News From The Woods


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published April 22,1997

"Spring Cleaning and Open House"

Wow! Spring has sprung and so has my brain. I knew April was going to be a "work month" for me but gimme a break! When I moved the studio to it's new location there was a lot of left-over stuff that wouldn't fit into the new facility, and since I didn't want to clutter up the place I just stacked up the surplus in my garage. Well, that was now two years ago and I was getting tired of not being able to use my garage so I set this spring as the absolute last ditch effort to "clean house". I got rid of a lot of items at a garage sale held at the first of the month. It took a week just to go through all the boxes containing 8-track tapes, old movie projector bulbs, R&R T-shirts by unknown bands, woks & blenders, posters, wireless headsets, useless adaptors that fit only obsolete A/V gear, dead rechargeable batteries, camera lenses for non-existent cameras, 20-year old bicycles, a motorcycle that I never got running, well.... you get the general idea. And the boxes and boxes of every shorted and butchered cable I had collected in 30 years. Then there's the obsolete professional gear collected and believe me when I say that I have plenty of it!

"Pssst! Hey, buddy!! Know anybody looking for a couple of Sony Betamax's?" Need a cheap (I mean really cheap) single-tube broadcast camera? How about two? They're cheaper that way. I'll even throw in cables, cases, and connectors for free! Or maybe you could put this 1-inch "portable" Video Tape Recorder in the back of your station wagon. While you're at it take this 60-lb. film-to-video multiplexer with you. It was state-of-the-art about 20 years ago. Maybe I could interest you in a CG titler with 99-page memory? Is it old? Well, next to a modern titler it would look like "Pong" compared to "Doom", but don't let that stop you. Or how about a 3-tube Sony broadcast camera with a 12X Fuji lens and 5-inch studio viewfinder? Cost over $10,000 new. Might make a good boat anchor today. I might even have enough cable to drop her down to at least 75 feet.

No, I didn't sell any of that stuff at the garage sale. No one around here would even know what half of it was. But I can't bring myself to just throw away a camera that cost so much new. No matter that I'll never use it again. If I had the room I'd love to donate a portion of space dedicated to a museum of antiquated audio-video-music gear. I've even tried to donate some of this stuff to a local college but they apparently have certain guidelines and rules governing accepting equipment as a tax write-off. Sometimes you just can't win.

Anyway, at least the clutter in the garage is nicely arranged and I can get the convertible in it. I plan to give the bulk of the old gear to an ex-brother-in-law who intends to get his engineering degree and needs some trashed electronics to practice on. Such is the fate of once proud (and very expensive) and sophisticated video electronics gear. Nothing lasts forever. We used to call this "planned obsolescence" but now it's just technology running wild. I'll bet this drive manufacturers nuts! Nowadays in this computer-driven video market a manufacturer is really lucky if they can keep a product "current" within the same year it's been introduced.

Then there was the Chamber of Commerce "Business After Hours". This is a program where local merchants and businessmen sponsor a two-hour get together for all the Chamber members. It's good PR. It MUST be good PR because the waiting list for this event is a year long. So we registered last year and kept saying "No problem... We've still got 6 months.... 3 months... 6 weeks... WHAT! It's next WEEK!???" And then proceeded to do all the cleaning up and landscaping in the last week.

I decided to produce a demo reel for the studio to show during the event while "schmoozing" with the "suits". After all, it's what we DO. Might as well make one for the studio. I've been meaning to do a decent demo reel for a couple of years now. There never seems to be enough time, but I was determined to produce a good video demo which would "tell the story" of Cedar Crest Studio. The first half of the video was a sort of bio on me and what led me to this space in time. As I stated earlier, doing promotional videos is a large part of what we do here at Cedar Crest, but I had never done a project on ME before. Well, I gotta tell you it was hard to do and it felt kinda weird as well. I really got tired of this "Bob" guy. "Bob" did this and "Bob" did that and "Bob" lived here and "Bob" received that award. I was really sick of this "Bob" guy after working on this video for three days. And I never could seem to get it just right. It just didn't seem "good enough". I wasn't impressed with it. It seemed boring.

I got panicky and called in a few knowledgeable friends to solicit their opinions. They seemed satisfied with it and applauded the use of effects and editing so I decided that it would never be "good" enough for me and I completed it just 6 hours before the guests would start showing up. As it turned out the video did what it was supposed to do. All during the event people would come up to me and say "I didn\"t know you played drums on that Freddy Fender hit!" or some other tidbit that they saw in the 12-minute video during the course of the evening as it played over and over on a recycling tape I had prepared. Not to mention that now I have a genuine video demo reel prepared to show clients and visitors or send out on a request for more information on the studio.

The climax of the event was the drawing held by the chamber at the end of the evening. A business card was drawn from a fishbowl containing the cards of all chamber members present and the winner received a 30-second television commercial produced by the studio. I don't know if it was the catered Mexican food or the homemade sangria but the winner danced around singing "I've got a TV commercial! I've got a TV commercial!"

The Chamber of Commerce representatives said it was one of the best ever Business After Hours programs they had ever had. One of them even confided in me and confirmed that it was also the first time they could remember having a drum roll precede every announcement throughout the affair. I just couldn't resist it!

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