Thursday, January 28, 2010

Maritime Author Series

Mary Malloy of the Sea Education Association and Harvard University opened our Maritime Author lecture series on Wednesday, January 27th with a rousing talk on Sam Hill. Captain Hill, buried in Boston within feet of John Hancock, was a notorious New Englander who led a reckless and violent life on the high seas in the early 1800's crossing paths with likes of Lewis and Clark and being the first American to live in Japan.

Mary also spoke about her foray into the world of historical fiction and the freedom and challenges it poses for a trained historian. It was a delight to welcome Mary on behalf of the Fellows of the G.W Blunt White Library, the sponsors of the event.

"The Devil on the Deep Blue Sea" and Mary'swork of fiction "The Wandering Heart" are great reads and easily avaialble through our book store or other outlets.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life of a Podcast: Writing the Script

Like anything else the podcasts and other video programs produced here at the Film/Video Archives start simple enough, with an idea. These ideas being our many events and announcements of special programs from the museum. However, it is our job to come up with a way to promote in an informative and interesting way. This is where the script comes in.

Production Assistant Brandon Morgan captains most of the podcasts and videos seen regarding promotions. Production Head Daniel Harvison responsible for much larger projects such as exhibit videos and the Restoring an Icon: Charles W. Morgan programs.

When writing a promotional script, as you will see like any other part of our jobs, we have a fantastic arsenal of tools at our disposal. In this case, reference books, each with their own special job.

Websters Dictionary- Something no writer should EVER be without for obvious reasons.

Standard Handbook of Synonyms, Antonyms, & Prepositions- This book, coupled with Websters, helps us greatly expand our vocabulary for a more powerful, and therefore more effective script.

Style The Basics of Clarity and Grace- English is by far one of the most complicated and confusing language in the world. This book holds the key to unlocking the more confusing rules behind our language as well as introducing tools to clean up a cluttered script of unnecessary language. It also has a neat section on "Myths" of the English language that would greatly upset your Middle School English Teacher.

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer- As the title says, this book is full of tips and tricks to improve any writer's style, including subtle nuances in form and sentence structure. The section on cures for Writer's Block is nothing short of a saving grace.

The Poet's Dictionary- In many ways a writer is very much a poet. Within this book are several tools in poetry that when used carefully, can spice up any script to grab the attention of the viewer.

Once the first draft is written, the production team cooperates with the event supervisors and Mike O'Farrell of the Marketing and Communications team check the script for any changes or corrections to suit their needs. Working together, what the two teams produce as a final product is ready now ready for narration, or in some cases, straight onto the video shoot.

Dan Harvison's Restoring an Icon podcasts, however. Are another story completely. Watching these videos you will notice that there is no real script behind them, and yet each one is structured with a strong narrative and even flow throughout. These programs are written by the use of interview soundbytes. Once an interview on the specified topic has been taken. Dan will review the footage, selecting quotes and sometimes even single words to construct the narrative of the program. This is the same technique documentaries use on a regular basis. Of course, to pull this specific technique off, one has to be both good writer as well as a good editor. Thankfully for us, Dan is both of these.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Visitors who take the exciting new tour of the Collections and Research Center this winter start off the tour with a very special look at all the important and dedicated departments housed in this building.

The interpreter turns on the monitor and presses play, and much to your surprise upbeat hip-hop music begins to play as images of the Collections building scrolls across the screen. Thus begins the new 13 minute "Cribs" video produced right here by the Film/Video archives.

A year in the making, this latest production shows off the talent and skill of editor, producer, and camera man Daniel Harvison. Together with Production Assistant Brandon Morgan, the Film/Video archives have the fantastic opportunity to provide all interested in the Museum with regular podcasts and video updates on the official Mystic Seaport YouTube channel.

A lot of work goes into what we do, but we're happy to make the effort to not only produce, but preserve our even larger selection of archival footage from the Mystic Seaport collection. In our very own refrigerated-vault, we house, transfer, and even clean and repair footage from throughout maritime history including the famous footage of rounding Cape Horn by Irving Johnson.

Part of the joy in our work comes from being able to share powerful moments and visuals with the world. Whether this be our continuing coverage of the Charles W. Morgan Restoration, or shooting and producing original programs for our many exhibits; we are always excited to be a part of your experience here at Mystic Seaport.

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