I’m teaching video to reporters for the next couple months

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 12, 2010 in Ryan's Life, training

For the next couple months I’m not going to be shooting as much. I’ll be in the office training reporters on shooting video.  I’m also teaching the Documentary Photojournalism course again at MacEwan University this semester.

Postmedia sent a Kodak Zi8 video camera to every reporter in the chain and so I’m repsonsible for taking five Journal reporters at a time under my wing and teaching them video storytelling.

My goal isn’t to flood edmontonjournal.com with hundreds of poorly shot videos but rather to teach reporters (and photographers) how to make proper judgment on what to video and when video is appropriate and when it is not.

Key’s to a Successful Video – It takes a lot of work!

A good Visual Story ———> Story is always #1. As Scott Rensberger says “A good story is EVERYTHING.  If you don’t have a great story, then everything you do to help a bad story is equivalent to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Good Quality —————–> Sound is most important. If the viewer cant stand to watch or listen to a video then they will abandon it. If a video is of poor quality then people won’t share it with their friends.

SEO friendly description and tags —————————–> The text and linking around the video have to be written in a way so that a person could easily Google the video. Some videos do poorly on our website but then get thousands of hits over time on YouTube. Example. Example. Example. Because people outside of our normal audience find and share it.

Social Media —————–> In order for a video to be successful (ie. watched a lot) it needs to be socially shared. It needs to get out on twitter, linked on blogs and shared on Facebook. If a video is of poor quality then people won’t share it with their friends. My World Record Dodgeball video only got 1,000 views on the Journal website but over 600,000 on YouTube because people shared it and blogged it.

Learning from stats ———->  A reporter learns to judge what makes good visual stories after doing several videos and following the stats/metrics. You see what kind of videos are successful and what videos aren’t worth doing.  You need to understand who your audience is and what they want. You also need to find new audiences that you didn’t know where there.

My guiding rules:

-If the video wastes the viewer’s time then it was a waste of your time.

-If the video wastes your time then why would you waste your friend’s time by sharing it?

-If the story isn’t interesting then no one clicks on it.

-If the quality is poor then no one shares it.

-If the words/description are poorly written then no one can google it.

-If the reporter isn’t proud of the video then he/she won’t blog/tweet/promote it and neither will anyone else.

And if you need to pay for a reporter, heat, electricity and bandwidth to keep a business going then you can’t afford to do crappy video when there is soooo much video out there competing for viewership. You have to be smart about it.


360-degree Video Panorama – Art Gallery of Alberta Project – 3 of 3

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 1, 2010 in 360 Panoramas, DIY, training, video


360-moc1 Watch a time lapse in 360-degree Video ….that’s right…a 360-degree video panorama! Click on the image to the left.

Watch a time lapse of the Murder of Crows sound exhibit being set up at the Art Gallery of Alberta. 98 speakers are set up over a two week period. Time progresses all around you as you click and move your mouse to look all around.Video by Ryan Jackson /Edmonton Journal.

To build make this 360-video I had to build a special rig with three cameras. I used this before for my Indy Panoramas back in the summer. The rig consists of three old Canon 1D d-SLRs with three Peleng 8mm fisheye lenses in a 120-degree offset pattern. The three cameras are wired together to be triggered by an intervalometer. The rig is super heavy and annoying because triple cameras means triple the things to go wrong. If the shutter speed or focus or anything is wrong on one off the cameras then the whole panorama is ruined.

The 1D cameras can only handle 2GB Compact Flash cards which is around 2000 images. I set the intervalometer to trigger the cameras every two minutes which meant I had to change the cards every two days. In total nearly 30,000 images were taken (10,000 per camera).

For post-processing the images, I used Photo Mechanic to organize the images by time taken. I had set the clocks on the cameras to be 1-second apart so when Photo Mechanic sorted the images by time taken, they would go 1st camera, 2nd camera, 3rd, camera, etc.
I then renamed all the images so the files went 0001, 0002, 0003, etc.

I use PTgui to stitch all my panoramas together. It has a great batch process where you can setup a template for your first panorama and then it will auto stitch the rest of the panoramas in file order. This meant that (0001, 0002, 0003)–>Panorama1.jpg , (0004, 0005, 0006)–>Panorama2.jpg

Needless to say this took HOURS and HOURS to process but I just let my laptop chug away overnight for three nights until I had a folder filled with thousands of stitched panoramas.

I then looked through that folder of panos with Photo Mechanic and removed all the boring images where nothing is moving or being installed (ie. at night time, during lunch break, days off, etc).

I then took the folder of usable panorama images and put them into a video using Quicktime Pro’s “open image sequence.”

I set the frame rate to 12fps so that 1606 images would become a 2-min:13-second video.

I then told Quicktime Pro to export the video and I used the Adobe Flash Video Encoder Plug-in to export the video as an .flv Flash video file using On2 compression, 2000×1000 resolution, 12fps, 1200kB/s bitrate. This made about a 20MB video file.

I purchased the panorama player krpano which supports video. I only had to alter a little bit of the .xml code to add a full-screen button and a play/pause/stop button. I plunked the krpano files on a server and embedded it in an iframe in a story page.

The whole project was pretty cool. I hope to use this camera more in the future but as you can see, it is A LOT of work. There are other, far easier methods of doing 360-video but you have to buy expensive cameras and lenses. For this setup I only had to buy a couple more 8mm lenses and use The Journal’s old 1D’s. My rig only shoots stills and you have to make them into a video… for real video check out CNN’s 360-degree video from Haiti. Pretty crazy!

Here are the images of my DIY 360-degree video panorama camera.


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Ryan Jackson Speaks at CUP 2010. Jack of All Trades: Becoming a Well-Rounded Visual Journalist

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 19, 2010 in Ryan's Life, training, video

Ryan Jackson speaks at CUP 2010 from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.

Jack of all Trades: Becoming a Well Rounded Visual Journalist.
Follow along with the Google Doc Presentation tinyurl.com/y9uaefv
Edmonton Journal staff multimedia producer speaks at the 72’nd Canadian University Press Conference in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
He goes through his still portfolio and gives advice to students for getting a job in this new media landscape.
Video by Ryan Jackson. ryanjackson.ca

Here is the video and Google Doc Presentation that I gave on Sunday at CUP. You can also CLICK HERE and scroll down to the bottom of the page, RIGHT CLICK on the “Download this video” link and download the .mp4 file which should play on any video iPod, nano or iPhone. Enjoy!

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NPAC Picture of the Year Nomination!

Posted by ryanjackson on Mar 24, 2009 in 360 Panoramas, Multimedia, photos, Ryan's Life, training, video

I’ve been nominated for a News Photographers Association of Canada Picture of the Year Award for my Sitting Volleyball Video!  The winners will be announced on April 25th in Toronto. Wooooo!

Sitting Paraplegic Volleyball from Ryan Jackson on Vimeo.



Edmonton Oilers Dressing Room 360-degree Panorama

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 18, 2009 in 360 Panoramas, photos, training


Take a 360-degree panoramic view of the Edmonton Oilers dressing room. Mouse over the jerseys to learn about each number. Panorama by Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal

I spent WEEKS on this panorama. 2-hours here and there to figure out how to embed the HTML text hotspots and then eventually input all the pictures and information. Thanks to Joanne Ireland for doing the research on each player for her story that ran in today’s Oilers Supliment.  I eventually want the panorama to contain all of the Oilers numbers and the names of every player that wore an Oilers jersey.  Baby steps though… this one took long enough!

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Critique on Newsvideographer.com

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 16, 2009 in Multimedia, training, video


Angela Grant at Newsvideographer.com was very nice to give a critique of my latest video on Ice Racing. Thanks!

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Basic and advanced Video Training – My talk at MacEwan College

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 12, 2009 in Multimedia, training, video

I’m teaching part of a documentary class at MacEwan College with Greg Southam. He’s teaching the still portion and I’m teaching the multimedia portion. Here is my two-hour talk on video, basic and advanced technique and examples from shooting regular video at a major daily newspaper.

You can also download the two-hour video in iPod video format.

Also check out my “Multimedia: Know it all… or at least enough to get a job!” Talk and
my class I taught on Audio Slideshows (Soundslides) and Audio Editing.


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Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 19, 2009 in Ryan's Life, training


I was featured in the News Photographers Association of Canada weekly Q&A. Thanks to Anne-Marie Jackson for starting such a cool weekly feature.


Multimedia: Know it all… or at least enough to get a job!

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 9, 2009 in Soundslide, training, video

I spoke about Multimedia and the importance of web skills at The 71st Annual Canadian University Press Conference in Saskatoon. Here is my Presentation. Note that everything that is underlined in the presentation is a clickable link.

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