Sunday, 18 November 2007

Juggling with a new skill set

I knew that getting into multimedia presentations of my work was going to be a challenge, and this has certainly been the case.

Figuring out how to use a recorder and incorporate sound into a slideshow was a big enough challenge. I had barely gotten my feet wet with Soundslides, and then came video.

Every day there is something new to learn, and new challenges to overcome.It would be so wrong to say that still photography has become boring, or that I no longer have anything to learn. Or that still photography isn't incredibly strong on its own for that matter! The reason people continue to improve at what they do is to continually strive to improve their various skills, and to learn new ones. To adapt to a changing world.

But by accepting the challenges that multimedia presents, I have an entirely new set of skills to challenge myself. My hope is to take my style of shooting and learn to do similar with a different type of camera.

Admittedly, I have begun to work with video sooner than I expected I would. Perhaps too soon. The elements that make up great multimedia presentations are great visuals(video or still), exceptional sound(voice or ambient), and knowledgeable editing and producing. I knew getting into simple shows with sound and stills combined there would be challenges, and I soon learned that although there is great potential in these shows, the new audio component is what will make, or break them.

AS things progressed at a torrid pace, I felt that the best way to combine the shooting of good images with the collection of good sound, was to begin to learn how to effectively use a HD video camera.

In a few weeks my first real foray into video will be presented on theglobeandmail.com

I'm sure there will be many things about this effort that myself and others will question in the end, but there will be no doubt that I will have learned a ton by time the last piece of this story is published.

I mentioned above that my biggest motivation for shooting video was how it can facilitate the gathering of good sound simultaneously. My largest error during the shooting for this latest piece of work was about forty-five minutes of screwed up sound. And it just had to happen during the most important interview of the entire project. Luckily it was an interview I was able to do again. Had it happened with any other subjects in the story I would not have been able to fix my horrendous mistake.

Here is the issue. Headphones. All I can suggest is that you invest in a good set of earbuds, or headphones....and you wear them. I knew this, and I had my headphones with me. I even had them plugged into the camera. I even went one step further and monitored the interview for the first few minutes. Then, unwisely, I removed them, assuming everything would be hunky-dory. Bad mistake. During the interview something changed, and where originally I had clean sound, there was now an unmistakable noise popping up throughout the interview, and always during the most important moments it seemed. We tried editing out, or around these problems, but the task proved to be unbelievably difficult and time-consuming. There was no other choice but to repeat the interview.

So, having learned a valuable lesson, I tucked my tail between my legs, put on my most apologetic face, and went asking for more of a person's valuable time, and emotional commitment for that matter.

Thanks to the good grace and patience of the interviewee, everything came together, finally, without a hitch. I wore my headphones for the entire interview, and you should too.

We're all going to make mistakes as we explore new ways of telling our stories. It is inevitable, especially when we're tripling the types of media we're gathering. Then take into account the extensive techniques involved in the post-production process and the plethora of possibilities that come with them. Screw-ups are unavoidable, but as long as we continue to learn from our errors, or others, and hopefully never repeat them, the manner in which we will be able to present our stories will be spectacular.

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