ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

BBS Documentary Update —

In a move to allow people who are interested in my BBS Documentary to get news about it in a timely fashion without constantly hitting the website, I will be cross-posting news stories from the BBS Documentary site on this weblog. Updates happen once a month or less, so I don’t expect it to be that disruptive, and the ability of people to use RSS to get news is worth the trouble of posting it twice.

With great happiness, the interview phase of the documentary is finished. There are actually a couple more interviews to happen, but they’re all planned now and will happen piecemeal, while editing and other production work is done. While it would be nice to have them, the documentary does not rest on them, so basically, the load is off my shoulders.

The final number of people interviewed for the documentary is about 200. This is almost beyond reckoning. There are few productions of any size that interview that number of people on camera, about a single subject. This translates to over 250 hours of footage, also a little out of control by most standards. My reasoning at the beginning of the production was that to really tell the story, you would want to get as many opinions of people as possible, not just “famous figures” and a few pundits. This theory (and it really was just a theory) has worked out to be accurate. While many people might only get a line or two in the final episodes, they’re really good lines and represent the cream of an hour or two of interview time. That’s pretty valuable, and makes the whole production better.

There’s also an interesting situation where people in different parts of the continent, with different ages, and different platforms, say entirely complimentary things. There’ll be a lot of that in the final work.

Editing began in earnest months ago, mostly consisting of “clip culling”, where I take each hour of footage, and from that pull multiple minutes of clips usable for the final film. They might be a description of a favorite board, a thought or statement on a subject, or a reaction to a question posed by someone else that I’ve brought up. I then have all these clips sorted into general folders and sub-folders, where I…..

You know what? Not everyone wants to hear about this process, while others want even more detail than a few paragraphs could give them. So, I’ve started work on the first of several explanatory pages. How I Did It: Editing explains in quite heavy detail about how I’ve gone about setting up an editing station, and the hardware and software concerns, as well as how much space this works out to. I think you’ll like it if you came to this documentary site to get tips for your own project or are amazingly voyeuristic. There will be a bunch of pages, ultimately, linked from the front page when they’re done, which people can take inspiration and knowledge from, and go on their way. When people with professional pedigrees called or wrote in offering help, I asked a lot of them the same question: What are the 10 biggest mistakes you’ve made? From that simple question I can’t imagine how many pitfalls I’ve avoided. I hope my informative pages will do the same. See, it’s not just about BBSes, it’s about learning.

To celebrate the ending of the interview phase, I have edited together the first teaser trailer for the documentary. Entitled “Heroes”, it shows a collection of some of the more “famous” nam{bÒn my interview list (though not all of them) and invites you to come hear from them. It’s worth checking out if you’re interested in the documentary, if for no other reason than to see exactly what my style is. (In trailers, anyway, which is an entirely different art than moviemaking or documentary-ing…)

People who would like more information about what I’m up to and who want the bonus of my rants and thoughts on long-gone historical subjects will want to look at a weblog I am currently using, called ASCII.TEXTFILES.COM. This weblog includes an RSS Feed, which a number of people have asked for with the documentary site. With my crossposting of new documentary news in both the weblog and the documentary site, this will probably be the closest I can get to it. So download your news aggregator software and go grab the RSS feed off the weblog. If it sounds like I’m just blowing out a bunch of buzzwords, I’m sorry for that, it’s just a new thing people like. It used to be hard to explain BBSes as well. To help you get a leg up, here’s a webpage about RSS. It turns dozens of websites into feeds on your desktop. It’s nice.

Whole-scale digitization of artifacts, articles, magazines, photos, and even audio and video-tape is now at full bore. These will show up in the documentary to balance off the “head shots”, which a lot of industry folks think are inherently boring (hence you have such odd sets and backgrounds in a lot of “professional” documentaries, with flowers and a streak of light or some such). Personally, I find the wide variance of folks in these many shots to be fascinating in itself; the way people live, the way their environments are set up, the whole deal is still of great interest to me. But along with these thoughts, you’ll see a lot of information go by visually, too. Might as well cover all the bases…

Additionally, some of the artifacts I’ve been digitizing are rare or one of a kind, and I intend to make them generally available. So the documentary will have that secondary effect as well. As one person who lent me stuff said, “Finally, someone cares.”

The site is slowly shifting over to “Here’s what’s in the documentary” from “Here’s what I hope will be in the documentary”. Promotional and Informational instead of speculative… and it feels great. Was it worth three years? It’s worth twice that.

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