Tag Archives: audio/video

Top tips for professional video

The technology to make video is so widely available now that anyone in publishing can be asked to work in the medium. But though it’s easy to work the kit, it’s not so easy to make professional looking results. 

As ever, the devil is in the detail. Here’s a quick link to a really good how-to post on creating professional video results using Final Cut Pro (and even iMovie).

It’s from Colin Mulvany’s Mastering Multimedia blog. He’s a multimeeja producer in Washington State and also has some interesting things to say about the transition to digital journalism. Worth a look…


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Cecille B DeMille predicts YouTube!

Well, kinda.

From the Paleofuture blog: a 1925 newspaper interview entitled “Expect Movies to be Produced in Every Home” in which legendary Hollywood producer/director Cecil B DeMille predicts that:

“Within the next 20 years some householder with absolutely no studio training will produce a screen masterpiece, with no stage except that of his own parlor, dining room or bedroom.”

What he doesn’t predict is that these will be about two minutes long and mainly feature cats.

Nor is the headline “Expect Movies to be Downloaded Illegally from BitTorrent in Every Home”, which would really be impressive.

Other than that, he was right on the money (give or take a few decades). It’s interesting how bad the movie industry has become about keeping ahead of technological change…

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Some more scoop on LivingScoop

LivingScoopA little while ago I posted about a strange invitation I received to join LivingScoop. This was, apparently, a video-sharing vehicle aimed specifically at journalists, citizen or otherwise:

A very good place for training, improving and to promote and value your creativity, skills and audaciousness whether you are a journalist (student, rookie or experienced), a reporter or a simple witness of what is happening in everyday life whatever the country you are in.

Desite having something of the flavour of a 419 scam, I duly signed up to see what would happen.

Nothing, it turned out, for a month or so.  

But now – ooh, look. Here’s a shiny new web site to play with. Doesn’t seem to be much in the way of content here, though – and what there is is not from the US or the UK. Which is kind of interesting.

But I love the mission statement:

One of our characteristics is to enjoy the daily immersion in the rustlings and silences of the world, and taste its fevers or inhale the discreet scent of its hashes.

Whatever they’re on, I’d like to try some. Jeez – there’s more:

We like the idea that the world is an experience: the Adventure of Mankind throughout the countries, of which Homer offered us a brilliant fresco in his epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, or Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Well, I like that idea too – but, given this, it’s a shame that, so far, the material on offer is mainly test shots of computer monitors and random street scenes. 

Mind you, I also like the way the videos are linked to a global map, bringing back a bit of a sense of location against the anonymity of YouTube – though I wonder how well that will work when there are a lot more than eight videos on offer.

No confirmation email from our poetic webmasters as yet, but I’ll update as I try the site. Unless it really is a convoluted 419 scam…

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Young people aren’t quite the web experts you think they are

Just finished my first teaching session at Solent University – giving first year journalism students an introduction to web audio.

It all went fine – certainly I had no trouble from the IT, unlike other teaching experiences I’ve had [*cough* UCA], and the students were, in the way of all the journalism students I’ve taught so far, very pleasant young people.

It’s interesting though, that the preconceptions of most old folks [read: over 35] about youth being super web-literate don’t quite match up to reality.

There is an exception, of course, which we’ll get to in a bit. But ask most young students about the web, everything from podcasts to blogging, and they just don’t seem that interested.

My lot today were about 60:40 uninvolved with web audio. A few of them had listened to mainstream podcasts – Ricky Gervais, for example, or Jon Richardson on 6Music, or the Radio 1 podcast. But many hadn’t been exposed to audio content at all – and certainly not from the more eccentric fringes of the web, such as special interest sci-fi fan-podcasts, freewheeling political commentry or techno-geekery. 

In a similar way, my first year UCA blogging students don’t really seem that interested in blogs as a communications tool – the vast majority don’t spend time posting to their blog, seeing it as more a chore they have to do in class than the chance to self-publish and build a portfolio, while learning about building an audience on the way.

It’s a puzzle. Especially given the exception I noted above. The exception is – obviously – Facebook. 

Students spend lots of time on Facebook: building their profile, networking, taking an interest in their peer group. And, yes communicating in a way that doesn’t seem to come so naturally in their actual journalism studies.

Why should this be?

I’m beginning to wonder if the web as it is understood by even the most internet-savvy old-school media professionals is the real future of internet communications.

Old-style publishing hacks like me and my peers think we’re really ahead of the curve by blogging, understanding web analytics and talking about podcasts. But in reality perhaps what we are doing is just mapping old ways about thinking about media on to the new form. Maybe podcasts are nothing more than ham radio updated for the 21st century. And as for blogging – well, as Wired said a few months ago: Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004.

Newspapers already have their own Facebook groups, and, yes, the New York Times has all of 362,457 fans.  (The Plymouth Herald went one better and launched a social networking site of its own, though the move seems a little pointless [HT: Martin Stabe/Andy Dickinson]). But I think they are only scratching the surface. 

The big challenge – for journalism generally and people like me trying to teach it – is to understand what journalism will be in the future. It’s not just old media spruced up for interactivity, even on Facebook. It’s a radically new way of communication. Maybe it’s not just the business model of journalism that is broken. Maybe our cultural ideas of journalism are completely outdated too. 

And maybe that’s the reason that my first years seem so disconnected with what we oldies think of as cutting edge media.

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Mark Kermode plays folk

Legendary (or mouthy, depending on your stance) film critic Mark (”The Exorcist is the best film ever made”) Kermode had another life in the late 1980s in which he made this demo of anti-war folk song The Recruiting Sergeant. I was on bass, which is why I can post this with impunity.

Of course, the real reason to post this is because I am trying to figure out how to post audio into WordPress.com. As this isn’t yet self-hosted, it’s quite tricky to make the coding work. However – as this seems to have been successful, here’s the beginner’s guide (there’s lots of white space around the audio player, so you’ll need to scroll down about half a mile to see it). [UPDATE: finally figured out how to solve this].

Vodpod videos no longer available.

  1. Register with VodPod. This is a site that allows you to collect and share your favourite videos from around the web. It also lets you publish them to WordPress.com blog posts. Videos? Yes – but aha! It also treats audio files the same way, so you can post your podcasts and MP3s too.
  2. Record your audio. This was done in a dank basement studio in High Barnet in about 1988 for some reason, as I recall. So technically I did this as step 1. I was going to post our version of And The Band Played Walzing Matilda, which is actually quite good, but then I realised it was still in copyright. This is traditional I think, so it should be OK.
  3. Upload it to your third-party host. I chose Podbean – for no other reason than it was the first one in the Google search results that seemed to work, was free and had a reasonably friendly interface.
  4. Copy the embed code. Podbean has this easily to hand at the bottom of the audio post. Well done Podbean.
  5. Add your video to VodPod. Once you log into VodPod, there’s a link to do this on the top menu bar. Click through and go to the “paste embed code” tab. Paste the code and click on “Preview”. Then click on the “Save to  VodPod” tab.
  6. Publish to WordPress. Once the audio/video is in VodPod, click through to it. Underneath the content is a “Share” button. One of the options is WordPress. Choose that and it asks you for the WordPress blog URL and your WordPress password. Live dangerously and reveal it. Then give your post a name and send to the editor.
  7. Edit in WordPress. Switch to your WordPress dashboard and you can edit the post for publishing.

It’s a bit round the houses, but incredibly it seems to work OK. Of course, if you are using the proper WordPress software on your own host, all this is redundant. I’ll be making that leap quite soon I think.

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Instant video blogging

Today’s first year Farnham blogging workshop almost collapsed under the weight of UCA’s unspeakably terrible IT infrastructure. Note to the college – SORT IT OUT. None of the students’ Macs could actually launch software, and took about ten minutes to log in. If they could at all. That’s how bad it was.

But, after dealing with major IT suckage, we managed to put together a few video interview clips on that perennial favourite topic, Michael Jackson’s extended O2 residency. After cobbling together a group iMovie cut on the one machine we could get working my laptop, after that one fell over too, we uploaded it to YouTube and the code should be embedded on the various student blogs before too long. 

The whole exercise took no more than three hours – most of which was spent waiting for the beach ball of death to stop spinning. I will never get those hours of my life back. Thanks UCA.

The poll question was (roughly): “What do you think of the news that Michael Jackson is extending his O2 residency to 45 nights, and would you buy a ticket?”

Here is the cut – just to show that we managed to achieve something against all odds. The film-making quality is a bit grim, especially the sound – but that’s not the point. The point is to show the technical ease of video publishing. Also, watch out for the edit in the middle that cuts out a crucial question, and leaves the interviewee making a bit of a weird non-sequiter.

Things we learned in the workshop

Good subjects for quick online video are:

  • Video diary of students doing something interesting (quirky, amusing, dangerous, unusual)
  • Vox pop about a hot topic (Jade Goody, Michael Jackson or, you know, something serious)
  • Reviews – instead of writing a review of a restaurant or bar, video it, like this one in Washington DC.
  • Interview someone – this video interviews the head of a tech company at an IT conference. You could do it at a gaming event, a fashion show, a gig – whatever.

Use iMovie or Movie Maker for a very quick cut of a simple video clip – easy to do and easy to export to web-compressed Quicktime movie. You can then upload this to YouTube and paste the embed code into your site/blog.

Technology: any digital camera with a movie setting that can shoot AVI clips [most do these days]. Any phone with a video camera that lets you transfer the clip to computer. A small camcorder such as the Flip video camera.

You can also broadcast live via your web site. Use Qik to broadcast via video phone (there’s a limited number of compatible phones as yet), or Ustream to broadcast from your PC or laptop. Then embed the saved video files in a post or page later.

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Seven steps to switch from print to web journalism

A challenge from Twitter

Just up on the online journalism Twitter feed from Kari Rippetoe

What advice would you give a print journalism vet to transition into web content editing? Pls twt your advice & feel free to blog about it.

It’s an interesting question, and one I’m pretty much in the middle of, so OK Kari – I will. 

  1. Start a blog. Do it regularly (ie every day if you can). This is the hardest thing, as it’s like keeping a diary. But if you manage it, it’s fantastic discipline. 
    Don’t fall into the trap of writing long op-ed think pieces. Post quickly and succinctly, with lots of links to other things.
    Add pictures and video. Respond to other bloggers and the news. Remember it’s a conversation, at least in theory. 
  2. Understand web stats – web analytics are crucial now, for journos as well. Your blog is helpful for this. Join Technorati and BlogCatalog. Marvel at how far you are down the rankings. Work to boost your profile.
  3. Chunk it. Break down your writing into brief chunks. Short sentences. Little paragraphs. I’d be doing this more here, but I’m trying to figure out how to make the list work with line breaks. Gah.
  4. Did I mention links? Link out and try to get people to link in. Always think about adding value for readers and reaching out to other web content producers. It’s probably the single biggest difference between print and online. 
  5. Learn about SEO. Search engine optimisation is the bees knees when it comes to web content, so learn it.
    Having a blog will be helpful, as you can play around with keywords and see how your traffic fluctuates.
    SEO is simple in concept (just Google it), the trick is in execution. But if you can blather about it convincingly, you’ll sound more like an online journalist. [UPDATE: don’t make this mistake though. Make sure your SEO is actually relevant to your intended audience].
  6. Host your blog yourself. It might be worth buying hosting space (about £50 a year) and uploading the WordPress software instead of using the free service at WordPress.com. That way you’ll learn something of the back-end of web management. “But I’m a journalist, not a web developer!” you cry. Yes – but increasingly you will have to sort out this stuff yourself, especially if you are freelance. 
  7. Learn about web audio and video. Make videos and upload them to the web using a host such as Youtube or Vimeo.
    Learn to edit video – FinalCut is great if you can get it, but something simple such as iMovie or Movie Maker is fine for the principles.
    Create podcasts using simple software such as Audacity. Then figure out how to post them on your blog.
    It doesn’t matter what about – your hobbies or interests are fine. But experience in both the creative and technical side of web audio and video is very valuable, and quite rare for now (as I found out when I was asked to teach it at Solent University). 

When you’ve done all this, you can confidently go to a job interview and say “web journalism? Yes – I do that already.”

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