June 15, 2011

Making Rare Book Feast #1: Herbert Bayer’s Book of Maps

From my rare design book collection, designer Herbert Bayer’s “World Geo-Graphic Atlas” keeps my attention. I wrote about it. This time I wanted to make a video of it.

I pitched the idea to my collaborator, Joe Giovenco, since I know nothing about working with audio and video. We’ve done some audio reviews of creative business books. He was game. As this was an on-the-side project, we worked over a few weekends, and Joe spent a few nights assembling, editing and refining the footage.

Camera and Microphone
The primary draw for this project was digital documentation. Joe did some research and determined that a Canon EOS Rebel T2i Digital SLR camera would have the best price point vs. performance—we split the cost and acquired one. But the thrill was short-lived: Joe noticed a rogue red pixel in the test photos. It was mailed (twice) for repairs. Afterwards, the camera cooperated. An Azden mic was used for the narration which was done at a separate time.

Another draw for this project was Joe’s experience with Ableton Live and Adobe After Effects. The learning curve was minimal, but handling digital material with moving images and sound sucked up a lot of computing power, which became evident on Joe’s pre-unibody MacBook Pro. Much time was spent waiting for effects to render themselves. For drafting the script and storyboards, I relied on Microsoft Office, while the stills were handled in Adobe Photoshop.

To organize our files and share them, from iterative storyboards and scripts to soundtrack samples and to-dos, we used 37signals’ Backpack. I’ve been using this webapp for a lot of projects and it proved useful again for this collaboration.

What’s next?
The next rare design book project is TBD. In the meantime, enjoy our first installment of Rare Book Feast:

Big thanks to Joe for the video and audio engineering plus photography—most of all, a fun collaboration.

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The reception to the first installment of Rare Book Feast has been tremendous. This would not have been possible without Tina Roth Eisenberg of swissmiss, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings and The Atlantic, Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners, Daniel Benning of ONEEIGHTNINE, and Dan Wagstaff of The Casual Optimist. Big thanks to each of these awesome Gestalt-Ingenieurs and to viewers like you!