The conclusion of the semester is coming quickly at LUTV. I’ve learned a lot during the Super Semester. There have been some great experiences. When I think about all the hands-on experience I have gotten it is kind of mind blowing.
Since the last time I filed a reporter blog there have been some really significant news events and some fun experiences.
LUTV NFL Draft Show
The night of the first round of the NFL Draft is one of my favorite of the year. LUTV puts on a four hour, live show. It is a lot of fun. There are so many things you have to account for when producing live TV. I was an associate producer this year, and I also had the privilege of sitting on the desk.
There were some intriguing picks this year, and we also had some fun elements for the show. There were awesome graphics, player VOs, and we had an interview with Randy Karraker.
Everyone involved seemed to have a really good time. I love the team atmosphere of draft night. The pace is also tons of fun. Everything develops quickly and it is fun to try and keep up with what teams are doing what.
The Daniel Boone Home
I had the chance to go to the Daniel Boone Home in Defiance, Mo. and film a few weeks ago. It was a really neat experience. I’ll be putting together a package on the property shortly after this blog is published. It is a beautiful place. Lindenwood has owned the home and the other historically significant buildings surrounding it since 1998.
The home is approximately 30 to 40 minutes from LU’s St. Charles, Mo. campus. Because it is so far away, a lot of people do not want to make the trip out. The story I’ll be putting together will detail what goes on at the multi-acre property. They do everything from school field trips, to weddings, to hosting Lindenwood classes.
The head tour guide gave me a private tour so I could shoot video for the story. I got to go into parts of the houses most people do not have access to. It was neat to see behind the scenes, because you can see places where families had update the houses over the years. Manny of the houses are older than the state of Missouri itself, but they were all lived in for most of their existence. It is really only recently that they have become museum pieces.
I produced the news on Wednesday, April 17th. It was a long day filled with lots of emotions. Two days after the Boston marathon bombings we expected that to be our biggest story. It was a major part of our coverage, but sadly a tragedy closer to home ended up being higher in the A-block.
A Lindenwood freshman named Michael Black died in the early morning hours on April 17th. It was a difficult situation which required several debates in the newsroom about what was okay to report and what wasn’t. I will never forget that day.
Spring break came at a great time. A lot happened during the first part of the semester. There is much still to be accomplished as well. I’ve really been trying to dig in and come up with lots of story ideas since we are in the homestretch of the semester. Since the last time I filed a blog I have worked on some stories for LUTV. That work has been beneficial and rewarding.
Something non-LUTV I got the chance to do before the break was to go to Washington D.C. with the Lindenwood chapter of the
National Broadcast Society. The convention was a hotbed for broadcasting knowledge. Professionals from all over the Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas came and share with us about their careers. Career advice was also offered. It was good to hear from people who work in all the different parts of the community. There were programming managers, on-air talent, sales account executives, and hiring directors. All of them were candid, but encouraging. I sat in on sports media panels, social media discussions, and was able to soak up lots of other media knowledge.
NBS also offered tours of professional media outlets. I toured SiriusXM radio. It was a truly awesome experience. Their facility is state of the art. Each station has a different studio. We interacted with on-air talent and were given a tour of the building. The internship was also explained during our visit.
Shooting this package was great because we were working alongside St. Louis professional media who were working in the same space we were. It was great to know we were covering the same event as them.
The light was harsh at first since we were outside on a very clear day. This situation gave me a great opportunity to work with the camera settings. Using the gain we got footage we were pleased with.
The interviews were great. We had three really dynamic people who were will willing to be filmed. One man was dressed up in brightly colored clothes and was dancing in Kiener Plaza. We found a woman who had been a Cardinal fan for decades, and another gentleman who was the ring leader of a group of tailgaters. We were very fortunate to run into Joe Brady and they rest of his tailgating posse on top of a parking garage.
They provided some nice B-Roll and a great story as well.
I’ve been working on a package on the Schnucks debit card breach. Putting it together has been enjoyable. I also did a VOSOT on the O’Fallon police department’s new police of putting shoplifters’ mug shots on the Internet. The package I haven’t shot yet, but think I will enjoy doing is one on the Lindewood owned Daniel Boone Home. That is set to air next week.
The LUTV Super Semester is still keeping me busy. There is a lot going on. Everyday offers a new challenge. That’s okay. I’d rather have it be busy than slow. There is certainly lots of learning happening on a day-to-day basis.
Producing days are long. I’ve learned a lot though. Getting in there early has really been great. I’ve isolated three key areas that every task in producing falls under.
Writing is a big deal. Newscasts live and die with the quality of writing the staff produces. Great video and graphics can only go so far. If there is great visual elements, but what is being spoken is confusing, than none of the visuals matter. Not only is the writing in the scripts important, but so is what appears on graphics. A grammar mistake or spelling error is one of the easiest ways to kill credibility.
Speaking of graphics, they’re important too. I want to increase the amount of visuals I have in any given newscast. The more there is for a viewer to look at the better. I have not had lots of OTS graphics in the newscasts I produce so far. In the future that is something that hopefully will be changing. Sometimes, it is difficult to find a graphic that we can make that is both legal and feasible to produce. I’m starting to get the feel for how we can better position ourselves though.
3) VideoProducing is a constant hunt for video. If you don’t have it, you need it. If you think you have too much of it, you are crazy. Video makes everything look better, if it is good of course. I’d call video the Band-aid of the newscast. It covers the things you don’t want others to see. I’ve tried to push for as much video as possible every time I’ve produced. I’m not unhappy with the amount we’ve had recently. I just know there is always room, and need, for more. Everyone is always really great about going to get video which makes being the producer easier.
I have done one package since the last time I filed a reporter blog. It was a fun one. I got to go out and cover a massive CPR course that was being held a few miles from Lindenwood. The organizers were really excited to have us there. That is never a determining factor in how or if we cover an event. It does however make working there a lot more enjoyable.
I have shot a couple VOSOTs as well since the last time I filed one of these blogs. They are fun to shoot. I’m getting the hang of turning them around quicker too. However, framing an interview is sometimes troublesome when you are shooting by yourself. I just need to keep doing it and I will get a feel for it. I’m not displeased with the current result. It has been on-air presentable, but I’d like to tighten it up.
Separate But Equal
Media and journalism are synonymous aren’t they? You can’t have one without the other. Media is the various tools used to tell a story. Journalism is the art of constructing a story. Together the two are part of an elaborate dance that takes place on an hourly basis within our modern lives. Journalism is the creative side of story telling. Media is the technical component. Together the two create a story.
The Moving Picture
From a consumer standpoint, video is arguably the most popular storytelling tool modern journalist have. It also is a fickle medium. Video can quite literally show things audio and text cannot. However, it is painfully easy to tell the difference between a novice’s work and that of a professional. Video is very unforgiving.
A big reason it is so easy to mess up video is because the appetite of the modern viewer demands stories not only look good, but also be put together quickly. In “Telling great video stories, fast,” by Debora Wegner, of Advancing the Story, gives some helpful hints on how to put together a solid story.
Know What You Need
She says the most important thing to do is know what you are covering. The composition of your footage can be great, but it will mean nothing if you story lacks organization. In Super Semester classes, and in the textbook, the importance of planning out a story beforehand is preached. If you know what shots you need before you shoot you’ll have less of a headache when you sit down to edit.
Having a shot list or storyboard is a good way to ensure that you don’t forget to get everything you need while on a shoot. As a journalist becomes seasoned they won’t always need to write down the shots they need. Often veterans will keep mental notes, but for the inexperienced a hardcopy is usually a good idea.
The only way to truly focus strictly on storytelling is for the technical aspects of shooting to become completely second nature. The quickest way to accomplish this is to critique one’s own work. It is sometimes tough to do, but the benefits can be well worth it.
A Step Further
If some is good, more is better, right? Yes, at least when we are talking about media platforms it is. Video may be the current king of the media hill, but that doesn’t mean everything else is irrelevant. We do lots of combining of media in today’s world. In fact, you don’t even have to leave this site to find two mediums paired together.
The New York Times recently released a multimedia project which took approximately six months to create. The beauty of storytelling on platforms such as this is not only glorified in the Super Semester. It is also analyzed in “Snow Fall and the future of multimedia storytelling” by Deborah Potter from Advancing the Story.
Using more than one type of media when telling a story adds depth. The more ways you can present something, the more likely it is that your audience will gain a holistic understanding of your subject matter. The more options the better. However, it is possible the time it takes to put together a multimedia piece can take to long. If that is the case it is better to do less. Stunning work is negated by lack of timeliness.
Super Semester and LUTV have certainly kept me busy the last few weeks. I enjoy the routine of Super Semester. I spend a lot of time at the studio. That is welcomed. It is nice to be in one place most of the day. I’ve now had a chance to do every job the Super Semester entails. All of them are fun. I’m learning a lot. I’ve been shown there are certain things I can do better at. The good news is, there will be lots of chances to tighten up those skills.
I shot and wrote my first VOSOT (voice over sound on tape) since my last reporter blog. I have had a lot of fun doing these. I’m still trying to get the art of framing a subject properly. It is not easy to do when you don’t have a shooter. I have only shot two of them, so I know that it won’t be perfect yet. However, I believe it will get there.
Even though I still want to improve framing there have been lots of positives to consider too. One such thing is B-roll. I don’t know why, but I really like shooting B-roll. Getting the shot you want is really exciting. It is kind of like you are hunting. Once you final get you subject it feels good. I did a VOSOT on the Ash Wednesday mass put on by the Lindenwood University Catholic Student Union. That had lots of interesting things to shoot. It was neat to shoot and learn.
Another pleasing facet of that shoot was that my camera was not working properly at first, but I was able to figure out how to fix it. There was a tripod issue. I had to keep adjusting it. There was also a zoom issue. It would have been really hard to get good B-roll if it would not have been resolved.
The lighting in the chapel where the mass was held was exceptionally inconsistent. That gave me an excellent opportunity to work on using iris and white balance.
I shot my first package since the last time I filed a reporter blog as well. I was pleased with the way it went for the most part. I was able to get most of the sources I wanted, and was satisfied with the shots in general. I didn’t have a shooter for my package. Shooting and reporting alone was a really good experience. Framing a live tease, stand-up, and interview made me focus intensely. I feel a lot more comfortable with a camera, because I have had that experience. Before shooting the package I wasn’t uncomfortable, but now I am more comfortable.
Every time producing is a work in process. The second time around was more relaxed in some ways. I am looking forward to trying to do a better job of presenting the director with a rundown that is easy to use. I want to become more comfortable with graphics and teases specifically.
How It Works
The first two weeks of super semester were a great learning experience. I was exceptionally grateful that I’d witnessed other students during super semester in earlier semesters. The chance to learn from them has been really valuable. Without having seen what they went through, this first week would have been even crazier than it was.
There was a lot to take in. All the standard procedures for beginning a college course were there, but super semester adds a slight twist. The work is all laid out at the beginning. There are schedules, but there is some unique flexibility as well. I like being in studio instead of in a class room. Learning through doing is always best.
The first Friday of the super semester I was the producer. It was an action packed day. Going in I knew what to expect. There was going
to be a lot to do. Some of it would be new. Some things would be familiar tasks that needed to be performed on a larger scale. The plan going in was to attempt to head off some of the common problems that I knew gave former groups of super semester students. Having at least some video was also a goal.
We had some video. I was pleased with that.
There were issues that I was unable to trouble shoot early in the day. My hope is that on a Monday or Wednesday, or even a Friday where I don’t have to do other training, those issues would not be as troublesome. Either way, I feel like the next time I produce I’ll be better prepared to tighten some things up. It will not be perfect, but I’m optimistic about what the next go-around will hold.
What Else I Did
I wanted to make sure I was hands on during the second week of class. I was not assigned to produce or anchor so I had lots of valuable flexibility. I spent time planning my first two packages.
Twitter and Facebook were helpful in tracking down sources and gather information on LU Sustainability. By the end of Monday they had returned phone calls and texts about when and where I could meet them.
One day I volunteered to go and film weather. It was nice outside. I drove to a pond and was really excited about the footage I got. There were clips with water, unmelted snow, and some geese swimming as well. Shooting went fine, but when I returned to the studio I could not import the clips to Avid off of the P2 card. That was frustrating, but I recognize that it happens sometimes. I looked at a lot of options, as did a few others in studio and no one could come up with a solution.
I wrote stories everyday too. Beginning that process was good. I feel like I have learned a lot about broadcast newswriting even in these first two weeks.
What I Didn’t Do
I went out and shot some hockey video last weekend to shake off the Christmas break rust. Alex Ferrario (@alex_ferrario) and Killian Walsh (@killianwalsh) were also there. They both did packages on the event. Mel Spears (@shimmerette) also did a nice package on Sell Out for Sterling. I’m looking forward to getting the first package going.