So, my first opportunity to showrun a Shark Week special was going about as well as any other job I’d worked on.
The weather narrowed our shooting window by half, power issues on the live-aboard boat crushed nearly all of our batteries, and the sharks brought far too many of their friends. The first night, I couldn’t sleep, so carefully rolled out of my bunk and went to the galley.
It’s there that I found a body.
Our media manager/logger was laying in the middle of the floor, curled up in the fetal position, seasick to the point of incapacitation. “I told him that this was the most stable surface on the boat.”, the captain said as he came up behind me. Our logger was brought to shore, never to return.
There’s limited space on a boat, so everyone aboard was prepared to do two or three jobs at once. I was already the showrunner and director, but I was also responsible for shooting everything above water myself – all team discussions, interviews, and b-roll. With everyone else just as busy as me, I took on the logging as well. I thought I did a pretty good job, too. Then I got to post. They were horrible.
Great logging makes a huge difference in post, and it’s not just that you can find things quickly. It’s a signal that things are done professionally on that particular show, and it helps dramatically with the all-important field/post relationship.
But when the shit hits the fan in the field (which is always), the quality of the logs is the first casualty. That’s because it’s a pain in the ass to type “11:32:45 – Great close up shot of a tornado!” while you’re running away from said tornado.
Bad logs have annoyed me for years, so I left TV to learn how to code, and created Timestamp Keyboard (iOS).
TimeStamp is a custom keyboard with an embedded, adjustable clock. It also has programmable shortcuts. Simply typing “11:32:45 – Sync/Take“ with any other keyboard costs you 27 taps in about 14 seconds. With TimeStamp, it’s two taps in one second.
And by being a custom keyboard, TimeStamp adds this functionality to every app on your phone.
Seriously, that part is a huge deal! Think about what this could mean for hot sheets. You can now use Google Docs to tap your way to great logs, take a picture using GoogleDocs’s phenomenal functionality, and then just keep on logging. No aggregating things later.
And now also think what it could mean for screenings or sound mix sessions, for example. You can set the clock to 00:00:00, program a few shortcuts, and then actually be able to watch as you take perfect notes.
Here’s a demo video of TimeStamp in action:
Users already love TimeStamp. One person wrote that it has “changed my life as a field producer”. I love that, because with all with all the sharks, tornadoes, unruly talent, and whatever else is headed your way, it feels good to know that TimeStamp was part of making your life just a little easier.
(more shark photos and visual assets at this link. All shark photos are from my DP on Shark Week, who’s a friend, and who has allowed their use in connection with TimeStamp for free.)