Monday, May 02, 2005

I guess I clean up okay...

The translation client I've had for over 10 years is starting to add some spice to our relationship. Last month they asked me to transcribe an audio cassette (which I WAY undercharged them for. Who knew THAT was such a time consuming job??)

My client is a PR agency and one of their clients is a corporate group with a bunch of companies in different countries. The agency helped this group develop a crisis plan, so they will know how best to respond to different kinds of situations (fire at the plant, conflict with local communities, kidnapped executive...)

They're doing a crisis simulation this week in Atlanta. They've prepared mock-ups of newspaper articles, radio & television reports, etc. and I've translated most of it over the past few months, along with the crisis manual itself. Then last week the agency called me to ask if I would be willing to help them out by filming one of the "CBS" news broadcasts. So I did and it was kind of fun.

Back in November Rita invited me to a party at her house and I hit the thrift stores to find something to wear. (Thrift stores are called Ropa Americana [American Clothes] stores here, so when I tell Costa Ricans that we have thrift stores in the States too, I get to say "Of course, there they just call them 'clothes'.") I got my very own "little black dress" and it was great. I also found a red velvety t-shirt kind of dress that I thought might be nice for around Christmas. Since the black dress had no buttons, and since the dresses were three for 2000 colones (like $5) I picked out one more that I could use for the party if I couldn't find good buttons for the black one.

Anyway, I did get buttons and I wore the black dress and this other one sat in my closet...until I was called upon to represent CBS. I pulled it out, washed out the spot it had on the front, hemmed up the built-in slip that was 1/2 inch longer than the front hem of the dress, and looked entirely presentable.

I felt like I was wearing a costume of course - most of my shorts are longer than this dress, plus it's pink. PALE pink. But if fits really well and the (few) blouses I have are all plaid, which isn't good on camera, so I went with the dress.

The place they were filming it is a professional studio for audio visual stuff, but it's not a television studio. I guess most people produce their content in other places, then have it edited there. So they had just set up a regular office desk in front of screen (like you project slides onto) for their news studio. In some lady's office who was sitting there trying to get her own work done.

But everybody was nice and they were really glad I was helping so it was fun. They showed me the tape of the guy they had gotten to do it first. The boss hadn't liked his performance because it seemed to much like he was reading it (he was), plus he was clearly not a native English speaker, and this was supposed to be a CBS broadcast in the United States. So I made it clear I'd never done anything like this before, then just did my best. It came out okay, then we got to watch him edit it.

They have one of those big consoles with all kinds of buttons and dials and three computer monitors (two of which he was using with one computer - he could either move the mouse back and forth from one monitor to the other as if they were one, or he could put one of the windows he was working with on one monitor and another on the other.) And a television for playback.

I was supposed to be in the CBS studio doing a telephone interview with a CEO, so the guy added in the audio of the CEO's answers, and put the picture of him up in a box behind me like they do on the news. Then the picture went to full-screen while the guy was talking. Then back to me.

They also had a radio interview they had taped, and they needed to add music at the beginning to make it sound like a regularly scheduled radio newscast. So the guy played all these little music clips (the audio equivalent of clip art) and the lady from the PR agency (actually all three of us) picked the ones that sounded the best. He could take those clips and add & subtract different instruments, change the tempo, pitch, etc. to make it sound any way he wanted it.

They do have a real recording booth there (with foam rubber stuff on the walls, glass window to the control room and everything) and they got me to do the little voice over ("This is today's news on Radio AM 910") then they modified my voice so it didn't sound too much like the girl who did the "newscast" audio.

Then when everything was set he burned it all onto a DVD with chapters and a menu and everything. (I got a little free advice about how best to get my 8-mm videos onto DVD before they rot. They can do it there, but it costs $25 per 2-hour tape and I have 20 or 30 of them. So we talked about ways I can do it myself.)

Anyway, on the way home I was driving right past PriceSmart, with no kids in the don't waste an opportunity like that. So I stopped in and got everything I could remember that we needed. Including dog food. PriceSmart is like Sam's club, so "dog food" is a 52-pound bag. In a slim-fitting mid-thigh-length dress (me, not the dog food). I've bought dog food without any trouble before, but always in jeans. An employee was there when I started looking at the thing like I wanted to get it under my cart, so he did it for me.

They have parking lot guards there, and sometimes they come over and help with things, or take the cart back. On the way out to the car I spied one way off in the back 40 of the parking lot (which isn't actually that big a lot), and he looked like he was heading over. So I went about my business, opened the car, folded down the back seat and stole a glance over to check on his progress. You know how I titled this entry "I guess I clean up okay..."? Apparently I clean up a little too good. He came close enough to see what I was going to do about it and get a good look at anything that went wrong, but not close enough to actually offer any assistance.

So I did it myself, and no, he didn't get to see any more than anybody else did that day.


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