Praise from BBC
“My name is Sam Farzaneh. I am a BBC journalist based in Washington DC. I want to say thank you for helping us, gathering material from some old VHS tapes. With what you did, we were able to air the report about Magda Montiel Davis at the anniversary of her meeting with Fidel Castro. Thank you for your time and for converting those footage in the best way possible.” ~ Sam Farzaneh, 5 May 2015
Technical Notes by Greg Johnson
In April 2015 we received a call from Magda Montiel Davis who was preparing to travel for an on-location BBC interview. She needed 24-hour turnaround for a video conversion project, and the resulting media needed to be delivered digitally to the BBC as additional content for the interview. On Thursday, April 9, the VHS tapes were in Miami, but by Friday morning we had them in Iowa City and were converting them into digital format.
The stack of tapes were about 20 years old, and care was needed to get them safely converted in the highest quality possible so they could be used for the historic news segment being produced. We used a high-end multi-standard VHS deck and a Canopus ADVC-110 Advanced Digital Video Converter allowing us to import directly into our video production software.
The videos were all imported, edited, exported, and uploaded over the next 24 hours. Some of the work was done remotely into the evening and over the weekend using remote access software to monitor progress. We completed the project on time for the BBC producers to use the material. Magda was very grateful, as she shares in her comments below.
We have exceptional resources and team collaboration within the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures. As a result, the Division’s Language Media Center has a multi-media development studio where we can offer high quality production services for projects like this one.
Positive Feedback from Magda Montiel Davis
I received a call from the BBC. Given the groundbreaking news regarding President Obama reaching out to Cuba, my homeland, the BBC was doing a segment on the history of the Miami-Cuban community’s vehement opposition to having any sort of contact with the homeland, much less re-establishing diplomatic relations. The BBC filmmaker, however, was having difficulty obtaining newsreels from any of the local Miami TV stations. Did I have any films, he asked. Yes, plenty. But they were on VHS tapes. I called private camera/video businesses here in Iowa City. It would take a week to convert them; it was costly. I called Best Buy. Find an old VHS recorder, they said. Then I hit upon Greg Johnson. He was so receptive. (He didn’t even laugh when I said I needed the VHS tapes converted to CDs. “CDs,” he said. “You mean DVDs”—so much for my technical know-how.)
I was amazed at Greg’s dedication and professionalism—the love he has for the work he does. I couldn’t deliver the VHS tapes until late Friday. Yet, he got to work on it immediately, worked through the weekend. I couldn’t keep up with him; He was sending me links faster than I could view them.
There’s so much I want to do here at the University of Iowa, academically and artistically. But I was always hindered by my ineptness at techno-babble, gadgetry and what-not. Now I feel like a grew an extra arm!
Hands down, what a find! Greg Johnson, the LMC Studio and the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
Magda Montiel Davis, MFA candidate, University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program; TA, University of Iowa; attorney-at-law.