The Basics of Videojournalism

Haven’t updated this in a while, but the book co-author Larry Nance and I have been sweating over is getting closer to publication. The Basics of Videojournalism is two chapters closer to completion. Law and ethics are done and we are moving into our final chapters…mostly dealing with post (organizing, writing, editing, exporting).

Do. It. Yourself.

We all have those little tricks up our sleeves…the tricks we use to fix it, shortcut it, or make it easy for ourselves.

Some years back I posted a quick little emergency “fixit” for those days when your last miniscule lav windscreen disappears. At the time I was experimenting with using my computer with a camcorder plugged in to see if I could record “live” into iMovie.

It worked. The way I shot the video I mean. And the trick works pretty well too. All you’re doing is creating a dead zone above the mike head that keeps wind from hitting the head.

Fast forward six years to today…or rather earlier this year. I needed a way to fix my Lectrosonics wireless receiver to my Panasonic HMC150. The body is so compact and nearly every surface has dials or gizmos that I couldn’t figure out where to attach the reciever. Out of desperation I would stick it in the hand grip…or pocket it tethered to a long enough XLR cable. Awkward.

Looked around on the Internet, but most of the fixes either didn’t look like they’d work with my camera or were way too expensive. So I did what any sane person with too much time on their hands would do…I diddled and daddled and did some thinking to boot and came up with my own gizmo.

The solution was both effective and affordable. One two by four inch piece of plastic, about 3/8 inch thick. One cold shoe attachment. Industrial strength Velcro.

I’ll make a video later on…but here’s the drill. Countersink a threaded hole into the plastic. Fill said hole with super glue and screw in the cold shoe. Wait for it to dry. Attach Velcro to fit. Put mated piece of Velcro onto your receiver (or whatever else you want to attach to the camera).

Cost: assuming I could have bought just enough for this one holder, probably less than $10. As it was, I bought enough plastic for four holders (around $14), five of the cold shoes at around three and a half bucks each, and the Velcro roll ran nearly $15. The super glue I had lying around the workshop.

What would I do differently? I got the cold shoes cheap on Amazon.com. If I do it again, I’d probably go for more heavy duty shoes…I can tell the ones I got are not sturdy enough for long term use.

Oh – and once I went to all of this trouble, I found exactly what I needed (same basic design, but metal) over at B&H.

So – two of my tricks are out of the bag…and my partner in crime, Larry Nance, is working on more fixits, make-its, and shortcuts for our book, The Basics Of Videojournalism. The OMB, VJ – the current day Jack (and Jill) of all trades.

Going in circles, biting my…

…well, not fingers.  Work on The Basics of Videojournalism progresses.  The focus this week is to get the chapter on shooting done, complete with illustrations.  Those we take care of tomorrow with former McNair broadcasting student (and someday film cinematographer) Louis Martinez, who will be acting as our model for illustrations for the book.  Author Larry Nance’s son Amani will be helping out too, being interviewed on camera.  

All the while Larry is snapping the stills I will be shooting video.  Yeah, this is gonna be one interactive book.  We’ll not only show you with words and pictures how to do it, there will be a DVD (or two) with demonstration video and raw videos to show what you should be shooting (steady, well exposed, good light, etc).

Problem is…the more we write, the more we realize we need to write more.  

Shooting was supposed to be a pretty basic chapter that has now expanded, is growing, and is taking on its own life.  It seems to me that too many “how-to” books pretend to tell you “how-to”, but don’t really.  So when Larry and I say, “This is how to…” we plan to show the basics and then some. Read, look at the photos, view the video showing HOW to, work with raw video files to see how it should look. Interact and learn. One thing I learned in years of teaching is that there are different learning styles…and I suspect a lot of folks who want to learn video are visual and kinetic learners – they learn by seeing and doing.

Of course all of the above is creating more and more work and research. But taking into account Larry’s personal knowledge base (which is expansive) and all of my musings and blogs, we’re off to a pretty solid start.

Sunday…sunday….

photo-12

A quick roundup of recent thoughts.

Has the Internet made us more of a world community than a nationalistic community? There is SO much out there and the wise surfer will learn as much about far-flung events as regional ones…all the while focusing on whatever toggles their switch (i.e., personal interests).

So maybe that’s why today we care more about the world and our hyper-local sites than regional news sites.

Ah well…

Tomorrow early (very early) I head for San Francisco to BAVC (Bay Area Video Coalition) for training in how to edit with Premiere. My first serious venture into PC-Land nonlinear editing.

Oh – the the photo above? Middle daughter will be flying back with crew-mates to her new home – the Makin Island, now ported in Mississippi. Sometime soon they’ll head out to sea and sail around the South American horn on a good-will tour. Final destination: home port of San Diego.

Well to keep her busy, we came up with an idea…Lego animation. Something tiny she can shoot with her still camera and edit in MY old Ti-Book (Powerbook G4). While her animations will be Navy and sailor-themed, I kind of caught the bug myself and will be trying some news animes.

Oh – and thank you Larry Nance for pointing out what a sloth I am. I like to buy tech stuff and made the mistake of letting Larry know I was buying a Beta deck and quite a while back a U-matic deck to dub down a buncha old tapes. Larry called me on it, asking if I’d done any dubbing. So now I have to get to work…dammit.

Enjoy the day while you can…