"...And Make It Real Creative!": The King of Geekdom

and-make-it-real-creative-logo-3By Trent Rentsch

It was my dirty little secret for a number of years, and I went to great lengths to keep it that way. Keeping such sensitive information out of the public eye took a certain amount of work over the years… the bribes, the threats, and on some extreme occasions, even the burying of bodies of evidence, but through sheer force of will, or perhaps dumb luck, my shame remained a shadowy demon of my checkered past. At one point a year or so ago, I remember thinking that my reputation was finally safe, that the past was dead and buried. I should have known that some secrets are too stubborn and ugly to die.

It had been an uneventful morning, followed by an unmemorable lunch, followed by… the picture. Someone had left it on my desk while I was out, and my blood ran cold at the sight. Here, in brilliant color, a shocking image of the nerdy high school senior I had been… the scruffy helmet of blonde hair, the cheap 3-piece suit, complete with a tie nearly as wide as my torso, the lapel pin declaring my membership in the International Brotherhood of Magicians. As embarrassing as all of that was, the additions to the photograph told the remainder of the tragedy. Instead of the original cloudy background, I was now standing in front of a Lord of the Ring-ish mountain range, complete with a castle. In my hand was a “flaming sword,” and floating over my head were the words, “It’s Magic!” Someone had done the unthinkable… not only had they unearthed that pic of the King of Geekdom, but also managed to “enhance” it to complete the picture of what a total nerd I was.

The list of suspects in our office is small, and considering the Photoshop/investigative skills this must have taken, I knew immediately who had pulled off this crime, and as I crumpled up the picture and began to consider what revenge might be equal to this evil deed, I had a sinking thought… Chadd is not just a guy I work with, he’s a Facebook “friend.” He wouldn’t… he couldn’t… he did. I suppose in retrospect, the fallout wasn’t all bad. As it turns out, none of this took anyone by surprise. In fact, most of the comments to the photo more or less all said, “Yeah, you’re a nerd. So?” I guess you can’t keep the past hidden… although it might have helped if I hadn’t been wearing my “Lord of the Rings – The Musical” t-shirt that morning…

It really is “all out there.” The good, the bad, the ugly… if you have access to the internet and a healthy (or unhealthy) curiosity, you can find an answer to any question… from what years the Second Boar War were fought in (1899-1902), to the Creator of the commercial popcorn popper (Charles Cretors) to the name of my dog (Chewie Monkey). “I don’t know” has always been a lame statement, but the ‘net has made it inexcusable.

It’s certainly easier than ever to improve our understanding of the tools we have available, and with increased knowledge comes increased Creative potential. Ever heard T-Pain and wondered if you could do that auto-tune vocal effect in Adobe Audition? A quick search in Google told me that it’s not only possible, there are several schools of thought on how to do it, complete with a couple of video demonstrations. Want to learn how to get a punchier sound in your vocals during final mixdown in Pro Tools? There are only about 1.25 million answers out there. Ever wondered what microphone is used by most movie trailer voice talents? Many of the Pros spill the beans on their websites (for the record, a Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun mic is popular because the sound “cuts”).

As powerful as tutorials and tiny grains of knowledge can be, they are nothing compared to the power of virtual Creative team-building. When I was coming up, I really was an island when it came to radio Creative. I seemed to be the only one at my early stations with any real passion for writing and the production room, and any lessons learned came from Hard Knocks Academy. Now I have an army of Creative collaborators, 99% of whom I have never met, scattered among different forums (such as the RAP forum, a couple of Audition/Pro Tools user groups, and certain advertising social media groups). These are people who freely share the information they have learned over the years, in an effort to make everyone better at what they do. When they ask a question I might have an answer for, I’m quick to respond. It’s a free exchange of ideas, and if you’re really serious about improving your work, or taking your career to the next level, there’s really no better way than taking advantage of the information available… and rallying with like-minded folks on the web.

 I know this is obvious to many people, but I’m surprised at how many folks still ignore the resource potential of the internet. Whether you want to learn how to use compression correctly or simply want to humiliate a co-worker, trust me… it’s out there.

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