Canon HF-10 performs stellar during training

Last week’s two-day video storytelling workshop for six journalists from The Spokesman-Review newsroom went well.  On day one I pounded into them the fundamentals of shooting, sequencing and storytelling.  I then turned them lose to shoot the rest of the afternoon. This was a highly motivated group. All in the class wanted to learn how to shoot and edit video. There was no arm-twisting by their editors.

On day two, I demonstrated Final Cut Express and how to capture video from camera to computer.  Out of six journalists, three received the new flash drive based Canon HF-10 video camera. Two others had standard def. Sony SR-200 hard drive cameras and one photographer inherited my prized Sony HVR-Z1U.

Come capture time, I was a little nervous. Other than some quick tests, I hadn’t really given the Canon HF-10’s a real field test. The moment of truth came when the three cameras were connected to the laptops through Final Cut’s new Log and Transfer feature.  Two of the three camera’s video clips showed up in the clip pane immediately. The third camera crashed Final Cut. A quick look at the computer found the reporter had a half-dozen other programs open at the same time. After a restart, all was well.

The workflow with the HF-10 is really simple. Just after Log and Transfer is opened, all the video clips on the camera’s flash drive show up quickly in a window. In order for Final Cut Express to be able to read and edit these files, it needs to transcode them from AVCHD into something it can read and edit. In this case, it is Apple’s Intermediate codec (Final Cut Pro 6 uses the better ProRes 422 codec.)

The transferred files are large, but with today’s massive hard drives and fast processors, it really isn’t a problem. With my old Log and Capture workflow, I would bring in all my video as one large clip, then break it up once it was in Final Cut. Instead, Log and Transfer allows you to scrub each video clip quickly, setting  in and out points of only what you need. After giving the clip a descriptive label, you drag it to the transfer window.  While that clip is converting, you start on the next. By the time you are ready to start editing, you will have reviewed everything you had shot and the clips will waiting for you already be labeled in the browser.

I think this is a much faster workflow then spending countless minutes scrubbing through unlabeled clips. Editing is faster because you don’t have a bunch of crap video to wade through. The three reporters who shot with the Canon HF-10s were all pleased with the camera and workflow. The HD video is stunning compared with standard def. and the camera handled low light amazingly well.

Part of their final assignment was to shoot an interview using their new Sennheiser G-2 wireless mic. All came back with stellar audio. Editing time was about four hours for about a minute and half of edited video. Not bad for the first time editing in Final Cut. Music reporter Som Jordan shot and edited this piece, which is now posted on The Spokesman-Review’s website. Business reporter, Parker Howell shot this video that was a companion to a story he wrote. Howell already had some experience with Final Cut so he cranked out this video quickly.

At the end of the day I gave a final critique of the finished projects. I was pleased by what I saw. Many used techniques that took me a year to finally grasp. I kept my feedback positive. One of the last projects I critiqued was by photojournalist Rajah Bose on Mutton Bustin’ at the county fair. You could tell a photographer shot this video. The visuals stood out from the rest of the stories.  I was really impressed, considering this was only the second video Bose had ever edited in Final Cut.

My plan is get together every so often and hold critique sessions of videos these new VJ’s produce. I will also do more advanced training in Final Cut during some brown bag sessions. They all will have a hill to climb. There is so much I was not able to teach in such a short amount of time–but will get there together.

On the other end of video experience spectrum in our newsroom, my co-worker Dan Pelle today shot edited this incredible visual story on ultralight trike aircraft. It has excellent sequencing and each clip is framed like it was shot with a still camera. This is definitely not the Spokesman-Review newsroom of a just few years ago.

12 thoughts on “Canon HF-10 performs stellar during training

  1. that hang-glider piece was shot with an HF-10?

    IME those small cams work OK for close-in close-ups but fall apart completely with wideshots and at the telephoto end of the lens….

  2. Peter,
    Dan Pelle shot with a Sony V1U HDV camera. I don’t seem to notice the problems you speak about.Going from standard DV to HDV and HD is such a jump that those minor issues don’t matter much to me or the people that have to watch the compressed web version.

  3. I’m wondering about Flash drives versus tape for news shooting, in terms of archiving. With tape, it may be tossed in a drawer, but it’s still there if you need an outtake later. But with Flash memory, will shooters take the time to archive their outtakes or will they just delete the unused footage? Or do you plan on keeping the used SD cards, just like with tape?

  4. I watched Rajah’s piece yesterday – his photographic skills really showed – images that brought a smile to my face! I look forward to more!

  5. understood – I think most interesting will be the stats you get back reliable analytics are key. You have a huge advantage with a custom player over services like Brightcove and Youtube.

    Youtube doesn’t want to assign a “view” unless the entire vid is watched, Brightcove assigns a “hit” for every click – even if the viewer never gets to the 10 second mark.

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  8. I watched Rajah’s piece too. Well shot, edited. Good pacing. Good fun. I’m going to forward this to my staff as an example of a good package. I preach making pieces complete, not comprehensive. This is a great example of what can come from something like a fair.

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  11. Hi I was wondering if you tell me the exact bits of senhiser radio mic kit you used. I’m thinking of getting a G2 set up to use with my HF10 and wanted to know how if faired. A link to the kit you used would be great

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