NYC: First Office Days at Mediastorm

March 4th, 2010

IMG_3544_2(note: this blog was published later than it’s noted publishing date)

It feels like the quiet before the storm, no pun intended. On Saturday is the start of a week-long multimedia workshop at MediaStorm. We will guide three teams through the process of reporting and producing stories using stills, video, and audio. (iPhone photo at right: MediaStorm is in DUMBO, or Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass…and that’s the Manhattan Bridge)

One day is training, two days are reporting, one day is transcription, the next is for any additional content plus editing. Thursday is going to be the super long editing day; at one workshop Brian Storm, President/Founder/Guru/Dude, said he stayed so late he saw the sunrise.

Since arriving on Monday I’ve been getting clinics on Final Cut Pro (FCP) from FCP brainiac Eric Maierson. I know a lot of the basics, but it’s such a complex application that I’m still learning, especially their work flow here at MediaStorm. Data management is ultra important, something I’ve found out the hard way with digital photography (and have thus developed a rigorous work flow). Additionally there are tricks MediaStorm has developed for syncing cameras or, in the case of the new High Definition Digital SLR cameras (HDDSLR), syncing cameras and audio. These new tools, a physical example of “convergence,” produce beautiful video with the depth-of-field trademark of film but are absolutely terrible with audio capture. Someone here said that the new HDDSLR cameras are like taking two steps forward, then one step back as you figure out how to modify them to make them useful.

Read more about the MediaStorm family after the jump.

IMG_3551_2But that’s simply the technical stuff. What I’ve really been doing is learning who MediaStorm is. We eat lunch together at the central table in an open, clutter-free office. With the exception of the editing suites, you can hear everyone’s phone conversations or the audio from their projects. In spite of this, everyone works intently on his or her computer, so the group lunch is a welcome moment to stay connected with each other. (at right: looking at an FCP sequence from a current project)

On Friday, just before I started, when Lu was here, we stopped by the MediaStorm office to meet everyone. Brian’s partner, Elodie, was there with their five weeks old daughter, Eva. We went out to dinner and shared stories of how we’d met our respective partners. Brian is a natural storyteller, full of energy and images to carry his narrative. How he and Elodie met, grew close, then got together elicits a far away look of fond recollection. Though that look is nothing compared to when he gazes upon Eva; the world simply disappears.

We talked child-rearing. I don’t know much about it, but I have Lu as the expert at my side. She and Elodie shared stories and I, the only non-biological parent, sat back and learned.

Eventually, I asked Brian when I should be in to work on Monday. He replied casually, “11.” I laughed, and asked if he was serious. Yes. He reasoned that since New York is three hours ahead of the west coast it made sense. Plus, they work until seven or eight at night. And then Elodie weighed in. “You can tell Brian is not a morning person,” she said with a smile. They shared a look, one of those I know you and love you looks, inspiring Lu and I to turn and do the same.

IMG_3578These are my initial impressions of MediaStorm. To say that Brian is an inspiration would be an understatement. To listen to him talk, in all of his brusqueness, it would be easy to say he is visionary. I was introduced to him years ago, when he was at MSNBC, and remember him talking about hand -held computers that would constantly link us to the internet. It was a prediction many foretold, but the way Brian said it was something else. However, he was only talking about a tool. What that tool means, to us as journalists, is a change in the distribution of our stories. More people want more content more of the time, and now they can get it anywhere. (iPhone photo at left: Jacky working on a website redesign)

That also means people are creating massive amounts of content to distribute via traditional means, like magazine or newspaper websites, and also through new aggregators, facebook, flickr, twitter, blogs, etc. It’s super-saturating the viewer, it’s data overload.

IMG_3577To hear Brian say it, “In the social networking world it’s either cats flying on a fan or really important shit. Everything in the middle is noise. So do something meaningful; let’s do something worth people’s time.”

There’s a figurative five gallon tank of MediaStorm Kool-aide by the office door, but I drank it long ago. So, it seems, have the rest of the staff here.

It’s a relaxed atmosphere, a place where Brian directs and guides people but doesn’t want to be boss. Jessica Stuart is the fixer, producer, get-things-done person, but she isn’t the boss either. It’s an environment where people work hard, exercising the self-discipline to simply get the job done. Not just right, but with finesse, perfection, and extreme attention to detail. (iPhone photo at right: assembling workshop binders)

And, while I’ve spent some time this week doing mundane things like assembling workshop binders or searching for cables in the gear closet, it’s not unheard of for Brian, our visionary boss-not-boss, to be seen sweeping the floors. At MediaStorm it is simply that there is a job to get done, and everyone here makes sure it’s done right.IMG_3580 (iPhone photo at left: the Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the park beneath the Manhattan Bridge…a three minute walk from the MediaStorm office)

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