Friday, December 17, 2010

My first Youtube video

Latest Newsflash:
My self and two other Philly area Breema practitioners/instructors will be giving free Breema mini-sessions at a major MLK day event on Monday, January 17th.

Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service

Signature Site Health and Wellness Fair

Monday, January 17 · 9:00am - 1:00pm
at  Girard College
2101 South College Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121

Here is a link for more information:
Feel free to pass on the word.

News Flash 1: 
Mt. Airly Learning Tree has published it's winter catalog of classes.  I am offering a three week series of Breema bodywork classes on Tuesday nights, March 8, 15, 22 from 7-9 pm at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting.  Will be a sweet and nurturing time.  You can register here.  Hope some of you might consider joining us.  Feel free to bring a friend you are wanting to get a bit closer to.  Space is limited.

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News Flash 2:
I am now on Youtube!
For more  about that experience, keep reading below.

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Over Thanksgiving weekend, at my parents' condo in South Alexandria, VA, just outside of Washington, I had the very sweet opportunity to give Breema to both my parents, my sister, and my younger brother.

For a complex variety of reasons, it was a first for all except my mother.

In our family, gatherings  are very word and food focussed. When we children were young, the family lived in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Kaduna (Nigeria), Jakarta (Indonesia), Cebu (Philippines), Freetown (Sierra Leone).  Dad was a foreign service officer and we spent two to four years in one country before moving on to the next place.  On one hand, life there was perfectly ordinary -- going to school, having friends, being family -- and, on the other hand, we met people from around the world, were exposed to a variety of cultures, and were deeply blessed to learn that the United States was not the prime center of the universe.

We also had the opportunity to eat some of the most delicious food in the world, often while listening to interesting conversation about world politics from experts in the field.

Food, particularly south east asian food, and intellectual conversation have always been the cornerstone of our family gatherings.  None of us are shrinking violets and conversations can easily become quite forceful.

Having had such a wonderful experience working with my mother-in-law recently, I thought it might be just as personally enriching to offer more directly to give bodywork to my family members at our annual Thanksgiving gathering.

I had also had in the back of my mind the interest to collect video clips to make a personal Breema video to add to this blog and to give potential clients a better sense of what they might expect when receiving a treatment from me.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day, working together to put together a world-fusion meal -- traditional turkey augmented with rice pilaf stuffing, oriental black mushrooms, chinese greens and tofu for the vegetarians among us, and a surfeit of desserts many made by brother Charley.  Guests included friends from our childhood days in Jakarta and their housemate, a Nepali graduate engineering student studying in the local area.

Conversations were fascinating and animated, ranging from the  impact of recent volcanic eruptions on the social structure of central Java, the American colonial experience in the Philippines, and the difference and similarity between Jewish and Quaker spirituality.

At one point there were three different conversations swirling around me -- each I would have  been happy to be involved in, but with one on top of the other was more than a bit overwhelming.

The next morning I set up the Breema mat.  I worked in the living room, a bit off to the side, but in the middle of the gathered family.  My father was first.  It was wonderful to experience him relax into the work and to have a chance to give back to the man who had brought me into this world.

My brother Charley took video footage of the first 10 minutes or so.  More about the adventure of turning it into a video below.

Mom, Charley, and my sister Gay followed in succession.  All in all it was almost 4 full hours of Breema in the midst of the family circle.  People continued their conversation, but in more muted tones.  A sense of quiet warmth filled the room.  Mid-afternoon lunch followed.  It was sweet.  I look forward to continued opportunities to work with my family members and to see how the relationships between us all shift and change.  As way opens, Quakers might say.

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The making of the video was a whole other adventure.  I had never myself produced a video.  I knew that I wanted to have appropriate music in the background, but was aware that Youtube would not let me post music without official authorization.  The little bit of playing with video content that I (and other members of my family) had done were on a Mac platform and both of the family Mac's belong to our daughters off at college.  My home computer is a PC, not so well known for its video-friendly programs and features.

So off I jumped into the video production field.

I did have a good idea of the music I wanted to use.  My good Quaker friend Carin Anderson is a wonderful singer/songwriter whose songs explore the interface between spirituality, faithfulness, and social justice.  Two songs from her album Welcome Home seemed perfect for this application.  Carin was very gracious to agree to let me use her music on the video.

I  found a basic video program pre-installed on my computer.  If I were more of a natural manual reader, perhaps things would be easier.  But at heart, I am more prone to just jumping in and playing around.

At first I did not figure out that I could cut the 10 minute clip up into smaller bits. I did figure out how to make simple opening and closing credits.  My first version with the full uncut clip was longer than the two songs I had chosen to use so I found some ocean waves music to fill in the gaps.  The transitions between the audio clips were a bit clumsy and the effect was not very satisfactory.  The first feedback that I got from those early drafts was that the video was very sweet, but too long and too slowly paced.

It is my experience that feedback is often not what I hoped for, but often very useful.  My first response is frequently to stick in my feet, say that it is good enough just as it is, and only then to slowly begin to listen to the truth and gift that the feedback holds for me.

So I let the first draft simmer on the hard drive, not posting it anywhere, while I stewed about next steps.  I imagined  there must be some way to cut the video clip into pieces, so I went off in search of tips on how to do that.  Of course the directions were written primarily for those who already know how to do the thing, and the first time I tried, the necessary tool was not accessible. With a bit of perseverance, though, I figured how to select the video clip correctly and voila, I made two cuts and discarded a section of video!

The editing of the video was pretty painstaking and I did not have as much control with the effects as I would have liked.  Some of the final timing of transitions were more gifts of grace than intentional creative genius.  The final cut is probably still a bit long, but it fits well into the time defined by listening to each song once through.

The funniest part might have been my initial effort to post the movie to Youtube.  I worked my way through the process for the first time, started to upload to Youtube and discovered that the file format was not compatible.  I was quite surprised and frustrated.  It took me a bit of searching and some time to discover that I needed to convert my draft video project into a saved movie to generate a file that could be easily uploaded onto the web.

So here I am taking another step into the the brave new world.  Who would know that these are the skills needed to have a simple bodywork practice?  Now I know just enough to perhaps do a better job next time.  Will be working with Traci's family during her parents' 50th anniversary gathering over the week between Christmas and New Years.

Looking forward to the opportunity.  Let us see what comes of it.