It seemed like just yesterday I met Brian Robinson as I was walking in to my first day on the job. Today we started filming the first stand-ups of the new season.
My summer in Maryland have been a lot of fun; I decided to do a quick recap of my experiences.
Cars I've Driven:
Chevy Cruze Diesel
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Optima Hybrid
Nissan Versa Note
Cars I didn't Drive but I got to Ride in:
Audi A8L TDI
Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Cars that Impressed me Most:
Audi A8L TDI
Important Foods I Ate:
Fish with Old Bay
Chicken with Old Bay
Roasted Potatoes with Old Bay
Shrimp with Old Bay
Crabs with Old Bay
Old Bay flavored chips
Important Places I went:
The Inner Harbor
[Outside] Camden Yards
Rehoboth Beach (in Delaware)
While all of these things are great, the purpose of an internship is to LEARN something. So I thought I'd take time to share the most important things that I've learned this summer.
1) Only a few cars are truly special.
Compared to the rest of the guys at MotorWeek, my experience with cars is very limited. However, I soon learned that most cars today are very similar. Even Bentleys can disappoint. At the risk of losing sales, companies tend to take the safe route and build a car just like everyone else's. Only certain cars really stick out. The nice thing is, this means there are plenty of good cars for the masses, and the truly special cars become obvious to the people who truly care.
2) Sometimes getting the show on air comes before anything crazy or creative.
I'm a person driven by opportunities to be creative. Watching the show come together on a daily basis sometimes disappointed me when they missed what I thought were chances to do something different or creative. But after sitting in with the editors a few times, I realized just how fast these guys scramble to get the show on the air on time. Doing new or weird things is a risky game, and it could waste valuable time. There's a certain benefit to not upsetting the status quo. That said,
3) The Hot-Shot Intern isn't Always Right.
It's so tempting to come in as an idealist with all these pent up principles that you learned in college. The worst part of this is that you forget just how long some of these people have been making MotorWeek. Their years of experience outstrip your years or existence on this earth. I was a bit cocky at first, but that went away with time. I learned that there's a reason (good or bad) why things are done the way they are. That said,
4) Old Dogs Can (and Should) Learn New Tricks.
MotorWeek has not changed a great deal over the years. There's a certain strength that comes with "doing what works." Like any TV show, it still faces risks of becoming stagnant. When one producer asked me to help film a road test with my DSLR and slider bar rig, I did not expect my footage to make it on national television. Not only did it make it into the show, it looked dang good. Some of the MotorWeek gang is looking into how they can add more work like this to their segments. The hot-shot intern was able to contribute, after all.
5) Menial Work is Not Meaningless Work
Somebody has to make the copies, mop the floors, and transcribe the interviews. I considered it a blessing any time I was tasked with one of these jobs, because it meant I was able to do something useful for the show. Sure, these odd jobs lacked prestige, but the intern position isn't suppose to be about prestige; it's about getting your hands dirty in the real world. Sometimes I literally did that, especially when cleaning Goss' Garage.
6) Polarizing Filters Make a World of Difference
I could go on about the incredible effects and science of polarizers, but I won't. What I will say is this: polarizers do an incredible job of reducing glare while filming cars. My videos now look more vivid with cleaner cars, bluer skies, and less glare. My only regret is that I didn't start using one sooner.
7) I Still Love Seeing Myself (or my work) on TV
Maybe I'm just a tad vain, but I enjoy seeing myself on TV. Sometimes I criticize myself, but there's always a thrill. Even if it's as insignificant as folding down the back seat on the Lincoln MKZ, it still is cool to see me on TV. I hope that feeling never goes away.
8) 1080i is Beautiful in it's Own Way
I worry that I'll never understand video frame rates and resolutions fully. Going into this internship, I knew that I disliked 1080i HD footage simply because it was difficult to edit, and had terrible interlacing effects when played back on a computer. It was one of the older HD formats, and I did not like it. Now I think it's great. 1080i may never be the same quality as 1080p, but it makes pretty good looking television. It's interlacing and frame rate also helps the video to look smoother than other HD formats. It looks fluid like a mid-90s national TV program. For all the motion and movement of the cars, that's not a bad thing.
9) DLSRs Cannot Replace Everything
It's tempting for companies to convert to DSLR video production. They're cheap, high quality, and easy to use. But for some jobs, a real camera is the only thing that works. The Sony XDcams we use a work do a great job capturing video, especially with motion. Their vast array of options, connections, and operations makes them a very useful piece of equipment. For filming cars, real broadcasting cameras seem to outperform DSLRs.
10) Sometimes you Just Follow the Orders
This summer I learned just as much if not more about working with people than I learned about cars or making TV. I mentioned before that sometimes it's hard to be the hot-shot intern with all the (potentially offensive) new ideas. Even if they're good ideas, that doesn't mean they should happen. Bosses are in charge for a reason, and if they want something a certain way, they'll let you know. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; workplaces need leadership. But it can be hard for somebody like me who's a tad selfish. I like to see my ideas come to fruition. The good thing is, in time, some of them did.
11) Public TV is a Great Thing
The people at MPT were all so kind and helpful. I have confidence that many of them would go out of their way to help me during a career search. I met lots of great people and had a lot of my questions answered. I can't help but feel like this friendliness may not exist in a commercial station. PBS people are pretty good people.
12) Ask, Seek, Knock
Fortune favors the bold. I got this internship through being bold and applying in a non-conventional way. I got the most out of this internship by asking a lot of good questions, and always asking to do more. I rarely ever said "no" when asked to do a job. At worst, I would ask how to do something, but I tried to never refuse even the smallest of opportunities. Over half of what I learned came from asking endless questions about what was going on.
All in all, this was a great experience and I can't thank the people who made it happen enough. I learned, I networked, and I added a big, honest-to-goodness job to my resume. It's something to be proud of. I don't know if I'll be be back, but I will never forget my time at MotorWeek.