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Video Reporting: Images With Sound and Motion
Photographers and reporters are mastering a multitude of skills to create online projects that reach readers in new ways.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram Multimedia Producer Jen Friedberg hasn’t touched a still camera in months. She was the driving force in getting the photo staff trained to shoot video and use movie software. The paper’s Web site has a monthly feature that showcases videos shot by staff photographers.
Photo by M.L. Gray/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Slideshows as first step
At many papers, creating Web slideshows are the first step. They are a way of easing into the new medium as photographers intertwine images with sound. Fadely carried a handheld recorder when he photographed car races at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. He created a slideshow combining still images with the sounds of cars racing and sound bites from the track’s media reps.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram intern Raul Vasquez teamed up with staff photographer Joyce Marshall to create a multimedia Web package about the city bringing in hawks to naturally control the overwhelming grackle population downtown. The package created a “Hitchcockian homage to birds,” said multimedia producer Friedberg. “Once you learn how to edit audio, video isn’t so hard.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader’s Web site includes “the week in photos” and portfolios of the seven photographers who initiated the slideshows last year to show off their capabilities and to convince the paper that the medium is worth pursuing.

Photographer David Stephenson says the Web packages give photographers’ work more exposure. He produced a slideshow on the first foal born to Smarty Jones, the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. It featured stills of the horses and audio of the farm manager talking about the filly, punctuated by the sounds of whinnying, horse hooves and the shoveling of hay.

Juggling time & equipment
For many photographers, the challenge is knowing which format to shoot and budgeting enough time to edit the moving film.

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Miami Herald Picture Editor Battle Vaughan, left, and photographer Chuck Fadely put on a multimedia show for the staff after returning from a video production class for still photographers in March. The presentation showcased what other papers are doing with multimedia. Fadely created the “Change or Die” poster to promote attendance.
Photo by Tim Chapman/The Miami Herald

Linsenmayer says that during his trip to Burma, he focused first on shooting still photos and switched to video if the moment was “more visually about motion than composition.”

“I couldn’t return to any location, so I had to make some pretty quick decisions,” Linsenmayer said. “Sometimes it was apparent that the situation was going to yield average stills at best. If the video seemed more fruitful, I would switch. It’s such a case-by-case decision.”

In one instance, he watched a dozen people using a snake-like mop to clean a temple floor. He shot two frames before deciding that a still photograph wouldn’t capture the motion and rhythm. He switched cameras.

Editing is an arduous process, says Linsenmayer, who spent nearly an hour and a half to convert 20 minutes of high-quality video into editable files. It took even more time to edit and convert for online use.

Some photographers find that even shooting is time-consuming. “You can go out and shoot stills for a story and turn the pictures in within an hour,” said Miami’s Fadely. “Shooting the same story on video takes two days because the editing time is so intense.”

For a piece about racing pigeons, Stephenson visited his subject about 10 times to shoot still photographs and record audio. “It can be terribly hard because you need to shoot a little more,” he says. “For newspapers, you tend to think about one or two pictures and you’re done, but your space is practically unlimited on the Internet.”

Friedberg, in Fort Worth, says the paper prefers to send two people when possible: one to shoot video, the other to shoot stills. “Our No. 1 priority is stills,” Friedberg said. “We can ask questions and get audio afterward.”

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