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The Truth About Unpaid Internships

At the end of my college career, I took on my third and last internship. It was a loosely structured gig for a local alternative magazine that included such tasks as shooting video at events, interviewing attendees, editing highlights videos, and driving a rainbow colored jeep through a minefield of drunk people in a park downtown. 

The position was unpaid like all my other internships, and the technicolored vehicle was actually not the worst part of the deal.



When I was accepted as an intern, I was told that I wouldn't have regular hours to come into the office. Instead, I'd pick a local event or two each week, show up with a camera, edit a quick piece within the week, and post it to the magazine's website with a brief write-up of the event. I'd work with a producer on staff to make sure my pieces were up to par with their standards, and I'd have an "awesome" time getting into whatever events interested me the most for free. 

Surprisingly enough, it was my third internship where I realized I hadn't asked enough questions upfront.

After a month at this gig, a few things became clear. The "producer" I was working with wasn't really interacting with me other than to say "good" when I'd send a piece to him. It didn't matter if it was good, or even watchable. Showing up alone at crowded bars and outdoor festivals with my own camera and editing on my own system (for free) wasn't as great as it sounded. There was also an aspect of the internship that was downplayed to me when I was hired: being the face and presence of the magazine while covering the event. This meant setting up a tent, handing out random free advertising stuff to the crowd, and generally acting like a booth babe while also trying to be credible enough to conduct an interview.

I started to think that this was quite a strange internship situation I found myself in when I was driving the jeep through the minefield of overheated drunk people during Indy's Wine Fest. I wasn't on a rampage, we were always supposed to park the jeep next to our tent. This time the tent happened to be surrounded by hundreds of winos laying in tall grass on a humid June afternoon.



That's when I asked a question every intern should ask themselves: is this wasting my time?

Last week, a judge ruled that 20th Century FOX should have paid a couple of interns on Black Swan because they were essentially acting as employees. Their internship wasn't structured as an educational experience, and the company was getting benefits from them without offering anything in return. As a result, internships have been a hot topic this week, at least on my social media. Some people think this sets a precedent to eliminate unpaid internships from the entertainment industry. I don't think that's possible or likely, but then again, what do I know about law and junk.

All I know is what I've experienced, and I've been on both sides of it. I had two internships that I felt were mutually beneficial. Then I had a third where I was pushing unchecked content onto the web as quickly as possible as to maintain a (well known) magazine's web presence. 

The beneficial ones -- one at a production house, the other at a museum -- had me doing silly tasks occasionally, of course. I'd fetch lunch and answer phones, or scour the Internet for mundane information. I had to deal with being treated like an intern, if you know what I mean. But respectfully so. And I'd also sit in front of an Avid, get feedback from experienced producers, and get hands on with equipment my school didn't offer to me. The companies were always aware that I was unpaid, and they always made an attempt to check in with me to assure I felt the arrangement was mutual. Except for the magazine, anyway.

The truth about internships is that they do really suck. I spent between 10 and 20 hours a week working unpaid at these three organizations while also working nearly full time and going to school full time. As a result, I felt that none of these things ever really had my full attention. That's true for a lot of people, and it's become a fact of getting into the industry. A lot of people can't find the time to pursue an internship because of financial reasons. If I had chosen to go to a much better school that was further away, I couldn't have afforded the time off from a job to work for free in the city an hour away. No freakin' way. And if you can't make internships and finances work, your chances in the industry diminish greatly. It sucks that a doorway into the industry is dependent on your ability to pay for it because a large group of (probably talented) people are instantly eliminated.

Maybe what sucks the most is the attitude surrounding internships by people who are now successful. "If you want it, you'll make it work." The competition for a job where you'll work your ass off for no money becomes fierce because you have to want it more than anyone else, and they want it more than you. What, you don't want to live in a cardboard box and eat out of dented cans? Well screw you, you're not worth of this industry.
There's also the matter of giving a company 10-20 (or more) hours of your TIME for FREE for MONTHS. It seems insane to think about how much time you have to give to a company just to prove you're dedicated and trustworthy. Not just once, but multiple times.

Yet for a completely inexperienced editor or videographer, I'm not sure how else this could work. You volunteer your time, they understand that you are not yet entry-level, and everybody wins. 

But only if the feeling is mutual. And often it is not.

After a quick calculation, I figured out that I worked about 550 hours for companies for free during college. A lot of people work more. And a lot of people working more aren't asking if they're getting anything out of the internship because they're just grateful for the opportunity to be in the building or put that company on their resume. They wouldn't quit an internship even if they never learned a single useful thing because they're taught that quitting is a terrible, unforgivable act that leaves you on the industry blacklist in an instant. I saw it happen to friends who were stuck in iffy places. My SCHOOL even told these people, after being presented with the facts, that they shouldn't quit under any circumstances. 

Just like a regular paid job, there are some internships you can and SHOULD walk away from. If a company isn't treating its interns well, it probably doesn't have much weight in the industry anyway. 

Ask a lot of questions and set your expectations. Don't like what you hear? Leave.

I had two good experiences where I was asked what I wanted out of the internship. I had one bad experience where I was essentially used as an unpaid freelancer using her own equipment to produce content for search optimization. Guess which one was shortest.

It's a necessary evil, and legislation probably isn't going to leave you with any new regulations. As an intern, you're almost certainly on your own and you have to stick up for yourself. It's intimidating to be at your first (or second, or third) internship, the lowest person on the ladder. But once you start giving your time away for free with no reciprocity, you're only screwing yourself and all those who come after you. You aren't being paid. That doesn't mean you can't have demands. In fact, your needs should become even more important. Driving a clown car that looks like someone threw up a bunch of gummi bears? Probably not relevant to your career, but you can make that call for yourself.


Posted by: Kylee Peña on Jul 1, 2013 at 7:07:56 pmComments (2) internships, video production

Cautionary Tale in Data Management

I have 50 gigabytes of x-rated material on my external drive, including photos of a girl wearing my prom dress.

Wait, that may have been the wrong way to start this story. It wasn't my prom dress.

Last year, I was brought in as an editor to a large project rather late in the planning process. It was so quick that I didn't get any input on data management. I found out later the first assistant camera guy would be wrangling data and delivering it to me on a USB 2.0 drive. Goodie!

I got my footage (nearly 2TB) and we parted ways. I finished the project and that was the end of that.

Last week, I was archiving things and consolidating down old files to my external drives. I did a Spotlight search for "Lightroom" to make a backup of my catalog. Suddenly, dozens of professional nude portraits popped up in my Finder window. After wondering for a moment if I had forgotten about shooting an intense burlesque studio session, I opened the enclosing folder.

I discovered that it was in a sort of temporary recycling bin directory that had been written to my drive. I never noticed it before because it had previously been hidden. I recently ran a Terminal command to show all my hidden files for a reason I can't recall, so when this particular folder did appear I thought nothing of it. It's just a funky looking folder with a random string of letters and numbers.

At first I thought my drive had come to me with this material, which included hundreds of mundane personal files and hundreds more very personal photos. Another directory was even more alarming: a huge stash of adult entertainment, some of it with very graphic names. Trying to figure out if I had somehow gotten a used hard drive or if I crossed paths with this person somehow (despite the fact my hard drive has never left my editing room), I clicked on an image with a safe looking thumbnail.

It was the girl whose iTunes library and portraits had popped up in my Finder. Wearing the same prom dress as me. Um, what?

I went to sleep puzzled about how this got on my hard drive, wondering if the manufacturer had pulled a fast one, and totally weirded out at the prom dress. Seriously, that thing was the only one like it for miles in my area. And the way these files were organized, it seemed like they might have come from separate systems.

The next morning I decided to take a couple screen shots in case I determined I needed to ask the manufacturer "WTF MAN" and jumped into the uh, restricted directory for maximum impact. I noticed a file called "me.jpg" and clicked on it thinking I could at least know if this massive library of restricted material was prom dress girl's, or if my hard drive somehow had multiple people writing stuff to it before it arrived at my house.

No, wasn't her. It was a guy in a very colorful pose, showing parts of himself that I didn't really want to see bright and early in the morning. Or at all.

Wait, he looks familiar.

Oh. Yep. It's the first assistant camera operator from that shoot last year. But wait, there's more. More self-portraits and videos.

Yep, just gonna close that and go think about my life.

So here's what I think happened. Dude had an external drive of his own for the shoot. It also had his big ol' stash of personal files on it. He put all the stuff on there from the shoot, deleted the personal stuff, and cloned it to the USB 2 drive. Oops, it cloned the deleted files too. Then I cloned that drive to one that has FireWire 800 and eSata so I could actually work with the stuff. Ta da, a lovely surprise.

So what did we learn here, kids? Two major takeaways, really.

First, don't store your entire personal library of quiet reflective time entertainment on the same drive you'll be storing footage from a job, especially if you'll be sharing that drive. Ain't nothing wrong with some personal entertainment, don't think I'm judging anyone here. But keep it separate if you're going to keep it. Personal files of any nature shouldn't cross paths with work stuff.

And second, nothing is really deleted when you just hit that delete key. If you delete something you really don't want anyone else seeing without your permission (writings, credit card information, pictures of your wang), it can easily be recovered. So easily that I did it accidentally. Look at the different levels of erasure available when you reformat a hard drive. There are apps you can use to securely delete files -- to an extent. If it's really important, perhaps the best (and most satisfying) way is smashing the drive with a hammer. Most erasures can be cracked by someone, though lower levels of erasure are probably fine when the person isn't expecting to find any bonus materials anyway.

So that's why I have 50 gigabytes of restricted material on my hard drive. Maybe what amuses me the most is the additional time this person took to copy an unnecessary 50 gigs over USB 2. 

That and the prom dress thing. The prom dress girl is still a bit of a mystery. I'm guessing it's from the same guy and that he stored her files when they were dating or something. Unfortunate for her that she trusted someone with her stuff that is clearly not great at data management. On the plus side, she was excellent taste in formalwear.

(Here's the dress. I'm not posting hers, obviously.)



Posted by: Kylee Peña on Jun 8, 2013 at 2:39:40 pmComments (1) data management, video production

Midwesterners: come to a meet-up in Chicago tomorrow!

Over the last couple weeks, I've sorta helped toss together a midwestern meet-up of editors and other creative types. So the least you can do is show up.

It's at 7PM central time at Karl Productions, 1743 N. Harlem Ave in Chicago, the workplace of @chicagoaviduser.

We're just meeting up and hanging out. No raffles or speakers. If you want to bring something, we'll eat or drink it.

We have people attending from 3 or 4 states, so don't complain that you have to drive an hour. I'm driving like 3 friggin' hours, and I-65 between Indianapolis and Chicago is SO BORING. Luckily the slated attendees are pretty cool and you should want to know them. Deb is bringing nut rolls.

There's an Eventbrite if you want to be nice and RSVP. But it's okay if you just show up.


Posted by: Kylee Peña on May 23, 2013 at 5:22:06 am chicago, meetup

On Networking, Being Direct, & Not Acting Like a D*#% Online

This is an anecdote about the importance of putting yourself out there, not being shy, and not acting like a d*ck on the Internet.

I grew up shy. I was in at least two stage productions a year from the moment I went to junior high, but introducing myself to people or confronting people was nearly out of the question. It's probably part of the reason I gravitated toward post production - a lot less talking to a lot fewer people, generally. Over the years, I kind of grew out of it. But being an introvert and avoiding speaking to people for fear of burdening them with your silly concerns or saying something stupid always lingers.

Basically my first instinct is NOT to go running up to strangers to talk their ear off in a social situation.

I've been a member of the COW for few years, but I lurked for a few years before that (shy, afraid of saying something stupid). My first year at my first job out of college, I spent almost all of my downtime on the COW forums reading about others' mistakes and learning a lot about Premiere and FCP7 and After Effects. Turns out, the power users that know their stuff are regular contributors to the community. Not just on Creative COW, but also across the Internet on their own sites and social media. I ran into the same people a LOT, and they taught me nearly everything that was important in transitioning from being a student to being a professional. And they didn't even know me.

I've been on Twitter since 2007, and the Twitter post community really came to life in 2009 or 2010. I was always aware of myself when I was talking to some of these power users. They're just editors, but you don't want to act like an idiot in front of someone you respect right? Even if to them, you're another random person.

Then came NAB 2012 and face to face interactions. By then, I'm sure some of these people I held in high regard had an awareness of me simply because we'd crossed paths online fairly often. But we didn't KNOW each other. We'd never met. And they weren't going to hunt ME down. So one of my goals for my first NAB was to introduce myself to a small list of important people to thank them for assisting anonymous internet users like me.

As an introvert, it's definitely not easy to walk up to a relative stranger and speak to them. It's not like I have massive social anxiety either, so don't give me too much credit. But still, it's a little uneasy for most people. But it's got to be done, so I made a mental list of people I wanted to say hello to and found them. To my surprise, most of them not only knew me, but they were the friendliest people I met. I've said it before: Twitter is a great ice breaker. If you're worried about saying something dumb, you're already ahead of 99% of Twitter users, so just go for it.

I've tried to be an active member of the post community online and locally. I'm honest and opinionated, but in measured ways. I probably take more than I give from our community, especially on the COW forums (and usually in the form of a Google search for a long-answered question) but I always try to be respectful. Internet tough guy syndrome sometime makes a person feel invincible; then you go to a conference or user group meeting and realize all these avatars have real people behind them. Real people that are worth knowing.

Anyway, the point of this story is that I recently accepted a video editor position with Biscardi Creative Media! I wouldn't know Walter without the COW and Twitter, and he absolutely wouldn't know me. There's almost no crossing of paths between Indianapolis and Atlanta. I attribute this awesome new opportunity to putting myself out there (online and in person), not being shy, and not acting like a d*ck on the Internet. And also probably some aspect of editorial talent…but mostly not acting like a fool.

It's something that's worth keeping in mind when the forum discussions get heated, maybe.

And definitely worth noting when someone says "Social media? Psh, I don't have time for that life-wasting stuff!" Guess what? Social media is just as inevitable as the cloud and death and taxes, and it's an important tool. Not just for networking, finding jobs and providing an introvert's buffer zone, but mostly for developing REAL friendships.

So expect some COW blog cross-over beginning this summer!


Posted by: Kylee Peña on May 9, 2013 at 5:43:47 amComments (16) networking, social media

Where Are All My Ladies at NAB?

When I was in Vegas a couple weeks ago for the NAB Show, I went to the Hofbräuhaus, the traditionally crazy German restaurant based on the brewery of the same name in Munich which is loaded up with a menu of Deutschland beers and meats.

The south lower hall at the convention center had more sausage than this place.

And that's my crude and unladylike way of asking: where all the women at?

Video post-production has been male-dominated for a long time. I don't need to be reminded of the big time Hollywood editors that have made their mark on the industry: Sally Menke, Thelma Schoonmaker, plenty of ladies in television doing great stuff. Or that there are a lot more women coming about now than there have been in the last few decades. I also don't need to be reminded that editing started with women. None of us do. It's common knowledge. They're out there, working and being really good and probably being better than you.

So where ARE all of these women hiding at NAB? I spent a day walking around the lower south hall. The ONLY time a female spoke to me was to scan my badge. If I had questions, I talked to a guy. I didn't participate in Post Production World this year, but I glanced at their speaker list: three ladies, two of which talked about social media and producing/directing. Christine Steele is the only one on the roster actually talking about post production. Really?

I spent another couple days working in a booth. I remember seeing a few women workers, but they were mostly around for the performance side of things. Or to scan badges and collect forms. Hell, even IN the booth, I talked to very few women.

But I'm going to be honest here and say that part of me sees the distinct abundance of Y chromosomes on the show floor, while the other part of me says "yeah, so?" Big deal, right? We're all equal, so if there's mostly guys, that's just the way it shook out and maybe there will be more girls next year. No reason to force it if there's just no girls available, to work at NAB or to send from your company to attend.

But then I go back to the part of me swimming in dudes, and I wonder if I should be asking "why" a little louder. I doubt intentional malice here. I don't think most guys are overtly sexist about including knowledgable women on their NAB teams, and I REALLY don't think the organizers of Post Production World are smoking in a back room, laughing maniacally over their old boy's club, plotting on how they can get rid of Christine once and for all. I can't speak for employers choosing to send male employees to NAB over women because I can totally see that happening, though I hope it doesn't…much.

I just wonder if I should be asking "why" a little louder in case nobody really thought about it.

Correct me if I'm wrong (really), but I've heard the NAB Show of maybe 10+ years ago described as a very male-dominated and bigwig-only type experience. Decision-makers were the most plentiful attendees, so lower ranked employees weren't around so much and certainly weren't so included in anything of importance. And most decision-makers were guys because that's just how the industry is or was then. That's how a lot of industries are, in fact, so it's not like I'm accusing the video industry of being some crazy backwards place. There have been several gigantic companies only recently naming their first female CEO. So you know, whatevs. But what if the lack of gals on the show floor is just a remnant of that time? Just invite back the same people, send the guys because they'll get more out of it, do the usual thing we do every year, just go about our business as we always have.

Or you could try some fresh meat, you guys. Not just women, but in general. If the best choice for your business is to bring an 18-35 year old white male to man your booth or teach your class or represent your company, then I'm not going to argue with you or say you're a male chauvinist pig and burn my bra in protest. I'm just asking: why?

Have you thought about it?



Posted by: Kylee Peña on Apr 22, 2013 at 12:34:57 pmComments (9) nab show, women

My Not-So-Secret Diary: NAB 2013

I'm not sure how many times you have to go to NAB before the old(er) people stop pinching your cheeks, but it turns out two isn't the number of times. Not that it bothers me in the least because I'll be the first to tell you I know nothing. I really don't. There are a lot of ways to experience an event of this magnitude, and in many ways this year was just like number one all over again. This was the first year I had an exhibitor badge, and the first year I had a press badge. These both unlock whole new sections of NAB, like leveling up in an awesome video game. But..you know..some of this stuff seems sacred. Like maybe not just anyone should know about it. Just the few thousand people each year that exhibit and/or cover the show. So forgive me, but I've kept the gritty details to myself, between me and the pages of my private diary.

It'd be an awful shame if those pages ever got out and plastered all over the Internet...



--

Saturday, April 6th - 8 AM EST

Dear Diary,

Next time I go to NAB, for the love of god, remind me to start packing earlier. I can't believe I have to spend 4 hours in Texas with less sleep than that.

XOXO - me


Saturday, April 6th - 11:30 PM PST

Dear Diary

The flight was lovely. Thanks for asking. Did you know there's a buffet in Caesar's where you can get unlimited piles of crab legs? It's perverse.

Another thing that's perverse is how often it's discussed that my room at the Riviera last year smelled like balls. And it's rarely ever ME that brings it up. This time, it was our (meaning me and my husband) good friend and fellow hotel-dweller Ben Barden that made the observation over late drinks in the Tempo Bar. He said that he found it very funny that the origin of our friendship was a tweet about a smell. He tweeted back about his room's misgivings, we ended up meeting at Post Production World, and then we hung out the rest of the week. Paraphrasing him here: "If your room hadn't smelled like balls, we probably wouldn't know each other!"



Ponder that one, diary. I've got sleep to catch up on.

Hugs-n-cuddles, me


Monday, April 8th - 12:35 AM PST

My dear diary,

Today was one of those days that feels like 5 days.

You see, this year I have two badges. One is a news media badge, and the other is an exhibitor badge. You can guess where the news media badge is from, but the exhibitor I'll tell you more about. I'll be spending Tuesday and Wednesday inside the Small Tree Communications booth talking about Ethernet shared storage as a creative individual rather than an engineer. I'm very much looking forward to this. But one day at a time here, let's recount what happened today.



Diary, I know you aren't sentient (I don't think..) but remember how I declared the lower south hall to be Disneyland last year? Well, turns out with an exhibitor badge, I can enter the south hall before the show opens. Duh, right? How else does all the stuff get set up? How, indeed. Small Tree told me to stop by the booth if I had time and check it out, so I did. You know what it's like to go in the south hall on Sunday morning?

IT'S LIKE CATCHING YOUR PARENTS WRAPPING YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FROM SANTA.

Which isn't as traumatic as it sounds. Every kid (hopefully) goes through the rite of passage where they jump from one side to the other and then have the opportunity to share in the fun of keeping the mystery alive. It's like the circle of life, except not like the Lion King version where Mufasa dies because that SUCKS.



If you haven't seen the south hall in progress, let me describe it (at least for 2013): very hot, a lot of men swearing at each other, plastic tarps, fork lifts with no regard for my safety, plywood, boxes of stuff, and general chaos. Other than the heat, really not entirely unpleasant at all. You can tell that a lot of (if not most of) these people know each other, and this has become part of the yearly ritual of NAB for them. As many competitors share the floor, there remains a sense of community. Except for the dudes that hate each other no matter what. Awkward.

Walking from LVH to the south hall and back, stopping for a quick lunch, we ran into no less than ten people I knew. Already! This doesn't happen to me in Indiana.




Back to the news media badge, I met up with my friend and fellow news media badge-holder Jason Konoza and dashed to the Mirage for Sony's press event. Unsurprisingly, it was all about 4K this and that. As beautiful as the new TVs and other things they had were, I was distracted by the large mass of suit-adorned business men (some on phones) who had stationed themselves at the back of the room when there were loads of perfectly good seats available for them.



I guess I should probably mention that I've never actually been to a press conference before, so I may not be very good at reporting things that were actually said (and to my defense, I'm not sure anything of value was really said anyway). No, it was WAY more interesting to watch these guys. For every new item pushed on the stage, a surge rose in the flood of business-dudes rushing the side of the stage. Thirty seconds of taking photos with any device available to them, then they receded to the back until the next thing. By the end, the guys could barely contain themselves, launching onto the stage at a bunch of unexplained cameras and camera related items.



I like to think that at least one of them is responsible for all Sony news in the entire country of Kazakstan or something. Then I can understand the dire responsibility. If he doesn't get that blurry overhead shot of that thing, nobody in the whole country will know about it!

I wonder what happens when Sony has groundbreaking stuff to announce. Complete pandemonium, I'm sure.



So what traditionally happens next, I'm told, is that Avid ushers the press off on a bus to wherever they're displaying all their new things. And to their credit, it IS what happened. But not without a great amount of confusion. Following Jason and a bunch of guys who look like they've been around the block a few dozen times, we found that Avid seemed to have forgotten about us. After bonding with some of these lovely press guys over our apparent abandonment, a young lady in a red dress and heels carrying an Avid sign rushed at us like a flustered Bo Peep who just found her sheep. Because I totally felt like sheep. We got to the press event at the Aria a bit late, but didn't miss anything, not that there was much to miss. Some nice Media Composer 7 updates, but what's really worth mentioning is the food: it was awesome. Well done, Avid. Four stars at NAB 2013. NLE makers, I don't care about waveform caching. I just want snacks. I met Dylan Reeve here, who was also all about the snacks. We may be from opposite ends of the Earth, but snacks can unite us.



Hey, did you know Vince Neal has a Mexican restaurant in LVH? Yeah, me neither.

From Motley Crue to KISS, we went on to the second annual KISS Monster Mini Golf sponsored by Independent Filmmakers of the Inland Empire.



I was a little worried about this event. I knew Eric Harnden would do a fabulous job putting it on, but I've seriously talked this thing up to people for basically an entire year and wasn't sure it could ever live up to expectations. What a silly concern. I mean, look at this place. It blasts KISS all day every day. It has black lights and neons and lasers. It has the fake band and smoke and a wedding chapel. Time stands still inside it. How can anyone who isn't dead inside step in here and say "nah, this isn't for me"??



Diary, I still really suck at mini-golf.



There are few things weirder than playing mini-golf with a bunch of friends you see every day as avatars while disembodied KISS band member heads float tauntingly around you.

Sweet dreams, me


Monday, April 8th - 11:45 PM PST

Dear Diary,

Remember how I said yesterday was like 5 days? Today was like 5 months.

OH! I met Bob Zelin! No wait, chronological order or this is all gonna go bananas. Okay, first thing's first. It was raining and HELLA WINDY today. My hair is supposed to be fabulous in Vegas! Not wind blown!



Donning a shirt promoting my podcast (duh, my chest is prime ad space) I meandered to the convention center a little earlier than recommended. My news media badge got me into a special magical realm called the "news room" which is a room with slightly fewer people in it than most, and slightly more coffee. Also WIFI and - gasp -- places to sit.



I heard they serve food, but I never saw any of that. That's fine with me, because I had Origin India inside the lower south hall which served better lamb than I get at my favorite Indian place in Indiana. Yeah, for real, convention center food that beats "real food." Vegas, you crazy.

I wasn't around for the first hour of the south hall being open last year on account of learnin', but I poked my head in this year at about ten after nine and it was much less crowded than I had always heard. I guess once all the weirdos crowding at the gate spread out, it's not that many people as it seems. Got a good look at Blackmagic's adorable new camera and headed upstairs to Avid's booth for maniacal interview by the #postchat team (consisting of Jesse Averna, Gordon Burkell, and Tej Babra). I legitimately don't remember a single question they asked me (and believe me, I've tried to remember so I can brace myself for when this thing is posted online) but they told me it was okay. So..okay.





I saw a lot of stuff on the show floor, some of which I mentioned when I did my daily bloggin' but most of which was mentioned in other recaps about stuff. But you know what stuck with me the most? The live models in Blackmagic's booth. They just sit there all day with 20 cameras pointed in their faces while sweaty nerds zoom as far into their pores as they possibly can, removing and replacing their eyewear to get a better look at the little screens and viewfinders on these devices, taking blurry iPhone shots of what they discover to share with their 12 Twitter followers. This guy and girl just sit there and pretend to enjoy each others' company in a fake yard, reading fake books, swinging on a fake swing. For four days! What are they reading? What do they talk about? Do you think they'll recede into each others' company and forge the greatest love story never told? Will they get married on Thursday at 2:01PM in the KISS mini golf chapel and flee to Europe together?




Plot twist: or are they brother and sister?!

Ok, THEN I met the legendary Bob Zelin, one of the nicest people I think I've ever met. Seriously, if he shames you on a COW forum, you should print it out and frame that sh-t because you're not worthy.



Later on, a brief #postchat meet up happened in the elusive social media lounge. It was fun to see loads of familiar faces, and loads of new ones too. This is where having your actual face as your avatar is a helpful ice breaker. Diary, I wish I could tell those new to meet ups to make sure everyone knows who they are. I saw people tweeting they were there, but I had no idea who they were. Bizarre.





Yes, Diary, we're still on Monday. Stay with me.



To almost conclude the day was the Media Motion Ball. Besides the giant plate of real food and bottles of wine (thanks Maxon! C4D forevs!), the true high point of the MMB is to have a couple hundred people you probably want to talk to all in one room for a couple hours instead of scattered all over Vegas. Of course, the downside to this is a higher level of frustration when you miss the same people yet again KNOWING they were in that very room with you (I'll get you next year, Chris and Trish Meyer, if it's the last thing I do). I did end up meeting quite a few nice people I wasn't previously aware of, which was really nice. You know what's weird though? I was on camera for like the third time today (thanks to Walter's #wallycam), which is about three more times than I ever have been on camera. Unless you count that short film in college where I had to play a rich old cat lady. Pft, I was typecast so early.



Know what else is weird? Cab strikes during NAB. Makes it hard to find a cab. Say, to the Hard Rock. For festivities. Meh. I try to give people on strike the benefit of the doubt, and I sorta did while I grumbled back to the monorail.

Another thing I learned today, Diary: a lot of the cards in Cards Against Humanity have to be explained to non-Americans.

Nighty-night Diary, me.


Tuesday, April 9th - 7:30 AM PST

Heading off to be a booth worker, Diary. I wonder if anyone will notice my Small Tree green nails?




Tuesday, April 9th - 9:10 AM PST

Surreptitiously googling Cat6.


Tuesday, April 9th - 11:30 PM PST

Hold Me, Diary, I've had a day.

A few people did notice my Small Tree green nails.

I headed to the convention center too early, so I swapped my exhibitor badge for my news media badge and got coffee from the news room. I don't actually know if that's…allowed..or if I should be documenting it. But I suppose if it's just a secret between you and me, Diary, what's the harm? Besides, I'm reporting about reporting about exhibiting. Crossing the streams a little, but it makes for fresh content. And also, I really wanted coffee.

The vibe on the show floor before it's open is similar to the vibe on Sunday, but with less yelling and fewer sweaty men. I shared booth duties with Walter Biscardi, who quickly whisked me away to Flanders Scientific for one of the best donuts I've ever had. It was allegedly vegan, but I don't see how that's possible. I think I missed the air quotes. Maybe it's a running gag.



Alright, so, Small Tree. I know shared storage. I mean, I know how it works. I know how ethernet storage works. When I say I know how it works, I mean I know when I plug my stuff in, it works awesome. And that's all I was meant to really know. It turns out that a lot of people that come to a booth to ask about shared storage want to know some pretty intense technical details.

So I learned a lot about ethernet storage today. Specifically, how to talk about ethernet storage.

The first way I learned was to eavesdrop on Walter's interaction with his first visitor. He claims not to know much of anything about this stuff, but don't listen to him because he knows more than enough -- certainly enough to make me look bad! The second way I learned was to eavesdrop on the guys who engineer the stuff. The trick here is to know when to stop listening. Diminishing returns. You know how it be. Once latency starts getting brought up, I'm out.



The booth got busy in the afternoon, and I found my place somewhere in between directing traffic and answering ease of use questions. There was also some discussion of hair care, but it was rather blurry. The Small Tree guys were great with visitors, and extremely helpful to me as I learned the finer points of…what people wanted me to know. I met so many people, and I was kind of amazed at how many of them came to say hi specifically to me. It was great to put so many names to faces, and learn brand new names altogether.

I also met the COW's Debra Kaufman!



While many headed to the Supermeet, we met up with more Internet friends for dinner. It's nice to be able to put out an instant beacon to let people know where to find you. The downside is that they know where you are, and you end up with 8 people smashed around a table meant for 5. I love them all, but less so when they're in my bubble.

Still preferable to most of my family. But you know alllll about that, Diary.



A problem with NAB in general that I discerned last year: there's too much damn stuff to do. I killed myself trying to do it all before, but this year? Time to be choosy. Real food, actual conversation, an alcoholic milkshake, and off into the night somewhere away from the strip for a Pinball Party.



That somewhere is the Pinball Hall of Fame, and they aren't messing around on that one. Machines from every era of gaming and not just pinball. Which is awesome because like mini-golf, I also suck at pinball. In a tremendous display of knowing exactly what I want out of any party, Red Giant and Maxon provided an open bar and ice cream truck.



This should be the part where I recount shenanigans from the famous AJA Party but as you can tell from the timestamp, laying in bed sounded way better than pounding club music. I gave my wristbands away and crawled to our room.



How boring. This is not what diaries were meant to record. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

XOXO <3 - me


Wednesday, April 10th - 7 PM PST

Dearest of Diaries,

I'm heading off shortly to drink wine with people from the Internet, so I thought it would be wise to tell you about my day before that.



I was back in the Small Tree Communications booth today, but my voice was not. I didn't lose it, but it definitely decided to show up a little late. Maybe it went to the AJA Party? Booth traffic was much lighter today so I ended up talking with a lot more people about a lot more things. Even more old friends and new friends showed up to say hello, and it was exciting to meet them all.



It seemed that people started trying to use Small Tree as a point of reference within the lower south hall (or maybe I just start noticing them), because a lot of confused people ended up staring at a map in front of the booth. Look at map, look at Small Tree's giant sign, look at map, sign, map, sign, repeat until I ask them if I can help them out. Oddly enough, about 95% of these confused NAB attendees were looking for RED's booth. Not sure what that says about any of us, and I don't really care to think about it further.



Looking at other booths with a critical eye yesterday (hey, I earned the right dammit), I declare that there's a lack of positive body language up in there. Ya'll need to SMILE MORE. Not just the people you hire to stand around and look pretty, either. Engineers, designers, editors -- smile! Act like you want to be there. A little enthusiasm goes a long way, especially if the booth is small. What became entertaining to me was standing on the edge of the booth wishing people a good afternoon. Some people enjoyed the interaction while a few, desperate not to be sold to, avoided eye contact and scuttled away. I wonder what would have happened if I'd made a FREE HUGS* sign? (*With purchase of Titanium Z storage system).

I'll tell you who doesn't need anymore enthusiasm: Steve Modica. If this dude had anymore enthusiasm, they could harness it as fuel and use it in the first manned mission to Mars -- and get there tomorrow. The ability to be excited about highly technical products while articulating them clearly is not widespread enough throughout the convention center, so it became a learning experience in itself.



You know what else? There really aren't many women in the booths. I mean, there are women, if you know what I mean. But man, I know there are women working in this industry. I've worked with them. I'm friends with a lot of them. This may come as a shock, but I am one. Not that there HAS to be a woman for every so many dudes. It's just an observation. It's likely that all the ladies are back home working on gigs. SOMEbody's got to.

Also, my feet hurt. A lot. I should trade you for a foot bath, Diary.

Oh, I would never.

Maybe for a pedicure.

Hugs-N-Kisses, me


Thursday, April 11th - 2:30 AM PST

Yeah, definitely a good idea to recount the day before wine.

I just realized I didn't tell you about the wine. I know you're jealous of Twitter, Diary -- I would be too if I were you, it getting all my short sweet nothings instead of you -- but this is a good social media story. I have to record it for posterity.



A few months ago, I had a conversation on Twitter between some editing friends -- some I met at NAB in 2012, some I knew before then. From that conversation, we made a sort of standing promise that we'd each bring a bottle of wine from our homeland to Vegas for tasting.

That promise came to fruition, and last night I sat around a coffee table in an empty bar where the Star Trek Experience used to be as a half dozen people drank a half dozen bottles of wine that had a half dozen thousand miles on them, and talked about editing and everything but until the wee hours. Or whatever 2AM is considered. Not that wee in Vegas, but I do what I can.

They say Twitter is what you make of it. They're pretty much right on that one.

Must sleep, me


Thursday, April 11th - 9:30 AM PST

Ugh.


Thursday, April 11th - 10:30 PM PST

Mi Diario,

Last full day in Vegas, last day of NAB. As enriching, educational, and experiential NAB is, the end becomes a necessity if you want to live to see another year.

While Monday was spent mainly looking around the back half of the lower south hall, I spent this morning in the bigger booths in the front half. Adobe and Autodesk, which have been crammed all week, actually had seating for the last few presentations. I relished in sitting. I don't think it's any secret that the show floor is much easier to navigate on Wednesday and Thursday, though I almost don't understand why more people don't opt for these days over Monday and Tuesday.

I guess I wouldn't really want to either. It's like going to a parade after the floats have already passed.



Against my better judgement, I did end up in the central hall briefly. I just don't get camera people. So heavy, so expensive. All that money and hard labor, just so I can mock them in my edit suite for missing a shot. It's really too bad.



Later, the remaining NAB survivors headed to the nearest IN-N-Out Burger for an animal style book-end to the week. We decompressed, drank milkshakes, and I forced everyone to record a segment for my podcast. Ryan Salazar even found the time to show up. I told him I scooped him -- I had already blogged about being there. HA. However, the photo is borrowed from his Twitter feed.



Upon the suggestion of someone much smarter than I regarding food in Vegas, Nathan and I went to a small french restaurant called Pamplemousse for dessert - a soufflé. This is inconsequential other than the fact it elevated us both to a new plane of dessert-eating-existence, so I mention it to you cruelly Diary, as you can never taste what I taste, for you have no taste buds on your naive pages.

After a short excursion to Fremont Street, we were in for the evening like old women. To my defense, I think I'm starting to get sick. I have a disgusting cough and general sense of malaise, but NAB'll do that, it seems. Only time will tell how badly the NAB Plague has got me this year.

I think I'll take a couple extra hits off the ol' inhaler tonight just to be safe.

G'night, bedbugs, etc - me

Friday, April 12th - 3:30 PM PST

Yo Diary,

Yep, I'm sick. I'm not sure if the massive pile of starch I ate at the Peppermill this morning helped, but I'm kind of concerned I ate a world wonder by accident.

All afternoon, I've been getting texts from my various friends, old and new, as they get ready to depart from Vegas. Flight times, well-wishes for safe journeys, thanks for another great week of memories, those sorts of things. Most of us talk every week, if not every day, in some form online. Sometimes we happen to be in each other's cities. For a week, we're all in one overwhelming place at the same time. Between all the friends I saw at night and all the people I met on the show floor all day, I can't imagine attending NAB without these conversations. This is where I really learn what I come to learn from NAB: between friends. Including those I haven't met yet.

And I guess the new and innovative products and junk are the catalyst or whatever, yeah yeah.

Diary, if you had told me that friends who originated online would not only not be weirdos (mostly), but would end up enriching my life in many ways and teaching me so many things, I would have called you crazy. In fact, I'll still call you crazy. Are you crazy? Those people are from the INTERNET. I've seen what goes on there!



Being around these friends and having the perspective of news media AND exhibitor? Well...keep this really secret, Diary, but I wondered how it would ever be possible to top my first year at NAB. This year just obliterated it into tiny pieces.

Yep, definitely sick. Wearing it as a badge of honor. I was at NAB, I shook a bunch of hands that were attached to a lot of great people, and now I'm ill and wouldn't have it any other way!

I wonder if the fake couple from the fake yard in the Blackmagic booth have fled the border in lust together yet? Hm. I hope so, Diary. I hope so.

It's been real Diary. Oh, do you think it's normal I'm having a recurring nightmare that I can't escape the Avid booth? I'll keep you posted. Might be the cough syrup.

Please let it be the cough syrup.

XXOO - me


(Photo stolen from Matt Penn)


Posted by: Kylee Peña on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:14:12 pmComments (7) nab show 2013

Deep Thoughts from Vegas: Day Four

Day Four, but really day six. Day six of four. Whatever. Last day of NAB. Day negative one seems like a week and a half ago at least.

DEEP THOUGHT: SMS.

When I read NAB suggestions and tips and wrap-ups from people who have been coming to the show a long time, I rarely hear anything about communication. This is mind-boggling. How did you meet people? Did you just know where they are? Randomly bump into people and become life-long friends? Call on the PHONE? NAB is such a frenzy, how did you really take advantage of all these great people being in town without being able to communicate instantly?

I'm really asking you guys, if you care to enlighten me.

Twitter is amazing. I've met a lot of great friends through chatting on Twitter. But you know what really made this NAB great? SMS. Yeah, THAT old junk!

A couple of weeks ago, Liam (@editorliam) suggested that some of us download an app called GroupMe, which serves as a group messaging service. His thought was that we could communicate with each other as needed without having to rely on Twitter for finding people. It clogs the feed, and it's hard to keep tagging everyone because you can run out of characters. So a handful of us downloaded GroupMe.

I found that you could forward GroupMe messages to text instead of using the battery-burning app, so I did that. And it works phenomenally well, especially when my LTE connection was struggling. Over the course of the week, we kept adding people to the thread. We could quickly send a text to ask if anyone was in the south hall, or if people wanted to find lunch. The app (and SMS service) also allows for picture messaging, so it devolved into silliness at times, seeing who could get closest to whom and snap a picture without them realizing.

It's made finding friends during the show much easier than last year. It's allowed all of us to spend a lot more time together instead of trying to coordinate and keep missing each other. Yesterday, part of the group decided at the last minute to take off into the desert to shoot the sunset -- something that couldn't happen in an event of this scale without coordination ahead of time unless you can text 20 people at once. And those 20 people bring along new people they've met and introduce them into the group.

Right now, my phone is buzzing as plans are set to go to In-N-Out Burger as a bookend to NAB before the last of us leave. When we tried to coordinate this last year, it was difficult to tell everyone where and when things were happening. This year, if my text messages are any indication, we'll have a group of something like 10 or 15 editors. Might make seating a little difficult, eh?

I suppose that's a good last deep thought from the heart of Vegas: SMS and burgers. The staples of life. As you can see, one leads directly to the other.

AND NOW? Double double animal style with an extra toasted bun, with well done cheese fries thankyouverymuch. Ah, I love the west.



Posted by: Kylee Peña on Apr 11, 2013 at 3:42:54 pmComments (2) nab show

Deep Thoughts from Vegas: Day Three

Hooray for borrowed wifi. The gift that keeps on giving, whether it wants to or not.

DEEP THOUGHT: cave dwellers.

Working in the fabulous Small Tree Communications booth again today, I had more opportunity to ask booth visitors what they were looking for and what they saw in the lower south hall. Other than the cute widdle Bwack Magic itty bitty camera, most people were talking less about things and more about ideas for new workflows.

The commonly mentioned things were collaboration tools like Adobe Anywhere, Axle Video, and Digital Rebellion's Kollaborate. Everyone was trying to get a handle on "that whole cloud thing." I watched an Adobe demo where screens were shared and media was swapped and traded during a Skype call a state away. Of course it worked pretty flawlessly with one end rooted at Adobe's headquarters, but still – pretty nifty.

Like I've mentioned, I'm editing an indie. Over the last 6 months, I think I've seen the director three times. We live an hour apart, so I send cuts on Screenlight (which is awesome) and have dropped DVD screeners but otherwise I'm on my own. I get a lot of feedback on Facebook chat. So this cloud stuff? I'm kind of wondering if maybe it would be a little better for my workflow. Less searching Facebook chat logs and cross referencing Excel worksheets, more uh, editing. Habits to break, for certain.

On the other side of this, I wonder if we'll hit a point where we don't really ever see each other in post. Not because we don't have to – I think we all know a project needs some face to face time – but because actually being in a room together will become an unnecessary expense to the powers that be. So after a while, the dark "edit cave" will literally become a fortress of solitude. Stalagmites and stalagtites and bats and drippy water and everything. We'll all look like the things in The Descent, and instead of coming to NAB and meeting each other, we'll form complex underground colonies and eat producers that enter our sacred space.

Quote of the day from a stranger behind me as I walked from the north hall to LVH: "AUGH! SUNLIGHT!"

See? IT HAS ALREADY BEGUN.

Had loads of fun meeting loads of people today as well. Nice to meet and be silly:




Posted by: Kylee Peña on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:35:40 pmComments (1) Nab show

Deep Thoughts from Vegas: Day Two

Blah blah written on day two posted on day three because INTERNETS SUCK.

DEEP THOUGHT: "saving steps".

In high school and college, I worked as a waitress. In the world of serving tables, we have a concept called "saving steps." That is, you're on your feet every shift, so you try your best to think about each trip around the dining room. You address the needs of multiple tables at once so you don't end up running back and forth and wearing yourself out unnecessarily. Servers who don't save their steps are referred to as noobs, and thusly looked down upon.

I half-liked and half-hated serving tables, but like many irrelevant jobs I had along the way, it taught me a lot of stuff with practical application into professional life. I kind of resent that, but it's ingrained now so I can't do anything about it. I think those of us who had hospitality jobs where we were on our feet for 8-12 hours at a time really benefit from this probably-kinda-traumatic experience at events like NAB.

Today was my first day ever working in a booth for NAB. I was in Small Tree Communications' booth (more about that another time), which was positioned right beside the walkway to the central hall. Everyone tells you the cliche advice to wear comfortable shoes, and informs you just how hugemongous each hall is, right? Other people tell you to have a plan. That stuff is so very correct. Watching people entering the lower south hall in between helping interested NAB attendees with their storage needs, you can place the repeat attendees -- or ex-servers in the crowd. Walking with purpose, and not back and forth in front of me over and over!

Save steps, walk strategically, see more stuff! Advice for all areas of life, really.

And those ladies in heels? They're either professionals, or they're insane. Ain't NO savin' steps in heels.


Posted by: Kylee Peña on Apr 10, 2013 at 6:29:30 pm nab show

Deep Thoughts from Vegas: Day One

Day one is two days and mumblemumble dollars short. Vegas, man. What can I say? I DID write it on day one.

DEEP THOUGHT: connections.

Wandering around the south hall today shortly after it opened, I found myself bouncing from person to person, many I knew and some I didn't. This has become somewhat expected by now -- you're in one room with a couple hundred people from a relatively small community (of which the Internet sub-community is even smaller), of course you're going to run into each other. That's part of the fun. However, today I had a bit of a different experience with making connections.

I've blogged a bit about working on an independent film called The Impersonators. At the end of May, we'll be doing a significant chunk of pick-ups to enhance some story points. Because of reasons, I won't be around for the shoot much so I've been looking for a DIT to manage the on set media and make sure I get what I need. I was fretting a bit about this: twelve days of shooting, unpaid, prefer if you have any idea what you're doing.

I asked a friend of mine who works for Ball State University if he could pass on my needs to the telecommunications department the day before I left for Vegas. This morning, Monday, I got an email back: there's a student who is very interested in the gig. He's worked with RED material as a DIT before. He even developed the workflow.

And the student saw on my blog that I'm at NAB this week. He is too.

I called him from the show floor and we met up in the lobby of the lower south hall and talked for a while about the film and his experience. Don't tell anyone, but I think he knows more about this than I do. Kids these days.

It's funny, I expect to go to NAB and meet creatives from all over the world. And I do. But I also found and hired the DIT I never thought I'd find.


Posted by: Kylee Peña on Apr 10, 2013 at 6:14:17 pmComments (2) nab show

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