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While the SAP TechEd conference starts in Las Vegas, I'm watching from afar, but not very diligently, as there's a lot to do before the TechEd in Bangalore, but more importantly, there are things to do before the Las Vegas SCNotties awards on Wednesday.  The submission deadline has passed, the judges have debated the competing entries, and the red carpet is being steam cleaned while we sleep. Or while the rest of the world except the gamers in Las Vegas sleep.

Beside taking a "producer" role this year for the first leg of the 2011 SCNotties Triple Crown, and a craftsperson role in creating the statues, and  wearing the green eye-shade and sharp blue pencil of a wiki editor, I am also shamelessly plugging the second leg of the SCNotties this year, where Pimilco (Baltimore City) meets Bangalore (Bollywood) in the middle of October. Let's take a look at some of the technologies behind filming and publishing a 30 second self-promotion video, and some of the people too.

A pet peeve of mine, and I have a few, is too-big images on blogs or wiki pages. For the last two year that we have done the SCNotties, I have taken care to get thumbnail images of the entrants in a consistent way, so that the viewing public can access the content more quickly. A few folks tried to make my job easier I guess by doing their own screen shots. I must have control issues, as not many of them seem acceptable, some because they use PNG files rather than JPEG images (causing the size to grow by several hundred percent), some because the image size varies too much from the format I chose, some because the aspect ratio or framing is wrong, and some because a better freeze frame could be found. In some cases, the perfect snapshot can't be done, though believe me, I have looked.

A trick I used to create similar sized images, after doing a screen capture of the running film, and converting from the PNG to JPEG format on the fly:


# pngtopnm <Jamie.png  | pnmscale -xysize 355 200 | ppmtojpeg >SCNotties-Jamie.jpg


For those with their slide rules handy, this works out to around 1.77:1, or the standard high definition aspect ratio, not the 4:3 of classic stock U.S. television, or the general movie industry ratios of 1.85:1 and 2.39:1. (note Wikipedia article ) The black bands on the sides of some entries is due to low-definition original recording, or being "edited for television" somewhere along the way before publication.

The techniques used in filming SCNotties entries vary with the person sharing their 30 seconds of recognition. Myself, I like to think about a premise, do a set up shot, maybe, to see that I am in frame, and either go (self) hand-held, or use a basic tripod. Others recruit camera persons, shoot multiple takes (I can tell), add elaborate audio effects (watch those copyright clearances, folks), and others, well, let's just say special effects wizardry is the name of their game.

As for humor, the original SCNotties got started when we began to pole fun at ourselves, and they grew from there. Which means that the scripts, the jokes, the japes, and the puns, are well-meaning and well-intentioned, but it is not necessary to forcibly impose jokes on the audience. If I were a judge (and I will be for the Bangalore SCNotties awards), I would prefer humor that was not deliberate, but favor those who can naturally be themselves yet have that little something that makes us smile. "Squirrel!"

The plaques, shown below, are unique again this year. All of them came from the same piece of lumber (rescued from the dumpster while renovating a Baltimore row house), and thus, came from the same tree somewhere on the East Coast of the United States early in the 20th century. The shape is a modified version of the previous 2 years designs, down-sized to allow sharing more awards at more locations. I've heard they are highly coveted, with normally blasé SAP rock stars willing to act in silly ways to earn one.

The awards ceremony for Las Vegas will take place Wednesday, September 14th, at 5:50 Pacific Time, Community Clubhouse, Venetian Ballroom, Level 2, in Lounge 5.  If that doesn't get you to the red carpet, look for SAP Mentors and the glitterati, not to mention waiting for Elvis to leave Las Vegas.

For the remaining two 2011 TechEd events in Bangalore and Madrid, you still have time, but not much, to get your 30 seconds of video recognition. Grab your cell phone, your QuickTime-movie-embedded camera, or your high end high definition Steadi-Cam and shoot some footage.  But above all, have some fun out there.

Wiki links for contestants to link to their videos


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