Sunday, June 4, 2023

Creating a Video-Sound Stage

 "The Best Conditions Became Evident at the Right Moment"


My previous blogs offered my personal stories to encourage the application of creativity,  as I did successfully that results in enthusiastic, engaged learners.

 I have earlier related “How to Follow Oral Directions” was my masters 1980 experimental project. Puppets were shown to be as effective as peer role models. 

Then, obtaining unusual outstanding results with my students/clients, solid longitudinal data verification was deemed necessary authentication.

 The historical role model puppets emerged as the data catalyst. 

This outcome revealed any type of action puppet can be noteworthy for instruction to motivate current non-focused, screen-addicted, students having weak listening memory.

 My objective with this immense filming project was to condense, consolidate, and complement my unpublished instructional and training manuals (each lesson, research documented). 

And then, convert earlier filmed lessons, as a live data collecting prototype, to an easy- to- use, high-quality, stand-alone-deliverable product.

 The staging creation process was not easy to formulate, as there were many decisions and time delays locating and installing the needed equipment.

 Fortunately, I have had a life-long background for understanding staging requirements.

 By age 4, I existed on a home stage in our living room.  My earliest fond memories were those of acting in front of a home movie camera in bright lights. 

Now, everyone is in front of a cell-phone lens, taking multitudes of self-absorbed “selfies” every few hours.

Yet for me, it was not a spontaneous, reactive occurrence, because it was then 1941, and 8 mm silent movie cameras were rare, new, products, available only for the invested person. 

But, we became one, using Kodacolor movie film. Family members were often the subject matter in the home stage environment.

 This action involvement progressed eventually to my early 1960 teaching with classroom stage productions. 

The family 1970s puppet show staging followed naturally with lighting instruction offered by the University of Kansas theatrical department where I was enrolled.

           With 5- generations of filmwork development completed over decades of technical, upgrade hurdles, and finding that commercial film companies were not a realistic pursuit; the home stage studio became a work-in- process, trial endeavor.

 Now, let’s fast- forward to 2017. My grand-daughter was enrolled in film studies at Cal Arts and offered lighting and staging input to complement mine. 

A freshly engaged, novice, photographer and sound editor, put the studio production into slow, steady, forward gear, as there were many sound and lighting considerations.

 Subsequently, moon-lighting his day job, he could only schedule four hours weekly, as an up- skilling training project (2-3 hours filming, and 1-2 hours editing and producing uploads into Drop Box). Although he had his own rock band, was fond of comic action, he welcomed the opportunity to practice studio photography. 

He soon realized increased dedication to this immense, ongoing, project.

It was a high-risk endeavor, and I never thought we would get beyond the first 3 or 4 lessons. Subsequently, I was agreeable with the initial slow production set-up pace.

 We ordered the necessary lighting equipment and a 5’ camera slider that had serious shipment delays. Finally, the historical stage puppets were in place ready for the necessary action. 

I had become a multi-vocal puppeteer who could readily switch vocals with the required timed pacing. This aspect eliminated the need to hire several puppeteers with additional film production staff. 

And, most importantly, it would be the same photographer, not rotating ones trying to learn the complex choreographed, panning system.


My small filming-sound studio was now soon complete with computers/screens. As if my magic, we gradually finalized over 3 - 6,000 lesson segments through countless takes and retakes. An early-effort, 2 minute segment, had up to 13 retakes of my vocals with constant staging challenges. 

We re-filmed the first eight lessons several times, because the practiced filming and puppetry improvement was noticeable.

In a culture of pill-popping, as an easier solution than mental, action workouts, the re-filmed lessons run from a brief 10- minutes up to 24, averaging 16.  The participant applies resilient, cognitive, whole-brain responses and interaction. 

Workouts give feelings of exhilaration and pleasure

 Artificial Intelligence (AI) can imitate this complex staging with “faces and voices”, but, creating the same warm, comforting, interactive, appeal is questionable.

Hopefully, this article will encourage others to engage with in-depth, meaningful, projects that offer insightful well-being and accomplishment.