Before there was Flickr or ImageEvent there was MARINO PASCAL. Marino revolutionized the way Location Managers and Scouts present and archive their work. He developed a user-friendly system that allowed location professionals to quickly and easily upload their photos for presentation. On the heels of a recent overhaul of his photo website, Locations.org, we thought this was a great time to catch up with the man that changed the way our industry works.
What was your first Computer?
My first computer was an old laptop that a friend gave me. I barely used it because it ran DOS and I didn’t want to deal with all of those commands. The first computer that I really used was a Mac Performa.
What was your first software project?
The first big project that I took on was called Caloda (California Location Database). At the time, the California Film Commission distributed a large scouting handbook that listed locations. They had all of the information in a database but it was not available in editable form. After my requests to make it open to the public were denied I decided to do it myself. I tried to hack their database but lacked the necessary skills. Plan B was to manually copy the entire book into a computer. I’m a two finger typist, so that didn’t go anywhere. Finally I decided to bring it to a corporate OCR facility that would scan the pages and make the text searchable. It cost $2000 in 1990’s money so I looked to other location scouts to chip in, the only person that chipped in was Bill Bowling. So I made a Filemaker database out of the information and sold it to location scouts. In the process I learned to program in Filemaker and I actually made some money off it.
You were a scout at the time, what motivated you to start webhosting with Locations.org?
I live on the East Side and the production offices are always on the West Side. I spent a long time in the car commuting to 9:00 am Show & Tells. I hated it. So I thought, if I could just show the pictures through the internet, maybe I could stay in bed longer. The directors loved it because they could stay in bed too. It also eliminated the need to be done by 6pm to FedEx location folders to the East Coast or wherever the client happened to be.
At the time there weren’t any services like Flickr or ImageEvent that let you post your images online. What you had to do was export galleries for the web from desktop software like Adobe Photoshop or Graphic Converter. This worked okay but the galleries were difficult to update and modify once you uploaded them.
How did your original software work?
It was pretty simple. You organized your images into folders and subfolders (job name > location type > location) and dragged and dropped it to your website via FTP. Over the years, I added more features like comments, maps and CSS for styling.
Your software is very popular in the location community. How did it spread?
It spread through word of mouth amongst location scouts and managers because it was easy to use. It satisfied a real need in the production community. People wanted to share photos through the internet and they wanted to share them through their own site, their own brand. My application allowed them to do that. It became the standard program for location scouts and it’s also being used by location libraries, production companies and photographers around the world.
What was your biggest hurdle?
After a decade the application was showing its age. It was time to reinvest in the application. The most difficult thing was to find a full time web developer who would not only redesign the application but also stay with it in the long run to implement new features, fix bugs and keep the software up to date. Since I’ve found a developer, we have completely overhauled the site, adding new features, updating the design and improving the user experience.
What are the new changes to the site?
The manner of uploading has remained the same. Drag and drop a folder/subfolder tree via FTP to a job folder. Everything else has changed. At least under the hood.
The new site has added database functionality that makes searches faster and enables you to cross reference folders and images with tags and keywords. You can even add your own fields.
Furthermore now Locations.org is more than a gallery, it is a complete content management system, which means you can design your homepage, about page, resume, portfolio, client pages all with the same application. It is easy to change the appearance, colors, and layout of your pages without knowing CSS or HTML.
What are you plans for the future?
This past year we have greatly increased the capabilities of the web application. Now we need to help people learn how to use it by creating on-line tutorials and how-to videos. For the long term I’d like to take it to a place where someone else takes over support. It’s been a 24/7 job for several years and I’d like to take some time off to travel. I will always be a location scout and my favorite kind of location scouting is when I don’t get paid for it.