Category Archives: video

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Video for Arpark, a New Travel App

We made this. Everything was planned out in advance. Instead of letting things happen and running after them, focusing on the fly and all that goodness, we told our actor, the very talented Sam Mignoni, where to stand and what to do. We also used some lighting and bounce. Controlling everything is fun, and I wish I’d had even more control and we’d had another go at the zip line coverage – I’d like a different lens from the ground, but all in all, a strong video. Visually strong, quick, engaging. Go team Nacho and Eileen.

After effects was used to get the app information in there.

Terra Andina

Terra Andina – A Motion Graphic Capturing the Spirit of South America

We produced this short motion graphic for the Terra Andina brand of wine from Santa Rita Vinyards. The goal was to capture the youth spirit and energy that South America in order to introduce this new line of wines to the US market.

Eileen was in charge of the After Effects portion of the project, Nacho oversaw the project and wrote the script. Much of the kinetic type was sourced from templates, and the camara movements on the illustrations was done by Eileen. The illustrations were created by Andrea Bascuñan under the direction of Nacho Corbella.

Problems with PluralEyes Synced Tracks in Premiere

Ramon Navarro, 3rd best big wave surfer in the world with the host of Juego de Roles, Elena Dressel.



These syncing problems and project collapse seem to be resolved with the combination of CS6 and Pluraleyes 3. Things are much better now.

We have now just finished our very first television show. 13 episodes of 23-25 minutes apiece for 13 consecutive weeks. If you want to check it out, our favorite episodes are Ramon Navarro, surfer, and Caterin Bravo, fencer.

It was brutal. Concurrently, Nacho was teaching, working his full time job at the Universidad de los Andes and also had to disappear to Colombia and Cordoba. We worked in hotel rooms and many hard drives. We did a serious computer upgrade because all of the footage made my trusty iMac want to weep, rendering it useless.

Fencer Caterin Bravo during the challenge with Juego de Roles host, Elena Dressel.

We used Adobe Premiere because it meant we wouldn’t have to transcode the 75-100gb of material we had for each show. We could throw whatever footage we wanted in there, and we could see it immediately. As noted before, our show was composed of 5d, 7d, GoPro, iPhone and externally recorded audio.

Premiere plays very nice, except where PluralEyes is concerned. What I think is at the root of the problem is that PluralEyes deals with stereo clips in a variety of ways, not always in a consistent manner, and not in a manner Premiere always recognizes.

We were using PluralEyes 2 for Premiere. To use this, one must export a Final Cut XML file from premiere and then find the desired sequence to sync within PluralEyes. These sequences would have to be made into new XML files that had to be reimported into the Premiere program.

When we reimported the new, synced sequences to Premiere, the audio we recorded on the 5d, 7d would be split into separate tracks. We had split our externally recorded audio into two separate tracks prior to syncing.

5d audio tracks before syncing. One stereo clip on one track.

5d audio tracks after syncing. Two mono audio clips on different tracks.

These things messed with Premiere, terribly. We were working on two machines – Nacho editing separately, and passing his sequences back to me. (With Premiere, you can only open one project at a time, which means to bring anything into a project, you must import, and then select sequences to import.)

Our externally audio, recorded on a Zoom H4. We would split the audio into two different tracks. There are two methods of doing this. One can choose audio channels from the modify button in the clip menu. Or one can use Audio Options in the Clip menu and choose Breakout to Mono. Neither of these made better the problems listed below.

One way of separating stereo tracks using the modify option in the clip menu, or by right clicking.

Step two of separating stereo audio tracks into mono - choosing mono (instead of the default stereo.)

2nd way of separating out Zoom stereo clips to mono.

When Nacho would pass sequences back to me, although the audio – two distinct tracks, would be perfect on his computer, on mine, they were a mess. With our separately recorded audio, many times, instead of two separate tracks, there would be one the same one, duplicated. Audios from our Canon videos, which we needed for ambient, or because someone wasn’t mic-ed, would disappear entirely. I would try to replace the footage missing with the same clip, only to have the program, crash and crash and crash.

Oh, error.

This is the error that came up a lot before the crashing ensued. It could be ignored, unless audio was missing.

2 very different tracks from the stereo recordings of the Zoom from 2 lav mics. This is how the Zoom tracks would look when Nacho received them.

Instead of two different audio clips, I have the same one repeated. This is how the separated stereo tracks would look (sometimes, often, but not always) when Nacho would pass me back sequences he had worked on.

We devised a number of work arounds – I would resync based on audio clips I had with the originals in Premiere. Once, Nacho exported the audios from his computer and we replaced the bad audios. We never, never shut down the computer mid-project because we never knew what disaster we would find when we opened it.

Towards the end, my crash comments deteriorated. They became, things like, “PluralEyes, boo” & “Fix, bad, crash, angry” and things of the sort.

I presume this will get worked out over time, more on the part of PluralEyes. I have no solutions. The one that seemed most probable – changing the mode of splitting a stereo track (see the two methods above) gave nothing. One thing I often did was create a copy of my original zoom track in my finder, then replace the audio footage with the duplicated clip. This often worked with audio only clips. With the 5 and 7d, the computer would crash.

We’ve just started trying with PluralEyes 3. Prettier interface, more work, more frequent Premiere crashes. We got the show out, and we’re proud and happy and satisfied and have achieved something. We’ll update Premiere to 6.0 and hope for improvements with both along the way. We’re sticking with Premiere, and we have no choice but to wait.

Adobe Premiere: Pasting Effects

This week we turned in 4 video projects. In one project, we only had to subtitle 2 finished videos. In another, we staged office scenes, and integrated earlier office footage to tell the story of how a Kimberly-Clark product line can be implemented in an office for better health and productivity. And, finally, today, we turned in the first episode of Juego de Roles.

We used Final Cut Pro for the first 3 videos because they were short and simple and we do feel a kinship with the program. For the television program, we used Adobe Premiere 5.5. We’ll be upgrading to 6.0 soon. The show is 25 minutes long and we record between 60 and 100gb per episode. We don’t have the memory space to transcode it all.

We’re in Colombia right now. Nacho is teaching a workshop for lots of newspapers throughout the country. This week Bogota gets to learn from the Nacho. Tomorrow, the second Bogota group starts editing. So, we have 4 PC laptops sitting in our hotel room while Nacho looks for a version of Premiere that will work with Vista. (Another Premiere benefit – no one is bound to a Mac. Great for cash strapped newsrooms and journalists. Nacho wouldn’t be able to teach multimedia editing if he demanded Macs.)

As you can see we’re shifting toward Premiere. I’ve been moving toward it for a while. I learned it to coach a project with the Universidad de Desarrollo. At La Tercera, they gave me a hardy PC with Premiere. And now, with the Juego de Roles, Premiere makes life easier.

I’m seeing others slowly making the move. Given the disaster that Final Cut X is reputed to be, I expect to see more converts in the future.

There are little different things that can seem enormously frustrating, so here I’d like to explain a few time saving measures.

Today: pasting filters over many clips.

Nacho has read you can’t do this. He has read wrong.

Select the filter you want within the effects panel of the properly adjusted clip. You can select multiple filters or motion (which will give you all location and size aspects.) Hit command+c. Or you can right click, copy.

Select all of the clips on which you want to paste the effect.

Hit Command+V. You know you’ve done it correctly if the yellow bar, indicating a render preview changes to red, which means it needs to be rendered.

Listo. So easy.

The only way this doesn’t work is if you accidentally double click on the clip that needs the filter or effect and it gets opened in the display panel. In that case, you have to open the effects panel and paste the filter there, but that only works one at a time. You also can’t paste the attributes with a right click. That doesn’t work.

Commercial Video Work – La Salud está en tus Manos

I read Clients from Hell a lot. It’s one of my default procrastination sites. It’s hilarious.

But, our clients are good. Really good. And often times they push us to make a better video than we knew we could, or that we hadn’t conceived of.

In this instance, Kimberly-Clark, the client, had a vision of a fast paced, timelapse type commute to work. MDB* the branding agency, with whom we worked on this, asked us to work on this video because I had shown them my Powering a Nation video, Down the Lines.

We made a mock-up on New Year’s Eve day using my brother Sam as the commuter. Nacho also made an appearance in the film. I’ll be honest – we kind of thought it was spot on.

The client wanted more. They wanted it faster, quicker paced, more like a music video. We wrote up a script, in collaboration with the client and the branding agency. The client did initially want to show the commuters with their families, but we cut that because of time and budget. If the video was to be short, the people couldn’t be dawdling in their houses making their kids breakfast and kissing them goodbye.

This collaboration on all aspects of the filming made our work better, undoubtedly. The client was able able to effectively communicate what they wanted, and we were able to put their vision (with ours) into this fun little video warning the viewers about the germ dangers of their city.

As far as we know, the video is being used internally, and as a piece to show to their clients to explain to them the benefits of implementing La Salud está en tus Manos, a system of sanitizer and cleansing products to keep work stations clean and workers healthy.

Fun behind the scenes fact (Stop – watch the video before reading) the female commuter had only driven about 5 times in her whole life. She was starting to try to learn, but there was a good deal of stalling and I had a terrifying drive around a Santiago block. Most of her driving shots are simulations.

What have we been doing?

What have we been doing? Where have we been?

I left La Tercera in June. I spent the US summer/ the Chilean winter in New York, New York. Responding to a call from Mohawk Street and The Daily’s Mike Schmidt, I went to shoot and edit a video documenting the experience of a group of interns at a health care consulting firm in New York.

I’m now back in Santiago, in time for the spring. I’m wrapping up the editing of a pair of UNC annual fund videos, a wordpress website for the Chilean magazine Hacer Familia, and Iam preparing for an intense week of video coaching with the Universidad del Desarrollo while I contemplate my next professional steps.

Nacho has too been out and about, teaching and workshopping up a storm.

Nacho in Chicago. Photo by Juan Andrés Muñoz

He led two workshops for the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) one in Los Angeles and the other in Chicago, where he taught 35 latino Journalists rom all around the US how to do multimedia narratives.

Happy Students in UCLA at the ICFJ Bootcamp. Photo by Yezmin Thomas

He conducted a weeklong intensive project for Uandes students in Vaparaiso, Chile, which will soon be unveiled. He spent nearly 3 weeks in Colombia teaching video and multimedia to journalists at 3 different papers in the country. (Medellin, Bogotá and Manizales). He accompanied the 4 Uandes winners of an El Mercurio challenge to New York for a week to meet with professionals at the New York Times, The Daily and Good Morning America.

All the while, teaching photography and multimedia to the journalism students at the Universidad de los Andes.

Lima before the first speech. Photo by Pedro Acuña.

And this past weekend he went to Peru to participate in a seminar at Universidad San Martín de Porres where, addressing two groups of 400 people, he spoke about succesful multimedia experiences.

Nacho on the big screen. Photo by Pedro Acuña.

Busy, busy.

 

Putting subtitles on Youtube

Last year I coached a project called Historias de Terromoto about the recovery situation 6 months after Chile’s massive Feb. 2010 earthquake. It was conducted by the Universidad del Desarrollo, bringing from Santiago location of the university to it’s Concepción location to produce the documentary project.

This year’s project is bringing the Concepción communications students to work with their peers here in Santiago, looking at innovative initiatives related to the environment, energy and sustainable development. I am back in charge of the audiovisual (video) group this year.

We had our first meeting on Thursday. Having participated in Powering a Nation, as a fellow in 2009, and as a coach in 2010, I know a number of stories in this vein. However, they are in English. Despite the fact that the majority of these students have respectable to admirable English skills, I thought it important to have subtitles on the videos, so they could focus on the work, not the language.

Thus, I learned how to put subtitles on videos in Youtube. Now, Power play: story of a start-up (above) and Roping the Wind have subtitles in Youtube. As I found the Youtube instructions confusing, I thought it would be useful to simplify them in this blog.

The basic structure of the document is this.

0:00:11.400,0:00:14.100
Power play: la cuenta de un start-up

0:00:19.000,0:00:22.000
He pasado por este tipo de proyectos y no funcionó

That’s it. There in no necessary code on the top or bottom. No other explanations to the computer what kind of file this is.

The time code goes hours:minutes:seconds:milliseconds. There are a number of programs that show the video at the same time as you enter captions, thereby making it more accurate and allowing you to be ignorant of the bolts of the subtitle document. (You can find them in the help area of Youtube concerning subtitles and captions) but, as I had already set up a document with times anticipating putting it in Youtube, I found creating my own document more efficient.

You should create this in textedit (on a mac) or blocnotes (on pc). All of these instructions are for textedit, so, pc users, you’ll have to extrapolate.

There are a few tricky bits in this.

You should not have spaces between the two time codes. Only a comma.

You also must have a double space between each subtitle block.

You cannot have any formatting on the test. Originally, I was trying to make the b-roll translations italic. After writing the text in text edit, I changed the text to plain text. It’s in the Format Menu – Make Plain Text.

I then saved the file as a rough text file (.rtf) as a plain text file (.txt) is not available.

I duplicated the file using the right click menu, and then changed the extension of the duplicate to .txt. (I also shortened the file name back to powerplay from powerplay copy).


Yes, you are sure you want to change the extension to .txt.

I then duplicated the .txt file to change the file extension to .sbv which is the subtitle file type youtube uses. Again, yes, use .sbv


Then, you go into Youtube. When you are logged into your account, and on your chosen video you are given a series of menu items above your videos. You cannot see these on other people’s videos, and you cannot add subtitles without a login for the account that uploaded it.

Click on Edit captions/subtitles.

Click on Add a new caption track.

Browse to your file.


Select the language. Give the track a name, if you like.

And hit Upload File.

If you are successful, a new caption file will be added. If not, you will receive a bunch of warnings in red, as I did before I took out my spaces between time codes, added a double space and made my text plain.

You will be able to access your captions by clicking on the CC button on the bottom of your video which will be red when captions are selected as an option.

Thoughts on video, its future and my teaching

nacho corbella

This was a great exercise. To look back and analyze what you’re doing should be a requirement of every journalist, especially the educators. I invite you to do the same, it will take you just a bit of time. It’ll be worth it, believe me.

Everyday and at every moment we are exposed – either by choice or not – to visuals on television, cinema, billboards and daily life itself. We are, in our core, audiovisual beings. Most of the information we get is through our eyes and ears, hence, it is essential for communicators to learn the audiovisual language.

It is important to remember that video, in its essence, is storytelling. While using video in storytelling in print and radio media outlets is still relatively young, there is a huge tradition of storytelling with audio and images from which we will increasingly draw. The video we see in journalistic outlets will continue to develop, becoming more vivid, complex and compelling as we look to influences outside the world of journalism.

Video storytelling is imperative to the journalism of the future because we remember 25% of what we see, 50% of what he hear, but 100% of what we feel. It is the feeling that will deepen the attention span and help media organizations define themselves as industry leaders. The greatest strength of video storytelling is its ability to give a voice to our subjects so they can tell their stories. It is our role as communicators to shape those in a manner that conveys the emotion of the story and the subject to our viewers with the least amount of intervention. Our job is to channel these experiences and not insert ourselves into them.

It is not necessary that the stories we seek be exotic or in the midst of tumultuous world events. In Tolstoi’s words “paint your village and you shall paint the world”. By that, I believe that constant documentation of people in surrounding areas reflects on major topics. Reporting on common people, but doing so in a compelling matter, will cause audience to flock to see the stories.

Obviously, there is a television tradition of journalism, with a presenter, some clips, a few images. I think that we will see less and less of this type of storytelling as the media shift to a younger audience less accustomed to this type of programming, and more accustomed to seeing raw video and hearing from those involved in the conflicts and other news events. There are broadcast outlets who already are experimenting with this by removing anchors and letting the stories present themselves. I think more immediate contact and no anchors will continue to be the most common video form on the internet. I suspect there will be a shift of this sort in broadcast in the coming years. The importance of immediacy is something that needs to be imparted on students, because they are often inclined to copy the model they see on television.

Another use of video we will increasingly see is better incorporation throughout media online. There is no need to segregate material. Increased awareness and knowledge of tablets raises expectations of immediately accessible video in reports. Html5 (when it is ready) will allow for simpler integration of video in online media presentations. We need to think of the possibilities of video beyond a neatly packaged, self standing piece and think about how we can break out these elements to allow written reporting, infographics and video reporting to compliment each other. As well, motion graphics will become more ubiquitous – as infographics have in print media– as great alternatives to traditional storytelling and will be heavily integrated to the point where people won’t notice them as a different format, but will expect them as part of the media palette.

Our duty as journalism educators is to educate our students in these new forms. Then, we must allow them and encourage to innovate. In video, we must first bring them back to the essentials, using sequences and subjects to tell stories. From this point, we can encourage the students to incorporate video in the multitude of modes the interactive world permits.

Teaching Multimedia all over Latin America

I have begun working with SIP – IAPA (the Interamerican Press Association), producing intensive multimedia (audiovisual storytelling) workshops throughout Latin America. The first one was in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The next one will be in March in Lima, Perú.

The workshop in Guayaquil was hosted by El Universo, one of the largest daily newspapers in Ecuador.  22 students attended – a mix of reporters and editors from 10 different newspapers in Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico. They had very different levels of understanding regarding visual narratives which made it complex to convey all the new ideas they needed to be thinking about when approaching a visual project.

The main concepts I covered were the hook (the importance of the first seconds of your video), sequencing (the key of a good video production), the importance of audio (without it, there’s no story – although, you can have an exclusive visually driven story), pacing (it’s all about the rhythm), ethics and how to please both your editor and your creative needs.

We spent the first day reviewing theory, and the second day reporting and editing. After seeing some of their work, I’m confident that I was able to take them from 0-60mph (or at least 40) in just 20 hours.

I wish I would have had more time, but I’m confident I gave them a set of tools and skills that will allow them to get better.

I invite you to enjoy Eduardo Adams’ work. We tried a different narrative structure. While watching, keep in mind that this was all shot and produced in 1 day.  It’s about the October revolt in Ecuador that almost over threw the presidency of Rafael Correa, seen through the eyes of an artist who was in the streets when this happened. He felt expressing with a picture would be easier than words.

While I was there, Álvaro Torrelli a videographer from El Comercio -also keep an eye on this guy- interviewed me and here’s the result.

Examples of video principles

Nacho and I have been doing a fair amount of teaching/coaching over the past few months. We spent the summer coaching UNC’s News21 contribution, Powering a Nation. Upon return to Chile, I accompanied and assisted Nacho teaching multimedia (audiovisual) techniques to the faculty of the Department of Communications, Universidad de Montevideo. The first week of October, I coached a group of 15 students from the Universidad Desarrollo of Concepción and Santiago in Concepción, Chile to tell the stories of people recovering from or leaving with the aftermath of the Feb. 27 mega-earthquake in Chile. (See the project blog.) Next month, I will be giving my first webinar for the Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa.

When teaching, it is vital to have videos and presentations that show the concepts you want to convey or bear similarities to the projects the students are trying to create. This was particularly true of the students in Universidad Desarrollo. While they knew the basics of editing and camera operation, the storytelling format was completely new to them. They came into the week expecting to use voiceovers and music. We used neither and they succeeded brilliantly.

I prefer to use videos/presentations in the native language of the group. It’s easier to comprehend what is happening technically in the video when you can understand or don’t have to think about the language. This can present a challenge because the multimedia format is newer in Latin America (with the exception of join UAndes/UNC projects, like South of Here) and I’m less aware of those making multimedia in Spain or Latin America. Suggestions welcome.

Here are some of the videos I used to illustrate concepts or served as inspiration.

Ambient audio

One of the reasons I didn’t want my students from Universidad Desarrollo to use music is I wanted them to work with and understand the importance ambient audio. (The other reason being it’s still controversial nature and the potential to editorialize.)

I used Radio Lab’s Words to demonstrate the idea of ambient audio to the students of Universidad Desarrollo and Nacho used it to explain the same to the professors of Universidad de Montevideo. Although it has music, it conveys perfectly the idea that every action has its sound, and good video uses it.

Pacing

The idea of pacing can be hard to understand or implement. It’s allowing your piece to breath. It’s giving the viewer a moment to absorb and contemplate what has happened or has been said. We don’t speak in huge chunks of text. We pause, breath, recap and interact. A way to begin thinking about it is to look at your own script. If you left a space between sentences, that likely means you need to put a pause in the interview and put in some ambient audio. Nacho is a master of pacing and taught me the concept.

I used many videos to demonstrate this idea. Most prominently, I used Taken by the Ocean by Nacho and myself, and The Lost Generation by Nacho and Nick Scott.


last generation

Movement

To me, video is about movement. If nothing is moving, then you should be shooting stills. (Aside, more than stillness, to me photos are about capturing moments. That’s what they do best.) A number of my students had stories where much of the material was static. One team was focusing on the destruction the earthquake caused to the historic architecture of Concepción. Lots of monuments and graves, little activity.

Another group was telling the story of a elderly man who had to move out of his apartment although it was structurally sound to another because a skyscraper in the same block was badly damaged and could fall at any moment. In the second instance, the elderly man did not want them to record him at any point except when he was in the apartment or just leaving. They could not show the social circle he missed nor his wife in their new, rented home who was deeply saddened by the move. Too, they needed to show area and the buildings.

In instances like this, one has to seek out the movement, and always something is moving. The first example I showed was Last of the Yagánes, by Courtney Potter. Courtney essencially denied access to photograph the last wholly Yagán person in the world and the last person speaking the Yagán language. The family charged for accessed to the woman, and as it is unethical to pay subjects for access, Courtney could not do this. So she snuck portraits of the woman when the family wasn’t looking or around, and she focused on the things outside the house the symbolized what was going on, grasses blowing, clouds moving, and used timelapses to capture this moment.

The story is in the origins section of South of Here.
last of the yaganes

We used the Big Vinny story in every teaching situation to explain the use of movement and how to shoot in constricted areas where nothing seems to be happening. Everything is shot in almost exactly the same place – a big empty lot. The film makers manage to find every single thing that moved to create a compelling, visually interesting video.

bigvinny

Sequences

I find this the toughest to explain. I tried to explain it as shooting whatever is happening from at least the three different shots (wide, medium & tight) from three different positions – although one should shoot more – and then cutting it together. I urge people to pay more attention to the television programs they watch. They cut just about every two seconds to a new angle. I have screen shots from Glee that I will be using in my webinar. Nacho explains it as showing the progress of the action.

Nacho likes to use video from Snatch, specifically how it explains a flight to London in roughly 5 seconds.

He also likes to use this stock shot of coffee being made.
Screen shot 2010-10-20 at 11.15.42 AM

To me, these don’t quite capture what you are doing to create a sequence for a news video/multimedia piece. Plus there are not enough humans. I remember Nacho once praising Nick Scott, of the above Last Generation for being a master of sequencing. You can watch the video again. In particular, look for the scene of the sheep leaving the truck or the man lighting the stove and making mate.

If you have any good sequencing examples, please do send them along.

Naturally, we showed more videos.