BitDepth 692 - August 11

Terry Smith designs buildings for a living and makes short video documentaries in what's left of his spare time.
How Terry found his groove

Videographer Terry Smith. Photography by Mark Lyndersay.

Trace a quirky thread from a lecturer's failed presentation to students in London, through Jamaica to an architectural firm in Trinidad and Tobago and you'll find Terry Smith at the end of it; pursuing an intriguing take on web video.
Smith is crafting an unprecedented confluence of popular, Internet sized video productions with the documentary form to fill the gaping holes in modern records of art and artists.
His vehicle is Indigroove, a collection of twelve short videos hosted on most of the popular web video sites, including iTunes, MySpace, YouTube and Vimeo and the work has recently been collected on its own home page at

An architect by trade, Smith was introduced to video in 2001 while studying by Nick Clear, a UK based lecturer who worked with the technology as a way of working with images through time.
When he came to Trinidad and Tobago two and a half years ago, he became involved in the local arts community and noticed that while everyone was working, nobody was documenting the activity.
"There was no discussion," he said, "no way to reference the work, no way to access the thinking behind it."
In March 2008, he launched the Indigroove project, recording a series of interviews with designers and artists around the first Fashion Week.

First effort collapses
It turned out to be something of a disaster. There were insurmountable problems with the sound, and the project lay fallow for several months as everyone involved worked through the funk of that first failed effort.
The work began again this year, and the first video was posted in February, and there have been weekly additions to the project.
Indigroove quickly began to tax the limits of the most popular web video distribution websites.
The videographer dislikes the heavy branding that YouTube puts on his work on upload, noting that being called a YouTube video doesn't align with what he's trying to do.

Problems with Facebook ensued when he began to push out many notices about new video updates on the site, and the social network took further note of the thank-you notices embedded in the videos, citing them as advertisements, which they are, though unpaid ones.
Instead of planning the project and looking for a sponsor, Indigroove was designed from the start to be cost effective, so much so that it's done out of pocket. Those considerations drive the style, approach and concept of the project.
The new website is spartan, in keeping with the spare content of the videos, which also push the fourth wall. The edits cut between wide angles showing the entire context of the shoot; the boundaries of the set and the lighting gear, and closeups of the subject from different angles.

Getting the groove on
Interviews are conducted for an hour, and each 10 minute "webisode" is edited from it. The effect is eclectic and interesting, ensuring that his audience never gets restless.
"My audience has ADD." Smith said, laughing. "The videos have to be entertaining because the biggest social influencers come out of show business, but I try to bring a little information to it."
"The discussion," he said, "is not around the work, but about the specific experiences of doing work in Trinidad and Tobago."

The many points of web distribution make monitoring of exact viewer numbers difficult, particularly with the videos spread out over many popular websites, though Smith estimates that the series draws 10,000 to 20,000 people per week.
The numbers are too fuzzy to put to advertisers, but Smith keeps working at it.
"When I'm not at work or working on the project, I'm reading about how people are doing this sort of thing," he said.
Terry Smith runs the camera and edits the episodes, but he is assisted with the interviewing by Dave Williams, Darren Boodan who handles the background research on the subjects and Indra Ramcharan, who volunteers as production assistant and more recently, as sound engineer.

The show tapes on a Saturday and the team tries to get three interviews done in a day's work. Smith then edits on a PC using Adobe Premiere for around eight hours.
"I'm there at the taping," he noted. "I understand the flow of the conversation, and I work to reproduce it in the edit. We tend to ask questions that are not usually asked in interviews. There's a lot of trust involved. I believe that people come knowing that they can speak their minds and know that it will be fairly represented."


BitDepth 691 - Richard Rawlins' Draconian Switch
BitDepth 690 - Georgia Popplewell's work with blog aggregator Global Voices
BitDepth 689 - Brett Lewis' animation and compositing project at Movietowne
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