Posts tagged with ‘tools’
For all those who have Q’d us about where to start with gear, here’s an excellent set of tools recommended by the Director of Digital Media at Columbia J-School.
My video students at Columbia Journalism School are trained on the Canon C100. It is a great camera, but the $5K+ price tag makes it impossible for most to purchase one for themselves. Also, that figure does not include microphones, tripods, and other accessories necessary to produce professional-quality video.
With some compromises in ergonomics and picture quality, the list of gear below should be an affordable alternative for any video student or recent grad. This gear will give you high-quality visuals, clean sound, and reliable stabilization. I hesitate to call this a starter kit, as you can shoot a feature documentary with this set up.
Camera: The conventional wisdom with video gear is to invest in lenses and peripherals. These items will last you years, while cameras get updated and replaced constantly. I still recommend DSLRs for video journalists starting out. They are cheap. Their sensors are big, the low-light performance is fantastic, and they double as great stills cameras (ironically, an often overlooked benefit). I have years of experience with Canon gear, so I recommend their products. But Sony, Panasonic, and others all offer up great solutions. Shop around. This is a great time to buy.
I recommend two entry-level DSLRs to my students. The Canon T5i w/ EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens and the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 w/ EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens. The T5i has a flip-out screen, but the SL1 is smaller. In terms of image quality, they are the same. My SL1 is so small that I can comfortably carry it with me everywhere I go.
If you can afford it, I recommend getting the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens. This is my go-to lens for all my documentary work. It is pricey, but it is a great investment. You will grow with this lens. If you do purchase the 24-105, be sure to get the Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera (Body Only) or Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera (Body Only) to save some money.
Do not forget to buy some extra batteries for your shoots. You can go for the more expensive Canon option or save some money going with a third-party brand. And be sure to get protective filters for your lenses: the Tiffen 58mm UV Protector Filter for the kit lens or the Tiffen 77mm UV Protector Filter for the 24-105 lens.
Audio: The most important part of producing great video is getting great audio. Audio gear can be very expensive and there are many options on the market. But the gear below was specifically designed to work with DSLRs. This set up will transform your DSLR into a fully-functioning video camera:
- Tascam DR-60D to Camera Essentials Kit
- Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone
- Rode VXLR - Mono Mini-Jack to XLR Converter
Your mics go into the DR-60D and then that signal is fed into the camera. Or, when you really want to just go small and stealth, the Rode VideoMic Pro can plug directly into your DSLR (as pictured above). Also, the Tascam DR-60D can be used alone as a great field audio recorder.
My most expensive audio recommendation is the Sony ECM-77B - Lavalier Microphone. This is the microphone I use for all my interviews. It plugs directly into the DR-60D. There are much cheaper lav mics available, but IMHO, the low audio quality is not worth the savings.
Support: You need a good tripod and monopod to get steady shots. Tripods go from super cheap to insanely expensive. I recommend spending a little more now for gear that will last you years. I always shoot with the Manfrotto Fluid Monopod with 500 Series Head and Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Head & 755XB Tripod. They are not the cheapest options, but you will have them for years.
I hope this list helps.
Modern Loss is a website that seeks to create a space for figuring out how to navigate your life after death. It includes essays from those who have experienced loss, resources for the practical affairs that must be dealt with after a death, and projects and articles about grief.
The site was started by two women, Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner, who lost parents at an early age and who are clearly opposed to the toxic forced optimism of American culture that can make grief all the more difficult. They promise a websitethat will be free of people adjudicating how sad you’re allowed to feel and a complete ban on the phrase, “everything happens for a reason.”
Linked above is a step-by-step how-to guide on getting relatives who have passed away offline on a variety of social media platforms.
Fascinating background reading about death in the digital era is this 2009 report from Northwestern University’s J-school on the state of the American obituary. It discusses the A-Z of obituaries, death in the age of social media, and the relatively new phenomenon of social networking sited that are turned into memorials.
A lot of stuff that is kind of interesting, mostly not that good. And it’s absolutely chewed over into cud by the time you get there. So I’ve been making a concerted effort to create structure on my computer using different kinds of software and so forth, that forces me to get less of my news from social media, and more of it by reading my RSS feed, which are blogs, or going to other news sites.
Ezra Klein, as quoted by Conor Friedersdorf in Ezra Klein’s Case Against Getting Your News from Twitter, The Atlantic.
FJP: Very related and very helpful is Paul Bradshaw’s A Network Infrastructure for Journalists Online, which is an introduction to RSS readers, social networks and social bookmarking.
In case you missed this a couple weeks ago:
Today, the Sunlight Foundation has unveiled a tool that will help us all with this work. “The tool is, essentially, an open-source plagiarism detection engine,” web developer Kaitlin Devine explained to me. It will scan any text (a news article, e.g.) and compare it with a corpus of press releases and Wikipedia entries. If it finds similar language, you’ll get a notification of a detected “churn” and you’ll be able to take a look at the two sources side by side. You can also use it to check Wikipedia entries for information that may have come from corporate press releases. The tool is based on a similar project released in the United Kingdom two years ago, which the Sunlight Foundation supported with a grant to make it open source. Churnalism will be available both on the website and as a browser extension. Its database of press releases includes those from EurekaAlert! in addition to PR Newswire, PR News Web, Fortune 500 companies, and government sources.
Regardless of whether you actually want to create a storify. David Higgerson describes 12 tips with examples so read through his post.
- Create a Storify, just for the sake of recording what you find.
- When searching, use the words people on social networks use.
- Make a beeline for Facebook, where you’ll find a lot of people to start with when looking for sources.
- Filter out retweets.
- Use Twitter images.
- Use the location filter carefully.
- Embed picture Tweets.
- Get your search criteria right on YouTube.
- Check photo dates on Flickr.
- Just because Instagram pictures are often filtered, doesn’t mean you can’t get valuable information from them.
- Storify lets you search Google too.
- Beware of hoaxes.
An addendum to #12: this post by Steve Buttry on how to verify information on Twitter.
Related: This piece on Andy Carvin, the “one man Twitter news bureau” and his social media news process.
Anonymous asked: For those interested in multimedia journalism, which software/programs should we be familiarized with? I feel like there are a lot, and I want to get learning
I can answer but my biases proceed me since a) I’m on a Mac and b) we have partners who help us out. If I mention them I’ll acknowledge them below.
- In General
Adobe CS Something. We’re currently working with CS5, but CS6 is described as great. Mind you, this is a suite of tools that ranges from design and photography stalwart Photoshop to the video production capabilities of Premiere. In other words, Adobe is creating an all encompassing product line for our multimedia needs.
Final Cut Pro. We’re on FCP X but have been frustrated by features we’ve lost since Final Cut 7 (long story). Fortunately, FCP X is adding these features with each new release.
Something to look into: Adobe’s Premiere. When Apple reinvented Final Cut with its X series, many video producers were underwhelmed and fled to Adobe and have great things to say about it. If you get Adobe’s CS 5/6 you’ll have Premiere and can take it through its paces.
This comes in two flavors: when we create jingles, soundtracks and general audio design we use Propellerhead’s Reason and Ableton Live. We then mix these with Apple’s Logic Pro.
Pro Tools is an obvious standard that’s used throughout the radio world but we’ve gone with Logic Pro because it fits easily within our overall workflow.
- Screenshots and Screencasts:
We go with two flavors here. For screenshots, Ambrosia Software’s SnapZPro. This let’s us take screenshots with dropshadows and other effects. It also lets us do basic screencasts.
But if we’re doing longform, voiceover screencasts we opt for Telestream’s Screenflow which has a built in video editor and is specifically created for doing screencast tutorials. For example, it has callouts for where your cursor is, can zoom in, zoom out on screen details, etc. (Disclosure: Telestream is a FJP partner.)
- Text Editors
These are underestimated until you actually code. We use Panic’s Coda but the more popular choice (for the Mac) is Macromates’ Textmate.
- File Transfer
Coda handles general file updates to our servers but we also use Panic’s Transmit for uploading/working within both our CDNs, Amazon and Highwinds (Disclosure: Highwinds is an FJP partner).
How to learn them all?
Start with each publisher’s site and then with general online searches. These will usually lead you back to communities on YouTube that provide tutorials.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for take out a subscription at Lynda.com. Lynda’s a learning community that provides screencast tutorials on both multimedia production and code development.
Better, the monthly subscription is inexpensive and your can cancel as soon as you’ve finished what you want to learn. For example, sign up for a month, learn a piece of software and then cancel until you need to learn something new again.
Anyway, that’s the biggie picture. Hope it helps. — Michael