It’s like looking into an eye of a chicken…. That was an expression that my Ukrainian grandmother used to say. As you can imagine, it’s not the most flattering of comments - implications of pea-sized brains, futzing around with chicken scratch, and instinctual urges to flee were the associations that always popped into my head whenever she would use it.
Something along those lines is what I suspect my Workshop Instructor, Calgary-based filmmaker Michael Welchman, was probably thinking about me last weekend at EMMEDIA’s Final Cut Pro Class for Beginners. I was there to upgrade my almost non-existent editing skills and he was there to teach me about batch capturing, scratch disks, and Digital Betacams.
It was then that my grandmother’s saying popped into my mind as I was most definitely sporting my best chicken eye. New technology can be a scary and a humbling thing.
I had bravely ventured into EMMEDIA that weekend because, as mentioned above, I was looking for some skills. And it so happens that EMMEDIA is a place where many people with film-related endeavours go to find them.
Established in Calgary in1979, EMMEDIA is a non-profit organization managed and directed by practicing artists. It offers the general pubic and artists alike affordable access to media art production tools, to technical and educational support, and to an array of public exhibition programs. The centre provides a focus for media arts activity and a gathering place for people to interact and exchange ideas.
Other innovative EMMEDIA initiatives include, Digital Direct, launched in 1998, which takes portable digital production and editing equipment to remote or isolated communities in southern Alberta and within the City of Calgary. For many in the art world, EMMEDIA is a hidden gem. For the rest of us, it is a one-stop stomping ground for those adventurous enough to take on the world of new media.
My interest in learning editing skills was specifically job related. Looming over my head is a whole library of ACE-on-the-road footage crying to be made into jazzy little promotional snippets. My fellow classmates varied in their interests. One was a freelance actress who did voice work and was now interested in creating her own documentaries. Another was a retired arts administrator who wanted to return to filmmaking, as it was his first love. We were a sassy little bunch, comrade-in-arms in the new media trenches.
The most important realization that I think we all took away with us from our time at EMMEDIA was that the technology and the resources are there for those willing to dive in and use them. Sure, you might look silly and suddenly lose your ability to work the right-click on a mouse. But who cares! New technology doesn’t judge you… it just doesn’t do ANYTHING until you figure it out.
When you are first starting out, it’s not about brains or brawn – it’s about the willingness to learn. It’s about fearlessness, an open mind, and fighting the urge to flee. It’s about quashing that inner chicken eye…
For more info on workshops available at EMMEDIA see: http://www.emmedia.ca/