I spent the morning at the Draegers in San Mateo, being interviewed for a British documentary on new technology. It was quite a lot of fun.
An awful lot of film work is just setting up shots
I've only done a couple of these interviews-- print is more my medium-- and I've got a lot to learn, but I find them very interesting experiences. For one thing, watching the negotiations between members of the film crew can be fascinating, because good crews are a highly skilled bunch, who have to pay constant attention to their surroundings: if you stand too close to a freezer, you pick up a hum on the mikes, and if you're walking down the wrong aisle the light might reflect in the wrong way. An immense amount of attention and work goes into making ten second piece of film look like regular life.
The monitor shows you what the shot looks like, so you can catch things if they go wrong
While we were shooting, one of the shoppers came up to us and said he was a retired sound engineer, and we chatted a bit. He expressed disdain for tape, but admitted that when he was in the business, the old-timers thought magnetic audio tape was a step backwards: they liked being able to look on the audio track on the film, and see where there were gaps in the sound, when something was too loud, etc..
Working through the shooting script
The other fascinating thing is that while you get called because you know stuff, it's not enough to just be an expert. You also have to kind of act the part of an expert. But if you look too self-conscious and artificial, that's bad. You're doing a kind of performance around what you are; it's almost like you're playing a better-looking or more distinguished version of yourself, the authoritative and recognizable you'll actually be... after this thing airs.
Draegers has a lot of stuff, but I think this looked atypical even for them!
My advisors in grad school used to tell me before interviews to "be yourself, only more so," and I think this is what they were getting at.
And while it may seem like a curious place to talk about technology, Draegers, along with Fry's, represent the alpha and omega of Silicon Valley retail experiences.
[To the tune of Jean Jacques Perrey and Luke Vibert, "You Moog Me," from the album "Moog (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)".]