They call the impossibly complicated screen I am looking at a “dashboard,” which I do not find reassuring at all. It would be nice not to associate my ignorance of technology with crashing some out-of-control machine into a ravine, although, as I think about it, that is very much how it feels.
Learning new technology is a bear. I don’t care what they say.
I understand the need to play with it, get familiar with the functions and learn in a less-than-linear fashion. But less-than-straightforward learning often leads me to travel in circles — I do the same thing again and again, and discover that I have learned nothing at all.
This is what I have been doing of late.
The goal is simple: I’m going back to some of “The Postscripts” from early on and making videos of them to post on my website and YouTube channel. I thought it would be a fun way for new readers to enjoy old columns. But I had to wade through a forest of fear and insecurities first — and I’m not home yet.
First, there are the required hours of staring at my face on the screen.
I was a stage actor before I started writing, where we take lots of photos but do not film the work. The result is that I know more or less how to position my face when a camera is in the vicinity to keep from looking completely ridiculous.
Video is different. My face is in constant motion on video. I stop the video midframe and see that I have an expression on my face that I did not know I was capable of making. It is never flattering. It is always grotesque.
“Do other people move their faces that much?” I wonder. I don’t think so. This is fear No. 1: having an abnormally mobile face.
Fear No. 2 is what to do with all this captured footage of my grotesque face contortions. Now we’re back at the “dashboard,” aptly named, as I prepare for a crash landing.
The tutorials drone on and on about how to achieve an effect I would never dream of trying and merrily speed over the section where they explain, “This is how you can actually see what you are working on.” That would be nice to know.
There are dials and buttons and functions and reams of information about this video, less than five minutes long. There are special effects and filters I will never use, editing tricks I will never need and multilayering track capabilities that are totally superfluous to what I am doing. And, on every control, there is a long list of measurements I am supposed to understand to achieve the desired result. I suddenly feel that I am about two years old.
There is a story told about me when I was two. I got up on the bathroom scale and declared, “I’m going to see how tall I am. Oh.” I announced confidently, “Two degrees.”
I’m not sure I ever got over the feeling that measurements are not intuitive in the least.
But I am back at it today. The dashboard is all in shades of black and gray. I’m sure this is to make it look more intimidating and serious. We couldn’t have a candy-colored dashboard with little animated mascots helping me along the way.
By the end of yesterday, I had done what a typical video editor would accomplish in approximately 15 seconds. It felt like a tremendous accomplishment.
I think I progressed by at least two degrees.