Friday, October 30, 2009

Greg Busch, Pioneer

When TigerBlog Jr. was one, TigerBlog decided to make a videotape of pictures set to music to commemorate the occasion. TB had to take the actual prints of the pictures he liked to a photo shop (not PhotoShop, as we think of it today) and have the project done there by someone else.

The result? A high pricetag and a VHS tape that is completely unusable today.

A few years later, TigerBlog was in charge of creating the video for the Princeton Varsity Club senior athlete banquet. Basically, it was a new project where each senior athlete got an action shot in a video, set to music. Again, TB's role was mostly organizational; someone else had to be paid to create the actual video tape.

Fast forward a few more years and a few more PVC banquets, and TigerBlog spent a great deal of time with Greg Busch, a former Princeton Department of Athletics assistant compliance director and current Associate Athletic Director at Rider, producing the senior-athlete video. By then, the technology existed to do the project somewhat in-house, but it was an arduous nightmare.

TB remembers one year when Busch spent basically the entire night before the banquet in the New Media Center, where the only computer with the right software was housed. By the next year, the program i-movie appeared on the computers at TigerBlog HQ, but it hardly made the process smooth.

Instead, a little pinwheel would turn for agonizingly long stretches at a time once the file got to be too large, and often the program would freeze. To TB and Greg Busch, it appeared that i-movie was taunting us.

Back then, and it was only three or four years ago, the PVC banquet project was a full-month headache. Today, i-movie has advanced a few versions and the memory on the computers at HQ has skyrocketed. TigerBlog put together the most recent PVC video in one day.

As an aside, it's never easy to pick the music for the video. TB likes to go with Bruce Springsteen, Train, Bon Jovi - TB's video; TB's music.

The big lesson that TigerBlog learned from Greg Busch was that creating video was relatively easy, once you got the hang of it and had the proper equipment. Beyond being easy to do, it was also a great outlet for creativity, perhaps the best one available these days.

TigerBlog used to think that a well-designed publication was a great expression of creativity in athletic communications. Even the webpage offers a chance to make something that is visually appealing.

But publications offer limited distribution, and their days are in varying states of being numbered (here at TB HQ, we've gone from being heavily invested in media guides to not doing them at all, and the world seems to have continued spinning).

And the options in video are going in the other direction, and what's most amazing is the ease with which these videos can be produced. In many ways, the tools available at HQ are the same as those used to edit Hollywood movies, and yet they're fairly easily mastered, once you get the Greg Busch message and get past being intimidated by it.

Back in the summer, TigerBlog wasn't as worried about not doing media guides as he was about not being able to produce the quantity of video that would be necessary to make a viable product.

That site is less than two months old, and the quantity and variety of content available has far exceeded TB's expectations. And, of the five-member staff at HQ, TigerBlog has by far done the least for the new site.

TigerBlog has sat in meetings of late where issues like video streaming, publications, TV and other mass media issues have been discussed, and TB can't help but chuckle about the futility of trying to make long-term decisions in a medium that is changing so fast and so furious.

But now, as Princeton athletics goes further and further down the path it planned last spring and summer - no media guides, limited print materials, and more and more multimedia, including TigerCast podcasting and all of the video - TigerBlog becomes more and more convinced it's the right way to go.

It's easy. It's cost-effective. It's fun to do. It's been incredibly well-received.

In some ways, we have Greg Busch to thank for it all. Maybe it doesn't erase the memory of the little pinwheel as it spun for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes - all as the clock raced past midnight.

Still, TigerBlog appreciates the lessons learned.

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