Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ken burns and his effect

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.


Anonymous said...

Did the discussion of the popularity of the car jacking "video" end with a definitive conclusion? Or, is the department still on the fence? I would tend to agree that using the term 'car jacking' alone would probably generate a fair amount of interest, just as it would on the television news, or on a newspaper stand — sensationalized with a catchy headline. As far as the presentation of the piece itself, I am bothered by the Ken Burns Effect. The piece isn't dynamic enough to warrant that much movement. What's more, the movement detracts from me being able to actually linger in the moment of each still image. I'm forced to pause the piece at times in order to cognitively process what exactly is going on in specific frames. I wonder if you feel that there exists one single frame in that show that best tells the story, instead of a handful of ho-hum frames that really only serve to act as a vessel for the audio? How would you feel about one picture, or perhaps three pictures?

If it were to be published in the print form, it seems like this story teeters on the precipice of being either a brief, or an actual news story. Unfortunately, the web has allowed for neither choice to be made. Instead, any old story gets uploaded and as a result good news gathering and reporting becomes harder to find. Alas, I think we're stuck until good working business models for news on the web are developed and agreed upon. Until then, these discussions are very important!

Finally, on a technical note, I noticed something about the difference between viewing shows incorporating the KBE produced with Final Cut that differ from those produced with Soundslides. Final cut shows tend to break down still images, in that they seem pixelated — for lack of a better term to describe what I'm seeing. With shows produced using SS, it seems that the transition from KBE start to KBE finish in an individual frame is smoother. Are you noticing a similar trend? Do you need a few links for examples?

Michael Fagans said...

Andrew, good questions and comments…In one sense this was “padding out” what was a one shot photo in the newspaper, the last frame, with no KBE on it. There were some problems in that this was a team effort, someone else did the audio, and the person who was an eyewitness did not want to be on camera or on audio.

I would argue that FCP actually breaks the images down less than soundslides because you can import the larger files, whereas soundslides seem to get pixilated too when you zoom in tight on things.

Part of the problem with this video is that it was encoded using RIVA which does not produce great FLV files…primarily because of speed issue. When our public player is so small it is not worth the time to encode for a larger player. Many of those issues will get addressed in the future.

In regard to the coverage…the photographer clearly did not capture an overall, scene setting image. That being said he got a great shot, the downcast subject at the end….and for spot news, sometimes that is all you can get. Clearly, we did not coordinate coverage as well as we might have, but you can only do so much with the raw material you get as an editor.

One of the conversations we are working on is determining how to approach and tell a story like this in multiple formats, as well as get our people to think in terms of one great overall storytelling shot, as well as possible multiples for an audio sound slide show or stills in a video or capture the video itself. We also need to give our shooters the freedom to make those calls in the field or inform us that we need to change or alter the plan. As far as getting the ‘carjacking’ itself, those are really hard to shoot as they take place over time and locations…so, good shot, ran A1, story inside and as noted at the beginning, some glitches with the video, but an interesting case study.