Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BAM Artist Talk (with enhanced content)

Here is a presentation of an Artist Talk which I just produced for BAM last week. We tried something a little different than ever before: including footage from the performance in the edit. I'll share some insight below and I also have a question for the community about microphones...


We filmed this with 2 cameras (Panasonic AG160a). The clips from the performances were filmed with the same camera and also a Panasonic HE120k (remote control operated) and captured with a KiPro. Sound from both events was provided by the house board.


I'm working with our production group to improve the microphones we use during Artist Talks. These microphones are good because they avoid feedback issues that we have had in our spaces, however, they create some undesirably breath-y noises that we have to fix in post. Any recommendations from the community here on lapel microphones or other options is greatly appreciated.

Post Production:

This is edited in Final Cut 7.0 using both the multiclip editing tool and then adding the performance footage. All the audio was mixed in FCP as well.


We are really excited to have the capabilities to produce a presentation like this so quickly. We likely could have done this as a webcast, though there would not have been a way to include the performance footage. I am excited about future webcasting that we might do at BAM, but I also really like this approach to creating a presentation of an Artist Talk online with enhanced content. This was the first time BAM has filmed, edited and released an Artist Talk before the run of a performance is over. Not only did we have a chance to impact audiences that had yet to see the performance, but perhaps even reach some that had not yet bought a ticket. 

I think this talk in particular is a great example of the richness of humanities programming at BAM.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Jonathan Munar, Introduction

Very sorry for pitching in such a late introduction, but reading those that have already been published makes me very excited to be a part of this group.

I am the Director of Digital Media and Strategy at Art21, responsible for the organization’s overall presence on the Web and other digital platforms. This includes: our own websites (art21.org and pbs.org/art21); our overall social media presence; and future projects that involve mobile devices or other digital platforms. I joined Art21 in 2008, having previously spent 7 years in the Website Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Art21 is a New York-based nonprofit whose mission is to inspire a more creative world through the works and words of contemporary artists, which, among other outlets, is accomplished primarily through video content. We are most known for our flagship PBS-broadcast series, Art in the Twenty-First Century.

Aside from the occasional series of promotional videos, my role in Art21’s video efforts come largely after a video is produced. Typically, I focus on: presentation; discovery; generating related sub-assets (images, quotes, resources, etc.); promotion; and distribution. With video as Art21’s primary content asset, my responsibilities are to develop rich Web features and experiences around video content. My focus is to use video content as a starting point—and centerpiece—of our Web initiatives, with the goals of generating new interest, inspiration, dialogue, and contemplation about the art and artists featured in our videos.

Our success is more measured in the quality of our videos views over quantity. 100 "only-a-few-seconds" views are less meaningful to us as 10 full (or near full) video views. In that regard, I have a large interest in creating compelling experiences that encourage full video views, and would be interested in discussing methods for gathering and analyzing viewer data as it pertains specifically to the type of content that we all create.

Over the last year, I grew a large interest in overcoming language barriers with Art21 video content. To that end, we launched the Art21 Translation Project in January 2013, in partnership with Amara and modeled largely after the TED Open Translation Project. The Art21 Translation Project relies on the efforts of volunteer translators to help grow access to Art21 videos across audiences beyond English speakers, while at the same time creating opportunities to generate dialogue about the ideas presented in our videos.

Finally, I have an interest in developing media-rich Web experiences built largely around HTML5 and related toolsets—for example, as seen in recent features for the New York Times and Pitchfork, and even, to a certain extent, the Met’s 82nd and 5th project.

Very much looking forward to continuing this dialogue here and in person throughout the year. Museums and the Web and/or AAM Annual Meeting, anyone?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

ARC: Animated Infographics video program

This is a video program I curated that is dedicated to data visualizations and infographics. The program will debut next thursday in portland with panelists from the NY Times and Periscopic design.

To promote the thing I didn't want to make a traditional poster. I really wanted to represent the idea of imagination, storytelling and creativity — so I decided to make a story-driven trailer that only hints at the content of the program.

I shot and edited this in literally 24 hours. A talented intern (also the main character in the story) helped out with the aftereffects layer and a musician friend provided an original score based on our rough cut. We had a very loose story structure and script and worked out the story on site and in the editing room. If I had more time or budget I would return to the production and do it from scratch.

The trailer was one thing but the actual assemblage of a video program featuring 30 separate movies is proving to be a major challenge. I have a notion of how I'm going to do it, but does anyone have recommendations for sequencing a series of quicktime files for a theatrical program? They're all 720p HD files, so I don't want to burn a DVD.

Below is the marketing copy for the program.

The first screening of its kind — “Arc” is a theatrical program dedicated to the art, creativity and complexity of animated infographics. As its name suggests, the screening lies at the confluence of storytelling and data visualizations — an intersection that will be appeal to interaction designers, journalists, writers, researchers, number-junkies and analysts. 

In a culture now supersaturated with colossal reams of information, it’s all we can do to stay afloat and make sense of it all. With a demand for interpretation, and new tools for doing so, we’re experiencing a fresh breed of visual artists crystallizing this influx of information into beautiful visualizations and stories. No longer traditional craftspeople, these artists are hybrid, interdisciplinary teams composed of designers, motion artists, analysts, strategists and engineers, whose canvas is most frequently the Internet. This program collects the best and brightest time-based data visualizations and infographics from the past couple years with a focus on story-driven data.

~Michael Neault, Producer | Interactive Media & Content 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Can Museum Webcasts Be Social Experiences?

We'll see...

This March 2013 the Walker Art Center is encouraging groups/schools/companies from around the country to form viewing parties for our annual Insights Design Lecture Series webcasts.  The live events are typically webcast and posted online, however this is the first year we're encouraging people to experience it together.  There is even a viewing party informational guide for any group interested in participating.  Since this lecture series is one of our most popular, it was a natural candidate for the experiment.  

I've written more extensively about our event documentation/webcasting process at the Walker if you're interested in hearing more.

Ian Forster, Introduction

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for inviting me to this group -- I'm so glad to be in touch with other video producers at arts organization. I work at Art21 in New York and have been with the non-profit for over three years. We are best known for our PBS series "Art in the Twenty-First Century" which has a new season every two years but we are also continuously shooting and editing new web videos for our "Exclusive" and "New York Close Up" series.

As the Associate Producer, I work in slightly different capacities across the different projects. For the PBS series I organize shoots at museums, galleries, studios etc., and sometimes serve as the field producer. Our last season, Season 6, was about half tape-based and half digital. Our next season, which just began filming, will finally be all digital. We use a variety of cameras depending upon the shooter and the subject -- Canon EX3, Sony F3, AF100, C300, Canon 5D. Our tape-based workhorse for many years was the Panasonic HDX900 -- it's now been put out to pasture.

For the "New York Close Up" series, I shoot and operate sound in the field, handle the media management, and plan shoots. We work with the 5D, 7D or our in-office Canon T3i for this project. We've also used the AF100 and the C300 though I personally never operated them. GoPros have also been very helpful when we've wanted to strap a camera to an artist's head or dip the camera into a bath of photographic chemicals.

I am most heavily involved with the "Exclusive" web series. "Exclusive" was originally conceived as a way to release unused footage originally shot for the PBS series that was left on the edit room floor. This footage is edited into short videos that cover a single body of work, a central idea, or an aspect of an artist's life. Over the past year though I have begun to also incorporate newly shot footage into this series. I conduct the interviews and direct the freelance camera and sound teams though sometimes I do the camera work myself. For all of the videos, I direct the editor in shaping the story. The goal of "Exclusive" is simply to hear the artist discuss a body of work or their life and visually represent their ideas as best as possible -- every story or artwork requires a slightly different approach. I must say, I have the most fun when a video requires me to search an artist's personal archive or the archive of a 3rd-party organization. A video I did with Ursula von Rydingsvard and another with the late Margaret Kilgallen (which is being released in two weeks) allowed me to really dig deep and find things that haven't been seen before -- it's tremendously gratifying. 

For the "Exclusive" project we are also using the family of Canon HDSLRs. Though I'm open to other cameras, these are simply what most shooters own and we have one in the office that I can operate myself. Here is an example of a video I shot on our T3i while also conducting the interview (El Anatsui very kindly followed my instruction to look at the sound operator when answering my questions):

I'm personally interested in learning about how to improve the web experience that surrounds each video. Though Art21 has a separate team dedicated to the web, Jonathan Munar being the key player, it's an issue I'm fascinated by. I think about how people come to my videos -- through social media, our website, iTunes, or our YouTube page -- and how each of those experiences is different and results in varying levels of further engagement. I also ask myself if I should be creating more ancillary content around each video. Of course my ultimate goal is to have more video views so I'm struggling with how to encourage people to stay and watch another video after they're done with the first.

Again, thank you for inviting me to this group and I look forward to learning from your experiences.

- Ian

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Andrew Mandinach, Introduction

Hi everyone,

Sorry I'm coming to the party so late. I'm so glad to be part of this group and participate in the ongoing discussion. I work with Anna as the Video Production Assistant at BPOC. Having just graduated in June and literally starting my internship the day after graduation, I'm pretty new on the scene however very interested in getting more involved and being part of the discussion that is being formed about production in museums.

On a day to day basis I generally edit any documented lectures, art talks and other events that occur within the park. I also assist Anna on shoots for larger productions. I have also helped with file management and backing footage up. Pretty simple, yet something that was new to me as I entered the position.

As a performance artist with a background in ethnic studies, I am interested in the formation of identity, particularly the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality, as it is formed in different institutions and spaces. I am very interested in the museum space as a site of questioning new and old assumptions about art and artistic practice and I think what we are doing here, and the idea of video production in museums in general,  is one that is very interesting.

I am very excited to learn from all of you and glad to be part of the community.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Anatomy of Producing a Video Archive

Not many people realize what goes into archiving a live performance. Of course, this can vary greatly depending on several factors, including the nature of the performance and the resources at your disposal (including equipment).

Arts organizations large and small, as well as artists and their companies are increasingly facing the need to film performances.

At BAM, I am responsible for archiving hundreds of "events" every year. Each one is unique and requires some planning and consideration. Our performances range in genre to include dance, opera, music, theater, cirque nouveau, and installation or performance art.

Our archival mission serves our institution, but also is a wonderful service that I am proud to provide for our artists. Many of our artists might never have the resources at their disposal to film their work in high definition and this might be the one and only time to document the specific work. I will often ask an artist if they have any specific direction for the archive shoot.

Our standard setup is a single camera archive. In some of our venues this is a video camera on a tripod operated by a professional operator. In other venues, we have recently installed a robotic controlled pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) system. This system is also operated by hand, but is different from the classic camera-on-tripod-at-back-of-house setup. I'll break down the gear a little later. First, I'd like to describe a little bit about our approach to producing the archive.


The hair-pulling conundrum is the first obvious question facing you in any single-camera shoot: how much should I zoom and pan?

Over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that an archive is best filmed as a wide shot of the entire stage. With perfect focus, exposure and framing, I find that I am much more comfortable watching this aesthetic than when the operator over-works the zoom and pan. It also is the purest "document" of a performance as it guarantees that all entrances and exits are on camera, and the show is captured in whole.

There are certainly exceptions to this rule. Music performances allow for the most freedom (perhaps because the movement is not choreographed). Dance can be beautifully captured with thoughtful camera movement, especially when a solo is tracked perfectly across the stage. When filming theater, I will often direct an operator to zoom into a scene or a character when blocking and lighting focus attention to a segment of the stage. Remember, I'm talking about as single camera shoot here (I'll gladly cover my approach to multi-camera shooting in another post).

These archives hold value for a number of interests: students and researchers may want to study the work and often times the artists use it to seek future presenters, or create a trailer of the work for marketing and promotion. Of course, each of these uses may dictate a different approach to filming. If a show has been filmed before, I will often try to find a new or different way to film it so that the BAM archive holds a unique document.


All our video is born digital (no tapes) and once we've finished filming a show it is time to make a titled master. The titled master includes adding a scrolling credit to the front of the footage, some minimal color correction if needed, and some balancing of the audio. For the large majority of archives, the audio comes in two mono tracks (a mono feed from the sound board and second mono recording of the on-camera microphone).


The final archive delivery include the following:

  • Untitled Master (a disc image of the original media from the camera)
  • Titled Master (output as an uncompressed video file or Apple ProRes)
  • A screener DVD (this will soon go away, fingers crossed, as we build a digital database with proxy files for easy viewing and access).
BAM shares our archival videos with the New York Public Library for Performing Arts  and copies are kept in the collection at the BAM Hamm Archives (Update: Read about BAM Hamm Archives).


Operator-controlled system:
  • Panasonic AG-160a
  • Sachtler FSB4
  • Marshall External Monitor
  • Rode NTG2 Shotgun Microphone
Remote-controlled system:
  • Panasonic HE-120k
  • Ki-Pro Deck
  • Panasonic AWRP-50 Remote Control
  • Marshall External Monitor

I could go into a lot more detail about many parts of this workflow but just wanted to give a rundown in case any of this is interesting to this community. Please feel free to ask questions and I'll gladly explain more. Open to advice on any and everything—I am always open to ways to improve our archival methods.

I'll end with a burning (and slightly post-apocalyptic) question: will we ever be replaced by machines?

When we installed that remote-controlled system it immediately opened the door to a possibility that an archive could be filmed from a distant office, rather than putting the operator in the house. The efficiency is seductive. I could record 5 venues from a single computer. However, I'm fairly certain the human-quality of camera operation would significantly reduce the quality of our archives. Being present in the house allows for the best real-time response to lighting changes, for example. What do you think? Should the human hand ever be taken out of the archive?

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ben Cohen, Introduction

Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this blog. When I joined BAM in 2011, America's oldest performing arts center did not yet have any in-house video capabilities. At the core of my new job was the role as video archivist. I never thought of myself as an archivist before, and to be honest, I didn't particularly love the idea that something I filmed was to be put on a shelf and seen by few. This important mission, however, is something that I have grown to respect and love. Also, digital tools are rapidly changing the entire notion of an archive as a dusty stack of boxes behind a locked door.

I began by filming every performance myself (a one-man band), but we soon opened a new (third) venue, expanded programming, embraced video in exciting new ways, and now I oversee all our video production, including a growing in-house team and a few vital freelancers.

In addition to archival video, a very large part of my work has grown to include producing a wide range of video content. This includes trailers for shows, interviews with artists, educational content, and more. I am also working daily to lay the groundwork for an array of video capabilities for the organization. This means investing in new technologies, training colleagues, and a lot of new discoveries along the way.

I love working with artists to find ways to connect them directly with an audience online. I have to agree with Emily that one of my favorite parts of my job is sitting down with an artist and interview them about their work.

I'm a video nerd at heart, so I love to talk, read, and write about technical stuff. But I'm also a passionate filmmaker, with interests in animation, directing, and editing. It is an honor to be asked to contribute to this community and I look forward to our time together here.


Emily Lytle-Painter, Introduction

Hi everyone,

Welcome and thanks for joining us! Anna and I are so excited to start a dialogue between some of our amazing colleagues and friends about the awesome work we do. Please let us know how this blog can be helpful to your everyday work.

I am the (newly minted) Education Technologist at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. I will be managing the Education portion of the website for the museum, doing some digital project management, as well as determining digital strategy for the Education department moving forward. So why am I involved with a media production project like this? Until December, I worked with the awesome Publishing and Media team at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. While there, I managed video projects for the museum, the creation of exhibition mobile tours, and oversaw ArtBabble, which is how I came to know many of you. My new role is less directly related to media production, but I am still passionate about media in museums. I think how we work affects the work we do- hence wanting to start this little community.

While Anna definitely covers the technical side of things, I am more of a content and project management person. I love helping to tell the stories of our objects and I am deeply invested in the visitor's experience with the media we create. I love conducting interviews with artists and curators to help them convey the meaningful parts of a work of art. I also think a lot about what we produce and why, how to make digital things that can have a long life and how to deliver this content smoothly to our visitors when and where they want it. I hope to continue to work on issues like these for a long time.

Looking forward to meeting more of you soon! Who is going to MW?



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Andy Underwood-Bultmann, Introduction

Hi Everyone, I’m the Media Producer at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The Walker is a multi-disciplinary institution that presents contemporary visual art, performing arts, film/video, and design.  I handle almost all aspects of our media production needs from conception and shooting to editing and distribution.  Like many other institutions, the Walker’s media appetite is growing in all directions including promotional, interpretive, and scholarly materials.  I currently produce content by my lonesome, however I collaborate with our design studio on branding/graphics and employ the occasional freelance shooter and editor.

I have many interests when it comes to media production, but camera movement might be my biggest passion.  So much of the museum experience is about moving through space and being surprised or distraught or delighted by what we see.  The moving camera can better capture that experience of walking through a gallery, strolling around a sculpture, or even moving from one room to another.  Many institutions rely solely on fixed tripods or handheld techniques to produce video, so I love encouraging new tools such as jib arms, camera sliders, dolly & tracks, and Steadicams to find that elusive experiential quality.

We use a variety of video equipment at the Walker, but our primary workflow is Sony XDCAM.  We have a PMW-350, PMW-200, and EX-1R.  I also use a Canon 5D Mark III.  Tripods: Vinten.  Audio: Sony wireless lavs, Tram wired lavs, Sennheiser shotguns.  Lighting: Lowel Totas and Arri 150s.  Editing: Final Cut Pro 7.  

I’m excited to me meet, share, and learn from everyone here.  I imagine we have very similar goals and challenges…so let’s discuss.

Anna Chiaretta Lavatelli, Introduction

I am the Video Project Manager at BPOC (Balboa Park Online Collaborative) in San Diego, California. Our organization collaborates with about 27 institutions (and counting) within and beyond Balboa Park. Being a small and young organization with very newly offered video services I take care of every element of video production with one part time assistant and the occasional supplemental intern while also managing many of our media projects.

I am also a video installation artist working with various display technologies and production approaches, my artist site. I really enjoy working with dancers and performance artists as these types of collaborations give me space to rethink the ways in which we represent an experience through experimental modes of documentation and the use of consumer technology.

At BPOC we work with a Panasonic HMC150 and Canon 5D with a Zoom h4n recorder, switching between these two cameras depending upon the demands of the job. We edit primarily in Premiere, occasionally in AVID, and I am a long time Final Cut fan up until the collapse last year (I still run it on my home system). I love geeking out about equipment and software.

I am also very engaged in applications of consumer video technology like iPhones, flip cams, handicams in the museum context. I like getting cameras into the hands of the subjects to reconsider how to gather good content. I am doing a lot of training in these methods with one of my current projects at BPOC, Conservation Reel. I will be doing a workshop at MW on using consumer technology to produce content for Conservation Reel.

And finally, I am very excited to meet more people in our field to create an awesome community of media producers!

@annachiaretta / annachiaretta@gmail / annachiaretta@skype / aclavatelli@bpoc.org


MCN’s Media Production SIG encompasses issues that media content producers face in content production and the gallery. This group is for any individual that works with technical video and audio production, storytelling and content development and media display technology. Our mission is to support both the conceptual and technical issues in the gallery and in web content distribution. We aim to examine the role of media content as a storytelling device for education and interpretation, as well as share technical knowledge with production and display equipment to provide a support community.