João Godinho – telling stories through images
He was born and bred in Ribatejo, in Chamusca, and those who know him know that he is tolerant and discreet, a conciliator, who interrupts me to make it clear that he also gets upset sometimes. Labels aside, he doesn't like bullfighting, but he does like to hunt sometimes; otherwise, he "totally overlooked" the most conservative side of his geographical roots. He has a son and a daughter and now that his bohemian days as a single man in Lisbon are behind him, he returns to his hometown with his family almost every weekend and appreciates peace and quiet. João Godinho is the coordinator of the Audiovisual team.
He started working as a layout designer at the regional newspaper "O Mirante", where he stayed for 5 years. He decided to pack his bags and mode to Lisbon where in continued to work in layout design, this time for the National Therapeutic Index, the "bible" that brings together the package leaflets of all the drugs available in Portugal.
The Egas Moniz was almost ready and there was the need to strengthen the teams, so João Godinho managed to join the Audiovisual team of the Faculty of Medicine in 2004. He brought with him the experience of dealing with image software and the patience of someone who deals with thousands and thousands of pages. But he also gained experience as soon as he arrived, because his first mission was the opening of the João Lobo Antunes Grand Auditorium . Videoconferencing with the University of Madeira became one of his daily routines, challenging him to refine old techniques and learn new ones. He learned by himself and today all the teams ask him to make videos. Despite the fact that video editing is what he most likes to do, it's not his main job; together with his team he provides support for classes and the Professors' presentations. As time went by, he realized that he could go further and help other people more; he refined his taste and turned it into images, and by mixing these two ingredients he came up with creative projects, proportional to his dedication. He deals with pressure every day, responding to urgent requests that come up simultaneously. He's diplomatic when it comes to managing different characters and personalities, and says that there's a difference in attitude between the young and the old, who make things easier, perhaps because they're less anxious. But João wasn't the only one who modernized his learning techniques, the Professors themselves also did it over time, saying goodbye to the old slides, replacing them with PowerPoints, or "data shows as some Professors call video projectors", he says, smiling. He likes to be present at the Faculty's main events and feels particularly motivated working with foreign teams because, when faced with technical setbacks, they manage to deal calmly with plans B and C.
He says that his work team is an extension of his family, "I rather identify with Rui (Vila) and Paulo (Caeiro), because they have a very relaxed attitude, allowing us to manage stress situations more effectively".
It was precisely Rui who called him on the day of the fire in the Aula Magna. "I was doing some shopping and he called me to say that there were news on TV that something was burning. At first I told him not to play with such a thing. But he really insisted that it was real and then I believed him. I came here straight away".
He praises the firefighters' work and effectiveness, but his expression changes as he speaks, he loses his smile, as if he was watching a film that is not that fun to edit." I tried to get to the Aula Magna and the firefighters told me that I couldn't go any further, I was there next to the Council, but there was so much smoke that we couldn't breathe in that corridor. I was horrible. I had to step back".
Right on that night João knew that something had gone very wrong and that everything that had been planned for the Aula Magna would now require a lot more work, would be a lot more drastic. Challenged by the head of department, Isabel Aguiar, while he was wondering what to do to put the Aula Magna in line with the greatest national and international auditoriums, he took a peek at what had remained, taking care of the victims of an overwhelming fire.
He dedicated himself to cleaning the material that was saved, trying to re-use as much as he could; what gave him more trouble was a videoconferencing system, scorched and in poor condition, but he explains that "it was worth the effort to recover it, because it would have been very expensive to buy a new one". So he cleaned it with Q-tips and alcohol and brought it back to life. "I deal with either the purchase or the recovery of materials as if it were for me, trying to avoid spending too much money on products whose market prices are often inflated".
He studied the best solutions for an auditorium that was intended to be fully digital and, without euphoria, he says that he has accomplished his mission, but that there is still room for improvement.
Technically speaking, what has changed from the old Aula Magna to the renovated one?
João Godinho: Technically speaking, the renovation of the Aula Magna stands out for the change from an analogue to a digital audio-visual system. We provide the same services as before, such as streaming, recordings, videoconferencing, among others, but the quality is better now.
We often had to improvise live broadcasts, or streaming, and now we have specific equipment to do it.
The most important factor in the renovation of the room is sound quality. The equipment is more sophisticated and allows better hearing acuity.
We see everything ready and we may think that it was easy to put this room together. But tell me what you and your team had to do to get to this point.
João Godinho: After coping with the impact of the fire that destroyed our Aula Magna, a reference when it comes to facilities with the capacity to host different types of events, it was time to get down to work and give it back its greatness.
Initially, we contacted several companies that operate in the audio-visual market, in order to bring ourselves up to date on new techniques and dynamics related to similar facilities. After several contacts and evaluations of the suggestions and proposals put forward, it was possible to prepare a project that would meet the expectations of our target audience. Acoustic quality was one of the main aspects that were taken into account when it came to choosing and laying out the equipment, without compromising comfort and aesthetic issues.
Is there a setback you remember when you look back at this work?
João Godinho: The few setbacks that we faced were easily overcome thanks to the collaboration of Isabel Aguiar, namely in issues related to the renovation of the physical space. The work went on very smoothly in an organized manner, in tune with the guys from carpentry, electricity, painting, chairs, among others. Managing the interventions of the company PLL Audiovisuais throughout the various stages of the work was extremely important to complete the project within the established deadline.
When I ask him if he's ready for the next auditorium renovation, he tells me that in every crisis there is learning, but that he prefers to go slowly, because construction works put his resilience to the test.