable battery and cable) that lets you dial in any color. It has two built-in preset colors (5600K, 3200K) and two user preset you can program to display any color. This is where the Zylight differs most sharply from the Sony and Litepanels, no gels are needed, instead, you dial in the color you need. It also has a plus/minus green mode, or tungsten/daylight mode, allowing you to choose the color of “white” you need quickly. The number of LED lights is proliferating and expect to see continued price drops and innovation.
Alecia Orsini will be putting her film, Combustible Russ , on the net for sale. She’s interested in hearing from people the pros and cons of the various options available for filmmakers who want to sell their work online.
I suggest checking out a recent New England Film article by Rhonda Moskowitz, Distributing Your Short Film in the Global Marketplace. Also, in New England Film you will find two related pieces by yours truly which ran last year: Delivering Video on the Web, and Prepping and Posting your Video to the Web, most of what’s in there is still relevant, however, the field is in constant flux. Another suggestion is to take a look at Video on the Web: A Resource Guide, an evolving guide of compression tools, hosting services, and video players for delivering video on the web. It’s a work in progress, so let me know what else should go in there.
Media scholar Heide Solbrig , a Professor at Bentley College, and her student Mai Huynh talked about Bentley’s program in Media and Culture. Mai is a graduating senior and the first graduating media major at Bentley. She had a Zine at 12, has been with new media for a long time. She’s doing a project mapping bloggers in the Boston area and hopes to talk to many of the people here at this meeting and beyond.
I’m fascinated by Bentley’s new program, and how forward looking it is, requiring students to balance their media major with a business minor and students do a media-related internship or project. Given the rapid change in the media industry, this fresh program strikes me as a savvy alternative to craft oriented programs that only teach tools and techniques on the one end, and traditional film schools on the other end, which definitely provide a good liberal arts education, but your major prepares you to enter an industry that will most likely not look anything like it does today ten years from now. It’s very fresh and timely that Bentley is providing students the opportunity to mix of business and media studies, along with a good solid liberal arts education, this strikes me as a very smart way to educate the new generation of media makers who grew up using editing tools and cameras in high school and don’t need to learn the craft so much as building their knowledge of history, trends, aesthetics, critical thinking, and business. You can’t go wrong with a good liberal arts education focused on the future yet still firmly planted in the fundamentals.
Phillipe Lejeune has been creating amazing video using Flash and lately he’s been using Seesmic which he really likes, he finds it “ten times more powerful that Twitter ,” especially as a visual artist. For him, Seesmic offers “something extra,” allowing you to see the “personality of the other person.” Phillipe also mentioned that for people who find using WordPress difficult, Phillipe suggested taking a look at Jimdo, which is very easy to use.
Brett Stilwell is involved with Pecha Kucha Boston. He talked about Pecha Kucha, an event format for presenting creative ideas. The name is onomatopoeia, the sound of conversation in Japanese. Fifteen or so speakers each present exactly twenty slides. Each slide automatically advances after twenty seconds. The next one in the Boston area will be focused on architecture, design and technology: Pecha Kucha Boston 4, hosted by Harvard GSD on Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 8pm in Gund Hall, 48 Quincy Street in Cambridge, MA. The event is free and open to the public. In June they will be doing another one with a more diverse speaker set. He had with him a copy of a beautiful book, Pecha Kucha Night: A Celebration, celebrating the phenomenon now running in over a hundred cities around the world. The book looks at how the event has grown, where it’s been held, how to run one, and why it has gone viral. Brett has put some videos on blip.tv
Adam Greene, Marksman Ship Pictures, does family history videos, he’s looking for people w/ web skills needs help with production and promotion. He’s also a certified Final Cut Pro trainer, so if you need help with Final Cut, give Adam a call.
This month I did show and tell about using an MS Stereo microphone (in my case an Audio-Technica BP4029) for hand-held documentary in-the-moment shooting. In the past I used two microphones to capture what’s in front and to the side of the camera, but it’s a drag to do a two handed technique. I’ll be posting a detailed article on this in the future covering both production and post-production details, so stay tuned.
Monte Ladner is a medical doctor who does Fitness Rocks, a health and fitness podcast. He suggests that there is something missing in the interaction between doctors and their patients around the dissemination of research on lifestyle and health. Health care costs are a big issue these days, and the shocking statistic is that 75% of the money is spent on chronic disease, over a trillion dollars a year is being spent in the United States on things that could be prevented if people were more active and ate healthy.
Brian Agusta has a show he started last summer, he’s an actor, performer, and singer, he helped form the professional vocal group, Almost Recess. Brian is looking for opportunities to do acting and performing, his first standup show is this Wednesday at Improv Boston.
Mike Ball talked about the wonderfully progressive Left in Lowell site, which is an excellent example of local progressive journalism. He has been running into some podcasting and Joomla problems, so if you know about both, he can use some help.
I’m sad we are no longer meeting at Sweet Finnish Cafe in Jamaica Plan, which closed its doors. We will miss the lovely cafe, it was a perfect environment for our meetings. Coffee, old-world pastries, new media, conversation, more coffee. We will miss Ulla’s hospitality, she hosted us for the past two years. This month we met in the back room of Doyle’s pub in Jamaica Plain and had what came close to record attendance.
I did not take notes about everything we spoke about, or everyone who spoke, so if I left someone out, sorry about that, nothing was meant by it. I think we might need to find some real-time wiki technique for taking notes at these meetings. It would be nice to explore how we could write notes of the meetings in a more collaborative manner. Any ideas? Until next month, keep making the future of media.