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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Looking Through The Kaleidoscope #4: It's (Un)official


For those of you who have read the first entry of this blog, you might remember that I referred to my job as a cameraman for Kaleidoscope as official/unofficial. It was probably one of the easiest jobs I have ever gotten because I didn't even ask for it.

It all really started when I bought a camera. I had been working full-time and was saving money regularly, so I decided to get a nice camera. Not necessarily a professional camera, but a small one that was good quality. I picked up a Nikon Coolpix, which at the time was one of there latest models. Very sleek and small, it was certainly worth the money and I was excited to use it.

I had brought it with me during the summer run of Snow White, particularly when we had started touring Melody Tent and South Shore. The kids were all over it. They were constantly wanting to get their pictures taking and striking a variety of poses to their own amusement. Another particularly fun feature with this camera was that it could take short video clips. I decided to utilize this as well and would constantly be filming some "behind the scenes" footage. I would film the sound checks, the song rehearsals, and mostly interviewing my fellow performers and asking for their thoughts on the show.

I don't think I realized how noticeable this was until I was taking a video of Tommy using his phone as a mock piano. Tommy, having a lot of musical experience, had his phone keys set to "piano", which made each number a different piano key. I filmed Tommy playing an impromptu tune, completely perplexed, when all of a sudden David comes over saying "I finally get to be in the famous Ryan videos." The famous Ryan videos? Not only did I not realize that I had videos named after me, but that they were famous. Famous to Kaleidoscope at least. To me the videos were just fun to do and when I started uploading them to YouTube I remember the company being appreciative.

I remember when Cinderella Too! began Jamie invited me to come down to RIC and see the premiere. I decided to at least make myself useful and did a series of videos covering the event. Besides the usual backstage interviews and sneak peaks, I had the opportunity to interview parents and kids about the show while they were in the autograph line. This was at the request of David and it made the task seem more official and like an actual job. This "job" actually allowed me to travel with the cast of Cinderella Too! to their touring venues and document everything, which was extremely fun. While I loved the cast of Snow White, traveling with the Cinderella Too! cast was very different because everyone was similar in age. The times we spent backstage and in the van were probably some of the best times I have spent with the theater. All of us got along extremely well and these people were some of the best people to travel with.

It didn't occur to me to actually take pictures and video during an actual show because I wasn't sure if David and the others would want me to. In truth they did want me to and the first show I did show photos for was Cinderella. I was up in the balcony during a full house and tried to stay out of the way of the public as much as possible, but the camera held up very well and got some great shots. I would have to say that was my first official/unofficial job as the Kaleidoscope cameraman. I didn't have to do it but I was happy to.

Since then I have mainly done pictures at RIC. I went to just about all of the remaining shows for my first summer and got pictures. As for this summer, I did miss a couple of shows but they were shows I had gotten the year before. All of the shows I attended this summer were new to me and I got plenty of photos and videos along the way.

Probably the most daunting task is uploading everything. It isn't difficult to do, but it is time consuming. The photos would usually go up relatively quickly, but videos took forever because at first I could only upload one at a time to YouTube. I had discovered this past summer that there was a multi-video uploader available and the job became much easier. If you want to know just how much easier it was, let me put it this way: just as many videos that went up this summer were from last summer. I felt bad taking so long to get them up but I am glad I finally did.

The videos have also evolved a lot since last summer. The sense of responsibility motivated me to make the videos look a little more professional. The latest ones have the company logo as a title screen, a watermark of the logo in the corner, and then an ending screen with the website. I lose a little video quality in the process, but everyone seems to think that they are still good and worth the additions.

While this job is on a volunteer basis, I can't deny the perks. I've become much closer to a wonderful company, I've seen great performances, and I've traveled with great friends. And despite the company getting a photographer with professional equipment, I was invited to the Party of the Year to take pictures. Perhaps I will talk about that some time.

Next time, however, I think it would be only fair to contemplate this past summer.

In the words of Garrison Keillor, "be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

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