Being an Videographer and Interviewer at PyCon 2023

16 Jun 2023 21:21 UTC

This PyCon I wanted to work on an amazing video project.

I've always dreamed of being one of those folks that is live on the show-floor interviewing folks at a large conference. I was excited to be offered the opportunity to attend PyCon US on behalf of Microsoft, but our limited team kept me at our booth most of the conference.

The Microsoft Booth Pre-PyCon

That said I came up with a plan that I believe worked extremely well.

Recorded presentations from the Microsoft Booth.

The first was to ensure that folks had a reason beyond the swag and kiosks to come check out the Microsoft Booth.

The crowd during Luciana's VS Code Show and Tell

We had an amazing lineup of presenters including members of the booth staff Savannah Ostrowski and Lucianna Abud, as well as amazing guest presenters Brett Cannon, Andrew Knight, and Michael Kennedy. We covered exciting new tools like Azure Developer CLI. We also hit popular tools like VS Code and Playwright and I had the pleasure of interviewing long-time Python course creator and host of Python's most popular podcast Talk Python to Me. Brett Cannon answered questions around Python, VS Code, philosophy, and more in our first ever ABBA (Ask Brett 'Bout Anything). Many presentations that were seating room only.

The crowd at Andrew's Playwright Presentation

1-on-1 Interviews with Microsoft Employees that heavily work on Python

Last year I did many iterviews with the Faster CPython team and showcased many of their contributions to Python 3.11 and Future releases. This year the team has been hard at work. Since many of them were at PyCon US, a couple folks agreed to me interviewing them to talk about some of their work this year. The team's Technical Lead Mark Shannon talked about how the team shares their work publicly and works with other teams and companies building amazing things for Python. I also interviewed Eric Snow who had a PEP he's spent 8 years working on approved.

I also took the opportunity to interview Brett Cannon to get more information about the Python Core Developer Summits, the Python Steering Council, and why he stayed for the community.

Python Perspectives

I also took the opportunity to get some perspectives from many different folks attending PyCon. I interviewed several prominent faces in the community.

Author Al Sweigart talked about temporary fame and getting insight from the conference. Co-Founder of ReadTheDocs Erik Holscher shared how he makes PyCon worth-it after 15 years. Python instructor Trey Hunner shared why the best part of the conference may not be the conference itself. PyCon Charlas Chairs Dr. Christián Maureira-Fredes and Denny Perez spoke about the program and its growth in recent years. Core Maintainer of Beeware Russell Keith McGee compared the Python Community to others that he works with and the joy of helping people contribute to open source. Maintainer of Python's most popular package urllib3 Seth Larson talked about learning specific uses of the tools he maintains. Two-Time attendee and workshop presenter Mario Munoz shares the difference between his first and second PyCon and getting involved by volunteering.

Selfie with Michael Kennedy and Mario Munoz

And MOST IMPORTANTLY! Aseda Addai-Deseh shared what we hope the 76% percent of PyCon attendees, who were attending for the first-time, were feeling.

Overall and What I'd do Differently

This was a lot of content (16 videos) and it took some time to get through with editing and getting published (The videos marked for my personal channel were easier to get out the door). To be honest one of the challenges was due to just being out of practice. The biggest thing I would need to do is spend more time creating (and editing content). I think many of the mistakes that I made like forgetting to turn on a mic or my camera not being in focus were just due to not having (and using) a checklist created from years of practice. I would also love to work with someone as well to make sure that things were setup (especially when I'm conducting an interview). We had times where folks would walk in front of the camera.

I know that you don't need a lot of technology in order to do what I did. I recorded with a single Sony A6400 and a set of RODE wireless mics. I think with a field recorder grabbing the audio and a multi camera setup, it would have been easier to edit and have been better quality consistently.

Sadly, I did lose a couple of videos due to my memory card filling up - (yes I only had one). And when I got home, I wound up completely filling up my hard drive due to iCloud Drive filling up. I would make sure I have at least 2x the amount of storage I think I would need (roughly about 1.5TB) and I would make sure that I 'm transferring those files directly to a backup drive and not my system drive.

There is an odd balance in this. I want to enjoy the event, but I also want to produce the best quality that I can. Because of my work schedule and all the planning in doing these videos, I only saw 2 talks and they were the final keynotes! 😬. This comes with the territory of creating content and I often advise folks to think about this before making the decision to do video (or even blogging) for a living. That said I know that if I had more support in doing this, I would be able to treat it more like a job and less like a hustle and set healthy boundaries and policies to make it happen.

All this said, I'm still excited I was able to do this and that my company gave me the opportunity to attend and create these experiences.

You can view the Microsoft specific content on our Learn platform and the perspectives videos on the Python Community News YouTube channel.