Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Edit for a national show - Nightly Business Report

My friend Tom calls some jobs "making Chicken Salad out of chicken sh!#". This is one of those cases.

The story is solidly written, but it's mostly about abstract ideas. Those are harder to edit than stories about physical objects or events and happenings. This cuts-only story uses SD footage, web video, press handouts and staged shots (people talking, walking, answering phones and just pretending to work in general).

It was a total charge for me to be in "news mode" again after several years of being in "post world. You sit down to work at 9am and you know the Fed Ex office closes at 5pm. You better be done before 4:40.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

End of Summer Highlight - Matt Mullenweg

As Bigge Crane was winding down, I started working on a profile of Matt Mullenweg for KTEH, the PBS affiliate in San Jose.

This is built around a sit-down interview with Matt. I talked to him for nearly an hour, beginning from his religious and social background to his philosophical influences as a young developer. We also covered the facts & figures surrounding the success of WordPress and Automattic.

The challenge was finding video to cover the thoughts. Luckily for me, Matt is a photography fanatic and there are web videos from WordPress's fans around the world. By using those assets, plus Photoshop and After Effects animations, we were able to turn abstract ideas into visual expression.

The reaction to the story was VERY positive. The folks at WordPress put it on their company blog and Matt himself posted it and recommended it as a good introduction to WP. It was re-tweeted and re-posted onto other blogs around the world and received many positive compliments.

Monday, December 13, 2010

First item: Summer Job!

I've been too busy to post during the past few months, but that means I have a bunch of good stories to share during the Christmas break. First item: Summer Job!

My full time employer, The City & County of San Francisco, had to reduce the pay of 25,000 workers by roughly 5.5%. This meant I would have 12 unpaid days of furlough coming up in the fiscal year, so I found a part-time job as a videographer and editor for Bigge Crane & Rigging.

The company is a market leader in the US for rentals of cranes, but they had no video presence on the web. Bigge wanted a half-dozen direct sales videos to be done quickly. Management was interested in creating softer videos, like recruiting and overview pieces, but they didn't want to waste time by doing those first.

The camera was a Canon Vixia 30 with a shotgun mic. By setting it the camera to "auto-everything" I had good pictures 90% of the time. The CMOS sensor "jelly" effect ruined a few shots and the auto-iris became confused by foggy weather sometimes, but for speedy production I could ignore the few bad takes. During this job I edited on Sony Vegas for the first time. It was a great product that filled the niche between Avid and low end tools like MovieMaker. For editing news-style pieces, it was a snap. The compression tools were a time-killer though. If you work with HDV and output m2t files, you'll be fine, but many people can't play m2t on their desktops. For internal review I needed mp4 or .mov, and Vegas is very slow to compress those.

After making five or six of these of these videos, we had a script template and the production process was understood by the full time Bigge staff. I knew that I was leaving in a few weeks, so I created another short piece to use as a template.

This was made from an old press realease that I found on their website and a half dozen photos from Bigge's archives. I thought it was a good example of how to turn old content into a new experience. Bigge has hundreds of photos in their archive, dating back to the 1920s. I enjoyed seeing them, so I assume that others will as well. These videos only take a few hours to knock out and can be done when other shoots are delayed. It's a good corporate image series to complement the hard sell of the other pieces.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Volunteer Work - Hacks And Hackers

Two weekends ago I helped a Meetup group by doing some volunteer camera work for them. Hacks/Hackers provides an environment for journalists to meet application developers and work together on new forms of storytelling.

I used two Sony VX2000 DV cameras from KQED, where the event was hosted. The medium shot fed the live feed for LiveStream, the wide shot was the live feed for uStream. The cameras were generally good for locked-down shots and worked well on full Auto mode. The wide shot ended up looking better than the medium shot, which I was trying to operate in manual mode. The Sony flip-out viewfinder isn't detailed enough to show you sharp manual focus. The manual iris control is also the same dial that rides the audio input levels. As I changed f stops, it didn't roll through the exposures- it clunkily stepped from one level to another. When the room's power went out for a few minutes during the first morning, the camera's settings weren't saved. It came back with auto-white turned On for the last two presenters. The bright LCD projector in the picture frame caused a continuous psychedelic effect as the camera tried to compensate for the blue, then green, then red, then back to blue. And it wasn't visible in the flip-out viewfinder.

Despite the power interruptions and my unfamiliarity with the gear, I still managed to come up with six hours of tape from the two cameras. During the next week, I ingested all the video and started locking up the audio waveforms in the timeline. I had five guest presentations, one open forum, twelve project presentations and one award ceremony.

Each of the nineteen segments were about seven minutes long. During the Memorial day weekend, it took 24 hours of labor to do all the meatball editing- cuts and dissolves, ride the audio. Forget color correction. Forget ProTools. Just keep grinding.

Not my best technical work, but a yeoman effort for an interesting group of locals.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring training continues...

This season of Digital Juice jumpbacks continues with two new episodes. These shorts were inspired by the PSAs from when I was working in Washington, DC.

Police Commission neighborhood meeting announcement:

One of six voter information shorts:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Training

During this past Christmas holiday, I transferred some of my old Beta tapes to DVD and made mp4s to post on YouTube. There was some dodgy material in there, but also a few gems from 1999-2001.

The first PKG that I produced stands up pretty well:

This edit won a NATOA Award in 2001:

For me, the most interesting stuff was finding all of the old PSAs that I used to make for Washington, DC's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications. It was a very "Iron Chef" situation. You would have two hours to create something by using the materials that you could find around the office.

I realized how out of practice I've become at making :30 spots. The "tilt-shift" video for the Small Business Commission that I did last year was really cool... but it took three days to put it all together.

So this month is spring training for PSA season. Getting back into the "Part Animal, Part Machine" mindset hasn't been easy, though. There were a few edit sequences that didn't make it to tape... one dodgy PSA that actually did hit the air... and finally, a winner of sorts:

It looks and feels like 2003, but it went from an email request to a finished product in 1 hour and 56 minutes. Winner!