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"Craft In America" Day 1 - Fabrication in Video Time vs Real Craft

Triangular tin can braceletAmong the many last minute preparations during the final week before "Craft in America" came to my studio, I planned and laid out a sequence of jewelry fabrication demonstrations that they had requested.  (The images in this post are a few of my step-by-step demo samples for the video shoot.)

The executive producer had specifically requested that I demo the making of a triangular bracelet featured in the Ornament Magazine article....(shown below) which is a fabulous, fabulous, fabulous bracelet, but it is made from tin cans that are very hard to find.

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Altoid-tin-step-one-bracelet-fabricationA major difficulty, however, was figuring out how to modularize the making of a one-of-a-kind bracelet that is dependent on difficult-to-find, one-of-a-kind tin cans.  I don't buy tins from e-bay as I truly want my materials to be scavenged from the waste stream of our society, and NOT from a retail site like e-bay, ..... but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Nothing was going to deter me from my plan. I eventually found (and guiltily ordered) two triangular Altoid tins offered on e-bay. One of them arrived only the day before the crew arrived. That was too close!  I do not like to operate on the margin of a crisis.

Altoid-tin-cutting1200The "Craft In America" crew, chose to dedicate the first day to fabrication techniques in the studio. 

In this situation, I learned of the extraordinary difference between "video time" - one or two minutes is all they wanted - and real craft fabrication time of five to 40 hours.  I'll bet in the final television segment we will be looking at the fabrication for no more than a few seconds.

Altoid-tin-cutting-edgeMy regret was that I didn't have more of the intermediate step-by-step progressions prepared.  However, I can take some comfort retrospectively that this was not a "how-to-video."  My assumption is that they will use this setting to give the audience some insight into the creative process, and not a fabrication lesson.  I've watched almost all of the prior "Craft In America" library of DVDs or videos on Youtube, and the fabrication shots are only part of the bigger picture.  

Seriously, they would video each step for only a few minutes
-- and even that seemed to be too long for the cameraman. Secretly I was told by Bill, my husband, that the cameraman seemed to be making all kinds of hand signals to the crew.  At the time, I didn't notice (because I was not supposed to look at the camera). 

Altoid-tin-paper-template-wrist
Eventually, the camera was turned off and the cameraman said, "Let me know when you get near to the end." 
I think he meant, "When will some real action happen?"  I guess sawing, drilling, filing or grinding are not very exciting video content. 


Making-wrist-for-tin-can-braceletFrom an initial state of naïveté, I became increasingly aware of the chasm between my sense of craft making real-time and their sense of "video time". 
I was shocked by the rapid fire chop, chop, chop, jumping from one set up to another.  No feedback, no transition and no time to reflect.  I frequently found myself taking a deep breath, repeating the mantra, "I can do this" .... back straight, abs sucked in, go forward. Telling myself, "I can do this." 

Altoid-bracelet-top-two gold-rivetsFor example, hammering one tiny gold rivet usually takes me a few minutes.  From my normal perspective, I had hours to go with more riveting, . . . but they were done with each segment of video recording after 3 or 4 minutes and cut off my snail's pace of gold riveting.

Every few minutes, the Director would ask, "What do you do next?"  I would then jump right into a very short description of the next fabrication activity. 

Typically a very short discussion ensued between the director and the DP, then a decision was made and instructions given, usually requiring the crew to move or shift the camera. 

Altoid-bracelet-top-two gold-rivets-two-arrows
The yellow arrows point to tiny Gold rivets.

Moving the camera was a production in itself. I am not kidding!!!!  The DP would lift the camera off the tripod with muscles flexing.  The gaffer and focus guy would take charge of the tripod, collapsing the legs, pick it up, carry or move the very substantial tripod to the next proposed location.

Within a few moments, the tripod was placed in a new spot and the camera clicked back into the tripod. Simultaneously, lighting and sound were moved to new locations. Then sound was tested, lighting and framing confirmed, and focus checked. Ready? Go! 

Inside-tin-gold-rivet
Look for the very small gold rivet on the inside.

While the crew was repositioning, my brain was going a mile a minute about what tools I need to be ready for the next scene.  I couldn't really pay any attention to what the crew was doing; if I wasted their time, I was also wasting this opportunity. 

Truly the more variety of video scenes that they could record in that afternoon, the more possibilities that they would have to edit for the final product.

Inside-tin-gold-rivet-arrow
The yellow arrow points to the gold rivet.

Any extra recorded scenes might become useful for YouTube excerpts or other promotional material to promote the show.  In my head, it was my responsibility to be prepared and do my best.....but get this....there were never any practice takes.

No multiple takes.  No "Take 2" or "Take 3". Each segment was done once! And then, video time moved on to the next step, segment, or topic.

I'm fascinated by film production and the making of documentaries.  I'm no expert, but I have gained some insights over the years.

Documentaries emphasize capturing the video recordings without practice, it is supposed to be real life. I just didn't realize they would take that precept so literally considering the importance of this show.

Blue-bracelet-top-wrist-templateAnother precept of documentaries is that they expect to get the best verbal commentary on the first take, especially with real people, not actors.  Instead of improving with iterations of practice, the documentary subjects tend to begin sounding "rehearsed" or artificial.  This was the foundation of making documentaries when I took a video class at the local community college several years ago.

I've also heard these kinds of comments by listening to the director's commentary on movies from Netflix, videos from the library, or YouTube!  Every time I can find a director/producer commentary, I listen to learn more. 

IMG_20210629_143736095_HDRThose director commentaries always provide some new insight for a novice like myself.  Some directors prefer to do several takes of a scene. Small changes in each take of the scene -- Take 1, Take 2, Take 3, Take 4, . . . .  Other film makers,  like Clint Eastwood, are well known for doing only one take of a scene. The expectation is that the actors put everything into the first take if they know that there will be no backup, no Take 2. This is it.   

That was how the entire day went for me. One take! And on to a new scene . . . one take.  Then another new scene . . .  one take!  Chop, chop, chop.

I grew more comfortable with this as the day went on, but it still surprised me.

Also, I was instructed to look only at Coby (the director), not at the camera or elsewhere.  For me, that was really hard to do with five other people standing just outside of the "scene". In the beginning, I was very distracted. The artist's eye wants to see and look at everything. I have an eye for detail. How could my eyes only look at one spot or one person?  This was yet another stress to force my brain to not look elsewhere.

Harriete-fabrication-at-benchWe ended the day at five o'clock. Again I was a little surprised.  Video and film shoots are usually 10-12 hour days.  I can only hope that they reached their goal for Day One. 

What do you think?



Previous Posts in the "Craft In America" in my studio series.

A Gigantic Wish Come True...."Craft In America" Visits My Studio

 

Perspiration in Preparation & Planning for "Craft In America"

 

An Optivisor for a Crown - Two Vans Arrive with the "Craft In America" video team

 

 

 

 

 

  


An Optivisor for a Crown - Two Vans Arrive with the "Craft In America" video team

Finally, on Saturday, June 5, the first day of the "Craft in America" video shoot arrived. I was told that a "small crew" of six people would arrive by 11:30am coming from Los Angeles. I've hired individuals for producing videos before, but could not imagine how or what would require six people (as they defined "a small crew").  Of more concern, I could not imagine how six people would fit into my studio at one time.

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Two vans and a third vehicle drove up with lots of equipment and the 6-person video crew went right to work unloading, setting up equipment, checking functions, and synchronizing channels.   Arrival-studio-van-sound-DP

I was amazed at all the equipment. Now all this equipment compounded my concerns.  Even though I had cleaned and organized the studio for weeks, there isn't much space other than a narrow aisle on each side.

With rapid-fire "hellos" from everyone, I was introduced to all six people (but could only remember three names and that everyone confirmed full vaccination status and a recent covid test, which is the industry standard). 

Each member of the crew remained focused on their equipment.  Soon, as a group, we  had a quick walk through the studio and the house (where some of my artwork is displayed).  Within a few minutes, Coby Atlas, the director decided to start the shoot in the studio and stay set up there for the entire first day. 

In the photo below, Emil, the sound person, is checking the audio stream connection to the camera via blue tooth. 
Arrival-sound-focus-runner-DP

In the next photo below Sal Coniglio, Assistant Camera is in the center. ) Eventually, I figured out that he was person responsible for focus. As the focus puller, it is his responsibility to maintain the camera lens's optical focus on the subject or action being filmed.  He has a separate monitor that is also connected to the camera via blue tooth. In addition, at any time when the camera needs to be moved, he helps move the tripod to the new spot and/or adjusts the tripod height up and down. 

Arrival-focus-director-DP

While the crew was setting up all the equipment, Coby asked me to show her my bench, tools, materials, displays, etc., and explain my work processes and step-by-step fabrication that I had planned to show. She wanted to familiarize herself with possible options for the shoot that day. 

Harriete-Berlman-Coby-Atlas-studio

This was the last time on Saturday that I looked so nicely dressed because I asked Coby what I should be wearing for the studio shoot. (Since we would be shooting in the studio that day, I did not want to look "fake" or unrealistically "dressed up" in the studio.) 

Coby responded by asking what would I normally wear in the studio?  I said "overalls" with tools in hand.  Immediately after that brief discussion, I dressed "down" to my overalls and donned an Optivisor - i.e. the ever-required jeweler's crown.  

Optivisor for a crown

Thank goodness I had spent so much time cleaning up the narrow aisles in my studio.  Six people in my studio was indeed crowded.  Sid, the DP (Director of Photography) was a substantial person. The camera was very large, evidently very heavy and unwieldy.  The tripod was even bigger.  In the photo below, you can see five people (Sidney, Coby, Mark, Sal, and Denise Kang, Associate Producer ) squeezed into the narrow aisles.
Saturdayam-producer-focus-runner-director-DP-camera

Sal, the focus puller with his own monitor is in the foreground (in the photo below).  I am envious of his stool mounted on rollerblade wheels. Focus-runner-DP-monitors
The Director, Coby, was ever-present, but physically very tiny.  Notice that Coby is barely visible in these shots.  In the narrow studio space, she could not see me directly.  She could only see what I was doing by looking into the monitor on the camera.

The camera was gigantic with all kinds of knobs, buttons, ports, and dials. (Forget any idea of video taken on your phone.) Below you see the camera's view and Sidney Lubitsch, the DP, looking at what is framed in the display.  

DP-Harriete-bench

Emil, the sound guy (and a S.F. Bay Area local), had a soft fuzzy microphone at the end of the boom. He had to work from the aisle on the other side. I loved that he was really into the sound of metal - sawing, grinding, filing, riveting and the step shear. Go Emil!

Sound-boom-DP

The sound guy had the priority of capturing good audio without letting the boom, or the shadow of the boom, appear in the shot.

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Notice how they added extra light (top center of the next photo) even though I had a widow and skylights directly above me, and the garage door open.  Light and more light!

Gaffer Mark Markely (photo left) was responsible for lighting, helping move the tripod, and every other detail job.   Saturday-runner-lighting-studio

After an hour or two of shooting in this tight space with everyone kind of stacked on top of each other, it was time for lunch.    Saturday-am-runner-Coby-DP-camera-
I had offered to make lunch (in previous phone conversations,) but thank goodness, the Director had relieved me of this responsibility and said they would cater lunch.  Denise, the associate director, had identified a nearby Greek restaurant providing take-out meals.  

We all sat outside on the deck for lunch and it felt good to be in the open air and out of the cramped studio space. And this outside table was the only surface without something on it for the video shoot.
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For me, this was the first time to have people and food come into my house from the outside world in 16 months. What a treat! This "Craft In America" video shoot was my first official break from the hibernation of covid quarantine.


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In this photo above (from left side clockwise around the table to the right) is the crew;  Denise Kang, Associate Producer; Sidney Libitsch, Director of Photography; Coby Atlas, Director; Sal, Focus (at the end of the table); Mark , Gaffer; Emil, Sound; and me on the right.  Bill, my husband, took all of these shots, without which there would be no images of the day and it would all be a blurred, waning memory. 

Harriete's Interview-clapboardStay tuned for more images in this photo diary of "Craft In America" in my studio. There is still the fabrication and "interview" on Sunday with a Clapboard initiating Harriete's interview. 

Stay tuned to find out how the crew set up and shot the raw content for one segment for a future episode of "Craft in America."  

Harriete

 

Previous posts in "Craft In America" in my studio are listed below:

A Gigantic Wish Come True...."Craft In America" Visits My Studio

 

Perspiration in Preparation & Planning for "Craft In America"


Perspiration in Preparation & Planning for "Craft In America"

Harriete-Photoshoot-1200In late April, I first heard that "Craft In America" would like to do a video shoot at my studio during the first week of June.  That left a little over a month to prepare -- and I was grateful for every single day.  However, I could not simply drop everything else that I needed to get done, but I did prioritize two broad categories of preparation.  One priority was to clean my studio so that a video crew could access the inner sanctums of my working space.  I knew how to do this, but it would take weeks of intense effort. There was a lot to do! The month of May already had a full agenda before this popped up!  

The other preparation priority was to fulfill a stream of requests from the Associate Producer, Denise Kang, and the Director, Coby Atlas.  

HB61-9284_EmailFile
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Denise Kang asked for images of my artwork and studio shots of Harriete in her studio. These images would be used primarily for "advance publicity".  Wow! This never occurred to me.  At this point, I had no idea when this "Craft in America" segment would be aired, the crew had not even arrived yet, and already they needed images?

Fortunately, I had an extensive portfolio of professional quality images for my black plastic jewelry. This, of course, should be every artist's and maker's number one level of preparation (as I have written about extensively on ASK Harriete).

Harriete-studio-drawers-tins-1200
Studio shots caused me more concern as I hadn't taken updated images in the studio for a while.
 Usually, I take studio shots on a regular basis. I also make it a practice to take images during the fabrication of every piece because the work-in-progress images can come in handy for books and magazines.  But once in a while I forget or get overwhelmed with the demands on my time. 

Harriete-studio-working-brake
Lady luck was on my side! 
Coincidently, my daughter was coming for a two-day visit in May.  She knows how to get the best smiles from her mother and frame the photos in the studio with her creative eye. 

If you look closely at these images, you will see that the chaos of a messy studio surrounds Harriete the artist.
Chaos-at-feet

During the pandemic, I had grown accustomed to stepping over and around all the stuff on the floor.
In these photos, you can see that the aisles are filled with pieces of metal, scraps, and open tins. Definitely not ready for the video crew.

Harriete-mess-in-the-studio

To better anticipate what needed to be done, I scoured the local library and checked out all of the available DVDs of previous "Craft in America" episodes. I found even more "Craft in America" shows and excerpts on Youtube. Although they varied in content and style over the series, I saw that they like to emphasize and integrate the fabricating processes of their craft subjects.

Coby (the director)  had mentioned this also.  Therefore, I needed to prepare examples of work-in-progress. Coby specifically requested step-by-step examples of the fabrication of a tin can bracelet and step-by-step examples for the black plastic recycle bracelet.

Below are a couple of photos of the steps to make a tin bracelet, cutting the tin, and drilling the rivet holes. 

I was really worried about how to "stage" the fabrication process -- if every step takes three to five hours or 10 hours, and every bracelet is one-of-a-kind, how would they edit for continuity? 
Harriete-studio-fabricating-braceletHarriete-Studio-bracelet-drilling

 

Below are three shots of a fabrication step for the Black Plastic Gyre Boa Constrictor Necklace - cutting black plastic shapes.

Harriete-studio-cutting-black-plastic Harriete-studio-cutting-black-plastic-down

Harriete-cutting-black-plastic
I began to think of this staging of my fabricating process like a cooking show.  The cook has only 30 minutes to show the major steps of how to make a cake that takes four hours.  In this case, the video crew would be digesting the fabrication of a bracelet that might take 10 - 20 - 500 hours into minutes. YIKES!    

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All of this seems so simple,
but throughout the month of May, I was just guessing about what they would need or like to see. My excitement was turning into concern. One-of-a-kind materials and labor-intensive efforts are difficult to demonstrate in minutes.

In addition, any time taken to for new photos or staging a fabrication example would be time taken away from cleaning the studio.  Every minute of May was stressful.

Now that the video shoot is over, I realize that the weeks of preparation did indeed help to highlight the fabrication steps.  Still, there were a couple of times when the video crew was recording as I meticulously sawed or cut tin for an extended period of time (i.e. a few minutes) and they grew exasperated.  They eventually stopped recording and said, "Let us know when you are almost done."   I suppose they thought I was nuts!  They want action.  By their standards, my crafting work appeared very ss-ll-ooo-www. . . .

I'm told it will be edited and condensed with the skills of their amazing editor for the final video.  We shall see...... 

Harriete-and-Aryn

Photos of Harriete Estel Berman in the studio by Aryn Shelander

Previous Posts about Craft in America video shoot are listed below:

A Gigantic Wish Come True...."Craft In America" Visits My Studio

 


A Gigantic Wish Come True...."Craft In America" Visits My Studio

Harriete-eye-in-studio1200
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander
 


I must confess -- for more than a decade I've had a wish... that my artwork would be featured in "Craft In America
," a Peabody Award-winning series about craft.  And sometimes, wishes do come true.  This past weekend a six-person crew arrived at my studio and home for a two-day blitz of video.

The experience is still overwhelming, even in retrospect, too much to describe or digest in one post.  I am both exploding with elation and trying to get my feet back on the ground. While fresh in my memory and with elevated consciousness, I want to share some of the impressions and highlights through the next several posts with lots of images.

It started in late April with a surprise phone call asking if I would be interested in being interviewed for a segment on an hour-long program about jewelry in the documentary series, "Craft In America?"  The caller, Carol Sauvion, is the Executive Director, Executive Producer, Director, and perhaps, most important, the Visionary who has developed "Craft in America" from the brainstorm of an idea to a 15-year run with PBS.

And this came about largely because of a sequence of three events:

Harriete-standing-messy-studio-1200Carol said she wanted to move forward quickly with the shoot on June 5 & 6.  This put Harriete into overdrive at warp speed through the month of May. Now I really had to finish the other artwork that I had already started and promised to complete which was overdue two months ago (more on this later), study and take the tests for re-certification as a Certified Group Exercise Instructor (my secret lifestyle), and clean up my studio after 14-months of accumulated "I can just push stuff aside since no one is visiting" pandemic mindset.

Harriete-studio-out-of-control My studio was out of control.  I had organically let detritus pile up leaving only irregular lilypad-like spots to barely step through. I hadn't cleaned or dusted my studio in more than a year (some parts perhaps for maybe two or three years).  Chaos reigned in competition with sedimentary layering. The dust had accumulated beyond my realization. 

IMG_20210531_145111401_HDR Hours and hours each day cleaning, sorting, tossing, Goodwill, SCRAP, give away, repositioning, hiding elsewhere (e.g. stuffing the car), consolidating, etc. for over two weeks , soaring past 14,000 daily steps on my Fitbit without ever leaving my house -- I could never have cleaned the studio without the amazingly generous assistance of emiko oye, Jen, and Sara.  emiko (my most trusted studio assistant from years ago) helped for three solid days during the two week cleaning marathon. 

Anticipation fueled this grueling, intensive effort. Then the excitement morphed into trepidation during the last three days. Was I ready? Was my preparation adequate? 

There still seemed to be a lot to do beyond just cleaning the studio to be ready for this oopportunity.

Stay tuned....getting ready for a "Craft in America" video crew.  There was so much to do.....so little time.

Harriete

 

Harriete-cleaning-studio-1200
Photo Credit: William Shelander