Sept. 8 - 11, 2003
The second shoot
commenced in September. We were on top of things. With the help of CCM graduate student Semi Yang and Brittany, we organized a schedule that gave a fairly accurate amount of time to each musician. Every hour a different student demonstrated a different technique. The production schedule was often dependent on the students' families or academic schedules. The sometimes very young violinists and their families were professional about showing up to the CET studio at call time. By now, I had found a way to prepare them by practicing the techniques they were to perform on camera during their lessons.
For this shoot, we had decided to sharpen the look
. Melissa felt strongly that the blue background was too dark and adjusted the paint color, as well as allocating more of the budget for lights. This brought the addition of gaffer Jeff Fisher and grip Duke Smith. Together, 'Fish' and Mike brought ingenious methods for back-lighting my blue blazer against the blue background. They lit a gradation on the cycloramra, which resulted in a high key, distinct look. For atmosphere without overcomplicating the set, we added a chair, table, and a colorful bird of paradise flower.
Also normally assisting on the shoots were John Schmidt, who does everything from teleprompter to gripping to note-taking; and Jeff Glaza as a grip.
Again, we began with definitions on the first day and moved into exercises and master classes (with the piano in a different place for variety). I developed a way to remember my succinct lessons with an easel of paper just outside the camera frame. Prior to taping each segment, while the crew tweaked lights and audio, I ran through my lessons and jotted notes. Joining the 'straight bow police' were Semi Yang and Wyoming violin teacher Gayna Bassin.
We held off taping performances until the next shoot, which would take place partly in Werner Hall at CCM.
For this second round of post-production
, Sarah was an invaluable logger, having taken extensive notes in the field. Melissa verified the selects and named them into MediaLog. By the following week, Jeff Glaza was again up to his ears in footage. Website Design Continues
Meanwhile, Clay, Joe, Sarah, and Melissa continued to develop the inner sections and test them for usability. At Jay Hoffman's urging, we added my headshot to the top, courtesy of photographer Gary Kessler. Clay suggested many solutions to structural challenges and invented clever ways to make things happen on the website.
We also determined that the lovely blue gradation made file sizes larger and decided, with great reluctance, to let go of it until technology catches up. We plan to go back to that as soon as we can.
Joe created the Prof. S cartoon. Later that summer he made the Masterclass Kids template. December 8 - 15, 2003
Our third shoot session began at CET (with less gradation) and ended at Werner Hall in CMM, which is a gorgeous auditorium with its own design issues. The stage back wall is a warm, exotic wood, which is almost exactly the color of a violin. It is a background that, because of its natural beauty, is hard to resist. The crew did not have a way to control the stage backlights made available to us by CCM, and there did not seem to be an easy way to rig motion picture lights without damaging the wood. Again Fish was gaffing with grip Russ Faust. As the violinists played, the lighting team began to plan.January 2004
The cold month of January was spent in the warm editing suite cutting together files of music.
Meanwhile, Alvin MacWilliams, director of the Wyoming Fine Arts Center, had finished his first round of assembling graded repertoire lists. Laraine Kasier delivered the first draft of the competitions and auditions lists. And Nina Perlove and Brittany MacWilliams began the task of gathering biographies for the About Us section.
Sarah was extremely busy creating the inner pages, including the Virtuous Moments section. The Virtuous Moments
concept is key to making the techniques on the website real. It's my approach to effective practice. Sarah designed the PDF (Adobe Acrobat) template that would hold my time-honored practice sheets and the Violinmasterclass lesson summaries. The summary template was designed to be a one-page synopsis of the major points of each lesson. Right side margins identify the lessons in a hierarchy that matches the website, and on the left there is room for three holes. This enables students and teachers to print the summaries, add their own notes, and compile the information into notebooks. As learning progresses, practice schedules and lesson summaries can be filed together as a journal of the learning adventure. We called these things our 'printables.'
Meanwhile the streaming had continued. After comparing the quality of a variety of rates of streaming on a variety of computers and Internet connections, we selected a bit rate of 355 kbps. This happy medium seemed to provide the highest audio and video quality without obnoxiously long download times. We decided not to provide a lower quality version and decided that the next level higher was to be left for the future when broadband is more the norm. Spring 2004
Shar Music Products in Ann Arbor, Michigan joined as a sponsor of the site! With Shar's support, Violinmasterclass.com will be able to pay monthly hosting fees and continue to develop technologically. This also gives us hope for our foreign language plans. We only need a few other sponsors to make it all a reality. May and June, 2004
Our final shooting session began at CET and ended at Werner Hall for almost a whole week of performances. Photographer Mark Lyons took production stills during our last day at CET.
At Werner Hall, Fish lead Russ, Jeff Glaza, and grip/electric Rasheen Crawley in the rigging of crisp backlights off of a velvet-lined truss- and made the background fall off into almost black. It was another look yet and gave this particular set of performances a dramatic edge. The quartet, in particular, looked stylish with the black-clothed musicians rimmed against the black background. Since these sections are for advanced players, we thought that this variation was appropriate. As we continue to add content to the site, we will pull it from a variety of venues from around the world, all with their own unique qualities, and we'll have to be comfortable with slight variations in the look of our presentation.
University of Iowa intern Mike Lindley joined On Location for the summer and became useful at keeping us supplied with coffee and lunches. These things may seem inconsequential to the outsider, but they are very important on the set. He also began to do some note-taking and logging, as well as helping with the constant transportation of production gear.Summer 2004
Final editing began in June and we worked hard to finish as much as possible before I had to leave to teach in Aspen. This time, besides working on lessons and performances, we got to zero in on the more theoretical segments of Intonation and Putting It All Together. Brad Bowman, animator for Classical Quest, created colorful animation for parts of the Putting It All Together section, as well as bright yellow staff, notes, and charts for music theory. Because we wanted to keep file sizes low, nothing too demanding was allowed, but it was fun to add the cartoons.
When I left for Aspen, there was still the task of over 100 printables to write. As soon as Jeff finished streaming the approved segments, they were sent to me, where I studied them again and wrote printables. The printables were formatted by Sarah as PDFs, proofread, and uploaded.
Meanwhile Tom, also in Aspen, began to sweeten the audio for the last group and sent them back too Jeff in batches. It took awhile to process the final files to the point of being uploaded on the growing site.