My assignment was to cover a police officer’s funeral.
Ok. I think about how a funeral unfolds. I arrive at the high school gym an hour early and score a decent parking spot. I set up my Nikon D4 DSLR camera on the mezzanine level of a high school gym with a 200-400mm f/4 lens and a wireless mic to capture video of the speakers. I also shoot b-roll of the mourners and crowd shots. Now what?
This is what I faced as I formulated my plan to cover the funeral service of Coeur d’Alene Police Officer Greg Moore who was killed in the line of duty in May.
And this is where three local TV news stations covering the funeral and my newspaper produced video diverged. We had two still photojournalists, Dan Pelle and Kathy Plonka, covering the funeral. I decided ( at the last minute) my job was to find the gold coins from the speakers and then create a narrative spine to hang the still photos on. I also made sure to shoot video b-roll of the police car procession mixed with citizens lining the funeral route.
An hour after the event was over, I was staring at a blank timeline with a ton of raw video in my Final Cut Pro X browser waiting to be edited. I began to panic. How can I tell this story in a short amount of time, but still connect emotionally to what was happening? Where do I start?
It took me a few minutes, but my simple solution was to start with a music track. I headed over to Preminumbeat.com and purchased a simple piano-based track that had a slow beat. Once I laid the music down in the Final Cut Pro X timeline, it was just a matter of meshing the one speaker, who defined the communities response to the tragedy, with the still photos, which I edited the beat of the music. I realize this not the type of video story TV news could or would want to tell (stand ups and anchor tosses are the norm.) The newspaper benefited from also having a wonderfully fact-filled print story for online readers, but this video allowed them to feel the emotion of the event in ways the printed word can rarely do.
Video storytelling is a wide-open genre. I’ve learned over time there is no right or wrong way to approach a story. I just try to make sure to connect with the emotion of my subjects. If I do, I know my video story will be good as gold.
The mix of stills and video mark this as a newspaper project, but no other medium had three visual journalists there or created a single video that gave the feeling of being at the scene. The still photos demand to be looked at for a longer length of time.