I attended the Northwest Video in Workshop in Seattle on Oct. 16. I made new friends, talked shop with other journalists and picked up some inspiration. A couple of (seriously overdue) notes and musings.
By design, the conference was high on inspiration and low on technical training. And that’s cool. The speakers shared more than a dozen great examples of video storytelling that reminded us of why good journalism matters.
Last week I worked with reporter Mike Prager to put together a slideshow on Spokane’s Abraham Lincoln Statue. The news peg was Lincoln’s bicentennial, which Spokane will be observing with gusto this week.
We had a number of historical photos, and photographer Jesse Tinsley had recently shot the statue from several angles for a graphic.
I’ve made a number of videos but only one previous audio slideshow in Final Cut. This time around, I owned the process.
I asked Mike to keep his script tight, and he did so, packing in substantive narration based on his reporting. We clocked in at about 1:20.
I asked Colin Mulvany to help set us up to record the script. As a result, we had a great mic in a quiet room.
Although we were shorthanded on the desk, I invested time in the details. I worked the motion of the photos and their duration again and again until I was satisfied.
With Colin’s guidance, I learned how to include two photos in the frame at once, fading them in separately. This was useful for verticals.
This may not be the sexiest subject I’ve tackled, but it came out the most polished.
I used Wordle to create a word cloud of stuff I’ve written about here (it’s above).
It was super simple.
- Go to Wordle.
- Type in the url for any blog or site that generates a feed (e.g. atom, rss)
- Use the Wordle menu bar to customize the appearance.
- Export it as you wish. I chose to use the Grab function in Preview to save a jpeg.
I didn’t realize I was using the word “posts” so often. How boring.
Before I went on vacation last week, I shot and edited a video to go with a story running in our Home section. The subject: How to make a paper rose.
I had never made a how-to video before. Here’s what the experience taught me.
I’ve always been fascinated with all things oceanic. The geek in me hopes Google Ocean happens just so I can mess around with it. But this item also got me thinking about the potential for integrating this technology with other media. Granted, as a journalist in the Inland Northwest, Google Ocean wouldn’t lend itself to our coverage as well as Google Streetview has with, for example, business reporter Parker Howell’s blog covering growth and development, Here’s the Dirt.
But I hope bigger media outlets, especially magazines and documentary filmmakers, let their imaginations run with the possibilities. Imagine visiting nationalgeographic.com, reading a story about weird deep-sea creatures like this guy, then being able to zoom around the canyons where it lives via Google Maps. An incredibly rich layer of information.
Or imagine an interactive Web component accompanying the BBC’s breathtaking series “The Blue Planet.” You could navigate the programs as a series of clips such as the one below geocoded to corresponding undersea locations. Or track the migration of featured species.
I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of potential applications. Any more great ones out there?
What: Multimedia about multimedia. Emerge News is a grant-funded program that lets high school students create news webcasts. I visited one of their tapings and shot video of the process.
What worked: Tight shots. Lots of them. I like the popcorn sequence, but only because it was part of the story; the subsequent shot of the girl working by the bowl of popcorn is meant to establish that. Also, the setting was amenable to using a tripod, which helped keep my shots sharp and allowed me to zoom way in.
Wait, music? After my edit, the piece felt a little flat. My editor at work suggested music. I threw together a quick soundtrack in Garage Band using three loops. I think the result is a livelier video without distracting from the subjects.
Lessons learned: Check out the background on the first interview. Painted cinder blocks. How ugly. How stiff. I need to find better ways to set up my A roll interviews.
When I shifted to the online producer’s seat last month, I had to get up to speed on a lot of stuff. Fortunately, the Web is brimming with resources that helped me do just that. Whether you need inspiration for a video project or just need to look up an HTML tag, here are a few good places to begin. I plan to keep adding to this list, so check back.
HTML and other coding
• Google’s tutorial: How use the various WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) functions available in MyMaps. Thanks to Brea at breajones.com for this one (via Wired Journalists groups — see below).
• 100 Things to do with Google Maps Mashups: I have barely begun to scratch the surface of mashups yet, and this puts me way behind the curve. But this site is full of ideas; link back to the originating blog, Google Maps Mania, for more.
• Google Maps API tutorial: OK, this is way above my head right now: a guide to making your own interactive maps using Google Maps. This requires knowledge of scripting and databases that I’m only beginning to flirt with. But I include it here for anybody who’s far beyond me.
Video and multimedia
• Mastering Multimedia blog: I had the luck of learning the basics of video shooting and editing with Final Cut from one of the best in the business (who also happens to be one of my supervisors), Colin Mulvany. This is his blog, where he passes on great advice.
• Multimedia Shooter: Check out the tutorials, gear guide and examples of great multimedia journalism.
• Journerdism/94 career-related links: This will help you be a better networker and job hunter. Will Sullivan’s site is definitely worth adding to your RSS feed for all the great tidbits he finds across the Web.
• Wiredjournalists.com: A social networking site for multimedia/online journalists. Fight the revulsion at the thought of joining one more such network: This one will put you in touch with like-employed people for ideas and feedback. Feel free to look me up.
The Spokesman-Review ran a front-page tribute today to Spokane’s Charlie Ryan, a rockabilly icon who penned the song “Hot Rod Lincoln” and died Saturday.
It’s a good read, but it’s an even better read online, where we were able to link to a MP3 of the song, thanks to the generosity of Ryan’s family and the efforts of columnist Doug Clark.
Odds are most of our readers have already heard the song. But even then, what better testament to the qualities that make Ryan worthy of a tribute than a creation that embodies them and gets your toes tapping?
I’m learning that pairing multimedia with local news can take imagination, planning and doggedness. But luck also plays a role, and it sure is sweet when a perfect multimedia opportunity practically falls into your lap.