My multimedia goal now usually is to get home in time for dinner.
I’m only partially kidding. My first year created some long, hard hours of learning. I knew I was straining patience when I would begin receiving text messages from my wife, about 9 p.m. The learning was worth it, and this year my goal is to integrate multimedia into my regular workday. That means getting home for dinner on time.
I did that with two pieces that week.
The first involved a new medical residency in Wichita, the first of its kind in the nation, geared toward training doctors for the challenges of practicing medicine in developing nations.
When I went to interview the doctors who were building this program, I took a video camera and recorded them. The story didn’t really fit video. I ended up with a bunch of talking heads. The doctors did have some incredible pictures they’d brought back with them from their travels, however.
I took the audio track off the video, exported it as an MP3, edited it in Audacity and used it with the photos for a slide show.
That did take some time. But I finished the story and composed the multimedia while my editor was working the text. I did have to stop once, and pick up my high school son from track practice, but I was able to come back and finish it, no problem.
A couple of days later, I was scheduled to work a Saturday shift. Saturday being a slow news day, editors usually try to find a quick-turnaround feature of an event happening that day.
This day, I was assigned to cover the annual festival of the statewide honors bands and choirs. These are the kinds of assignments as a young journalist, I would dread. But after 30 years in journalism and playing dad to several kids, I love these kinds of stories. Not only have I been to my share of events, I like this idea. It’s the musical equivalent of all-state in basketball.
I thought it might make a good video. The challenge with all video, but especially music, is to capture good audio. Because this was an acoustic concert, there was no sound system to plug into. The camera mic picked up audience noise, and this is the cold season, so plenty of coughing and wheezing in the background.
I experimented with something I’d wanted to try for some time now, but hadn’t had the courage – or the time – to figure out: recording audio separately.
I took out my Edirol-09 mp3 recorder. I turned on the “automatic gain control” (AGC), because I would be shooting video and couldn’t ride the levels manually. This way, the sound would adjust itself. I set it on the stage in front of the band and went about shooting video.
I’d worried about the time in learning how to synch the audio with the video. I’d read about it, and even learned that’s the reason for the clapboard you see sometimes associated with old movies.
I did it this way:
Back at the editing station, I downloaded the mp3 from the Edirol. I edited the song I wanted using Audacity and imported it to the time line of Final Cut Pro, which is the video editing software we use. I then pulled in the video clip of the same song to the timeline.
I watched the conductor’s visual cues. When he brought his hands down to signal the band to play, I stopped it (with the space bar). I then lined up my audio track to that point. I played both the terrible sound from the camera with the imported track to make sure they were playing together. Then I muted the audio track from the camera to make sure it looked and sounded right. I cut in some close-ups and b-roll.
The result is this video.
It won’t win any awards, but really most of what we do on a daily basis is to inform, to entertain, to illustrate. My target audience on this video was to get the attention of the parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters of the students who made the honors band. And I liked picking the kids from the smallest schools in Kansas, Classes 1A-4A.
It didn’t take me forever. I made it home for supper. I even made it home in time to make dinner. My own high schooler appreciated that.