I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but this year I feel a need to make one.
For 2014, I’m going to try to please myself on every shoot. I work at a place that has formulas and expectations for the videos we produce. At the risk of getting my ass kicked, I’m going to try to avoid shooting what they expect. It’s time to have fun.
I started the first day of the year – a day off – by shooting the piece above with a co-worker flying a drone and me shooting with a single 50mm lens (and a GoPro.) I did it for fun. I think I’m going to approach every assignment this way.
It’s sometimes very hard to break away from habit and expectations. But formulas and routines make for boring videos. What are you going to do to shake things up this year?
This is an emotional and well-done news piece about the first couple to marry after Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage.
This is story-telling we should all aspire to.
McKenna Ewan at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune did a great job on this.
Canon has announced two new siblings for the XA10 camcorder. I’ve been using the small, budget friendly XA10 for a while and the new XA25 (with HDSDI jack) and the XA20 (without SDI) look like huge improvements.
First, they have a 20x lens instead of the 10x on the XA10. They have a new sensor which promises an improved image, including in low light. The XA10 was no slouch in the low light department so these should be great. It’s a tiny bit bigger chip but still roughly 1/3″ so don’t expect great things in the shallow-depth-of-field department.
But the really interesting thing about these new cameras for us news shooters is the WIFI built into the camera, combined with the onboard dual-memory-card, dual-codec, live-downrez recording. The camera records in AVCHD but will also record to MP4. And not only to MP4 but simultaneously downrez MP4 onto the second memory card. This is important because you can use MP4 files with iPads and for web use directly. So in theory you can handle all of your web streaming and instant video clip postings straight out of camera. Nothing in the release about in-camera editing, though.
And if you’re a control freak, you can operate the camera from your smart phone.
The release doesn’t mention any improvements on the audio quality, which was a weak point with the XA10 when using the mic level inputs. It does have XLR inputs on a detachable handle; line and mic switchable.
The XA10 is tiny and will run forever on an optional extra large battery.
B&H has the XA20 and XA25 on preorder for $2200 and $2700.
I will update this post when I get my hands on one Monday at NAB.
I’m part of the ten-member team from Newsshooter.com that will be covering all the new gear at NAB 2013, the mega-show of video equipment at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.
Dan Chung, a Beijing-based photojournalist who came up through Reuters and the Guardian and now does network news along with Guardian and freelance work, has put together a global all-pro squad to cover one of the world’s biggest conventions. Biggest period. Not just for TV and video.
We’re all pros who use this stuff daily. We’ll look at the new gear with a critical eye.
Newsshooter.com is the new name of DSLRnewsshooter.com and indicates the new and broader scope of coverage.
We’ll also be streaming live shows during the conference, including a panel on newspapers and video on April 10th at 5pm eastern time. Yeah, I’m on that one.
Check it all out starting Monday the 8th on Newsshooter, as well as here and on my twitter feed @newspapervideo.
JVC has announced a $1995 shoulder-mount video camera, the GY-HM70. It has a 1/2.3 inch chip and a 16x f/1.2 lens that they claim does well in low light. It’s AVCHD with manual controls, although not like a broadcast camera. It’s aimed toward wedding and event shooters, but it would also make a cheap news camera. No xlr’s – just 3.5mm mic inputs.
The price is what makes it notable. Panasonic has had a camera in this form factor for a long time, targeting the school, event, and law enforcement crowd. Now JVC’s got it covered as well. Coming in May, they say.
Here are the features from the press release:
- Full 1920 x 1080 capture and recording at 60P in the AVCHD Progressive format (28Mbps)
- 1/2.3-inch 12 megapixel oversampled CMOS imager
- 29.5mm wide angle autofocus zoom lens with 16x dynamic zoom, 200x digital zoom
(35mm equivalent: 25.5mm — 476mm)
- Manual focus, zoom, iris, shutter, white balance control
- Optical image stabilizer
- Stable, professional shoulder form factor
- Records to dual SDHc/SDXC memory cards
- 1080/60P (28 Mbps)
- 1080/60i (24/17/12/5 Mbps)
- 720×480 (6/3 Mbps)
- FALCONBRID™ High Speed Processor
- High speed video recording (for slow motion)
300 fps (720 x 480 resolution)
- 3-inch Touch Screen LCD display
- .24-inch LCOS Color Viewfinder
- Focus assist function
- Zebra indication (Over 100%/70-80%/OFF)
- Auto iris/Manual iris adjustment
- AE adjustment
- Backlight compensation
- Touch priority AE/AF
- Face detection/Smile shot
- Tele macro
- Built-in zoom microphone
- 3.5mm Microphone Input
- 12MP digital still capture (JPEG format)
- 2MP still capture during recording
- Unique dual snap-on battery system (1 provided)
- 3.5mm Remote Connector (compatible with HZ-M150VZR remote lens control unit)
- 3.5mm Headphone out connector
Tascam has a new DR-60d recorder and mixer that will do four channels of audio while attached to the bottom of your DSLR.
This thing looks great. High quality recording and a mixer in a nice small $350 unit. Supposed to have high-quality preamps and it has a safety track feature to record a duplicate channel at -6 or -12db down. It will record four channels so you can have a small shotgun in the hot shoe and still have two lav mics for your subjects.
B&H has an overview here:
A list of features from Tascam:
- Record to SD/SDHC card(Up to 32GB)
- Simultaneously record up to 4 tracks
- Record Mode：MONO, STEREO, DUAL MONO, DUAL ST, 4CH
- Recording format：16/24bit、44.1/48/96kHz (WAV/BWF)
- TASCAM original HDDA microphone preamps
- Recording levels can be adjusted independently for the 1/L, 2/R and 3-4 inputs
- Two XLR/TRS inputs support +4dBu line level input and phantom power supply (24/48V)
- Plug-in power supply and high-output mic input supported on input 3-4
- CAMERA OUT connector for output from the DR-60D’s mixer
- CAMERA IN connector for sound monitoring from the Camera
- Independent LINE OUT connector and HEADPHONE output for high-quality sound output
- 50mW/ch headphone output
- Tripod mounting threads (bottom) and DSLR screw attachment (top)
- Handles protect the screen and can be used to attach a shoulder strap
- Soft-Touch Rubber Keys for silent operation
- HOLD switch to prevent accidental operation
- A QUICK button is available for easy access to various functions
- 128×64 pixel LCD with backlight
- USB 2.0 connection for high-speed transferring
- Mini USB cable included
- Operates on 4 AA batteries, an AC adapter (sold separately) or USB bus power
- Can extend battery life with BP-6AA battery pack (sold separately)
- Dedicated remote control jack for the wired RC-10 remote control or RC-3F footswitch (both sold separately)
- Internal mixer: PAN and LEVEL controls
- Low cut filter(40/80/120Hz)
- Limiter (1/L and 2/R can be selected for link-operation)
- Delay function for distance of microphones adjustments (+/-150ms)
- M-S decode function
- Slate tone generator (AUTO/MANUAL)
- Selectable duration of slate tone from four positions (0.5/1/2/3 sec, when Auto generate)
- Selectable slate tone generate position. 3 positions: OFF/HEAD/HEAD+TAIL, when Auto generate
- File name format can be set to use a user-defined word or date
- Dual recording function allows two files to be recorded simultaneously at different levels
- Auto-record function can automatically start and stop recording at set level
- Pre-recording function allows the unit to record a 2 second sound buffer before recording is activated
- Self timer function for solo recording
- New file starts recording automatically without interruption when maximum file size is reached
- Track incrementing function allows a recording to be split by creating a new file when desired
- Jump back and play function
- Equalizers function for playback, and level alignment function to enhance the perceived overall sound pressure
- Resume function to memorize the playback position before the unit is turned off
- MARK function up to 99 points per audio track
- DIVIDE function
(Updated, see bottom)
I’ve spent the last couple of months occasionally trying to do my job with an iPhone and my new iPad mini.
Had to cover opening night of the fair last night for the 20-somethingth time, so decided to do it mobile. What a disaster.
Got my eyefi card talking to my ipad? Check.
Got a bunch of video editing apps? Check
Got a story? Check
So I shoot the story, get some pr flak voice and sit down in a quiet place to edit.
I’ve shot tons of 30-second iphone videos with clips butted together and emailed in. That works fine.
This time I thought I’d try to put flak audio under b-roll and try to make it a real video. Whoa. Blew up in my face.
Vericorder 1st Video is the only app I know that will layer audio from a video clip so that’s what I used. It’s the most user-hostile video app you can imagine. Ok, hours later I’ve got a bad video put together. On the iPad Mini, there’s no way to tell if a clip is in focus, there’s no way to skim clips for good bites, and frame-accurate editing is an exercise in frustration that makes you want to cut your thumbs off. But I’ve got a one-minute-twenty video.
Export it. Oops, too big to email. Try to FTP it with FTP Client Pro app. Hangs up half way through. Repeatedly. (Of course, there’s no way to use our video upload form from an iPad, so gotta send it in.)
Ok, recut it to a minute. Pull it into other video apps to compress it. Finally get it small enough to email. If I had shot it on my regular camera and edited on my laptop, it would have been done three hours ago.
Oops the desk says it won’t transcode through our video provider, VMIX. Crap. VMIX doesn’t like modern quicktime codecs.
After midnight, I finally give up and pull everything into my laptop, edit a much better piece with stuff I know is in focus, and post it myself. Consider slitting my wrists but decide to do a ‘will it blend’ video of my iPad.
Anyone else out there on the bleeding edge of mobile video production?
Got any app suggestions that will layer audio and video like Vericorder’s? Quick to use apps that don’t constantly crash like Splice? Anything with a ftp client built in? Anyone figured out how to get sound from an audio recorder into a video editing app?
Why does something so simple become so hard with just a little extra thrown in the mix?
Ok, I’m resigned to a laptop from now on.
Update from Glen Mulcahy, who runs the excellent mobile journalism blog VJ Technology, who tells me Pinnacle video editing app WILL split audio from video if you drag clip to audio line instead of video! D’oh!
Happy 2013, everyone! I hope your hangovers are gone by now and I hope hot dogs are not the press room food at the games you have to cover today.
I’m looking back at 2012 and finding some great pieces that didn’t get enough love. First one I found today is a New York Times video by Nicole Bengiveno on Donna’s Diner in Elyria, Ohio. A lot of work went into this story – a story that wasn’t target-rich nor easy to do.
(This comes from the New York Times year in front pages.)
Another New York Times video that is really nice is the one on a rare form of dementia that is credited to a whole crew: shot by Béatrice de Géa; produced by Nick Harbaugh, Soo-Jeong Kang and Nancy Donaldson. I like how this video has breathing room in it.
Brian Kaufman from the Detroit Free Press looked at the old Packard plant in an amazing video. Rich in imagery; poetic in approach.
I’m astounded at these great stories that took weeks or months to do. Newspapers still do this? At my paper, I used to do long-form videos but lately I’m chasing hard news and trying to get videos posted in a half hour, because that’s where the traffic is.
What have you guys done in the past year that you’re proud of? What have you seen from other folks that you’ve liked? Pitch in here and let’s do our own year-in-review!
Happy New Year!
A number of photographers still at the Miami Herald covered 1992′s Hurricane Andrew, one of only three Category 5 storms to hit the U.S.
The storm devastated South Florida and its impact is still evident in many ways.
Some of us went back to the scene of images we shot way back then:
But perhaps more shocking than the realization that it’s been twenty years since the storm, is seeing what the Miami Herald did in covering the aftermath. Nearly all the staff was living without power, some without homes, and yet we still produced what the Society of News Design lauded in this video:
I wonder how we’d do today?
The news ecosystem has suddenly gone mobile. Including video.
And I’m not sure the news producers realize it.
According to online advertising distributor BrightRoll, mobile video advertising will surpass online video advertising this year. Their CEO is quoted as saying that requests for mobile video ad exchanges have jumped from les than 5% to 40% of traffic in one year. And that mobile advertising requests overall have increased 4,000% in the past year.
The stats I’ve seen from my own paper also indicate an extremely rapid and across-the-board leap to mobile platforms for news consumption.
Even at the generally reactionary broadcast crowd at the NAB convention this year, a lot of talk was about ‘second screens’ and the way the audience are using their ipads and smart phones while watching broadcast TV.
“Stop thinking of producing stuff. Those days are over.” That was a comment from Michael Rosenblum on the NewspaperVideo email list as we talked about the switch to mobile.
But are those days over? YouTube is putting $100 million into producing original content.
Netflix generates by far the largest amount of internet traffic – as much as 30% and growing.
Online video advertising is setting records when connected to professionally-produced content on Hulu. “Delivering another record month, Hulu recorded more than 1.7 billion video ad views in March, while Google Sites — i.e., YouTube, ranked second with more than 1.2 billion video ads. The BrightRoll video network came in third with 953 million, followed by Adap.tv with 892 million, and Specific Media with more than 775 million.”
User-generated-content for media sites has been generally unsuccessful. It certainly has been at my paper and heavens knows we’ve tried. CNN has had some success with iReport, but they have dedicated resources to vetting the content and only review for publication a tiny fraction of ireports, and those are from news that is usually already making headlines. (See a fascinating master’s thesis on ireport and gatekeeping from Amani Channel here: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2597&context=etd )
For generations, our journalism model has been based on advertising paying the bills by surrounding the content. Even online, where advertising only generates pennies on the dollar compared to print, we’ve had a decent amount of success with all sorts of banners, flyouts, pre-rolls, sponsored pages, search-based ads, and individually targeted advertising. Some print media companies are making up to 50% of their revenue online.
But as things move to mobile, you lose some of the opportunity to surround your content with advertising. When the consumer is paying by the bit for their data, they’re going to object to too much advertising around the content they want to see. Mobile means 140 character stories, headlines, and links. On the video front, I’m guessing long form is out.
But how do we continue with advertiser-supported journalism on mobile devices? Stipends from the carriers? Sponsors on handsets and tablets?
Public-financed journalism? NPR is a shell of its former self; government funding has disappeared. The BBC ain’t doing so hot these days, either.
I don’t have a clue what the answer is. Just that things are changing. The wholesale jump to mobile consumption of news is an amazing and extraordinarily rapid change to our ecosystem. It doesn’t seem like many folks are talking about it but the traffic stats are really clear. Everything has changed on the news front. Our audience is now on smart phones.
How do we serve them? How do we survive?
(And I’m loving the debate on crowd-sourcing vs. gate-keeping. Just remember that Fox is the most popular news channel, Kony2012 is bunk, and your Facebook feed is full of hoaxes. And Hitler rose to power in a democratic republic.)