Tool Chain

Post-production Begins! I am only 1/2 through the interviews I plan to do; but with nearly 20 hours of interviews in the can, the time has come to get serious about post-production.

I have been syncing audio and picture, transcribing interviews, and bookmarking material for the trailer, promos, and Kickstarter video. (There, the cat is out of the bag!)

Anna Anthropy at Dorkbot CHI via D5100

 

 

 

 

 
I have a preliminary tool chain on place:

I am using Akimbo for bookmarking the interview audio. This allows me to listen to MP3s of each interview on an android device, bookmark them, and take brief notes. I can then reconcile this with the footage when I am at my editing station.

I am an open source kinda guy. As far as possible, I am working with free, (as in speech) tools. I am not fanatic about this however. If I need to purchase software to get a job done, I will; but I will always favor an open source solution for my needs.

Right now the suite of tools I am using consists of: Kdenlive for vidoe editing editing; Audacity and Ardour for audio mixing/cleanup; Gimp for image manipulation and color correction; Gimp and Inkscape for graphics; and many many other little utilites for various tasks.

The wonderful thing about working with Linux, is that so much of the work I need to do can be automated with scripts. I have writen scripts to wrap around ffmpeg to do transcoding and resolution shifting of the vidoe; extract MP3s for transcription; and even do background rendering. I use the Ubuntu Studio distrobution. The low-latency kernel makes working with audio and video painless. As I have gotten older, I apriciate the value of stability over having the most bleeding edge releases. As a result, in the last year or so, I stopped chasing the latest release, and settled on Ubuntu’s Long Term Support (LTS) (12.04 Precise Pangolin) as my OS of choice.

I may find in future that I need to accomidate the work flow of others, or that I just must have some feature only available in AfterEffects, of FinalCutPro. But for the time being. This tool chain suits me well.

Nagra

NAGRA--TYPE3---PL-GR

I learned today of the passing of Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra tape recorder. at age 83. For those that don’t immediately recognize the name Nagra, I can assure you that Mr. Kudelski profoundly changed the way we all hear our world. He invented the first high quality, portable reel to reel audio recorder. They were relatively compact, beautifully engineered, and rugged. These machines revolutionized motion picture production, radio  and TV news gathering, and even ethnomusicollogy. I will not eulogize Mr. Kudelski here. Others have done a better job than I could hope to.

When I was last regularly involved in filmmaking, the tools of choice for independent producers were often a 16mm Arriflex camera, and a Nagra III. This allowed one to shoot synchronous sound and picture in just about any location. In the early 1960’s equipment like this allowed François Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard, to make the films of the French New Wave. In the late 60’s the technology facilitated Film News Gathering, (the precursor to modern Electronic News Gathering; see the excellent film Medium Cool), and Cinéma vérité. The Nagra was a disruptive technology; putting affordable means of production into the hands of independent filmmakers and documentarians.

Affordable is a relative term. A Nagra, even used, was comparable in price to a small car. The cost of a motion picture camera was similar. Then there was the cost of film, tape, etc. “Low budget” production was a costly undertaking.

In contrast, when I outfitted the production of TransGeek Movie, all the kit, (camera, digital audio recorder. lights, stands, tripod, recording media), cost me slightly more than the price of just a used Nagra in 1986.

Now one can argue the relative quality of 1080p video vs. 16mm film, or 24bit 44.1Khz digital audio vs. analog tape; but I think my point stands: The digital production tools we have available today are making it possible for more people than ever to tell there stories.

Thank you Mr. Kudelski.

New England Interview Trip

In mid October, I set out for the Boston area to conduct more interviews. Over the course of three days I talked with six people. I had the opportunity to speak with some of the creators of my favorite science fiction; both print and audio. With out exception all of my interviewees were insightful and intelligent. I can hardly believe my fortune in being able to work with all of these great people.

Julia Rios

Julia Rios writer, editor at Strange Horizons, and Co-fonder of The Outer Alliance; welcomed me into her home for an on-camera interview. We talked about genre fiction and how some authors use it as a venue for the exploration of gender identity. The Outer Alliance blog, and podcast have been a great resource fo me while researching this film. The podcast is also the frist place I heard the term QUILTBAG.

Jennifer Pelland

Jennifer Pelland author, most recently, of  Machine, Unwelcome Bodies, and a contributor to Chicks Unravel Time, met me for an interview at Back Page Books. Jennifer deals with many aspects of gender and body image in her Science Fiction. She talked about the power of fiction, and science fiction in particular, to explore and influence societal norms. She also expressed some definite opinions regarding gender essentialism in popular science fiction.

Renate Pyhel

I also visited with Renate Pyhel electrical engineer, hardware hacker, and musician. We talked at length, both on camera and off, about the challenges of dealing with issues of gender in the context of a technical workplace. She also gave me a demonstration of her amazing Android hacking skilz.

Gina Kamantski

Gina Kamantski animator, sculptor, comic book author, and educator; sat down with me at her studio.  She spoke eloquently on the creative process and ambiguity in the intersection of art and gender. Schedule constraints made our interview all too short.  Hopefully we will have a chance to continue this conversation at a later date.

Alicia Goranson

Alicia Gorenson is the author of Supervillanz , and the Parsec Award winning radio drama The Mask of Inanna. She talked about the opportunities to write sympathetic, compelling, powerful trans characters in fiction: Observing that science fiction is a genre where she creates the world, and the reader is obliged to accept the defining premises of that world. We also discussed her largely positive professional experience at her “day job”.  I had the aditional good fortune to be introduced to Alicia’s ftiend Susan…

Susan Wolf

Susan Wolf, worked as Electrical Engineer in the medical devices industry, until losing her job as a result of transphobia. I interviewed Susan on the topic discrimination in the workplace, and the complex interactions of sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. She had fascinating insights, gained at a great cost to her career.

Susan also writes poetry, and read a particularly powerful piece for us.

Despite the busy schedule, I did not cover all the bases, and will have to return to New England to conduct more interviews.

It’s Ada Lovelace Day!

Ada Lovelace I have been lucky to speak with so many women in science and technology while making TransGeek Movie: From physicists, and astronomers. to computer scientists. Encouraging young women to follow there passions in these male dominated fields is vital. There is strength in all manner of diversity.

Please take some time and go visit Finding Ada.

The UK interview trip.

I have spent the last five days in England, conducting background interviews and shooting.

It continue to amaze me how willing people are to engage with me on the topic of gender and geekdom; and how much they have to say. More than once I have missed supper with my hosts, back in London, because an interview has gone on much longer than originally planned. The thoughtful input from those willing to talk on camera, and those that would rather not take such a public role, has been wonderful. I continue to discover on a daily basis how big a topic this is, and how deeply it touches our assumptions about gender and privilege.

Friday I went to the beautiful city of Bath to do an on camera interview with Cheryl Morgan. We talked about gender issues in gaming, science fiction, computer programing and publishing. Cheryl has fantastic insights on privilege, gender, and just about any thing else a geek might be interested in.

Cheryl writings at Cheryl’s Musings were an indispensable source for research, and one of the early inspirations for this movie.

I want to thank Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights for hosting us. If you find yourself in Bath, you should check out this fantastic independent bookseller. While you are there, don’t miss the recycled Tin Tin comics papering the stairwell.

Monday I traveled down to Southampton. There I had a great on camera interview with Tab Kimpton. We talked web comics, cosplay, and much, much more.

Tab Kimpton
You need to check out his work.

I head back to the States on Friday. I will get in at least one more background interview before then, and perhaps even another on camera. Next stop will be the northeast United States in mid-October.

Jay Hausmann

The folks at Hartford Coffee Company played host to an interview with Jay Hausmann today.

Jay Hausmann

Jay and I sat down to talk about his career in IT and his experience transitioning on the job. He spoke enthusiastically about the support he has received and how his employer’s support facilitated a positive experience. Talking with Jay about everything from IT culture to his writing was a joy.

Props go out to Sayer Johnson for handleing load-in and setup, Vivian Hausmann for acting as grip, and Robyn Carolyn Montague for putting me in touch with Brian and Darin at Hartford Coffee Company.

Christianne Benedict

Today, Sayer Johnson and I loaded up the gear and headed for central Missouri. There we where welcomed by Christianne Benedict for an outstanding interview on film, art, culture, and of course, gender.

Christianne Benedict

Christianne blogs at Krell Laboratories: A site with such depth and intelligence that linking to it should count as nerd sniping. Christianne’s knowledge of film is not only encyclopedic, but incisive. I am walking away with a good number of additions to my must see list.

Anna Anthropy

I had the pleasure of filming Anna Anthropy at Dorkbot Chicago on April 5th.

Anna is an independent game developer and author of

    Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form

She creates and champions game development that embodies personal experience, and takes back authorship for all of us. Her message is powerful. I encourage you to get a copy of the book, and head over to her site to play the games.

I also got a chance to sit down with Anna for a one-on-one interview. Afterwards, she did me the kindness of signing my copy of her book with a whimsical call to action:

When you’re done making your movie, remember to make a game too!

I wan’t to thank Jason Soliday of Enemy Sound; and Jake Eliot and Jon Cates of Dorkbot for accommodating my filming on such short notice.

First Light!

I had a great on-camera interview with Robyn Carolyn Montague, Executive Director of TransHaven, in St. Louis. We had a wide ranging conversation about her work in aerospace engineering, and the role Science Fiction has played in her life. Robyn and I spoke off camera about Trans Equity advocacy, and the larger struggle for human rights. While I broke down the camera and lights, we mused about independent film-making and the digital technology that has made it so much more accessible.

It was a real joy visiting with Robyn; on camera, and off.

This was the first filming for TransGeek Movie! It went smoothly. I am pleased with both the technical and editorial quality of the material we recorded.

Making their own lives.

Everyone struggles to find their place in the world. This is the story of individuals with the courage to assert their true identity, and make their own lives.

TransGeek is a documentary exploring the contributions of transgender men and women in science, technology, and speculative fiction.

We are in active production.