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Alison Ogden - Drumming Up Amazing Video Pieces
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COOP Program Producer Alison Ogden drums out high-impact videos while performing on the snare with an all-girl, 50-member samba reggae band.

Name: Alison Ogden
Title: Producer, COOP Program
Organization: Code 130, Office of Communications, Office of the Director

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

The COOP program allows undergraduate and graduate students to study while they also work here at Goddard. I write, create and produce still photography and video stories. I get to work for different missions and in different media formats.

Sometimes I team with a videographer who shoots with a big camera that he props up on his shoulder similar to what you may see on the evening news. I interview while my teammate films. We often stop to do sound checks or make sure that the film looks and feels right.

A lot of people do not realize all that goes into pre-production and post-production. On average, it takes anywhere from one week to a month to produce a polished, five-minute video. First you have to find a good story and then you have to find the right people to tell the
Photo of Alison Ogden› Larger image
Photo of Alison Ogden. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
story. You also have to think about the style and approach which often includes background research. After filming, you do a lot of editing to bring all the footage together. I may use the green-screen studio, which allows me to film a person in front of the green screen and then later digitally add in a backdrop. I may also use the edit studios, which are basically sound booths for recording audio. Sometimes you add things including other visuals such as old newspaper clips and the right music. You try to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Inevitably there is always at least one technical glitch which used to drive me crazy, but now I just expect it.

Who is the most interesting, inspiring or amazing person you have met or worked with at Goddard?

Wade Sisler was my mentor when I first arrived and is now my supervisor. He is really smart, very articulate and good person. He always has new, creative approaches and is open to new ideas from me too.

What was your best day or the best thing that ever happened to you at Goddard?

I worked on a video about the history of the Montreal Protocol, which was shown as a centerpiece for one of the presentations at a climate change symposium in Washington, D.C. Watching it was very cool. The audience applauded and I felt good!

What makes Goddard a great place to work?

I really like the people here because they are very open to having conversations. They are smart, ambitious and all doing interesting work.

Alison with her samba reggae band› Larger imageAlison with "Batala", her samba reggae band. Photo courtesy of A. Ogden

Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?

I play a snare drum for Batala, our samba reggae band. The snare drum is a small, round drum played with two wooden sticks used to provide texture. Playing a snare is very fast; it is all about speed and endurance. Our music originates from Salvador, Brazil. We are an all-girl band of 50 and we all like to dance. We have great fun together. We perform all over the area, including the Indonesian Embassy. Performing is just a total blast.

In February 2012, we went to Salvador to perform in Carnival. The whole city was crowded and the police went on strike. We were staying in a house owned
by our composer and he would not let us leave the house for fear for our safety. More than scared, I was really irritated by the situation because it was supposed to be a fun vacation but I could not go anywhere on my own.

If you could meet and talk to anybody, living or dead, who would it be and what’s the first thing you’d ask them?

I’d like to talk to Nelson Mandala to ask him what he thinks it would take to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Do you have a favorite writer?

I love Michael Chabon’s narratives based on historical reality. My favorite book by him is “The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay,” which is about a comic cartoon creator during World War II.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD