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.
Neil Herbst, owner of Alley Kat Brewing Company, which is celebrating its 18th year in business with a $300,000 expansion. Canon 5D Mark-II, 16-35 2.8L lens @ 16mm, F7.1, 1/160. Four Alienbees strobes.I moved the red hose into the frame to make the image more dynamic and add colour.
Jim Pettinger, who carries hundreds of varieties of beer at Sherbrooke Liquor on St. Albert Trail, says inducements are an “open secret” in the industry. Canon 5D Mark-II, 16-35mm f2.8L lens @ 23mm, F18, ISO160.The beer cooler is super dark and I wanted all of the colourful bottles to pop so I used four strobes. Two on the background to shine on all the bottles and two on Jim.
Clayton Little is co-owner of Accent Lounge near Whyte Ave.
Canon 5D Mark-II, 24mm f1.4L lens, F11, ISO160.One Einstein strobe with a 22″ beauty dish and a grid on Clayton. One Einstein strobe with a 7″ reflector and grid behind him.
Craig Martell takes pride in exclusively selling micro brewed beer at Wunderbar on Whyte Avenue, which he co-owns. I wanted to bring attention to the colourful sign and also show all the beers that they offered. I put one Einstein strobe with a grid to shine on the sign and a second Einstein strobe with a grid to shine on Craig. Since the grid makes the light beam super narrow, the light only shines on the sign and Craig and the rest of the picture is dark.I used a 24mm Tilt-Shift lens to correct perspective and keep the lines straight as I was shooting from a high angle.
Here you can see my lighting setup for the portrait of Jim. Two background lights, an overhead umbrella and a ring flash.
This was my setup for the portrait of Neil. One 7-foot PLM reflector as the key light. An Einstein with a grid to the right for a rim light. Then two strobes in the background to make the tanks shine and pop.
I had plenty of video portraits and moments for the music video but I really needed some hockey action!
We spent a day on a back yard hockey rink in Fort Saskatchewan and also spent a day renting out an arena to get some more action shots.
All of the characters in the film had to sign a model release so just shooting generic footage of a random hockey game wouldn’t work. I left all of my set-up action shots for the arena shoot.
The last day of shooting was street hockey which really brought everything together.
The Journal's Ryan Jackson and Amanda Ash film pond hockey at Clayton and Crystal Amos' acreage near Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on December 4, 2011. Brandt's song is the official anthem for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship and the video, directed by the Journal's Ryan Jackson, will be played before every game. All the characters in the video are real Albertans who embody the spirit of grassroots hockey.
The Journal's Ryan Jackson films pond hockey with the help of young Sawyer Amos at Clayton and Crystal Amos' acreage near Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on December 4, 2011.
Left to right. Christopher, Amanda and Brayden Bellamy pose to be filmed by the Journal's Ryan Jackson the Jubilee Recreation Centre in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on November 29, 2011.
Hockey fans Christopher, Amanda and Brayden Bellamy pose for a photo at the Jubilee Recreation Centre in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. on November 29, 2011 (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
Amanda Ash unloads camera gear at the Fort Saskatchewan Hockey Rink.
We made use of the whole rink!
One awesome thing about the Panasonic GH2 was how light it was with a 20mm f1.7 lens.
he Journal's Ryan Jackson sets up an overhead camera for the puck drop scene at the Jubilee Recreation Centre in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. for the official music video for country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" on November 29, 2011.
Overhead shot with the GH2 on a pole.
The Journal's Ryan Jackson films a puck drop scene with (left to right) Tyler Mrkonjic, Stephen Petruk and Steven Canduro at the Jubilee Recreation Centre in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" on November 29, 2011.
The Journal's Ryan Jackson films Tyler Mrkonjic's parents Frank and Kathy with the City of Fort Saskatchewan town council sitting in as extras in the background at the Jubilee Recreation Centre in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" on November 29, 2011.
Filming the brother referees.
Directing the proud father and son.
Directing the main character Tyler Mrkonjic.
My Zacuto loupe was too big and heavy for the GH2's viewfinder so I used a Rotolight 6" Articulated Arm to hold it up. Worked great!
Here was my "data cart" with 27" 1080p monitor and 4TB hard drive.
Gear cart. This thing was a huge timesaver.
Frame grab from my GoPro mounted on a hockey stick for street hockey.
Street Hockey. The narrow street and trees made for a nice clean yet suburban-looking background.
My shot list for street hockey.
he Journal's Ryan Jackson mounted a GoPro video camera on a hockey stick for the street hockey shots for the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on December 10, 2011.
Trying to squeeze in some shots of old timers hockey.
A screen shot of the hundreds of video cuts made in Final Cut Pro of the official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" at Limbo Editing Services in Edmonton on December 11, 2011.
The Journal's Ryan Jackson in the editing suite with Adam Kidd, owner of Limbo Editing Services for official music video of country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on December 11, 2011.
Colourist Joe Owens with Presto!Digital Colourgrade colour balances and grades the final version of the music video for country music star Paul Brandt's song "I Was There" in Edmonton on December 15, 2011. Photo by Adam Kidd.
The first viewing of "I Was There" at the Edmonton Journal newsroom. It was my first time having a real audience.
All the people involved in creating the "I Was There" Music video. Left to right. Top to bottom. Adam Kid, Paul Brandt, Ryan Jackson, Shane, Deanna Smart, Amanda Ash, Sandra Marocco, Barb Wilkinson, Donna Christensen and Taryn Melnyk pose for a photo before Paul Brandt's concert at the Jubilee in Edmonton on December 12, 2011.
In conclusion this project was an amazing, challenging and rewarding experience. I met dozens of inspirational people from around Alberta and also made a new B.F.F. Amanda Ash. The Edmonton Journal and Calgary herald ran photos and Amanda Ash’s stories ran front page.
One of the most rewarding moments though was when they played the video on the big screen in the Saddledome during the bronze medal game and people stood and applauded!
With beautiful time lapses and scenery, Journal photographer Ryan Jackson has captured the different ways we commute from Edmonton’s suburbs. Learn how Canadian’s commute and follow our three commuting challengers to work in a fun way.
I spent about a week and a half on this project to wrap-up Elise Stolte’s living on the edge series about Edmonton’s new growing suburbs. I followed three commuters who get to work in different ways. Since they leave for work at 6:00 AM I had to get up at 4:00 AM each day so I could commute down to the south-end and then video them going to work. I then shot tons of footage of cars, bikes, trains and walkers getting to work.
I wanted all the images to have a certain mood so I shot everything in the morning with my white balance on Tungsten to give that cool early morning feel.
David Pritchard took part in our commuting challenge. He lives in Summerside area and typically drives the Century Park LRT station and then takes the train to work downtown. Pritchard poses for a photo before heading to work on August 24, 2011. I simply used two Canon 580EX flashes zoomed into 80mm placed to the sides of the car and pointed at his windows. I rolled the windows down to reduce reflections. I had orange gels on the flashes and the Camera white balance was set to Tungsten to make the image blue.
Kim Halmilton took part in the Journal’s commuting challenge. Hamilton usually rides her motorcycle to work downtown from her home in north Edmonton. She poses for a photo in front of her home in Edmonton on August 25, 2011. I used two speed lights placed behind her with orange gels on them. Camera white balance set to Tungsten.
Kevin Wirtanen took part in our commuting challenge. He typically bikes to work downtown from his Terwillegar home in south Edmonton. Wirtanen poses for a photo before heading to work in Edmonton on August 23, 2011.
Pritchard poses for a photo at the LRT station before heading to work.
Here are some behind the scenes images. I build an 8-foot long slider and motion controller that I used for a couple of the scenes.
Thanks to my friend Kevin Hill for helping with this time lapse scene.
Most of the time lapse footage was shot on my Canon XH-A1 video camera and then sped up 20X in Final Cut Pro X.
Here I am all setup and ready to shoot David Pritchard at 6:00 AM. This project involved a lot of preparation as I only had about 15 minutes with him before he headed to work.
This video was also my first time using Final Cut Pro X. I must say the program is pretty powerful and amazing. It makes use of all of your CPUs and has background rendering so you can just keep editing without waiting for anything. Do I like it better than Final Cut Pro 7? For some things yes… for others no. It takes a lot of time to get used to. The speed and added features are AMAZING but the complete change in interface and way of editing is frustrating. Hopefully it will get better with time.
Jeff Senger, left, and Paul Cabaj, founding members of SPARK, a new green energy power co-operative that offers members lower cost electricity than competitors. They pose for a photo behind a net zero home in Edmonton on August 7, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
Here is an example of when simple props can really add to a picture. I wanted to illustrate “power” so I grabbed as many extension cords as I could find.
I usually shoot at low apertures to blur out the background but here I wanted Jeff, Paul and the solar panels in the background to be sharp so I shot at F9 with a wide lens to get lots of Depth of Field.
I lit this picture one Canon 580EX speed lights to the right.
1/160sec, F9, ISO100. 16-35L @ 32mm. Read the story: Alberta’s first energy co-op eyes green power
Thirteen-year-old sprinter Tyree Harriott won four gold metals for Alberta last week at the tri-provincials in Regina. He poses for a photo at Strathcona high school in Edmonton on July 30, 2011. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal Read the Story.
Here is how I lit the picture. Three 580EX’s with Pocketwizard Flex5′s. 1/200, F8, ISO50. Canon 24mm f1.4L. A Honl grid on the back flash. Oh and his Mom holding a reflector to shine catchlights into his eyes.
Photo illustration of Un-recovered Bank Accounts. Image taken at Aegis Locksmiths in Edmonton on January 6, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).
To make this photo illustration to go with our series on Un-recovered bank accounts our photo editor Neil just pulled out the phone book and called a bunch of locksmiths until we found one that would let us take a photo in their showroom.
Then I went to Axe Music and bought a fog machine for about $55. During Halloween everyone is selling fog machines but come January you can only get them at stage lighting places.
I wanted the picture to be tight so I chose one of their smallest safes. They had a super cool safe that was circa 1855 but it was too large and they couldn’t get it open so this one had to do.
I draped black cloth over a table for a background and put the fog machine inside the safe with my new 160 LED video light. I used a CTO (change to orange) gel on it to warm up the light. I had a speedlight off to the side and behind to give some highlights and illuminate the fog. The photo turned out pretty good and was main art in the Journal. To see if you have un-claimed money in a Canadian bank account check out edmontonjournal.com/unclaimed
The best video story I’ve done this year! Please watch. If you can’t view the embedded video below then click here. I will have an HD version on the site later next week.
Touching story of Susan Wirtanen who suffered a brain-injury and can can still do stand-up comedy. She jokes of her 30-days spent in a coma, listening to everyone talk around her and her ability to laugh at herself. Video by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal Also Read the story Hoping for healing on the standup stage
Journal reporter Ben Gelinas and I worked together on this video. I shot everything and we worked together for editing. Ben was sure to ask questions and treat the whole story with the video in mind. We spent three separate nights with Susan in class and at the comedy club.
I shot mainly with my Canon XH-A1 and used my Canon 5D Mark-II for B-roll.
Here is my lighting setup for the main interview.
For the shot of her eye I used an 85mm 1.8 and Canon extension tubes to get close. I slowed the footage down to 20% speed and held it to make the viewer feel uncomfortable while she describes being frozen in a coma but still able to hear everyone around her talk.
Retired occupational therapist Wendy Davis poses for a photo in her home in Edmonton on October 17, 2010. Davis’s book Dal & Rice was published last year about the five years she spent in India as a Child. Photos by Ryan Jackson for Rehab Impact Magazine
I had a wonderful time making these portraits. Instead of saying “cheese” for the camera she said “thank you”. So as I took her picture she kept saying “thank you…thank you….thank you…thank you….” It was so cute!
The tree photo was made with the Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift lens, the others were made with the 85mm f1.8 and the 50mm f1.4. I only used a 40×60″ gold reflector and the sun for lighting. She told me stories about her travels and we ate bread with cheese and curried spread.