Miguel Melo Queiroz's picture

My Big TOE - Bootstrap

In 2009, while doing some YouTube research on meditation and altered states of consciousness, I got acquainted with the work of Tom Campbell: physicist, consciousness researcher, author of the My Big TOE book trilogy. I got in touch through his YouTube channel and we became "internet friends". In 2012 I started getting involved in the translation of his books to Portuguese and I also tried to organize a conference for Tom in Portugal. But unfortunately that didn't go forward due to lack of demand/interest from the public.

Soon after, I was however approached to do the video and audio recording, as well as the room audio monitoring of his upcoming conference in Marbella (Spain) on 8, 9 and 10 March 2013. So I thought "this is a job for ARTIMEDIA!.." - and indeed it was. I packed my car with all the necessary of equipment and left on a14 hour drive from Alcobaça to Marbella. I arrived at the hotel past midnight, checked in and after securing my car in the hotel park, went straight to bed.


The next morning the setup started early. A two camera shoot, with a simple crossed lighting setup. Audio was a bit more complex... Radio mics, boomed mics, a simultaneous translation booth, all mixed and recorded live on a multitrack recorder, and then having to place the room speakers in such a way to avoid any feedback, humming or reverb, which is always a nightmare to fix in post.

At breakfast I finally met Tom Campbell in person. Friendly, wise, good natured and good mannered, was how he came across. Extremely down to earth and focused too. We talked about how the conference was structured and its programme. I talked about some techincalities on my end and of course, we talked about his "My Big TOE".

Tom Campbell began researching altered states of consciousness with Bob Monroe at Monroe Laboratories in the early 1970s where he and a few others were instrumental in getting Monroe’s laboratory for the study of consciousness up and running. These early drug-free consciousness pioneers helped design experiments and developed the technology for creating specific altered states. 

To me this was both a great professional responsibility and an event of personal relevance to me. I had been nurturing a significant admiration for Tom's work and the more I knew him personally, the more my respect for him as a human being grew. After doing the soundcheck and camera tests, everything was set to a great start.

Tom presented the audience with an unprecedented conversational tone. Unlike previous conferences where hours of uninterrupted speech were then followed by Q&A. This bootstrap conference was in fact, Q&A from beginning to end.

Technically speaking however, things could have started better. Once the room of filled with attendants, the acoustics changed considerably and we were now getting feedback and a humming sound in the speakers. It took a while to recalibrate everything and once we got it right, the radio mic started failing for bad contact in the batteries. Ultimately we overcame all dificulties and the conference proceeded flawlessly the rest of the days.

When the conference was over on 10 March, I calmly wrapped things up and we had a wonderful dinner party with Tom and all the attendants. the next day I drove back to Portugal and started editing.

The edit took a lot longer than expected because, apart from the countless hours of 3 full days footage of two cameras, there was an English and a Spanish audio version, from the translation booth. Eventually it was finished, and here is a video of the first day, afternoon session, English audio.