Archive for September, 2009

It’s undeniable. Video can go anywhere.

Check out the Cinemin Swivel. It’s just one of the latest in ultra-portable, mini-projectors. It has a 90 degree hinge that makes it easy to project on any surface without having to prop it up or use a tripod. It can project a 60 inch image from 8 feet away. It is compatible with a ton of devices like the iPhone, digital cameras, and iPods. Built in speakers and plug ins for external audio give you lots of options. And, it’s not much bigger than a Blackberry Bold/Palm Pre/iPhone, just a little thicker.

It won’t be long before this kind of technology is another feature on your cel phone or iPod.

The portability of video is just another mile marker for the revolution in the way people consume news and information. The paperback and newspaper used to have the corner on the “portability” market, but with advances in affordable, portable technology like the Cinemin Swivel and iPhone, that advantage is fading. Once again, journalists need to ask themselves, what does this revolution mean for the future practice of their profession.

Clearly it means covering stories through video, audio as well as the written word. People are becoming more and more acclimatized to video alongside news content. If we don’t anticipate the demand and prepare to supply, it could be the biggest mistake “news” has made since putting up all our content for free online.

Image by Cinemin Swivel

Image by Cinemin Swivel


I demonstrate how I cleaned my own camera tape heads. I’m not a certified repair technician or any other kind of expert at this, so please clean your own equipment at your own risk. I’m just a guy trying to save a buck or two.

photo by Apple Inc.

photo by Apple Inc.

Thanks to Teaching Online Journalists by Mindy McAdams for this post, a test using the iPod Nano to conduct video interviews:

Photo by Livestream.

Photo by Livestream.

Livestream has announced the “Livepack”. It’s a self-contained HD streaming solution with built-in wireless connection, encoder, battery and touch screen. It uses 3G network technology to allow videographers to live stream video from any location in extremely high quality.

This technology is still in its infancy and stands to replace out-dated and costly forms of live coverage like the satellite truck. As broadcast, print and online media converges, so too does the internet and television. Soon they’ll be indistinguishable. is already working to partner with TiVo and NBC to bring online video programming to television sets throughout the country. That will hasten the departure of the satellite truck. Some news stations are already using live streaming technology and Skype to strengthen their live coverage reach, like’s Oscar Valenzuela.

I’m seeing video transform news organizations of all stripes. Here at my community newspaper group we’ve started a video podcast public affairs program, a newscast, regular videos and we’ve even dabbled with live streaming. And we’re still very much a weekly print newspaper. Many news organizations, like Times Media (St. Cloud Times newspaper/, have re-branded in preparation for the inevitable and are calling themselves information companies, not newspaper companies.

Photo by Livestream

Photo by Livestream

That kind of shift will make Livestream’s technology desirable to more than just the proprietors of satellite trucks. Soon all news organizations will have on staff a beefy 20-something chugging around town halls forums, fire scenes and local sporting events with a “livepack” and a video camera. Of course, as with the evolution of the cel phone, I’m hoping that in 5-10 years we won’t need the backpack.

What’s it cost?

The “Livepack” is available directly from Livestream for monthly or yearly rental. $2,500/month plus shipping for no commitment month-to-month rental or $1,500/month plus shipping for 12 month commitment. The Livestream account is free and the rental includes 30 hours of streaming uplink time per month with all 3G telecom charges included.

For more info, check it:

The Glidetrack HD Range is a fantastic option for the one man band when looking for a portable dolly system.

I’ve been looking over Minnesota videographer John Hoel’s web site today and envy his perfect glide shots and expert video editing. The secret to his success: the Glidetrack HD Range. This portable, lightweight dolly system is great for the backpack videographer or one-man-band. You can mount the Glidetrack on a tripod or set it on the ground or a table, whatever.

This is definitely my next big purchase.

Pew Research reports the public’s assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades.

This isn’t too shocking for most of us in the media, considering the blurring of the line between commentary and hard news and the creeping bias in story selection at any given news outlet.

But there’s opportunity for news videographers here.

Online video can be used and consumed much differently than television. I’ve used online video to provide complete coverage of local forums, candidate debates, keynote speakers and community discussions. Such video is lengthy, but has been made available on my news site should anyone seek it out. Then there’s the raw video provided by cities and school districts of their meetings. News organizations can aggregate such video to their advantage too.

I’d also like to point out that stand alone video, normally quite out of context without a news anchor to explain on television, works great online. Many news organizations stand to benefit from simply posting up raw video (and audio) alongside their written coverage. Example: a news report on celebrity A upstaging celebrity B on a major awards show. Now, post up the video of that encounter and the reader can quickly determine how accurately the reporter wrote about the event.

Approaching news video as suggested here means news organizations become much more transparent. Let the doubters see and hear for themselves. Those that do will begin to see that our coverage is what we claim it is. And, hopefully, Pew Research will start to see the confidence trending upward.

I completed a feature video for on the Society of Creative Anachronism, a group that dresses in medieval garb and re-enacts fights as well as life in the middle ages. When originally assigned the story, the print reporter suggested video of the guys fighting.

Grown men hitting each other always goes over well on the internet.

But, as a storyteller, I decided to take it a step further. I wanted to know what drives these guys. How do they get that cool armor? Why do they spend their time doing this fantasy stuff?

Meet Chuck Davis, armorer.

I let Chuck tell my audience about why this is much more “real” to him than many of the jobs he’s done in the real world. We learn what it is these guys do, and why and we see it from the perspective of a guy we can relate to. Producing videos like this is always time consuming (1 hr. out shooting them fight; 1.5 hrs. at Chuck’s home/shop; 5 hrs. post production), but worth it to tell a real story instead of just showing guys fighting.