Category Video

Kandahar Journals Showing in Athens

As part of our McGill Symposium on Wednesday, October 5, we will be showing Louie Palu’s documentary on his time in Afghanistan here at the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Kandahar Journals looks at his time covering the war and its effects on his psychological transformation.

Doors will open at 7:30 and we will start at 8 a.m. in Studio 100 of the Grady College building. Free parking is available in the N09 and N08 lots at the corner of Hooper Street and East Campus Drive. To enter the building, use the entrance next to the exterior stairs on the Sanford Drive side of the building.

No admission charge and Mr. Palu will do a Q&A after the showing.

Envision Kindness Contest Open

LogoThe Envision Kindness Student Photography and Film Contest is now accepting entries.

This is a pretty cool idea and not just because it involves one of my good friends. The idea is to celebrate work that celebrates kindness an compassion. A good news competition, if you will.

Time Lapse of the Making of Graveyard of the Great Lakes

Eric Seals posted a time lapse video on the editing of his latest documentary film for the Detroit Free Press. Very cool to watch … now I need to see the whole film.

The Power of the Norman

KPBS video journalist Katie Schoolov has just returned from a week at the 55th annual News Video a Workshop in Norman, Oklahoma – and it was more than she imagined.

For those local to Athens, we will have our annual Bluejeans Workshop on Saturday, March 28 – a day talking about video storytelling.

Visual Journalism Seminars in Athens

To kick off the, ahem, Tenth Annual UGA Photojournalism Weekend Workshop, we will have a series of talks on Thursday, February 26, on issues related to photojournalism, multimedia journalism and working as an independent journalist. The sessions will be in Studio 100 on the first floor of Grady College here in Athens, Georgia, and are open to all.

  • 2:30Organizing Multimedia Projects: Emmy-award winning multimedia journalist Mike Roy will talk about how he stays on top of large projects like his stories on the Tick Tock Diner and Saving Shabazz
  • 3:15Working with Nonprofits: Katye Martens, multimedia and photography editor for the Pew Charitable Trusts, will talk about the relationship between independent photojournalists and nonprofit organizations
  • 4:00Marketing Yourself: Robin Nathan will talk about building an audience and finding work through marketing campaigns
  • 4:45Accentuate the Available: Mike Haskey, chief photographer for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, will talk about using small, shoe mount lights to bring a little life to under-lit scenes

At approximately 5:30 we will have a renaming ceremony for the workshop and thank an alumnus who will be funding the event going forward.

Questions? Send them along. Hope you can make it.

Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar – Nov. 13-15

Atlpj logo circle text dc279d57Get your tickets early – registration is open for the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar.

The schedule looks great – Amy Toensing, Scott Strazzante, Al Diaz, Matt Eich, Ken Lyons and a slew of others are on the lists.

Nope, Video is Still Horizontal …

Kelly Hodgkins over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog posted a link to a Dan Toth video, claiming that, “your entire perception of portrait video will change forever, guaranteed.”

It didn’t.

Was this shot as a vertical video? Yes. But then it was edited into a horizontal video.

Nice try, though.

Sound As Transport

This is a bit commercial, but the Music Bed has done a piece for RODE microphones on Passion for Sound.

Passion For Sound from The Music Bed on Vimeo.

(Thanks to Will Yurman for the link.)

Playing With Music and Emotions

A few years back I did a talk at the Grandfather Mountain Camera Clinic titled, Photojournalism, Instagram and Artificial Authenticity. You can probably figure out where it went, that applying the latest filters to pristine images was playing with the emotions of your viewers, not helping them comprehend what was happening in the image before them. I am, after all, a strict constructionist and very limited when it comes to the artistic pursuits of photography – a picture should be accurate, that’s what I profess to believe to be true.

My students often ask me about putting music into their videos – news videos – and I always walk them through some questions. What’s missing from your story that you feel the need to decorate your story? What are the emotional consequences of doing this? And, lastly, what are the copyright concerns that you have to wrestle with?

After seven years of teaching video at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, I believe I’ve only had two pieces come in with music – and one of them the student wrote and performed it.

Al Tompkins down at the Poynter Institute has taken on this same subject this week, adding various types of music to UAV footage of fireworks.

He brings up the same issues but handles it more elegantly than I do.

My short answer to the question: News is news, let the story tell itself. Illustrate, don’t decorate.

Widgets for Smartphone Video

I’m recently back from a week of teaching teachers at the Poynter Institute where I did a pair of sessions on using your smartphone for video journalism. As part of those sessions I showed off a bunch of widgets I’ve found useful …


UnknownA big issue with shooting small is getting stable video – the light weight of smartphones means you don’t have much mass to counter act the shaking in your hands. Finding a way to lockdown your phone is critical to getting professional results.

The first piece I showed is a simple Joby GripTight, a spring loaded clamp with a standard tripod thread on the bottom. You can get it bundled with a small, light tabletop GorillaPod for under $20. This is a very compact clamp, folds up super small and will hold your phone reasonably tight. I would recommend getting a larger, heavier tripod if you’re going to work outside.

The second piece I showed was a MeFOTO SideKick360 (in orange, of course). This is a much sturdier clamp and gives me a lot more security when using it. Again, paired with a nice, light, full height tripod this can be a good kit.


61F40BDMzsL SL1500One of the largest issues with using your phone for video journalism is in getting good sound. The built in mic is, well … awful. I have used and recommend the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 for a clip on lavaliere microphone. It runs between $20 and $30, depending on the whims of Amazon. Note that it does use a battery, so make sure you carry a couple of spare LR44 button cells with you.

There are a lot of options for shotgun type mice out there. I picked up a Rode VideoMic and have been happy with it, though Al Tompkins showed off a Shure shotgun with a built in audio recorder that sounded very, very nice. Granted, it costs more than twice as much as the Rode, but being able to record audio separately is a handy feature.

Any of these options have a drawback – you can’t plug them straight into most smartphones. To make that work, you need a short adapter to allow your TRRS-plug-equipped phone to accept a TS-equipped mic. Monoprice makes a cable for $5 that handles that and allows you to plug in a headphone to listen to your sound.

One of the other professors at the conference showed me her Movo LV1 which works on the same concept as the Audio-Technica lav mic but doesn’t need the adapter. I didn’t get a chance to use it, but it’s another option to explore.


41rYES4QNEL SY300If you choose to use a shotgun mic, you need some way of attaching it. You can buy some very nice cases that will allow attachments that run around $125. But if you want to go a little simpler, combine one of the above clamps with a simple L-bracket that has two cold shoes on it. You can slip your shotgun mic into one and use the other for a small LED light if you need it.

Another advantage to the L-bracket is it gives you a little more mass and a slightly more stable way to hand-hold your phone. It also has a standard tripod thread on the bottom so you can attach it to a tripod if you want.


FilmicproBecause the session had both iOS and Android users in it, I didn’t go too deep into software. I will make a small pitch for FILMiC Pro on iOS as a substitute for your built-in camera app. It has a couple of nice functions, like being able to monitor (though not adjust) audio levels. the ability to separate focus from exposure and the option to lock focus, exposure and white balance – all things that will help polish your video.

One last cool feature of FILMiC Pro – it allows you to adjust the intensity of the built-in LED light on your phone, giving you the ability to add a little fill light to your footage. That alone makes it worth the $5.

More Learning

If you weren’t able to be at the fourth iteration of Poynter’s Teachapalooza or Hands On Video seminars, I’ll be doing a webinar for Poynter’s NewsU on Smartphone Video next week. I’ll be going over more of the journalistic approach to smartphone videography than specific tools, but we’ll touch on some of these that can help you tell better stories.