The Morning Commute

Recently, a Buzzfeed list has done the rounds which has resonated well with my fellow commuters. It reminded me of this old, long-unfinished post that I actually started writing in early 2011 but never got round to finishing. Still, as it has a few points the Buzzfeed article missed, I decided it would be worth finally finishing it…

Let’s face it, the morning commute is, for just about everyone, pretty horrible. Even if you removed all of the people and had an entire train to yourself that wouldn’t leave the station unless you were on it, you’d still have the getting up, getting to the station, and the inevitable problem that all the free seats would be either broken, covered in chewing gum, or have a stain and odour about them that you wouldn’t find all that comforting.

Despite that, the worst thing about the morning commute is usually the people you’re travelling with. You share your journey with hundreds of other people on your train alone, and they all have to be somewhere quicker than you do for far more important reasons. You’d have thought that the free world wouldn’t be quite so dependent on so many people.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the most annoying things people can do to make your morning commute just that little bit more unpleasant.



Technical terminology

One of the good things about the job I do is you can learn a lot from working on educational projects. I can now probably outclass most medical students on my knowledge of the examination procedure for the cranial nerves and I’m more than aware how to not to do a technical presentation.

Of course, at the start of the project, I’m just about as clueless as anyone about whatever it is I’m working on. Take my current project, for instance. I’m working on a series of short podcasts for dentistry students, which involves a lot of shots of torture devices medical equipment with peculiar names.

This ultimately caused trouble when naming the clips in Final Cut Pro. Not knowing what the hell most of the stuff was, I had to resort to slightly less ‘official’ names:

It got worse when I then started reading the script in order to actually complete the edit, as I found that the script made use of the more traditional names. I had to just hope that the things in the script were the things on the screen. The client viewed the videos this morning without any complaints, however, so I guess I’m in the clear. Which also means that a ‘pokey stick’ is in fact an interdental brush.

I should also mention that working on these podcasts finally taught me the correct method for brushing my teeth. I guess you’re never too late to learn.

Artistic Films


Just a quick one about artistic films. Not artsy films as in the ones that look good but nothing of any real interest happens, or ‘artistic’ films which look stylised or just flat out impressive, I’m talking about art films. Abstract films. Ones you find in modern art galleries and art installations.

I’ve ranted in writing about modern art before. Not here, it was written before blogging was a ‘thing’ that people did so it was just a rant I had to write down. I might post it if I remember to look for it when I get home (and if it’s as good as I remember). The short version: it makes no sense, and not in a good way. More in a ‘are you feeling all right? You sound funny, as you having a stroke?’ sort of way.

This post is not about modern art. It’s not even really about these modern arty films. It’s about the poor bastard projectionists who have to screen them, and the lack of consideration for them when the ‘artist’ is putting their work together.

Take today for instance. I have been talked with screening a 16mm art film as part of what has been dubbed an ‘installation’ but which really is a cinema system equipped lecture theatre.

First, a quick technical point about 16mm. Unlike 35mm (which you find in most modern cinemas), 16mm only has sprocket holes down one side of the print. The other side is reserved for the film’s soundtrack. If the film has no sound, the space often contains sprocket holes, just because. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is the best way of making sure you’re running the film forwards, and in the right orientation. In 35mm the soundtrack sits inside the left sprocket holes, but that’s not really relevant. I just find it all fascinating and could go on about it for ages. Don’t worry, I’m not going to.

Back to this film. It is unfortunately silent, meaning it is double sprocketed (ie it has sprocket holes down both sides). It also does not feature the other staple of film prints, the numbered header (the handy bit that counts down to the start of the film).

What does this mean for the hapless projectionist? Well, lets just say that in the case of this particular art film, I had run it for 15 minutes before I even realised it was upside down. And it ran for a further ten minutes before I was able to confirm that it was in fact going backwards. It still might be back-to-front (ie mirrored). Fortunately this was a test screening to an empty auditorium so no harm done. Yet.

I’m reasonably experienced at this game. I’ve run artistic films with the director standing at my shoulder. But even I could only just tell that the film was going backwards and was upside down.

The question that then occurs to the projectionist is, what if it’s supposed to be like that? It’s an artistic film, who can actually tell? I’ve encountered that one before. Usually you wait for someone who can tell to come along and point you in the right direction.

It’s just slightly embarrassing when it’s the person who actually made the film in the first place.

Planning is Key

I received a video recording request at work yesterday. This in itself is not unusual, nor is the fact that they wanted to record a talk in our studio and add in some PowerPoint slides, nor the fact it has to be in Germany in a couple of weeks. We’ve done this sort of thing at this sort of notice before.

What I am finding hard to fathom, however, is the reasoning behind why we have only a little over a week to complete this project.

We have often been called upon to film a lecture to be sent to a conference elsewhere, usually because the lecturer concerned finds themself unable to travel due to unexpected weather conditions, prior engagements or the likes. This, as I said, is not unusual, and we often find we have little time to prepare when the unexpected happens and people are unable to travel.

Unfortunately, the reason why our current client finds herself unable to travel is because she seems to have unexpectedly become eight and a half months pregnant.

Now, I know conference speakers are often booked long in advance. I fully understand that this sort of thing may not have even been on her radar when she signed up for the job. But surely, there comes a point when planning around this sort of thing needs to be considered? This woman is so ready to drop that we might have to take a break from recording her talk to film the birth. Perhaps she should have considered she would be unable to make the trip slightly more than 14 days ahead of time?

I wish this woman the best of luck for her baby. Because if she’s this disorganised about the rest of its arrival I doubt she has anywhere to put it.