If you haven't heard of the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, I'm not surprised. It's a small outfit, tucked away at the far edge of the campus. Formed in 1946 (according to its website), at its peak it was a hub of student activity, where young engineers came together to build what became one of the best miniature railroads in the world, while also discussing the Internet, video games and software... when all these things were just glints in people's eyes. Believe it or not, this is the place where the term "hacking" is thought to have originated. It was home to some of the leading lights in computing when they were MIT students, including the late, great Alan Kotok.
One evening, a few weeks ago, Andy Miller, an MIT alumnus and one of the longest ongoing members of the club, kindly allowed me to shoot a video there while he worked on the railroad. I also interviewed him about the history of the club and the roots of hacking. If you'd like to see the final short film, you can watch it now on Vimeo.
Over the years, I've shot countless boring news reports, but there is nothing quite like filming something that looks truly lovely. The treat of this project was that (courtesy of the Knight office at MIT) I had equipment that really did justice to the subject: a Canon EOS camera, which is usually used as a professional stills camera, but has fairly recently been souped up by the manufacturers to allow you to shoot high-quality video as well. I've also switched from my old staple editing system, Final Cut Pro, to Adobe Premiere (better interface, more user friendly and generally niftier). Big thanks to Columbia University's Duy Linh Tu who trained me to use this new kit.
Hope you enjoy it! If you do, let me know, and I'll see if I can shoot another insider's peek at some other aspect of MIT life while I'm still here in Boston.