Final Video Story

Since television is just a little career that I’ve been in for 15 years, working as a photographer and video editor, I decided to use some unconventional equipment to shoot this piece, just to see how it would turn out.  I shot this video on my Olympus E5 DSLR still camera.  The camera records short segments of audio and video, up to seven minutes, and I had never used it for this purpose.  I also figured I would get less attention shooting with this camera than my full-size television camera, and it worked out very well.  I used a 50-200mm lens, with a 2x extender, and my 12-40mm lens as well. The camera has a native 2x multiplier, so many of the shots were extreme telephoto, giving a very good depth of field and also allowed me to shoot from a distance to get more natural video.  The track audio, I recorded on my iPhone 6s, and it also turned out very well.

I have used primarily Final Cut Pro 7 in my non-linear editing career, and prior to that I did tape-to-tape editing (back in the dark ages) for news stations both locally and nationally.  This is a rough cut, I have only used a few transitions, and I will potentially add some more video.  Using Adobe Premiere Pro is new, but there is a function within the program where you can basically make the program work just like Final Cut Pro’s keyboard commands, so after turning that on it was off to the races.  Learning the keyboard commands for video editors is key to working quickly and efficiently, so transitioning to this program was fairly simple.  I imported my video and audio tracks, and used the workflow that I have done countless times.  A quick and dirty method of cutting video very quickly is to drag all the video into the timeline and then quickly mark in and out points in each clip, deleting those that will not be used and then cutting and pasting the video together.  After viewing the video I had imported, I wrote a script, using some natural sound from an on the spot interview with a church group handing out burritos, and then tracked the audio, and clipped it all together.  One thing I learned over my many years in television is that editing video is a strange thing.  If you have 45 minutes to cut a piece together, it will take 45 minutes.  If you have 4 hours, it will take 4 hours.  So it is best to keep the editing simple, and to set realistic guidelines.  This piece took about 45 minutes to assemble…mainly because there are a few tricks with Final Cut Pro that don’t directly translate over to Adobe, but I made it work.  After exporting, I uploaded to YouTube, and voila!  A quick and dirty video is done.

To finish the video, I have used some of the built in effects in Adobe Premiere Pro to adjust the audio and remove a few of the plosives that were in there.  I then took and added in a few shots, and finessed the audio and video to flow a bit better.  I am not one to use many transitions, and if I do use any they will 99% of the time be a simple dissolve.  My previous degree in broadcasting taught that if an effect doesn’t add anything to a video, leave it out.  Fancy for the sake of fancy is not good video.  I think I have used a wipe for a story maybe a handful of times in my entire career.  Instead I focus on using organic moments.  Often you will have “natural wipes” in your video, like when a car or a person walks in front of the shot.  It is an easy way to know when to cut to a new shot, and a natural place to do so.  Dissolves are usually good for conveying a change in place or time, or to transition between similar video shots.  But most of all, they have to mean something.  In Star Wars, you will see a blurred-edge wipe when you are moving from dissimilar locations – like to another planet.  I think that is an okay time to use a wipe in video but I’ve only shot and edited video on this planet, so I’m not likely to use a wipe.

Alas, I digress.  Having placed a few transitions in both the video and audio, and fading in and out to black, I decided to do a bit of a slow motion shot on the last scene, just to give a bit of time and get a greater impact from the parting shot.  Also just like Audition, I had some stability problems with Premiere, with the program crashing on me three times.  I’ve had Final Cut Pro do this to me on many occasions as well, but not usually in rapid succession.  The lesson being, save, save, save, and after that, save.  I was happy with the way this turned out, and having put many similar quality pieces on the air, I know that this one is broadcast quality as well.  I won’t win an Emmy, but for an everyday news story, this is a bit better than average.

Since I have worked in a newsroom, I will typically just edit from a script, or a shot-sheet, instead of a full blown storyboard.  The script I wrote is below:

<video of skyline>

Seattle:  the emerald city.  A prosperous and rapidly expanding center of global commerce and trade.

<shots of harbor, etc.>

On a beautiful spring day you can see for miles and take in the beauty of it all.  But when you stop and look closer, you will see that Seattle is a city divided.

<shots of tents on freeway>

The haves and the have-nots are clearly delineated, and are rapidly separating leaving more and more people behind in Seattle’s quest for prosperity.

<various homeless shots>

Homelessness has been declared an emergency, with insufficient resources to cope with the thousands now living on Seattle’s streets.  Those without a place to stay can be found in city parks and on the sidewalks.

<shot of person sleeping on sidewalk>

Some sleep on the concrete,

<shots around homeless mission>

others mingle near the homeless missions.

<burrito people>

There are those willing to help

<nats> “Free Burritos”

and do what they can

<nats> “500 vegan burritos free etc.”

but one meal only gives temporary respite.

<skyline of seattle>

It is unclear how the problems of homelessness will be addressed in Seattle, but one thing is clear

<shots of recreation>

For many in Seattle, it is the best of times.

<Closeup of homeless man>

The worst of times, however for those forgotten in Seattle’s success have likely yet to be seen.

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