Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Editing a NASA Video

This week I have been putting together the next installment of the Ares Quarterly Progress Report (QPR). We have been doing this for two years and that means we are up to QPR #8. We edit all of our videos using an Apple program called Final Cut Pro. It's called non-linear editing because the old style of editing was done in a "linear" way...

I also want to mention that we shoot and edit all of the video in high-definition video.

First, a script is written by a script writer (funny how that works...) and after it is approved by many people the script is then "voiced" by a "talent". The talents we use are from company in Birmingham, AL. The producer and I (in Huntsville) are on the phone with the talent (in Birmingham) and as he reads the script, it is recorded in their studio (also in Birmingham). After the recording session, I then go to a secure website and download the audio we just recorded.

Next, I take the audio and put it on a timeline. That is the actual editing area in Final Cut Pro...Once it is sounding like I like it, I then begin to cover the audio with appropriate video. This is the video we have shot during the previous 3 months...usually we are talking 40-50 videotapes total to choose from.

Then I have to add what we call lower thirds...think of a newscast where the anchors name is put up on the screen near the bottom. Our lower thirds identify what it is you are looking at!

Lastly I get to choose music from our on-line music library called Non-Stop Music. It's so cool! All I have to do it log on to their website and choose from thousands of songs. Once I choose the music, I just download the music files and lay them under the talents voice and video.

After many rounds of approval it is finally released to the public!

Here's the Ares Quarterly Report from last quarter...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

WAAY Reunion

Yesterday I attended a reunion picnic for current and former employees of WAAY, Channel 31, the ABC affiliate here in Huntsville. We had a great time reminiscing and getting reacquainted with friends.

Here is a picture taken during this years Great Moonbuggy Race. Unlike conditions on the moon, it rained all day long and I was soaked! That black blob under my arm is the camera being protected by a special camera rain coat. That black blob next to the camera is ME!

Who said shooting video for NASA isn't glamourous!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

NFL Draft Day!

I love football.

I love NFL football...

I love college football

I love arena football

I love Canadian football

I even love Australian Rules football (although I don't understand it!)

Today is the first day of the NFL draft and I look forward to it every year. I know it's weird, but I enjoy the suspense of who will be picked up by whom.

As a New Orleans Saints fan, it's a time for me to be hopeful for the future and either be excited for the future or slap your forehead in disgust because you think they chose wrong (although they ARE the experts!)

I wonder who the Saints will choose...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Great Adventure

It's funny how songs can evoke such emotions in us. No matter how you are feeling, there is a song that describes it exactly. Because of my upcoming divorce, I absolutely can't stand to hear any song having to do with love...I have to literally change the station. I thought I knew what love was and I was mistaken and hearing songs about "true love", "never going to leave you", "my one and only" just turns my stomach right now. I know I will be singing a different tune some day, but not now.

There is one song that I heard that really does speak to me in a powerful way. On the very first Sunday after we decided to get a divorce, we went to church pretending that everything was just fine and our praise band played a song that floored me. I had never heard it before, but the song is like 15 years old. It's called "The Great Adventure" by Steven Curtis Chapman.

The song is about the great adventure that awaits us when we finally decide to follow Him wherever He leads us. How Gods grace has set us free and how wonderful life can be if you just let go and "saddle up your horses" and ride with God.

I also see this song on another more personal level and that is the great adventure that has been presented to me. I have the opportunity to start over...to set forth on another adventure, one that is uncertain but certain to be interesting.

On that Sunday, when the praise band played that song it really spoke to me and I knew it was a message from God for me not to be afraid of the next adventure, that everything would be fine if I just rode with God and let Him lead the way.

Click in the picture below to hear the song on YouTube...

The Great Adventure - Steven Curtis Chapman

Started out this morning in the usual way
Chasing thoughts inside my head of all I had to do today
Another time around the circle try to make it better than the last

I opened up the Bible and I read about me
Said I'd been a prisoner and God's grace had set me free
And somewhere between the pages it hit me like a lightning bolt
I saw a big frontier in front of me and I heard somebody say "let's go"!

Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace
Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other - this is The Great Adventure

Come on get ready for the ride of your life
Gonna leave long faced religion in a cloud of dust behind
And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored
This is what we were created for

Saturday, April 19, 2008

3, 2, 1 Lift-off!

Today the boys and I went to the store and I purchased an Estes model rocket kit. The kit came with a launch pad, a pre-made rocket and everything you would need for 2 launches. I have always wanted to do this, but you know how life gets in the way of the best laid plans. Well, I decided that today was the day! I got a kit with a pre-made rocket just to see if it is something we would want to actually do again. If the boys liked it, then next time I will get some rockets that we can make ourselves.

Well, I read the instructions, put everything together and we found a big field to launch. It was a bit windy and I was afraid it was going to sail away! As launch director, I decided that the winds were acceptable and with a whoosh! our rocket actually lifted off the pad! And by lifted off the pad I mean it shot up in the sky like a bat out of hell! It actually worked! I was a little worried, to be honest, that it would just fizzle and Dad would look sort of silly after hyping this rocket launch up for an hour. Not only did the rocket fly straight up, but it came down within 30 feet of the launch pad!

I prepared the rocket for the second flight and it was just as good as the first!

I don't have any pictures because I was the launch director, pad safety director and crowd control all at the same time...

I would say that today was a great day for the Bilbrey Launch Team!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Las Vegas Day 4

Stale smoky air, random electronic sounds, perpetual dusk...such is the casino environment. I have to walk through the casino to get to my room and you know, I really don't mind. I think it's interesting to watch people gamble and I enjoy dropping 5 bucks in the penny slots...

Today started with my 3rd and last day at the Las Vegas Convention Center to attend the NAB convention. You can't imagine how big this place is...it is made up of 3 different halls, the North Hall, the Central Hall and the South Hall and the South Hall has 2 levels! It took me two 9 hour days to see everything and I spent today going through the whole place quickly to make sure that I didn't miss anything. Needless to say, I am beat! After the show I headed back to my hotel and took some pics during the walk...

As I stated before, last night I was named NASA's Videographer of the Year in the Documentation category...here are a few photos from the event...

Well, tomorrow I will be flying home...I can't wait to see my boys!

Las Vegas Day 3 - Videographer of the Year

Today was almost exactly like yesterday, but you can replace Bob Barker with Chuck D from the former rap group Public Enemy...

Also, I am proud to announce that I was chosen as NASA's 2008 Videographer of the Year in the documentation category. It was announced tonight during the NASA DTV social at Excalibur hotel and casino.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear the announcement and I am still very excited! I will put some photos here tomorrow...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Las Vegas Day 2

After growing up in the Eastern and Central time zones, being on Pacific time is so weird to me. It's odd to wake up and realize that most of America is already at work and rocketing towards lunch.

The annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is a huge event that brings TV type folks from over 100 countries to Las Vegas. With over two million square feet of floor space, the Las Vegas Convention Center has plenty of room for the 1600 vendors.

It's hard to tell, but if you follow the red carpet it is very soon obscured by thousands of people!

I attended a luncheon sponsored by Microsoft where Bob Barker was inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame. I was grinning from ear to ear all through Mr. Barker's speech because, come on, who hates Bob Barker?

Here's a video clip of Mr. Barker talking about the scene in the movie "Happy Gilmore" where he kicks Adam Sandler's butt...

At the end of Mr. Barker's speech, 4 lucky folks in the audience went up on stage and got to spin the actual Price is Right wheel. The 2 people with the highest spins then got to go to the actual Plinko board. The winner received a $3000 TV and the 2nd place got an X-box 360. It was so awesome to see Bob Barker with his mic on a stick and hosting a form of The Price is Right...I am sure for the very last time.

By the end of the day, my feet were killing me! So I slowly and gingerly walked back to my hotel (which takes 45 minutes with a monorail ride) and spent the evening here at the Excalibur. Tomorrow is shaping up to be a day of broadcast classes as well as more time on the endless show floor.

Las Vegas Day 1

Las Vegas, a place where fortunes are won and lost...but mainly lost. I have come here to attend the National Association of Broadcasters convention and also to see if I placed 3rd, 2nd or 1st in NASA's Videographer of the Year contest. I like coming here because there is so much neat stuff to see. I arrived at 10:30 am and this is the sight you see as you exit the jetbridge and enter the airport terminal...

Yep..slot machines. Slot machines are always a bad bet, but I think that airport slot machines have got to be the worst! Maybe they are trying to get you to empty your pockets of change to make the planes lighter...

After arriving and checking into my room at the Excalibur hotel, I made my way to the MGM grand hotel to find the monorail terminal. From there I took the monorail to the Las Vegas Convention Center to pick up my NAB credentials. After that, I had 4 hours to kill before a 6pm Sony event and I could either head back to my hotel or head over to the Las Vegas Strip...hmmm tough choice! I took a lazy route that took me through Harrah's, Caesars, Bellagio and Bally's

After the Sony event I walked the mile or so back to my hotel and tomorrow I begin my NAB adventure!

Click here to see all of the pics I took in Las Vegas today...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Having a great day...

Here are a few photos of the boys I took while at the playground and playing putt-putt...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Random Utah Pics...

Here are a few pics I took with my camera over the past 4 days.

Here we see an April snow shower...these were the biggest snowflakes I had ever seen!

Shooting video at ATK, 30 feet in the air.

The beautiful mountains outside of Ogden

Just me and my shadow...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Utah Shoot, Day 3 - "In The Pits..."

This morning started bright and early with a nice hour drive from out hotel to the facilities of ATK Launch Systems. We were there to document the test fitting of a...well, it's pretty complicated. Here's some pictures to explain it...

This is a cut-away of the Ares I...the 1st stage is the long rocket at the bottom...

Zooming in on the important part...

Ahh...here we are. The red color is the solid propellant the first stage will use to lift the Ares I and it has the consistency of a pencil eraser. The pattern near the top is no accident. It is a star shape that increases the burn area of the solid propellant when the ignitor ignites the fuel.

The picture below is the new and improved core they will use to mold the solid propellant in the top of the solid motor. It is lowered into the 40 foot deep "pit" in which an empty solid rocket motor casing is sitting. After the core is inserted, 25,000 gallons of mixed propellant will be poured into the casing (with the mold still in)...at this point, it will have the consistency of jello. After a while, they will remove the mold and the propellant will have the opposite shape as the mold pictured below.

This is only 1 of 5 segments that will make up the first stage of the new Ares I.

Ok, you got it? There will be a test tomorrow!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ogden, Utah

Today I traveled with my co-worker, Anthony, to Ogden, Utah. We have come out here to shoot video of the Ares I Solid Rocket Boosters in various stages of construction. It should be an interesting shoot because there is always a lot of action out at ATK Launch Systems!

Yesterday, the CBS show "60 Minutes" had a very interesting video about the Constellation program, under which the Ares program falls under. I could only count one shot that I shot in the whole 11 minute segment! Oh well, I will do better next time...

Here is the video...

Friday, April 4, 2008

NASA-TV...Behind the scenes!

Unknown to me, Marshall Television has a behind the scenes website. I actually came across it while looking for another Marshall Space Flight Center web page. It shows some of the stuff we do here at NASA-TV and some of the neat things we get to experience. There are even a few photos of me too!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Silly Fantasy...

Do you have a silly fantasy? One that you know wouldn't come true, but when the occasion arises, you still hope that it just might? I'm not talking about big stuff like winning lotteries or world peace...something small that would make only you happy?

Mine happens every time I return to Huntsville from a work related trip. As I walk through the airport, from the airplane to where the luggage is, I always pass the area where folks are waiting for their loved ones to pass by.

I look around and scan the small crowd on the slight chance that this trip is the one where I would be greeted with a hug and a welcome smile. After being gone for some time and enduring a day of flights, waiting around, rude crowds and airport food, the sight of children running to their Dads and Moms is heartwarming and a bit depressing because I know there is no one there for me.

But really, why should there be? When I was married, my wife had her hands full with the kids and was too busy to come all the way to the airport to welcome me home. Although, I can remember greeting her at the airport when she returned from flights, usually with a rose or two...(we had no kids at the time, though.)

I am an adult, so why should it matter who is there to greet me, right? I guess I should just be thankful that I am home and that I have my health and a family that loves me.

But, I will still look the next time I return home to Huntsville...