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Live Blog - Books and Videos and Planes..Oh My!

Live blogging seems to come and go. We saw it a lot during the 2008 election season - now Tweeting seems to have supplanted live blogging. And soon Tweeting will be replaced by some new made up verb. Perhaps the forthcoming Yiddish social networking service will introduce the world to Shpulking - you have as many words as you want but your mother has to approve whatever you say!

Ok seriously, this will be a photo-based live blog. I often do a photo-based tape-delay blog, so this is something slightly new. I can't actually post to the blog by smartphone, so daily updates will have to suffice. And speaking of smart phones - my phone's camera is only as smart as 2009 would allow so the pictures are intentionally grainy.


Yesterday, I packed up what I needed from my office for the days ahead (I won't spoil the fun by revealing all my cards) - video camera, DSLR, laptop, desktop computer and a selection of hard drives.

This year I have been doing more gardening than the recent past.

I enjoy driving up to the house and seeing a colorful front garden

and I am also attempting to grow some basic container vegetables too on the back porch. The cherry tomatoes are starting to arrive! Lettuce and basil are going strong too.


Woke up early to get going on my to do list. Sure weekends are supposed to be for relaxing, but some weekends you need to get some work done, especially if days out of the office are a possibility.

First I finished editing some orthopedic surgery video. Tough to shoot if the surgeons are wearing those big space helmets, but the stuff that looks good looks really good.

Mid-day I took a break to go to the vet for some cat medications, then hit the library and a big box store on the way home. Picked up some fresh cod for dinner.

Back to the edit bay/living room - finish the shoulder replacement and render out WMV files to post to our client review website. Gone are the days of racing to FedEx for the 7pm cutoff.

Next task is to burn 8 DVD's, authored earlier in the week and saved out to ISO files from Encore. A variety of edited surgical cases for use later in this blog - maybe.

Testing on both the computer and a standalone DVD player is important - you never know when and where these might be used.

Last assignment of the day - edit an interview between a surgeon and a patient - about the experience, decision-making process and result. This is becoming more common for promotion of a surgeon's practice. In this case, it is purely educational.

Next I prepared dinner - cod wrapped around crabmeat stuffing, topped with crab claw meat, lemon juice and white wine. 40 minutes at 375 and we had a nice treat. We don't eat like this every day, but once in a while we pull out the stops! (camera phone pictures of food never look good - sorry)

Final step of the day is to write this blog.

Next stop - Tomorrow - see you then....

...time passes....(Zork reference)

Three Days Later

So much for this live blogging idea - one must have access to the internet and an energy level to go with it.

So I left off on Day One - the prep work.

Day 2

Flying somewhere on a Sunday is a mixed bag - you don't want to spend all day away from home, but if you are checking luggage that you can't live without, then you don't want to give United Airlines an opportunity to lose something. They love those opportunities - love em!
Well this trip is mostly me and my carry-ons, so I flew out of Hartford at 5:30pm - direct to Chicago. Met up with my colleague, our on-staff medical illustrator, who I do not see very often. We had a nice dinner at PF Changs to catch up and strategize for our meeting.

Day 3 - The Meeting

We have a series of surgical books we are producing - a book with accompanying interactive Flash disc with all the surgical videos, narration and illustrations. This project has about 100 original images all about pancreatic surgery. So we had an 8 hour marathon session with the book editors to review every image and note changes to be made for the final draft.
Next steps after that are the final layout, proofreader, then send to press, review the "galleys" which are not old-school galleys but rather a digital printing at print size with bleed, but we still call them galleys. Then the actual printing.

Oh my.

Meeting broke at 3 - cab to O'Hare which was rather deserted compared to later in the day. Stocked up on food for the flight to Vegas.

...hours later (took off 1 hour late)....

Arrived in Vegas to learn that NAB was in APRIL!!! Yikes.

Ok just kidding. After the very long wait for luggage and equally long wait for a cab, I checked into the hotel, got a nice upgrade thanks to some nice person somewhere, and met up with fellow Creative COW Steve Wargo for a late dinner and drinks at the Harley Davidson restaurant.

Steve and his crew had arrived before me to setup in a suite, and they actually did some interviewing before I even landed.

This gets me back to a point I made in my previous post about working with freelancers. If you have something critical that needs to be done at a location away from your home base, don't just trust anyone you find on Google. Remember what Forrest Gump says about boxed confections. But I know I can trust a crew with whom I have worked before to do the work that needs to be done, even if I am not there yet.

Steve, feel free to chime in.

Well that's the short version. The long version to come...

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jun 19, 2010 at 10:40:07 pmComments (1) workflow, GTD, teamwork

Nose to the Grindstone

While I blog a lot about the fun and excitement of air travel, and the production experiences at either end, once I get back to the office for weeks of uninterrupted work, it is time to get stuff done. Over the years I have experimented with various to-do lists, post-its and marker boards.

Recently we have instituted a Jobs to Start worksheet, distributed to all departments. Updated whenever a new project starts, this keeps everyone informed of what is going on, even in other departments. Why, you may ask, does publishing need to know about a video project in the works? Because, of course, every new piece of information is a possible opportunity. What if two departments were working with the same group of people on two unrelated projects. We don't want to be working against each other - thus good communication plays into different business units working together, even if the two units don't actually work together.

However, in our outfit, we all work together. For example, we have a series of multimedia textbooks. The media work and project management is handled by my department, Production, but once the layout is done and it is ready to begin the 14 week process leading up to press, the publishing department takes the reins. So while publishing does not have much to do with the prior 6 months, they need to know approximately where we stand with hitting our planned delivery date. You need to reserve time on the press and factor in time to transport and store inventory once printed. You always need to think of the big picture.

So while I started this post in talking about keeping track of project tasks, it has morphed into a discussion of good communication among people who do not always work together.

This is business 101 - keep others in your organization informed of activities that may impact them sometime in the future.

Going back to the completion of tasks, sometimes it is a matter of delegating, then checking the work you need to check before sending it on to the client or another set of eyes in your group. It can be daunting to send something you put your heart and soul into to another department for review and possible negative feedback. But better to get such feedback from a trusted colleague who may look at it from a different point of view, than your client whohas specific expectations.

Other times I may do the work myself - self-delegation. Often this is to keep the other folks on their own tasks. Thus I find myself doing a lot of little tasks - add some narration to a series of brief video clips, post some videos or files to the client website, and numerous conference calls and document management.

Yep, it's not all video shoots in exotic locations. Much of the time being a desk jockey is just what the doctor ordered. Get the work done, move things along, hit your milestones, tick stuff off the list. Sometimes I make a punch list, a phrase I picked up from years of watching Tommy Silva and Norm Abrahm wrap up renovations on This Old House.

Instead of:

- Finish trim in master bedroom
- Replace kitchen cabinet hardware
- Finish laying sod in the backyard
- Calibrate home theater in time for wrap party

my punch list may include:

- Render final pancreaticoduodenectomy video files
- Pull stills for hernia chapter 27
- Check narration files on FTP server, then send to programmer
- QA ventral hernia DVD
- Create new slipart and DVD menu design for laparoscopy series

Checking things off the list helps with the "divide and conquer" workflow. It is not always 3 weeks editing a long form show. Very often it is 15 minute tasks for hours on end. Frequently it is a little of each.

Seeing weeks or months of activity come to fruition in a new product to sell to the healthcare community is quite gratifying, and perhaps a bit more fun than sitting in steerage on a 737-800 waiting for your complimentary half can of cranapple juice. But getting there is half the fun.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Feb 18, 2010 at 5:12:38 pmComments (1) project management, gtd, workflow

I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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