Videography

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is the value of a video? With interviews, dialogue, and narration already built in, this form of producing a journalistic story dramatically increases its interest. Video stories allow journalists to visually set the scene of their subject through the use of B-roll footage, clips of what may be discussed in the interview or other details relevant to the account. Also, music or other images have the ability to evoke greater emotion than the journalist may have been able to conjure through another medium.

In my multimedia journalism lecture this past Monday, February 17, the topics discussed were editing still photographs to create more interest, and the emotion that can be procured through a well-edited video story. The example my professor showed the class chronicled the life of a young boy with a severe physical disability. Although confined to a wheelchair, the boy possessed a wildly optimistic outlook on life and never failed to entertain those around him.

New York Times video journalist Brent McDonald utilizes his equipment to capture the perfect angle for his story. McDonald's job title does not match its description as he is also a reporter, camera operator, sound technician, lighting technician, writer, narrator and editor. Photo taken from nytimes.com.

New York Times video journalist Brent McDonald utilizes his equipment to capture the perfect angle for his story. McDonald’s job title does not match its description as he is also a reporter, camera operator, sound technician, lighting technician, writer, narrator and editor. Photo taken from nytimes.com.

Obviously the emotion of the story could be easily conveyed through a video project, but the University of Missouri students who put it all together managed to intensify the effect with spectacular editing. In “Behind the Scenes: On the Road With a VJ,” New York Times video journalist Brent McDonald explains, “Much of the storytelling happens after the shoot, when you sketch the narrative arc, knowing now what material you have to work with. Generally speaking, stories that make for captivating [Web] video have a strong visual and emotional payoff.”

McDonald later discusses the extended amount of time video stories require, so it looks like I’m going to be using the remainder of my Keurig K-cups in the upcoming weeks.

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Tiny Dancer(s)

A ballerina en pointe reaches the highest point of her leap just as her photo is captured. Freezing these action shots in time on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, was not as easy as this photographer made it appear. Photo taken from http://www.studentsoftheworld.info.

A ballerina en pointe reaches the climax of her leap just as her photo is captured. Freezing these action shots in time on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, was not as easy as this photographer made it appear. Photo taken from http://www.studentsoftheworld.info.

“There’s anticipation, reflexes, listening to the music and getting into a shooting rhythm. A knowledge of the basics of choreography, music and dance will help in predicting what the next step will be.”  After New York Times editors took a glance at the past year’s photos in 2012, several of Andrea Mohin’s work swam to the top of the pile. When asked for her secret to capturing the perfect instant of precision, elegance, and skill in her dance photography, Mohin uttered the above quote and revealed that “you just have to listen to the music.”

Armed with her advice and my personal love of beautiful ballerinas in pointe shoes soaring across the stage, I felt relatively prepared when I entered the setting of my next photo assignment. I was required to capture three photographs: a scene-setter, a portrait and a detail shot. My subjects were the children benefiting from one of the University of Missouri’s student-run organizations. The organization, known as Center Stage, provides free ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and poms instruction to children in the Columbia community who would not otherwise be able to participate.

By now, I am somewhat familiar with the Nikon D7000 as I successfully completed my Seeing Red assignment several weeks ago. However, it did not take long to discover that photographing a moving target is a much more complicated task, especially when that target is a four-year-old attempting a grand jeté.

After class, I rapidly scrolled through the pictures I did manage to capture and sighed in dismay when I viewed their poor lighting and composition. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to apply Andrea Mohin’s tips, but I doubt the chorus of “Part of Your World” will help me very much when I return to class next Monday.

Looking on the Bright Side of a Dark Situation

“If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” Slightly more than six years after uttering this prophetic statement, Philip Seymour Hoffman fulfilled his own dismal good deed. On Sunday, February 2, 2014, Hoffman was discovered dead, with a needle in his arm, in his Manhattan apartment. The 46-year-old had struggled with substance abuse in the past and recently spent time fighting his addiction to prescription drugs and heroin in rehab.

Friend and colleague Aaron Sorkin crafted a touching obituary for the actor in which he declared Hoffman will “have his well-earned legacy — his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.” Sorkin grew close to the star of Charlie Wilson’s War because he too faces the daily all-consuming hunger for substance abuse.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment Sunday, February 2, 2014. The death is suspected to be drug related as the actor had a hypodermic needle in his arm and bags of heroin were discovered close-by. Photo taken from http://www.nme.com.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. The death is suspected to be drug-related as the actor had a hypodermic needle in his arm and bags of heroin were discovered close-by. Photo taken from http://www.nme.com.

As heroin-use increases across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stars like Hoffman may in fact be doing the drug addicts of the country a favor in some horrible way. One of the many moral dilemmas with this statement, however, introduces the question: Why must it take the loss of a talented entertainment figure to re-introduce the issue of substance abuse?

I realize that using illegal drugs of any kind can provide the abuser with both the rush of the high and that of disobeying the law, but I see no reasoning behind either motivation. I can only hope that, with each highly publicized death, 10 more people decide to drop the habit.

Point, Focus, Shoot

I tend to believe I have a decent eye for photography. In high school, my pre-professional dance company would often venture out of the studio to pose gracefully by trees and bridges, and I frequently assisted my director in composing the most aesthetically appealing shot. However, that minimal experience did little to prepare me for my latest journalism assignment.

The title? “Seeing Red.” The goal? To focus on framing and arranging three pictures in which the color red is the primary subject. At first, the project did not seem all that daunting. Red is a fairly common color and the Missouri School of Journalism is generous enough to provide its students with the most-advanced, up-to-date camera equipment they could ever want.

Students enrolled in J2150 through the Missouri School of Journalism must put their newly learned photography skills to the test and capture three pictures in which red is the focus. Lindsay Gloor, freshman, plans to submit the above photograph.

Students enrolled in J2150 through the Missouri School of Journalism must put their newly learned photography skills to the test and capture three pictures in which red is the focus. Lindsay Gloor, freshman, plans to submit the above photograph.

The trick is figuring out how to use that equipment.

I have never been one to love the trial-and-error approach, so I spent roughly one half hour shoving down a sandwich and trying to match up dials, switches and buttons to my notes. Finally, I acknowledged my time limit and stepped into the brisk Columbian air.

My eyes immediately began scanning the street for any sign of the fiery hue. I wandered around the edge of campus and struggled to find my subject in a world that looked desolate and dreary. After clicking away at anything that could possibly resemble an interesting picture for close to two hours, my fingers stopped working and I was forced to stop.

With the help of CNN’s photojournalists’ tricks of the trade, I can only hope that three of my eighty-some pictures are satisfactory.

Pope Francis: Mark Zuckerberg’s Biggest Fan

Pope Francis: Mark Zuckerberg’s Biggest Fan

While some may consider dramatically increasing usage of social media to be the devil’s work, Pope Francis deemed it a “gift from God.” In a papal statement made January 23, the Head of the Catholic Church announced his support for the recent rapid advances in technology and their potential to draw humanity closer together.

Pope Francis offered his whole-hearted support for the internet and social media in a papal statement released January 23. Photos taken from Patdollard.com and techcrunch.com.

Pope Francis offered his whole-hearted support for the internet and social media in a papal statement released January 23. Photos taken from Patdollard.com and techcrunch.com.

 

The Pope’s statements run contrary to the thoughts of communication specialists and parents of teenage students alike. Specialists believe people are losing their ability to speak face-to-face, and many parents just wish their child would take a break from Facebook long enough to form a couple sentences about his or her day at school.

 

Although I do not have to deal with my parents constantly asking me to get off of my phone just as I am about to get up-to-date on my Newsfeed, Timeline, and Instafeed, I do spot the effects of social media all around me. Just the other night when I was out to dinner with my friends, we were forced to implement the following rule: the first one to check his or her phone would pick up the check. The ultimatum was more than enough incentive for us all, but why was it necessary? The urge to be in constant contact with one’s friends through social media is a powerful one, and I cannot decide if the invention is more beneficial or detrimental.

However, if Pope Francis has put in a good word for these procrastination aids, then maybe I can turn the other cheek.