Media Row

It’s interesting how certain areas become creative conduits. It can be a room in the house, a part of an office, a nice park or remote rural setting, or a section of town. It’s also hard to say why a given area promotes creative juices. Some creatives prefer to work alone or in isolation and some feel it’s better to have open work spaces connected to a central hub. For OCDs like myself, I’m very easily distracted plus video editing can be loud, so I like to have a door to close when needed.

What kind of external stimuli helps foster or inspire creative thought? (This is not necessarily a rhetorical question. I really would like to know so use the comment form below;) What about viewing other people’s work? That’s a double edged butter knife for me. I sometimes find myself avoiding looking at other’s work because I want to “be original” in my creative process. Do you copy it or are you influenced and inspired by it? A little of both for me. When I try to reproduce work I’ve seen, I learn techniques I might not have thought of. Those techniques then become tools for building future original masterpieces. One thing’s fer sher, I learn by doing, not by watching. Case in point, I recently watched a very creative piece on Vimeo that inspired me to take a look at different pacing and timing of shots. I plan to use that additional element of pacing in an upcoming shoot I’m working on.

I’ve been in the creative field, in one form or another, all of my working career. I started in the pottery business at a production pottery. I later did web design and development as a freelancer and then in the corporate world. I’ve been in video production for the last ten years. When I went from web to video I realized that there are a lot more elements and people involved in the film and video process. It was a little hard to adjust to after spending years in isolation with my computer and clients across the country (some of whom I never met in person).

I’ve discovered that as much as I want to do things in my own little creative world in my own little creative way, collaboration and exchanging ideas work much better (quiet now, I can hear you saying “duh Dave”) . I think that’s why sections of town, like what I refer to as “Media Row”, spring up.

What I call “Media Row” is a section of SW Campbell Avenue in Roanoke Virginia that has a bustling media development community, covering everything from web dev to the performing arts, with some hard goods in there too. It’s a four block section that stretches from 4th Street to 8th Street heading west.

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It begins at 402 with Final Track Studios which is a five room commercial recording studio serving labels, regional and national artists, audio books and forensic audiology. They have been in business for 30 years and have a badass Hammond and Leslie. Skip Brown, founder and head engineer, was quite kind in letting me use his control room as a location for a recent shoot.

In the same building reside Keith Thomas of Swift Sound. Keith combines state-of the-art technology with creative storytelling through sound to help filmmakers, visual artist, and creative directors deliver the highest quality aural experience to their listeners. Sounds like tag line to me. That’s from his Fractured Atlas online profile and I know it to be true because I’ve worked with him many times (plus his dreads are about as hip as my sideburns).

A little ways up the street at 422 is my Alma Mater, Carter Media, owned by award winning Cinematographer Leonard Carter. Leonard has been in the biz for 30 years and most of what I know has been learned from working with him.

At the corner of 6th and Campbell is Interactive Achievement, software developer of assessment and reporting tools for education. Carter Media did a nice video for them. One of their programmers did the VO for it and if he wanted to switch careers, I believe he could make it as a VO artist.

Continuing up the 600 block is Twist and Turns at 625. They specialize in custom hand made metal furniture and have a staff of creative designers.

Oops! Can’t leave the 600 block without mentioning Six-Eleven Bicycle Co. Aaron and Michelle Dykstra produce the most beautiful hand made bicycle frames I have ever seen. I drool over them (in private of course) when I visit their web site or shop. The attention to detail is stellar, details of hand panted and pin striped bottom bracket joints that no one would normally see, make their frames stand apart from others. Made in the U.S.A.!

I think the hub of this creative mecca is at The Jefferson Center. Formerly Jefferson High School, it served as Roanoke’s largest high school for 50 years. The school was closed in 1974 but operated as Jefferson Hall under Patrick Henry High School until 1975. In 2001 it opened as The Jefferson Center and has been host to numerous world renowned musical artists as well as home to the Music Lab, where students can work in a state of the art working recording studio and often have the opportunity to jam with the artists that perform there.

At 701 is Access Advertising and PR. Gotta have someone get the word out. Access does, and has the awards to prove it. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of some of their award winning video projects with Carter Media. They also have the only Double Cola machine in town.

Creativity dies in a vacuum and flourishes in concert with others This is why Media Row is growing. Businesses as well as individuals benefit from creative collaboration and competition (don’t worry, I’ll leave the business writing to someone else).

As much as I want to think my best work is completely original, I have to give props to those works that stick in my head, the people I admire and work with whose perspectives help me see things differently, those who piss me off to no end and make me want to do better out of spite, the feeling I get after a sucssessful shoot with a large crew, and to God for creating beauty and grace all around me to use as my palette. There certainly is a private aspect to creativity but as creativity dies in a vacuum, so does my spirit when I remove myself from the world and people around me.

If you feel the same, connect with me, use the form below to comment, or call or e-mail me.

Now get the fuck out and leave me alone.


Dave Perry is a Roanoke Virginia digital film producer, editor and photographer. His sideburns are only a hobby.

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