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100th Blogiversary

I know I tell a lot of stories about the old days, but this doesn't mean I'm 100 years old.

Just wanted to get that cleared up for those of you keeping a tally of how many times I mention 1" tape and CMX edit controllers.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress...

For those of you just joining us, welcome to the Mike Cohen Creative COW 100th Blogiversary.

"100 blog posts? So what," you might be saying.

Well I try to put a little bit of my personality and philosophy into every post. For me it's a big deal. It's a big deal not that I have composed and published 100 entries about my job and my life, but that in doing so I have gotten involved in other aspects of the Creative COW community. As a result of blog entries, I have had the opportunity to write magazine articles, to be interviewed in podcasts, to make friends and business associates and even to obtain potential clients for my company's services. Something that is good for the soul and good for business is, well, a good thing!

And from what I hear, the blogs in general are good for the Creative COW's business. Google searches often lead people to the forums. If I Google myself or certain keywords I have used in my blogs, these blog entries come up in results. Presumably I can't be the only one searching for "CMX edit controllers" or more likely "AVCHD editing in Premiere. If new first-time visitors to the COW get in via the forums, the blogs, the services or the video reels - that too is a good thing.

And speaking of good things, have you seen the wide selection and amazing displays of creativity in the video reels section? You could spend hours there getting free inspiration for your own projects. I've actually started taking notes as I browse the reels. Go ahead, click "VIDEO REELS" in the main menu..I'll save your seat.

So back to the 100 blog retrospective. The best thing to do is to browse back issues going back to 2007. It is educational for me to see what I was thinking at the time. So rather than regurgitating my favorite posts, I think I will regurgitate my favorite images as used in past posts. I get a kick out of grabbing a quick picture with my phone when inspiration strikes. I send the picture to myself with a note and then, often on a long airplane ride, fill in the gaps to try to tell my story.

This first one takes me back to my first position as a professional editor. The Ampex ACE 25 edit controller. For those of you who have only used digital nonlinear editing, lucky you. Back in the day, you had to have some engineering know-how in order to perform basic editing, assuming you were in a facility without in-house engineering expertise. For more on the subject check out this link:

Now back to our show:

This image brings back some memories. A surgeon I work with on a regular basis needed to do a live powerpoint presentation to a medical conference. He was in Vegas, the conference was in Portugal. Thus, he was scheduled to go on at about 4am Vegas time on a weekend. At that time of day, we couldn't get a local video conferencing suite, so we had to think way outside the box. WebEx is advertised and used as a great tool for corporate meetings, but using it in multiple locations including in front of a live audience can be a bit dicey. So we came up with a stop gap solution. This picture depicts our audio transmission system which included VOIP and two telephones.

Speaking of medical conventions, back in early 2009 we managed a conference on obesity surgery. Our company arranged the venue, the audiovisual and catering, invited the faculty, reserved hotel rooms and managed registration for about 500 attendees. Think of it as a mini-NAB for surgery. One of my roles was managing a day of live surgery. We streamed 9 surgical cases from NY, San Francisco, Miami, Michigan, Brazil, Chile and two other locations. Some signals came down ISDN, others via the internet. Everything went through a skybridge, and there was audio and video from our location going back to each location. To be even more clever, I created roll-ins for each surgeon and location, run off DV tape. This acted not only as a nice transition but also as a place holder in case of technical difficulties. It was a fun fast day with lots of audience participation.

My other jobs at this meeting were to document the proceedings for posterity (ie, transcription, publishing articles about the proceedings and possible future on-demand webcasting)...

And drinking a lot of coffee and tea.

2009 was the year I finally traded up to a smartphone. I went with the blackberry because most of the clients and doctors I work with use this device. It has made a huge difference in productivity while traveling and even while in the office. For example, if I have a hot and heavy editing session planned, I may not even boot up the laptop (e-mail computer) and just check the berry periodically. This can save an hour or more per day. You'll note around April 2009 the quality of my blog pictures improved significantly. Still underexposed and grainy, but certainly bigger!

Sometimes (a lot) I add pictures and anecdotes about food, restaurants and eating or cooking to my blogs. What the heck does this have to do with the multimedia business? Everything. If I am fed I have energy to do my job, or I have rewarded myself for a busy productive day.

Sometimes I take my pictures to the next level and make them into useful illustrations. Here for example I was talking about preparing for a trip. Charged batteries, extra tape stock and tightened wingnuts on your equipment make a big difference.

As mentioned, several posts talk exclusively about travel. I don't go to the ends of the earth or to exotic locations (with the possible exception of Cleveland) but I have been known to go to the ends of the airport terminal for a Mocha Chip Latte!

I also used the blog to follow our entry into high definition production. What better venue for HD imaging than surgery? Of course you can get plenty of discussion about formats, editing workflow and playback issues in dozens of forums, so I'll just wow you with some imagery:

Sorry if that was gross, but this is my business!

Just thought I'd take this opportunity to mention 1" tape, for those of you keeping track at home.

All that travel also affords the opportunity to snap some quality pictures with a real camera, and sometimes I like to share those images as well - and if you're lucky, a story to go along with it.

This was a unique venue for a meeting - Jackson Hole, WY - in August.

In 2008 I attended a convention in Toronto. Since my hotel was about a mile from the convention location, I got to see some of the sights morning and night.

This week I took the train down to Philadelphia for a meeting, took the train home, then two days later went back to Philly with the gang for a meeting. Sometimes conventions are in cities with things to see and a wealth of good places to eat.

Vegas is a weird town. The Strip is full of amazing sights and some shady characters - sort of an odd mix of themes. NAB and the Bellagio fountains are two of the highlights.

Post-Katrina, New Orleans remains a popular destination for meetings and the occasional video shoot. Just stay on the main roads.

Think I'll hang this one in my office.

How many times do you find yourself in Moline, IL with a few hours to kill? Those tractors are huge.

Another good reason to carry around a proper camera. And with that, we'll let the sun set on the first 100 blogs of my blogging activities.

I appreciate all the feedback and the readers. If this is your first time on the COW, welcome. For my old friends, thanks for coming back. I look forward to coming up with new stories, anecdotes, learning experiences, recollections and images in the next 100.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jan 27, 2010 at 3:58:10 pmComments (6) blogs, cow, video, technology, editing, streaming, conferences, travel, food, memories

Magical Mystery Tour

Today I spent about 8 hours reviewing videos for an upcoming event. I had previously viewed all of the videos off a hard drive to be used for projection, and made a list of originals to check. If the original looks better than the MPEG2, then I copy the original to my hard drive for future re-compression. In many cases, the original is in fact MPEG2, and with adding logos and trimming heads and tails, a recompression pass is sometimes a bad thing - especially if the original was not up to MPEG-2 quality to begin with.

Thus, during the 30 or so blocks of 5-7 minutes spent copying video from DVD to hard drive, I browsed the COW. I mean, what else could I possibly do in such short chunks of time?

But I receive updates from the Business and Marketing Forum and the Film History and Appreciation Forum on my Blackberry, so I am all caught up in those forums. Thus, I took a tour of the forums that I visit less frequently or not at all.

We use exclusively Premiere, so I never really visit the FCP forum, or forums for FCP related kit such as AJA. However whether I use the gear or not, it can be educational. For example, a newer forum is for Core Melt plugins. I have never heard of this software, so I thought I'd check it out. Turns out, this is a pretty cool suite of transitions. It's like Magic Bullet for transitions. And it is CS4 compatible, so it just goes to show that you can't judge a forum by its title. Check out these demo videos:

I then browsed the Audio Professionals forum, the Lighting forum and discovered a Motion Graphics forum that I did not even know about.

So you see, even someone who spends much of their free time on this website can learn new things and discover new places to go.

I also make a habit of reading new blog posts as they appear on the COW. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that fellow blogger Ken Harper in fact worked at Cine-Med years before I did.

And did you know that Creative COW now has free video hosting, and some really entertaining reels, demo videos and trailers. It's great to see not only seasoned pros but also folks just getting into the business posting their work for all to see.

Well, looks like that strange HD file (1844x1073) has finished copying - now to figure out what to do with it.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Oct 4, 2009 at 3:19:24 pm creative, cow

Social Networking Blog Post - It Had to be Done

Sorry, I could not come up with a clever title. It is what it is – a blog about social networking. There was a thread on the Business and Marketing Forum a while ago about using Social Networking for business - I think the jury is still out, but check out the thread.

The original social network – people in a room talking to each other – has been replaced with web-based "talking."

I recently had a chat with an old high school friend on the current popular soc-net site, we'll call it MugPamphlet(they know who they are and get plenty of press), and mentioned that I enjoyed talking to her. She replied that she never considered e-mail or chat a form of talking. LOL.

MugPamphlet had replaced MyArea (sic) as the king of social networking, that is, a web-based means of communicating with everyone you know in a more efficient manner. No doubt in a year or so a new soc-net site will emerge and the whole world will switch to that.

The cool aspect of the soc-net flavor of the month is finding old friends, not so much keeping in touch with current friends. Granted, in the world of social networking I am considered a geezer (over 30) so I have more old friends than current friends. However all of my electronic friends are people who I knew in person before "knowing them" electronically. This clearinghouse of electronic friends is more a convenience than anything meaningful. I would never sit down and send a "status update" via e-mail to everyone I "know." It is just nothing useful. Imagine if I sent a daily e-mail to everyone on my address book telling them what I am up to? Boring!

"What's that, there is such a service to send brief messages to everyone you know? Really? Who would want to use that? The President you say? Hmm, I'll look into that."

Rather, sites like MugPamphlet and its inevitable replacement, are ways to conveniently keep in touch with people you know, or in many cases, people you used to know. In my case it has not been a way to make new friends. Certainly you can see who your friends are friends with, but unlike in a room full of people eating weenies in blankets, I am reluctant to strike up a conversation with a friend of a friend without an introduction. People do it however. There is one guy on MugPamphlet who is friends with everyone working in production in New England. I've never met him but my buddy the boxing commentator says he's ok!

Posting photos for all to see is fun, and playing games is another way to pass the time. Oddly, I now e-mail immediate family on the currently popular site, rather than using traditional e-mail. In a way, this site is morphing into AOL – an all-in-one internet within the internet. Do not discount the usefulness of services like AOL – I met my wife on there! Useful indeed!!

Now let's switch to social networking that actually accomplishes something useful. I will coin a phrase: Useful Networking.

My favorite Useful Networking, or "UseNet" website, is of course this very site you are now reading, While the atmosphere is indeed social, and usually cordial ;) the interactions here on the COW are most often Useful.

Ring, Ring. Excuse me.

"Hello? Yes this is he. Mmm, hmm. Really? You don't say. Oh, I see. Ok, thanks for letting me know. Bu, bye."

Sorry for that interruption. I have just been informed that UseNet is an existing term, stemming from the original pre-world-wide-web function of the internet.

I shall have to revert to the more long-winded Useful Networking phrase. Is this what you kids call a MEME?

So while blogging and forum posting and article writing and tutorial reading on the COW is in fact some of the most useful time I spend online, it is remarkably social. While I have never known any of the other forum hosts, posters or bloggers "in real life," I consider these men and women my good friends. In many cases I have much more in common with my fellow COWs than with my old chums from high school and college. On social networking sites, once you get over the honeymoon phase of "Wow, Joe Smith, what rock have you been hiding under for the past 20 years" you are left with reading Joe's status updates such as "Ate hot dogs. They were great" or "Timmy used the big boy potty. Hooray!" Important, but not very useful.

On the other hand, while my COW friends I have only known for a short while, in most cases, everything they say is of utmost interest to me and to others.

In summary, Social Networking is not a new concept. Cave paintings and shamans telling stories around a campfire were certainly social gatherings, and once other tribes became involved, there was some rudimentary networking. I know I have just paraphrased the opening montage from Amazing Stories, but you get my point. Humans will always network with other humans, individuals and groups alike. Whether this happens in a room full of people or a website or some future thought-powered neural net, social networking will continue. And one day, decades from now, a bunch of like minded people will gather in a room eating weenies and wonder why nobody thought of networking in person before.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Mar 29, 2009 at 3:06:20 pmComments (1) social, networking, cow

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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