11:30 AM EDT; Sunday, August 6, 2000; Lakeland, Florida (East of Tampa).
[Editor's Note: For ideal viewing (resolution) of the video clip on your platform (whether on a Windows-based PC or on an Apple Macintosh, independently of processor speed), with your particular browser (whether Netscape Navigator/Communicator 4.7 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 ), and with your particular modem (whether 14.4, 28.8, 56K, ISDN, or Cable Modem [fractional T1]), it is recommended that you first download and install the latest (free ware) version of Apple's QuickTime Movie Player (v. 3.0.2 or higher). Click here to receive instructions about how to download the QuickTime Movie Player onto your particular machine.]
Now, to watch a 34-second video clip of Mr. John McMorran, click on one of the three download files as follows:
[Editor's Note: The transcription below is only approximate, due to the subject's occasional unintelligibility secondary to his poor dentition and slow mentation, plus the poor acoustics in the room and other extraneous noises in the environment over which we had no control, and the obvious requirement for intermediate translation by his nurse, Shelly (secondary to the subject's mild deafness). By the way, Shelly, seen on camera speaking loudly into his ear, has cared for John over the past six years, so she could anticipate many of his answers. The translation process injected its own degree of ambiguity -- occasionally, the question I asked was not relayed to John literally, but only a paraphrase with slightly different meaning. In any event, to keep the interview short for the sake of the subject's frailty and time constraints, the interview was accomplished in "one take" with the camera rolling continuously and with only a single statement of any particular question. All answers were completely spontaneous and unrehearsed. I heard the answers on the speaker phone loud-and-clear, even though John's speech pattern was slow and halting. Moreover, he was not a 100-percent-reliable historian ( informant), since he was occasionally unresponsive to some questions. Nevertheless, all of the answers he did give were consistent with known data about his life that had already been supplied by either relatives or newspaper accounts.]
Coles [in Marina del Rey, California]: "How old are you, John?"
McMorran [in Lakeland, Florida]: "[one] hundred eleven."
[Editor's Note: Although it's difficult to hear the "111," his baseball cap -- sent as a gift by friends in Michigan -- tells the story nicely. For those who still may be skeptical about John's age, we do have copies of written documentation as to his exact birthdate from multiple sources, including the Tandem Health Care nursing home patient admission documents.]
Coles: "John, what do you think the most important thing is in your life?"
McMorran: "... [to] get rich ... Well, I'll tell you how much money I made -- three hundred million dollars [$300,000,000]!"
[Editor's Note: What I had intended to ask was somewhat different: More to the point, "What advice would you give to others who also wanted to live such a long life?" In retrospect, I believe that his suggestion could be construed as generic "advice" for others, not as to how much money he actually made during his own lifetime. On the other hand, it might just be an example of John's ample sense of humor, simply playing a joke on us, knowing that he knew that we knew he was not a rich man.]
The hammering noise one hears in the background is not construction going on at the nursing home, as one might suspect, but actually an off-camera female patient in the nursing home; she either deliberately or unintentionally creates this characteristic noise with her chair all day long. (Sigh!)
Motion artifacts were largely due to the fact that no tripod was available; the poor sound level was due to the fact that no lavaliere microphone was available. The original source material was captured on a standard analog (not digital) camcorder (Sony CCD-TR11) using 8 mm tape (not Hi-8). Also, room lighting and acoustics were not ideal; no key lights were available, as would be the case on a sound stage or a set. Obviously, production values could have been managed better if a Producer were on location. But none of these things were true at the time; everything was extemporaneous.
Now you know why commercial movies are expensive, and home movies are cheap. Hollywood Directors always take a huge staff on location to shoot even the smallest detail of a theatrical film. If you've ever watched a production on location, all of these staffers (not extras) always seem to standing around socializing and drinking coffee all the time, but they all have a job to do with titles, like "gaffer," which don't mean very much to the general public. (By the way, in case you were interested, a gaffer is an electrician who moves lighting and microphone cables around on the set for each new take, mainly so that the actors don't get electrocuted and the myriad of wires on the set never show up on the big screen. They earn a (union) salary too, and their names always appear when the movie is over -- "roll credits.") Camera pan, tilt, and zoom is an art form. Music, story-boarding, post-production editing, and special effects all require specialists in their own right. Temporary sets may be created by carpenters at a cost of $20,000 or more over several weeks, used for one day, and taken down again, which may take another week of someone's time. (Sigh!) However, emerging technology, allowing three-camera shoots (high-resolution digital hand-helds [not shoulder mounted] in normal ambient light), can be expected to revolutionize the process of movie-making in the future. Half the staff on location can be eliminated, and the number of takes could go down, speeding up the whole process without a reduction in quality.
1. Mrs. Laurie I. Coles was recruited as camera operator, while she was on vacation with our son to Disney World in Orlando about this time, as part of a cross-country railroad trip.
2. Mr. John Davis, CEO of Beachsites, Inc. of Venice, California performed the digital compression using Adobe Premiere 5.1 for editing down the 34-second clip (Source TRT = ~20 minutes) and The Sorenson Pro Codec for QuickTime ( Media Cleaner Pro v. 4.02B) for digital-playback compressions at different speeds (for our purposes, full motion video = 15 frames/second) and different pixel resolutions. His platform was a standard Apple Power Mac G4 (single 500 MHz processor) without a special hardware-accelerator board. Additional, examples of Mr. Davis' web-video work can be found at www.beachsites.com/video.html .
To appreciate the recent advances in computer technology, the time to accomplish these different compressions was on the order of 30 minutes compared with [7 - 10] hours on a slower Mac platform carried out just one year ago. Furthermore, in the old days, if there ever was a "crash," one had to start from scratch -- not pick up from where one left off. For reference, the human time to edit the material and identify the proper "in" and "out" cut-points for assembly was about a half hour. Editing-out the hammering noises in the audio track would have been possible, but very time consuming with the tools we had available, so that was not attempted.
We would like to hear your comments as to whether you feel that the level-of-effort required to bring you these video clips -- as opposed to still images -- is really worth while. Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you.