The Incredible Skype Implosion

Skype enables an accelerated video production process free of traditional material and geophysical constraints. Photo collage by KS12.

This week is the big production week for the Future of Money Project. We’re interviewing close to 20 people from all over the world, all from the comfort of our Berlin studio. It’s a hypercubist experiment in digital video production that obsoletes our need to travel, use expensive video equipment, or deal with local logistics and accomodations. This video would simply not have been possible a couple years ago, before the widespread proliferation of webcams and free video chat software. It’s also easier to produce this way given the landscape of self-reflection and autodocumentation we have all become accustomed to in the era of Facebook status updates and diary-like blog posts. And although our results may have some digital grain and lo-fi aesthetics, our process represents a prototype for the future of networked documentary filmmaking.

In the interest of transparency and generating an ad hoc FAQ space, we’re publishing the instructions we’d like to give to our interviewees. It’s our hope that this information will benefit others observing our project and developing similar video productions while also streamlining our communication to our participants.

In a normal video production — one in which we would be physically present to interview you — our crew would take care of most of these things. In light of our remote production headquarters we’ll kindly ask you to give us a hand :)

Please prepare the following for our interview:

  • wear headphones (earbuds preferred — they allow us a better view of your beautiful head!)
  • look directly into your webcam when answering interview questions
  • speak loudly enough for your webcam microphone to hear you (don’t worry, we’ll do a sound check)
  • make sure the room you’re in for the interview has plenty of light sources (good examples: ceiling lamps, desk lamps, big windows (if it’s daytime when we interview you)
  • reduce the background noise in the room as much as possible (some tips: close the windows, turn off the heater/air conditioning/refrigerator, turn off unnecessary large harddrives with noisy fans, play no music)
  • reduce the potential for noisy interruptions (put your cellphone on silent, leave your cat/dog/pet potbelly pig/screaming toddler in the other room, close the door and put a sign on it which says “quiet: recording in progress”)
  • close the other programs you have running on your computer (this will save processor power for Skype as well as reduce distractions from systems sounds triggered by new emails, incoming tweets, etc)
  • choose a background for your video image that is neutral — no posters, mirrors, other video monitors — preferably a blank wall, a bookcase, a couch; something authentic to you but not distracting.
  • adjust your webcam so it’s approximately at your eye level
  • use the most stable web connection you can for the interview; if you have to use WiFi try to be in a strong signal sweet spot
  • log on to Skype early — we’re on a pretty tight schedule and we only have ~45 minutes to an hour for each of you!

Not only will making these efforts dramatically increase the quality of our collaborative efforts, but it will give you a chance to practice your own videoblogging skills! Please feel free to ask any questions you want about the process here as comments on this post, as our answers will hopefully be beneficial to everyone.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by James Curcio, ingenesist, gabrielshalom, CyG_everything, Haroldo Vilhena and others. Haroldo Vilhena said: RT @VenessaMiemis: #futureofmoney update: The Incredible Skype Implosion #sibos #innotribe […]

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