Monday, May 5, 2008

The life and times of a Digital Cinema student

I've been thinking to myself a lot lately, "Man, Pete, you're in the wrong program." Looking at monitor-tanned nerds toiling away in the animation lab, and then looking at the suit-jacket wearing film guys talking about their next production in the DC cage, I really feel like I belong more in the former than the latter. I love animation and I kind of want to wind up in it someday.

But on the other hand, I had to quickly edit together my horrible DC 105 project this morning (thanks to the DC program I couldn't do it yesterday, I'll bitch about that in a sec), and doing so really made me remember how much I enjoy editing - sitting down with a lot of footage, pushing through the boring-ass process of labeling each scene... and then getting down into it, looking at your script, deciding what goes where and what shots to use and string together, tweaking your cuts so they're perfect. It's fun stuff. I just don't know if I will enjoy it if I have to start out in something I don't care about like commercials. I hope over the next year I can get at least some editing under my belt, because if Pixar has another film editing internship next summer, I fully intend to kill as many people as I need to get it.

So maybe I really do belong in film after all... but I'm definitely in the wrong program for it. I went to the LPC student center to edit this project at... 6:30 last night. I get there, and of the maybe 16 or so Macs, about half are crappy last-gen iMacs that don't even have AGP video cards, meaning Final Cut Pro will simply not work on it. Of the newer (and by "newer" I mean 2004) Macs, half give you fatal runtime errors when you try to open Final Cut. The three or four that worked, naturally, were taken. I even tried iMovie, but it didn't work with my camera anywhere. CTI and DePaul Center downtown both closed at 6.

This morning I get to the Loop at 9 to edit the stuff. I first go to the $6,000,000 DC center in the DePaul Center to use the only state-of-the-art badass Macs on campus. I get there, sit down, get set up... and Final Cut gives me errors. I move over to the next computer, sit down, get set up... and Final Cut opens! Huzzah! But it won't recognize my camera. Okay, I say, I'll suffer through i Movie. Which also still won't recognize my camera. I check the camera again, and there is clearly a USB symbol, which I shouldn't even have had to check since I was using a USB cable but I was starting to think that I was crazy. I went into the iMovie help, and it's a bit vague, but it seems to tell you that even if you have a camera with USB out, you have to use Firewire in order to have the computer talk to the camera.

At 9 in the morning there isn't anybody moderating the lab, so I go outside and into Radioshack, saying "screw it, I'll need this cable again anyway so I'll just buy one." It's $36 for a six-foot Firewire-to-mini Firewire cable. $36. I can get one online for probably $5, but that doesn't help me now. So I go to the 9th floor of CTI, sit down in the lab, and check through four computers until I find one that A) has FCP on it, B) has a DV deck, and C) has that DV deck plugged in. I finally get to sit down and edit.

It's a little bit annoying to know that I'm going to wind up dangerously close to 100k in debt to be in a program that has taught me... four courses worth of material, and can't even keep their own damn computers working after tossing 6 million into a shiny new lab. People wonder why I'm upset with the program.

To end on a completely different note, one of the regular lab people just walked by and said hi. She doesn't have midterms this quarter, and I told her that my last quarter was like that but that this quarter I'm getting my ass kicked with all the tests and projects I'm working on at once. "That's good, it's good for you!" she says with a smile.

I had kind of forgotten that myself. It's nice to get a reminder now and then.


Alex said...

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