Victim or perpetrator?

I follow Carlos Miller’s Photography Is Not a Crime blog for a reason. Ninety-nine percent of the time photographers are harassed due to either ignorance about First Amendment rights by law enforcement and other agencies or at times those agencies or employees deliberately ignoring the rights of media and citizens.

First – the media has no more nor less rights than any citizen of this great country. So if a videojournalist is pushed back and locals are allowed to stay near a homicide scene that is wrong – illegal. Journalists can, however, be allowed closer and are even protected under some state laws so they can have access to disaster and other areas closed off to the general public for safety reasons.

So all of this leads to what appears at first glance to be yet another case of cop v. citizen caught on a cell phone. Take a look at the videos here and then let me explain my take on it.

If you watched all nine videos you’ll note some are extremely short, which I’ll attribute to Ikhinmwin possibly either having difficulty uploading or editing or both (those are the one or two second clips).

I went to her youtube channel fully intending to support her and find fault with the police…and after watching the videos and reading the comments, I find fault with both the police and her.

The police could have ignored her…but they did have a point in the fact her bike was legally on the street/over the curb. You can even see that in her own video. And refusing to move a bike because you don’t want the tires to get dirty? Hmmmm…

This is a case that (at least to me) is up in the air – still out waiting for more information. If Ikhnmwin shot this as one clip, it has been edited. It is possible she shot multiple clips…and I for one would like to know which is the case because what is posted does not bode well for her. Her own video shows her bike was on the street and her reason for not moving it seems rather petty. I do think the officer came after her too harshly…and between the two of them, the situation escalated. And the officer is the one who should have been professional enough to let it go. But – there was absolutely no cooperation or courtesy from Ikhnmwin either.

Final score? The cops came out smelling worse but the so-called victim doesn’t come off much better. And if the court of public comments has anything to say (and be warned some of them are pretty nasty) simple courtesy might have averted an arrest.

Thought for the day…

…picked this up from Dieter Melhorn over on b-roll.

…it’s not the wand, it’s the magician waving it…

that makes the magic. So for you myriad producers, wanna-be’s, and everyone else. No matter which camera you use, the person behind the camera is who makes the difference between crap and creativity. They have the technical chops to know how to use whatever camera they’re given and the aesthetic and practical workflow knowledge to squeeze the most out of said camera.

Once again…a pricy camera in the hands of an idiot produces high quality crap. Hire for experience and brains, not because someone happens to have access to a dream camera.

The International community is coming together…

…on facebook. Inevitable.

Michael Mandela/Kenya

Michael Mandela/Kenya

Like seeks like…and I like a number of pages that allow me to communicate with those with similar interests. They include everything from BEA/Broadcast Education Association to videojournalist (thanks Ruud Elmendorp) to Global VJs and then find a journalist…around the world (which I help administer) and others.

I learn so much about how news is covered in other countries and by other cultures…the similarities in the process and the varying struggles with both gear, law, and ethics.

Suparna Gangal/India

Suparna Gangal/India

But the grand thing is the open discussion among professionals with a passion for storytelling. Interestingly enough gear is the least discussed. Where and how to find work tops the list…followed by a need for comradery and a willingness to help each other. And the need to keep it professional and focused on providing genuine journalism…real stories. Stories that allow those elsewhere to glimpse lifestyles which draw us together as a world community.

Ruud Elmendorp/Nairobi

Ruud Elmendorp/Nairobi

…and to be called friend – as in a real friend – by videojournalists I have never encountered in the flesh…is meaningful.

The domino effect…

SAMSUNG CSC …is how I once got a job. Had applied for a shooter position at KPIX in San Francisco and got a call one day from Harry Fuller (I think but can’t accurately remember if he was the AD at the time), who proceeded to tell me I was his second choice for the job. And I’m thinking, “Second??? Then why the heck are you calling???” Fuller went on to tell me that he’d hired a cameraman from KQED…AND that there would be an opening there within the next few days.

Domino effect.

When one job is filled, more than likely another will open when the new hire moves into his or her new gig.

And, depending on how little experience you have and how desperate you are, you can follow that string of dominoes back quite a way. Good luck and you’re welcome.

BTW – I got the job at KQED.

Three way light face-off…

I’ve been wondering what the difference in color temperature is between a good tungsten light head, a good LED head, and a cheap LED head. The video is below.

Judge for yourself, but from what I see the tungsten is spot-on for good vibrant color. I used my little Lowell Prolight/cost around $120 but the lamps are fairly short-lived. Second up is the Flolight with 128 LEDs at a cost of around $260/runs cool with extremely long life. The Neewer, which comes in last, has 160 LEDs and cost only $30.

In the first test the Neewer is obviously green. This test was shot with my Panasonic AG-HMC150 on auto white. The Flolight looks pretty good, but is cool in comparison with the Prolight. Take a look at the upper right color square, which is an intense pink to see the difference.

In test #2 the Flolight comes even closer to the Prolight. In this test I white balanced each light on a white card. You’ll have to excuse the exposure here on the Prolight…it’s a bit dark. But you can see the obvious difference in the pink again in the Neewer.

In test #3 I white balance the Prolight on the white card. Then balanced the two LEDs on a warm card, which is intended to shift the color balance away from blue and towards a warmer hue. In both LEDs the reds are off and you can see the warmth in the grey scale at the top, compared to the tungsten card.

In the fourth and final test I used the Prolight white balance on white card and then shot using each of the LEDs with that same set white balance. This is where you see blatant differences between the full spectrum tungsten light and the LEDs, which shift to blue and totally lack warmth. And if you look closely you can see the greenish tint is more apparent with the Neewer head.

What does this mean to you? Well, this test was shot in a dark room with no other light invading…so you need to keep in mind if you decide to shoot with your LEDs in the dark there will be issues with accurate color. However the good news is if you shoot and use the LEDs for fill only AND if you white balance, the full spectrum lights will overcome the deficiencies of the LEDs. And I will say that being able to operate off batteries for extended periods with LED lights has given me a freedom I never had with the hotter tungsten lights, which are battery vampires.

Update from b-roll buddy Bobby Alcaraz. If you’re gonna use LEDs, make sure they’re all by the same manufacturer so they match. If you start mixing different (especially bad and off color) lights you are asking for trouble. At least with them all being the same you stand a better chance of getting somewhat usable color.

VJ workflow…

VJworkflow

Ah workflow…what you do and when you do it and in what order you do it.

Now in the wonderful world of production, there is a pretty set plan.
One. Pre-production. This is conception of the idea, be it a TV commercial or program, to the research and scripting and choosing talent and much much more. Choosing crew, cameras and other gear. Venues, costume. The list is endless.
Two. Production. Shooting.
Three Post-production. Editing, FX, trailers.

And then. There is news.

A wild and furry beast that defies description.

Now all of the elements are there – but kind of jumbled up and thrown together to make a monster of a mishmash that somehow seems to work.

Generally you do get to either get an assignment or come up with an idea for a story…and then, depending…you may start shooting before you have time to do any research or even get a grasp of what you just got into. You might see smoke and be in the middle of a fire scene, trying to figure it out as it happens. Pre-production and production run into each other and duke it out with you caught up in the chaos.

Or you might be given a few minutes or an hour to track down interviews and set up b-roll. But during the day you will most likely still be doing research and gathering information while grabbing interviews and b-roll.

The only part that is guaranteed is that editing will come last. Unless of course you go live, then forget about that.