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Summer Interns

Summer is approaching. TV Stations and production companies alike often hire Summer interns, part-time workers or whatever. There is a thread along these lines at the Business and Marketing forum.

This got me thinking about my own experiences being an intern and with hiring Summer help. Here is a brief snapshot:

Internship 1- WCVB-TV in Boston - rare for a college sophomore to get this position. 3 days a week I helped put together the mid-day newscast. I would get the preliminary rundown, work with an editor to cut the VO and VO-SOT stories, find file footage, rip scripts, distribute rundowns and scripts, write Chyron orders and try to only clog one copy machine per day. It was actually a good deal of responsibility for a 19 year old kid. No horror stories. And WCVB would have a big cookout one Friday per month - free food for all after the noon newscast.

Internship 2 - WFSB-TV in Hartford. While I was primarily working the assignment desk, calling the state police barracks to see if anything was new (it never was), I got to spend the afternoons going in the field with reporters. At the time, the roster of reporters included such names as David Ushery, Mika Brzinski, and Gayle King, all of whom went on to national tv jobs. Thanks to them all for being so nice to me. I got to shake hands with Jesse Jackson and Dr Henry Lee and I think Barbara Bush smiled at me, once the secret service guys let me in the room that is.
I would then sit in the control room during the 5, 5:30 and 6pm newscasts, and then wander the station talking to different people, like the paintbox artist and the weather guy, learning about areas that were basically off limits otherwise. I got yelled at a few times because I was not allowed to be within 12" of a Betacam deck without being in the union. So it was generally a hands-off experience, but I learned a lot by watching and asking questions.

Internship 3 - Cox cable advertising. I would work with another intern 3 days a week cutting local spots, donuts, assembling the U-Matic tape for the commercial insertion system, deliver tapes to the head-end, and go on a few shoots.

Internship 4 - this was supposed to be the "job at the end of the internship" one. They hired their previous intern who has since become one of the top Avid/FCP editors in the northeast - in 1992 he was possibly the only Avid editor in the northeast. First day on the job I was handed gloves, a rag a bottle of Armorall, and a crate full of XLR and BNC cables used in a warehouse video shoot, and covered in rat and bird droppings. "Excellent experience for a young guy like yourself" I was told.

Once that torture was over, I helped with shoots - loading and unloading gear, setup and breakdown of lights and tripods - we did high end work for corporations in the greater Hartford area. One such shoot was for Jose Cuervo - at the end of the shoot I was given a case of Tequila and Margarita mix, and was the most popular guy on campus that weekend. For the record I was 21.

Alas, at the end of the gig, they gave me a few days of freelance work, but no offer. No worries, I had my job at Cine-Med lined up by the time NAB rolled around and it has been a great career ever since.

We have had just a few interns - the first one lost some tapes from the first shoot she went on, so that was a pretty short internship. More recently our interns have been paid summer workers from around town and have done a pretty good job because they work in my office under close supervision. We try to treat people fairly - give them some responsibility but check their work before it leaves the building.

I am grateful for the internship experiences I had as the supervisors treated me fairly, gave me some responsibility and checked my work. And that has made all the difference.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 29, 2010 at 2:34:39 pm interns

Report from the Convention Floor

This week as we all know is a large conference dedicated to the latest developments in the field. Experts present papers, research and videos. Vendors display the latest technology. And I put on my khakis, blue blazer and a tie and meet with some of the experts about ongoing projects.

I am of course talking about the World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery!

This year we are at the Gaylord National, a cavernous structure just upriver from Washington.

Several vendors including Sony are displaying 3D video systems, robotic surgery devices and innumerable new instruments for minimally invasive surgery.

The Gaylord is surrounded by a prefabricated Disney-like town with hotels, restaurants and condos. Washington DC is apparently pretty nearby, but there is no easy way to get there. No worries, have a conference in DC proper later in the year.

That being said, there are some decent restaurants and it is an easy walk to and from the meeting.

As usual we have our exhibit, where we display our book and DVD products, take some orders and meet and greet doctors from around the world.

Today I also attended a meeting of a medical society whose website we manage, and then stood in the hotel lobby having informal discussions with numerous surgeons who passed by.

We have several long-term projects in which we primarily work via phone and email, so it is always good to get a few minutes of face time with people you don't see the rest of the year.

The location is actually quite pleasant - the weather is warm, there is a slight breeze coming off the river and the sunsets are nice.

This is one of the times each year when we leave the office to interact in person with our customers. It is always busy leading up to it and it goes fast. Pay attention, or you might miss something.

Thanks for visiting.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 15, 2010 at 7:51:12 pm meetings travel

Long Time...No Blog

It has been a busy Q1. We have several private label projects going that are taking a lot of time and energy.

One of the best things about new projects is it gives us a chance to think up new creative ways to do what we do best.

Back in December we started visiting a particular hospital on an almost weekly basis to record a variety of surgical procedures. Surgical Video is of course one of our specialties, and this project made good use of the recently acquired Sony HVR-Z5U HDV camera.

What's that you say? Why are we still shooting HDV? Well, we determined that to go to XDCAM EX would be cool, but when we send one guy to shoot for upwards of 8 to 12 hours with few breaks, that would mean a lot of SxS cards and extra gear to carry. And quite honestly the HDV recording looks just great.

That being said, we have added to our gear list a Canon 7d DSLR. On one of the shoots that I attended, I captured a full 36gigs of stills and 1920x1080 video. A few shots ended up in the final edit.

As mentioned previously, we captured about 1000 stills with the 7d for a soon to be published textbook for surgical technologists. About 250 images found their way into the final layout along with a handful of Illustrator graphics.

Then in February we took our bi-annual trip out to Colorado for a weekend of shooting nursing training videos. We had 3 guys and three cameras plus the 7d floating between setups as an extra HD camera angle. The shots we have used so far cut nicely with the HDV, and in some cases look even nicer thanks to the shallow DOF. Kind of makes me want to get two more 7d's and shoot everything with them! The price is right.

Fast forward a week and it was on to the next installment of the top secret project. For this round we got the greenlight 24 hours in advance of the shoot date. We got three top surgeons together for a lively panel discussion and commentary on some of the previously shot and edited surgical cases. The end result, 80 hours of editing later, is a Meet the Press style show featuring over 2 hours of in-depth discussion on a particular topic in surgery.

For a big shoot like this, we rent some Kino Flo kits for nice even studio lighting - as studio-esque as we can get in a hospital conference room that is - and extra HDV cameras.

During this same time frame we have had a number of smaller editing jobs and shoots and some multimedia jobs. lately clients have been taking delivery of not just DVD copies but also 2 gig USB thumb drives, usually printed with a company logo and a lanyard printed with the name of the meeting. If you copy the contents of a CD or DVD containing a self-contained Flash player, along with an autorun.ini file, the USB drive acts like a self-running CD-ROM when inserted into a PC. On a Mac, assuming you include the right files, it shows up as an icon on the desktop.

All this activity means one has to be extra organized, nourished and did I mention organized? A weekly desk cleaning session, plenty of snacks and coffee pods, bi-weekly staff meetings, frequent communication with the business office, phone calls with clients, managing outside resources such as designers or illustrators and of course account management to keep customers happy. The best customer is a return customer!

So life is busy - and it's a good kind of busy - Summer is here (yep, in April) - got a new road bike and some nice rail trails here in Central CT...

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 7, 2010 at 9:50:43 pm travel production planning teamwork

Locked and Loaded

Yep, another blog about leaving the safety of my cubicle to work with a client.
Why so much emphasis on this? Because it is good for business to have your, er, stuff together!

Many people have a checklist for a shoot:

- batteries
- lav mic
- xlr cable
- bnc cable
- monitor
- hdmi cable
- 20 blank tapes or 6 p2 cards
- headphones
- gaffer tape
- etc

Likewise I certainly make a checklist for a week long trip:

- suit
- sportcoat
- 2 pair knakis
- 6 pair black socks
- 2 polo shirts
- 4 dress shirts (white, grey, blue, pinstripe)
- 4 favorite ties
- dress shoes
- bathing suit, flip flops (assuming they have a pool)
- etc

So why wouldn't you have a checklist for a non-shoot, non-convention trip out of the office?

The particular meeting described below was for an important project we are working on. The editor of the project and I have been meeting at his office on and off since November. In each meeting, we review the script and current images and video, look for new images and video, keep a tally of images and video we need to acquire, and then revise or re-write portions of the script (narration and on-screen text). Sounds easy enough. There are over 400 screens in the Flash program, 100 videos and at least 150 photographs. We also have a list of illustrations or animations to create.

The experience is taxing on the brain, and educational. I am not a surgeon, yet over the course of such a project, I learn much of what the target audience of surgeons will be expected to learn.

A few years ago I picked up one of these Swiss Army laptop backbacks. I don't know if these are affiliated with the Swiss army knife, or if the actual Swiss army uses these in the field (doubtful) but what I do know is that it is the best backpack I have ever owned. The only negative is that it holds a lot of stuff (heavy) which is good and bad. It is good because I can take whatever I need with me. It is bad because I have a spine and back muscles!

Below is a representation of the major components needed for this trek. Not shown are such essentials as blank DVD's, thumb drives, power supplies, phone charger, herbal tea bags, mints and a small flashlight.

Obviously the computer is the essential business tool. While this laptop, as described in earlier posts, has the full CS4 suite installed, useful for long plane trips and the occasional on-site edit session, in this case it is simply a web browser and word processor, perhaps a few Photoshop manipulations for good measure. It is essential to have an organized set of scripts, images, videos and other assets, and make sure this is backed up in multiple locations. Whenever a major script revision is completed, I e-mail myself a copy for safe keeping. Google and Yahoo share this task.

A fairly new acquisition is the Zoom H4N recorder. This little gizmo is great for recording temp narration tracks, or in some cases final narration with either a video's author or myself. Another handy gadget is a Canon HD camcorder, recording to SD cards. While not broadcast quality, what if I am sitting in an office and someone says "hey, you want to come see someone with a knife in their skull?" - a little camera that shoots video and decent stills is great to have for these occasions, or more likely if we need a quick shot of an instrument, piece of equipment or even just to photograph a thumbnail sketch as reference for an illustrator or designer. You never know.

While bus powered USB hard drives are cheap and getting cheaper, we have a library of eSATA drives ranging from 350GB to 1.5TB. While I may not use it, having it with me along with a portable USB interface is handy.

A USB mouse is much easier to work with for long periods of time than the laptop's touchpad. And sometimes the best technology of all is a sheet of lined paper.

And finally, do not discount the importance of reliable writing implements.

So, to summarize, any time you are going anywhere, whether for a video shoot, editing session, tradeshow or simply the all-important sit-down meeting, know what you need to do and have what you know you need in order to do what you know you need to do. Whew.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Feb 21, 2010 at 4:52:03 pm travel, workflow, planning, organization, alliteration

Nose to the Grindstone

While I blog a lot about the fun and excitement of air travel, and the production experiences at either end, once I get back to the office for weeks of uninterrupted work, it is time to get stuff done. Over the years I have experimented with various to-do lists, post-its and marker boards.

Recently we have instituted a Jobs to Start worksheet, distributed to all departments. Updated whenever a new project starts, this keeps everyone informed of what is going on, even in other departments. Why, you may ask, does publishing need to know about a video project in the works? Because, of course, every new piece of information is a possible opportunity. What if two departments were working with the same group of people on two unrelated projects. We don't want to be working against each other - thus good communication plays into different business units working together, even if the two units don't actually work together.

However, in our outfit, we all work together. For example, we have a series of multimedia textbooks. The media work and project management is handled by my department, Production, but once the layout is done and it is ready to begin the 14 week process leading up to press, the publishing department takes the reins. So while publishing does not have much to do with the prior 6 months, they need to know approximately where we stand with hitting our planned delivery date. You need to reserve time on the press and factor in time to transport and store inventory once printed. You always need to think of the big picture.

So while I started this post in talking about keeping track of project tasks, it has morphed into a discussion of good communication among people who do not always work together.

This is business 101 - keep others in your organization informed of activities that may impact them sometime in the future.

Going back to the completion of tasks, sometimes it is a matter of delegating, then checking the work you need to check before sending it on to the client or another set of eyes in your group. It can be daunting to send something you put your heart and soul into to another department for review and possible negative feedback. But better to get such feedback from a trusted colleague who may look at it from a different point of view, than your client whohas specific expectations.

Other times I may do the work myself - self-delegation. Often this is to keep the other folks on their own tasks. Thus I find myself doing a lot of little tasks - add some narration to a series of brief video clips, post some videos or files to the client website, and numerous conference calls and document management.

Yep, it's not all video shoots in exotic locations. Much of the time being a desk jockey is just what the doctor ordered. Get the work done, move things along, hit your milestones, tick stuff off the list. Sometimes I make a punch list, a phrase I picked up from years of watching Tommy Silva and Norm Abrahm wrap up renovations on This Old House.

Instead of:

- Finish trim in master bedroom
- Replace kitchen cabinet hardware
- Finish laying sod in the backyard
- Calibrate home theater in time for wrap party

my punch list may include:

- Render final pancreaticoduodenectomy video files
- Pull stills for hernia chapter 27
- Check narration files on FTP server, then send to programmer
- QA ventral hernia DVD
- Create new slipart and DVD menu design for laparoscopy series

Checking things off the list helps with the "divide and conquer" workflow. It is not always 3 weeks editing a long form show. Very often it is 15 minute tasks for hours on end. Frequently it is a little of each.

Seeing weeks or months of activity come to fruition in a new product to sell to the healthcare community is quite gratifying, and perhaps a bit more fun than sitting in steerage on a 737-800 waiting for your complimentary half can of cranapple juice. But getting there is half the fun.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Feb 18, 2010 at 5:12:38 pmComments (1) project management, gtd, workflow

A Photo Blog

On this week's journey, I think I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Well, perhaps a bit of commentary to tie it all together.

The title card is from the Philly Airport. I had just enough time between flights to grab a bag full of food for the 4 hour trip out to Denver. I ate it all, and got a lot of work done on the plane. Sometimes I think I should install an airplane seat at my desk!

Let's backup a bit. The planning for this trip was interspersed with another time consuming project. I suspected there might be some last minute work to do before leaving town, so I packed my bag days in advance.

As predicted, the night before the flight, I had a request to help create a powerpoint presentation matching the design of the video graphics, and including some video clips from the edit. To avoid a late night in the office I decided to take the computer home and do the rendering at night while I did some other chores to prepare my wife for a few days alone:

Clean dishes to eat...

...a pasta casserole with vodka sauce, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and Kalamata olives.

Media Encoder seems to move slowly when a deadline is looming. The files finished at 11pm. I set the FTP upload going and went to bed. When I woke up at 3am, the files were ready and i could email my client.
No time for breakfast, gotta hit the road.

One nice thing about such an early flight is I can get to the airport in less than 45 minutes, security is a breeze and the terminal is deserted.

I have to admit I was a bit bleary eyed.

You know it is an early flight when the sun is just rising while making your connection.

I spent the flight primarily reviewing the detailed shot lists prepared by my colleague. being familiar with the shots and formulating questions for our contacts on the ground would be helpful in the meeting scheduled a few hours after landing.

Back in the Denver airport, underground to the choo-choo, luggage, pickup curbside by another co-worker already in town, and to the hospital for pre-production.

After a long flight, airport food, car ride, meeting and running on vapors, we all decided to get grocery store food and dine in our rooms. But we were not done yet. After getting the gear charging and self-nourishing, it was time for a final planning session, going shot by shot, deciding upon the schedule and division of labor. Teamwork is vital.

Next morning, get to hospital, change into scrub attire and get setup. Specifics of the shoot are, as in many cases, proprietary and not able to be discussed in detail. However it is the teamwork and the process that is important to talk about here.

Lunch break arrived around 1:30pm for me. The break room had one of those automated coffee machines - you select decaf or diesel, mocha or regular, small or large and hit GO!

Back to work. The afternoon was spent getting a lot of stills with the 7d and various action shots in and around the OR. Follow the shot list, work the system, get your shots, think on the fly, stay motivated, think creatively, give directions, explain things, show peole what you need and make your moves.

Finally at 5pm it is a wrap for the day. It's a weekend, people have plans. Our plans are to find a restaurant, eat, maybe see some daylight, and have another planning session to make sure we get what we need on the final day.

Here are a few interesting shots from the day.

Overall, despite the earlier hours, cheap coffee and dry air, a satisfying way to spend the weekend. The material captured over two days will help to complete several important projects over the coming weeks. For now, thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Feb 6, 2010 at 9:09:21 pm travel, production, planning, teamwork

DSLR: A New Beginning

A fruitful career is filled with new opportunities for learning and improvement. Over the years I have taken still photos with a variety of point and shoot cameras, both film and digital.

A few of the book covers and many of the catalogs, brochures, videos and websites we have produced have included these images. This year we are releasing a book that is chock full of color photos. All of the images in the draft layout were video stills grabbed off a dvd we released previously. For this project we determined it was time to take our stills to the next level.

We chose the Canon EOS 7d as our DSLR camera. The stills and HD video capability appeared to be a good combination of features and benefits. The results so far have been great. The stills come out of the camera at 48" x 72" at 72ppi - plenty of resolution for printing in an 8x10" textbook. The auto focus includes a clever grid system for targeting the subject and honestly the auto exposure is a pleasure.

(note - click the images that follow for not quite the native size but pretty big)

I also spent a day shooting on auto, partial and full manual, in both bright lighting and darkened operating rooms. Once you find a setting that works in the situation, it is best to stick with it. In the dark, focus is not always what you think it is going to be so check your work often.

As for the 1080 HD video - a tripod or other stabilizing rig would be helpful. In the testing environment, which is a common setting for us, a tripod is unlikely, so a future Zacuto or other brand handgrip or shoulder mount may be in order.

The following is only a test. Please stand by for further instructions.

(please watch full screen - displaying it at small size to fit the page layout result in cropping)

For more on DSLR video, please visit the eponymous forum.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:44:26 pmComments (1) dslr, photography, mark ii, eos 7d, canon mark ii, canon eos

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

99 Creative COW Blogs on the wall...

When I first started this blog, I thought I would share some memorable anecdotes from my early years in the business. Like the time the Chyron blew a gasket the day before our weekly college newscast. Or the time I broke a 1" master my first day on the job. Or the time I visited Las Vegas for NAB while still in college and was taken to a show featuring scantily clad dancers by my tv professor and his buddies. Yep, I had some memorable times.

But then, once I completed my brief history of college, internships and early work experiences, I realized that I have a lot to say about my current job duties, activities, travel adventures, workflow improvements, editing and technology experiments and did i mention traveling? Oh, and eating - I do like to talk about good food - and how many other blogs feature such memorable multimedia elements as cell phone pictures of cups of coffee and gas station egg salad sandwiches?

Sometimes I go back and read some of my earlier posts and even I have learned some things. I can take a walk back in time to roughly early 2007, and see a pretty accurate rendition of what I was up to professionally, personally and emotionally. I even recounted the losses of my dear grandparents Hilda and Izz, whose influence made me the person I am today.

Sometimes I have talked about technology for the sake of technology. But most of the time I try to relate my tools to my methods and my methods to my madness. Do all of my posts about travel mean I dislike travel? On the contrary...interstate travel has always been a part of my job. Video shoots and conventions take place where the business is - getting there is half the fun. The other half of the fun is doing the work. Is standing at a tradeshow booth in dress shoes for 8 hours fun? You decide...Spending those 8 hours talking to surgeons about the products I help to create, getting feedback from satisfied customers and selling our products to new customers is...priceless! Watching my work projected in front of 1000+ people in an aircraft hangar sized auditorium is something to remember.

At one particular meeting, a military surgeon came to our booth to compliment the usefulness of our textbook on penetrating trauma. He took it with him to Iraq as a reference to help him save the lives of both soldiers and civilians injured by IED's and gunfire. Those countless hours sitting around a conference table editing the text with the other members of our team seemed very worthwhile.

As we started shooting in HDV and various flavors of mp4, I have documented the learning curves to hopefully help others flying by the seats of their pants, and for posterity.

There are other experiences I do not, or can not blog about. Proprietary information or experiences to a client or work-in-progress of course have no place in a public forum. During these projects I spend less time on the COW, only monitoring interesting forum threads and occasionally chiming in where I can. But all experiences feed the collective treasure trove of knowledge, training and brain food that I hope to impart to the world when I can. The form of future information sharing may be text, video, audio or some medium not yet invented.

To the folks out there who have read my blog posts, articles and forum posts - thanks for reading. If you have given feedback, thanks again. But I'm not in this for recognition. I am trying to give something back to a community that has given me a lot of valuable information both earlier in my career and up to the present. Paying it forward is the theme around here. Never stop learning and growing.

If you haven't read some of the earlier posts on the COW Blogs, take one down, pass it around...

Thanks for the opportunity to share a little bit of my world with the wider World.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jan 25, 2010 at 7:37:49 pmComments (1) blogs creative cow

Site Survey

Occasionally I get a chance to visit a location before the actual shoot date. In the case of a surgery, this is not really necessary - in fact usually the legwork that goes into getting clearance is best done off-site. It is not uncommon to need to get a TB test or proof of your measles mumps and rubella vaccine from 20+ years ago.

But for locations, such as hospitals in this case, where we will have specific facility requirements, a visit and meet and greet can make a big difference.

What's that you say? Aren't all hospitals the same? Not on your life.

Today's visit was to a fairly new hospital with operating rooms less than 1 week old. Newer usually means bigger rooms, newer equipment and organized layout. Given our usual shot lists, this can have a definite impact on success.

We viewed the different patient care and instrument processing areas, met some of the staff and department managers, and reviewed a tentative schedule including locations, times and personnel required.

I took along a Canon AVCHD camera just to grab a few shots of key areas, to help brainstorm our shot lists as we approach the shoot date.

This site visit followed an annual strategy meeting with one of our clients.

And getting here was half the fun.

Thanks for watching.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jan 15, 2010 at 6:01:27 pm site survey planning travel

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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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