Keeping the short form video short

Construction Career Day

My last video I produced was a self-assignment.  It was a slow day in the photo department so I perused through the press releases that clutter up my company email each day.  I found an event that seemed interesting–Construction Career Day for high school students. There were going to be 800 kids learning about the construction trades through hands on demonstrations. Sweet. It was almost noon and I really didn’t want to be still editing late into the evening. I set my goal of producing a one-minute thirty-second video. That seems to be the trend my friends in TV news like to adhere to. My videos of late have crept up the time scale, blowing through my three-minute rule by clocking in at five or more minutes each. That’s a tome in TV news time. I figured a little shooting and editing discipline was in order.

The Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds was laden with geeky high schoolers that were given the chance to pound nails and drive massive Caterpillar frontend loaders.  It was pretty decent for b-roll.  I grabbed a couple of quick interviews of students and organizers. I shot as much b-roll as I could in the short hour I was there.  I tried to keep as much on the tripod as I could.

By 1:30 pm I was back at the paper unloading my SxS cards into Final Cut. I  edited as fast as I could. I started with the main interview with the organizer and quickly built out from there.  The video was posted on our site around 4:30 with ninety minutes to spare in my shift.

career2It turned out that our community news section was doing a cover story for the weekend on the event. I made sure that they promoted the video from the print story. Local TV news (KXLY) produced a story with  reporter Dave Erickson and photographer Jerry Swanson. Again, like my last compare and contrast videos, these stories are approached differently. The TV version is wordier. It had lots of facts, good b-roll,  strong interviews and an engaging voiceover.  I thought about narrating my video, but found my edit of letting the subject tell the story worked better for me this time. I think both videos say pretty much the same thing in the end.

Now for my boatload of shooting issues

My 48-year-old eyes are failing me  close up, I really need to start wearing reading glasses when I shoot. The LCD monitor looks fine but I can’t rely on it for sharpness anymore. The one thing I have grown to hate about my Sony EX-1 is that the auto focus sucks and that trying to focus manually either through the viewfinder or LCD monitor can be a pain. Hence, I had some decent footage out of focus. I now have placed a pair of reading glasses in my camera case.

Things I could have done better.

I wish I could have found a better place to do the main interview. The nail pounding inside, over-powered the nat sound from my outside b-roll.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t a quiet spot anywhere to be found.

Close ups, close ups, and more close ups.  They make your sequences sing and the video more interesting to look at.


2 thoughts on “Keeping the short form video short

  1. A really enlightening post Colin-it’s great to see your shooting and editing process laid out like this.

    I’m a big fan of free form ways of multimedia shooting so it’s great too you’ve let us compare your version with the local TV news one.

    They both have their + and – I guess: I think you were right not to narrate yours; the TV version doesn’t benefit from it’s voice over. But it does have a couple of nicer sequences (like the director driving in his truck telling the kids to “go play”).

    For a few hours work, your piece is excellent!

  2. Very nicely done, it had everything it needed. Actually I want to try out some of that equipment now ;-). Harkening back to my TV news days I probably would have started the report with either some sparks from the cutter or some heavy equipment moving and been in the seat of the bobcat for my ‘stand up’, but that difference is what gives us variety. ( I’m talking about the TV story, not yours, which done as a solo has it’s own style). I’m a VO guy but yours stands up well without it, and the TV audio sounds like he recorded in the bathroom, lots of comb filtering going on.

    I hear you on the eyes. I hit the big 50 this year and while I can adjust the diopter on the viewfinder on the Sony DSR250, adjusting controls on the body of the fancycam has become troublesome. On my little Canon HV30 I wind up relying heavily on the instant auto focus because the manual focus wheel is so troublesome, but that is what you get with prosumer/consumer level gear.

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