Learning the ropes in a new medium

Oh, man. That flat wore me out.

Did I run a marathon? Hardly. Mow all the lawns on my street? Not even close.

No. What wore me out was — are you ready for this? — recording some videos for Panhandle PBS.

I am learning my way through a new medium. It’s not exactly TV. It’s a form of blogging that we’ve been doing at Panhandle PBS. I’ve had the distinct pleasure — yes, I’ll call it that — of introducing myself to a whole new way of expressing myself. I’ve been doing so with the printed word for more than 35 years and my introduction to these video blogs has been, shall we say, a serious eye-opener.

We’ve been recording these segments relating to upcoming PBS programs that are being broadcast on Panhandle PBS. The latest set of video recordings involve a preview of Ken Burns’s upcoming series, “The Roosevelts”; an American Experience broadcast, “Freedom Riders”; and another American Experience broadcast, “Freedom Summer.”

I am gaining an entirely new appreciation of what it takes to put these things together and an appreciation of those who work in broadcast media full time.

It takes it out of me.

The latest session took about 40 minutes. I sat down with Jacob Workman, content production coordinator at Panhandle PBS. Jacob’s an old hand at this kind of thing. He speaks a language in which I am not yet fluent, but I’m getting to understand it a little better.

He sat me in a chair. I looked into some bright lights. He fiddled around with a recording device. He tweaked the angle of the lights. He hooked me up with a microphone, told me to run the wire up under my shirt and put the power unit in a pocket.

“OK, now tilt your head down, move your body a little this way, push up your glasses and look at me,” he said. He fiddled around some more with the lighting. “OK, now, go ahead when you’re ready,” he said.

I started talking. I finished the first segment. “Let’s do it again. I want to be sure it’s right,” Jacob said. I did as I was told — but only after I had to reposition my head: move it down, turn my torso, push up my glasses, etc. Then go.

We finished the second “take.”

This went on through two more recordings. All told, we did seven takes to complete the three video spots, which Panhandle PBS will publish on its Facebook page.

I stumbled a time or two. I didn’t get the words out quite right. Hey, that’s all right, Jacob assured me. “You did great!” he said in affirmation. Thanks, man. I appreciate that.

By the end of it, I was worn out. Bushed. Pooped. I had nothing left.

Why the exertion? Well, I figure it has to do with trying to concentrate on keeping my head tilted in just the right way and looking where I was told to look — all the while remembering what in the heck I had prepared myself to say about the programs we were previewing.

And with each take, I had to put my game face back on and say the words as if I was saying them for the very first time.

This isn’t easy, folks. To those who do this for a living, I salute you.

My goal now is to do it precisely right the very first time and avoid the multiple do-overs that take it out of me.


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