Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Always listen to your little voice.

Particularly when it involves anything Microsoft. I've always known that .wmv files are absolute garbage and to try and bring them into any kind of professional production is a joke. I have a client that really needed to make one work, so I agreed. Sadly - many hours later, over budget and frustrated, I had to throw in the towel. I already new what a lousy video format this was - but it was made worse by the fact that it originated on some cheapo spy cam. Never, ever again. Dear Microsoft - please stay the f*** out of video production - you have no business there.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Inappropriate Drunken "Colleague"

I had a gig filming some stuff at the Great American Beer Festival for a client in the brewing industry. Great gig, interesting environment, tasty beers. Unexpectedly, I was approached numerous times, by fellow cameramen, wanting to talk about my camera. Most of which included comments of the negative variety. One such young man really took the cake though.

I was taking a break, waiting for our next interview to get ready, and noticed these two dudes just staring, with odd expressions, at my camera from a few feet away. I was half-leaning on it and my tripod, so I couldn't help but notice them. The staring became increasingly uncomfortable and my questioning look back at them finally elicited a comment from one of the two drunks. "We're just checking out that camera... what is that, some kind of .mts shooting thing". Yes I replied. Panasonic's AVCHD format. Works pretty well for my kind of projects. "Oh - so you probably have to use Final Cut Pro and get some kind of lossy, compressed Apple Pro Res 422 file...?" All the while - with this growing look of disgust on his face". I finally was like - "look dude - at this price point (about $2400) - this camera does everything I need it to and keeps me on budget". I don't need a $10,000 broadcast quality HD camera to shoot marketing videos that 95% of which wind up on the company website. Now I know this isn't the fanciest camera in the world, it's lacking several features I wish I had, but it's solid, reliable, affordable and is full resolution HD. I skipped all the HDV cameras on the market when this came out and found it to be the right solution for my business.

In retrospect - there is a host of other things I wish I would have said to this tool at the beerfest, but feel good about keeping my cool and stating the facts. His buddy, finally realizing his friend's rudeness and drunkenness finally bid me farewell and said "Cheers". The drunken rude tool? Didn't say anything else, just stumbled off with his buddy.

Like any other industry/hobby, etc. - there are always going to be those that are all about the fashion before the function. Sure - I'd love to have a RED HD camera, several Canon 7d's - and throw in about $100,000 worth of lenses. Does it make sense for my business? Hell no. Who can afford that stuff? Certainly not me. I bought and used the best camera for what works for my business, and I been working hard with it over the last year. It's paid for itself twice over and then some and I'd buy the same camera all over again.

It is here I could say something about squashing that dude's feeble "daddy paid for art school" ass like bug on the highway, but I have learned a few things in my 43 years on this planet. 1. There will always be annoying pricks that come across your path in life - what you do or say isn't going to make them any more or less of an annoying prick - so I exercise restraint by telling them my facts in a calm and collected manner. 2. Life is short - be thankful every moment no matter how difficult, how easy, how pleasant or how dreadful. We're living people - that in itself is pretty amazing.

Monday, September 05, 2011

West Coast Mountain Biker Goes Rocky

If only I could have experienced my lifelong hobby of mountain-biking in reverse geographic order - the Rocky Mountains early in life, the glory of the Pacific Northwest and NorCal later. Alas - my early years of mountain-biking were spent on the fireroads around Silver Creek Falls, Abiqua Falls and Butte Creek Falls of the Willamette Valley foothills. It wasn't until the early 90's that I discovered single track by way of Central Oregon and eventually the valley. From there I've been on a continual exploration of the proliferate single track from as far north as Terrace, British Columbia, to as far south as the Monterrey/Laguna Seca trails made famous by Sea Otter. I've even managed a day of remote single track on the South Island of New Zealand.

So why this post. Well - after a solid 24 years of mountain-biking so much of that deluxe, buffed-out smooth-rolling single track (with favorites including Marin, Galbraith, Oakridge) - I now find myself exploring the abundant, but rocky, trails of the Front Range of Colorado. There are some bad ass trails along the Front Range - but this old man's lower back is having a hard time sucking up the abusive, unrelenting shocks of the baby-head-laden trails that riddle these trails. There are a few gems here and there - but by and large - they're all ridiculously rock infested and punishing. NOTHING like the fluffy downhill single track I'd grown accustomed to on the West Coast. And we're not talking about the occasional rock - we're talking chunky, solid granite in every shape and size imaginable, half-buried in all of the most inconvenient spots of the trail imaginable - miles of it. Am I complaining? Well... yes - a little. I am fortunate to have several good rides from my door in Boulder, but there really is a lack of smooth, bomber single track here. Will I get used to it? Probably not. Will I continue to complain? Probably. Will it turn me into a roadie? Not this decade - no thanks. :)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Mountain Biking in the White Light!

After meeting my neighbor Dave, we opted to do our first mountain bike ride together at nearby White Ranch. Having only ridden there once, I thought it would be great to go with someone that knew the place well, as he does. Despite the brutal, relentless climb to the top known as Belcher Hill, White Ranch has some fantastic trails and single track. Add to this the peak of wildflower season and having a buddy to ride with, made it an awesome day. And then, about 3/4 of the way through our ride, the skies started turning a sinister color of black. Earlier in the day the storms seemed to be staying south, but within minutes, we were getting blanketed by waves of intense rain. At this point we were still pretty high up, and quite exposed. We turned up the speed and worry a few notches and bombed off the top as quickly as possible. Then, within two or three minutes of the waves of rain, came the giant bolts of wicked lightning. When the time between the flash and the thunder is a second or less, you know you're in the middle of something. We immediately threw down our bikes, took off our Camelbaks and scrambled off trail to ponder our situation. I had noticed a small cliff of rocks a couple hundred feet back or so, so we bushwacked up and across to the spot I saw, and managed to perch ourselves under some rocks that not only seemed to protect us from the bolts falling from the sky, but soon it was as though we were standing behind a waterfall given the amount of rain that was falling. Having only been in the middle of a lightning storm once before, I had forgotten how scary, exciting and amazing it is all at the same time. Seeing bolts come down that close to your location, and feeling the concussion of thunder that rattles your teeth is a sensation like none other and truly a powerful earthly experience. We waited out the storm and within a half hour or so were back on the trail and safely on our way home.

The next day, my wife picked up a copy of the Mountain Gazette and I happened to read this very timely story on lightning. Something to think about next time I get stuck in honest-to-goodness Rocky Mountain Lightning Storm.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Building the Afrobeat Band

In March of 2011 I finally decided to build an afrobeat band here in Boulder. Using the prodigious Craigslist, I cobbled together an ad looking for players and have since built a nine-piece monster of some talented musicians - playing obscure african funk, jazz and afrobeat.

Dates in Colorado this Summer:
Sat. June 11th - Denver - Cervante's Summer Music Fest, 10pm
Wed. June 29th - Boulder - Laughing Goat Coffehouse, 9pm
Sat. July 9th - Coal Creek Canyon - Community Center (private)

Check it out:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sticking with the old school - RADIO!

Those of you who know me, know I have an affinity for old school radio. One of my film school projects was a short documentary called "College Radio - The Bay Area Bubble" - which documented the unique format of San Francisco Bay area college radio stations (KALX, KZSU, KFJC, KZSC). I also have been known to pack my transistor radio on backpacking trips, hoping to tune-in Coast to Coast AM and pick up a UFO program while star-gazing in the backcountry.

For someone who grew up in the classic rock environment of Portland's KGON - I was weened on a steady diet of Boston, Led Zeppelin, Steve Miller and all the standards which I grew to either love or hate. I owe much of my early musical knowledge to KGON, but once in my twenties, I quickly became dissatisfied with the their repetition and moved beyond radio, embracing alternative music and more.

Fast forward 30 years. Now that I live in Colorado, I've rediscovered FM radio mostly due to a fresh array of options. I get the standard jazz station (89.3) which is quite good, a metal station from Denver (80% of which bores me with nu-metal) a Boulder community radio station called KGNU which is pretty awesome and even an AM college radio station from CU - which, when I can actually pick it up, plays some really obscure stuff, the newest hip stuff and a nice mix of reggae, punk and other programs. And of course, I get classic rock stations. Two in fact. One of the two (103.5 the Fox) plays your standard fare, KGON-like classics. All too familiar - but occasionally I'll catch a song worth staying for. The other station however - is largely the reason for this blog post. KYEN Denver/Severance/Ft. Collins at 103.9 plays the most unique, diverse and interesting mix of classic rock I've ever heard. As their website states: "103.9 FM KYEN is a Rock 'N' Roll radio station like no other. Playing lost tracks, forgotten artists, deep cuts, b-sides, bootlegs and just about anything that we like. Our music library spans thousands and thousands of songs and we’re adding music each day. We love music and we do it for the music. Listen and Enjoy…" Sure - you're going to run into the occasional over-played Stones track, or some other song that borders on bubble-gum pop sweetness. But the majority of their playlist actually doesn't seem like a "playlist" at all. When I'm driving and actually listening to the radio - I'm usually here - taking in (and learning) about so many songs and bands I never knew about. Paul McCartney songs I've never heard, Elvis Costello, Todd Rundgren, obscure Yes and Genesis tracks... the list goes on and on. With KGON I could name the artist or band within split seconds of each new song coming on - here - I'm lucky to name the artist, and rarely can name the song.

Good stuff. Thank you KYEN. Keep it obscure.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Building an AFROBEAT band in Boulder!

So f-ing jazzed on this. Getting great response from the players in the Boulder area. If you play horns, drums, percussion or think you can sing like Fela - holler. We want to hear from you. Drop a line to etkeeney (at) gmail. Stay tuned for a play by play of "The Building of an Afrobeat Band" - right here on my blog. Stoked.