Video POTM Archive Notes

Technical notes on the productions

The early videos were recorded on analog 8mm video tape; the later videos were recorded on digital (MiniDV) video tape. The early videos used an analog video capture method, the later ones were digitally captured and sometimes edited with Adobe's Premiere™ product, in various versions through the years. Some of the original productions were digitally exported to a MiniDV tape to create a 'digital master.'

Where a full-scale AVI files could be re-captured from a digital master tape, they were simply reformatted as FLV flash files, some using the free RIVA product line and some using the current version of Adobe Premiere™ by dropping the edited AVI file onto the timeline and then directly exporting the timeline to Flash.

Where a useful digital master could not be located the original session tapes were used. Analog original clips were dubbed to digital tape where necessary, and the digital tape clips were captured and edited into new presentations of the original readings. In two instances the original session tapes were lost.

All of these new versions can be compared with the originals in their various formats by viewing the old archive page.

Notes on specific videos


This video was the result of my first experiments with a video camera and my first attempts at analog video capture. It was recorded in the early 1980's, well before I established this web site. The poem itself dates from the summer of 1969, and is a pretty literal expression of my feelings about returning 'home' after graduate school.

The version I originally included on the web as a 'multimedia' experiment was tiny and grainy, suitable for the old days when everyone had a slow connection and a slow computer. The ending was the first example of one of my favorite conceits: to end with a shot of me reaching for the camera (or clicking my remote) to turn it off.

For this version I have recovered most of the original analog footage, transferred it to digital tape and in turn from the digital tape captured it to computer files, and put together a somewhat more elaborate version. I had to cut out an unfortunate bit which had recorded over a few frames of the original 'production take,' so in compensation I added some superfluous opening shots and ending footage to accompany new titles. I also slightly enhanced the audio by doubling the original mono track to both sides of the new stereo version.

August 1998

This poem was written while sitting in the back of a car service limo during a working visit to NYC, stuck behind a firetruck on the Williamsburg Bridge.

The video was shot in using my old analog 8mm camcorder and put up on the web without titles, because I had not moved into digital editing. The sound was on the right channel only because I used a mono microphone. Despite the mic, there is a lot of background noise from the camera and my nearby computer.

I found the original 8mm takes, dubbed the video onto MiniDV tape, and made this version, including some extraneous material under the new main title, and adding a brief closing title. It's still overexposed, but I mirrored the sound track onto both left and right channels.

January 1999

I really liked this poem and there were several video takes. The original clips of the version I actually published are gone, probably recorded over, so that version exists only in reduced scale and resolution. While searching the tapes, however, I found several takes from an entirely different session and used them to assemble the newer version, adjusting the sound and including an 'out-take' consisting of a flubbed ending and my ironic comment on it.

The original version also may have been on an analog 8mm tape, but more likely it was an early experiment with my first MiniDV digital camcorder and was lost when something else was recorded over it.

Perhaps neither version does justice to the scope and imagination of the original 1995 idea of Danny Hillis and Stewart Brand.

April 1999

I worked for a long time on this poem, and the version actually published in April of 1999 is slightly different from the text in this video, which was recorded during the same session as the recovered January 1999 POTM. The subject was my experience of a major part of the 'Big Dig' project in Boston which I observed daily from my commuter train.

All of the most complete versions exhibit a slip-up where I substitute the word 'pipe' for 'pump,' so I put together pieces of two versions to assemble a complete and correct reading of the text as it existed then. I left the edit visible. I also modified the sound track to duplicate the mono track on both 'stereo' sides.

The many revisions of this poem subsequent to the recording of the video is the most likely reason I never published it as a video, although the fact that there was no satisfactory single 'take' may also have been part of the decision.

April 2000

I wrote this poem earlier in the year, but recorded it on a trip to California. With only a little hubris I had decided in advance to read the poem outside the City Lights bookshop; I thought it would be fun.

This is a conversion direct from the digital 'master' tape.

October 2000

This poem is also an unedited digital master digital tape, although I trimmed an excessive blank leader a bit.

I always did like that shirt, but this was recorded in a different session than the session which produced the January and April 1999 videos.

October 2002 and July 2003 (The Golden Sidewalk)

In 2002 a group of art students in Boston created a set of public environmental/installation pieces. One of the projects involved using gold leaf to highlight the cracks and crevices along a section of sidewalk which was part of the 'Freedom Trail,' a section I happened to walk over daily on my way to work. I started noticing the gilt when it first appeared, and then one day I saw the students kneeling on the ground, carefully blowing the gold leaf into place and brushing it down. I began to record the work in videos and in photographs as it was completed and, inevitably, as it began to wear and decay.

This and the other projects executed around the city got very little publicity, and I was always amazed how people could be walking on gold leaf without noticing it. An artist friend of mind eventually told me the names of the students involved in the project, but that was after the video was published. The 'golden artists' are Kelly Kaczynski and Scott Tiede; the project was curated by Vita Brevis for the Boston ICA.

In addition to the POTM video, I created a DVD of all the video clips and still photographs I had taken, and in July of 2003 I made another video with a later poem reflecting on the then-current condition of the piece. Both the POTM videos are presented as straight conversions from the digital tapes of the original master edits.

December 2002

This poem was written on one of many train rides I took (on business) from Boston to New York; it's what I saw and heard and felt as I stared out the window. The flash video is a straight conversion from the digital master edit, complete with the elaborate 'Spaceflight Films' coda I had begun to tack on to my videos since earlier in 2002.

March 2008

This poem is a sort of celebration of some of the ideas of Julian Jaynes about consciousness which I first read about in the 1970's. It's a short and simple poem, and I had made a fairly straightforward reading into a video, then one morning after exercycling on my cold sunporch, I kept my hooded sweatshirt on, recorded the poem again, and tried to get fancy with the editing, going for a representation of a kind of dialog between the two sides of the brain. Both the video and audio (and perhaps the idea, as well) were quite sloppy and the published version virtually inaudible.

Unfortunately the original video is gone, and the surviving digital capture files are choppy and of poor quality. Nevertheless I have a fondness for this video, so I have tried to reconstruct it as best I could here in what is an entirely new edit. At least the audio is better.

July 2009

I made this deliberately back-lit and obscure video after I retired and set up a small loft office in my 'seaside studios' on Cape Cod. I wrote the poem in my head while mowing, after I had in fact tread on a mangled white butterfly that had been caught under my mower.

This is the first POTM video which was produced directly to Flash format, although it will also be archived onto a MiniDV digital tape.

June 2010

This is the first POTM video which was produced without tape at all, using a small video camera which stores shots directly to a memory card. The original format is 720 X 480 HD 60 fps, mainly because my Adobe Premiere Elements version 8 doesn't seem to be able to handle the 1080 widescreen format.

As with the July 2009 POTM, this was 'produced' directly to Flash format, using Premiere. It will be 'archived' to an uncompressed AVI file.

August 2010

This was produced more or less on the spur of the moment using my oldest digital video (MiniDV) camera. The camera is old and stutters a bit, so I lost a little from the first take (alas, the best parts.) The final version is edited from takes 2 and 3, and within those takes there were false starts, re-reads, etc.)

As with the July 2009 POTM, this was 'produced' directly to Flash format, using Premiere. It will be 'archived' to an uncompressed AVI file.

Notes on the web page

To create my Flash video web pages I use theswfobject.js javascript version 2.2 which is freely available through the Google code project. I use the script to embed a player.swf object: I use the flash player object originally developed by Jeroen Wijering and distributed by Longtail Video. Both of these tools are freely available, unbranded, and quite easy to use.

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