As the snow fell in Chicago last week, so did I to bed.  Early.  The reason: My brand new, shiny, SolidLine Winter Internship was beginning.  Having spent a year after college to pursue my own projects, I was (and still am) excited to both be of use to a real production company, and be able to learn in areas that I was still “in the rough” on.  In short:  I’m happy to be back on the “professional” track.

Speaking of the “professional” track, I’d like to take this moment to say that, at this moment, I love it.  I get up at 7, drink some coffee, ride the blue line in, drink some more coffee, work on whatever there is for me to work on (while drinking coffee), eat some lunch, work until evening, then come home.  I haven’t had a schedule this regular since high school, and I’ve gotta say that it feels good.  But based on what I’be heard is to come, I don’t think there will be anything regular about SolidLine…

The first few days of my internship were spent in the office, helping however I could and getting a sense of what a ‘normal’ office workday was like for the SolidLine crew, but there’s nothing ‘normal’ about these guys.  I got to see how clients were dealt with, got an idea of workflow for video production projects, and I got to experience one of the best coffee machines around, the Kuerig.   It was great to see how everything fit together, and do it all while drinking good coffee.  Did I mention I like coffee?

I’ve never had much training in graphics, and for some time have been interested in learning more.  I’ve tried teaching myself tidbits of After Effects, and got the hang of a few things, but I just never knew where to start.  During my downtime in between tasks at the office, Mike Petrik, the SolidLine Media Art Director guy, has been helping me make what’s called a kinetic type video, taking the dialogue of a scene and having the words appear and move in time to the audio.  I picked a scene from Return of the Jedi and have been perfecting it in my free time.  He really helped me get the hang of keyframes and camera moves within After Effects.  Mike P is one good guy…

Aside from the office work, we had 3 full day shoots this week.  On Tuesday we shot a PSA about Child Abuse for the state of Indiana, and this was my first time seeing the fabled SolidLine Truck.  The truck is an absolute beast.  A full living quarters like an RV in the front, then a room in back containing all the equipment you could need for any shoot, plus the crowing necessity…a golf cart to help in transporting it all.  Inside the living quarters are 3 bunks, a couch, more seating, a kitchen, and another of these incredible Keurig coffee machines.  I can’t wait to go out on a road trip in this thing, and coming up on February and March there is plenty of travel on the books!  Ed showed me around the equipment garage and showed me how to raise and lower the lift (yes, the truck has its own lift), and we got set up in our space for the Child Abuse PSA.

After setting up, my task was to slate each shot.  Having directed and edited personal projects before, I know how useful a good slate job can be, and I did my best to get in there for every shot.  We wrapped in the late afternoon on Tuesday, and made plans for the next day’s shoot, which would be instructional video productions for Husqvarna, a large manufacturer of lawn and garden power equipment.  Also, I should mention that my call time on these days was to meet at Ed’s house at 6am, which meant I was getting up at 4:30 so I could have time for by beloved coffee.  Chicago is very quiet at 5:45 in the morning.  Very quiet and VERY cold.  It was a 15 minute walk to get there, and (once the coffee kicked in and I could think faster than I could walk) it was strangely nice to be out and about at that hour.

The Husqvarna 455 Rancher Chainsaw instructional video production  shoot was a long day, but now I’m confident that I could take care of a chainsaw if I ever own one.  While the initial plan was to shoot all three in one day, we scratched just the tip of the shooting on Wednesday.  The chainsaw was done, but we had to come back on Friday to shoot the blower and the trimmer. The shoots gave me a chance to see the crew at work.  One of my favorite things that was done was that very few (if any) shots were static.  Using a Matthews Jib and Dolly system every shot was a slow dolly, or a slow jib, which really makes every shot dynamic.  The shoot was in a completely white room, called a white cyc soundstage.  This meant that shadows were pretty obvious.  We had to make sure the background was evenly lit white and looked good all day, which meant adjustments for each shot.  Overall I’d say that this shoot taught me a ton about the flow and etiquette of professional shoots, and I look forward to more.  And, as should be expected, there was lots of coffee.

On Thursday at the office (in between the 2 Husqvarna shoot days) I was tasked with importing and subclipping the chainsaw footage from the day before, under the expert guidance of Ed Boe and Michael Kromm.  This was interesting to me as it was my first time using Avid, and I hope I get the chance to explore Avid more, as it’s more of an industry standard than Final Cut Pro, which is what I know best.  Between the shoots and learning both After Effects AND Avid, I’m really excited about how the next few months will play out.  I can’t wait to get on the road with the crew and see what life in the truck is like.  I’ve heard that we’ll be heading to LA for a while in March, and I cannot wait.  I LOVE road trips, and driving through the desert was one of the best weeks of my life, so I can’t wait to be out there again, AND doing production.

I’ve decided that since the last intern, Dave “The Doctor” Rokos, called his blog “The View from the Bottom”, I’ll call this “Looking Up”.  Insert corporate/career ladder metaphor/joke, or “Things are Looking Up” joke here.    Until next week, I’m Sam the Intern and you just read my blog.


Email Sam at [email protected].

Copyright 2011, SolidLine Media, a division of KV Media Group, Inc.

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