My usual habit when giving talks at conferences is just to plug in my little notebook computer, talk about this and that, and show some software demos. But this time, working with an awesome group of people at NYU, I’m planning a far riskier talk that involves a live video feed.
Which means an actual high quality video camera. Which means a mixer box, a dedicated computer, portable lights, assorted tripods, some custom rigged hardware, and more varieties of cable, connector and power cord than you can shake a stick at.
The moment you level up from “look at this crappy image that came out of my computer” to the real deal, everything changes. Terms like HDMI, DVI and Thunderbolt suddenly become relevant. Your hardware entourage shifts from a little laptop bag slung over your shoulder to a fully loaded field-ready backpack bulging with enough secret compartments to impress Lucretia Borgia. In international airports, you find yourself spending quality time with airport security officers.
But the most interesting part is that gradual feeling of getting to know your cables. The first time you try to put together one of these systems, power cords and connectors seem like the enemy. But soon these quirky little bits of hardware become old friends, touchstones even. The often subtle differences between them, and how they fit together, become the way you navigate, the story you tell yourself about how the whole system works.
It’s like that moment, if you’ve ever learned to play the guitar, when you realized you could pick up a six string and your fingers just knew what to do. It feels good.