Louisiana Sunshine

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 27 2011

I turn my camera on.

Thursday was the due date for my (first? last?) round of hiring materials: shiny new TFA-templated resume, professional photograph, and the dreaded VIDEO.

The good news:  I’m not as truamatized by seeing myself on video as I expected to be.

The bad news:  It took over eight hours to produce, upload, and email these three items.

I just this past Christmas got my first digital camera (I tend to be 3-4 years behind the technology curve), so I was pretty excited about actually having the equipment to take a video.  (Option #2:  my mother’s camcorder, which uses, yes, full size video cassettes.)  And I figured out early (ie last weekend) that the camera didn’t have enough memory to record a two-minute video, so I went out and got a memory card and borrowed a tripod.  So I was clearly *all set*, right?

So on Tuesday, I left work at noon for a 1:30 car inspection. Naively, I planned to run home, record the video, take my professional photo, get the car inspected, and adjourn to a coffee shop with wifi to polish off the resume and send off all my materials (because I have no internet at home; see: technological delays, above).

So I got home, got the tripod, got the camera, got my laptop.  Changed into a blouse and blazer.  Changed right back out, because the shirt was too low cut and the collar looked funny. Tried a second white blouse, but it looked…weird.  Tried a dark purple scoop-necked shirt.  Not bad, not bad. Figured I was good to go.  Tried to set up the tripod, only to find out that it had some completely archaic contraption that connected it to the camera, instead of the little screw my camera and I were expecting.  (Which figures, because it was designed for my mom’s archaic video camera.)  No problem.  I am resilient.

So I cracked out the laptop, got it balanced on top of the tower, and tried to figure out how to get the built-in camera to record video rather than still shots.  But it kept asking for the “image capture device,” which led me to believe that it *needed* the image capture device.  Deciding that that I could balance the camera on the laptop, I went to get the camera…and this is the moment I realized that, despite the wealth of cables and cords included in the box, there is no USB cable included with my camera.  And therefore no way to actually get any pictures from the camera to the computer.

Fine.  I played around with the laptop for a while, finally figured what button to push to get the laptop camera to record video, and got the whole thing balanced on the tower at a reasonable angle (which means, realize, that the keyboard has to be about five feet off the ground so that the camera is angled down on me, instead of shooting up my nose), and got ready to take my still shot.  I clicked the mouse, stepped into position…and watched as my furniture tower s-l-o-w-l-y tipped over backwards, taking my laptop along for the ride.

At this point, I *had* to leave for the car inspection, so let’s just draw the curtain of charity over this scene, shall we?

Suffice it to say that I got back, reassembled the tower, changed my outfit twice more, took about 20 still shots, and shot 23 takes (yes, 23–that’s how long it took me to polish my spiel so that it was actually 2 minutes and didn’t involve any ums, ahs, or strange background noises) of my two-minute video.  I *could* have stopped at 21, but between 21 and 22 the light went (because, oh yes, by then it was getting dark) and the video came out really dark and freaky.  Take 22 was also just fine–except midway through, my dog decided he couldn’t wait one. more. second. for his dinner and started scratching at the door.  And while the microphone on my laptop is not stellar, it sure picked that up.  Take 23, which is the one I ended up using, is also fine–except that someone started knocking  (pounding, really) on the front door midway through.  You can’t hear the pounding (miraculous!), but I sort of lose the thread of what I’m saying for a bit there. I think/hope it doesn’t show.

This post has already gone on too long, so I’ll spare you the gory details of trying to edit the footage so I don’t appear to lunge at the camera the second I’m done talking (result: unsuccessful) and all the pain and agony of uploading the video and trying to crop the photo into something approximating a 3-1/2 x 5 inch picture.

In sum, after two days and many hours of work, I produced one 2 min 22 sec video, one still photo that I’m fairly sure is not the right aspect ratio, and a one-page resume that leaves out giant chunks of my work history as well as the requisite “community” section.  I think everything looks okay, but I’m completely terrified to go back and rewatch the video.  I thought it was fine on Tuesday night, so I’m just clinging to that.

Hopefully, no one from South Louisiana is going to call and revoke my job offer.  Or, (*shudder*) ask me to redo any of this.  (Except the resume.  I will happily make changes to the resume as necessary.)

But, kids, please learn from my mistakes:  if you should find yourself assigned to a region that asks for a professional video, for the love of God, START EARLY!

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    a Teach For America teacher's blog

    South Louisiana
    Middle School

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