You Never Know What You Can Do Until You’re Asked…

Guest blog by one of our favorite humans, Dan Duffy. 

“Just how fast can you edit?”

Erica had managed to ask me a question I’d never had to answer.

The Bus Tour is back, and they want you on the road to get videos turned around quickly.”

The Bus Tour refers to an adventure that takes place each year between Kolbeco, Antennas Direct, and the National Association of Broadcasters. Ever since the analog-to-digital switch in 2009, broadcast television has experienced quite the renaissance. Gone are the days of five channels; in many cities, twenty is the new norm. And the rumor is that there are lots more on the way.

Seventy-five channels in NYC, anyone? How about over one hundred in LA?

The NAB is championing this, so they’ve partnered with Antennas Direct to give away thousands of the only HD TV antennas that not only work, but work extraordinarily well. It was then up to Kolbeco to help frame that story, from logistics to PR to visual storytelling.

“Just how fast do you need me to edit?” I asked.

“Same day,” said Erica.

Had I been drinking milk, it would have shot out of my nose, and possibly my left eye-socket.

“So they want a shoot, which from start to finish will take about three hours. And then they need a video, I’m guessing three minutes long, with graphics and music and color corrected and sound sweetened, to have completed a few hours later.”

“Yes,” said Erica.

“I…uh…” I stammered.

“You can do this. If you want to, I know you can do this,” she said.

That made one of us. This was going to be the hardest work I’d ever attempted. I really didn’t know if it was possible. Even the infamous 48 Hour Film Festival gave you two full days to produce something.

These were going to have to be completed in less than twelve hours… five times.

But I couldn’t resist the challenge. Hello, terror. It’s been a while.


I flew in to our first city, Little Rock, a tick before midnight. Our meeting time the next morning was 3:30am in the lobby. It was unpleasing to enter the wake-up time in my phone, only to have it read, “Your alarm will wake you in two hours and twenty-three minutes.”

As odd as this sounds, it was kind of a blessing. When I’m that tired, the only thing I can focus on is functioning. Apprehension was nowhere to be found.


And it’s amazing what can happen when you are free to do something without the shackles of fear. I had the camera and microphones set up within four minutes, a new personal best. I found eight great interview subjects in line and got some wonderful answers to my questions. The president of Antennas Direct, Richard Schneider, gave one of the most heartfelt interviews I’ve ever heard. I guess seeing so many grateful people tweaked him in his feels in a way I quite hadn’t seen before.

Or maybe it was because it was his birthday… which we didn’t even know until we saw it on Facebook as we drove him to the airport.

“I might get lucky tonight,” he joked. “Or not.”

After dropping Richard off at the terminal, Erica and I raced back to the hotel to work… she to write blogs and share pictures of the event, and I to edit. We worked at the desks in the hotel room until they kicked us out, and then we camped in the lobby.

Editing a video is like deconstructing a puzzle before you put it back together again. You find all of the usable sound bites from each person and put them together. Then, you watch them until you figure out, “This person’s audio will go really well that person’s. And those people say something great, but that lady will be able to finish the original thought more succinctly.”

And after you have four or five segments, you then put them together and trim all of the redundancies. When you add in some graphic treatments, titles, and a heartfelt yet hopeful piece of music, you’re done.

In six hours.

Once Christine from Antennas Direct approved the video (which took a total of four minutes – a new record for me), Erica embedded it into her blog.

And we still made our flight with an hour to spare.

I’d never felt so euphoric about a video job in my life. I had been asked to do something that I honestly thought could not physically be done, and somehow pulled it off.

And then did it four more times over the next ten days.

While on paper it was a one-person show, we don’t live on paper. The adventure of my working life and the ability to actually do the job was made possible by so many: by the gracious people we interviewed at each tour stop who gave us such amazing stories and feelings, by Antennas Direct who trusted me to help tell those stories, by the National Association of Broadcasters and their tireless advocacy to keep television free, by our road crew who kept everything moving and everyone laughing, and to everyone at Kolbeco, especially Erica, who believed that I was somehow capable of making the impossible… possible.

And while many of you might think the main lesson I learned had to do with finding my limits and then pushing through them, the deeper takeaway was something so much more profound. Sometimes when you think you can’t do something, when every fiber of your being tells you that hope is fruitless, the faith… and the spoken words… of a single advocate are sometimes all you need to believe in yourself.

So the next time you see something in someone that they may not see in themselves, don’t hold it in. An affirmation of belief is intoxicatingly powerful. I should know: I have five videos, a new vault of lifelong memories, and more newfound courage than a gallon of tequila to prove it.

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