It’s a done deal.
With some fanfare and much confusion, the Kern High School District board of trustees finally voted to post a medley of our founding documents including the constitution, bill of rights, declaration of independence and our old and new mottos: "e pluribus unum and in god we trust."
So, how does a newspaper go about covering these stories with video, more often than not, on deadline?
Last night, the vote was finally held.
This entire saga started out when a pastor on the board brought up the idea to post the national motto on a poster with an American flag behind it. Needless to say, folks came out of the woods to debate the proposal. We called the first salvo, "in god we fuss."
Then there was a public forum/debate of sorts that one of our AMEs participated in.
And then last night…
Setting aside the political chicanery, dubious arguments, hair rending and gnashing of teeth, the pictures of democracy in action emerged. It is messy, and unless leaders work very diligently and hard to moderate the proceedings, both sides can emerge feeling bruised.
Shooting on tape slowed us down on the second night. We used out point and shoot Casios on the first and third nights, and supplemented all three with stills. Used Windowsmoviemaker for 1st and 3rd and Final Cut Pro for the second. We also learned NOT to let our writers use the camera/files to get their quotes until AFTER we pulled the files into our editing programs (cuts down on time.)
As always, your feedback and thoughts are welcome.
Links to stories…
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
It’s a done deal.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Today I found out that our most popular video this week has been a 'video' about an attempted carjacking that was not actually shot on video, but instead were stills assembled in Final Cut Pro. There is some debate as to why the 'video' is so popular, including if the word carjacking caught people’s attention, if it was a good story, if the video worked well despite a disconnect between the audio and visuals.
Secondly, I offer up a soundslides pro project that we did the 'old fashioned way,' called 'No Place To Heal.'
I would make the argument that the Ken Burns effect has its place in both still and video, that being said, I think it can be overused. The trick is finding that fine line, utilizing movement when needed and not becoming a 'one trick pony.'
I am not arguing that either of these are successful, well, I think 'No Place' is much stronger, there are some problems…but for a shoot in one day, grab some audio and put together a solid daily piece it works very well.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:30 PM
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Part of my new job is the editing of daily video.
I won't bore you with trial details, and the first minute or so if a recap; but the second half of the video is where I get to do something fun.
Usually daily court video is a dull voice over with grainy video, medium shots and some stills thrown in when we have them, and yes, that is the first part of this. I edited this with the idea that the audience either does not remember all the details, has not followed the case or this is their first time learning about the trial.
Then I get into what I call dueling lawyers or what our web video guy calls a 'quote train.'
The basic and essential idea is to move the narrative forward with tight audio clips that inform and play off of each other. Generally in video, you use 'B roll' to hide your cuts in the narrative interview so that it does not appear that you have edited the audio. Here the quick cuts help move things along in what is otherwise a fairly static video.
For those of you not yet into video, 'B roll' is all that stuff, detail shots, action shots, long shots, essentially the cutaway shots that help keep video interesting. It is all that boring stuff TV shoots to put on the box when the talent is talking.
Yes, the quality of the video capture is not great, yes, it was assembled on Windows Movie Maker, and yes, there are some other issues, but for an on deadline web piece it works surprisingly well.
Next up will be the Ken Burns effect in Final Cut Pro and Soundslides Plus.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 9:31 PM
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Sorry for the delay…
I have been meaning to blog about this video for a while.
I am not sure if it was the mood I was in that day or a great video, but I really like the Iraqi Veterans Against the War's Operation First Casualty video.
The surreal aspect of these guys patrolling the streets of America really brought home the futility of war and the sacrifices soldiers make on our behalf. There are a number of strong storytelling aspects to this video, including a strong narrative through interviews, there is a little 'shaky cam' action but it is shot fairly cleanly.
I can vouch that the way they hold their hands is often how they do 'glass house' drills and is authentic. Some of the soldiers talk about how reenacting these moments helps them.
Check it out; let me know what you think. Check them out too.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 10:39 PM
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Now that I have entered the 21-century here in CA, we do video for our newspaper.
We primarily work on three different editing programs, Windows Movie Maker, iMovie and Final Cut Pro. As you can guess, the only PC’s in our Mac building have WMM, the photogs and web team have Macs and two higher end Macs have FCP.
Reporters shoot much of the daily work while they are covering events, the web team shoots some of the daily video and the photo department does some video. (Side note: we are averaging about a soundslides show a week this summer.) The daily work covered by reporters is often done in WMM, the web team and photogs use iMovie and the higher end, longer, better produced packages are edited in FCP.
As with anything so varied the standards vary from reporter to reporter, editor to editor and content from story to story.
Next entry…how to raise the quality level.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 9:58 PM
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
A few things have happened in the interval since I last posted.
Ironically enough, this blog or myself, more accurately, are now are on Wikipedia on an entry about mojos. We have launched our own version here at The Bakersfield Californian, more on that with later entries.
Attended the Multimedia Bootcamp at UNC, a great deal about that as well in the weeks to come. Interesting side note, many of the 'big boys' sent folks to the workshop, ie. NYT, U.S. News and World Report, Washington Post…
We had the original 'platypus' give a workshop here and get the guys jazzed about doing video, much more on that in later entries.
Met Joe Weiss, more about the new Soundslides Plus later too.
I am editing a lot of video now, very cool, stuff on that too.
Our happy little photo home, my headshot going up soon I hear.
If you are not familiar Colin Mulvany, check out his video blog. some of his videos are top-notch documentary video and journalism.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 10:10 PM
Friday, July 6, 2007
Friday, April 6, 2007
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Jay Bookman in his editorial piece 'When myths take priority over the facts' recently wrote that:
Nations, businesses and institutions also create and live by mythologies. To cite an example uncomfortably close to home, newspapers have long embraced the mythology — backed by some 500 years of history — that what we do is indispensable to an informed society. That mythology has now been exploded with the arrival of the Internet, pushing the industry into a desperate search for a narrative that better fits the world around us. We are coming to realize that if you ever let your mythology become too distant from how the world really works, you're in trouble.
Sion Touhig wrote at the end of last year on his blog that:
Bizarrely, the enormous audience drift from print to the online space is seen in some photojournalistic circles as a 'crisis'...it ignores the massive audience potential of the Internet and seeks to solve the crisis, by retreating further into a hermetically sealed world of books, galleries and subsidies from various grants and competitions.
Sion then he had another entry where he discussed:
The Fourth Screen & the Seventh Mass Media...
Visual audience evolution in four screens:
4/ Online handheld devices, like the just announced Apple 'iPhone'
The potential audiences to be reached by visual material is potentially mind boggling in a new age of consumer defined media consumption - people will increasingly obtain visual information at times, places and in types of their choosing, NOT defined by the schedules of TV channels, or the print runs of newspapers.
It also represents a possible huge audience for photojournalism, perhaps surpassing the previous print audience...if we make efforts to engage with them via this route.
Finally, David Nordfors on his blogs about how 'Journalism Now Subject to Moore's law'
By going on the Internet, the news industry has become subject to Moore's law (things entering the market in two years time will have double the capacity of the stuff being released today).
Many newsrooms are bothered by introducing new tools and routines. They better start enjoying it, because as from now, as soon as they have made a change, they need start planning for changing it again.
So add it all up as the Violent Femmes would sing and what do you get?
News organizations, formerly newspapers, are going to have to innovate faster than they ever have in previous times. How you get news and stories to your audience will change, that is virtually guaranteed. What is the up side? More people can get to your content, local content will still be important and content will still be king. BUT, now you will have to complete cross platform and cross media and now nationally and internationally. Are you up to the challenge?
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:46 AM
Monday, April 2, 2007
Richard Koci Hernandez, deputy photo editor and multimedia guru at the San Jose Mercury News, just posted results for his first online multimedia contest on multimediashooter.com. I loved the fact that there were 'no stinking rules' and that his comments and categories are somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
That being said he posted some very interesting projects that are worth experiencing, learning from and getting inspired by. In the end, or what links them is the sense of storytelling and pushing boundaries in different directions and with different approaches. But the sense of exploration is palpable.
Chad Stevens placed for BEST INDIE FILM APPROACH with his Buffalo Creek.
Scott Lewis garnered BEST PHOTOGRAPHY for his Arm Wrestling.
Susanna Frohman’s MOST INNOVATIVE APPROACH project called The Shape of Life really breaks out of the mold of most multimedia projects.
David Duncan’s SHORTEST SOUNDSLIDES EVER! B52 Fly over works in an odd sort of way.
Craig Kohlruss BEST USE OF AUDIO NARRATIVE for Cookseyville demonstrates how a powerful audio track can really carry a package.
Big congrats to Andrew Dolph for his BEST USE OF SOUNDSLIDES On Wrestling project that I critiqued. Well done Andrew. I believe it is his earlier edit.
Poh Si Teng, Matthew Raiche, Kirstina Sangsahachart, Justin Mott, Lauren Chin created the BEST DESIGNED/CHAPTERED SOUNDSLIDES Traversing Blindness which has a great interface and thoughtful design. I love the Braille.
Finally Kari Collins has the BEST AUDIO/PHOTO EDIT for her It's All Relative. It is a great slice of life package, well photographed. I really like the way she uses ‘blank’ slides to change the pace of the project.
If you want a laugh Patrick Yen and fakemustaches.org visit the upper left link for video.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:52 AM
Friday, March 30, 2007
A nice story link via Mindy McAdams over at teaching journalism online. Matt Ericson, deputy graphics director at The New York Times, gave a presentation at Malofiej in Pamplona, Spain highlighted at the Society for Newspaper Design (SND) web site. 'The best piece of advice Matt gave was, as he said, simple in theory and difficulty in practice: Find the best way to help people understand the news.'
I couldn’t have said it better myself. News organizations, formerly newspapers, have a competitive advantage in understanding news. Now we need to help people understand the WHY. TV and the internet can provide the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE much faster, but not the context and the WHY.
Shan Carter in online graphics at nytimes.com is quoted as saying that he's trying to build work for 'both Bart and Lisa Simpson,' meaning that it can be surface and simple (like Bart) or deeper and thoughtful (like Lisa). It's a good way to think about making work that appeals to two very different kinds of readers.
Matt used the example, among others, of the good reporting that The Times has done at chronicling the war in Iraq in the Casualties of War interactive feature, which can be both a fast scan or a completely immersive experience. How you choose to use the data depends on your needs, and in that way it is a completely different tool than the print newspaper. Check it out to see how you can dig deep into complex data sets.
Obvious idea #2, understand who your audience might be and who your audience is and tell stories for them and to them where they are, not where you think they should be.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:09 PM
Ok, I am clueless. If I had explored a bit more, I would have realized that MK12 does in fact, on their site have some “Stranger Than Fiction” clips.
So, check out their first pitch to the movie’s director.
Their second pitch.
And finally, take a look at the opening sequence that ran in the film. One or two observations. The first idea that caught my eye was the use of the nautilus shell as the 'mode' for the sequence to segue into the next shot with the previous scene rotating and getting smaller. You can see their work with this idea in Brazil Inspired: Macho Box. (Which is almost as good a name as 4D Softcore Sweater Porn.)
Secondly, their use of text and cascading letters in the second pitch is a very clever use of typography that you can only do in Flash or movies, but what a neat idea.
What also emerges in much of their work is their utilization of layering, selective focus and moving typography that moves your eye around the screen as well as anything you can do in print. Very interesting work if you really start to pull apart why they are so successful.
Like yesterday, you can over imagine or overuse many of these ideas in daily journalism; but as a stepping stone to think differently about stories, what a place to start.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 12:22 PM
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I had all intentions of writing more about MK12 and 'embryo' yesterday but I did not. Our web guy, what a great description, and I spent the afternoon trying to pass a variable from an html file into a Flash .swf to then reach into the variable named folder and pull out formatted photos. TRANSLATION: We are trying to automate our 'photos of the week' section of our multimedia page. Another entry for another day.
Andrew asked: 'I watched "Embryo", and I don't understand. Can you explain further?'
My big push would be for folks to rent or watch 'Stranger Than Fiction.' That being said more about 'embryo.'
There are a lot of other 'shorts' and movies on their site and I have not explored all of them yet, but I look forward to doing so.
Like RKH (Richard Koci Hernandez) I really enjoy finding other art forms that can influence how I do my own work. In the case of the movie STF and MK12: how to provide an interface for users to navigate Flash packages or 'nuggets.'
In regard to 'embryo' specifically I really enjoy the way they blend 2-d and 3-d in such interesting and different ways. This is not all transferable to journalism, but it gets me thinking 'outside the box.' How people work in different mediums can help me think about how I do things in my medium.
The segment in 'embryo' where the suitcase opens up and files move out reminds me of something I have seen in Flash somewhere and it would make a great entranceway for a complicated package. How you display information and provide ways for people to interact with it can be just as important as the story you are trying to tell.
I am a big fan of the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principle but MK12 does some very interesting graphics work that could influence how you provide your GUI in your Flash package or graphically tell your story in print. More on this next entry.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:13 AM
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I will get back to 'Stranger Than Fiction' later.....just wanted to go off topic for a moment.
May of you who visit may want to help make the world a better place. While I try not to preach on this site, except about journalism; I have found two interesting ways that people might be able to contribute worldwide and at the personal level.
One such group that is helping provide micro loans is kiva.org. William Kristoff of the NYT just published a story about this in Tuesday paper. The idea is similar to the work of Muhammad Yunus who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in this area.
Depending on your level of interest of desire, there is another group called globalgiving that just looks for grants or gifts.
I was reading today’s NYT about youth today who are strangling themselves for the rush and I really started to wonder about our culture and society. Alternet published a short excerpt on Bill McKibben's new book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future on their site.
So, I know that many journalists want to make a difference with their telling the stories of their subjects also want to do something outside of work; here is your chance.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:42 AM
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I finally got around to watching the movie 'Stranger than Fiction.' If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it, it is a great movie and it does some very interesting visual things as well.
The primary idea is that the main character, who may or may not have OCD (obsessive, compulsive disorder), is shown as always counting and calculating things in his head. The neat thing is that this information is displayed visually for the audience. It not only gives us insight into the character, but very cleverly displays information.
If you watch the 'extra stuff' as you know I do, there is a great section on the GUI, which is based on the graphic user interface concept. The real gem is the group MK12 that winds up doing the work: wonderful stuff, amazing work.
Check out their short 'movie' embryo and you will understand why I am very enthused by their work in the movie and the implications for the visual and digital journalist. More on this idea tomorrow.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 1:14 PM
Well the big news here is that I will be 'heading west' in the soon to be future.
The Bakersfield Californian apparently does not have enough New Yorkers on staff and has subsequently hired me on as the assistant photo editor to work with Photo Director Alex Horvath.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 1:04 PM
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Check it out: a sneak preview of NPR’s This American Life (TAL) that will now be appearing on TV’s Showtime.
The preview, on slate.com, is a short interview that is animated by cartoonist John Kuramoto about school children making cameras out of boxes and how they use them and the 'cameras' influence their behavior on the playground. The short is very interesting and the animation 'feels' like TAL on radio.
As most people, I am very interested in how this particular program is 'illustrated' or conveyed visually. So much of the show is pacing, focussing on storytelling and the listener using their imagination. I wish them luck and if the show continues at this pace I think it will be successful.
You can see other TAL work here.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:06 AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
It has been a little busy of late, my apologies.
For those of you who haven’t heard the buzz, it is worth checking out the Bakersfield Californian out in, you guessed it, California.
That are doing some neat work with the usual pothole story, by creating a map that charts out bad sections of road. This was such a neat idea, a number of other papers blatantly ripped off their idea, even down to the fonts.
They are also doing some simple, yet helpful flash in the coverage of a local trial.
Note: Two of the links are from web editor Davin McHenry's web site from the ground up, also worth a visit.
Many of their writers are covering the beats and the streets with video; here is a great example of taking the 'man/person on the street' question to a fun level as well as making it interesting to watch.
Take a peek, let me know what you think.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 10:16 AM
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Yesterday I posted a brief message and link about our latest project here, Jake Hannah’s Go Fly A Kite, which he graciously let me re-edit. Our piece builds off of (or blatantly steals/borrows) from the Richard Koci Hernandez’s (rkh) piece on the bike tour coming through town and Andrew Dolph’s On Wrestling.
What I really liked about RKH’s audio slide show was that he pushed the boundaries of what the slide show could do and how to utilize good photography. Andrew also pushed some boundaries with his piece.
One of the conclusions from their work, some thinking and our project, is how there already exists a visual vocabulary of using stills, fades and cinematic effects in the world of sports. ESPN, Monday night football, NFL films have all influenced how people 'see' sports.
The next step I think is taking some of these possibilities and translating them in documentary work or news slide shows and seeing what the confluence might produce.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:34 AM
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
This may be considered a double-dip but what the heck.
We finished and published a project that I initially created as a demo to illustrate to upper management how we might tackle long-term stories with multimedia in the future. Unfortunately we did not have the photos to do an audio slide show or the willingness to hold the project and gather sound clips.
In general, the project was taken over by the 'word' people. None-the-less, for my budding flash designing prowess, any feedback you might be able to provide would be welcome. It is not what it could have been, sadly.
You can also see two of our most recent flash/print packages here.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 12:51 PM
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The NPPA multimedia clip contest results were posted recently. Here is the wrap up for this month.
Mike De Sisti keeps doing some great video work up at the The Post-Crescent in Appleton Wisconsin. His 'wacky weather' feature is a nice piece of work and kudos for Mike in getting the folks enjoying the unseasonable weather AND the snowmobile salesman.
The Washington Post demonstrated why they won best use of multimedia in POY with their video coverage of President Ford’s Funeral.
The San Antonio Express-News had a 'fun and irreverent' video of a recent ice storm. I am a big fan of breaking up the traditional narrative and they do a fun little piece that gives a nice take on the “man on the street’ genre. I have to point out that there are not as many controls as I would like on the package (ie, be able to skip to the end to give folks credit).
Ed Kashi and National Geographic have a great chaptered project on the Curse of the Black Gold. For those of you who might have forgotten Ed was detained for a time while shooting this project. I really admire ed’s work and much prefer this over his 'flip book project.'
An HM to the Northwest Herald for 'King Pin Pooch' that wasn’t a great project in my humble opinion but a great story find. How can you beat a dog who bowls at a bowling alley.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 12:27 PM
Monday, March 12, 2007
Last week on NPR’s show Day to Day, they ran a series on the Five Best Ideas in Television. Take away the term TV and the conversations about convergence and advertising sound remarkably familiar.
Check out the ideas: cbs invests in a star who doesn't watch tv, what if television ads got smarter, an old tv concept’s importance, on web tv someone is always watching and tv’s next big hit may come from the country’s fringes.
Two of the not-so-surprising ideas that emerged are 'Content is king' and the creation of content that engages people or gets them involved (also called stickiness). The idea of engaging readers/viewers with content or storytelling that brings them back, has them talking about the show outside of the event is an idea that news organizations could certainly embrace. Ron Reason talks about the idea of giving readers two things to change their life or that they should know about to talk about at work.
So why should I care about this you ask, it is about TV?
One of the interesting concepts that show like 'Heroes' and 'Lost' are utilizing are using different storytelling mediums (including and especially the internet) to broaden their show’s story line in other ways. Once again, who in the new media or news organizations (formerly newspapers) cares?
If readers/viewers are willing to log online after a TV show to vote or follow 'clues' then they are certainly willing and able to go online to find a new way to 'read' or interact with a story. Audio slide shows, flash packages, video are all ways to broaden how news organizations can tell their stories online AND INVOLVE readers/viewers.
Adjusting to the new market, thinking of news as a market, are all ideas that nimble companies are embracing and dinosaur newspapers are ignoring.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:12 PM
Thursday, March 8, 2007
A big shout-out to my former institution of higher learning, R*I*T.
The have a project titled Voices of Rochester that has a great opening interface. My primary observation is that while it was an admirable project, by focusing on so many people, there is almost too much information, and what is there is not as good as it could have been had people been able to take more time.
Having been through the grind in Ra-cha-cha, I understand how it happened. I just wish that the professors there, and I am not pointing any fingers, would try and propose manageable projects or dissuade students from reaching so high.
One person per subject, while it would not have been so broad, could have yielded much stronger results and then the next class could have filled in the picture better.
Overall a B for effort, C for content.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 3:34 PM
In the Sunday NYT’s PLAY magazine an interesting article written by Daniel Coyle about developing tennis prodigies yielded the following gem:
Deliberate practice means working on technique, seeking constant critical feedback and focusing ruthlessly on improving weakness.
'It feels like you are constantly stretching yourself into an uncomfortable are beyond what you can do.'
- K. Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology
I found this to be a very good summary of life in multimedia.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 3:23 PM
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
I have seen it mentioned on a number of sites today, wow. We are limited only by our imagination these days...and not even that.
Not Just a Number is an amazing look at homicides in Oakland, that is not only a community project, but also a way for people to get involved and write to their leaders. The project is a collaboration of the Oakland Tribune, InsideBayArea.com and 49th parallel productions.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:57 AM
A colleague of mine, Andrew Dolph at the Medina Gazette, recently published a audio sound slide package about high school wrestling titled On Wrestling. If he was not directly influenced by Richard K-H over at the San Jose Mercury News I will eat my hat.
That being said, I think andrew does some interesting things to 'breakout of the box' that sound slides can easily put a photographer into mentally. As I noted with the San Jose piece, even though the progression of the show is linear, the editing does not need to be, nor do how you display the images always need to directly correspond to the frame of the program.
My primary concern is quality of the images. While many were 'grainy,' which I didn’t mind, a central repeating image, the subject against a white background seemed badly toned on my monitor (which admittedly is calibrated for our system). My 2-D professor advocated for having spotless technique when trying something different and while I appreciated Andrew’s efforts, that one frame really bothered me, especially seeing it repeatedly.
All that being said, I liked it. I thought his use of the the diptych worked quite well, although I am not sure it had to fade out the way it faded in. I liked the strip of images across the top of the infamous 'white frame' although I wondered if we needed a blank frame, then the same frame with his name and then the same frame with the sequence. I think it would have worked well as just the white frame with the sequence.
I think what San Jose did remarkably well, and Andrew to some extent, is start pushing the boundaries of what sound slides can do. Just like any other tool in our kit, a photographer/digital mojo needs to know what that instrument can do, its range and the scales before starting to play jazz.
Well done, Andrew, I like the way you are thinking.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:35 AM
Monday, March 5, 2007
If you have a few minutes, check out A Break in the Road.
Be patient and let the ad run, and be warned it can be addictive.
It is a really interesting way to think about sound, and yes, even
fun. (Don't tell your editor you are having any fun.)
Kudos for multimediashooter for the find.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:53 PM
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Finishing up on the word for the week: creativity.
Richard Koci Hernandez and the crew up at the San Jose Mercury News put together a fun slide show package on the Amgen Tour of California visit to town. Photographed by Joanne Ho-Young Lee, Patrick Tehan*, Maria J. Avila-Lopez*, Pauline Lubens* and Nhat V. Meyer and sound recorded by the folks denoted with an asterisk. The photo editing was done by Geri Migielicz and richard and then richard produced the packages.
What I like the most are the ways to add cinematic effects to the slide show itself. The opening sequence is great and some of the triptychs inside work,others I would do differently, but that is me and the beauty of the art form.
What is really impressive is doing this on deadline and the solid use of audio and background music.
I like how much Richard (we have never met) pushes boundaries and I picked up a few tricks myself that might have added some sparkle to my boxing piece.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:41 PM
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Yesterday I posted two fun links, one about Line Rider and the other about machinma.
So as to not belabor the point, I did not explain why I thought they might be of interest in the world of journalism. So here we go...
Firstly, I think journalists should have more fun, both doing their work and with their work. Obviously some subjects preclude this approach, but how much fun is your brother who is always serious, honestly, not a lot.
Secondly, these are great examples of how consumers/viewers took something and made it their own, customized content and were creative with content. If you take the time to watch a number of Red vs. Blue episodes, there is some great commentary on gamers, but even deeper an interesting take on war and fighting.
Somewhat related to this is the idea of audience participation. We are so used to providing content via a newspaper (one way transmission), that we don’t take the time to understand YouTube and other sites, similar phenomena online. Flash packages and multimedia are the first advances into providing news consumers the power to explore stories their own way.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, these are great examples of imagination. People can do some really neat things with stuff that we might not think about them doing with our stuff. So perhaps news organizations, formerly newspapers [ NOFN ( as an acronym it looks like no fun doesn’t it?) ] need to be more willing to provide ways and means for consumers to do things with our content in ways we cannot imagine and hold on for the ride. Talk about revolutionary.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 12:25 PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Today’s word is: fun.
I know, I know, journalists should not have any fun.
If you are not aware of Line Rider check out the site.
If you want to see some examples of what you can do with too much free time, visit YouTube for some people's neat projects.
Slate's package on machinma [definition: movies made with characters and graphics from videogames] and article are interesting. The best known, and well written example of this genre is Red vs. Blue.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:45 PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
New York Magazine has a fun piece titled,'You Must Be Streaming: In a sudden reversal of fortune, newspapers have taken to online video and might just beat TV news at its own game.'
The general idea is that news organizations, formerly newspapers, that are evolving, are starting to the kind of work that TV could do, used to do, or don’t think audiences will enjoy. (Watch Good night, and good luck if you haven’t already, Edward R. Murrow is far more eloquent than I.)
This article just continues to underline some of the many threads on this blog. Do good, quality work, evolve, tell interesting stories and who knows, you might be around when the printing press becomes obsolete.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:28 PM
Some very cool food for thought today:
Isabel Chang, a self-described web artist has a very cool piece on the God’s of Chinatown. The interface and navigation is very cool.
The Star-Tribune has a great piece on Liberians in Minnesota that navigates very easily, integrates Flash, video, html story text and audio sound slides very seamlessly.
Finally, Will Yurman has a clean, simple appearing package on women’s self-image called My Body MySelf that is a nice piece of journalism.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:18 PM
Monday, February 19, 2007
I finally got around to watching 'Good night, and good luck.' This film about Edward R. Murrow and his taking on Senator Eugene McCarthy made me look up some interesting quotes from the man who apparently saw more of the future than people think.
'The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.'
Edward R. Murrow
'The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.'
Edward R. Murrow
'We cannot make good news out of bad practice.'
Edward R. Murrow
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:45 PM
Richard Koci-Hernandez of the San Jose Mercury News makes some great points with his latest 'journal' entry (he doesn’t want to be considered a blogger) 'A Desperate Plea.'
A colleague sent me a heads-up on this and talked about his own frustrations in our field. In one sense the newcomers to photojournalism/multimedia journalism have an advantage - technology, and are also at a disadvantage - learning to tell stories visually with more things to juggle on their shift.
When I started in this field, all I had to worry about was learning how to tell stories visually, either through singles or multiple images. Now a days, new folks juggle shooting, recording, learning and teaching new technology and code.
Not to belabor the point, I think Richard hits the nail on the head with two things, it is about TELLING THE STORY and it is about QUALITY. I would agree with him that a more cinematic approach is where news organizations (formerly newspapers) will be doing their best storytelling online, through video, stills, multimedia and interactive Flash packages.
Copying bad television online is just being lazy. Our audience is visually educated by TV, movies, magazines and ads, we should acknowledge this and produce quality work that captures their imaginations and hearts. There are great, fun ways to tell stories these days. I spend more time these days trying to expand how our print journalists think about telling stories, demonstrating how we can better tell stories online and in print.
The key, will be quality. More often than not, quality takes time. Either thinking things through beforehand or in 'production time' after leaving the office and returning. Now, more than ever, workflow becomes an issue. If a story can best be told with video, then shoot that. If it is a single, get in done and move on. If a story grows as you are covering it, communicate back to the office and adjust as needed.
I agree with Richard that we should take chances and utilize all the tools we have. But we should also think things through, and use the right tool in our kit. If we over cover something that doesn’t deserve it, or under cover a great story then we are failing as journalists. All the technology does not replace the digital journalist’s brain in thinking through and about their story. That is our biggest asset, we need to use it more frequently.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:15 AM
Friday, February 16, 2007
Multimedia Starter Kit:
Olympus OS-2 Recorder
This is what drives the boat, soundslides.
Audio editor by audacity.
This is also a nice program for galleries. How to use it from multimediashooter himself (or read the manual).
Check out the Multimedia Bootcamp.
You can get this through the NPPA. Mindy McAdams book Flash Journalism rocks!
Helps me customize the HTML of our projects.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:41 AM
I am seeing the future and you are not going to believe it.
Check out some full screen Flash video samples that will rock your world, no pun intended.
Apparently DSL connections might be slightly jerky now and then.
From Fabio Sonnati’s web site Flash Video.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:26 AM
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I am sure you have heard about the University of Missouri-Columbia study, based on 10 years of financial data, that found that news quality affects profit more than spending on circulation, advertising and other parts of the business.
Imagine that. The quality of your product is important, if not key.
I do not understand all of these newspapers that cut reporters and photographers in a cost-cutting approach. So you are eliminating the people who produce, find, and focus on the product that you then sell to advertisers. Hmmmm.
Now at least there is a report that greedy Wall Street types can ignore as they continue to slash and burn. Vive the newsroom.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:31 PM
So, after listening as another reheated Valentine Day’s story idea was pitched, NPR did a great little piece yesterday called Galactic Gold: A Valentine Story.
So, this is not really multimedia you point out. You are probably right.
The clever idea they demonstrate is how to revisit a story that comes around every year and cover it in a new an interesting way...how does the gold get to your finger (if you are married, are wearing a wedding band, and it is made out of gold).
What caught my ear and imagination was the story itself. It is quite interesting, have a listen. The primary lesson is that it takes imagination, a little creativity and guts to tell the usual story in a different way. Kudos NPR!
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:59 AM
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The NYT (New York Times for non New Yorkers) came out with a neat internet video section this weekend called the First Ones. Ironically enough my wife read the latest Sunday magazine and pointed me toward the site.
I am very much in favor of the clean video and clear sound. The smaller screen of the internet pushes the journalist toward cleaner backgrounds to simply things. There are some nice film qualities to the presentation, since Jake Paltrow directed things, that is not a surprise.
I for one am glad to see journalism “loosening up” a bit. I would like top see them interview non-celebs next, not unlike the Washington Post’s onBeing’s ongoing project.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:48 PM
Monday, February 12, 2007
OK, I am slow, I admit it.
I was just looking at the Brass Tacks web site and found some interesting food for thought.
As newspapers work to deal with the new realities of the internet here are the bullets from Alan Jacobson. Food for thought:
1 Get real about the Internet
2 Tie journalists' pay to circulation
3 Ignore your loyal readers
4 Stop running news stories
5 Feed the cash cow
6 Drop the price
7 Solve the online revenue riddle
8 Promote as if success depends upon it
9 Join hands and sing Kumbaya
Check out the whole article New Rules for Newspapers.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:54 PM
It is official, if it wasn’t before, it is now.
Both the LA Times and the NYT are moving to the internet. Yes, I know they have web sites already, what I am referring to is that they are looking to maintain and increase their web generated advertising to offset their print costs and declining print advertising.
Some interesting thoughts, in random order:
A. What happens to people who are not computer literate, cannot afford computers or internet connection?
B. Will the 24 hr. news cycle lead to a decrease in news content and quality?
C. Should newspapers be profit-making businesses or non-profits?
D. Will newsrooms and TV stations be able to keep the journalist staffs they need to adequately cover their area?
E. What will news organizations (formerly newspapers) do as competition becomes national and international, instead of local?
F. What is your organizations competitive advantage?
Posted by Michael Fagans at 12:01 PM
The headline and lead paragraph from the San Francisco Chronicle say it all:
Tonight at 11, news by neighbors:
Santa Rosa TV station fires news staff, to ask local folks to provide programming
Steve Spendlove realizes that after last month's layoffs of most of the news-gathering staff at tiny KFTY-TV in Santa Rosa there will be less local coverage. The Clear Channel executive overseeing the station knows there won't be reporters to investigate local scandals, let alone do those fluffy woman-turns-100 features that make TV anchors cock their heads and smile at the end of a newscast.
It is especially troubling when you pair it with the ethical levels that journalists are expected to maintain while covering news. If you have been reading the Sunday NYT their ombudsman has been addressing freelancer ethics questions for almost a month now. In the NPPA magazine New Photographer there is a column that covers ethics training and then a paper’s announcement about using reader generated content.
Let me be very clear, I think reader/viewer generated content and participation is important for the future. The important cutoff line for me is news. I think readers blogs and columns are good ideas. I would draw the line for user generated work at news coverage, perhaps even at spot news coverage, although that is becoming a grayer line.
So, when does cheap, untrained and potentially biased start to threaten how we think of news in this country?
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:38 AM
Last Friday night on my way out the door, our photo editor, a staff photographer and myself had a brief discussion about sound and visuals. I was saying that it might be fun to mix up certain sounds and the pictures of people making the sounds in an audio slide show.
Then, not to my surprise I heard an interview with professor Jack Sullivan on NPR about Alfred Hitchock’s work with composers Bernard Hermann and Miklos Rozsa. Sullivan talked about how Hitchock used seemingly incongruent sound with visuals to send subtle and not-so-subtle clues to audiences.
What’s old is new again. But it is still a fun idea.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:13 AM
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
The Washington Post just launched their onBeing video series today. Really very nice, a breath of fresh air in the video world of newspapers.
My only concern is that some of the cuts are too quick in the interviews....I almost want more time and space for people to think. If I had to guess, people might have said things that didn't fit into the edit and there was not enough time or space to build in. Having edited audio long enough, I realize the difficulty in editing around that problem. It is perhaps most noticeable in the Sister Ann Elizabeth interview, but it is still the best interview none-the-less.
Overall Jennifer Crandall gets some great interviews and the interface is fun and the content is great. Yes, the content is interesting (hear that newspaper world?).
I am looking forward to the next installment.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 1:57 PM
Friday, February 2, 2007
The January NPPA multimedia wins are posted. Here are the projects that caught my eye:
I am very sure that Richard Koci Hernandez is going to amount to something in our field, mark my words ;) I think what I really like about his work is that he introduces an artistic flair and touch that have fun, something that is often missing in journalism. His third season is wonderful.
The Washington Post's Preston Keres’s 'Drumline' made me think back to the 2002 movie of the same name, which is a good thing. It is a great piece of video. Subjects matter, this is a piece that video really works.
Scott Simmie of the Toronto Star also found a great subject and made a memorable video production on a winter artist, although a touch too long for my taste.
The Tampa Bay Tribune had a solid piece on a Down’s Syndrome child named Thalia who is remarkable in her own way.
Jim Gehrz at the Star-Tribune shows again why he is one of the masters in our field with his 'A Prayer for Father Tim.'
Posted by Michael Fagans at 10:54 AM
In the January issue of the NPPA’s magazine News Photographer, Stewart Pittman is a journalist at WGHP-TV in Greensboro, N.C. provided a perspective column on the Top 10 things to teach a television reporter. Stewart, who writes a blog that is apparently moving soon, provides some good insights that are valuable to all digital journalists in his magazine piece.
1. Write to your video (multimedia).
2. Have a plan.
3. The Story is not you.
4. Try not to over explain things.
7. Mind the natural sound (shut up).
8. Man-on-the-street interviews are the curse of the weak.
10. Know when to blend (in).
It sounds like the list for TV news photographers is similar to print photographers and is good advice for still photographers moving into soundslides. There are times that a digital journalist might want to use video, might want to use stills or combine both and add audio recorded separately.
In the same issue there is a story about TV going tapeless, more on the implications of that in a later blog entry.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:39 AM
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A YouTube story two days in a row, my apologies, but this story was also covered by NPR.
Luke Johnson, a Phoenix resident, wants to see how many people will call his cell phone. So he posted a video on YouTube and started the ball rolling.
What gets my attention is that his story caught on to the point where NPR interviewed him and someone called during the interview. To date more than 11,000 people have called him.
This is an example of a simple idea, posting your phone number and seeing what happens, growing into something more. There are times when we are only limited by our imagination or fear of failing.
Luke demonstrates that an interesting story, even an off-the-wall story, can catch people’s imaginations in our world.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:48 PM
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
It is not every day I come across a YouTube video and sit back and say 'wow.'
If you haven't seen it yet, take the time to watch silentmiaow's 'In My Language' and be patient. For those of you who can't be botheredto take the time, visit periurban's critique/response to 'In My Language.' But at least get to 3 minutes and 40 seconds or so mark.
For those doubters out there, this is one of the best pieces of web video I have seen in awhile. There is some very impressive use of perspective, sound, rhythm, and repetition that shows a remarkable understanding of what makes video and film powerful. For some, yes it is a bit 'artsy,' but really watch it and work to understand it and I think you will be surprised. I think this is the first time I have been able to experience autism from this perspective.
The use of text and the voice synthesizer are also impressive in the depth and understanding of how these parts of the whole interact and support each other.
The you add the personal and human element of silentmiaow's story and you are blown away by her way of communicating her world to us. I won't even delve into the Taoist aspects of her name alone.
Poignant, insightful and powerful are pale words compared to this piece.
It make me think back to a observation by Alex Webb that "If you see the world from a different persepctive, even a two degree change, it is a whole new world."
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:09 PM
Today it is the Tuesday morning quarterback’s turn to evaluate the Blizzard of '77 package.
One of the interactive concepts we considered was allowing/asking people to submit stories or photos from the event. For various time and web site related issues not related to this project we decided not to follow this route. I think in the future this is one of the ways to involve readers/viewers in the process and final product. I still think this was worth the time and effort, but it was not my call in the end.
One of the reasons I think this was a critical aspect of this project was the number of people who stopped by my desk while I was working on this project to tell me stories or talk about pictures they remember. There are certain incidents that capture people’s imaginations and memories and this was a 'biggie.'
Another unforeseen hurdle was that at least one of not two folders of negatives have been lost in the past 30 years. It is hard to really do a broad project, when you are missing at least half of the initial take. Another funny moment was realizing how far the photographers then did not stray from Washington Street. So watch your P’s and Q’s when you are making images, you never know who might be looking back. That being said, how many newspapers and news organizations are archiving images that DON”T RUN. Many of the best shots we used were out-takes.
Lesson #8: Your sound file is your biggest file, keep that and the quality of the file in mind for downlaods and preloaders.
Finally, involve your coworkers. In this instance Dave Shampine got on-board quickly once he understood what his role was. I think an earlier 'talent' deadline would have helped alleviate a number of issues we faced on deadline.
P.S. - Andrew Dolph suggested a great link to soundslide customizing. Having worked through it a bit, I am looking at calling soundslide swf’s into Flash 'shells' to customize our look further.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 11:34 AM
Monday, January 29, 2007
The dust has settled and the after action review begins (to steal a concept from the Army ). The Army is famous for doing after action reviews after almost everything, OK everything, especially when they are in the field.
Lesson #1: Keep it simple stupid (KISS), especially on deadline.
Lesson #2: Keep Flash development away from deadline productions, unless you really can’t.
Lesson #3: Stick to what you know, even if you can tell the story better in a way you have never tried before. The headaches and new hurdles are not always readily apparent when you start off on a ‘shortcut.’
Lesson #4: Add an extra day to development to allow for ‘technical’ glitches that may only arise on launch. So launch in private a day early to allow for overcoming obstacles like load time.
Lesson #5: Keep it short. Get in and get out. anything in Flash, Soundslides or otherwise gets really tricky and large after 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Believe me.
Lesson #6: Joe Weiss is a deity. IF you are trying to reinvent the wheel, don’t. Joe has done it much better than you can imagine or know.
Lesson #7: If you are designing a web AND print package, add one more day than you think you need to your schedule.
So, in general, a good time was had by all. Much was learned.
The nitty, gritty (for the hard core mojos out there.):
Compare blizzard version one with the final project. Yes, the audio is not synched to the flash, still learning how to do that. Yup, gotta fix that. The load time is close to soundslides, but it took a great deal of work to get it that close and the audio suffers in version 1. Once again Joe Weiss is a deity. Could you, I, we have accomplished much of the background texture in CSS or XHTML, probably (KISS). Other observations? Bueller? Bueller?
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:01 PM
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
I know, not a very glamorous topic, you might not even get this far.
That being said, the importance of establishing a workflow for multimedia and editing oversight becomes important as a group moves from introduction to establishment. We are in the process of negotiating who check off on what, when they do it, who is responsible for what, who decides when something launches.
There is an interesting dynamic between the ‘artistic’ side who want to tweak projects and improve them and the once it is published it is done crowd. There is also a side debate about if it is published with errors what does that say about us and the message we are trying to convey.
So, a workflow already exists for writers’ copy, photographers’ work, paginators’ pages, so who is in charge of oversight of multimedia? How many cooks should be in the kitchen cooking, who should be plating and who is the head chef ( to extend a metaphor too far )? Seriously though, workflow has evolved over time into what is established at newspapers, so start thinking about your own process before organized chaos becomes the norm.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:43 PM
Thursday, January 18, 2007
A number of people have highlighted the Magnum Photos In Motion M*A*S*H (the TV show ) audio slideshow. After thought and consideration I offer up a few observations.
Not unlike multimdiashooter.com, I wonder how and if they got permission to use the M*A*S*H clips. There is the idea, and then getting Hollywood to sign off on the use of the show. With this cloud hanging over the project I can’t give it a big thumbs up, yet.
In general, the project falls prey to what many of us observe in our own work and other’s work, a tighter edit. [ I think that is my next common thread, #6. ] The slide show would benefit by losing repetitive images as well as the photos that don’t live up to Magnum standards.
While I like some of the sound, there is not enough of it, and the 'TV snow' sound got annoying after awhile. In one sense this seemed like padding out a bad to average assignment by jazzing up in multimedia. I think L.A. Times staff photographer Rick Loomis and James Nachtwey both did better jobs on service men and women doing hospital work in Iraq.
All that being said, I liked the fact that Magnum pushed the boundaries with this project. There are many things I liked about it; including some of the transitions, the strong use of text, using essentially an antiwar show in tandem with the obvious medical coverage. In one sense, pairing the 'every day' war reportage with M*A*S*H might have been stronger and more meaningful.
As I have noted before, you have to appreciate people taking chances and pushing the boundaries. Kudos to Magnum; but now everyone should think over what worked and what didn’t work and why not.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:42 AM
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
My father has joked a number of times in his life that he should have a set series of 'message #one,' 'message #two,' that he could just say out loud instead of the entire message. For example, instead of saying 'don’t forget to make your bed in the morning,' he could simply say 'message #one.'
This thought reverberated in my mind yesterday as I was writing my last entry. Perhaps I should come up with my own commentary 'threads' that I keep returning too, expounding on, thinking about and exploring. So, a short list:
Thread #1: It is about the story, keep it simple stupid (KISS) and focus on the story.
Thread #2: Technology is good, embrace technology and the storytelling power it provides you the journalist.
Thread #3: Keeping in mind Thread 2, don’t exclude ‘older’ versions of technology to tell a story if they do it better. Don’t love technology simply because it being cool and new, think about what it enables you to do.
Thread #4: Media and journalism is converging, accept it and move on.
Thread #5: Push boundaries, but do not be afraid to recognize when you have pushed too far. The 'box' as we know it is expanding, but journalistic ethics should help people navigate this new area and era of freedom.
I am sure this list will expand with time. I close with my favorite restaurant motto from Zebb’s Bar and Grill: 'Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.' Journalism is increasingly becoming uncertain, enjoy it and tell some good stories.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:34 AM
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Sorry for the delay, I’ve been hard at work in Flash, and having a REALLY good time! (A long story for another day.)
Mindy McAdams had a great post on the Newark’s The Star-Ledger and their new tvjersey.com site. Rather than paraphrase badly, check out Mindy’s column. What I really like about their project is that they are YouTube enabling their video, very cool, and fits into the broadening and sharing concept of the future of journalism.
Mindy’s post and Ryan Sholin’s post on newspaper video 'Who is shooting it and how they do it' really get me back to one of my themes: how do you best tell your subject’s story.
The temptation is there to embrace technology and do what you can instead of how the story should be told, how the story is telling you, the journalist to tell the story. Once again Mindy has a great post about how 'It's about stories...which stories? and why?' Note: I'd like to think my last entry and post on her blog prompted this entry, but probably not.
My wife reminded me about a comment I made many years ago when I went inside to pay for gasoline instead of paying at the pump. I said to her, 'It is about more than the gas.' Sometimes, ALWAYS, that human connection is important, ESPECIALLY in journalism. The technology should merely help us better tell stories, period.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 9:04 AM
Friday, January 12, 2007
My original idea, yesterday, before I get swept into the current project I am working on, was to discuss Don Hazen's review of Jeffrey Chester's new book 'Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy' on alternet.org.
One of his best paragraphs gets to the core of things:
But to really stay up-to-speed, you might also need a bunch of RSS feeds, social network updates; hourly checks of Technorati top blogs; Google alerts for breaking headlines; an instant messenger that logs into AOL, Yahoo, GoogleTalk and MSN simultaneously; and some widgets for your friends' Web sites to spread the word about what you think is important. And, of course, you will need a Crackberry so you don't miss any of it while you're driving to work in the morning.
I was checking in on Mindy McAdams page after coming up for air today and I read her entry on 'Getting (and keeping) a job in journalism. She writes about the general shift of news to the internet and how some newspapers and organization are and aren’t dealing with the paradigm shift. Amen sister.
Both Mindy and Don highlight some of the major currents in today’s society. But I come back, after working for a few days in Flash, to remembering why I became a journalist in the first place: people. We might be able to surf the web, but if we are not out in the 'biomass' telling stories and listening then something is missing. If there is a danger of some becoming iPod People while others have no access to the internet and news, then what have we accomplished?
So, get up to speed, but don’t forget to get your feet wet with humanity.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:49 PM
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
OK, this is really the last time, for awhile, that I will talk about film.
As I was putting the finishing touches on the 'fight' sequence at the end of Gym Dreams, I remembered an interview on NPR with Thelma Schoonmaker who was Martin Scorsese's favorite editor and won an Oscar for her editing work on Raging Bull.
At one point in the interview she talks about how she put a frame or a short sequence of frames in upside down in their fight sequence. Her answer to the question ‘Why’ was simply that it worked.
When I was working on my own sequence, I found that occasionally things worked in order, but more often than not, mixing up the images independent of how they were captured ‘worked better.’
In general, this is something I see in many people’s early narratives in their audio slide shows. They arrange things in order they took them, the flow of a day, to match the audio. What I don’t see, more often than not, is that they don’t order the images together in a way that flows together visually.
Just food for thought.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:46 AM
If you haven’t seen it yet, iPhone is arriving. Disclaimer: I must admit that my brother works for Apple, although I will also disclose that he DID NOT let me know this was coming.
Seriously though, you could see the technology making this very possible and desirable. Not too long newspapers and web news organizations will have to be designing for such handhelds seriously. Yes, I know you can do it in CSS, but how many sites currently are?
Posted by Michael Fagans at 7:24 AM
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Yesterday’s entry about Gym Dreams started me thinking further about using the 'language of cinema' in audio slideshows. Richard Koci-Hernandez mentions being influenced by movies on his new site multimediashooter, so I don’t feel alone in this approach.
As I noted yesterday, the remix trailer for 'Take the Lead' really inspired me to think differently about rhythm and pace within packages. Taking that a step further, I should disclose that my brother and his family got me a copy of 'Pirates of the Caribbean' for Christmas.
I can’t help listening to the commentary sections of movies because I never know what I might learn or find out. One time director Robert Rodriguez of El Mariachi fame recommended the book 'Art and Fear,' which I would second for any photographer, journalist or mojo to read. It is a wonderful, short book about the fear almost every artist faces in creating or capturing their work.
What I discovered watching 'Pirates' with the commentary on, is that the sound is cut back and I start to notice how cinematographers tell their stories. There was one sequence that pulled pulled back to reveal a central character and then because you focused on one action, when they pulled back from the detail shot to reveal a change in location, your mind filled in an entire series of events.
The reason I bring all of this up, is that I don’t think we have to reinvent the wheel in regard to audio visual shows. We just have to be open and borrow, or steal, techniques from Hollywood that work in our medium. We quite happily do the same thing within photography, we just have to now broaden our idea of what our field is and use techniques that work in other subsections and use them in multimedia.
I am sure I will continue this line of thinking and illustrating.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 10:35 AM
Monday, January 8, 2007
I tried something a little different this time. I am starting to get tired of the formulaic way many audio slide shows have a person introduce themselves and tell the story, so I went with multiple people this time. Gym Dreams, I hope, gives you a flavor of the people who workout and love boxing in Watertown.
What is interesting for me is that in asking them all the same questions, many of their replies were similar, but the differences highlighted personality and approach. It was a fun mental exercise to edit and keep what was fun, fascinating and insightful without going too long. In one sense the audio moves along at a good clip, but I tried to pace the audio as well as the pace of the images.
Part of the influence for this approach was the video for the Antonio Banderas film Take the Lead that I mentioned last year, and the other major influence was my 2-D design professor who had us do a project on tempo and pace using thickness of lines in a space.
I am still trying to edit down the images, possibly the sound, but I am fairly happy where things stand.
I believe that telling successful multimedia stories comes down to asking the same question of yourself (or team): how do I (we) best tell this story?
Posted by Michael Fagans at 1:41 PM
Friday, January 5, 2007
The NPPA multimedia clip wins are in for December. Here are my notable winners:
Susanna Frohman of the Mercury News for her 'One Little Wish.' A fun, interesting story.
Mike De Sisti, photojournalist at The Post-Crescent, for his leaf raking adventures. Perhaps the best video at a newspaper I have seen yet.
David Gordon for his 'House that Brian Built.' A well told story.
Jennifer Podis, Gary Coronado and William Sullivan of The Palm Beach Post for their 'Train Jumping.' Great work!
David Hobby of the Baltimore Sun for his fun fall flash piece.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:39 PM
Howard Owens and Michael Bazeley are bored with photographers using Soundslides to create still image with audio in Flash. Howard Owens writes that, 'Most of the time, when I watch a slideshow, I can’t help but think — for all the time put into this, why not just shoot video?' An interesting question, especially for newspapers.
Howard Owens and I do agree on a few things, particularly when he says, 'but it’s important to think about your audience and how best to spend your time in service of the audience.' Amen. Not only is important to think about your audience, but how to best tell the story.
We part ways when he writes, 'There is a depth of personality that just a voice and picture can’t capture./ There are some times I would agree with this statement. In a video interviews for news programs, other times a poignant sound clip with a great image tells the story even better than video. It is time, place and story dependent.
He continues, 'The danger of planning a static slideshow is that if any of these elements are sub par, you wind up with boring multimedia. Whereas, video, for the same subject, effort and talent (again, all things being equal) is more forgiving.' STOP. While video may be more forgiving, I think the audience is equally annoyed at average or bad storytelling. I would prefer to use the multimedia because I can 'zip' through the images. I watch bad video on our local TV news almost every night, and that is excruciating.
Howard Owens demonstrates some ignorance of the multimedia medium when he states that 'if a still photographer wants to bring his or her photos to life, fine — do the slideshow and add the audio, but make the pictures move. Use the iMovie “Ken Burns Effect” or learn how to simulate this in Movie Maker or your other video tool.' Aaaarrrggghhhh. The KBE, like any other tool in your tool kit can be overdone or become more annoying than just still images. If it is done for a reason, if there is a payoff, then the KBE can work; if not, I get nauseous just thinking about it.
Mr. Owens wraps up with 'Slideshows don’t need to be boring. Photographers need to learn to do them better, or start shooting video.' We agree, slideshows don’t have to be boring. Every day, as I see better and interesting video, I am slowly being converted to adding video to my storytelling arsenal. However, that being said, a really good audio slideshow, in my humble opinion, can do things better than average video.
I think we as 'animals,' Homo erectus, still think in still images, or still images are better processed by our brains. Think back to the major 'moments' of history, as you catalogue them, and they are almost all still images, except for perhaps the Zapruder film. I am sure that part of it is that video looks like ordinary life, it moves like we do, whereas a still image freezes time for us. Until we start thinking differently, I believe the power of the still image will remain.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 8:12 AM
Thursday, January 4, 2007
I am still trying to get up to speed here this year. I have been working on a project that I hope to finish up by the end of this week. The work in progress, a local boxing club that meets in the second floor of a warehouse can be seen at the Watertown Daily Times.com, Gym Dreams.
Another great use of video by a newspaper can be seen at WWII Trench shot by Bernard Weil of the Toronto Star. I am slowly getting convinced that video can supplement and be the lead medium for newspapers, if it is done well.
My shooting coach from the Mountain Workshops, Rick Loomis of the LA Times, just had his multimedia/print project highlighted in PDN and you can see his work at Ocean Series.
Another Zen moment of the day was a photo a day’s Best of 2006. Ahhhh....aaauuuummmmmm.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:46 PM
This was meant to be my last 2006 entry...
In my last entry for the year I draw your attention to two sources of inspiration from outside the world of journalism.
The first is a quirky and fun site called VidLit that has numerous Flash animated stories. All too often Flash projects at newspapers tend to look similar. Here are some 'well told' stories from 'outside the box.'
The second is an art site by Gregory Colbert from his installation and series entitled "ashes and snow." What really captures my imagination is the way that the site allows you to explore his art as well as being a unified piece of work on its own. This is the kind of site that I wish the newspaper world emulated, even in small ways.
Posted by Michael Fagans at 2:12 PM