Pogue on How He Does Video

New York Times tech writer/videographer/blogger and general wise guy man David Pogue has created an avid following for his tech videos on NYTimes.com. It's not uncommon to hear someone at a conference or gathering ask if you've seen the latest one – whether a goofy review of the iPhone, some rant done around his town at his Connecticut home, or other ways of amusingly imparting his judgments about what's good and not so about the latest devices, doo-dads, and services. And, as he notes in the interview below, he's landed a show on the Discovery Channel.

His videos, by Internet standards, are pretty high quality – crisply shot, nicely edited, easy and clear to view and understand. And that has little to do with technology. He uses a Mac and an "old" Sony camera and just recently got an intern to help. He also puts in many hours, creatively conceives and crafts his pieces, and lets his personality show.

And therein lies a lesson. A lot of people (me included sometimes) spend time fretting about what technology to use and how to assemble the bits and pieces and get creative to garner an audience. Of course, being on NYTimes.com doesn't hurt. But what makes the videos work is the effort Pogue puts in. While the technology enables that, makes it so one guy can do it all, it isn't what made the videos successful. Pogue just does it. Here's the interview, done via e-mail, with minor editing.

How did you go from being a print guy to a video guy? Did you always want such an outlet?

Nope. I always thought I'd be a Broadway composer. From the time I was a teenager, I was playing piano and writing songs. I went to Yale, was a music major, wrote a musical per year. Then I went to

New York and worked on Broadway for about ten years as an arranger/conductor!

The transition to tech was slow and sneaky. I bought a Mac in 1985 to run sheet-music software on. For years, I wrote about software and gave personal computer lessons while doing Broadway at night.... Finally, the balance sort of tipped, and I found my teaching skills in more demand than my musical ones!

Of course, the Pogue-trackers have noticed that my musical career has lately been sneaking back into my tech career (see my iPhone "musical" on YouTube,for example)...

How did you arrive at the persona? What made you feel you had the freedom to> let it out like that? (NYTimes is generally thought of as a "serious" place?)

The persona!? That's no persona-- that's the way I am!

I don't know -- I've always just been sort of a goofy guy who likes to be the class clown. I don't think the Times ever had a problem with it. They've never, EVER suggested that I tone it down. The humor is part of why the Times hired me to begin with --and that's also why I love the Times!

The Times reporters aren't a very funny bunch when it comes to news reporting. But you can find some really funny writers in opinion columns and reviews!

How do you get such high production values? Do you have a videographer, producer, editor? Who does all the work we don't see (lighting, shooting,> editing, etc.?)

HAH!! You call those high production values!? You're kiddin' me, right?

There are NO production values!

I just shoot with an old Sony camcorder, and dump it into iMovie for editing. (I'm trying to learn Final Cut Pro.) When I need to film myself, I stick the camcorder on a tripod. I also have a video light for use when I'm shooting at night.

This summer, I have a 17-year-old intern who operates the camcorder, which makes the whole thing go a lot faster. Ordinarily, though, I just do the whole thing myself.

How long does it take to produce each video? What's the process you go through?

It usually takes 5 to 10 hours. Maybe 45 minutes to film (if I've done the preparation, like plotting out the shots) and the rest to edit and compile.

The Times has a wonderful stock-music library they've made available to me, and that's where I get the background music.

I really wish the videos didn't take so long. I'm actually trying to make them a little simpler these days...

How has appearing on video changed your professional life?

Well, I've been very surprised. To me, they're not really a big deal—nobody even noticed them the first couple of years--but now they've won awards, they occasionally rise to the top 10 on YouTube, and they have a HUGE following of fans (plus the vindictive hatred of a few humorless bloggers!).

They also led to my Discovery TV series, "It's All Geek to Me," which just finished airing, as well as to some other TV opportunities that are coming up.

And, finally: Do you spend most of your time at home? Your videos look suspiciously suburban so much of the time.

Correctamundo! The videos are almost entirely shot at home, or around town here in

Connecticut. :)

Thanks for your interest!

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