I resolve to have fun….

January 1, 2014 · Posted in A-Roll · 1 Comment 

2014 New Year’s Day polar plunge in Northport, NY from Chuck Fadely on Vimeo.


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?


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.

How to assign video

December 2, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on How to assign video 

3D! We were having a discussion of how to assign video over on the NewspaperVideo email list, and I posted this:

We’ve been doing video for the past five years at the Miami Herald. I’ve learned a few things about video assignments.

First, if your paper is anything like mine, none of your reporters, editors, or photo assignment people will have a clue what makes good video when you’re starting out. So don’t put video assignments in the same pipeline as your photo assignments. If you have a dedicated video producer, let them make the call on what to cover. Choose one thing a day to produce a video from and make sure the person doing it has all day to work on it… they’ll need the time. If your big bosses are making a fuss about video, all your reporters and editors will be requesting video on their stories – don’t automatically assign it. Pick and choose what to do. The person picking and choosing needs to know both video production and your web stats – video on the web ain’t the same as ink on paper.

Second, if you’re after web traffic, realize that there are only a few things that will get hits in video on a newspaper site – primarily hard news and sports. Most of your traffic will come from the story level pages as people arrive there from search engines, so make embedding video with the story a top priority. Because of that, try to do video from the top web stories of the day – which are seldom the same as the lede print story. If you’re compelled to cover feel-good features and cultural events, go into it knowing they won’t get much traffic.

Third, as you’re picking what to cover, make sure your videos are compelling and emotional… facts and figures have no place in video. Show, don’t tell. Make ’em short and make sure the opening shot is amazing and action-packed – most people click off videos in the first ten seconds, and you have to grab them fast. Videos need a story arc – a beginning, middle and end – so long after your still shooter has gone home, your video guy might be waiting to get that ending shot – it takes much much longer to shoot a video than it does to shoot stills.

And finally and most importantly, always keep in mind that crappy video has absolutely no value to your newspaper. Advertisers hate it; viewers click off it immediately; and your staff will hate doing it. Pick stuff that’s worth doing and give people the time to do it well. Don’t do predictable and newspaper-story-style video – the point of video is to tell a story a different way.

Video is a bottomless rabbit hole that will take huge amounts of time to do. Do not expect your photogs to be able to cover their normal assignment load while also producing video. On the other hand, video is the most amazing story tool ever. No other medium can bring people to tears or make them laugh with joy the way that video can.

Although I forget sometimes that there are newspapers who still don’t do video as part of their daily work, it seems like most do. Video is a part of almost every metro photo department these days. Since every metro photo department is a faint shadow of what they used to be, you have to be really smart about doing video. The time investment every time you press the record button is enormous.

If there’s one message I feel compelled to share after going through a few years of the learning process, it’s that video traffic is a good thing but won’t pay the bills. No advertiser wants to be associated with crappy news clips and amateur quality features – even if they get a lot of hits. All of us need to put our efforts into producing high-quality work and look for things that can be turned into series and channels. At the moment sports coverage seems to be the most fertile for this and advertisers are willing to sponsor ongoing and predictable sports shows. That predictable part is really important – sponsors want consistent quality and consistent frequency.

Which isn’t to say we should spend all our time trying to pay the bills. Use the skills you learn producing consistent high quality stuff to tackle your own stories and make your videos really compelling. I can’t say enough about the power of video to move people. Use it wisely and well. There are many outlets for quality news video stories and more and more of us are doing documentaries and work for broadcast in partnership with other outlets. It’s a big world out there and newspapers are becoming an ever-smaller part of it. Spread your wings, everyone… Never have the tools to produce cinema-quality video been available to us so easily, even on pitiful newspaper salaries. Learn to use them!

In the end, It’s all about the story. Photojournalists are well equipped to tell stories.

Canon’s baby cam: the XF100

October 5, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Canon’s baby cam: the XF100 

Canon’s new XF100 and XF105 look like they’ll be great photojournalist’s cameras. Too bad about the 10x lens, though.

Newspaper video as cinema – from Dan Chung of the Guardian

July 22, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on Newspaper video as cinema – from Dan Chung of the Guardian 

Mongolian Racer from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Dan Chung from the Guardian UK newspaper made a production out of a story on Mongolian horse races. He gives a complete rundown of the equipment he used and how he did it over on his blog: DSLR News Shooter

Whenever I look at Dan Chung’s work, I have pangs of longing to go out and shoot visual stories. He does great stuff. Alas, the metrics and the bosses say I have to produce daily news stories and not features. I have resisted shooting DSLR on news stuff just because it’s so hard to use. Might have to rethink that….

Promise vs. Reality on the iPad

June 12, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Promise vs. Reality on the iPad 

VIV Mag Interactive Feature Spread – iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

Before the iPad came out we were promised extraordinary innovation in publishing on the new device. This preview of Viv Magazine is, indeed, extraordinary. But if you go to Vivmag.com on an iPad today, months after the new Apple toy hit the streets, what do you get? Nothing. The current issues display in Flash, which, of course, the iPad won’t display. No app to be found, either.

It takes a lot of talent and time to produce compelling content like this and the economics of publishing aren’t in favor of it.

I still hope for the best. Although the AP news app is terrible, the USA Today one is ok.   The New York Times ‘Editors Choice’ app has been updated and just recently added video and it looks great!  And although they aren’t publishers, Vimeo plays video full screen in html5 on the iPad and it’s really nice.

Report from NAB, the world’s largest trade show for video, broadcast, and TV

April 15, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Report from NAB, the world’s largest trade show for video, broadcast, and TV 

NAB is the world’s biggest conference for TV, film and video producers, with miles of halls filled with equipment on display.

This year it’s all about 3D and DSLR cameras. It seems like every booth has either dslr rigs or 3D lenses and equipment – or both. Biggest news of the show: B&H isn’t giving a show discount this year.

Most of the new stuff seems to be 3D related, but there are a couple of interesting cameras here.

The new Canon XF300 handycam is a tapeless big brother to the XHA1 but has full 1920×1080 chips that have amazing resolution. Even though it is a 1/3″ chip camera, you’d never believe it from the resolution charts I saw. This is serious competition to the big chip broadcast cameras, and has 4:2:2 color and a high data rate. Around six or seven grand price, depending on the model.

Panasonic and Sony both talked about budget cinema large-chip cameras but neither have anything you can handle.

The serious people are spending serious money on DSLR rigs with setups built around 1Dmk4 or 5D bodies with Cooke, Zeiss or Leica lenses that eclipse the price of the body by several orders of magnitude. There’s a lot of buzz about the last episode of House being shot entirely on 5D mk2’s – it airs May 17.

LED lights are everywhere you turn and prices are coming down.

I’ve spent the last two days buried in the world of broadband, iptv, and mobile video at NAB, so don’t have much new camera porn for you all. As I sit here amongst the slot machines at my airport gate, here’s a ‘stuff’ update.

The acronym for today is OTT – which stands for ‘over the top’ delivery of iptv to settop boxes. A new ‘freedom’ chip is coming on the market which will give settop tv boxes the power of computers and will enable tv, vod, and web access via the internet. – bypassing the cable company. This seems like a pretty big deal to me, but it was well-hidden at this broadcast event.

There were a bunch of cool things for ipads and iphones. VeriCorder has a non-linear video editor for the iPhone which is fairly amazing. They’re also going to market xlr adapters for the iPhone as well as plug-in mics. The pro NLE is $300 per year, but they have a consumer app for $10 that does some editing.

On the content delivery front, a new company to join the likes of Brightcove, VMix, etc is a Virginia company called Voped. They have a pretty good administrative interface, decent metrics and seemed like bright, capable and nice people. They automatically transcode for different formats, including mobile. Bandwidth costs about $1k per terabyte per month.

There were an overwhelming number of rigs for dslrs and the Zeiss folks were beating people back from their booth – all of whom had their checkbooks out for a $24,000 set of compact prime lenses. The uptake of dslrs is amazing. Canon had a huge presence at the show, with almost continuous presentations of shows by the likes of Vincent Laforet. The crowds were huge in front of that part of the Canon booth while the broadcast folks were standing around their beautiful expensive tv lenses with no one to talk to. Zeiss, Leica, and Cooke all had lenses for the Canons in their booths. Nikon was not visible at all at the show.

(Sorry, but I don’t know much about the new big-chip cameras announced by Panasonic and Sony. Panasonic will have a micro-four/thirds video camera at the end of 2010. Sony said they’re working on a big-chip camera but didn’t have mockups yet.)

Also overwhelming was the number of new LED based lighting systems. They’re starting to get the color temperature under control on the less-expensive units and a lot of them now have a switch to change from daylight to tungsten without having to use filters. Chinese LED lights were in every other booth and most looked the same but Filmgear, repped by Birns and Sawyer, looked to be quality stuff.

I went to the FCPUG Supermeet last night and saw presentations on Adobe CS5, Avid, and DaViinci color correction, along with 3D production (which is not at all simple.) Apple’s product manager for Final Cut Pro spoke at the event and highlighted many third-party developments. He did not say a single word about Apple’s plans for Final Cut.

NAB is the biggest trade show I’ve ever been to and I’m used to some big ones back home. It has three huge halls full of video and TV stuff. Never having been before, I don’t have much to compare it to, but I left with the impression that the whole TV industry has it’s head in the sand. Marketing for the show highlighted convergence and broadband, but the number of vendors and presentations on broadband and iptv was really pretty small. 3D seemed to be where people thought there was money to be made.

A shout-out to the list folks who got together at NAB – it was great and gratifying to meet you folks!

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