My name is Coulson (Coul) and with the support of all 5 DMS board members, I am announcing my bid to run for Dallas Makerspace Digital Media with Julio (MrPink) as Vice-Chair.
Who am I?
Over the past 2 years, as a Dallas Makerspace member, my interests have included 3D fabrication, electronics, robotics, creative arts, woodshop, metal shop, machine shop, automotive, laser, Multicam and, of course, digital media. It is a desire of mine to give back to the space my time in an effort to support our community and its cause. I have chosen this committee specifically due to my background in digital media. At the age of 13, I created my first short for a school project and have held an interest in the medium ever since. At the age of 14, I began programming for the first time and have made a living in the industry for many years. Over the past 2 years I have come to understand the importance of 3D modeling in relationship to my making goals and it has become a primary focus of education for me. My skills, talents, experience, and most importantly, my desire to drastically improve the health of our committee, makes me a viable option for the open chair position.
The following is my long term vision as to the future of the committee. Understanding many proposals listed in this extensive, yet trimmed down, letter of intent will not happen immediately, I wanted to create a written, yet dynamic resource in which to refer in the future.
Digital Media (DM) has the potential to be a self-financed committee with our equipment/resources easily and readily available to all Dallas Makerspace (DMS) members. Until now, DM has been a quasi-exclusive room not gaining a lot of attention outside of a small group within DMS. Here are some steps we can begin taking to change this.
DM is the only non-organizational committee which naturally crosses into all other committees as every committee within DMS uses digital media to a various extent. It is the responsibility of DM, as a committee, to provide support to, not only members and their projects, but also committee chairs as they look for ways to digitally enhance their areas, communication, organization and overall efficiency. This support is to be done through classes, online tutorials, printed material and 1-on-1 development. Placing more emphasis on committee chair involvement could not only greatly increase the exposure of DM, but more importantly drive DMS’s ultimate goal; to educate the masses.
Digital Media’s Role within DMS
DM is to lead the cutting edge of DMS digital communications. We, as a committee, are to be the model of how all other DMS committees are to use the vast array of online tools within the digital world. To achieve this, we must make a diligent effort to properly use the DMS-provided online tools by persistently maintaining the DM wiki page and actively posting in the DM category of Talk. We must also begin using other available powerful tools, such as GitHub for committee project management, YouTube and Vimeo for teaching, member project exposure and committee revenue, Wordpress for content management, etc., Also, working together to create new, more effective tools to support the DMS vision and the maker community as a whole should be one of the primary focuses of our committee.
3D Modeling and Software Development
It is not common knowledge to a great number of DMS members what DM actually covers. Most know that DM covers audio and video, but many don’t realize our committee also encompasses 3D modeling and software development. DM, and DMS as a whole, could greatly benefit from creating stand-alone workstations and increasing the exposure to the neglected areas, thus expanding our member base.
The 3D station would have a powerful PC with 3D modeling programs such as Fusion 360 pre-installed. The station would also house other helpful tools like a SpaceMouse for 3D manipulation.
The dedicated software development station would be home to a PC with development tools such as Arduino loader and GitHub, as well as Text editors like Notepad ++ and Atom. The station would also be home to dedicated platforms like Raspberry Pi, Arduino and Intel Edison to be used for development.
As an additional means of committee exposure and as a way to create new useful tools within the maker community, it would be advantageous for DM to begin hosting quarterly, weekend-long hackathons as well as monthly micro-hackathons lasting 4-5 hours.
Making our tools easily and readily available to DMS members is mandatory to label the DM committee a success. One example for how we can accomplish this is to establish bins which could be checked out by members/instructors, containing all the tools necessary to set up an audio/video live stream and/or recording of projects, training, and/or entertainment. A user could walk up to a kiosk, scan their RFID fob, remove the media bin, and open it up to a laminated page displaying a list of the contents, step-by-step instructions, as well as a link to online tutorials on how to properly use the equipment.
DM must focus on creating a balance between accessibility and inventory security. If you have yet to explore the RFID locker technology located to the left of the entrance into the electronics lab, it’s encouraged you do so. Gus & Co. has made readily available a powerful technology which could enhance many areas of our community from personal storage to our own Amazon package delivery station outside the front entrance to DMS. Tool check-out is also an obvious use of this system.
It is proposed that DM create a similar system as the RFID locker currently showcased with slight modifications to create an equipment checkout system using Raspberry Pi weight sensor software to help ensure the contents of the bin being returned is the same weight as the inventory which was checked out. Discrepancies in returned items would be logged with sent alerts and followed up.
It has been a desire of many members to make DM PCs accessible when the DM room is occupied by members strictly using studio space, while leaving the two most powerful computers, which are needed for 3D modeling and video editing, completely unaccessible. A possible solution could be to install three small cubicles—a video editing bay, the proposed 3D modeling station, and proposed software development station—just outside the door of the DM room. It is my understanding that this area is a shared space for the classroom committee, logistics (lost & found) and PR (magazines). Many members would agree this area has been a constant clutter eyesore in the common area and both the magazine stand and lost and found could be relocated and reorganized more efficiently while taking less realestate.
If we, as a committee, are expected to be frontiers in digital media, we need the tools to succeed. Due to the expanse of our interest coverage, there are a myriad of directions we could go with the purchase of new equipment. There are upgraded PC’s, audio equipment, video equipment, projectors, 3D scanners, development platforms, interactive media devices, etc. A goal, as a committee, will be to collectively and strategically create an organized wish list of equipment for all DMS.
My solution is to create a simple, dedicated web page containing our wish list. DM members would be able to log in, add the equipment they would like to see, and create discussion threads on the various brands/models, optimal methods for acquisition and the desired order of the purchases. This will be an open source forum software that can be easily modified to the required specs. Once it is created, it will be available to all DMS chairs who would like to have a wish list discussion board for their committees.
Here is a peek into just a few items on my wish list, in no particular order:
Quality headphones with disinfection wipes
A quality microphone with a noise reduction box for voice over narration
HTC Vive, with a PC powerful enough to support, to be used for 3D modeling and media creation
Sound proofing the DM room
Three Cubicles, chairs, and equipment for one of the editing bays, a 3D modeling station, and a software development station
Bins to be checked out by members to use on-site containing everything needed to live-stream
Multiple monitors at all workstations
A true video camera
A projector for projection mapping
Without knowing the current financial state of DM or the wish list of all other members of the committee, it is impossible to state the amount of funds needed for an initial acquisition. However, within the past couple of years, I personally have not seen any substantial purchases made by DM, nor have I seen any requests to BoD for grants. Once we gather a comprehensible wish list and analyze the current health of our finances, if needed, we can then write up a proposal to present to the board for a grant of desired initial purchases.
Ongoing Financing for New Equipment
It is the duty of the chair to motivate members to hold classes and teach their skills to other members and the public. With the current DMS honorarium system, this is the lifeline to most committees. As a result of the diversity of interests within our committee, there is virtually a limitless variety of classes we can be teaching.
Below is a list of proposed new classes and members who have agree to teach at least one class a month on each subject:
Live Streaming - Julio & Coul
Adobe Premire Video Editing - Julio
Light Painting Fundamentals - Kirk
Light Painting Editing - Kirk
Projection Mapping - Clayton
Podcasting - Clayton
Website Development for Beginners - Coul
In addition to the funds we receive from classes, we must find new ways to provide revenue for our committee. One way we can do this is by creating a dedicated DM YouTube channel showcasing DMS member projects and providing training/tutorials which encases all things MAKE. Building a new channel from scratch to a meaningful income, does not happen rapidly. However, over time, if properly maintained, the channel has the potential to become a popular fixture within the maker community and thus generate some additional funds for DM.
There are numerous company cultures that would have the desire in assisting a non-profit organization with the goals of DMS. Working closely with the board of directors and PR, DM could write a template letter telling the DMS story inspiring companies to donate their products, which are on our wishlist, to our cause. In addition, this approach could be used to bring awareness to local studios if they were so inclined to donate desired equipment. This form letter could be used within all committees of DMS as a way to easily reach out to companies within their given industry.
A complete inventory and reorganization of all the equipment in the Digital Media room is long overdue. Every individual piece of equipment in the DM room is to be inventoried, labeled “Property of Dallas Makerspace - Digital Media” and found a home which will also be labeled as to the equipment to be stored. We must design and implement processes and procedures which encourage the philosophy “Everything has a place and everything in its place”. With the expected increase to the number of members accessing the DM room, perpetual organization is a hopeless dream when people don’t know where equipment belongs when it is returned.
Every single cable in the room is to be color coded with the type of device, labeled as DM ownership, as well as by name and the device to which the cable belongs. The current state of DM cables is set up where various cables are randomly hanging from bars. With this system, finding a needed cable is frustrating and inventory control would be a nightmare if it were being controlled.
It is suggested we create a color coordinated cable board with individual hooks and labels so it is clear and easy to return cables to their proper home.
As a goal of the future, perhaps instead of cabinets and lockers hosting a miscellany of disorganized equipment, we initiate RFID locked bins that are labeled with the properly grouped equipment.
It is a common occurrence that devices such as Chromecast and HDMI are removed and not put back. Having these devices permanently attached so as a tool is required to remove them is an easy solution to minimize this problem.
Posted instructions for teachers on how to operate our equipment will help with the confusion and frustration of teachers who are unfamiliar with the DM room.
Frequently, instructors have little choice but to run an HDMI cable from the TV across where people walk in order to connect the cart PC. This is not only aesthetically appauling, but creates a potential trip hazard. It would be relatively easy to run a HDMI drop down the wall where the cart is housed to keep all paths clear.
Live Streaming of Board Meetings
As chair, I would like to bring before the board an agenda requesting the live streaming/recordings of BoD meetings fall under DM vs Infrastructure who doesn’t have a passion for it anyway.
A request would be made to the board that dedicatd equipment used for this project be funded by DMS. The dedicated equipment is to be locked and stored together and only be used for the purpose of live streaming BoD meetings and official DMS events.
Also, there are some members who are not comfortable being on camera and this should be respected. The camera used to capture a member speaking in front of the board could be placed so as to only capture the person speaking and not members of the audience.
Accessibility to Committee Meetings
In an effort to make DM committee meetings more accessible and to create more involvement within the committee itself, it could be advantageous to begin offering meeting participation remotely via video chat such as Google Hangouts. This could also fall under committee chair support previously mentioned in order to make the knowledge, equipment and resources available to other chair persons wishing to offer the same accessibility to their members.
As chair, I assure you, I will be in the face of our BoD on a regular basis and DM board agendas will be no longer be an uncommon occurrence. You will be voting in someone who is not short on ideas for efficiency, expansion and overall improvement and has no hesitation of getting in front of the board to express the committee’s interest for DM growth.
I’m requesting your support and look forward to any questions and suggestions you have.
Thank you for your time,