ASCII by Jason Scott

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The GET LAMP Raw Interview Flood —

When you overshoot your documentaries as much as I do, you end up with a lot of perfectly good, probably movie-worthy footage that just doesn’t make it into the final cut. When I edit down the dozens of hours of interviews, I have thousands of clips of people saying on-topic, coherent things, all labelled, and then build the movie out of that. It works well, with my subjects completing each others’ sentences and a smooth narrative going from one topic to another. But that leaves hours and hours of interview unseen.

My solution, which I started with the BBS Documentary, is to post up the interviews for everyone to see. I do this thanks to the Internet Archive, which has the space and bandwidth to provide the gigabytes of interview I have on my hard drives.

Recently, we finally set up a situation where I fedex a drive into the Archive from my home in New York, meaning that I can dump in hundreds of gigabytes at once and not wait for a California trip or an anaemic cablemodem to do the work.

So, here we go: 50+ interviews from GET LAMP are now up. They all have some level of description of the circumstances of the interview, including why I interviewed the person. It even includes interviews for which no footage showed up in the movie. (So far, that’s Keith Nemitz, Richard Hewison, and Paul Meyers.)

For the insightful, motivating portion of the audience who fat-finger out a “WHAT TOOK U SO LONG” on the release of these, it mostly came down to time and opportunity. The previous desktop machine, which GET LAMP was cut on, could take between 10-20 hours to render out a video-noise-reduced, full-hour interview. The new machine does same in less than an hour. Also, I was working on a lot other priorities before this, so it took a while to set aside the process of putting these interviews together. So that’s why. GET LAMP was released in August of 2010, and here it’s roughly a year and a half since that time, so it’s not too bad. But since the interviews were done in 2006-2008, it does mean that up to six years have gone by since these nice people have sat down and talked to me. I’m sure their lives and opinions have shifted and changed since some maniac wanted to talk to them extensively about text adventures.

If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest starting with Dave West, the lead of the cave expedition filmed for GET LAMP. Then if you want some clearly-stated nostalgia, Rob Griffiths goes over what it was like to be at the beginning of text adventures as a young player. From there, you can just click around, listen to people. I uploaded the HD files as MPEG2 renders, and then the system redid them into H.264 versions. I suggest looking at or downloading the H.264 versions, unless you’re looking to cut a new version of the movie – then you can just use the original MPEG2.

These interviews are just the answers given by the people, not my questions. Why? Well, two reasons, one bitter, one not.

BITTER: With the BBS Documentary, I started uploading the full hours, just going from one end to the other, dumping out the entire tapes. What I got, frankly, was a lot of shit from a lot of cheeto-spitters about my style of interview, one which results in very good footage. It comes down to the fact that these aren’t just interviews about a new app someone just came out with, or what people think of a current political situation – these are intense mining situations where the interviewee and I are working really hard to bring back memories that have been absolutely dormant and untouched for, in some cases, decades. I tell jokes, I give them common-ground stories about myself or what I’ve heard.. really, whatever it takes to get the footage, the emotion, the sense of “being there”. That’s how the sausage is made, and I got tired of people ripping into the interview footage and just stopped uploading the fuckers. I don’t want to walk away from that for GET LAMP and so this new approach sans Jason is underway. I am sure I’ll get back to the BBS Documentary and do it this way as well.

NOT BITTER: Besides the fact that going back and re-ripping the full interviews would delay this project another couple years, the fact that I went through the months of pulling the gems from these interviews and putting together clips I thought were GET LAMP worthy means that the clips should be able to stand on their own. Cases where I would say “Was it worth the trouble to code this feature into your game” and the person would answer simply “yes it was” are not present in the final clips – the clips had to impart information and be useful in the film. That filter means these interviews are pure fact – not chumming around, not going off into wild tangents about where it’s good to eat around here or what happened down the street last week. And they’re not filled with me telling the same stories over and over to help dredge footage. They’re “cooked”, not “raw”.

In some cases, this means the person says something, the clip stops, and the clip plays with an overlap, as it goes to a new idea. For these minor hiccups, I think they’re very watchable, and informative.

So enjoy!

There’s still copies of GET LAMP available for sale, with gold coin included.

Categorised as: computer history | documentary

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  1. Jason Scott says:

    Jumping in before anyone comments – yes, there’s no Infocom alumni interviews available, yet. Because of the ugliness with the “Infocom Drive” debacle where private e-mails of still-living people were blared out to the world, I saved the film by promising the Infocom people they would have final yes-or-no approval on their appearance in GET LAMP. They all agreed they liked the final documentary and so they’re all in it, but I feel not letting them see the “cooked” full interviews I’ve generated would be going back on that promise. So those alumni are being sent copies of their interviews to approve for public distribution, and then they’ll go up as well.

  2. Cary Groneveldt says:

    I checked 3 times — where’s Steve Meretzky?

    That’s the only one I want to download.

  3. Bruce says:

    Thanks for putting this up. Lots and lots of interesting detail there. It highlights how effective your editing job was to get Get Lamp down to size. There go my evenings for a while…

  4. Cary Groneveldt says:

    Man O Manischewitz ….

    To paraphrase Alec Baldwin: “I feel like a complete ASS….”

    I didn’t bother to read your message *before* I shot my yap off.

    Please to making forgiveness to me ….

  5. Mike says:

    36 minutes of Chris Crawford complaining about games? Excellent

  6. Richard says:

    “Cooked” BBS Documentary extra footage will be nice.

  7. Rikki says:

    Hey Jason – any chance of having more raw or cooked BBS interviews/footage on IA ? There is only a handful of it up there and Id love to check the rest out if you ever get some time to send / upload it 🙂

  8. Johan Herrenberg says:

    Many thanks, Jason, for this. I enjoyed GET LAMP a lot, so this is a real bonus.

  9. First, thank you so much, not only for this massive collection of footage but also the Get Lamp project in general. I’m not working on any projects which might use your footage, but I’m having an amazing time watching for my own enjoyment. Talk about the ultimate in “extra features.”

    I am sorry to hear the comments on the raw footage for the BBS: The Documentary project were so disheartening. I’ve watched every minute you did make available, and I completely understand why you used the technique you did. I was a BBS user and SysOp, myself, and I know I would have needed a lot of urging and reminding to shake loose some of the memories of those days had I been an interviewee.

    I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the complete collection of BBS footage. Luckily, I’ve got the Get Lamp footage to tide me over until then (not to mention potential new completed projects).

    Thanks for all your hard work.