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100th Blogiversary

I know I tell a lot of stories about the old days, but this doesn't mean I'm 100 years old.

Just wanted to get that cleared up for those of you keeping a tally of how many times I mention 1" tape and CMX edit controllers.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress...

For those of you just joining us, welcome to the Mike Cohen Creative COW 100th Blogiversary.

"100 blog posts? So what," you might be saying.

Well I try to put a little bit of my personality and philosophy into every post. For me it's a big deal. It's a big deal not that I have composed and published 100 entries about my job and my life, but that in doing so I have gotten involved in other aspects of the Creative COW community. As a result of blog entries, I have had the opportunity to write magazine articles, to be interviewed in podcasts, to make friends and business associates and even to obtain potential clients for my company's services. Something that is good for the soul and good for business is, well, a good thing!

And from what I hear, the blogs in general are good for the Creative COW's business. Google searches often lead people to the forums. If I Google myself or certain keywords I have used in my blogs, these blog entries come up in results. Presumably I can't be the only one searching for "CMX edit controllers" or more likely "AVCHD editing in Premiere. If new first-time visitors to the COW get in via the forums, the blogs, the services or the video reels - that too is a good thing.

And speaking of good things, have you seen the wide selection and amazing displays of creativity in the video reels section? You could spend hours there getting free inspiration for your own projects. I've actually started taking notes as I browse the reels. Go ahead, click "VIDEO REELS" in the main menu..I'll save your seat.

So back to the 100 blog retrospective. The best thing to do is to browse back issues going back to 2007. It is educational for me to see what I was thinking at the time. So rather than regurgitating my favorite posts, I think I will regurgitate my favorite images as used in past posts. I get a kick out of grabbing a quick picture with my phone when inspiration strikes. I send the picture to myself with a note and then, often on a long airplane ride, fill in the gaps to try to tell my story.

This first one takes me back to my first position as a professional editor. The Ampex ACE 25 edit controller. For those of you who have only used digital nonlinear editing, lucky you. Back in the day, you had to have some engineering know-how in order to perform basic editing, assuming you were in a facility without in-house engineering expertise. For more on the subject check out this link:

Now back to our show:

This image brings back some memories. A surgeon I work with on a regular basis needed to do a live powerpoint presentation to a medical conference. He was in Vegas, the conference was in Portugal. Thus, he was scheduled to go on at about 4am Vegas time on a weekend. At that time of day, we couldn't get a local video conferencing suite, so we had to think way outside the box. WebEx is advertised and used as a great tool for corporate meetings, but using it in multiple locations including in front of a live audience can be a bit dicey. So we came up with a stop gap solution. This picture depicts our audio transmission system which included VOIP and two telephones.

Speaking of medical conventions, back in early 2009 we managed a conference on obesity surgery. Our company arranged the venue, the audiovisual and catering, invited the faculty, reserved hotel rooms and managed registration for about 500 attendees. Think of it as a mini-NAB for surgery. One of my roles was managing a day of live surgery. We streamed 9 surgical cases from NY, San Francisco, Miami, Michigan, Brazil, Chile and two other locations. Some signals came down ISDN, others via the internet. Everything went through a skybridge, and there was audio and video from our location going back to each location. To be even more clever, I created roll-ins for each surgeon and location, run off DV tape. This acted not only as a nice transition but also as a place holder in case of technical difficulties. It was a fun fast day with lots of audience participation.

My other jobs at this meeting were to document the proceedings for posterity (ie, transcription, publishing articles about the proceedings and possible future on-demand webcasting)...

And drinking a lot of coffee and tea.

2009 was the year I finally traded up to a smartphone. I went with the blackberry because most of the clients and doctors I work with use this device. It has made a huge difference in productivity while traveling and even while in the office. For example, if I have a hot and heavy editing session planned, I may not even boot up the laptop (e-mail computer) and just check the berry periodically. This can save an hour or more per day. You'll note around April 2009 the quality of my blog pictures improved significantly. Still underexposed and grainy, but certainly bigger!

Sometimes (a lot) I add pictures and anecdotes about food, restaurants and eating or cooking to my blogs. What the heck does this have to do with the multimedia business? Everything. If I am fed I have energy to do my job, or I have rewarded myself for a busy productive day.

Sometimes I take my pictures to the next level and make them into useful illustrations. Here for example I was talking about preparing for a trip. Charged batteries, extra tape stock and tightened wingnuts on your equipment make a big difference.

As mentioned, several posts talk exclusively about travel. I don't go to the ends of the earth or to exotic locations (with the possible exception of Cleveland) but I have been known to go to the ends of the airport terminal for a Mocha Chip Latte!

I also used the blog to follow our entry into high definition production. What better venue for HD imaging than surgery? Of course you can get plenty of discussion about formats, editing workflow and playback issues in dozens of forums, so I'll just wow you with some imagery:

Sorry if that was gross, but this is my business!

Just thought I'd take this opportunity to mention 1" tape, for those of you keeping track at home.

All that travel also affords the opportunity to snap some quality pictures with a real camera, and sometimes I like to share those images as well - and if you're lucky, a story to go along with it.

This was a unique venue for a meeting - Jackson Hole, WY - in August.

In 2008 I attended a convention in Toronto. Since my hotel was about a mile from the convention location, I got to see some of the sights morning and night.

This week I took the train down to Philadelphia for a meeting, took the train home, then two days later went back to Philly with the gang for a meeting. Sometimes conventions are in cities with things to see and a wealth of good places to eat.

Vegas is a weird town. The Strip is full of amazing sights and some shady characters - sort of an odd mix of themes. NAB and the Bellagio fountains are two of the highlights.

Post-Katrina, New Orleans remains a popular destination for meetings and the occasional video shoot. Just stay on the main roads.

Think I'll hang this one in my office.

How many times do you find yourself in Moline, IL with a few hours to kill? Those tractors are huge.

Another good reason to carry around a proper camera. And with that, we'll let the sun set on the first 100 blogs of my blogging activities.

I appreciate all the feedback and the readers. If this is your first time on the COW, welcome. For my old friends, thanks for coming back. I look forward to coming up with new stories, anecdotes, learning experiences, recollections and images in the next 100.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jan 27, 2010 at 3:58:10 pmComments (6) blogs, cow, video, technology, editing, streaming, conferences, travel, food, memories

Get Connected...Stay Connected

Who would have believed back in say 1995, that one day we could have a pocket-sized device that makes phone calls, accesses the internet, plays videos, gets e-mail from many accounts, takes pictures and organizes your life? What is this, Star Trek?

Why yes, this is Star Trek. Nearly.

This week I upgraded from my very handy $50 flip phone to a Blackberry Curve. Why? Because the past 10 days of travel convinced me there is a better way to stay in touch with people besides hoping you have wifi in an airport or a hotel room.

Oddly, the more expensive the hotel room, the more expensive and less reliable is the in-room internet service. The cheaper the hotel, the better the chances of free wi-fi. Makes no sense. Now when I am stuck in a non-cheap hotel, I can refrain from adding $12.95/day or more to my bill. In case you are wondering, medical conventions tend to be in nice hotels and it pays to be in the same hotel as all the action. Pushing a cart full of gear down a cobblestone hotel driveway at 6am in 100% humidity just to save a hundred bucks is not worth it.

Another inconsistency in travel is wifi in airports. My home airport of Bradley Field has free wifi. Same with Tampa, which was very useful during my 4 hour layover last week. Other places it ain't so. I recently received an e-mail survey from Southwest asking about paid internet service on flights. It seems they may offer in-flight wifi for $9.95. Might be useful on a cross-country jaunt, but most SWA flights are short hops. That may go over like the $2 can of soda already abandoned by other airlines.

My internet habit is pretty limited at present: Creative Cow, Digg (less so by the day), News, FB and of course e-mail. The Blackberry lets me do all of this without booting up a computer. Aside from sore thumbs, this will save time, save costs and save electricity. And if there is any truth to the effects of a warm laptop on one's lap, this may save the family jewels!

Well, I still need the laptop to write these blog posts, but the forums are easily accessible.

As discussed in an earlier post, I have linked up with all my old mates on the face book. One cannot turn on a tv news program or entertainment show without hearing about Twitter. It took me a while to wrap my brain around how Twitter is used and if it has any use to me. Turns out it is just another way to get connected to the world. If this blog and my other activities here on the COW are any indication, that can be a good thing. The more people who follow me are potential customers and/or colleagues. Just this morning I received a tweet from a fellow medical video guy in Norway. He keeps a blog about a lot of the same stuff that I do, and he read and posted a link to the article I wrote here on the COW.

This week I had to take a couple of days to recover from a nasty cold - probably from all that air travel. Between the Blackberry, web-mail and Thunderbird I was receiving e-mail in three places at once - a bit much mind you, but a good indication that not only am I connected - I might have over done it! But seriously, having a phone that also interacts with e-mail is brilliant indeed. Beam me up Scotty!

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 3, 2009 at 5:11:48 pm blogs, networking, telecommunications

To Blog or Not to Blog

I know, I know, the over used line from Hamlet has been beaten to death by writers and marketeers. But I am a writer and a marketeer.

Several years ago, once Blog became a commonly used word, I of course started a blog using Blogger. I wrote about my travels, both for work and for fun. My audience consisted of my dad, my brother and my aunt Rita.

Thus, when Creative COW made blogs available, I was eager to get started. Initially, I thought I'd write about my early experiences in production. But after a few posts, I had used up the major experiences of my training. Then I switched to travels and shoots, but again, there are only so many really interesting stories to tell without getting repetitive.

Thus, I have more recently written about whatever comes to mind, but always trying to stay relevant to some aspect of media production or business, or the business of media production. 

After a few months, and some fun posts, I was invited by fellow COW Nick Griffin to be a co-moderator of the Business and Marketing forum here.

It turns out, readers of the blogs and readers of the forums are not actually the same people. I think Google has something to do with this. Speaking of which, before the blog started, my name was just one of a thousand Mike Cohens in a Google search. Now I am number 11, top of the 2nd page of results. This is actually an improvement since the last time I checked. Actually, I also have the #16 spot for my Vimeo page - if only I knew how Google came up with these results.

Thus, I now contribute to the Business and Marketing forum's discussions, some of the best on this site in my biased opinion. 

Fast forward to February of 2008, I was asked to write an article for the Creative COW magazine, yet another piece of the COW pie with its own audience of readers. COW pie? Seriously? Let's move on.

After some great editorial work by Tim Wilson, and Ron's ability to layout an entire magazine in a few days, the issue (#9) went to press over the Summer. Download your copy here:

Or subscribe for free.

Now the fun begins. I have received a few e-mails from former colleagues and freelancers I have worked with, saying they read and enjoyed the article on Medical Video production, one of my specialties.

Next I received a few e-mails from folks who have both read the blog and the article, either asking me for a job, or just to say hi. After a blog about using my music library, I got a nice letter and some promotional gifts from the music library. Also, my blog encouraged one of my readers to subscribe to the same music library - no small investment by the way. In fact this guy is now my friend, although we have never actually met. We did graduate from the same program a decade apart.

Finally, there have been a few posts on the Business and Marketing forum from people who have either read the blog or the magazine, or both. In fact a surgeon who I did not know was given a copy of the magazine, read my article, then contacted me through the forum.

Thus, while Creative COW has distinct audiences, with some overlap, for the Blogs, the Forums, the Magazines, and presumably the newsletter (I found through a Google search that I was in a newsletter - sorry guys, I don't always read them since I am on the site so often), I have experienced the effects of crossovers among the audiences and the outlets of distribution (forums, blogs, etc).

I would encourage anyone who has stumbled upon the Blogs, either via a web search or an outside link, to check out the forums, even just to introduce yourself, or to ask a question. Cows are gentle creatures, although we can also get excited about topics we like. The forums are an especially great place for young people or those just getting into the production business, even hobbyists, to ask questions and seek advice. However you are better served for asking "how do I do XYZ with a particular program" versus asking "how do I edit? I don't know what I'm doing."

So, going back to my headline, To Blog or Not to Blog...I think the answer is clear. 

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Tim for the suggestion.

Mike Cohen



Posted by: Mike Cohen on Oct 30, 2008 at 9:23:40 am blogs

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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