Punch Cards, Digital Resolution and Angels Among Us

Punch Cards

Garbage In and Garbage Out – Literally

Ye Old Punch CardsMy first introduction with computers was circa 1975 with mainframes, punch cards and programming simplistic slot machines with random fruits – e.g., cherries, lemons, oranges, and dollar signs – any combination of which would spin and land in three-pane lucky display screen.

It was also a time when I started to begin the journey through boyhood puberty and migrate into the ongoing evolution of manhood, personhood, humanhood, et al.

It was during this boyhood time while programming random numbers that I was first exposed to some fundamental concepts for achieving ongoing success with computers (e.g., managing the three levels of inputs, processing, and outputs). Thus part of my early picture included computer teachers and experts beating into my growing computer-awareness, “Garbage-in is Garbage-out.”

This became obvious, tactical, hand-felt wisdom with the early punch cards as those cards that were less than perfectly punched or less than perfectly flat were promptly spit out and rejected as unusable.

Thus no amount of nifty logic or elegant programming referencing random fruits, berries, and/or dollar signs would ever see the light of day, but I digress.

Digital Resolution

Sonic Turd Polishing

Moving forward and years later – circa 2001 during days of explosive growth with DAWS (Digital Audio Workstations), project studios and technical advances across the digital audio spectrum, I enjoyed a conversation with an audio engineering expert and friend who candidly stated, “You know Chuck, in my business they call it turd polishing – if the client gives you inputs that are turds, no matter how much audio polishing you do, it’s still a turd.”

Yikes – new multimedia information and different take on conventional wisdom of garbage-in and turd-polished outs.

However, I was recently reminded that we can work with less than perfect inputs on creative level through some “happy accidents” and turn out good stuff.

Below is my point – visually. One of my clients handed me material that was 5-Diamond in spirit, nature of story, and content level, but it was a lot less radiant in the areas of digital resolution and digital quality.

This is a sensitive area and let me state that I honor all those on the digital paths. We all start somewhere and the spirit of this piece is to highlight how we can work creatively with things we think might not work, yet continue to work with what we have and move forward in getting better in using what we have to accomplish our mission at hand.

In this case, the client handed me 18 minutes of video footage from single-chip camera that was hand-shot (e.g., no tripods, no external mics, no lighting, no script – more akin to documentary style shooting), highly compressed as mpeg1 320×240, along with a handful of stills that were 1-2meg jpegs each.

Mission from client was, “Here is our story – how best can it be told effectively online?”

The answer is in the proof below with the ending video result.

Knowing neither the video or stills were commanding (digital resolution wise that is), we decided best to split the screen and use both videos and pics at the same time to tell the story, thus in part distract you from overly focusing in on either one at a time and seeing the granular pixations or other blemishes.

In the finished clip below, on one side you see pictures with the Ken Burns effect with panning and cropping. On the other side of the screen you see the video that corresponds to the story in the pics moving along.

Whenever either the stills or the video gets weird (e.g., quality of color, lighting, shakiness, etc) we then dropped an effect on that clip and voila – all of a sudden, things that seemed like mistakes (e.g., pictures out of focus) became awesome transitions that moved the story along with added effects and emotional dimensions.

But happy accidents with effects and visual polishing was only part of it.

The other part was how to sonically pull the viewer thru the story and hence the need to find some fun, offbeat music that could drive yet fit with the various live recordings of volunteers, pastor, and background beats -> Enter the soundtrack, “Gobble Gobble Funk” by you know who!

In the end, I think this piece works really, really well in telling the client’s story.

Welfare in America

Before Institutional Welfare in America We Had Communities Helping Communities – and Still Do

The last thing I will mention is the title, “Feeding the Angels Among Us.”

This was perhaps the hardest part about scripting and editing this piece. My customer who pays the bills is obvious, but his stakeholders and the constituents they dance with is something that is multilateral, highly diverse and commands respect from all levels.

Some how to say, “feeding the needy” seemed untruthful to those pictured here in this video. After all, these “stars” played a part in the role of life’s give-in-take and somehow there seemed to be a higher truth in naming the title, one that those standing in line, when viewing this clip, would also be proud of.

Which leads me to concept of – is it more blessed to receive or to give?

I don’t know but it seems like sometimes those of us who give can feel entitled to a little moment of self righteous – e.g., “Hey, I just did something for somebody – doesn’t that count for something, somewhere, on somekind of karmic scorecard?” – and I often wonder if the other person who receives isn’t really an Angel in disguise who isn’t silently saying, “Dude, if only you really knew – it is I who is willing to serve as your reminder that God gives us each different talents and skills. Thanks for sharing and best of success with your unfolding generosity of time, gifts, talents, investment in Highest Good, et al.”

Watch Video

Feeding the Angels Among Us

And Here is Blurb I Put on YouTube

During November 2007, over 10 parishes within the Bridgeport Diocese participated in “Feeding the Angels Among Us.” Over 750 birds plus fix’ns for a family of four flew out the doors of Blessed Sacrament – a new record!

Father Chip O’Neill, from SaintPatrickBridgeport.com was the Event Administrator and did all the filming and photography.

Photographer, Videgrapher, Event Administrator: Father Chip O’Neill
Editing, Effects, Soundtrack: Chuck Scott @ ChuckScott.com

Thanksgiving 2007 at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Bridgeport Connecticut

 

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3 Responses

  1. Ethan
    Ethan at | |

    Really great!

    How’d you do the spiral transition at 2:03? Is that a stock Vegas effect?

    The music was perfect too. Was that done with arpeggiator patterns in your
    synth plus some live playing on top?

    Also, this was a great example of what religion should do. If they stuck to
    acts of kindness like this, and kept out of politics and people’s private
    bedrooms, I’d be a big supporter. :->)

    All in all, good show my man!

  2. Chuck
    Chuck at | |

    As for the effect at 2:03 -> its a plugin for Vegas called “Spice Master” – basically a library of swipes and transition effects that i bought years ago when i bought Premiere but couldn’t figure out how to get them work … the Douglas Spotted Eagle book mentioned them so i dug them out and figured out how to work with them and voila :>)

    And as to the music -> the music was happy accident years back with Kurzweil 2500 or 2600 – in that one night i found a pattern, turned on the apreggiator that gave it some groove, then jammed to the beat with one left hand occasionally dancing on the ribbon strip hence the warbled effects … was a one take thing that i pumped into Soundforge before i’ve since learned how to go into Sonar with the midi and the audio from Triton in case i want to go back and edit … came across this clip while i was cataloging some of the older clips that i was putting on new Western Digital Terabyte drive and thought “hnmm – this should work for that project” and voila – gobble gobble funk :>0

    thanks for kudos :>)

  3. Mark
    Mark at | |

    No offense, but that video was painful to watch! I think part of the problem was ‘too much visual noise’ going on with the split screen. Plus the other thing about the split is that it seemed unnatural in the vertical direction and might have been better in the horizontal, less claustrophobic. Nice, heroic attempt though!

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