Video Project

I had very high expectations leading into my video project.  I’ve produced quite a few over the years and really wanted to combine my new knowledge of composition and the value of natural sound with my editing experience.  I was planning to shoot a ton of footage of  a camping/climbing trip throughout the entire weekend.  However, technological problems quickly forced me to improvise.  While filming on the car ride on day one, I discovered that the flip camera was almost out of battery power.  Before leaving I was sure to insert the device into a USB drive to charge it (or so I thought).  With the video camera dead I turned to the still camera that I had brought along, which promptly ran low on battery power as well.  I ended up having to improvise a new plan utilizing the little power remaining in both devices and recording audio interviews back home. Rather than an epic documentary of the weekend, I had to focus on one climber’s “project” that had been denying him for years.  I wasn’t able to shoot much of a variety of photos because there was so little power remaining.

Needless to say, it was very frustrating not being able to shoot a fraction of the video or photos that I had intended.  Although I didn’t do the project as planned, I think I did a great job of improvising in the field.   I was very careful to charge and experiment with both the video and still cameras before taking them out of the lab and yet I still had problems.  After returning from the trip, I discovered that the flip cameras aren’t charged by an internal battery but two AA’s. In the future, I would try to use my own equipment.  I’ve had difficulties using borrowed items and I realize how much smoother everything would be if I had a personal camera with which I was familiar.


New follows this week

I started reading Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding: An uncommon guide to the art of long-term world travel, so this week I’m on the travel theme.

@vagabondish  Mike Richard is the author of the web travel ‘zine by the same name. Great news and advice much more unique than most travel guides like these tips on hitchhiking.

@TravelWithDave Came across him after seeing his tweet, The World’s Most Dangerous Hike [Video]: In-effing-sane.

 @thetraveleditor A little upscale for my tastes, but still has lots of resources, reviews and advice on trips, gear, etc.  Also has a website by the same name.

@greentravel Great news source for trends in the lovable oxymoron that is Green Travel.

@bootsnall Billed as the ultimate resource for the Independent Traveler, BootsnAll is a prolific Twitter-user and maintains a website that’s a useful travel network with regularly updated articles to tempt you abroad.

@digitalvagabond New to Twitter but already has a strong web presences.  Stay tuned to hear the recipient of his “Roads Scholarship.”


Video Script

This weekend I will be embarking on an epic adventure with five friends across the border to Squamish, British Columbia.  The focus of the trip is to take advantage of the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada” for some intense bouldering and day hikes.

matty21Photo courtesy

I will shoot video of the entire trip to make a sort of Memorial Day weekend documentary.  Throughout the four days I will interview my fellow travelers as well as locals.  I will shoot “lifestyle” scenes of the car ride, setting up our tents and hanging out in camp.  I will include an action montage of the climbing and hiking and be sure to incorporate different types of shots, especially ECU and POV.  These montages will accompany the voiceovers that I gain from interviews.  One of my goals is to get a lot of rich natural sound including local nature/birds, campfire, shoes and hands scraping on the rock, clanking steel water bottles, the thump of hiking boots on trail and sounds of swishing sticks and leaves as people pass by.

The biggest challenge will be condensing the footage into a two-minute story.  The amount of video I plan to shoot will enable me to produce a fairly fast-paced yet varied story.

Tips for reporting in the Digital Age

1.  Common sense still applies.  For example, Photoshop is great tool for manipulating photos but there are differences in what is permissible for personal use and what constitutes a news photo.  While it is perfectly acceptable to remove wrinkles from a picture of a family member that same practice would be an inappropriate alteration of content in journalistic terms.

2.  Use your audience.  The decreasing divide between the producer and consumer of news content allows readers to be a great source of information.  Many readers are also experts in their own field and can be efficient fact-checkers if they are encouraged to comment.

3.  Transparency is crucial.  These days many journalists are apt to create a brand for themselves to help market content.  It is important that this identity be genuine and not misrepresent or skew the goals of the journalist.  This is especially essential in the blogosphere, where readers have little patience for veils and are quick to question a source’s motivations.  Transparency also helps prevent potential conflicts between the editorial/content aspect and the business/revenue aspect.

4.  Your peers are your friends.  The days of competing newspapers are coming to an end.  To excel in the virtual world, a journalist must consider his peers as assets to his success.  If someone breaks a story or idea before you do, acknowledge his efforts and provide additional information and commentary.  This community mentality can also help you stay aware of developing trends.

5.  It’s okay to make mistakes.  Always check facts and information before publishing.  However, one of the advantages of online content is the ease of updates and corrections.  Just make sure you take responsibility for the mistake and make a thorough effort to clear up any confusion and prevent similar mishaps in the future.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  Online publishing brings an amazing amount of new opportunities and responsibilities.

My follows this week

This week’s follows are centered around a “green” theme.  The green community is very active in social media so it’s important to stay connected to be aware of new trends and ideas.

@twilightearth He’s the founder of a blog by the same name and serves as a great resource for environmental news and discussion

@elephantjournal He’s based out of Boulder, CO and promotes “the mindful life.”

@greensmith Runs two different blogs and has lots of information on sustainable business practices.

@derekmarkham Another founder of Twilight Earth, he’s a very popular green tweep.

@maxgladwell Great Twitter resource.  Claimed “the nexus of social media and green living.”

Web news is not TV news

In his Journalism 2.0 blog, Mark Briggs cites the differences in how two mainstream news organizations approach a similar online video column.  The New York Times features David Pogue in a very familiar style similar to a television news story.  On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal allows Walter Mossberg to submit his reviews using a webcam and minimal editing and production.

I think Briggs hit the nail on the head with his statement that online video viewers are much more forgiving than TV viewers.  While both videos do a good job of delivering their message, I believe that Mossberg’s technique will become more and more common in the years to come.  With news organization struggling to find financial resources, efficiency will be crucial.  If Mossberg has the ability to reach and satisfy just as many viewers as Pogue, then his model will prevail because it’s easier and less expensive to produce.  Mossberg also has the advantage of timeliness because his videos only require a fraction of the shooting time compared to Pogue.

The Susan Boyle “Story”

Susan Boyle’s amazing popular YouTube video is without a doubt an entertaining documentation of her performance.  However, Gary Stein points out a few obvious journalistic “don’ts” in his article on viral videos.  The main problem is that the video is constructed to lead the viewer along a set path and then surprise him.  Stein’s so-called elephant music is clear example of how the editor designed the video with the goal of a twist rather than the goal of truth.   The viewer is led to think that she is going to be an utter failure.  Yet, it is clear that the producers of the show knew that she had an incredible voice that would undoubtedly surprise the audience and judges.

By setting the viewer up to be fooled, this video abandons journalistic standards of ethics in favor of  challenging preconceived notions and the entertainment value of surprise.