2006 Conference General Sessions

TECHNOLOGY ENABLES QUADRIPLEGIC CHILD TO FILM WILDLIFE AND ASPIRE TO FILM CAREER


Presenter #1
Doug Conaway
Conaway Electric
305 Baines Ave.
Sonoma
CA
95476
Day Phone: (707) 935-7647
Fax: (707) 935-7647
Email: dougconaway@sbcglobal.net


Presenter # 2
Tom Conaway
305 Baines Ave
Sonoma
CA
95476
Day Phone: (707) 935-7647
Fax: (707) 935-7647
Email: tomconaway@sbcglobal .net

When he was 4 years old Tom Conaway was in a car accident that incurred his spinal cord injury, and since that time he has been quadriplegic. At 5 he began to operate an electric wheel chair with a joystick. Within two years of Toms accident, the Conaway family had assimilated Toms special physical needs into their daily routines, and they were primed to push through any more obstacles that might fall on their path.
As Tom was approaching his 7th birthday, his parents, Doug and Alice Conaway, faced another pressing parenting challenge. Toms accident had not stopped his two siblings from progressing through age appropriate activities enjoyed by American children. Doug and Alice recognized Tombs need for meaningful activities and outlets of his own to pursue, but his quadriplegia limited his options.
Problem solving, innovation, and technology come naturally to Doug Conaway, who has worked as an electrical contractor in Sonoma for 12 years. It occurred to him that Tom could operate a compact video camera he recently purchased. Tom and Dougs film projects have evolved over the past 5 years. Ingenuity and affordable technology have enabled Tom to have fun and a sense of purpose. He has acquired extensive film experience, developed editing skills, and gained advanced videography knowledge. Doug has a vision to secure more sophisticated technology for Tom to enable him to overcome any limitations imposed by his quadriplegia. Their endeavors have resulted in Tombs discovering a career goal to pursue as an adult.
Technology Facilitated Activity & Creativity
Doug mounted a Sony VCT-870RM tripod on Tombs wheel chair to hold the camera at the level of Tombs chest. The camera was a Sony DCR-PC100
a Digital Handycam camera, and Tom operated it by using its remote. with this set up Tom used the cameras LCD screen to view subjects, and he used chair navigation to position his camera. (conawayl.jpg)
Tom and Doug began filming his older brotherís football team during practice and games while Doug filmed from the stands, Tom cruised up and down the field filming, and the coaches used both shoots for training purposes. The Conaway family has always enjoyed being in nature an drawing spiritual strength from it. So when football season ended, Tom and Doug began going to wetlands to film birds. This has become their passion, and they have established the Sonoma valley wildlife Education Project, which will produce a wildlife documentary. To edit his footage, Tom uses iMovie on the Apple iBook Laptop that ccs provides him. He chooses not to use any assistive technology to operate his laptop because he is faster without it.
consumer-level video camera equipment lacks sufficient magnification to film birds in the distance. Therefore getting good shots of birds requires being amongst them. Tom and Doug typically set up before daybreak, camouflaged themselves, and filmed birds at close range.
Toms level of injury requires that when he is in a wheel chair he must be tilted back so that he does not fall forward. Consequently when filming from the chest using a tripod, the angle of Toms chair is not level to the ground. To provide Tom with the ability to film at any angle and look through a camera viewfinder, Doug created a hardhat camera mount. A U shaped metal mounting bracket is attached to both sides of an industrial hardhat to secure the camera at the level of Tomís eye. Counterbalance weights are attached to the back of the hat, with this set-up, Tom uses head control to position his camera. This means that the moment that Tom sees a flying object he can begin filming it. (conoway2.jpg)
Professional-level video camera equipment supports the use of powerful
ē telephoto lenses, which makes shooting from a distance possible. Because filming is less intrusive, these shoots enable photographers to capture a greater range of wildlife interactions. Tom has sufficient strength and head control to use a 2x telephoto converter on his camera; however, camera stability is compromised because additional lenses make the hardhat heavier, consequently magnification options are very limited using the hardhat mount configuration.
professionals use motor controlled pan tilt heads to stabilize video cameras, and these cameras are operated with motorized controls that are driven by a joystick. Doug has researched and identified the proper set-up for Tom. Existing products in the Dimmy Jib product line, manufactured by Stanton Video Services, would bring Tom the versatility to film as proficiently as any able-bodied person outfitting Tom will cost $25K but the conaways have faith that at some point they will get funded to obtain this technology for Tom. (http://www.jimmyjib.com/remotehead.html#Anchor-own-33869).

A Technology Enabled career Goal
At the Nascar races this year, Tom and Doug observed the technology used to operate the cameras that film the event. The camera is on a motor controlled pan tilt head that is mounted on a crane. The camera operator uses a joystick to control the motor, and the crane is controlled manually. The crane -s counter-balanced such that the camera operators moving it 60 moves the boom end of the crane with the camera 100. Tom and Doug realized that Tom had capability to operate this set-up. Using normal wheel chair navigation in combination with the chairs ability to move up and down, Tom could move throughout the range that is used by the camera operator does. http://www.jimmyjib.com/triangle.html
Dougs devotion to his son and his pragmatic talents continue to surface creative and practical solutions to surmount Toms mobility challenges. Doug knows what is possible and feasible; moreover, he has the skill to fabricate innovations that he can afford. Technology has given Tom independence and creativity throughout his childhood. He enters his teens with adroit joystick enabled mobility, finessed head control, and 5 years of experience moving and filming people and birds in motion. This summer the El Nido Teen Center in sonoma employed Tom to film a promotional video. Tom is motivated to take this prowess as far as technology will allow it to reach, and he already envisions how it can serve him in adulthood.


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