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Advice from a Fortune Cookie: Don't Panic

Advice from a Fortune Cookie: Don't Panic

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Instead, move quickly to Plan B.

By Jack Howard

July 2, 2009

A fortune cookie once offered me this sage advice ripped straight from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Don't Panic." For years, that fortune was taped to my laptop computer. I'm pretty sure 42 was among the lucky numbers, too!

 

If you've listened to this week's episode of the podcast with Joe McNally as the guest, you might notice some snippets of...um...mayhem and chaos happening in the background.

Moments before we were set to record straight into my laptop's version of Adobe Soundbooth via a single external microphone on the table between us, construction began in a big way in the rental department.

On the sixth floor.

Directly over the only empty conference room available on the fifth floor in the short window of time that was available to record the interview before Joe's recent Big Light from Small Flashes workshop.

I haven't yet stumbled across another "Don't Panic" fortune to tape atop my new MacBook, but I didn't panic, because I had a backup plan I could quickly spring into action to salvage the interview capture and minimize the background ruckus.

I changed the input level settings on Adobe Soundbooth, so that I had to lean in really close to the external microphone and project my voice to record my questions–knowing I'd have to seriously boost the signal and chop the high end noise to make it listenable.

I miked Joe with the compact Olympus DS-50 Digital Voice Recorder I carry with me everywhere. In less than two minutes, we were set to roll with Plan B.

It did mean a bit more audio editing work to match levels and chop as much ambient noise as possible from two separate audio files, and then a good bit of copy/paste to make the two tracks flow together.  I had to stop and re-record a couple of bits, and lost my train of thought once or twice during a very furious hammering session from the floor above, but we were able to make it work, with a minimum of inconvenience, delay or stress.

There's still some snippets of construction noise in the background, that just couldn't be smoothed over in Soundbooth despite my best efforts, but what can you do?
 
Life happens.

Don't panic.

Learn from the mistakes and move forward.

Have a backup plan.

And double-check if anyone is planning on using heavy machinery nearby when you're planning on audio recording!

I keep hoping I'll find another "Don't Panic" fortune after an egg roll and sesame chicken, but it hasn't happened yet. If any TechTock reader ever comes across one, you should tape it to your laptop as a reminder to have a Plan B and roll quickly to it whenever the situation warrants.

Do you have your own story of unexpected "hiccups" while on a photo or video shoot? How'd you recover?

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