Looking back at 2012, looking ahead to 2013

January 1, 2013 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on Looking back at 2012, looking ahead to 2013 

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.

Brian Kaufman's video on the old Packard Plant from Freep.com

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!

Twenty years after Hurricane Andrew

August 18, 2012 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on Twenty years after Hurricane Andrew 
Cauley Square after Hurricane Andrew

Hurricane Andrew left our lives in shambles.

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:


#10: Miami Herald’s Hurricane Andrew Coverage from The Society for News Design on Vimeo.


I wonder how we’d do today?

Everything is going mobile, including video

April 29, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · 2 Comments 

Mobile Phone

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.)

The PadCaster iPad rig

April 18, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on The PadCaster iPad rig 


This is sick.  A rig for an iPad to let you hook mics and lights on it  – and even a 35mm adapter!

Josh Apter from the training company Manhattan Edit Workshops wanted a way to put stuff on his iPad and started building this contraption.  It has a urethane insert that securely holds your iPad 3, inside an aluminum frame with 1/4-20 holes all around.  You can mount it to a tripod and put mics and lights and stuff around the frame.  And the wicked cool thing is the little mount so you can put your 35mm adapter on it.  He was showing a quite nice movie he had shot with the rig – very impressive for an iPad.

It will sell for $200 and be available from www.thepadcaster.com









JVC GY-HM650 web and broadcast news cam

April 18, 2012 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on JVC GY-HM650 web and broadcast news cam 


JVC is showing pre-production models of a news camera called the GY-HM650. This is a web-friendly broadcast-quality handy cam.
When it ships in December for $5695, it will have the ability to FTP from camera and be able to connect to wifi.
The magic here is that it has dual encoders that will let you record HD to one card and web-rez H.264 (among other codecs) to the other, and then send it out. But not live, unfortunately.
The HM650 does have both hdsdi and hdmi outputs so you can output live.
It’s got a 23X zoom with separate zoom, iris, and focus, and the camera has a decent grip. Big drawback seems to be small LCD and small EVF on the working HM600 they were showing. (HM600 lacks dual encoders and connectivity.)
This is a very interesting camera for news.

New video editing choices

April 18, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on New video editing choices 

I saw demos of two new editing programs last night that are pretty exciting.

First off is the new CS6 version of Adobe Premiere. This is an all-new version and it looks so much better than the previous one. It looks elegant and you mostly see your media now, instead of the program interface. It will take most any media and it has some cool features like skimming and live correction during playback, and great new trimming tools. This is where the old Final Cut desktop market will go, I think.

The other editing program is Autodesk Smoke 2013, which is targeted at the pro Final Cut market. It looks and acts like Final Cut when you’re in the editing mode but of course has the Smoke special effects engine behind it so you can make the film of your dreams – or nightmares, if you’re into horror. This makes After Effects look like a toy. Smoke used to be $15,000, but the new editing version will be much less – $3500. If you’re a pro editor it will be a bargain.

Avid, the broadcast standard, is running a special now to cross-grade from FCP to Avid Symphony 6 for $995. This too is a great bargain if you’re working in a collaborative environment. It’s normally $6,000.  Just be prepared for the sticker shock for the next version upgrade.

The pro editing crowd is definitely not embracing Final Cut X and these new alternatives look good.

Black Magic Design $3k cinema camera

April 17, 2012 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Black Magic Design $3k cinema camera 

The Black Magic Design cinema camera is creating a huge buzz at NAB thanks to its low price of $2995.
It has only a Canon EF mount (not Nikon as erroneously put out in an early press release.) Mount is not interchangeable. Sensor is roughly Micro 4/3 size so your lens is doubled in focal length.
Has a 90 minute battery and a 12 volt input. Shoots avid dnxhd, prores and raw.
It’s cool but not a journalist’s camera.
Rear screen of Black Magic Cinema Camera


Audio gear from NAB 2012 for DSLRS and for iPhones

April 17, 2012 · Posted in B-Roll · 4 Comments 

I’m going to round up a bunch of audio discoveries I found at NAB 2012.   Some for dslrs and some for iphones.

(UPDATE: Rode is not at the show and no one here has their new VideoMic HD recorder/microphone yet, so sorry, no info on that.)

DSLR audio stuff

Que Audio:  First off, the video above is recorded into a Sony NEX7 with a Que Audio mic.  This mic is very tiny and will fit into your camera bag along with the rest of your gear and still leave room for lunch.  It’s a shotgun mic that’s about the size of a pen yet sounds pretty good.  They are packaged in a variety of kits, from a bare-bones mic with shock mount on up to kits with booms and stands.  The video was shot in a very noisy convention hall but the voice is still clear.

Rycote:  Rycote has three items that news shooters will be interested in.  First is a shock mount for your H4N or Tascam DR40 recorder so you can put it on top of your camera and reduce the handling noise.  In the company photos the mount looks big but I’m pleased to report it’s not so big in real life.

A shock mount for your audio recorder

Wind muffs for your built-in mics.

The next Rycote goodie is their Invision Video shock mount.  This is designed to hold shotgun microphones, but it will also clamp onto your Sennheiser MKE400 mic, even after you’ve broken the little shock mount on it.  This mount is a great solution to those little rubber legs breaking off.

And finally, a must-have accessory for your DSLR or your iPhone is the Rycote micro windjammer, which is a little dot of furry wonder to cut the wind noise from your built-in mics on your camera or phone.  These are semi-disposable, and stick on with a little circular pad to cover the mic.  These work.

iPhone audio: This is a new subject for most manufacturers, but several iPhone audio solutions were at NAB.   First was from Mic-W, a Beijing-based company making iPhone mics for mobile journalists and musicians.  They have a range of shotguns and lavs that plug directly into an iPhone.  The video above was recorded into an iPhone 4s with a Mic-W lavalier mic while he talked about a shotgun mic that plugs directly into an iPhone.

Fostex AR-4i microphone interface   Fostex with the AR-4i has updated their microphone mount for iPhones so that it now works with an iPhone 4s – or at least that’s what the folks at Location Sound told me, as I didn’t get to try one.  Your iPhone goes into this contraption and you get two external mics and a bunch of jacks.


NAB report 2012

April 15, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on NAB report 2012 

I’m in Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters convention, where a few TV types worry about the state of the industry and the other 85,000 attendees drool over this year’s crop of new video and broadcast toys.
Two years ago the show was dominated by 3D products, with Sony’s giant booth darkened down so the crowd could don dorky glasses to watch 3D footage on a huge screen like the drones from Apple’s famous 1984 Mac ad. But the real action was in the booths where hordes of vendors were hawking accessories for DSLR cameras.
This year the buzz is all about 4k cameras, with new models from Canon and Sony sure to draw the multitudes. But like 3D, those cameras may be before their time. Normal folks have no way to display 4K let alone the horsepower to edit it.
We’ll see Monday morning when the displays open what the back story is for this year’s gear.
I’ll be posting stuff as I find it that is of interest to visual journalists.

Live streaming in the age of tapeless cameras

April 13, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Live streaming in the age of tapeless cameras 

Livestream encoder

It used to be really easy to live stream an event – plug a firewire cable into your laptop from your dv camera and away your went.

But now with tapeless HD cameras, it’s not so easy.  There’s no firewire port on most new cameras.  And even if you’re using a firewire camera, the newer versions of Mac OS X and Flash have broken the audio part of the equation for those who are Mac-based.

Here are a few ways to get around the problems:

The analog/digital converter route – Using something like the Grass Valley ADVC55 Analog/Digital Converter, you can take the av output from your camera, (assuming you can remove the onscreen displays from within your camera menus,) and convert the video to firewire.  Your camera’s av output is typically on a cable with red, white, and yellow RCA connectors, with the yellow being standard def analog video meant for a monitor.  In theory, you can plug all three cables into your converter box and feed it into your laptop via firewire.  In practice, you won’t get any audio with Livestream or UStream live broadcasting services.  I don’t know if Flash or OS X is to blame, but you can’t get audio this way any longer.  The solution is to use a mini stereo to RCA “Y” adapter and feed your audio straight into your Mac’s microphone jack (at Mic level only, not line.)  Then set your Flash settings to use the DV box for video and ‘built-in input’ for audio.  This is my method.

External encoder – using something like a Teradek Cube, or the newly-announced Livestream Broadcaster pictured above, or at the higher end a Newtek Tricaster, you can encode your signal and broadcast live.  There’s even one called the Teradek Bond which uses multiple cell phone usb data cards to broadcast HD live.  And if you have a large budget, you can get a LiveU.tv backpack to do live broadcast quality video.

But in any case, you live and die by your internet connection.  I have never had success over a venue’s wifi at an event – a small crowd of people will take down the connection speed quickly.  Hardwire ethernet connections to a separate internet leg is best, and a 4G cellular data puck will often work, unless it’s on ATT and there are a lot of iPhones in the crowd.  Like I said, live-streaming isn’t as easy as it used to be.

UPDATE:  Here’s another entry in the streaming field:


The MiniCaster is a camera-top box with various models that take in either HDSDI, HDMI, or analog signals and encode them in h.264 for web streaming.  The German manufacturer has put it in a sturdy-feeling plastic case with weather sealing.  It has a battery built-in with a relatively short life but has a power input from 8-24 volts. It has a usb port for a single cellular modem or wifi to connect to a hot spot.  Prices range from $1500-$3,000 from resellers all over the world.  This looks like something built ruggedly for news.





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