Martin Luther King/general news story

Monday (January 15) is Dr. Martin L. King’s birthday. At 10am in downtown Stockton there will be a short march and ceremony. Stand by for story…I’ll post the video and explanation of how it was shot asap. And while we’re at it – challenge yourself to shoot a short general news story. A general news story is the kind of meat and potatoes story that every videojournalist should be competent at – press conferences (make them visual), community issues, holidays. Learn how to touch your audience.

Monday, January 15 @ 1:30pm
Back from the march…had to do a couple of errands first before returning home. Shot from around 10am-11:30. Began in the South Hall of the Civic Center in Stockton, catching the end of the breakfast and the keynote speaker. Followed the march from Civic Center around City Hall and to the park where there were more speeches. Grabbed a one-on-one interview with keynote speaker. Left.
Unfortunately some family errands are between me and getting this edited right away…but will have posted by 6 tonight hopefully. (Sorry Cal)
Monday, January 15 @ 4:50pm
Ready to go…will start capturing tape. I’ll be editing with Final Cut Express…I’m much faster with that program and it’s much more flexible than iMovie. Here we go…once I capture, I’ll formally log, although I will be mentally logging tape and taking note of what looks/sounds good as it comes into the computer.
4:55…looks kinda geeky here in my newly painted kitchen. One MacBook hooked up to the surge protector and charging. One LaCie portable harddrive wired in with my Canon ZR60 wired into the hard drive. Time to pull in the video.
4:58…I’m watching the capture screen…have about 36 minutes of tape. First ten minutes or so is the meeting, followed by the march, gathering around MLK’s statue and then the interview. I’m going to see if I can find some royalty-free photos of Dr. King online. The statue is nice, but I’d like one clean photo of him.
5:45…might as well make this real. Final Cut keeps telling me I’ve run out of disk space. Ugh. I have 17 GBs. Let’s try again.
7:02 – well, the computer finally let me capture and save. I’m putting this story together is a style that a former reporter of mine (Jodi Hernandez) calls “track at a time.” A great way to slam a storytogether if you’re short on time. I remembered a bite from keynote speaker Myisha Patterson and started with that…and then will use short narrations to tie tracks together. I wanted to avoid the usual MLKing start with “We shall overcome…”
7:49…flowing smoothly. Just got all of the audio together and evened out (smooth pacing, no upcuts, even levels). Not to lay picture. Actually, what I did was lay sound bites with picture and narration alone. I have to cover the narration and parts of the sound bites to make it flow smoothly.
8:31…done and burning to QuickTime. Not the best, but a basic news story and done in real time. One and a half hours to shoot and about the same to write and edit. Only hitch was the computer problem.
I’ll post later tonight and will put my “track at a time” script up with the video.

Hints in shooting general news:
1. Have your facts. Where/when is it happening. Who is sponsoring it. Why is it happening. Usually if you know the first two, you can just show up and find out the rest.
2. Key in on the action. If I’m shooting a march, the first thing I want to know is where do they start, what is their route, and where do they end. Will there be any special activities (songs, etc)? Are there any prominent people (this can mean well-known or someone who met Dr. King). Shoot the action/activity, picking up interviews as you go.
3. Always keep in mind that you need a grabber to open and close your story. Watch for human emotion. If all else fails, the natural open/close is slow zoom in/zoom out.
4. Use a stick or shotgun mike for walking interviews…just hold out at arms length and backpeddle as you talk. Keep your lens on wide angle at all times (the only time I tele is if I’m on a tripod or something breaks and I absolutely do not have time to put up my sticks) when you walk/talk.
5. Don’t forget your basic cover shots – make sure you have video of the focus of your story. In my case, I’ll try to find photos of Dr. King from posters, signs, buttons (and I know there is a cement memorial in a near-by park). Shots that give meaning to the story…in this case a diverse crowd.
6. Try to find one expert to give you the facts and in-depth information you need to flesh the story out. Remember, this is a general news story. If there is controversy, you’ll need to get both/all sides, so make the effort and track down the opposition. In the case of this march, folks with memories of past times who can contrast what they lived through with the changes since Dr. King entered the scene and pushed for equal rights.

Final note: today (Saturday, January 13) looks to be a busy one. I’m doing something I rarely do: shooting a wedding. A former 4H member, currently on active duty, is getting married. He will be deployed to the Middle East soon. Our hearts and thoughts go with him.

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