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Archive for February 4th, 2011

Today, an old compatriot chimed in about particular aspect of my resume. And I suddenly realized I once blogged – that is, TYPED, onto PAPER, and FAXED to someone, for PUBLICATION, on PAPER – about an ITVA meeting that his company had sponsored. It was the dawn of non-linear video editing, and a bunch of us tape-to-tape editors were gathered around a first-generation nonlinear system, poking at it with our spears and saying things like “Unh! Magic glow-box make pictures be!” Anyway, this one’s for you Tim, AKA T-Bone Malone, AKA Tim-Tim-Sala-Bim! Please to enjoy this 1995 REWIND Classic!

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What’s a non-linear editing freak to do? There you sit at your Mac, which has been tricked out with all the latest software. Sure, all those bells and whistles (not to mention the flame decals on the sides of your monitor) seemed like a good idea when you misappropriated your office furniture budget. But now it’s time to use the stuff, and you don’t have a clue. If you’re like me, you’re not about to read a 600 page manual just to figure out how to make your logo spin. However, the sheer statistics regarding spinning logo injuries require you to receive at least a little instruction, for safety’s sake.

So where do you turn? Well, if you attended our February chapter meeting at Park Avenue Productions (and a surprising number of you did) you got the lowdown on the Digital Production Academy. Bill Wells, the Dean of Men at the Academy, was our featured speaker, along with Joel Embry of sister company Television Systems Inc (who also serves as DPA’s Athletic Director.)

Founded in the late 1950’s, the Academy was the haven for radical thought and the gathering place for all sorts of creative weirdos who could not otherwise make it through college (funny how some things never change.) According to records, their first graduate project was a black and white , 2-D treatment of the word “NEW”, which was supered over a box of laundry soap. It required a computer as big as a two bedroom house in Cheviot, and twelve weeks of rendering time. Also, an engineer died when a paper cut he received from one of his punchcards became really infected.

The DPA has come a long way since then, and was recently ranked in US of A Today’s Top 25 Schools Which aren’t as Geeky as You Might Think. Unlike some schools Back East (Rockport) and Out West (AFI), the DPA is geared toward guys and gals who make TV, corporate and otherwise, on a daily basis, and who don’t really care what Scorcese had for breakfast the day they shot the kitchen scene in “Raging Bull.” Instead, you get an intensive two to five day seminar that speaks directly to your immediate production needs. By the way, Mr. Embry had too much class to name the offending schools, so I did it for him. This is the sort of bare knuckled journalism which answers the question “exactly what am I getting for my $150.00 ITVA membership?”

In the course of the evening’s presentation, one very important question was answered: Just suppose my $440 million company had, I don’t know, a bake sale, and came up with a couple of grand to spend on software: Where would we begin? The answer came without hesitation. Photoshop, for around $700.00, is known as the “Swiss army knife” of production tools. Comet CG, at $1200.00, and Adobe AfterEffects, at around $1,895.00 (the “Soviet assault rifle” and “German Panzer division,” respectively) round out the package. Why these particular systems? Well, TSI sells them, for one thing. But they also feel that they are tools which do the job of making TV well, and inexpensively. Of course, there are other choices. You could go down to Steinberg’s and pick up a Flame suite, but you’ll probably have to root around behind the couch cushions for that extra few hundred thou. And while you’re back there, could you look for my virginity? It’s been missing since 1980.

Overall, it was a very informative presentation. It was also a bit of the old deja vu for me. Later that evening I sat in the drawing room of stately Lively Manor, sipping General Foods International Bourbon and leafing wistfully through my yearbook from the Digital Production Academy. Instantly I was transported back in time, to a scene reminiscent of a digitally remastered version of “The Day the Music Died” crossed with “Revenge of the Nerds.”

It was a brilliant autumn day as the DPA Fighting Pixels took to the football field bearing the school colors (Red, Green and Blue) on their jerseys with the pocket protectors. Meanwhile, a marching band full of guys with their eyeglasses taped together blasted a bad brass version of their fight song, Black Sabbath’s “Digital B*tch.” It was a hard-fought but ultimately disappointing gridiron match against Starfleet Academy to decide, once and for all, whether Kirk or Picard was the better captain. Later the crowd stormed the field, destroyed the uprights, and burned and looted well into the night. In all, it was a Homecoming I will remember as vividly as if it were a bit I made up right before my deadline.

Anyway, DPA is located in Sellersburg, Indiana (that’s Louisville, KY to you and me.) They can be reached at (812) 246-1075. The number for Television Systems, also in fabulous downtown Sellersburg (near the theater district) is (800) 545-6949. Mention this article and receive a 5% discount on all orders over $350,000.00!  Lastly, call our gracious hosts, Park Avenue Productions, at (513) 281-4888 for production services, or to merely borrow their studio for an ITVA meeting and grind a big mustard stain into their carpet (sorry, dudes.)

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