Archive for May, 2009

Peru Roughcuts

Posted by Arlo on May 21, 2009 under Postcard Valet, Travel, Videos

Crouching Arlo, hidden Inca

As you may know, I took a little trip down to Peru last winter with a group of college students. I carried along my camcorder, shot 14 tapes worth of footage, and brought it all home for editing. Back in Alaska, I sat down with a few of the students and asked them to tell me some stories about their trip. I currently have 17 interview tapes, and I’m holding out hope for more.

Editing this together is a massive project. I started with a 500GB drive, then upgraded to 1TB. With all the videos, photos, audio, and preview files I’m currently working with, it’s already 93% full.

There’s just no easy way to edit the memories and experiences of 20 people on a month-long trip across Peru. I didn’t want to start any editing at all until I’d collected all the interviews, because as tough as it is to puzzle together eight stories about hiking the Inca Trail, it’d be even harder to try to shoehorn in a ninth after the fact. But then I realized I had everything I needed to start editing a certain part of the trip — a five-day jungle expedition – because it involved only Megan, Alison, and me, and I’ve already shot both of their interviews…

So, I dove in. And right now, I’m taking it just one little story at a time.

I shared some of these vignettes with Alison and Megan and seeing their reactions inspired me to keep going. For now, those two work well as my muses, but with a project this daunting, I can use all the motivation I can get. I thought creating a little podcast and sharing the stories with a wider audience as they’re completed would be fun. (With the students’ permission, of course — These video clips are eventually destined for a DVD that will only go out to those that went on the trip.)

It’ll be a bit before I get to the rest of the students. Later, we’ll visit Cusco, the Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, Lima, etc., but for now, these two girls have a lot to say about the Amazon Basin. It’ll probably seem like the “Megan and Alison Show” for a while, but that’s okay; they’re quite entertaining.

So, here you are. A quick little blog – nothing fancy – where I can post the rough edits of my grandisimo Peru DVD. They’ll be quarter-screen video, in an iPod-ready format, and posted once or twice a week. All you need is the free Quicktime player. Definitely subscribe to the podcast (or at least to the email updates) if you want to catch every episode.

Like what you see? Want to give me some feedback on the editing (Not too much criticism on the audio, please — acoustic sweetening will come much later in the process!) or leave a note for the students? Comment away!

And I do hope you enjoy watching these little clips half as much as I enjoyed creating them!

The first video is right this way…

Borsch How-to Video

Posted by Arlo on May 4, 2009 under Videos

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After an 8-hour work day, I have little energy left over for creative endeavors.  Awhile back, when I first renegotiated a 10-month contract with the university, I had all sorts of ideas for the two months I’d have off.  Whenever I wasn’t traveling, I wanted to be working on some sort of creative project.

In December of 2007, I watched a short, clever cooking video online.  I thought that I might want to create something like that during my upcoming time off.  I approached Oksana about making a “how to” cooking video centered around her borsch recipe.  She liked the idea; we went shopping for the ingredients.

We learned very quickly that cooking videos are not easy to make.  The cooking process itself doesn’t lend itself to multiple takes, pesky steam keeps fogging your lens, and cooking food doesn’t take time out for you to switch to a different angle.  We had grand plans for an explanatory voiceover, but gave it up when we realized it would add hours to the process.  Oksana cooked, I shot, we tried not to argue.  That was the best we could do.

Fast forward a month and I’ve got all the video on my hard drive.  I’m starting in on editing and realizing that making a cooking video engaging isn’t easy, either.  I played around with it for awhile, but bogged down on the timing.  I wanted to make a short video (who’s going to watch a ½ hour recipe on Youtube?) set to some sort of music.  Ozma did a great cover of the suitably Russian Korobeiniki, but their version was even shorter than I needed.  After individually adjusting the speed of maybe a sixth of the clips I wanted to use, I gave up.  Too tedious.

Still, it was a project I always hoped to return to and I passed it from backup hard drive to backup hard drive for two years.  Last week, I dug it up and went back to speed-adjusting clips.  As I was nearing the end of the first rough edit, I decided on a subtitle style.  One sixth of the way through those, I reflected on my penchant for tedium.

I stuck with it, though, and finished the video up this week.  I played the rough cut for Oksana and she approves.  I think there’s enough visual information in the video that an enterprising and ambitious cook could recreate her family’s recipe, but if not, I’m including the actual recipe after the jump.

If you make a batch, let us know how it turns out.  (Also, pro tip from Oksana: It’s actually better after sitting in the fridge overnight!)

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