Tips on video shooting by Rich Scinto

Rich Scinto, crime reporter at the New Haven Register, spent a day at DFM’s Thunderdome newsroom with DFM video producer Mimi Schiffman, and came up with some good tips on shooting video.

From Rich:

DSLR video mania started around 2008 when Canon released the 5D Mark II, its first camera capable of shooting video.

The Mark II was only a few thousand dollars and helped democratize independent film. Its large sensor allowed for better low-light performance the ability to achieve a shallow depth of field.

This combined with a wide variety of high-quality interchangeable lenses allows the camera to achieve a cinematic look at less-than-cinematic camera prices.

A wide variety of DSLRs and similar camera systems now include full HD recording.

Despite some great video qualities, DSLRs are still designed primarily for photography. The shape is conducive to photography, but can be awkward to hold for video without a DSLR rig or tripod.

Sound quality is just as important as video quality in a video project.

Unfortunately, sound is a weak point for many DSLRs. The onboard microphone is virtually useless and DSLRs lack high-quality audio ports such as XLR. Many have no audio meters and even fewer have headphone jacks. A workaround for this is to record on an audio recorder and sync video and audio in post-production.

Pros:

-Relatively inexpensive for quality performance.

-Ability to shoot shallow depth of field.

-Good low light performance.

-Compact size.

-Switch between photo and video easily.

-Interchangeable lenses.

Cons:

-Sound recording and monitoring.

-Awkward to hold without rig or tripod/monopod.

-LCD screens are difficult to see in bright light.

-Video clips require transcoding for older video editing programs such as FCP 7.

I’ve incorporated some of what I learned while doing video training at Thunderdome below (Thanks Mimi!) along with background knowledge. Some of these quick tips can vastly improve video quality while reducing headaches.

Quick tips to improve shooting quality-

-More is more when it comes to variety of clips. Oftentimes, a clip might look fine in the field, but something will be off when you go into post-production. Having a wide breadth of shots (tight, medium and wide too) will allow for greater flexibility and less headaches during the editing process.

-Shoot clips for 12 seconds: There might be some camera shake at the beginning and end of clips. Shooting too many long clips can complicate the editing process by forcing the editor to go through what is likely very similar footage.

-Don’t shoot video like your grandma: Hold the camera steady and try to stay away from panning and tilting.

-Don’t be afraid to do multiple takes: Technical aspects aside, a person might say something in an odd way during an interview. Only having one take leaves you with no options.

-Use custom white balance if possible: White balancing is essentially telling the camera “In this environment, this is pure white.” The camera will then set other colors based on that information. Going too warm with white balance will make people and objects have odd red or orange hues and going too cold will add bluish hues.

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Steve Buttry leads engagement workshop

Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor for Digital First Media, led a workshop last week for community engagement editors in DFM’s Pennsylvania cluster. (Which, as he notes, includes one daily in New Jersey and one in West Virginia.)

Steve’s post about the workshop includes the slides from his presentation.

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New Haven County is College Hockey Central

There are four teams still standing in college hockey, and two of them are smack dab in the middle of the New Haven Register’s coverage area.

Quinnipiac (located in Hamden, just up Whitney Avenue from New Haven) routed Union 5-1 Sunday night, joining Yale (campus in downtown New Haven) in the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh.

It’s quite likely at least one of the two will be in the April 13 championship game, and it’s a certainty that at least one team in a Digital First Media market will be in it. The other two teams in Pittsburgh will be St. Cloud (Minn.) State, which plays Quinnipiac in one semifinal, and UMass-Lowell, which plays Yale in the other.

The DFM-operated Lowell Sun covers the Riverhawks. Read the Sun’s story here in Lowell’s win over New Hampshire in Saturday’s regional final.

The Register’s College Hockeytown blog will have updates on both Yale and Quinnipiac leading up to the games. You can also follow college hockey beat writer and columnist Chip Malafronte and the Register sports department on Twitter. 

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New Haven Register examines women in media for women’s history month

The New Haven Register’s Shahid Abdul-Karim, with some help from video-savvy colleagues Rich Scinto and Rachel Chianpen, had a cool idea to commemorate women’s history month.

Abdul-Karim took a look into the lives of four prominent female media members, sitting down with each of them for video interviews and putting together a Q&A that Register web producer Kaitlyn Yaeger formatted.

Here’s what Shahid had to say about how the project came together:

The women in the media project was an idea created as a way to primarily galvanize more traffic and attention to our website. March is also Women’s History Month and the thought was what better month to highlight contributions of women than March. 

When putting this project together, I wanted to make sure we had a diverse group of women as an added feature to capture those audiences or communities that we sometimes miss.

For example: We have a Chinese American, Italian American, Latino America, African American and a German American.

There were many other women that could have been chosen, however these women were chosen because of their diverse backgrounds, their ethnic following on social media etc, and lets face it their young. They have a market and I wanted to make sure we tapped their markets also.

For the most part it was pretty easy to get them to all agree to do the piece, because I have had some type of interaction with them as a reporter seeing them in the field on various assignments.

ON A HUMBLE NOTE: It was cool because when I called and asked them to do the piece they all said they said yes immediately. Some said later in our conversations they admired and respected my work and would be delighted to do it. 

They hardest part about the project was getting  all of the women together for the one group photo and being able to catch them in the field on assignments for some (B Roll).

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Register Citizen’s Jessica Glenza, Tom Cleary take part in live chat to discuss rape, bullying

In the week since the Register Citizen exposed the rape charges and subsequent cyberbullying involving Torrington High School football players, the story has been at the center of a national dialogue on sexual assault, statutory rape, bullying, and the way young people use social media.

As the story has developed — and as two more football players have been charged with sexual assault — the story has grown more complex, and in some ways, more confusing.

With that in mind, Register Citizen reporters and editors are making a continued effort to clarify.

What are the football players charged with doing? Which laws have been broken and by whom? What school policies are in place and which have been violated? What is the school district doing to move things forward? What about the football program.

The staff is routinely updated this list of frequently asked questions. 

And in the latest attempt to tie all this together, reporter Jessica Glenza, who broke the story, and co-managing editor Tom Cleary, took part in a live chat that ran on websites throughout the Digital First Media network.

You can see a replay of the chat right here.

Glenza and Cleary have also been on numerous radio shows discussing the case and the Register Citizen’s reporting, which included publishing screengrabs of tweets sent by Torrington High students calling the 13-year-old victims “hoes” and “snitches” and defending the suspects.

You can read more about the Register Citizen’s ongoing coverage in items from Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review, and DFM Digital Transformation Editor Steve Buttry, among others.

The New York Times sent a reporter to Torrington Wednesday to talk to Glenza, Cleary and Register Citizen Editor John Berry, so expect a story there in the near future.

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New Haven Register hosts forum with mayoral candidates

For the first time in two decades, John DeStefano won’t be on the ballot this fall when New Haven voters elect a mayor. So the race to succeed DeStefano, who was first elected in 1993, is shaping up to be particularly interesting.

Three men — Democrats Gary Holder-Winfield, Justin Elicker and Sundiata Keitazulu — have declared their candidacies for mayor, and all three were in the New Haven Register newsroom Thursday morning for a forum hosted by Register community engagement editor Shahid Abdul-Karim.

Register visuals editor Vern Williams, photographer/videographer Peter Hvizdak and breaking news reporter Rachel Chinapen worked to set up a makeshift TV studio and live-stream the event on the Register’s website, while city editor Helen Bennett Harvey moderated a live chat in which readers submitted questions for the candidates.

You can watch the replay of the forum and view a Storify of tweets during the event here.

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Ninja School re-launch Day 2 recap; Day 3 look-ahead

Steve Buttry wrapped up his two-day Connecticut tour yesterday with a series of workshops at the New Haven Register.

Steve covered social media for local news coverage in the morning, followed by blogging for local news coverage and finally, digital-first workflow for copy desks.

One common theme Steve addressed both Monday in Torrington and Tuesday in New Haven was the ability of live tweets to double as a publishing tool and a note-taking tool.

Ed Stannard, the Register’s community engagement editor and a longtime reporter, asked Steve how he’d recommend handling the tweets-as-notes practice given the need to quote people accurately and the reality that few full quotes fit into 140 characters.

Steve’s response? “Most good quotes fit in a tweet. If it’s longer than 140 characters, we want to paraphrase.”

It’s worth noting that Steve’s quote about quotes fitting into tweets easily fit into a tweet:

The social media workshop had the biggest turnout of the day, with about 25 people in the room and another 25 or so watching via livestream.

We also had about 20 people at Steve’s blogging workshop, at which point we tried to tackle the issue of where blogs fit into newsroom strategy in light of the enormous growth social media has had in the past two or three years.

Reality is in at least some cases, really effective Facebook pages like the “Westies Watch” page run by Register West Haven reporter Susan Misur serve many of the same functions that blogs have served for the past five years or so. Susan, for instance, has both ongoing dialogue with the West Haven community and plenty of news updates.

Steve’s overarching point, though, was that blogs are not dead. They still make up a substantial portion of page views and unique visitors for websites throughout the world, and still have the ability to drive traffic via search that social media can’t deliver.

And though this issue wasn’t addressed in Tuesday’s workshop, it’s worth noting the benefit news organizations get in traffic and potential revenue from blogs that they don’t get when people are consuming information on Facebook but not clicking through to the site. (I’d love to see a breakdown of the pros and cons from a branding and revenue standpoint of the blogs vs. Facebook debate. I’ll look for one later, but if someone knows of a good post on this, let me know and I’ll link to it.)

The third workshop was one we hoped would be successful even though it was unlikely to produce a whole lot of immediate solutions: A session on facing one of our biggest issues: How to preserve good copy editing at a time when our copy desks are significantly smaller than they were even five years ago, and in some cases half the size that they were 10 or 15 years ago.

Fortunately, there’s reason for some optimism across DFM copy desks from a workflow standpoint: Right now, we’re working in entirely different content management systems for digital and print — something that will change early in 2013 when we start using Saxotech for both digital and print. That will eliminate the tedious and time-consuming step of copying and pasting content from one system to the other.

Some of the issues that came up — reporters filing late copy when only one editor is available to edit it and get it on a page — won’t be easily solved, especially when the content is vital to the next day’s print edition.

We did have some good discussion, though, on having stories that aren’t extremely time-sensitive get thoroughly edited and posted in the morning, when web traffic peaks and there isn’t a print deadline rush compromising our ability to get the good editing we need.

Al Santangelo, the Register’s news editor, also had this suggestion, which, if we could find a way to shift people around, could lead to people editing and posting more stories early in the morning, far away from the print deadline rush but optimally timed for the morning surge in web traffic:

I put some highlights of the sessions that I tweeted from the Ninja School account in this Storify:

[View the story “Ninja School re-launch Day 2 ” on Storify]

Wednesday and Thursday will be our busiest days in the training blitz. Starting at 9 a.m., we’ll have workshops throughout the day on video and digital content strategy; social media for the brand; and data journalism, among other topics.

Most of the sessions will be live-streamed, with tweets fed into a ScribbleLive that people that people can follow and use as an avenue for questions.

DFM’s Mandy Jenkins, Yvonne Leow, Tom Meagher and Julie Westfall will be leading the workshops.

Looking forward to a long but exciting day.

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