Video production is what got me into my career in design and technology – shortly after graduating from College my GrandFather gave me a “sympathy” job at his company, Krofta Engineering. The company made waste-water treatment equipment for paper mills and sold internationally. My GrandFather, Milos Krofta, was a self-made man, a survivor of WWII and the Communists in Yugoslavia and had built a very succesful business from pretty miuch scratch after emigrating to the USA in the 50’s. Dr. Krofta was not much of one for “Marketing” which he considered a useless backwater where equally useless grandchildren could be relegated – he did sales and marketing the old-fashioned way – by going to the customer and not leaving until they signed a contract. He carried a test-tube in his suit pocket at all times and would dip it into the wastewater stream at whatever plant he was at, shake it vigorously, and expound on the benefits of air-flotation while the aeorsolized concotion floated the particulates the top. He was a great salesman.
In any case, he gave me a job preparing marketing support materials for his international sales force. After some discussion with the sales people in the field, we settled on videos as the preferred medium to tell the story about the technology, the people, and the Krofta story. I wrote my first script, hired an actor to do the on-screen narration, a cameraman to do the shoot, and off we went to a handful of locations around the North East to shoot the equipment in action.
I edited the spots myself, on a 3/4″ U-Matic SP to 1″AMPEX reel-to-reel VTR. A family friend had acquired what was then a “state of the art” video suite through a nasty lawsuit. It wasn’t functional when I first took it over but after yanking out about 2 miles of coax cable and rewiring the whole thing (I don’t know how it is that I know how to do that – I just do) I was up and running. I still remember the first “cut” that I made – it was a complete epiphany – one of the only truly amazing inspirational moments I can remember – I suddenly realized that I had found what I was missing. The act of editing – of selecting from hours and hours of footage down to a few seconds here and a few seconds there – was revelatory. I was in awe of the powerful tools for storytelling that were suddenly mine – to overlay images, sound, music, voice, text into a rich stew.
Making industrial videos in the Berkshires on tape was a tricky way to make a living in the early 90’s – I expanded the offerings of my fledgling business (yes – Dr. Krofta laid me off after I delivered the videos….it was traditional in our family!) – by moving into the earliest days of digital video via tiny quicktime postage-stamp video edited on an Mac Quadra 700 with a 4GB disk array running Adobe Premiere 1.0. It was digital heaven to move clips around without a care in the world, to cut and recut, and to revel in the world of non-linear editing.
In any case, today anyone with a laptop can edit killer HD video without blinking – the tools have evolved so quickly and the images are so beautiful now – and with YouTube and Vimeo you can shoot>edit>publish in no time at all. It’s a dream if you started way back in film or tape. I love video – I still love the way you can layer the story together and make something fun and beautiful and easy. We forget that in this amazing technology revolution that the thing we really have is art – new tools of art – that can make amazing things if we are just willing to sit down and imagine them…
Here’s a lovely (I think) little :46 second spot I made for a launch event of a new brand and website for “The Secret Corner” of North West Connecticut – it’s cobbled together from footage from a GoProHD camera, my Canon 5D MKII, my little Panasonic GF1, and my iphone – Amazing tools, every one! Edited in Final Cut Pro on my MacPro Tower with 16GB of RAM and 20TB of storage! Amazing, amazing, amazing how far we have come so fast – but in the end just so we can make something lovely and fun. Enjoy!