It snowed seven inches Wednesday in Spokane, a ton for our neck of the Northwest woods. This morning I stood looking out my living room window at 6:30 a.m. pondering whether to go shovel the driveway, or cut and run. I honestly thought about leaving the task to my wife so I could get an early start trolling neighborhoods looking for weather video prospects. I almost got away. Suffice to say, I did my part and cleared the driveway first. Sweaty, but feeling invigorated, I hopped in my trusty old four-wheel drive and went scouting for people dealing with the morning mess.
The morning-after-the-storm weather video is still new to me. TV lenslingers know the drill well– as snowflakes begin to fall, live trucks fan out across the town. Breathless reporters give viewers up the minute coverage of slick roads complete with a little snowplow action in the background. They must hate the mindless repetition of it all. This is my first weather video so I have not gone all jaded yet.
My strategy this morning was to get as many voices as I could on tape to quickly tell the weather story. A guy snow blowing a park sidewalk, a bus stuck on a hill, a woman on her way to get a lattes, spinning her wheels on ice. All these vignettes came quickly. In my days as still photojournalist, I would have passed many of these photo opportunities up. But with video, I found myself in search of natural sounds as much as visuals. The scraping of ice off a windshield, the sound of a tire spinning in place, a sound a shovel makes as it plies along a sidewalk. Doing this type of video also made me a change the way I approached people digging out. Gone is my introduction. I just walked up to a subject, camera rolling and asked a dumb question. “How’s it going for ya this morning,” or “What do you think about all this snow” Not giving people time to formulate an answer can give you gold. Everyone I encountered was pleasant and had something meaningful to say.
I got the shots I needed in about an hour and a half and headed back to the newspaper the bust out the edit. I had to make a frame grab for our website first, then I captured the video and started editing. I had a plan all worked out before I started editing. I all ready knew how I was going to start the video and end it. With bookends in place, I just built my timeline from beginning to end. By 11:30 I was done with the edit and had the video posted on the breaking news home page by 11:46 a.m. The frame grab slowed me down some, but, all in all, I think it went well. Total shoot and production time was about three and a half hours. Not quite Howard Owens quick. I don’t know how I could have done it faster. In editing, I tried for a quicker pace in this video. Still I think it could be tightened up in spots. I could have spent all day massaging it to death, but by then the story would be stale and I have other projects that needed to be tackled.
Take a look at the finished piece in Video Journal.