Attack Of The B-Reporters

Shooting video takes a lot longer than you might think. At least, that seemed to be the main take-away from today’s shoot. This is especially true when you’re not sure what, exactly, you’re doing.

It all began for our three-person group at 10:00 this morning. “What,” our prof asked me, “is your group shooting?””I dunno,” I said, “What’re we shooting?”

Nobody else remembered either.

So I pulled up my phone, and took a look at this morning’s top stories on Google News. Thank goodness for data-plans! We were looking for something that was local, so we wouldn’t have to travel, interesting, and easy to photograph.

The story that grabbed our attention was an item published in the CBC called Canada drops in UN communications technology ranking. We figured the story would be local, so we could do most of our shooting on Campus. It would be of interest to other Canadians, so we could get good interviews. Also, most importantly, it was a subject we were all interested in.

After some discussion, we went out into the freezing cold, to shoot background footage. This was, as we all commented, not exactly the ideal day to shoot. A warmer, less windy day would have been lovely. But what can you do?

We shot footage in front of a best buy, a future shop, an HMV, and several other places. We thought we were probably shooting far too much extra stuff; but as it turned out, we needed every second of it.

The only interesting thing to happen to us during our two hours of outdoor shooting was getting kicked out of Dundas Square. Apparently, you need a permit to shoot on the square itself. That seemed odd to us, considering that the square is, in theory, public space. I’m not sure if this is some misguided terrorism prevention thing, or if it has something to do with privacy protection, or what on earth the wonks in charge of this nonsense are thinking. Seeing as shooting the square is perfectly okay, just as long as you’re not standing in the square itself, I doubt the permit requirement is effective for any of those goals. I’m lead to believe that the most likely explaination is a money-grubbing official somewhere, hoping to charge for permits in order to increase his department’s bottom line. Anyway, it didn’t really have any effect on our shots, other than that we were required to move about two feet, so we didn’t bother making a big deal over it.

After getting all of our outdoor filming done, we moved into the Ryerson business building, both to find some interview subjects, and to record an on-camera intro to the story in front of students using laptops and cell phones. When we arrived, and got set-up in the first place we found, we discovered that the lighting was no good. So one of us ran back to the Rogers Communication Centre to get a light, while the remaining two tried to find interview subjects, shot more background, and recorded some background sound that we could use to cover up quick edits and bad transitions.

By the time we finally got a light, we had our first interview subject lined up. We had also discovered that we did not, in fact, need the light. This turned out to be lucky, seeing as the cord they gave us to plug the light in turned out to be the wrong cord. So if we had needed the light, we couldn’t have plugged it in.

The first interview went extremely well. After figuring out how to frame the shot, what to do with the microphone, and how to set the audio, our subject was both well-spoken and insightful. It’s this interview that we used in the video.

We also did a second interview, just in case. Our second interview student was with the Ryerson TV channel, and she probably knew a lot more about shooting interviews than we did. It also went well, although not being involved directly in the technology industry, our subject just didn’t have as much to say. We thought about doing several more interviews, but by this time in the day we could feel our submission deadline crawling up our spines, and finding people interested in going on camera was a huge job. Our first interview went so well, and was so long, that we didn’t even bother using this second interview. The entire story wasn’t supposed to be much over a minute in length.

Instead, we moved our set-up to a location where the lighting was slightly better, and shot the on-camera intro and on-camera closing. We got the intro after the first take, and the closing shot took two.

Satisfied with our camera work, we headed for the RCC, some lunch, and an edit room. Returning the camera took absolutely forever. It so happened that we were returning our stuff at the same time a hord of other students were trying to sign things out. So we stood in line for over ten minutes, complaining about our deadline, and hoping we could get our stuff signed back in soon so we could eat and edit. Finally, we got the camera returned, and our video onto a memory card. Off to editing we went!

It took us nearly twice as long to edit as it did to shoot! First, we couldn’t figure out how to import into news-edit. Then, cutting out clips wasn’t working the way we thought it should. We solved that, only to have problems cutting and pasting footage. After that, we discovered that news-edit was using the wrong audio track for our interviews, and we had to figure out how to kill one track, and what track we wanted to kill in the first place. As we couldn’t plug headphones into the Ryerson computers, I didn’t realize, at the time, that we had killed all audio on the left channel. I didn’t hear it at all in headphones until I got back home; I have absolutely no idea where the left channel went. If I had known, I would’ve probably done something about it. Once we got all that sort of squared away, we discovered that we weren’t happy with our on-camera intro. We wanted to use some of our background shots, and better introduce the story with a voice-over. This required figuring out how to record the audio, importing it into news-edit, and figuring out what visuals should go with it. After doing all that, we decided to keep the on-camera intro, and put the voice-over in front of it. Once all that was done, and our first interview was edited and pasted in, we stuck on the on-camera closing. At that point, we discovered that the story was long enough, and using our second interview would make it too long. So we decided to scrap it, and just go ahead and make the caption for our first interview. That, thank goodness, went perfectly. We then made an attempt to use our recorded background audio to cover up the three spots in our report that had no sound at all. Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t get news-edit to paste in the background on another track without destroying what we currently had, or appending our current audio to the end of the background, rather than mixing with it. We were, at that point, completely out of time; we just gave up. You can clearly hear the audio flaws in our final video. Exporting was another battle. First, we followed the wrong instructions and did the wrong thing entirely. Then, we got the finished clip exported, put it on our thumb-drives, logged off the computer, and discovered that we had saved the file in the wrong place. We went back, logged in again, and moved the file. We also discovered, while doing this, that for whatever reason, the export function had decided to create a bunch of blank space at the start and finish of our video. We had no idea why, and no idea how to fix it. So we left it alone.

After everything, I came back to res, and uploaded the results of our first ever full shoot. Have a look at it; what do you think? Technology Shootings of Students for Make Benefit Glorious University of Ryerson! Seriously, it didn’t turn out that badly for a first field report. I’ve uploaded it to youtube, because wordpress hates me and won’t accept my 62 meg MPG file.

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