Day 45: Great Things Happen With Great People

Recently, I was able to do a collaborative piece with my friend Braedin. He had three friends Emily, Tsion, and Kate sit in a field and jam out their Bob Marley cover of Is This Love. I was able to help with location sound and editing, and the final product is the video below.

This collaboration was a lot of fun, and I’m glad that I was able to be apart of it. Looking back, there was one thing I learned specifically, and I’d like to share that with you.

Great Things Don’t Happen On Their Own

Whether you’re a musician, programmer, videographer, etc. You will at one time or another get the feeling that you can do it all on your own, and that you don’t really need anyone but yourself. Sure, you could release your own solo EP, program your own app for the iPhone App Store, or make your own documentary, but you wont accomplish anything great. It’ll be good. Not great.

Most of us are usually really great at one or two things, and pretty good at a lot of things. So, when you start dabbling in a big picture concept or production alone… you finish them… but all that was added was your one or two great things. As soon as you start bringing on more people to fill in specific roles and duties, the higher the chance that all of those roles will be accomplished with a higher sense of efficiency and quality.

Specialization Is Key

For this project I operated as the sound engineer, Braedin operated as a director of photography, And of course, you also have the musicians. I myself am a videographer, but for this project, that wasn’t my focus. If Braedin decided to shoot video, setup a bunch of tripods, and sync up all the audio, sure, he could have maybe come out with the same result. But the truth is, we didn’t have that much time to film at the location, so operating as an efficient team was key.

If you ever try to record drums in a studio by yourself, you’ll understand what I mean. You got to setup your session. Have an ample amount of time to get to the drums after you click record. Finally, click record. Play your part. Come back. Listen. Repeat. It can get mentally exhausting very quickly.

Instead of thinking about what you could accomplish on your own, think about what it is that you want the final product to be, and then assess what kind of team you need to get you there. Then either 1) you’ll finish your project more quickly then you expected too or 2) you’ll finish it with a higher sense of quality and greatness. Both of which are desirable outcomes. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself… Who do you want on your team?

 

Day 43: Saving For Your Future vs. Investing In Your Future

Having a considerable amount of video work coming up in the next two months has made me change the way I look at money. The truth is, I am not a considerably wealthy person. I was a university student for two years of my life who operated a home studio out of his basement; both of which don’t really make any money…

Saving vs. Investing

Whether it’s buying a new tripod head, upgrading a camera, or maybe buying some new on location audio equipment, these things start to cost a lot once you reach the “prosumer” grade. However, my mentor brought up a great point; you’ll pay it off within the month. This is what makes saving vs. investing radically different. 

After paying it off within the month, I’ll have a higher quality portfolio filled with content my old gear couldn’t achieve, along with a nice arsenal of professional equipment… and only a month went by! Sometimes we could be saving, and saving, and saving for months, or years until we finally take the plunge. Yet, if we would have taken a loan, or started to bootstrap equipment better, you could be miles ahead.

Not Everything Is An Investment

Of course, not every thing involving your profession could be considered an investment, and you have to be careful with that. “I just need a new MacBook Pro for programming”. No you don’t. “But I want to use Xcode”. Well… buy a Mac Mini thenand save yourself the money. Don’t use this as an excuse to get the latest and greatest. Those are peripheral things. Instead, bring yourself back to the goal; how I can start contributing more professionally to a certain field, as soon as possible.

What Should I Invest In

Saving is a great tool and discipline, but the truth is that it’s only half the story. Every dollar saved somewhere, should have a future purpose for being spent elsewhere. Money is only a means to accomplish an end, and the key is to make sure you remember what your real goal is; upgrading your education, buying new gear, saving for a house etc. When all you do is focus on the numbers, your creativity stagnates, and the fear of whether you have enough money will start take over. That kind of fear keeps you working a job for 30 years that you never really liked, just to let you take home a decent pay cheque, instead of fearing whether you’ll work a job that you actually like, for the next 30 years.

If you want to know what you should invest in, ask yourself what you would do if money wasn’t an issue. Would you be working the same job, or getting the same degree? Figure out what it is, and how your money, time and energy can be better used for the accomplishment of that purpose.

Check out this Ted Talk. It speaks towards overcoming fear, and doing what you’re passionate about.

Day 40: People Over Personal Computers

An interview with Steve Jobs from 1995, while he was still working with Next, provided some insightful input into what it means for someone to become enticed with curiosity. You can skip to 9:20 and watch till about 18:00 to see what I’m talking about, but for the most part, the entire interview is fairly phenomenal.

Putting A Face On Learning

Previously in the interview, Job’s was speaking towards the fact that he almost had his creativity and zeal for learning beat out of him by the time he was in Grade 4. However, a certain teacher decided to give him one last chance, and that chance helped re-engage his drive and desire to learn. Jobs, then mentioned that machines cannot engage someone with curiosity as well as a person can.

Putting a face behind learning isn’t something we naturally tend to do. Most of the time when someone envisions what it means to learn it usually looks like sticking your head in a textbook, taking some tests, and getting a passing grade or degree. Yet rarely do we equate it with professors, teachers, educators, and mentors. Like I said in an early post… who are you surrounding yourself with? Are you approaching life with a sense that there is always something to be learned from somebody? Or do you just equate that with “school” or “education”, letting yourself off the hook from learning in any other facet of your life?

Don’t Waste Your Time

If you’re in high school or university right now, I’d encourage you to fully utilize the ability to speak personally with your professors. Pick their brains. Ask them about their successes and failures. They are there for a reason. Otherwise it would be no different then taking the class online. Most of the professors I’ve had while attending University said specifically that they could be off doing some other thing that would make a lot more money, but the truth is, they enjoy teaching; and they enjoy teaching those that want to learn, even more.

It thrills me to say that you can learn a lot of what your learning in University on Lynda.com, but it also saddens me that University has become no more then an experience that could be swapped for an online tutorial, and you can change that… just by opening your mouth, asking a few questions, and become someone who wants to learn from people while the ability is still there.

Day 38: Apple WWDC 2014, Swift, and OOP

Considering it’s mostly Apple technology that’s powering my creative pursuits (my MacBook, MacPro, Final Cut Pro X); whether it’s programming, editing video, or recording in my studio. I thought it’d only be appropriate to talk a little bit about Apple’s WWDC, mainly the release of their new programming language, Swift, and how that’s affecting my journey in the programming space.

What Is OOP

After finishing my first tutorial on the PHP programming language awhile back, I figured it’d be good to move into object oriented programming (OOP). Object-oriented programming is an approach to designing modular, reusable software systems. Instead of running a piece of code from the top-down on a script, OOP allows you to create objects the operate independently of procedural code. An online shopping system would have objects like shopping cart, customer, and product. Each object will have multiple methods that you can call upon at different times within your code. Productfor instance, might have different behaviours such as electronics, books, or kitchenware. This brings a sense of hierarchy, which in turn makes for more clean, readable, and manageable code… and for someone who’s just diving into programming, that’s always a plus.

OOP, iOS and Swift

iOS development uses the programming language Objective-C, an OOP language. I figured an exciting way to learn OOP, would be to dive into iOS development, and in turn, prepare myself to be able to take on the programming language, Swift, in the future. I’m a firm believer in remaining updated with the latest software, techniques, and hardware for whatever task it is that I’m working on. Seeing as how the iPhone and iPad are working even closer with desktop systems like OS X, it’s only reasonable to assume that the mobile development space is not even close to slowing down.

The following video is a basic look at the Xcode development software for Apple, and is one of the introductory lessons to the iOS App Development Essential Training course on Lynda.com.

Day 36: You Are The Average Of Your Five Closest Friends

This past week, multiple videography jobs have been falling into my lap left and right, and improving my skill set has been only half the story as to why this has been happening; the other half I credit towards people. These people are those who I’ve been surrounding myself with.

“You are the average of the five closest people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Learning From A Friend

I have a friend who got married this past New Years. He lived in California, and so I took a road trip with some friends down to California to attend his wedding. Ironically, he’s a videographer, and shoots weddings as well. While I was down there, I had the time to ask him how he get into wedding videography, and he said “easy, I just called up the best wedding videographer in town and asked if he could teach me.” I thought that sounded too easy… but it was the truth… and that struck a pretty deep chord in me. A chord that resonated and said I can do that too.

Learning From An Expert

When I got back, I approached a friend who was a professional videographer, and asked if I could help him out with his shoots. Not for money, but just to help, and be there, and learn. Over the time I helped with his shoots I learned things like how to manage a film shoot efficiently, dealing with multiple camera angles, the benefit of using different lenses, and not to mention using gear that I could have never gotten my hands on with my own personal budget. And the benefit for him… he got a guy willing to lug around his gear for free. Hah. What a deal! Now, I consider him a sort of mentor in the field of videography.

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Day 33: Mdat.mov, Corrupt Video Files, and Keywords

If you’ve been following my blog for sometime, you’ll know that over the weekend I lost all of the video I shot on my DSLR because the SD card became corrupt. Well… I’m sitting here at a Starbucks fixing my corrupted files slowly but surely, and I’ve learned some thing that every person, who’s involved in todays tech sector, needs to know. Keywords.

What Are Keywords

Keywords are, well… the keywords you use in order to place searches in either online databases, search engines like Google, or even a help file built into an application. I have a pretty well rounded understanding of how to utilize the functionality of keyword searches, but today has reminded me how important they really are.

Diagnosing The Problem

You see, after recovering my SD card’s corrupted data, I found that my .MOV files were actually separated into two separate files. Ones that had the extension of ftyp.mov, and the others that had an extension of mdat.mov. Each file consists of certain unique elements that when the two files are combined, create the on .MOV file we are so used to clicking on, and playing on our computers.

After hours of searching online for a program that could help me to combine these files, and recover my shots, I came up empty handed… until today. A few hours ago, I decided to give it one last shot. I began searching in Google for “fragmented .mov files”, and then “corrupt .mov files” and then “mdat.mov” and “recover mdat.mov files” etc. Until finally, I found one forum where a user mentioned the word “truncated”. He specifically said “truncated mp4”. I then decided to google “repair truncated mp4”, and I finally found relevant content. Multiple companies offering different programs to repair .mp4 and .mov files.

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Day 31: Committing vs. Upgrading

There’s a fine balance between being an early adopter, or committing to an older way of doing things. I know some people who can make better recordings on Garageband, then some people who work on Pro Tools. Why? Mainly because the one who’s been using Garageband has been using it for years, and knows his way around the program perfectly (however limited it might be), versus the person who’s been jumping from Garageband, to Ableton, to Sonar, to Pro Tools.

Committing vs. Upgrading

So, I’d like to ask this question… are you at a point where you should be upgrading your methods, or committing to them? An easy way to find out is to look at how many years you’ve been using your method, and how many things you’ve accomplished through them. Are the scales tipping in your favour?

If you’re not accomplishing anything, either your method is to outdated to accomplish what needs to be done by today’s standards, or you plain out haven’t learned as much as you need in order to accomplish what you want. I’m a sucker for being an early adopter, and hopping from one thing to the next mainly because I’m so fascinated with all the things that are out in the world.

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Day 29: When Things Go Wrong

This post was technically supposed to be a time-lapse of the night sky in Princeton BC, but I’m being honest… it wasn’t able to happen due to technical difficulties. However, I learned a lot this past weekend. My church has a mens retreat once a year, and this year we had the privilege to go up to RockRidge Canyon in Princeton BC for the weekend. The overall weekend of the retreat was good. I got asked to film over the weekend, so my church could put together a small highlight reel to show all the people who didn’t come, mainly the women… hah.

What Happened

Over the weekend I got some great shots, until the end of the last day. Some friends of mine and myself lifted our pastors car onto milk crates as a prank. It turned out pretty well, and we filmed the whole thing. We thought it’d be funny to show the video when we have our evening session, so I got my card out of my camera, and put it into my laptop… to find out… my SD card became corrupt.

What Did I Do

For the next five hours I spent researching and digging through the internet to find data recovery programs. The thing is with flash memory, even if the card is corrupt, the data is still there. At least, corrupt bits of it… I got a program called TestDisk for Mac, which is free, and runs in Terminal. It recovered nearly 50 Gigabytes of corrupt footage off of my 32gb SD card. It even recovered my old hyper-lapse photos from Oregon. Sounds great, right? Well… it turns out the way Canon DSLR’s write movie footage is through random sequenced data. It doesn’t actually create one file. The stitching of the sequenced pieces of data creates one file in the end (the .MOV). After digging through .MOV repair programs, I was left empty handed. The only thing left was a site that charged an arm and a leg to repair up to five files manually. In the end it was no help because I have over 100+ files.

I have yet to touch my SD card in hopes that someone here in Vancouver does these kinds of repairs/data recovery services specifically for DSLR video. Yeah, that’s right… I only brought one SD card to Princeton. So in light of all of this, I thought this would be a good moment to share a few simple things that I learned. Things which you all should know if you wish to take part in DSLR Photography or Videography.

  1. When you transfer content off of your SD card… don’t take out your SD card. Just plug in the USB cable into the camera. The less you take the SD card in and out of the camera, the better.
  2. Always bring more then one SD card. This might sound like common sense. But for me, I felt too comfortable with my 32GB card. I should have brought my extra 8GB card in case. At least.
  3. TestDisk is an actual program that recovers your corrupted data fairly well… it’s also free… and fully functioning.
    • For videographers, you will get a series of corrupted sequenced data that should technically make up ONE .mov file, which will need to be repaired manually.
    • For photographers, you’re in luck. If you ever need to recover photos. It recovers them flawlessly. All the photos from this past weekend were fully saved; RAW and all.
  4. Lighten up. Stuff happens. We move on, and learn from our mistakes.

How Do I Feel

I feel like I am that much more of a prepared videographer now that this has happened. I would never wish this upon anyone, and it still has left a bitter taste in my mouth, but if this has happened to you I would encourage you to move forward and to ask yourself “What can I learn from this?”. When you start asking those questions you’ll start having answers that more unexperienced professionals would never have, because they never got themselves into a place where they needed to ask those questions. Don’t let your mistakes go to waste. Take the time. Learn from them. What are some unfortunate things that have happened to you while on the job? How did you learn from them?

The following photo is one of the few I was able to recover. It was a test shot I took the first night to prepare for my time-lapse.

sky_Fotor

Day 26: Put Down The Textbook

Over this past week I’ve been doing a lot more freelancing work, both audio and video. It’s amazing what happens when you throw yourself out there, meet people, and make connections. This week entailed sitting down with multiple people to plan out a few projects to record their EP or Single, as well as some film shoots. I haven’t had as much time to do anything else because of it.

Put Down The Textbook

There comes a point when you need to put what you know into practice, and over this past month I’ve forgotten about that every now and then. I love learning, growing, and being challenged, but sometimes putting yourself to work is the best way to accomplish these things; sometimes you just need to make stuff.

I’ve noticed that I remember things better when I learn them under high-pressure situations; and no, that doesn’t mean studying for an exam. What I mean is when your filming a concert, and you need to setup the shot before they start the next song. Or filming a wedding and making sure everything is going as planned, as the bride walks down the isle. It’s under these circumstances that I so often go back to in my mind, and remember how I overcome adversity.

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Day 24: Sometimes You Need A Teacher

This past while, I’ve been finishing my Pro Tools 10 Essential Training course on Lynda.com and I found that I learned how to troubleshoot my sessions better.

What Is Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving, often applied to repair failed products or processes. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so that it can be solved, and so the product or process can be made operational again.” – Wikipedia (Because I love Wikipedia)

What I Learned

Pro Tools handles your computers RAM in a way I never really knew about. Knowing about it will now help me be able to streamline my computers processing power in different types of recording sessions. One thing I never knew about was how the undo commands in Pro Tools were stored in your RAM. (But I guess all undo commands in any program are stored in your RAM, so I learned something new all together) You can have a max of 32 undos stored, but each one thats being stored takes memory away from other memory intensive tasks.

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