Mountain Lake PBS Productions

Colin Powers reflects on PBS programming for the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain, & Quebec, public broadcasting, and the future of media distribution.

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Changing of the guard

March 17th, 2012 · Documentary, Filmmaking, News, Public Affairs, Public Media

As of March 2012, Mountain Lake PBS has a new Director of Production and Content in Dan Swinton. You can find Colin Powers blogging about public media, independent film and related topics at Headlamp Pictures.

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Making Blu-Ray disks on a Mac

January 17th, 2012 · Digital Television, Filmmaking, High Definition, Multi-media, Resources

After lots of research, we’ve installed a Pioneer Blu-ray burner and Adobe Encore CS5 in one of our edit bays to author Blu-Ray disks of our HD productions.

This Creative Cow Thread got us started…

Bruce Nazarian’s two articles at were instrumental in understanding the role of Toast:

Then this YouTube video showed me how to compress my files for Encore:

here is a tutorial from start to finish:

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Bill Moyers returns to public television with some sharp words of warning for pub TV

January 7th, 2012 · Educational Programming, Future of public media, Journalism, PBS, Public Media

Bill Moyers in the New York Times today.

…Mr. Moyers noted, [that] PBS announced an additional version of “Antiques Roadshow” just a few weeks after the Census Bureau released figures showing the number of people living in poverty had risen to more than 46 million.

Moyers also points out the lack of concerted vision and fragmented response by public media to the threats it faces.

In November he called for executives at local stations to come to grips with financing and governance issues that he contends threaten public television’s future.

“We’re just hanging on, leaking away, fraying at the margins, scrambling year by year to survive, hoping all the while for what in an era of trillion-dollar deficits and austerity will never be: more and more funding from Congress,” he said in a speech to his colleagues. “What we need is a makeover of our own” to help “realize the goals of our founders: diversity, public access, civic discourse, experimentation, a welcoming place for independent spirits.”

Many stations are already on that path, said Rich Homberg, president of Detroit Public Television, adding, “I think we need an army of people to read that speech and go act on it.” He said Mr. Moyers has been “an important voice for a long time, and we welcome him back.”


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Mitt Romney Claims He’ll Cut Off Funding for PBS

January 2nd, 2012 · Education, Future of public media, News, PBS

“We’re not going to kill Big Bird,” Romney said. “But Big Bird is going to have advertisements. Alright?”


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How to Repair Corrupted Quicktime Files

December 8th, 2011 · Filmmaking, Multi-media, Resources

I’ve come across corrupted QT files a number of times… don’t know why I finally decided to see if there was anything I could do about them… I’d always considered them a lost cause. Now there’s reason for hope!

A few weeks ago I participated in a three-camera shoot of a concert using two 7Ds and a 550D. When I tried to transfer the files to a computer, I was shocked to discover that two of the files were corrupt. Worse still, they happened in the same scene from two different cameras, which also happened to be the most important song of the concert. What horrible luck. I have been shooting with DSLRs for quite some time, and I have never had a corrupt file, much less two on the same night, at the same time, on two different cameras! I immediatly began to research how to fix them, but found the info on the internet to be a bit lacking. I hope this post will give someone with the same problem a slightly easier time. CONTINUED…

Here’s another possibility with a lot of other useful aps bundled in: 

Pro Maintenance Tools (formerly FCS Maintenance Pack) is a utility pack designed to keep your Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer or Adobe Premiere Pro Mac running at optimal performance and help resolve problems when they arise.

The suite contains tools to repair corrupt QuickTime movies, locate corrupt clips within a timeline, diagnose crash logs, manage plugins, repair Final Cut Pro projects, manage autosaves, salvage movie data from corrupt files, and much more.

Show-stopping problems always seem to occur on a deadline – Pro Maintenance Tools is designed to rapidly diagnose and fix common issues, ensuring users get back on track as quickly as possible. With the Task Scheduler utility, maintenance tasks can even be scheduled to run in the background for convenience.

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A real “adirondacker” moment… great video from deep in the wilderness

November 28th, 2011 · Education, Fun Stuff, Local stories, Multi-media

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November 10th, 2011 · Business, Documentary, Filmmaking, Resources

I’ve long followed Peter Broderick and even used his consulting services on Skatopia. In this article he outlines how the phenomenon of crowdfunding can be done right… or wrong. Worth a read.


Peter Broderick, the president of Paradigm Consulting and a guru of the digital distribution revolution, was on hand to moderate a panel about crowdfunding at the 2011 Film Independent Forum.  He brought


Peter Broderick and Nick Lewis speak at the 2011 Film Independent Forum

with him the masterminds behind two highly successful crowdfunding campaigns; the team for I AM I an indie narrative written and directed by Jocelyn Towne, and Nick Lewis, co-director of the soccer doc, Rise and Shine: the Jay Demerit Story.   Ready to start soliciting money from people you know and people you don’t? These tips come straight from the experts!

  • Make a really really really good video. I mean it, it has to be really good.  The director and producers of the film I Am I had set a goal of $100,000 and ended up raising over $111,000! You know why? The director made an extremely fun and personal video that really connected with people she knew and didn’t know.  When I say “good” it doesn’t have to be slick, well-edited, or even clever. It just needs to touch a people on a personal level, something that most internet videos fail to do.
  • Have a strategy. Ok, this one seems obvious, but all the really successful crowdfunding campaigns had a very detailed strategy that took at least a month to plan out. What is your fundraising goal, what will be your rewards structure, who will you target first? Second? Third? How will you keep your donors engaged throughout the campaign? What is your website going to look like (Yes, you definitely need to make a separate website for your film).  If you can plan it out and execute it smartly, you’re much more likely to reach your crowdfunding goal.
  • Who is your audience? This is, of course, part of your strategy, but it’s a huge one. Nick Lewis had a fairly easy time of identifying his audience – soccer fans! The producers of the film needed over $215,000 for their film (for licensing, rights, etc) and they raised around $223,000! You’d be right if you said a lot of their donors were European soccer fans. Be smart about who your audience is and market to them. (Marketing is part of the whole strategy-thing).
  • Pick the Crowdfunding platform that’s right for your project. What’s the difference between IndieGoGo and Kickstarter? IndieGoGo allows you to keep the money, regardless of whether you’ve reached your goal – however, they take a larger percentage of the money on the back end. Kickstarter is all or nothing – if you don’t reach your goal, all the money gets refunded to the donors, but they also take a smaller percentage of the money in fees. There are a few other differences as well which you will need to research before deciding which one is the best for you, but those are the big ones.
  • Have a schedule. Make sure you spend the money that you’ve raised crowdfunding in the same year that you received it! Otherwise things will get hairy on your tax returns, and you may end up claiming it as income and having to pay a lot in income taxes before you even get to use the money!


The best way to figure out how to run your campaign is to peruse both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Look for patterns and trends with what works and what doesn’t. With crowdfunding taking off in this day and age, you’re chances of successfully raising funds will be a lot better if you take the time to research it!


– by Film Independent Fellow Shilpi Roy for Film Independent




October 27th, 2011 • 1 Comment


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Buckle up: Traditional TV is in for a heck of a ride

November 8th, 2011 · Digital Television, Future of public media

Good overview on where media may be headed. “MSO” refers to multiple system operators, the big cable companies.

The first wave of commercialization on the Internet had a tremendous impact on our lives and has disrupted most — if not all — industry value chains. The print industry was in the eye of the storm, with decline in readers and advertising budgets forcing many major magazines and newspapers to shut down, while the survivors continue to scramble to deal with the disruption. The primary reasons for the debacle of the print industry were:

  • High fixed cost structures left incumbents unable to match the niche segmentation requirement and accountability benefits of online advertising
  • Professional publishers denied consumers’ appetite for short form and user-generated content
  • High debt loads on the legacy businesses created an inability to cannibalize core revenues



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Sundance Award winning Documantary “If a Tree Falls” – watch now on PBS

September 19th, 2011 · Digital Television, Documentary, Filmmaking, PBS, Public Affairs

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Watch the full episode. See more POV.

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front explores two of America’s most pressing issues — environmentalism and terrorism — by lifting the veil on a radical environmental group the FBI calls America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat.” Daniel McGowan, a former member of the Earth Liberation Front, faces life in prison for two multimillion-dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. What turned this working-class kid from Queens into an eco-warrior? Marshall Curry (Oscar®-nominated Street Fight, POV 2005) provides a nuanced and provocative account that is part coming-of-age story, part cautionary tale and part cops-and-robbers thriller.


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Two chatbots talking to each other

September 18th, 2011 · Fun Stuff, Multi-media, NPR, Public Media

The state of artificial intelligence has really evolved. This video features too “chatbots” conversing with each other after they each learned responses and conversation patterns from thousands of chats with people (you can try that out by clicking here.) The story was profiled on NPR, but ended abruptly when host Robert Siegel couldn’t produce a suitable response to the robot and was overcome with laughter.

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