Thursday, November 1, 2007

Reader Question about Grotto Benefit Dinner and Photos

Someone wrote into an unrelated post a question about Grotto's Benefit Dinner which took place this past Sunday and whether I had taken any pictures to post. I will answer that question here because I have been wanting to make a post to explain why I will cut back on photos and video this coming year.

I regret that I did not have my camera with me. The gym was decked out beautifully and it was packed with people. I had not planned on staying because I've been a little under the weather and in need of rest.

Anyone who is around Grotto for any length of time will see that the parish NEVER slows down. I've been waiting for that to happen for over two years. But, I decided at the last minute to stay and was feeling bad that I did not have my camera.

Related to the fact that our parish is a "happening place", is that I've been exhausted from photo and video shoots and need some time to regenerate. Before I knew about the Jubilee year, I was going to take a break from picture taking for a while. Once I realized it was a special year (175th Anniversary), I knew I had to capture as much as I could.

Now that it is over with, I am going to try to limit my photo and videography for the truly ultra-special occasions (Christmas, Easter, Corpus Christi, Assumption, etc.).

Anyone who is around Grotto also knows there are many interesting visitors. Since I have been there, among those visitors have been Archbishop Raymond Burke who comes on a regular basis for the Marian Catechists. Abp Burke has also come to remember Fr. John A. Hardon, who spent his final working years at Grotto. I have photographed Catholic actor, Leonardo Defilippis, Fr. Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International on his visit, Fr. Joseph Fessio, Fr. Aidan Logan O.C.s.o. - US Naval Acadamy Chaplain (a yearly visitor around Memorial Day and sometimes the Christmas Season). Then we had a visit from Richard Thompson of the St. Thomas More Law Center.

I will try my best to chronicle such future visits.

This having been said, most people see the picture-taking, videography, and audio recordings happening, but are proabably unaware of what is going on when I'm not at Grotto. Almost all of my spare time is devoted to working on these media (and in the last two months, this has cut into my not-so-spare time, resulting in a house that is incredibly dirty and cluttered).

The whole process involves far more than just taking pictures and movies. The photos undergo post-processing or editing, as does video. Video, in particular, takes tremendous labor time with transferring to computer (it's equal to run time), encoding it to burn to DVD (a very long time), and even rendering before that (some processes can run 6-10 hours for an hour of video, for example, if I want to turn it into a high quality MPEG 4 file type. This says nothing of the dozens of hours needed to edit video in programs that run slower than molasses and are tempermental (i.e., Pinnacle Studio).

My backlog of video, photos, and audio is long. And, the list of things that I owe people is equally as long. I have the remaining 4 catechism classes from two years ago to transfer and I am reminded on a regular basis by former students that they are still waiting for those CD's (which will go in the lending library at Grotto when complete). The backlog happened because I could not finish one thing before something else was happening. On top of that I work 40-50 hours weekly as an engineer, sing in the choir (roughly 4 hours of practice weekly between Wednesdays and Sundays), and have a chronically ill mother to assist.

Some of you may or may not be aware that I have other projects that are on hold as a result of the attention needed with this huge backlog. I have established a company called Ad Orientem, LLC to enable me to sell things like photos to fund my work, which is getting very expensive. But, have had no time to get it up and running. Ditto with the related website, (which will take on a new focus with the emergence of Summorum Pontificum, and Grotto's re-birth into the Tridentine).

I need to use the media I make and hope to provide things in the giftshop wholesale so that Grotto can profit from these things, as well. The financial issues are starting to limit my abilities to keep going. My original camera broke and required replacing. A new laptop was needed to work with video and it only came with Vista. Vista compatible software was needed to work with the photos and video. Video takes about 12.5 GB of storage for each hour and this required a 400 GB external hard drive, which is quickly filling up (someone was right when they said I need to get into Terrabytes). Video takes DVC tapes which cost around $6.00 each (and I have piles of them laying around with things captured and not yet transferred).

I enjoy capturing things at Assumption Grotto, but for reasons I hope everyone will understand, need to cut back a little this year, with some exceptions I'll make on a case-by-case basis on my own. It's the truly unique things I want to capture. Among which, if the ORC priests offer it, would be a rarely seen Rorate Mass which they have been doing weekly during Advent.

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