a picture of the 2013 Alternative Family Education (AFE) graduating seniors and 8th gradersI’ve filmed five Alternative Family Education (AFE) graduation ceremonies, but such is my bias and my backlog that the only two graduation DVDs I’ve completed in a timely fashion are the two years that my own children were graduating seniors: 2006 and 2013.

This picture (which I used in my printed DVD design) shows the 2013 8th-grade graduates standing and being applauded by both the audience and the graduating seniors.

AFE is such a small and close-knit K-12 program that it spoils you for any other graduations — each graduating senior and 8th grader gets to make a speech, each senior is introduced by a teacher who talks about what they are like as a person and how wonderful it’s been to work with them, and the whole community is like a family that is very proud of and cheering for its graduates. I’m not putting the whole 2013 graduation ceremony online, but if you want to see what I mean you can watch my son Arthur’s graduation speech as an example.

Facebook users can also read a wonderful piece about the 2013 AFE Graduation by Santa Cruz City Schools Board of Education member Sheila Coonerty.

the inside of the 2013 Alternative Family Education (AFE) graduation programMy system for producing graduation DVDs is very simple: I start by showing the outside of the graduation program, then fade into some short introductory material (for 2013, the 12th-grade graduates being applauded as they throw their caps) and then fade into the inside of the graduation program as shown here, which doubles as the chapter menu.

The first time I did this I ran into a problem in that standard definition DVDs have a limit of 36 buttons/links per menu, so instead of having each graduate’s name, each presenter’s name, and each event on the program linking to a chapter, I had to set it up so that clicking the 12th-Grade Graduates and 8th-Grade Graduates program sections would bring up submenus zooming in on just those parts of the program, so you could click the individual graduates’ names there.

As a parent who has been involved with AFE for 20 years now, I started going to the graduations many years before I started filming them, and although they are always wonderful, I also always get choked up thinking about how much I will miss all these young people who have been part of our day-to-day lives for years and years, as they head off to different states and cities for the next chapters of their lives. Seeing them getting praised by teachers and making speeches onstage doesn’t bring tears to my eyes, because those are actually pretty normal things at AFE, but watching the procession of graduates walking to the stage in their caps and gowns, or talking with them right after the ceremony, always really gets me. All the best, graduates! I will really miss getting to hang out with all of you, but look forward to hearing about your future adventures and accomplishments.

updated August 14, 2013


Meg’s Beach Party

by Tané Tachyon on March 26, 2012

So after finishing The Henry IV, Part I, Music Video for the 2007 AFE Follywood festival and award ceremony of short student/family films, I was asked to make a very- last- minute video honoring retiring AFE Consultant-Teacher Meg Brown, also to be shown at Follywood, where she would be receiving an award for all her years of service and inspiration to the AFE community.

the title screen for the 'Meg's Beach Party' music video honoring retiring AFE Consultant-Teacher Meg BrownI had taken a lot of photographs at Meg’s beach-bonfire retirement party (see my “My digital still camera” posting) earlier that month, as had Dorothee Ledbetter, so I decided to do the video as a slideshow set to music by Meg’s longtime good friend and collaborator Joya Winwood.

For the introductory material (zooming in on the AFE Newsletter listing for the retirement party, dissolving into the title and photo-credits screen shown above, and then dissolving into the music-credit screen shown below encouraging the audience to sing along) I edited Joya’s song “Joy Joy Joy” into a much shorter version with this lyrics excerpt

Joy, joy, joy
You brought me so much joy
You taught me to be me
You taught me to be free

which did a good job of summing up what Meg meant to so many people in the community.

another screen from the 'Meg's Beach Party' music video, crediting Joya for the music and encouraging the audience to sing alongThen I did the slideshow of photos in chronological order, to Joya’s version of Harry Belafonte’s “Turn the World Around”, using abrupt transitions rather than dissolves/crossfades, to emphasize the rhythm of the song.

(By the way, Meg is the one wearing the beautiful red cape, and Joya is singing and drumming.)

At Follywood the video was much appreciated both by the audience in general and by Meg herself, in fact every so often during the years since then Meg has told me that she’s heard from yet another old friend who found the “Meg’s Beach Party” video on YouTube while searching for her online.

Time flies by so fast … even if in some ways it still feels like Meg’s retirement party was just the other day, on the other hand it’s coming up on five years ago now, and many of the younger children in the video will be starting high school next year, while the older ones have all moved on to college and other big adventures. I’m so glad I have my photographs, film footage, YouTube movies, and completed DVDs of so many happy and memorable milestone events over the years.

The one big problem I had with this video is that no matter what I tried I just could not get the zoom-and-pan-in on the newsletter notice at the beginning to work smoothly without flickering (I haven’t had a problem using this with photos, just with the black-on white text). Hopefully at some point I’ll find the solution to this problem and then upload a corrected version to YouTube.

updated August 14, 2013


The Henry IV, Part I, Music Video

January 19, 2012
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(Also known as “I’m Henry IV I Am” and “Music Video, Part I”.) Back in February of 2007 my children Sam and Arthur performed in the AFE/A Catch of Shadows production of Shakespeare’s history play “Henry IV, Part I” (as the title character and Bardolph respectively), and I of course filmed it. Now take the […]

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My digital still camera

December 24, 2010
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My little point-and-shoot digital still camera is an important part of my filmmaking. When I’m filming a play or other event, before it starts I’ll walk around taking candid photos of the cast and crew, posters, marquee, auditorium, ticket booth/sellers, refreshments — all the extra and otherwise-ephemeral details that help to recreate the experience of […]

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DIY Movie Making Month, plus free magazines

March 6, 2010
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March 2010 is DIY Movie Making Month at Make Magazine Online. To quote from the introduction: There are so many incredible tools now available to consumers with even the most modest budgets to create shockingly sophisticated videos, from viral YouTube prank vids to animation/claymation/stopmotion wonders to satisfying sci-fi fan films to serious low-budget feature fare […]

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Lords of the Trampoline

November 15, 2009
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Lords of the Trampoline was the third film/DVD project I completed, back in April of 2004. I had recently read The Little Digital Video Book (more about which I shall say in a later posting), which was big on music videos as the ideal beginner project, and so, as I wrote at the time: Yesterday […]

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Carmen the Mopera

October 1, 2009
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I did this filmmaking/DVD project on commission for West End Studio Theatre, where “internationally acclaimed Eccentric and Commedia Dell’Arte performer” Julie Goell was doing a two-week residency teaching workshops in addition to performing in her one-woman show Carmen the Mopera, described as “backstage at the Opera House, a passionately imaginative restroom matron uses her arsenal […]

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