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Summer Interns

Summer is approaching. TV Stations and production companies alike often hire Summer interns, part-time workers or whatever. There is a thread along these lines at the Business and Marketing forum.

This got me thinking about my own experiences being an intern and with hiring Summer help. Here is a brief snapshot:

Internship 1- WCVB-TV in Boston - rare for a college sophomore to get this position. 3 days a week I helped put together the mid-day newscast. I would get the preliminary rundown, work with an editor to cut the VO and VO-SOT stories, find file footage, rip scripts, distribute rundowns and scripts, write Chyron orders and try to only clog one copy machine per day. It was actually a good deal of responsibility for a 19 year old kid. No horror stories. And WCVB would have a big cookout one Friday per month - free food for all after the noon newscast.

Internship 2 - WFSB-TV in Hartford. While I was primarily working the assignment desk, calling the state police barracks to see if anything was new (it never was), I got to spend the afternoons going in the field with reporters. At the time, the roster of reporters included such names as David Ushery, Mika Brzinski, and Gayle King, all of whom went on to national tv jobs. Thanks to them all for being so nice to me. I got to shake hands with Jesse Jackson and Dr Henry Lee and I think Barbara Bush smiled at me, once the secret service guys let me in the room that is.
I would then sit in the control room during the 5, 5:30 and 6pm newscasts, and then wander the station talking to different people, like the paintbox artist and the weather guy, learning about areas that were basically off limits otherwise. I got yelled at a few times because I was not allowed to be within 12" of a Betacam deck without being in the union. So it was generally a hands-off experience, but I learned a lot by watching and asking questions.

Internship 3 - Cox cable advertising. I would work with another intern 3 days a week cutting local spots, donuts, assembling the U-Matic tape for the commercial insertion system, deliver tapes to the head-end, and go on a few shoots.

Internship 4 - this was supposed to be the "job at the end of the internship" one. They hired their previous intern who has since become one of the top Avid/FCP editors in the northeast - in 1992 he was possibly the only Avid editor in the northeast. First day on the job I was handed gloves, a rag a bottle of Armorall, and a crate full of XLR and BNC cables used in a warehouse video shoot, and covered in rat and bird droppings. "Excellent experience for a young guy like yourself" I was told.

Once that torture was over, I helped with shoots - loading and unloading gear, setup and breakdown of lights and tripods - we did high end work for corporations in the greater Hartford area. One such shoot was for Jose Cuervo - at the end of the shoot I was given a case of Tequila and Margarita mix, and was the most popular guy on campus that weekend. For the record I was 21.

Alas, at the end of the gig, they gave me a few days of freelance work, but no offer. No worries, I had my job at Cine-Med lined up by the time NAB rolled around and it has been a great career ever since.

We have had just a few interns - the first one lost some tapes from the first shoot she went on, so that was a pretty short internship. More recently our interns have been paid summer workers from around town and have done a pretty good job because they work in my office under close supervision. We try to treat people fairly - give them some responsibility but check their work before it leaves the building.

I am grateful for the internship experiences I had as the supervisors treated me fairly, gave me some responsibility and checked my work. And that has made all the difference.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 29, 2010 at 2:34:39 pm interns

Report from the Convention Floor

This week as we all know is a large conference dedicated to the latest developments in the field. Experts present papers, research and videos. Vendors display the latest technology. And I put on my khakis, blue blazer and a tie and meet with some of the experts about ongoing projects.

I am of course talking about the World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery!

This year we are at the Gaylord National, a cavernous structure just upriver from Washington.

Several vendors including Sony are displaying 3D video systems, robotic surgery devices and innumerable new instruments for minimally invasive surgery.

The Gaylord is surrounded by a prefabricated Disney-like town with hotels, restaurants and condos. Washington DC is apparently pretty nearby, but there is no easy way to get there. No worries, have a conference in DC proper later in the year.

That being said, there are some decent restaurants and it is an easy walk to and from the meeting.

As usual we have our exhibit, where we display our book and DVD products, take some orders and meet and greet doctors from around the world.

Today I also attended a meeting of a medical society whose website we manage, and then stood in the hotel lobby having informal discussions with numerous surgeons who passed by.

We have several long-term projects in which we primarily work via phone and email, so it is always good to get a few minutes of face time with people you don't see the rest of the year.

The location is actually quite pleasant - the weather is warm, there is a slight breeze coming off the river and the sunsets are nice.

This is one of the times each year when we leave the office to interact in person with our customers. It is always busy leading up to it and it goes fast. Pay attention, or you might miss something.

Thanks for visiting.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 15, 2010 at 7:51:12 pm meetings travel

Long Time...No Blog

It has been a busy Q1. We have several private label projects going that are taking a lot of time and energy.

One of the best things about new projects is it gives us a chance to think up new creative ways to do what we do best.

Back in December we started visiting a particular hospital on an almost weekly basis to record a variety of surgical procedures. Surgical Video is of course one of our specialties, and this project made good use of the recently acquired Sony HVR-Z5U HDV camera.

What's that you say? Why are we still shooting HDV? Well, we determined that to go to XDCAM EX would be cool, but when we send one guy to shoot for upwards of 8 to 12 hours with few breaks, that would mean a lot of SxS cards and extra gear to carry. And quite honestly the HDV recording looks just great.

That being said, we have added to our gear list a Canon 7d DSLR. On one of the shoots that I attended, I captured a full 36gigs of stills and 1920x1080 video. A few shots ended up in the final edit.

As mentioned previously, we captured about 1000 stills with the 7d for a soon to be published textbook for surgical technologists. About 250 images found their way into the final layout along with a handful of Illustrator graphics.

Then in February we took our bi-annual trip out to Colorado for a weekend of shooting nursing training videos. We had 3 guys and three cameras plus the 7d floating between setups as an extra HD camera angle. The shots we have used so far cut nicely with the HDV, and in some cases look even nicer thanks to the shallow DOF. Kind of makes me want to get two more 7d's and shoot everything with them! The price is right.

Fast forward a week and it was on to the next installment of the top secret project. For this round we got the greenlight 24 hours in advance of the shoot date. We got three top surgeons together for a lively panel discussion and commentary on some of the previously shot and edited surgical cases. The end result, 80 hours of editing later, is a Meet the Press style show featuring over 2 hours of in-depth discussion on a particular topic in surgery.

For a big shoot like this, we rent some Kino Flo kits for nice even studio lighting - as studio-esque as we can get in a hospital conference room that is - and extra HDV cameras.

During this same time frame we have had a number of smaller editing jobs and shoots and some multimedia jobs. lately clients have been taking delivery of not just DVD copies but also 2 gig USB thumb drives, usually printed with a company logo and a lanyard printed with the name of the meeting. If you copy the contents of a CD or DVD containing a self-contained Flash player, along with an autorun.ini file, the USB drive acts like a self-running CD-ROM when inserted into a PC. On a Mac, assuming you include the right files, it shows up as an icon on the desktop.

All this activity means one has to be extra organized, nourished and did I mention organized? A weekly desk cleaning session, plenty of snacks and coffee pods, bi-weekly staff meetings, frequent communication with the business office, phone calls with clients, managing outside resources such as designers or illustrators and of course account management to keep customers happy. The best customer is a return customer!

So life is busy - and it's a good kind of busy - Summer is here (yep, in April) - got a new road bike and some nice rail trails here in Central CT...

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 7, 2010 at 9:50:43 pm travel production planning teamwork

I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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