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July 11, 2008

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A brilliant idea Nancy, and well executed.

I have in the past written a lot of scripts for vehicle maintenance training videos - though usually aimed at dealership mechanics. I found there is always a danger in over-simplifying, so a technique I fell in to (I'm not claiming I thought about it as much as you would) was putting a phrase in jargon (because that's what the audience expected) and then immediately providing a simple explanation. So a typical sentence might say something like, "The reverse detent -- the small spring-loaded ball-bearing that locates the shaft -- can be removed by..." etc.

[BTW, 'detent' is a good word you might want to explore, as I find outside of engineers most people haven't heard if it.]

The other thing that I note is much-loved by Americans is the 'My' syndrome (as in 'My Computer'... 'My Car'). You wouldn't believe how twee this sounds to we Brits. It's reminiscent of 'My First Picture Book' and I always find myself thinking, "No Bill, it's not your f***ing computer -- it's John Russell's".

Still, you can ignore all these comments because I'm sure you know your audience a lot better than I do!

BTW: doesn't 'warmify' mean 'warm'? You Americans are incorrigibilificious.

...I'm off to warmify myself by the fire.

@John Russell: Thanks for the kind words and the insights! And yes, "warm" is of course a verb. But context is all, and in a list of suggested actions I'm supposing it could be seen as an adjective, which would be confusing. The coined "warmify" is unambiguously a verb that says "warm this sucker up a bit, OK?" It's a relatively new thing, this ability computers have given us to change the color spectrum. So some changes to the language are to be expected--and even welcomed.

Re 'warmify'.

Ever since colour film was invented, scenes could be lit 'cold' (that is, tending towards being blue) or 'warm' (tending towards red or orange). The precise cast would be dictated either by coloured gels in front of the lights, by using a coloured filter in front of the lens or by a mixture of the two. Alternatively the colour balance could be set scene by scene in the lab, a process known as 'grading' (with digital video, now performed on a computer by a 'colourist'). The director or DOP will say 'warm it up a bit' or 'I want it looking colder' (to achieve the particular look he/she is after). You can't have 'warmify' without 'coolify', can you?

Frankly, after 60 years or more, I can't see why we need new, lengthier, words when everyone in the business knows exactly what 'cool' and 'warm' mean. If we'd ever have needed 'warmify', or 'coolify', we'd have invented the words long before oomputers appeared on the scene.

@John: This is just conjecture, but here goes: At one time, only professionals such as the ones you mention had the skills and technology to make color changes and other image alterations. Now digital cameras and computer tools have brought this ability to the general public. So perhaps Picasa felt a need for a word that brought a formerly arcane technique down to the layperson's level.

It is no doubt difficult to write a script for any venture such as this, but to do so without overtly injecting voice only compounds the problem. You did a great job of staying formal and informative. Great work.

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