I got the assignment to film 10 Journal reporters and editors discussing the top 10 news stories of the year in their own words.
I decided to use some of the gear and techniques I’ve been developing to shoot and present the video.
Rather than shooting 10 separate videos and presenting them as 10 separate clips, I put them all together in one YouTube video and used annotation buttons to make the video interactive. You can jump back and forth between clips and choose which stories you are most interested in.
Since the videos are mostly just “a person sitting at a desk talking” I decided to up the production value a but and have the camera constantly moving.
I built a Pan/Tilt/Slide robot for doing timelapse videos in the summer. I used it for the World’s Longest Soccer Game Video but now I would need it for video instead of stills.
I made it programmable so I can tell it to start in position A, then take X number of minutes to move to position B. The device consists of three stepper motors and three Phidget stepper controllers.
Everything is programmed in Python. Those years spent in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science come in handy!
I used my hacked Panasonic GH2 for the video and my Olympus LS10 audio record with a Sennheiser wireless mic for sound.
Here is my Pan/Tilt/Slide robot that I’ve been working on for months. I added 8:1 ratio pulleys to the motors to make the movements smoother and slower. I also surrounded the motors with plastic to dampen the sound. (not shown here). The design is constantly changing which is why I haven’t blogged about it much. Though I guess I should blog about all the changes!
I made a DIY teleprompter using cardboard, tape and my iPad running the Teleprompt+ app. This was my first time recording reporters with a teleprompter and it made my life so much easier! The subject doesn’t have to fumble for words and some say it makes them forget about the camera a bit.
Here is the very rough version 1.0 of my Pan/Tilt/Slide robot controller. I plan to eventually control everything with an iPad app that I’m writing so there’s far less wires!
Frame grab of David Staples from the video. I just used two 500LED lights for him.
Here is my setup for David Staples in City Hall. My assistant and friend Megan Voss is on the right.
Frame grab of Gordon Kent from the video. I just used two 500LED lights really close to him. The sunlight coming through the window was much brighter than the video lights so they had to be placed close.
Gordon Kent in City Hall talking about the hockey arena saga. It was hard to balance him against the bright window with only two 500LED light panels so I underexposed him a bit and then brought up the shadows in post. Photo by Megan Voss.
My setup for Graham Thomson in the Alberta Legislature talking about former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed’s death. I got Graham to stand on a box so that I could frame him with the portrait.
Frame grab of Stephanie Coombs from the video. She has a 1800-watt 48″ Octobox to her left and one 500LED video light to her right.
Stephanie Coombs at her desk to talk about the Hub Mall shooting. You can see I used my Olympus LS10 audio recorder connected to my wireless Lav for sound. It’s always better to record your sound separately and monitor it with headphones. Photo by Megan Voss.
A frame grab of Sandra Sperounes from the video. I just used the light on her desk and a small Light Panel with an orange filter off to the left.
Sandra Sperounes at her desk talking about the Paul McCartney concerts. Photo by Megan Voss.
Marty Klinkenberg at his desk to talk about Highway 63. Photo by Megan Voss
Frame grab of Jim Matheson from the video. I used two 500LED lights and one small Light Panel as a hair light.
Jim Matheson in Rexall Place to talk about the NHL Lockout. I wanted to film him in Rexall place to illustrate the empty stadium seats and lack of hockey.
Using the Pan/Tilt/Slide robot added a ton of work to the setup for each video but it really made the videos more visually dynamic. It also moved the camera much smoother and consistent than if I moved it by hand.
I certainly wouldn’t do this for most news video but a fun feature like this was a perfect opportunity to test out some new tools.