Profiles in Dust: the future of Burning Man video (A Global Leadership Conference report)

This changes everything

Video of Burning Man will never be the same.  It’s getting crowd-sourced.

Ladies and gentlemen, Burners of all ages, I am humbled to announce the new:  “Profiles in Dust,” a concept so amazing that, mid-way through the explanation of how it came to be, I’m going to try to steal credit for it.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know to jump in with both feet:

Last year a team of trusted videographers took massive amounts of extraordinary footage of Burning Man.  Every day, everywhere, every CORE project.  They made sure all of it follows Burning Man’s standards for privacy and protection of participants.

Now they’ve put all that raw footage on the web, where it’s freely available for download, to be mixed into whatever presentations people want.  They’re developing tools for easy use, and are actively looking for videographers amateur and experienced to turn it into something all their own.

Pretty awesome.  If you’re not inspired yet, take a look at the “Profiles in Dust” site.  See what people have done with this opportunity.  Come back in 20 minutes.  Or 30.  Take as long as you like.  You’ll be hooked.  Go ahead:  I’ll still be here.

Not only have they created the means for anybody to make video about Burning Man with professionally shot footage – they’re creating a killer distribution system (KDS – patent pending) to bring your work to the widest audience possible.

It’s the inverse of a traditional network:  all the creative and programming decisions are made by the artists, and the “network” is a service desk supporting their efforts.

Tell me you don’t want a piece of this.

They’re also looking to give previously produced videos of Burning Man, that are just sitting on the shelf, a new life with this distribution system.

And … if you want to be one of the videographers running around with them in the dust this year – and you’ve got the chops – they’re looking for volunteers.

Get involved – pretty soon the world will be looking at us in a whole different way.  For more information email Noelle Charles:  dangerousgrace (at)

Well?  Go!  Don’t sit around here!  I’m just going to be mumbling about the amazing people who made this possible.

Burning Man volunteer Tom LaPorte will deny it, but the whole thing was probably his idea.  He’s like that.  LaPorte (I call him “Mr. Tom LaPorte,” because … well … he’s that guy) contacted Burning Man staff member Meghan Rutigliano with a more basic version of the idea … which was not as fully developed as what they have now, but did involve using talented video volunteers to take video of the CORE projects and serve as a kind of PR desk to get the projects more attention in the regions themselves.  Megs jumped on the prospect, and they had a conference call with me (I told you I’d try to steal some credit) to see if there were Media Mecca volunteers I could pass their way.

They already had the incomparable Terry Pratt, Noelle Charles, Greg Sklar, and Justin Gunn … all of whom were ready to run out into the desert and work all day in the hot sun, for no reward, to get the video.  I loved the idea of other people doing that so I wouldn’t have to, and hooked them up with new Media Mecca volunteer (now rising star) Michael Fasman, among others.

It takes a long time to ramp a new initiative up, and the effort to provide pre-event publicity to the regional projects didn’t pan out – but by the end of the 2011 Burn they had some compelling video of regional projects edited down, and they resolved to do it again for 2012, only more organized and more effectively.  (Here are the original 2011 Profiles in Dust videos, along with a complete list of people who worked on the project that year)

When the 2012 Burn came around there they were, out in the dust, getting crucial videos for all 34 CORE projects, day in and day out.

It went magnificently.

The only trouble was, they realized coming home from the Burn, that they had too much film.  Hundreds and hundreds of hours.  “We were never going to get through it all,” Terry said.

And then it hit them:  why would they have to?  Why not open it up?  Why not get so much more out of this footage than they ever could have on their own?

That’s already happened.  Go to the Profiles in Dust site and check out the killer videos, using their footage, from Scandanavia, from Lithuania, from Idaho, from Arizona, and all other points on the compass.

It’s open source art.  Burning Man video may very well never be the same – because of you.

What are you waiting for?

Caveat is the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man.  His opinions are in no way statements of the Burning Man organization.  Contact him at Caveat (at)

About the author: Caveat Magister

Caveat is Burning Man's Philosopher Laureate. A founding member of its Philosophical Center, he is the author of The Scene That Became Cities: what Burning Man philosophy can teach us about building better communities, and Turn Your Life Into Art: lessons in Psychologic from the San Francisco Underground. He has also written several books which have nothing to do with Burning Man. He has finally got his email address caveat (at) burningman (dot) org working again. He tweets, occasionally, as @BenjaminWachs

13 Comments on “Profiles in Dust: the future of Burning Man video (A Global Leadership Conference report)

  • Michael "Dustin" Fasman says:

    Thanks Caveat, erudite as always. As an addendum, you don’t need to be an experienced videographer to join the PID network, we’re looking for anyone who’s interested in documenting the world that encompasses Burning Man, especially during the other 51 weeks of the year. We’ll answer whatever production, technical, legal or moral questions you may have, provide resources, and connect you with other Burners and the BM Org. It’s all about collaboration!

    PS: I didn’t even realize I was a star, rising or otherwise…

    Report comment

  • Tiph Hunter says:

    I had the great pleasure to edit video for the vimeo Profiles in Dust network, a smattering of Burning Man, CORE and BM Regionals video documentaries from around the globe.

    We video artists should never pass up opportunities to express our talents in such a massive way. Opportunities such as the Profiles In Dust, even though it is voluntary work, beg for talented peoples like us to help make the art of video story telling.

    Report comment

  • Seriously. That was a good read. I will reddit this web page for later.

    I like your style.

    Report comment

  • Ahaa, its good dialogue regarding this post at this place at this weblog, I have read all that, so at this
    time me also commenting here.

    Report comment

  • Kay Morrison says:


    Video has so much story-telling capacity and has been under utilized by our culture till now (can’t imagine why. not like we have other things to do before, during and after Burning Man events). I followed Caveat’s directions and went to the PID page and proceeded to get lost in watching videos. Can’t wait to see more.

    Thank you to all who have given their talents and smarts to helping us all tell the bigger story.

    Report comment

  • Wendi says:

    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and
    find almost all of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for.

    Do you offer guest writers to write content for you personally?
    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome blog!

    Report comment

  • Thanks for your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you might be a great author.
    I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will eventually come back very soon.
    I want to encourage you continue your great job, have a nice afternoon!

    Report comment

  • Claude says:

    It’s amazing to pay a quick visit this web site and reading the views of all mates on the topic of this piece of writing, while I am also keen of getting experience.

    Report comment

  • Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely
    long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips for beginner blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    Report comment

  • Wow that is super cool. LOVE!

    Report comment

  • NAB says:


    first, i love this idea! open sourcing is the good version of the future. the regional burns’ CORE project videos i watched are an amazing result from it.

    second, i can’t see if there’s a link to the open sourced material or not. am i missing it? is it being emailed to people who express interest? i was interested in sifting through some of the raw footage just to get an idea of what is Bman ‘privacy appropriate.’

    Report comment

  • Hello there! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My website looks weird when browsing from my iphone. I’m trying to find a theme
    or plugin that might be able to resolve this issue. If you have any suggestions,
    please share. Appreciate it!

    Report comment

  • Chris Bonk says:

    I had such a great time editing The Great Lakes CORE Project. Being from Chicago, it was a natural that I would be set up with that project. Unfortunately, I felt the footage available wasn’t enough to to tell the story i envisioned. Luckily I was able to contact some of the members on the build team who put me in contact with the individual who had additional time-lapse footage and that really opened up the project!
    Thanks so much for this opportunity to help and share the Playa with everyone!

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.