Windows Movie Maker wouldn’t let me choose arbitrary starting and ending points for panning across a document. How frustrating: I wanted to be able to pan across our interview guides in a very specific way.
No sweat, I thought. I will just switch to the studio Mac and use iMovie.
In that instant, that split second decision to switch tools, I set myself on a collision course with this future, approximately 42 hours later:
There, under the harsh fluorescent lights in the Queen Mother Building, at 3 am on a Sunday, I was unconscious, face down on an impossibly scratchy sofa so short that I had to fold myself up to fit on it.
On the computer monitors is the video podcast I was working on, in the
third fourth fifth piece of software I had tried.
This was the second night of a weekend in which I lived at the university, worked until I collapsed, and slept on the stupidly short and itchy sofa for a luxurious three hours before getting up to do it again. If this was not one of the most horrific experiences of my academic career, it is only because of a few of the people I was working with.
The full list of technical difficulties I encountered that first day of production can be found here, but they are insignificant in comparison to that fateful moment when I thought, “No sweat, I’ll just switch to the studio Mac.”
This decision was so significant for two reasons:
I did not realize this at the time, of course. At the time, I was just pursuing my vision. In my head, I could see exactly how those frames would flow together, and I simply could not do it with the tools that were in my control. I wanted to make the beautiful thing in my head into a real thing to deliver to my client. If I was going to be doing the work anyway, I thought, I might as well do it properly the first time. These were good intentions.
The road to sleeping face down on a scratchy sofa under buzzing flourescent lights is paved with good intentions.
There are two valuable lessons to be learned from this disaster.
1. Always use the resource that affords the most access and control.
2. Produce deliverables through a series of progressively better complete deliverables.
Your goal is to assemble a complete deliverable together as early in the production process as possible and then to iterate on that, as opposed to trying to produce a perfect deliverable from the start. (This is an tenant of Agile software development, and works well in other realms as well.) Then, should disaster strike, you have a complete deliverable to hand to your client, as opposed to a near-perfect half deliverable.
General notes on this method: