Do NOT Tamper With Your Comments!

I told my ex-girlfriend not to lie to me… I mean, she was still my girlfriend at the time, and now she isn’t. The reason I told her that was that I was catching her in small, seemingly insignificant lies. VERY VERY small lies… Not even worth telling, to be sure. I explained to her that the most important thing you have in a relationship is trust. Without TRUST, you have nothing at all, because any communication you have with anyone will be tainted… untrustworthy… disbelieved. Lying to me about small things is WORSE than lying to me about important things, because it’s not necessary. If your character can’t stand up to the smallest criticism and you feel the pressure and need to LIE, then you CERTAINLY don’t have the stomach to tell me the truth when it REALLY counts.

WHAT does this have to do with “Technology”, you ask?… Because the same holds true in many situations, *including* posting on the internet. The way a lot of blogs are set up, including this one that I’m posting to right now, after the main entry, there’s a section for comments. This is the place for viewers/readers to weigh in and let you know if they agree OR disagree with what you said, and why.

The benefit of having comments is taking a post from being a soliloquy to being the beginning of a conversation. It’s like having a lecture and then at the end, opening up the floor to any questions your audience might have. *YOU* are just as responsible for and will be held accountable for what happens in your comment section as you will be held accountable for what you post in the main entry. Just like I told my ex… (paraphrasing, hahaha) the way you carry yourself in dealing with comments can make or break your credibility in EVERYTHING ELSE that’s MORE IMPORTANT than your comments section…..

Let’s take a very simple example that everyone should be able to follow:

Let’s say you have a company that sells widgets. Let’s say your business blog is “widgetblog”, and is a blog about widgets. Let’s say you also author “personalblog”, and what you post there has NOTHING to do with widgets, and only to do with your personal life. Unfortunately for you, you can not separate these three things if people know that you’re connected to all of them. Similar to a chain, your credibility is only as strong as the *WEAKEST* link.

Now, let’s say you post that “the sky is blue”. Let’s say that several people post “I agree, the sky IS blue!” and those comments are not tampered with. What do you do when someone posts “the sky is actually grey”? This person has now added their personal opinion to the discussion that you started. Do you leave this dissenting opinion on your site so that people can see the HONEST, TRANSPARENT format of how the discussion actually unfolded?…. OR…. Do you log in as “admin” and CHANGE THAT POST so it now reads “the sky is blue”?

Let’s say you get five more “blues” and two more “greys” and even a “red”… What now? Do you log in AGAIN, and tamper with your comments AGAIN? When someone comes to your post the next day, will EVERYONE be in agreement with your position? Is that fair? Is that HONEST? Is that *transparent*?

Now, in most cases, you can get away with this underhanded behavior. There’s only one thing you have to do to maintain your credibility and look like people agree with you….. Be. Faster. Than. Everyone. Else. That. Reads. Your. Blog!

If you come to your blog, and the dissenting posts have been sitting there for an hour, consider the possibility that SEVERAL PEOPLE may have ALREADY READ THEM and will see you for who you really are and what you’re really doing if you tamper with your comments. :/

What’s the problem if you get caught tampering with your comments?…. “Trickle Up”! 😀

If you get caught tampering with comments on PERSONAL posts, your credibility is *SHOT*. You can NOT be trusted. If you can’t be trusted with the comments on your personal post, you can’t be trusted in what you POSTED either. Why tell the truth, when you could make up a convenient lie to make yourself look good? Now, your entire personalblog is tainted. Meanwhile, you’re the same person that writes and moderates widgetblog. Why should we believe that you’re willing to risk your business by allowing people to have opinions contrary to YOUR best interests? Now, the posts AND comments on widgetblog are tainted.

Meanwhile, you’re the owner of the widget company. Why should your character in doing business with someone face to face, shaking their hand and looking them in the eye be any stronger than when you’re posting a business or personal blog? So, unfortunately “this person is a liar” trickles UP to where you don’t want it because you didn’t have the stomach to leave your comments alone and perhaps POST A REBUTTAL? Stand up for your own statements? Explain to the dissenting commenter why you think you’re right and they’re wrong? Seriously. :/

Assuming you feel you’re prone to resort to underhanded tactics to make yourself look good in the future by tampering with people’s comments today… Here are some things you can do that will still make you look like you have something to hide, but there’s no PROOF, like when a statement that was “X” for 45 minutes, suddenly becomes “Y” merely by clicking ‘refresh’ in your browser. :/

Turn Off Comments – Your word is law and that’s it. Anybody who comes to personalblog or widgetblog will get what YOU have to say about things, and that’s it. Nobody else has any say.

Turn On Moderation – Make it so that NOBODY’S comments make it to personalblog or widgetblog unless YOU approve them. That way, when everything ends up positive, you just look like you spun the situation by only letting the comments through that you liked. This is DIFFERENT from changing people’s posts because there’s never anything negative for people to see in the first place, AND dissenting comments don’t become agreeing comments with the same person’s name on the top, posted at the exact same time.

Delete Dissenting Comments – MUCH, MUCH better than changing what people had to say from “X” to “Y” is deleting their comments altogether. That way, you look like someone who can’t handle the truth instead of someone actively cheating to make it look like everyone’s on your side in this situation.

Don’t Blog At All – Really, I don’t understand why some people post things on the net in the form of a blog with comments, when they don’t REALLY want to hear what people honestly think about what they’re saying or doing.

Maybe two years ago, I read something I thought was interesting on someone’s blog. I thought it was very interesting….. as well as COMPLETELY WRONG! 😀 I explained to her very professinally and clinically WHY she was wrong by posting a comment on her blog. Eventually, I got an email from her saying that she was going to erase my comment, and suggested (to her credit, because I hadn’t saved my post anywhere) that I copy it and post it on my own blog and link to hers.

I wrote back to her, thanked her for not deleting my post FIRST, and explained to her (in not so flowery terms) that I thought she was lame for having a web site where all she wanted on it was her opinions and people that agreed with her position. She was doing a disservice to her readers, because with all of them commiserating and rallying around the flag, it was the blind leading the blind, and they were never going to get to the solution to their problem, because they had the question wrong in the first place.

Since then, I’ve come to realize that many people post NOT to START a conversation, but to appear as if they’re an authority in something. They think that as long as they post something and nobody disagrees, they look intelligent or wise. I now realize that a lot of people use the internet to make themselves feel better or to doctor the results so as to convince themselves that they’re in the right and someone else was in the wrong.

That’s all well and good, however, if that’s the type of person you are, don’t think that people aren’t figuring you out. Don’t think that you’re getting away with tampering with comments or juking stats scot-free. Your credibility’s taking a hit, and you may find out down the line when nobody wants to buy your widgets that it’s because more people than you know saw you tampering with comments on some seemingly insignificant post and decided that your credibility as a businessperson has been seriously undermined by your personal character.

Bill Cammack • Cammack Media Group, LLC

Dude… Where’s My Twitter Link?

As I reported back on June 28, 2007, Twitter ‘ruined my life’ [link].

I realize _now_ that there’s something that I left out.

Today, Charles Hope twittered… Yes, “twittered”… There’s no such thing as a “tweet” or else the app would be named “tweeter”…. Anyway… Charles twittered that the “older” link was no longer at the bottom of our Twitter pages. I checked it out, and sure enough, there was no link allowing me to check back past my first page of the most recent posts. I figured that since they’re always doing tests and trying to improve how twitter works, it was a programming error and that it would be quickly replaced. Then, someone mentioned an issue with spam, and that the link was deliberately removed in response to it.

I still wasn’t concerned, because I know that I can type http://twitter.com/home?page=2 directly into my browser to get to the next-most-recent page of posts. No dice. Pages 2, 3, 4 and 5 all returned the exact same Page 1 entries….. MINUS the entries that had fallen off the edge of the flat Earth, because new people had twittered since I had last refreshed. :/

The link removal wouldn’t be a big deal to people following a handful of people, but when you’re following > 230 people, like I am, it’s a major ‘problem’ and jacks a critical amount of functionality that I get out of Twitter. Fortunately, out of the > 240 people following me on these social status-update sites like Twitter and Pownce (and Jaiku? … Haven’t heard from that app in AGES!), Veronica Belmont replied to my status update on Pownce [link], informing me not only that it was a temporary issue, but pointing me to the Twitter blog where Biz Stone had already addressed the issue earlier this morning. Fortunately, she replied on Pownce, because on Twitter, her post would have scrolled off the bottom of my “page 1” and been (temporarily) lost forever, unless she had added an @BillCammack to it and it would have alighted in my “replies” section. So, thanks to Veronica, this is a different post than it would have been. 🙂


Photo Credit: Jared Klett

For me, one of the values of Twitter is that you don’t have to pay attention to it and it will save the status updates for you. I’ve gone back as far as 11 pages, which span several hours. That’s normally where you lose the “older” link. This means that when it’s crunch time, and I’m being my most effective and efficient, I can release Twitter from my mind entirely and only get back to it when I have processing cycles for it. Removing the “older” link from the first page means that I have to constantly remember Twitter to check it on the web site or I’d actually have to install a widget which would keep sending me the messages, non-stop, all day, consistently distracting me from what I’m trying to do. Neither option’s optimal.

It’s one of those things that you don’t miss until it’s gone. 🙂 Taking the “older” link from the front page of Twitter turns it into the home page of Facebook. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to increase the number of pages of updates that you can see on Facebook’s home page. They’re not even in chronological order. If they were, you wouldn’t see that an entire stack of your friends just joined a new group… You’d see individual instances with other types of updates in between them. When I get to the bottom of Facebook’s ome page, I invariably wonder what happened BEFORE the edge of the flat Earth that the rest of the updates fell off of. Of course it’s a good ploy to make it so people go to Facebook more often specifically so they DON’T miss the revolving-door updates, but that doesn’t work for me personally, so removal of the “older” link on Twitter is nothing short of a disaster. 🙂

I just checked my page right now, and there are only 20 twitters on the front (read: ONLY) page. Amongst the > 230 people I’m following, the oldest post is a whopping 22 minutes old. :/ I’ve been writing this post for more than 20 minutes, so there’s an entire ‘generation’ of comments that I’ve entirely missed and will never ever see unless they fix their spam bot issues within the next 8 hours or so.

This isn’t the stock market, so it’s not mission-critical for me to know in real-time what my Twitter friends are doing, thinking or saying. However, I was glad to read in the Twitter blog that the “older” link is going to be reinstated ASAP. Part of my daily productivity is using down-time during rendering, uploading, etc to catch up with what’s been going on in the last couple of hours since I even THOUGHT about Twitter at all. 22 minutes worth of status updates from > 230 people isn’t even a drop in the bucket.

Good thing I checked twitter within 20 minutes of Charles’ post, or I would have been completely in the dark as far as WhereTF my “older” link went! 😀

Bill Cammack • New York City • Freelance Video Editor • alum.mit.edu/www/billcammack

Cruxy Presents Suzanne Vega (Virtually)

Tomorrow night, (Friday, July 13th, 7pm EST) Cruxy will host a one-of-a-kind event as Suzanne Vega returns to her avatar form for a special virtual listening party in Second Life. Vega will be celebrating the upcoming release of her new album BEAUTY & CRIME, out July 17 on Blue Note. I caught up with Jon Oakes to get the inside story. 🙂

What is Cruxy?

Cruxy is a media platform that allows any digital content creator (mostly emerging filmmakers and musicians) to promote and sell their works. Here’s a simple example: You’ve shot a short film. You put it in Mp4 format and upload it to Cruxy. We create all of the thumbnails, previews and promotional widgets for you. You set a price of $1 for others to buy a download of the film. We handle taking the money from the buyers and delivering cash to you (less a small fee that we charge).

Here’s a real world example of Cruxy in action. Some folks in the Midwest have a company called ShortTrackWorld. They go (in their cool van) to lots of small car races all over the Midwest where regular folks race their super modified race cars around… you guessed it, short tracks. ShortTrackWorld films the car races and then uses a satellite link to upload the videos from the event to their Cruxy page. They sell the videos of the race event to the drivers and fans and the videos are available just hours after the race. It’s pretty cool in action. You can check out the ShortTrackWorld page on Cruxy here: www.cruxy.com/stw

Recently we’ve been more focused on helping creators get their work into virtual world environments like Second Life. We see that as the next phase and our main focus moving forward.

What is the status of Cruxy as a startup, and who is team?

We are two full timers with a coterie of supporters, contractors, advisors and well-wishers. We are financed by our personal savings accounts, some paying engagements, anxiety and sweat.

Nathan Freitas and myself, Jon Oakes, have been working together for over eight years through three different (successful!) startups. We have built a ton of different technology, products, and solutions for people ranging from the government, to major corporations, and other technology businesses, but are most excited now to be applying our skills and inspiration towards creating new economic and marketing models for creative people, as well as the entertainment industry. Through Cruxy.com, we get to work with true indie talent and give them access to our entire platform. Working with a major artist and label such as Blue Note allows us to customize aspects of our platform, and create unique solutions, which also happen to help pay the bills. Its a good setup, and allows us to see the radical changes that are happening in this business from multiple standpoints.

What’s some of the interesting technology behind Cruxy.com?

As a startup, we need to be smart about how we spend our money so we use Amazon’s S3 and EC2 services for all of our server and data delivery needs. We pay on a variable basis (we did not have to go plunk down $25k for a bunch of servers and commit to a high monthly data service fee). This is really “on demand” computing and it allows us to scale in a pay that is precisely correlated ith our traffic and demand… rather than investing everything in infrastructure and hoping to fill up the pipe.

We’ve built a pretty robust system for syndicating media content. We built our syndication system to use the XSPF format which gives us unlimited dynamic playlisting capabilities.

We’ve also built a “virtual world widget” which allows people to distribute their music to their avatar in Second Life. They can then stream their music into their land or venue in Second Life so others can experience their music in a totally new and social way. Rather than just have a bunch of people anonymously visit a web page and listen to your stuff, with the virtual world widgets, you can hang out in your virtual environment in Second Life while a group of people check out and discuss your work.

Besides Second Life, are there other places where creators can syndicate their media?

Cruxy supports a variety of technologies that allow any media upload to our system to be republished and indexed by almost any standards-based service on the web. We’ve got flash widgets, RSS feeds, XSPF feeds, and even some microformats support. We also recently announced our deep integration with FaceBook so creators can get their work out to their FaceBook network more easily. We expect to launch this feature in August.

Looking towards the future, we see the growth of gaming and virtual worlds as online social environments to be a huge opportunity for creative artists to gain exposure and income. We fully intend to extend the Cruxy platform into these types of spaces and economic models.

What’s the story behind tomorrow’s Second Life event with Suzanne Vega?

We have built a virtual lower east side “Ludlow Street” circa 1990 environment to promote Suzanne Vega’s new album “Beauty and Crime”, which is full of songs about various aspects of New York. Suzanne will join us (in avatar form) for a live interview and take questions from her fans. Avatars who attend will also be able to watch video of some of her recent live performances and sample her new album.

Each attendee to the event will receive a Virtual World Widget that allows them to host their own listening parties and share the music with friends in their own land or club within Second Life.

What makes this event with Suzanne Vega different from her first appearance in Second Life?

We used the new Second Life voice beta software for this event. We also built the lower east side environment where avatars can come to hang out, drive taxi cabs, talk on pay phones and spray paint on walls long after the event. This event is about more than just the event… it’s about the environment where people can come whenever they want and sample the album while experiencing the New York that so inspires the album. We’ve got graffiti by Zephyr, the prolific graffiti artist of that era and guitars by Robbie Dingo, the renowwnded Second Life designer, at a LES guitar shop.

One other thing to note is that the MTV virtual lower east side is designed for the 18 to 25 crowd that might not remember New York pre-Guiliani. We wanted to recreate more of the grunge aesthetic that we so enjoyed in our 20’s in NYC.

How big is the market for what you are doing? Breakdancers and indie musicians don’t really make much money, right?

What everyone is realizing is that there is a growing appetite for independently created media content.

Cruxy is also one of those UGC filter sites. The higher end of the UGC market puts their stuff in Cruxy. We don’t get much of the teenage car surfing or flatulence type stuff (nothing against it as a… social… expression, but it’s not what Cruxy is about)

Thanks Jon. Good luck with Cruxy and Suzanne Vega’s event tomorrow! 😀


“Graf art building on Virtual Ludlow Street New York”
Photo Credit: Nathan Freitas

Jonathan Oakes founded and managed his first start-up, a systems integration consultancy, at 24 years old. In 1998 Oakes co-founded ThinAirApps, where he served as CEO and Chairman leading the company to a successful acquisition by Palm Inc. in 2001. Oakes spent over two years at Palm, as Senior Director managing corporate and product strategy. Oakes earned a BA in American Studies from Skidmore College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Over the last ten years, Nathan Freitas’ career has spanned the academic, corporate, and non-profit worlds, solving difficult problems through the thoughtful application of technology. His work has been built into Palm handhelds, on display at JavaONE and SIGGRAPH, included in Wikipedia, and covered in media ranging from Boing Boing and Slashdot, to the New York Times and Howard Rheingold’s book “Smart Mobs”. He also plays a mean double bass.

Bill Cammack • New York City • Freelance Video Editor • alum.mit.edu/www/billcammack

Twitter Has “Ruined” My Life

For those of you that don’t know what twitter is… Basically, it’s a DIY (do it yourself) chat room. You choose people that you want to “follow”, and you can see when they type something to the twitter site. People can choose to follow YOU, and they’ll see what you type to twitter. There’s no forced mutual following, so sometimes, it’s a one-sided deal. You can see what someone’s saying, but they can’t see what you’re saying… which is unfortunate for them when they ask a question that you “tweet” (somehow the verb form of twitter…… meaning each entry should be called a TWIT or the site should be called TWEETER, but anyway…) the answer to and then an hour later, you see them ask again if anyone has a solution for them. 😀

I think twitter’s more effective in areas where people are in relatively close proximity to each other or at least can get to where other twitterers (tweeters?) indicate that they are or that something’s going on. It’s extremely useful during conferences, like SXSW or PodCampNYC. Twitter works on cell phones as well as computers, so people on-the-go can still find out the latest information, ASAP. The benefit here is that instead of texting… or, could you imagine, actually CALLING several people to tell them where you’re about to have lunch, or what floor you’re hanging out on and with whom


Photo Credit: Jared Klett

… You can make one “tweet,” and everyone that’s following you receives the same information at the same time. (PS – If you don’t know what twitter looks like, you can see it on my macbook pro screen on the right side of the picture.)

So, by now, you’re saying “All I’ve heard is positives!” 😀 Yes. That’s true. 🙂 I think twitter is a very positive thing, or at least it CAN be. It all depends on how you use it. If you clutter your “friends list” with people that don’t do anything, but seem to always have something to say about the NOTHING they do all day, then it’s a waste of your time and energy to read the feed. That’s not my ‘problem’… it’s exactly the opposite! :O

The first day I became aware of twitter, I ‘crawled’ through my friends’ friends lists and added people that I thought might be interesting to follow. I was doing something that day, and I don’t remember what, but I remember doing just ONE thing… 🙂 So I happened to have added someone that appears to be an actress. A “tweet” comes up that she’s heading wherever to meet with whomever. I’m like “ok”….. Then, while I’m still doing the same thing, and time doesn’t really seem to have moved at all, another tweet comes up from her saying that NOW she was heading to a different location to do something else. I’m like “ok”….. So while I was sitting there, still doing the same thing… over the course of the day, she did at least SIX THINGS in six different locations! :O I noticed how interesting it is to ‘eavesdrop’ on the goings-on of someone that’s in a profession you don’t know anything about, but I ALSO noticed that I could have done a lot more with my day than what I did while she was scurrying all over the place being effective.

I chalked it up as a fluke, but the same thing happened the next day and then the next day. To make matters worse, the rest of the people I added are workaholics also! 😀 So now, all day, every day, I get to hear about where they’re going and what they’re doing and who they’re meeting with and what’s happening in Second Life and what country they’re in and which conference is starting and who’s the keynote speaker and who’s broadcasting live on the Internet right now…..

On top of what they’re ACTUALLY DOING, I have to hear about what they think is interesting on the net, who made a new video, who didn’t get paid for the unauthorized use of their photo coughlanbuicough, what’s the latest social site somebody created, how to get invites to be a beta tester, what just crashed their browser, which phone shoots the better video, who updated their blog, what’s the latest HD camera that records MP4…..

And then, while you’re trying to be more productive with your day, AND you’re checking out all these links that people sent out so the tabs on the top of your browser are increasing and getting smaller and smaller… You get to find out who’s going to lunch at such and such a place, who’s going out for drinks later, who’s flying into town for the weekend, where the Wii Sports tournament’s going to be, which bar is giving out free beer RIGHT NOW!, the sun just came out over Central Park, the party’s moving from location X to location Y….. So now, instead of having the excuse that you don’t know if anything’s happening tonight or this weekend and actually getting to USE the time that you had allotted to being more productive, which was ALSO spurred on by twitter… You’re hanging out all the time, to the wee hours of the morning, then spending the better part of the next day updating your flickr set! 😀

Oh, yeah… It also doesn’t help that people live in different time zones. :/ When you’re in the middle of your day, people are talking about “GOOD MORNING FROM HAWAII,” then when you’re done, they’re talking about going out to lunch…

As you can see, the overall effect of this twitter phenomenon is that there are NEVER enough hours in a day anymore. :/ Every second you’re not running with the pack, you’re falling behind. Unfortunately, I don’t subscribe to slackers, so it’s always build, create, innovate, move, report, link, blog, videoblog, discuss, contemplate, debate….. You just have to do as much as you can and eventually call it a day. 😀

There is one downside-downside to twitter, and that’s when it CRASHES, and suddenly, you’re “flying blind”. Twitter has two types of crashes. Type-2 is complete denial of service. 😀 Either the site doesn’t come up at all or it comes up but doesn’t let you type anything and doesn’t give you any updates from anyone else either. You just sit there looking at this screen that says “so-and-so said whatever about 3 hours ago.” Suddenly you start trying to activate the telepathy that you just KNOW you have that will allow you to discernn where people are and what they’re doing, even though none of the “tweets” are coming through at all, hahaha. I suppose it’s the same way people feel when they open the fridge and find out that someone drank the last of the Kool-Aid and didn’t fill it back up! :O You just stare at the container, IMAGINING how good that Kool-Aid would have tasted… IF it were actually IN the container. :/

The Type-1 twitter-crash is way more frequent and way more frustrating! 😀 Twitter lets you type things, but then there are random occurrences right afterwards. What you typed mght disappear into thin air, and twitter acts like you never typed anything at all. It might appear in the list of “tweets”, but then, when you refresh, it’s gone. You can type something and what appears in the list is a duplicate of something you typed hours ago, competely replacing what you actually typed. “Tweets” show up out of order and randomly appear and then disappear upon refreshes. Etc, etc, etc… Anyway… Type-1 twitter-crashes inspire denial as well as disbelief as you realize your carefully crafted post, complete with hyperlinks, has been eaten by twitter and if you didn’t select it and copy it before pressing “Update,” you have to start all over again.

You can imagine the effect these crashes have on the twitter-dependent… suddenly scurrying to use email, instant messaging and telephones to try to find out what’s going on… one.person.at.a.tiiiiiime… 😀 It’s not for the faint of heart. So beware, and be aware! 😀 Watch out for the effects of TMI (too much information). If you recognize it starting to be too much, take a bunch of people off of your “friends list” to slow down the traffic to only relevant information that’s useful to YOU… or Just.Say.No! 😀

Bill Cammack • New York City • Freelance Video Editor • alum.mit.edu/www/billcammack

The Lab – Production Log Pickup 04

I had used the time between when I “finalized” my final revision of my dialogue script (as final as it was going to be until I actually started saying the lines and feeling them out), and when I was emotionally prepared to “attack” my lines to finish the rest of the edit. Everything was done except for saying and then loading my lines, color correcting them, tightening up the edit to work on the timing I felt was proper, then noise-reducing the drive sounds out from under my lines, watching the whole piece for timing, compressing and uploading. Everything went smoothly, like it’s supposed to, 😀 and I had my video uploaded by the time I headed out on Saturday around 4pm to play Ultimate Frisbee in Central Park.

I was actually a day late with my release, but there was nothing ‘good’ I really could have done about that. I had so much to do last week, including switching concepts entirely when I found out that “Witches of Eastwick” didn’t have what I needed to make a show, that by the time I got my final dialogue revision written, it was Friday evening or Friday night, and I had ZERO incentive or energy or DESIRE to read my lines AT ALL. Being a morning person, I woke up with ‘attack’ energy, prepared the set, then did my 45 minutes on-screen. It actually went pretty quickly, because I knew my lines, and it was only the break points that were tripping me up. Some of the takes I ended up using were the second or third ones, and I *KNEW* that I had aced them when I finished saying them, but I did several more takes anyway, for ‘safety’. That’s why it still took 45 minutes. I was going over the same lines, just in case.

Having internalized the process, I see that there’s an order I need to use when I to this format of a show. The MAIN thing is the clips. Until I have the clips I’m going to use, thinking about dialogue or writing dialogue is worthless. I have to make sure I have clips that are short enough that they’re all done in ~ 1:30. I have to have a punch-out, or I have to write one when I get to the dialogue. Part of what made the process tedious was looking through the whole film for clips to use. I probably ended up using 1/5th of the footage that I thought was useful from “Clerks”. I ‘wasted’ a lot of energy thinking about bridging clips that I ended up not using at all. Next time I do a show in this format, I’m just going to be looking for the short stuff that illustrates the point and sets off my dialogue. It gets easier every time. All the rest of it is cookie-cutter formula at this point.

Having said that, I don’t actually WANT to do it.

continued…

The Lab – Production Log Pickup 02

So I found my new ‘out’ in the very first video clips I had selected. I hadn’t considered it an out because I thought I was going to use all that footage that I had initially logged. Even with the new ‘out’ being so close to the beginning of my selects, I still had too much footage to make the show as short as I wanted it.

The problem was that it took too long for Dante to get to the point where Veronica asked him how many girls he had had sex with. If I just took the relevant part at the end, it didn’t make sense to just jump into their conversation there. If I took it from the beginning, it was too long, because the pacing of an hour and some-odd movie is going to be different from the pacing of a 4-minute show. I decided I needed both, but not Dante’s full explanation of why women just have to “be there” for a guy to enjoy them, and a guy has to do so much more work to please a chick. I took the parts I needed and decided to bridge with dialogue as if someone ran the wrong clip to start off the show. I felt this was the best way to establish how it got to the point that Dante says something about the number of women that have had sex with him, which leads to Veronica’s question and gets the real dialogue started.

Now that I knew what clips I was going to use, I had to write the dialogue AGAIN to work with the new sections. Interestingly enough, the new dialogue had a REALLY good ‘out’ that I could have punched to my credits with. I was really debating using it instead of the ‘out’ that I chose during the previous process. I decided to stick with the out from the clip, even though I wasn’t really breaking continuity. I ended with a clip on “Swingers”, and ended with Brainy’s dialogue on “American Pimp”, so really, either one would have worked for me. I ended up using both by getting back into the ‘out’ clip earlier so that in effect, there are two ‘outs’. There’s the dialogue-out and then the show-out instead of just having one or having the dialogue set up the final clip.

Actually, I skipped a step or a few. The new dialogue-out came from visual support of a line I was working on for one of the bridges beween clips. I was looking through college pictures of various girls’ dorm rooms because at the time, I had a line that said “… you don’t want to know what she was doing in college :D”. As I was looking through them, the pictures became the actual point instead of the support of the point. The point became that there’s visual proof that the girl/woman you’re currently dating or married to spent time with other guys before you, and you have no idea whether that was intimate time or not…. Therefore, there’s no reason for you to make a big deal out of what she did in the past. Once I wrote the new lines, based on the pictures, I didn’t know how punchy it was until I looked at the footage. So, even when writing something, you don’t know if the delivery is going to give it a different meaning or usefulness than when you wrote it.

continued…

Episode 02 In The Can

My lines are done for “The Lab” Episode 02. It wasn’t as ‘bad’ as doing the lines for Episode 01, but now I know why actors take so many drugs. There’s a positive high that comes with ‘wrapping’. There’s also a negative drain on your system as you release the character you were portraying for the last however-long. In my case, it was ‘only’ an hour. It was an hour for Episode 01 also, but for different reasons.

Last time, I had no idea about the process I was getting involved in and just jumped in, resulting in the max-headroom-esque video style that I used to edit sentences out of various takes that I did over the course of the hour. This time, I knew what I was out to do, so I had notes ready and I had spent the better part of the day before writing, practicing and revising my lines to match what I already had from Brainy and selecting more clips to bridge from my comments to hers.

Anyway… When I was done with my lines, I was simultaneously elated and depressed. That was after only one hour of being in character. From what I hear, some people do 16-hour days as actors. I can’t yet imagine what it feels like to come back to reality after ‘being under’ for that long. I’ve edited for 16 hours straight… more than that, even… but I don’t have to “be somebody” while I’m editing. Actually, the thing about editing is that you have to “be NOBODY” and devote yourself to the process. After a full day (or double) of editing, I feel like I haven’t been myself in HOURS. I recognize now that that’s a different feeling from “being someone else” for hours.

The reason I call it “being someone else” is that you’re not talking to ANYBODY AT ALL! NOBODY! You’re looking into a lens and remembering to deliver lines AS IF you’re talking to someone, perhaps someone in particular. You’re delivering lines AS IF you think this clip is amusing that you already saw 85 times when you were deciding whether it goes in the piece or not. You’re delivering lines AS IF you just watched the clip, so you’re basically working off of memory and emulation of having seen the clip. I’m reminded of “300”, which I saw @ the IMAX and was really good, if you’re into warrior-type stuff. All of those backdrops were bluescreened in. The actors had to PRETEND that there were ships being destroyed in the water and that there were thousands of guys rushing them with swords and axes. All they were looking at was a blue screen, and MAYBE some actual terrain under their feet.

Anyway, I’m glad that’s over. Now I get to try to load my scenes and finish the piece in the next five hours so I can meet up with Masako and head over to Bre’s party.