Saturday, July 31, 2010

One day in the limelight

VPD Class 050-10 in action in the DINFOS TV studio.

I always forget how nervous a camera can make a person.  It's like a switch gets flipped when the recording starts.  I feel it a little, but it's nothing compared to what my classmates go through.

American Forces Network broadcasts from stations all over the world.  Some day we could end up working in one.  That'd be sweet.

We recently spent one day in one of the TV studios to get a taste for running a military television production from top to bottom.  Everyone spent time in the control room, behind the camera, and yes, in front of it.


Sergeant Dea helps two targets, I mean anchors, prepare for their 2-minute newscast.

As usual, we were given a quick lesson on each area then jumped right into it.  Some were mentally prepared.  Others...were...not.

Gibson prepares to read off the teleprompter during her stint as news anchor.  MC1 Deleon acts as floor manager.

The first thing one realizes when acting as news anchor is:  "It's not as easy as it looks."

Sit up straight.  Don't move too much.  Speak slowly.  Look at the correct camera.  See that little white square at the top of the camera?  When that lights up you look there.  When I was anchor, whoever was up in the control room had me looking at a different camera like every 5 seconds.

Piece of cake.

Dettling watches his monitor while Cpl. Elorza hopes he's in the shot.

The job of cameraman isn't too hard.  The cameras are set up on wheels and the focus/zoom controls are on the handles.  We really didn't move them much, just a bit of zooming in and out.

Sergeant Bellamy, one of the students, prepares to direct the entire production.

My Cybershot and I were in a fight the whole day, and I struggled to get properly exposed/focused shots in the lighting.  The control room, with all its bright screens, was a challenge.

The jobs available in here were sound (turn up/down mics/music), switcher (switch from one camera view to another), and director.  The director talks to the floor manager, who talks to the cameras.  He also gives orders to the control room staff.

It's pretty hectic.  Some one may have cried.

At the end of a successful production day, Corporal Elorza calls his mother to tell her he's number one.   

Cpl. Elorza likes having his photo taken.  And that's great for me.  It makes my blog photos much more interesting. Here he's pretending to yell at someone up in the control room...or wherever that phone goes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

American Fallen

Any given week there is a "top news" story being sold by the media.  Our local and national news stations are in the business of making money, and sensational news sells.

The men listed below gave their lives for us at the same time the world clamored to hear the latest on a certain star's prison drama.   

Read about them.  Think about what their families are going through right now.  Be proud of what they stood for.

This nation is not perfect, but it was built on an undeniable good.  Freedom.

Hooyah America.

Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matt Weikert 29, Chase Stanley 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, & Sheldon Tate 27.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Everyone play nice!

Ponder senses someone watching her.

Were you that kid who cried when other kids played with your toys? Do you hog remote controls?  Does anyone with a different world view irritate you?

If you answered yes, God help you if you come here.

A rare role reversal. Is Cheek fixing her hair?

I just spent 2 hours playing Ultimate Frisbee, my sport, with Soldiers and Marines that don't really believe in "minimal contact."

I seriously can't feel three of my ribs.

But that's ok!  Because working in a joint operations environment is teaching me volumes.  It's kind of like living abroad.  Every branch is a unique and sometimes violent creature.

Navy 'C' schoolers must adjust quickly to being a blue minority.

After the game I was joking with a Soldier in my class because he beat me up a little on the frisbee field.  He did some kind of ridiculous WWF wrestling move and jumped on my back while I was on the ground.  Sure I was cheating by laying on the frisbee but still...

(He was also mad because I snatched at least 5 TDs from his hands in like 5 minutes...)

He said, "You need to be a Soldier and take it!"  I said, "Soldier?!  Did you just call me a Soldier?!"  A couple of petty officers walking by laughed and said, "Get em!"

The lone Soldier looks pretty uncomfortable.  Actually, almost everyone here looks uncomfortable.  What's Ho doing?

The Marines in the class insisted that the Navy and Marines play against the Army for the last game of the day.  Great, except the Army had waaaay more players.  That meant lots of subbing in and out for their team...NONE for us.

This is the most-of-the-time-friendly rivalry that exists between branches.

I like this photo.  Two Navy students practice a script.  Three Army arrive to wreck shop.  A Marine sneaks up on everyone.

Perreault and Woods!  Bilderback loves her.

Army/Navy shoot a racquetball game...  And completely forget to dodge balls flying at them.

My early 'A' school class, Basic Mass Communication Specialist Course 010-10 (all the writing stuff) poses for their final day at the Defense Information School.

Let's do a Army/Navy Ultimate Frisbee game with this group!  Oh wait, everyone in this shot is graduated and gone...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Navy Volunteering - The Samaritan Women

Devinburg works those back muscles while helping with a landscaping project at TSW.

Photos by SA Cory Asato & SA John Callahan

What's better than chocolate?  Volunteering of course!  There a few really good reasons to volunteer as servicemembers.  First, it allows us to help an organization in need.  There are many groups out there doing good things that rely almost solely on volunteers.  Second, it looks good on our record.  There's even a volunteer ribbon one can earn.

Lastly, and most pertinent to this blog, is the public relations boost it gives us.  Most civilians don't interact with military members much.  In all probability, those that we work with on projects like this are seeing Sailors in action for the first and only time. 

Jandik and CS2 Preston label seed containers that will help sustain the TSW farm.

The Samaritan Women group describes their purpose as this:

"We offer a transitional residence, academic and vocational training, spiritual development, and communal support to women who are rebuilding their lives from hurtful choices of unfortunate circumstances."

The cool thing about this place is they grow their own food.  They've got a great website.  Stop by and check out their farming setup.

Students that volunteer find it to be a great way to escape the day-to-day routine while helping those in need.  It's a win-win situation for everyone.

What's wrong with this photo?

At the DINFOS Navy detachment, the Student Action Committee organizes volunteer events roughly every other month.  I will be posting about a couple more in the next few days.  The most popular one is HART, or Homeless Animal Rescue Team.  I set it up while in 'A' school.  Get ready to see some of the cutest photos EVER.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This is for you CS2

CS2 works at a volunteer event for her charity, The Samaritan Women.

I'm just a new guy in the Navy, but I can say one thing with certainty.  Military life is all about change, flexibility, and adaptability. No Sailor stays on a post for more than a few years.  The idea is to move us around to make us more well-rounded. The building I live in right now is experiencing a roughly 75% staff turnover in the last 6 months. 

CS2 Nina Preston retired last week.


Don't tell CS2 that a Culinary Specialist just thaws frozen food for Sailors.  Her skills are no joke.  When she cooked for the students at the barracks, fireworks were spontaneously released and hardened Sailors cried tears of joy.

 MC1 Kristi Farr reads CS2's farewell letter for her after tears got in the way.

She was our barracks manager and MTI, or military training instructor.  As a barracks manager, she kept us supplied and running smoothly. As an MTI (an extra roll she took on herself) she provided an example of how to be a good Sailor.

Proper military bearing was a big one...

Ensign Larson, a former MTI here, says a few words while CS2 tries to maintain her composure.

CS2, you are appreciated and missed.  From myself and the DINFOS Navy detachment:

Fair Winds and Following Seas!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


It was love at first site, but in the end the grapes felt bare and used.

Grapes make me happy.  End of post.

No I need a military tie in....  I want to start putting up some posts about the base, to give others an idea of what the amenities are.  We have a commissary (grocery store) that has anything a civilian store would have.

The commissary has grapes.  The dining facility (cafeteria) DOESN'T.   It has great apples, oranges, and pears, but no grapes.

So I bought grapes today and I was really excited to eat them.  But then Dexter, she pushed me down and took most of them.  I have the proof below.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I saved a life, and then I littered

Youmans realizes he'll never get another job as sweet as this.

That's Youmans lying on the ground.  He's not sleeping, he's unconscious!  Training videos are part of what military videographers do, and we're training to do just that.  All this week we're working in groups shooting all sorts of instructional/informational videos.  Here we're using the TV studio to shoot a CPR how-to video.  I got to play the hero's role and revived him.

There was no mouth-to-mouth.

Here a group gathers to shoot an informational video about littering.  I played the role of a litterbug, although I would never drop a gum wrapper in real life.

Sgt. Mitchell, one of our instructors, keeps a close eye on her students.

Sergeant Mitchell has been very patient while I've snapped endless shots of her teaching.  I didn't like any of them and finally just walked up and took one up close.

That fan is way too small to ease the pain.

This shot is a bit overexposed but it conveys the heat I'm feeling very nicely.  Shaver holds the switches to two lights as we experiment with different lighting effects.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The learning cliff

Shaver discovers the wonders of the Avid title editor.

Not a day goes by that I don't thank the heavens I've already climbed the Avid learning curve.  I feel for those around me that struggle, and try to help whenever I can.  The military teaches at a much faster pace than high school or college.

It can be a stressful job, especially for servicemembers that just randomly picked it, instead of gunning hard to get in.

Sergeant Dea, left, and Sergeant First Class Medina explain microphone and mixer setup.

We've moved past focusing and framing into the realm of sound.  When used properly, good sound can add punch to a production.  Used improperly, it can destroy it.  Imagine an outdoor interview when instead of the subject's voice, all you hear is wind.  Not good.

Students are presented with a daunting array of wires.  Green takes a photo to help with setup later.

After a demonstration, we're cut loose to try it for ourselves.  This involves a lot of trial and error, but it's the best way to learn.  The instructors are always close by if we have questions.

Youmans, whose good nature and strong work ethic are bottomless, studies his script under red mood lights.

My group had a little faster microphone setup time, since I'd seen all the wires before in college and 'A' school.  Our task was to reenact a scene from Silence of the Lambs.   

The red light makes it scaaaaary.

Mendoza chats it up with her fellow Soldiers during a quick break from shooting.

There are many places for us to sit and relax on breaks or after the day's done.  They are all well used. In the military, you never pass up a chance to rest. :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Leading the way

Corporal Elorza on the prowl.

Every class I've been in here at DINFOS has a class leader.  The instructors wait a few days after the start to see which student emerges as a strong candidate.  Then they say: "you're the class leader."

Cpl. Elorza, or Cpl. E as we call him, is a great class leader.  He takes his job seriously, and can usually be seen out in the hallways rounding up stragglers with a stern eye.  With eyes like a friggin hawk, he usually knows when a student is dozing or goofing off.  It doesn't happen often, because we have a strong group.  If it does happen, you can be sure the offender will have extra duty after school cleaning the room or taking the trash out.

One of only four Marines in a class made up of Army, he's done well mixing discipline with easygoing friendliness.  I wasn't sure how the Soldiers would take having a Marine give them orders, but up to this point the machine's run smoothly.

Hooyah, excuse me Oo-rah Cpl. E.  (Am I allowed to say Oo-rah? Probably not.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Filming in a frying pan

Three friends play "who has the prettiest nails?"

I wish my Soldier classmates had made a sun instead of a star.  That would've lead nicely into what I'm about to say.

It's hot.

I know, it's not Iraq hot, and I actually don't mind heat.  I'd rather have hot than cold ANY day.  But man it's warm...and humid.  I was in FL for 5 years and it wasn't close to this.  But then again, I was in shorts and a t-shirt 90% of the time.

The locker room fills up fast once the class is released to shoot.

We stow our camera equipment in individual locked lockers down the hall from the classroom.  Here the Soldiers enjoy their last moments of A/C before heading outside.  They aren't allowed to roll their sleeves up.  Commence sizzling.

 Corporal Elorza practices zooming while his subject practices living in an oven.

Many choose to shoot outside.  You've got to be efficient, though.  No one in your group wants to stand around wearing hot uniforms while you figure out how to white balance the camera.  I should also say, we're allowed to remove covers to shoot.  It's tough learning to look through a viewfinder with the brim of your hat in the way.

Trees are our friends!

When I shoot outside, I go straight for this tree.  I make sure I'm done by the time the sun rises high enough to kill that shadow.  That's DINFOS in the background.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I am NOT Tarzan

Yesterday my shipmates and I got in touch with our inner caveman/cavewoman. We sat under the sun, grilled meat over open flames, and even swung through the treetops...sort of.

Milford Mill, a local swimming hole, offers bbq grills, rope swings, and cable zip lines. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, it's only 30 minutes away. I never would have known about it except a local friend told me how fun it was. Brother, he was telling the truth.

Hall (pregnant), Jackson, Lobao, and I made the short trek eagerly, because it's a holiday weekend and you have to get out and do new things when the Navy gives you the opportunity.

Here I tell the lifeguard taking the photo not to lose track of how long we'd been in. :)

Before you're allowed onto any of the high altitude water rides, you have to pass a swim test. This involved swimming, with any stroke, from one end of the pool to the other. After that was a 3-minute tread water session.

Jackson decided doing one backflip off the rope wasn't enough. He went for two and paid the price with the worst belly/face flop I've ever seen. Showoff...

I LOVE to grill. It has to be with charcoal and a nice marinate. My kitchen skills are barely existent, by the way.

I highly recommend Milford Mills!