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Video Producer Chris Smith Always Ready For 'Action'
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Video Producer Chris Smith advises newcomers to prepare for the unexpected, from filming the Queen of England to working with Pixar on the movie “Wall*E.”

Name: Chris Smith
Title: Video Producer, Office of Communications
Formal Job Classification: Video Producer
Organization He Works For: Code 130, Office of Communications, Office of the Director

What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?

There really is not much of a typical day. Some days I’ll be sitting at a computer working on an animation, other days I’ll be interviewing a scientist, and still other days I’ll be shooting video in one of the labs. It is very hard to get bored here!

I work all over campus, but my group’s shared office is really cool. We converted a former TV studio so we were able to do a lot of cool things with lighting. Our office is dark and the walls are black. The darkness helps us focus on what is on our screens, and it creates a better, moodier atmosphere too.

One of the best tools we have is the Glidecam, which is a tool that you wear on your body to stabilize the camera
Chris Smith demonstrating the Glidecam› Larger image
Chris Smith demonstrating the Glidecam. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Bill Hrybyk
while you are walking with it. The Glidecam weighs about 60 pounds so you definitely notice it when you’re wearing it and you get a lot of attention too. It is a metal vest, a spring-loaded arm, and a camera mount. It is cool because of what it does but also because it makes you look like a robot which is kind of fun. I wore it on Explore@NASA Goddard and had a lot of fun demonstrating it for everyone that came by.

How important is teamwork or collaboration with others to your being able to do your job?

We are a really small group so teamwork is incredibly important. Our common office has four animators and our entire group has about 20 total producers, editors, animators, and sound people. Everybody can be called in to pitch in and help at any time. It is great to have a group of coworkers who work together so amazingly well and it is incredible what we are able to accomplish considering the small size of our group.

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

Over the winter of 2007, we got to work with Pixar on the movie “Wall*E.” It was great. We got to fly out to meet with them. We also developed educational video conferencing materials using “Wall*E” as a character. It was surprising and amazing. We were excited to meet the Pixar people and the Pixar people were excited to meet the NASA people.

What makes Goddard a great place to work?

The people. These are the same people that I can work with during the day and then go hang out with after work. There is a sense of teamwork; everybody cares about what they do, and the people are all a lot of fun to be around.

What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?

Be prepared for the unexpected! During my first week here, the Queen of England visited. I got to man a video camera in the control center while the Queen walked through to speak with the International Space Station. I was six feet from the Queen, which was quite an honor!

Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, activities outside of work that people do not generally know (like you run ultra marathons or work on a NASCAR pit crew on weekends)?

Chris Smith on his bike trip along the C and O Canal.› Larger image
Chris Smith biking along the C&O Canal. Credit: C. Smith
Even though I am a video producer here, I also make short films on the side. I have shown my films in film festivals in New Orleans, California, Canada, and Athens. My first film was a film noire and I am now working on a science fiction film. The themes are all over the place. I also like to write the film scripts for them. Because I fund my own films, a lot of the actors and crew are my friends from Goddard.

Do you have a favorite way, or place to kick back, relax, or have fun?

I like to take long bike rides. The longest one so far was the honeymoon trip I took with my wife on the C&O Canal. We biked 184 miles over the course of five days. I hope to take longer rides in the future.

Related Links:

› Chris Smith's Goddard produced video showing how a satellite is made
› Website for a short film of Chris Smith's
› More Conversations With Goddard
Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.