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Ready for Takeoff

The past 7 days have been spent preparing for a big convention that we participate in every year. our responsibilities include processing roughly 150 videos, mostly produced by outside entities (doctors) and about a dozen from our shop. We decided this year to finally do away with DVCAM tape and do all of the projection in about 15 half-day sessions via MPG2 files on hard drives. We created a simple html launcher and carefully organized the files by session.

The next step was to review the MPG2 files to ensure that they are appropriately representing the original quality. The original formats range from video DVD to DIVX, h.264, WMV and MPEG-1, with a handful of DV tapes, AVI or DV files. The lowest common denominator of MPEG-2 can be a good or a bad thing, depending upon the relative quality of the original. Thus, about 50% of videos did not re-compress adequately, so we decided to show the originals. Other MPEG-2 files looked ok, but needed audio or color correction, or correction of other assorted problems. The end result of this review process was a color coded excel file listing things to fix, things to know and things that are out of our control.

here's the detail:

In any project, organization is the key.

Our job is to help doctors look the best they can look before an audience of their peers. Thus the extra time spent, while invisible to the audience, makes a difference, however subtle.

With that task done, we sent a new hard drive to the venue, for cloning to about 15 computers throughout the vast convention center.

By the time Friday arrived, despite the mental exhaustion and repeated viewings of such classics as "Single Incision Colon Surgery" and "Abdominoplasty" the final step was to get the house ready for my week long absence. This is primarily cleaning the kitchen, doing some laundry, filling the litter boxes and replenishing the fridge. I despise doing the dishes, but, it can be fun if you make it into a fun activity.

While the cleaning was going on, I was rendering the final edit of the last video for one of the sessions. I had to visit the office to get some raw footage and transfer it all to my laptop (a 160 gig laptop drive holds a lot, but gets incredibly full. I had to delete my WMV of Empire Strikes Back made from the original letterbox pre-special edition VHS tape to make room - now that's self-sacrifice).

Editing in the office on a Saturday is not so bad - it was mostly rendering, which gave me time to tally up the most visited places for my job. Here are the winners by number of visits:

New York: 33
Chicago: 18
Boston: 15
Florida: 14
LA: 6
Dallas: 5
San Fran: 4

Final step of the night is to pack my bags. The rolling garment bag saves my back - usually. On this occasion I have my laptop in a backback, along with 3 terabytes of video files, drive bay, power supplies, cables, a small library book (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - probably won't have time to read it) and numerous DVD-R burns of various projects and demo's.

Once in bed, it seemed to be mere minutes until the pesky alarm sounded, and off I went.
While checking in for my flight, the pesky Blackberry tells me that while the video from last night is great, can I please update some other slides. Sure, no problem, I'll just do it on the plane. But first I have to work on an article for an upcoming issue of the COW Magazine. With most of that written, I opened Premiere, made the edits and set to rendering again.

Editing on a plane is not great unless you are a t-rex with tiny arms. I look for an aisle seat with a skinny person or child in the middle, giving me those few extra centimeters of elbow room.

Only problem is the flight to Chicago is relatively short, so I had to shut down while the tractor beam pulled us into docking bay 1138.

Upon arrival in Chicago Sunday AM, we headed to the convention center to setup our display. A medical convention is like NAB for doctors. The technical exhibits display the latest medical devices and in our case, our collection of surgical DVD's and medical text books. This year our booth resembles a mini Borders book and DVD store, complete with credit card reader and video kiosk. Sorry, no latte bar.

Once the shipping vendor located our crates, we setup the video racks, back-drop and book displays. I split my time between the booth and the video review stations, updating video files with last minute changes, including the previously described last minute edit once rendered.

By this time it is 5pm, and I have yet to find 5 minutes to eat anything. A non-quick taxi ride to the Hyatt (not the Riot House, but I have stayed there), hit the business center for $21 worth of copies (18 pieces of paper - I need to open a business center!), finally check into the room, drop the bags, splash water in my face (missed the $21 worth of papers with the splash of water - whew) and back downstairs to join my colleague for a kickoff meeting with some docs for a new endeavour. The kickoff meeting is an essential step in the process of any project. Check out my appearance in the Creative COW Podcast for more on this.

Finally it is 7pm and food might be in the near future. Luckily there was some Halloween candy in the biz center. For only $5 I enjoyed a roll of Smarties! Manna!

Once we got to the restaurant, the bar provided my first sustenance - beer - better than nothing but not good on an empty stomach. Finally we are seated and hot bread, stuffed mushrooms, calimari - life was going to be ok. The chianti helped my stiff neck and is sure to help me sleep off a busy day that would make Richard Scarry cringe.

Thanks for traveling with me.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Oct 11, 2009 at 10:13:39 pm conventions, video, organization

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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