Making Educational Video

Last Semester I took a class called Producing Education Video. We had two projects during the semester. The first was a group project where we had to each pitch a project which the class then voted on to produce a roster of 7 or 8 green lit projects which would be made. I pitched the idea of creating a video that demonstrated something about microphone technique. Here is the result.

Microphone Technique (E-40) from David Ackerman on Vimeo.

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Testing 123

A very quick makeup test

. Zombie 1

Zombie 2

Makeup by Addy Cahill, Zombie victim Kymber Henry

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This past year I reconnected with a couple of friends I haven’t seen since High school. It was interesting to see that we all had worked for the same employer, spent years living within few blocks of each other and never knew it. So weird. In any event, I decided to take a video production class this Summer and convinced Kymber to take it with me. We worked with two other classmates to write and produce this video. Enjoy!

Blue from David Ackerman on Vimeo.

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Fourlight Firefly

Fourlight Firefly has made available their 4 song EP that I recorded and mixed last year. Go get it!

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In the spirit of the day

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Field recordists, your camera’s LP mode is not for you

If you are a field researcher or recordist capturing video and audio for your research, you may still be working with tape based media that offers a Long Play (LP) mode that claims to increase the amount of content you can record on a single tape. Sounds irresistible  I know, the prospect of carrying fewer tapes or getting that many more hours of source for the tapes you do carry. But I urge you to resist the temptation of these lines of reasoning and stick with the SP mode of your camera.

‘Why?’, you demand, and rightly so since it seems like a lot to give up for no discernible benefit. But that is because there is another dimension to your field work not touched upon in this reasoning. Namely durability. What good to you are all those extra hours of recording if when you return to your office you find that the tapes are not playable? What would you think if I told you that there are no professional VTR’s that include an LP mode? This is because no manufacturer thinks for a minute that they could produce a deck that would reliably play an LP tape.

Here is the thing, the way they accomplish extending the running time of the tape is to pack the data  on the tape more densely; by slowing the tape down. This greater data density increases the likelihood of dropouts, both in the audio and video. It also increases tracking errors which is why it is not uncommon for an LP mode recorded tape to only be playable in the camera that the recording was made with.

So the question is, how important is your data? LP mode was made for people screwing around on their vacations who need extra recording time. If they lose that video, it probably isn’t the end of the world. But if you are relying on the material you record to support your research, or to become a primary resource in someone else’s research, or to preserve cultural heritage, then LP mode is a ticking time-bomb waiting to wipe away your good work.

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Camera Audio

So Canon just announced the C300 camera, part of their new EOS Cinema line. One of the new features is that it accepts XLR connections, which got me thinking. It  just seems strange to me; touting this as a ‘feature.’  I guess because I can’t understand how any professional camera could be made that didn’t use XLRs.  And by that I really mean balanced mic and line inputs. The next question should be, ‘How good is the pre-amp?’ This is a question that never seems to be asked when it come to cameras. I don’t care if the input is balanced if the preamp sounds like poo. What about the analog to digital convertor? How does that measure up? Other killer new features for the audio side of the camera include the ability to monitor and adjust levels. Seriously? How do manufacturers get away with setting the bar this low?

The truth is that the art of audio recording is not well understood by a great many video professionals and as a result the camera companies see no need to provide high-end  professional audio recording capabilities in their cameras. I have no idea how good the audio path in the C300 is of course. It may be great. But it would be nice to see something more qualitative about the audio capability in the feature list. Signal to noise ratio, THD, A/D jitter specs, or even how many bits it records! Something more useful than XLR.


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AES Opening Ceremonies

I have been attending AES Conventions for about a decade, but today is the first time I have managed to make it to the opening ceremonies for the show. Wow. The speaker this year was Charles Limb, Associate Professor in the department of Otolaryngology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He spoke about human hearing, deafness, cochlear implants – what they can do for people and where hey fail. Specifically, how they fail when it comes to music. He presented research that suggest music truly may be a universal language. Research based on FMRI experiments he has conducted. Really, just wow. And the plea he put forward to the AES to collaborate on the development of next generation cochlear implants with the aim of developing the technology to improve the range and fidelity of these devices; to make the connections into the brain necessary to enable the deaf to hear and process music. Maybe its just because we seem to be living in a world where no one can get anything done in the realm of politics right now, but just the making of the plea with a real sense of earnestness, well it was really very touching. I truly wish and hope that something will come of it.

Hopkins Medicine – Music on the Mind.

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Moog is making their new iPad app, Animoog available for 99¢ for the next 30 days. I might just have to go buy an iPad finally.

Get it

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The Poet’s Voice

One of the projects I have been working on the past couple of years is the preservation of recordings made by the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University. This collection is beyond cool. It consists of audio recordings of the worlds very best poets reading their own work.

The centerpiece of the Poetry Room is its audio archive. Inaugurated by a 1930s recording of T.S. Eliot by the pioneering audio engineer Frederick C. Packard, the Woodberry’s inimitable audio collection has grown into one of the most comprehensive recording collections of poetry in the country. The collection today includes recordings by John Ashbery, W. H. Auden, Ted Berrigan, Elizabeth Bishop, Yves Bonnefoy, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Creeley, E. E. Cummings, Robert Duncan, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, Ted Hughes, Robinson Jeffers, Philip Larkin, Denise Levertov, Audre Lorde, Robert Lowell, Czeslaw Milosz, Marianne Moore, Vladimir Nabokov, Sharon Olds, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Siegfried Sassoon, Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens and James Tate. It is, according to Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, “indispensable: it contains not only the voices—from different times of their lives—of the greatest poets, but constitutes a living history of modern poetry.”

The WPR has finally launched its Listening Booth feature where scholars and the general public may gain access to these wonderful recordings.

Check it out.

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