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August 25 2012

15:02

Apply Now, Mountain Workshop

As leaves fall annually, Western Kentucky University’s Mountain Workshops draw a team of dedicated teachers and determined learners to a small Kentucky town, where together they explore the richness of community, the beauty of landscape, and the possibilities and challenges of visual storytelling.


The 37th annual Workshops will take place Oct. 16-21, 2012 in the city of Henderson, Ky. Please visit our web site at http://www.mountainworkshops.org and visit the application page to submit your information and register.

The Workshops are three workshops in one. A participant can select from one of the three to suit their current need of visual development. The amount of seats we offer in each category are limited.

The Photojournalism Workshop focuses on still photography, as coaches and participants explore individual character, the give and take of relationships, the deeply-felt sense of belonging to a place and the pride of participating in a shared heritage.

The Picture Editing Workshop draws on the design sensibilities and electronic publishing expertise of its coaches to help participants learn to weave photographs and text together into memorable narratives.

The Multimedia Workshop challenges participants to gather still images, record sound and shoot video, and then use cutting-edge digital and online tools to spin all these threads into stories that captivate.

These Workshops have been defined as life-altering by participants who have attended over the past four decades and our rich tradition of excellence in training still continues to this day. Participants have moved on in their careers to be leaders in our industry and often return to help us every fall. We hope you decide that this opportunity is one that you cannot pass on. Keep up to date by “liking” us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MountainWorkshops) or subscribe to our Twitter feed.

Tags: News Workshops

April 26 2012

01:03

Design-Thinking Hackathon: The *Weekend Movement

The TechSoup Global Network team is in action today over at the Stanford Social Innovation Review. My good buddy Glenn Fajardo recently went to Malaysia where he spent time with the organizers of the *Weekend Movement, a community of people that builds crafty projects and innovative solutions to real-world problems -- over the weekend.

 

Glenn explores some of the critical success factors for the *Weekend Movement in his piece today in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. How they select participants, how they hook in potential project supporters, and how they understand the motivations and interests of their participants all factor into their success and productivity.

 

Check it out, and be sure to comment if you have any questions or ideas to add.

April 04 2010

05:24

Video at newspapers needs to improve

I was disappointed after this year’s NPPA Best of Photojournalism Multimedia Contest results were posted . In the News Video category, I won an honorable mention. Great! That’s until I realized  my video was the only award given in the category. What gives? This is the second year in a row I’ve placed in this News Video category. Last year I received a 2nd place, , but no third was given.  This troubles  me. Not because I didn’t place higher, but because the judges didn’t see a video that reached a high enough level of excellence to place.

During an online chat on the Poynter Institute’s website, I asked the judges:

“Why didn’t you award first through third in news video?”

The Response:

1:27 theresa: @colin – this was a real struggle for us. Many were full of technical errors and ignored the basic principles of photojournalism. We saw lots of evidence of urgency, however we really couldn’t award anything that had technical or fundamental errors.

I stewed about this for a time. Then after helping judge the NPPA’s Monthly Multimedia Contest last week, I began to understand the BOP judge’s dilemma.

Bottom line: Video at newspapers needs to improve. Dramatically.

The problems I continually see:

Storytelling

Many still photographers have not transitioned their storytelling skills effectively to video. Editing a video story is different from editing still photos for a newspaper picture story. With video, you have to master the fundamentals of sequencing and audio before you can tell an effective story in video. Too many still photojournalists have dipped their toes in the video world with limited training and it shows.

Bland Videos

Many newspaper-produced video stories are boring. The best stories have surprises sprinkled throughout the timeline, which helps keep the viewer engaged. This is mature storytelling that most newspaper video producers have failed to master.

Structure

A great video story is one that pulls you in from the opening sequence and never let’s go of your attention until it fades out at the end. Weak video jars you out of the moment, whether it’s from a technical issue like distorted audio, or from a narrative that fails to captivate the viewer. So many things can go wrong with a video story. Understanding these pitfalls is the first step to avoiding them.

Editing

You can have great raw video, but fail miserably in the edit. Pacing, narration, use of transitions, sequencing, layering and mixing audio all have to come together like a well–oiled orchestra to make a  video story work. Fail at anyone of these and your house of cards comes a tumblin’ down.

Journalism

Lots of newspaper-produced video is weak in basic journalism. Many videos I’ve watched have only one person as the subject. How many print news stories would get past an editor with only one source?

Narration

For the longest time I told myself that I didn’t want my videos to be like TV. I worked hard at telling a story by using only the subjects as my narrative spine. What you risk, doing it this way, is a story that rambles along and is not defined until long after the viewer has hit the back button. Get past the idea that narration is a bad thing. Good scripting moves a story along and serves as an objective voice for facts.

Collaboration

So you say you hate the sound of your voice and you don’t feel comfortable writing a script. Then get out into your newsroom and find a writer with a great voice and collaborate. I like to voice my own videos, but I also know my limitations. Some of my best work has been when I’ve worked with a reporter on a video story. I shoot and edit the story; he or she scripts and does the voiceover. We play to each other strengths. The final product, in the end, is better than if I tried to do it all myself.

Solutions?

When I started this blog, I wrote a post called “Can’t we all just get along?.” The crux of that post : TV news shooters have done video storytelling decades longer than us newbie’s in the newspaper biz, and we can learn a lot from their successes. If you are lucky enough to go to a TV video workshop, you’ll get the fundamentals drilled into your head–Shoot wide, medium tight, super tight. Shoot action, then reaction. Get that camera on sticks! Use a wireless mic. Gather natural sound. What’s your opener? Closer? And, for Christ sake, white balance your video!

These are the just the basics of video news production. Yet many newspaper video producers are still unaware of these fundamentals.

If you can, my advise is enroll in a video production workshop like the Platypus, or the NPPA’s Multimedia Immersion Workshop that is coming in May. Until you know what you are doing wrong you can’t improve your video storytelling.


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