Saturday, November 23, 2013

SIG Lunch at #MCN2013

During MCN2013 in Montreal, Quebec, the Media Production SIG met for the first time to discuss the needs of this newly formed Special Interest Group. 

Here are the notes from the meeting: 

How can we reach people year-round to create a network of media professionals?

Start year round discussion on Twitter. Have a permanent hashtag for people to use (#museumvideo) and install widget on the blog. 

There is a desire to keep blog long form and public to be able to share more 

Should we start a ListServ? Who would host/manage? It should be archivable and easy. Maybe Google Groups? Consider having people apply to the listserv to avoid heavy sales focus?

Topics for Next Year:
  • Accessible Production: Logistics of Content Production and Guidelines for Creativity
  • Video Project Process: Tips and Tools for Organization and Management
  • Long Form Video for Museums
  • Hiring Media People: What skill sets do digital media creative teams need?
  • Process Inspiration: Tips from Other Fields on Making Digital Media
  • Educating Leadership: How to teach your boss about video and digital Media
  • Forced Outsourcing: How to manage Digital Media projects (creativity and when you have to use an outside company
  • Importance of Video: Setting Context of Video in Museums
  • Telling Stories with and without media
  • Evaluating Video

Are we missing anything? We hope to create a year round program of discussions and communication to make the SIG a valuable resource for our members.

Friday, November 22, 2013

MCN 2013

Hey Y'all! Members, new members, members to be, and the media curious:

We have been officially established as the Media Production Special Interest Group (SIG)! We have sponsored two sessions at this year's conference and look forward to collaborating on the the development of panel topics for next year.

We have a new look for the blog that includes a twitter feed drawn from our newly established hashtag #MuseumVideo. The Media Production SIG while having a focus and strong presence of video producer members is not just for video makers, it is for anyone telling a story with digital content, we all know audio, images and text are also used to develop content to share with our visitors on a variety of platforms. We are here to support each other in our practice in all ways, from advice on specific projects to major equipment purchases.

I look forward to meeting more folks and getting more of you contributing to the blog! contact myself or other users to get added as an author to this blog by emailing annachiaretta(at) I would like to encourage those near eachother to start scheduling regular gatherings, and even google hangout gatherings.

When you first join the blog, please take time to share a little bit about your production philosophies and an example of content you have produced, help produced, or even simply want to produce.

This blog is public in the spirit of open dialogue and knowledge sharing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Time Lapse Video for Exhibition Assessment

Hi fellow bloggers,
 The time lapse video I posted (and especially the camera I used) has people thinking of interesting things we can do with time lapse video. Three of us are currently looking at using time lapse video to assess the success of exhibition design, especially for hands-on activities. The idea is that this would be a more efficient way to do a tracking and timing study. The educator in the group is wondering if anyone has done this before and if so, what were the results. Do any of you know of previous studies of this sort of thing? The time lapse cameras have only come down in price fairly recently, so I think there won't be any previous projects. But if you know of something, could you drop me a line:


An update: Although our management did express interest in the concept, the funding request for the time-lapse cameras was denied with instructions to look into other ways to do the same thing, like with our security cameras.  But I would still be interested if anyone knows of a similar project to use time lapse for exhibition assessment. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Article: What do curators want from the AV community?

From the article: 

"Clearly the participants on both sides of the industry are doing something well: museums are selecting the right equipment and methods of communication, suppliers are responding with suitable systems and together the appeal to the visiting public is growing.  

Mark Taylor: “The classic way of showing an exhibit with a printed label no longer works.  In the digital age, visitors expect to be ‘users’ and to interact with the museum, seeking out and educating themselves on what they find interesting,” however he notes a point of caution: “We must avoid adopting digital techniques just for the sake of it; not to attempt to outdo the amusement parks, rather we need to ways to enhance the visitor experiences."

Read the whole thing here: 
InAVate - Museums - What do curators want from the AV community?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Home Brew Multimedia Tour

This is a project that I've worked on for a couple of years, almost as a hobby. To contract with an audio tour company for an exhibition tour is expensive. The last tour we did with an audio tour company had a development cost of $30,000, plus rental of the tour players.  A multimedia tour is even more expensive because of the greater labor involved in developing one. An app can be expensive, too. I once estimated that an exhibition would have to draw an attendance of 90,000 or more to break even on the audio tour costs, and we rarely see that kind of attendance.  As a result, we rarely can afford to have an audio tour, multimedia tour, or app developed for an exhibition. A cell phone tour is much lower in cost and fairly easy to upload and manage, but the audio quality is low.  So I've been on a mission to find an easy way to deploy tour content on a mobile website.

We use WordPress a lot. The museum website is actually a WordPress site, highly customized by Madhouse Creative, a local multimedia design firm. I created a social networking and training website for our docents using WordPress, and I've even created a visitor comment kiosk using WordPress. So I started looking into WordPress as a platform for multimedia tours. I think I'm about 90% there. If you go to on a smartphone, you see a mock tour page with content about an Egyptian statue in our collection. If you go to the same URL on a desktop computer, you get my rather lame personal blog.

WordPress was designed to be a blogging tool.  Note that I am talking about the free WordPress software installed on your own server, not, which is a for-profit company which sets up blogs on their server.  If you have web hosting with access to a control panel, you probably have the ability to install WordPress. Depending on your hosting service, you may even be able to have more than one installation of WordPress.  I can set up multiple subdomains for free and install WordPress in them, letting me set up special-purpose websites for as long or short a time as we need them.

The appearance of a WordPress site is governed by templates called themes. Functionality is added using plugins. Themes and plugins are added from the control panel of your WordPress site. There are thousands of free themes and plugins available to allow you to easily do virtually anything you might want to do with a website.

The switching between the desktop and mobile versions of my site is done automatically by a plugin called  WP Touch, which includes a mobile theme that is used when your site is accessed by a smartphone.  The video on the page was uploaded to Vimeo and embedded on the page. The text was copied from a gallery label. The icon for the audio element was something I created and uploaded to the site.  It links to an MP3 file I uploaded to the site as well. If this all sounds complicated, trust me it isn't. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress.  The only mildly complicated part is installing WordPress, and with my hosting service that was pretty easy, too.

I would be very interested in getting feedback on this idea. I think it has promise. It lets small institutions deploy multimedia content at minimal cost, as long as they have wifi in the building. It would eat up a user's 3G bandwidth to take a multimedia tour using their data connection.  If you combined a site like this with QR codes on gallery labels, you would have a pretty simple and foolproof touring system without the need to purchase or rent tour players. The part I'm not completely happy with yet is the audio. Because the video is streamed from Vimeo, the viewer can start watching it reasonably quickly while the rest of the file downloads. The audio, however, must be completely downloaded to your phone before the file plays. I need a way to stream audio. The dumb solution would be to create a video with a single still image and the audio file  and upload it to Vimeo. But I would like to find an audio plugin that would handle things a little more elegantly.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Time Lapse Video

The Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion has an artist residency program called G.A.P.P. (Glass Artist Pavilion Project).  At first the artists in residence were all glass artists, but more recently they have been artists in other media who were interested in working with the glass artists on staff in the Pavilion.  The current artist in residence is Erwin Redl. He is perhaps best known for draping the Whitney Museum in red and blue lights for the 2002 Whitney Biennial, Redl works with tiny light-emitting diodes mounted in a grid to play with viewers’ perceptions of space and architecture.  For his project in the Pavilion, Erwin and the GP glass artists created a series of glass balls filled with red liquid.  These are suspended in an array inside a light well in the Pavilion that is open to the sky.  Since nearly all of the interior and exterior walls of the Pavilion are glass, visitors can see the balls moving in response to the wind.  The installation is titled "Floating."

My part in this came when Erwin requested that we create a time lapse video of the installation for the entire year that it is to be in place.  I had never done a time lapse video before, so this sounded like fun.  I started looking into cameras, and the first one that came to mind was a Go Pro Hero 3, which is advertised as shooting time lapse.  We bought one, I went through the manual and set up the camera on a tripod outside the light well, and let it run.  The next day I removed the card, uploaded the images, and found that it had only run for two hours.  It turns out that although it will function as a time lapse camera, the battery is only good for two hours under optimum conditions.  Go Pro Support said in response to my query that no, I shouldn't try to run it directly off a charger; it would overheat and could explode!  Great little camera, but not what we needed in this situation.

What to do?  I did a Google search for time lapse cameras and came up with the Brinno TLC 200.  It's a dedicated time lapse camera and it's battery life at the settings I wanted to use is two months!!!  It shoots 720p video and it's only $130.  (The GoPro, by the way, doesn't shoot time lapse video. It takes a series of still images which you then have to drop into the timeline in your editing software.  The Brinno gives you an AVI file.)
 It looks like a toy, but what a great little camera!  It's insanely easy to set up and accepts SDHC cards.  Here's a shot of the installation.  You can see the tripod with the Brinno in the air space at the back of the light well.

 I want to get a few more.  I can think of lots of things to do with them.  You can get attachments to turn it into a stop animation camera or a motion detection camera, and you can get a waterproof housing for it.

Here's the video.  The only problems are the occasional reflections that show the camera.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Timothy Motz, Introduction

Hello everyone!  I’m delighted to be joining this group and to make the virtual acquaintance of all of you.  I have come to museum video production by a very roundabout route.  I have worked in art museums for over 30 years and have my doctorate in the History of Art, specializing in Greek and Roman art.  The first ten years of my career were spent as an assistant curator of Ancient Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  I backed into video as the Manager of Educational Media in the Education Department at the Toledo Museum of Art, where I have been for the last 20 years.  In that position I was responsible for maintaining the museum web site, designing interactive gallery kiosks, managing audio tour projects, making felt boards, casting crayons into deodorant containers (seriously!), etc.  We bought our first video camera (a Panasonic DVC-30) several years ago thinking that I would be shooting short clips to use in gallery kiosks.  

In January of 2013 the Toledo Museum of Art reorganized its staff into new teams.  I am now a Media Producer in the Design Studio, which is part of the Visitor Engagement team.  The Design Studio is led by our exhibit designer and includes me, two graphic designers, and eventually (budget permitting) a web developer.

Except for a few short training workshops, I am completely self-taught in interactive design and video production, so I’m a little in awe of the rest of you.  If you look at the videos on our YouTube channel you can watch me learn to shoot and edit by trial and error.  I started editing with Premiere Elements and am now working with Premiere Pro CS6.  The museum is Windows-only, and that pretty much determined which editing software I would use.  We now have a Panasonic HMC-150, a Nikon D800, and a D5100.  I’ve been using the Panasonic for a couple of years, but am just investigating the Nikons.  The rest of my equipment is pretty much prosumer level.  I have a couple of Audio-Technica wireless mics, two Shure wired lapel mics,  an Azden SGM-2 shotgun mic, a Røde Videomic Pro, and a little TASCAM digital audio recorder.  Yes, I have a thing for microphones.  You can never have too many of them.  I claimed a castoff set of Lowel Tota lights but am hoping that in this fiscal year I can get some lights that would give me a bit more control.  I am now working on a Dell Precision T3600, which is a relief.  When we made the switch from SD to HD, the shortcomings of my previous computer became painfully obvious.   

I have nothing against buying pro level equipment, but we are serious about budgets here.  I try to spend my budget where it will have the most impact on the product.  My mic boom is a painter’s pole and my equipment cart is a Stanley Fat Max that I bought at Home Depot.  The Fat Max is actually a great equipment cart.

I am not only a one-man band, I have additional duties beyond audio and video production.  In the short term I am still managing Rights and Reproductions and will continue to have some role in photography and AV support.  I’m excited that this group has formed and I’m very interested in what the rest of you are doing.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Education Video

A new video from Education at the Getty Museum for use by Educators in and out of the classroom. What do you think?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Proposals for MCN 2013

Hi everyone! What a great conference! I think we have the beginning of some fruitful conversations and the start of a community to provide ongoing support in our field.

Very excited at the prospect of getting some panel topics together to propose for MCN, are there individual papers anyone was considering putting forth? You can look through the previous post with issues brought up at the MW Salon conversation for some ideas of what's on peoples mind.

Some loose ideas I have been bouncing around are putting together two tracks of discussion, one more focused on the nuts and bolts of technology and the other more about the methodology of video production. Looking at the relationship of museum video to "established" modes of production like documentary, commercials for television, and how we might re-think our approach to storytelling with video.

MVP SIG panel topic spitballing...
Documentary, Commercial, Educational, Promotional…
What is a good video and for what purpose?
How do you approach storytelling?
What is the goal? Who watches these?
Scholarly content versus promotional content

Alternative approaches? Working with artists?
Equipment, Files, Storage, Backups…               
What gets the job done?
Does it matter what kind of camera we use?
How can we better enlist inexpensive consumer technology to get cool content?
How do we protect our assets and what is the best practice standard for storage, file format and backups? Do we keep everything?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Salon on Media Production at MW2013 in Portland

Museum Video Production and Establishing Best Practices 


  •  Anna Chiaretta Lavatelli: BPOC 
  •  Emily Lytle-Painter: Getty 
  •  Megan Hancock: Gund Gallery 
  •  Katherine Stalker: Chicago Architecture Foundation 
  •  Jill Farley: Chicago Architecture Foundation 
  •  Vickie Riley: Tang Museum at Skidmore 
  •  Michael Parry: ACMI 
  •  Brian Dawson: Canada Science and Technology Museum Association 
  •  Laurie Glover: Clark Art Institute Ken Clark: Dale Chihuly Archives 
  •  Allegra Smith: MOMA 
  •  David Hart: MOMA 
  •  Ryan LeBlanc: Oakland Museum of California 

Questions, needs and comments:

  •  Interpretive needs vs. technical needs 
  •  What is good quality? 
  •  Doing videos with no budget. 
  •  Video tools and standards to support a digital team 
  •  Storytelling and access: Accessibility of the objects online 
  •  Were good at making video but what are we doing with it after we make it? 
  •  What skills to develop in staff? 
  •  How to approach video as an institution to support the creation across departments? 
  •  Formulating video technology that supports programs 
  •  Beginning to use video in exhibitions to augment the physical exhibitions- standards. 
  •  How to match video with the voice of the rest of the institution? 
  •  Who are other museums working with? How are they archiving? 
  •  Managing making videos for exhibitions, education, marketing, public programs, promotion, live-streaming 
  •  How to address sea change of widespread use of video? 
  •  Collaborate to create player standards (or a new player) 
  •  Lots of raw video, how to develop raw video into shorter educational clips? 
  •  Production in house, commissioning video, working with other media producers 
  •  How much do you script ahead of time? 

 Talking Points: 

  •  Storage and Management DAM, vDAM
  •  Cross referencing of content, related material 
  •  What to keep, what to delete? 
  •  File needs: RAW, uncompressed, etc. 
  •  Preservation of video artworks 
  •  How can these standards be adapted to relate to non-artwork videos? 
  •  Legacy Equipment 
  •  Interpretive Content o How to share our content and market it to the right audience? 
  •  Relevance of content over time 
  •  What do we need to keep, what do we need to make available immediately? 
  •  How to deal with the backlog of content? Workflow within a museum 
  •  How do museum leaders understand video as a tool? 
  •  How to get support/protection 
  •  Rights 
  •  Standards for contracts that address future needs 
  •  Statistics 
  •  How are videos being used? Where?
  •  Usage of 3rd Party Websites 
  •  iTunes U, YouTube, Vimeo
  •  Associated analytics and understanding use 
  •  Videography and Storytelling 
  •  Getting away from talking heads
  •  When is video appropriate? 
  •  Interactives
  •  Motion graphics 
  •  Video in the gallery 
  •  Production Quality 
  •  What is appropriate for what situation? How to maximize any format or style 
  •  Behind the scenes, sharing process and “ugly” video 
  •  Sharing good and bad- both in video and other museum practices

Monday, April 15, 2013

Museums and the Web - Salon for Video

Hey Y'all!  Not sure who will be there, but, I just proposed a Salon topic to get a little un-conference going for us so we can plan some panel proposals for MCN this fall.
I look forward to meeting some of you face to face this week!

annachiaretta (at)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Camera Talk

I really enjoyed thinking about the different cameras folks are using for production when reading the various introductions. I am looking to purchase another camera that needs to be near $2000 total, I feel like we need another good documentation camera, but I am also itching to get another Mark II. It has me thinking about the array of technology and approaches to production we have these days and thought "oh hey, we have this new community... why not talk to them about it!"

Perhaps everyone can tell some camera stories, I am particularly interested in cameras you've seen in various applications that made you re-think your production approach either because of the technology itself or the awkward use of it. I love hearing about methodologies that shift the way we think about what documentation should be. I really enjoyed hearing about this project: and reconsidering the need for full 30fps video to tell a story why not .3 fps?

happy weekend all.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Life after the FCPocolypse

After working tape to tape for a few years the release of non-linear consumer digital editing software was a dream come true, and when it became acceptable as the cheap alternative for high-end production everything seemed possible. Then Final Cut X happened, and the story of betrayal and heartbreak commenced.

When I started working with BPOC I had the awesome opportunity to start a video services department from scratch post-FCPocolypse (coined by Ben Cohen in this very blog, hi-five on that one). Fortunately we had a copy of Adobe Premiere Pro 5 and Avid Media Composer 6 so I spent a lot of time working with both to determine what made the most sense for our workflow (that I still needed to establish).

My findings:

Avid MC6 is fast as hell to edit in, I mean obviously there is a reason it is the industry standard. However, it is VERY different from the other options. However, if you went to film school and cut with film then it should come more easily, it reminds me of editing on Steinbeck in some ways.

The biggest difference is it functions modally, there is a trim mode, a color correct mode, etc. and within each mode your screen layout changes as does the way you interact with the timeline. The most important thing is to NOT treat it like FCP, the timeline isn’t all loosey goosey with the mouse and dragging and dropping, piling on and on, you can be messy in FCP and Premiere (which is fun).

If you are going to go Avid check out the tutorials Avid has created to help win over the disappointed FCP editors of the world and this is a must have that I used to learn the basics and get to work using the software with the help of this training DVD The training DVD is great for feeling your way into Avid, I also recommend these two books: Editing with Avid Media Composer 5: Avid Official Curriculum (they haven't come out for one for 6 yet) and Avid Agility by Steve Cohen. 

One thing that helps to make Avid so fast to edit in is the customizable buttons and keyboard. You can re-map the whole thing to play like FCP for the most part, as well as anything else you find yourself using a lot. This feature allows you to really customize the way you interact with the software to maximize your speed, which is super cool. Also since Avid owns Pro Tools if you use that for sound design it can be relatively seamless, but I generally mix sound design at the end anyway if Pro Tools is needed.

Now about Adobe Premiere, it is very similar to Final Cut and more commonly used because of affordability and education pricing, so whenever I get annoyed and forget the keystroke for something or how to do something I can google it and instantly get an answer which is a treat, Avid is a bit more leg work so the learning curve is a pain with it.

I generally advise people to go with Premiere if they have no time for the learning curve. Although definitely get yourself the current version of Premiere Pro, the older version 5 handles audio in a very stupid way, you need to break all 2 channel audio tracks out to mono, but this is fixed in 5.5. Also if you do graphics in Adobe After Effects the seamlessness between Premiere and After Effects is super cool, just need to make sure you have a lot cores working on your side, working in a 64-bit platform, and upgrading your graphics card to the max if you haven't already.

And finally the deciding factors for me:

1. Workflow
I was used to FCP’s ability to keep all assets contained in project folder. AVID works with MXF files generated by the software that are all sent to a media scratch. As we work with many different clients and therefore have several different RAIDs we work off of (to separate out our clients) it makes more sense to work with Premiere, which behaves just like final cut keeping all of the files inside of the project folder.

2. No Transcoding
Both softwares eliminate the need to transcode or “import” the files. Premiere automatically links to the native formats and does so seamlessly, it is very impressive in playback with AVCHD and DLSR footage. Avid has AMA linking which chokes on AVCHD files a little bit. You will also save an enormous amount of file space by working natively instead of transcoding to ridiculously huge ProRes files in your raw footage.

3. Web integration
Premiere is great for web production and that is all we do, no broadcast anything happening here. It works seamlessly with After Effects, Photoshop, and has an awesome titling interface. Additionally, Adobe Media Encoder is fabulous, it is unquestionably superior to compressor. As it works seamlessly with Premiere if file size is an issue it is your dream come true. Archive to high quality H264 and MP4 for web if you are literally unfunded and have no space, write a grant to get a raid so you can export out some high quality DNXHDs when you have the space. You can also pop out FLVs of virtually any size for software interactives. In short, it gives you a lot of control over format codec and bitrate which has made my life incredibly easy.

Premiere won in my battle, but maybe someone else has a story of life after the FCPocolypse?

Happy to answer any specific questions about my experience, and hopefully this helps some of you still on FCP 7 sort out what the next step is.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Hello and thank you to Anna and Emily for organizing this group! 

 I’ve been the Digital Resources Content Producer at the Tang Museum  since the position was created in 2009.  I am responsible for the creation of all new media including videos, audio tours and exhibition interactives. I also manage the web content and mentor students.

 I came to the museum world with a TV background and am constantly amazed at the talent and creativity of my colleagues in this industry.  What drives most of what I do is a passion for storytelling and a desire to engage the audience.

Located on the Skidmore College Campus in upstate New York, the Tang has a pretty ambitious exhibition program of approximately twelve exhibitions each year.  This includes significant survey exhibitions of contemporary art, featuring major emerging and established artists.  Fortunately for me, this translates into most of my videos being about living artists.

We are currently undergoing some organizational changes at the Tang and I am part of the newly formed Engagement Team.  This has been a fantastic decision on our new director’s part and has led to some great discussions.   What is the responsibility of the museum or the content creator, to engage the visitor?  We are in the midst of putting ourselves in our visitor’s shoes and assessing their experience on every level. 

Hope to see some or all at MW2013!  Maybe we should organize a Museum Video Production meet and greet cocktail hour in Portland?