Herbert Zettl’s “Video Basics 3” Chapter 5

Let me first say that I love readings that discuss video because I’m inexperienced in shooting and editing video. I never really even shot home movies with the family video camera because my mother and father thought I would break it, and they were probably right.

This chapter covers the aesthetics of picture composition including framing of a shot, manipulating picture depth, and controlling camera and object motion. While all of these elements are crucial to making video aesthetically pleasing several of them stuck out to me as factors I would have to pay attention closely to. Subject placement may seem like an obvious factor, but after reading this chapter I have recalled several professional videos where subject placement is very poor. Of course it may seem easy to place the subject properly in the beginning of the video, however I could see where throughout filming a simple unnoticeable movement the subject makes could go unnoticed by the recorder. For example, I am shooting some of the growing green kids for my video project. In the beginning of one of their events I could set up my camera perfectly, however as the activities begin and the kids begin moving around I will have a hard time keeping up. Really this example could be applied to any of the aesthetic principles, however my main concern is subject placement. I have time before I will be able to shoot video of the kids in action so I have decided to practice by shooting my sister and brother at their soccer games.

Another crucial concept to consider when shooting video is controlling camera movement. For the most part I think I will be extremely cautious of this because I have noticed some horrible filming techniques. A friend of mine made me watch this horror movie with her, it was pretty low-budget and was never released in theaters. After watching this movie I realized why it was so unsuccessful, the camera movement was awful. Every time someone was running from the villan, it was as if the person filming gave the camera to the actor or actress and just let them run with it. The camera was shaking every 15 minutes, it was literally nauseating.

Although I am inexperienced with shooting video, I am excited to step out of my comfort zone and start planning and filming the growing green group.

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Chapter 7: Fieldwork (Interviewing) by Bruce Jackson

This chapter was useful, however I felt like it was redundant. In every paragraph it stressed the importance of being comfortable with interviewing, so that the person you are interviewing feels comfortable as well. I understand how important that can be, but after reading it for the tenth time I was getting bored. However, I will be interviewing two kids and Erin Sharkey from the Growing Green campaign this week and the advice I got out of this article was very useful.

I enjoyed the story about the interview with Tom Ratliff. Tom Ratliff was particularly suspicious of men from the North with beards, assuming they were communists. The interviewer was from the North and had a beard so he figured that it would comfort Ratliff if he left the camera in the car. Ironically when the interviewer met Ratliff, Ratliff insisted that he go out to his car and get the camera, stating that he doesn’t trust people who write things down.

The chapter describes realizing appropriate and inappropriate times to pull out the camera or camcorder. I thought of a funny and disturbing situation. When I was 16 my cousin Shawn passed away. He was 22 years old, with two younger siblings, and a lot of friends. Needless to say the wake was filled with people and memorabilia of his life. My youngest sister Morgan was 10, and a little unfamiliar with the set up of a wake. My older brother and I were admiring the pictures of Shawn, when our other sister Sydney comes stomping over holding Morgan’s wrist. I saw in Morgan’s hand my Mother’s Blackberry and my heart sank. Morgan had been standing by the casket, taking pictures of Shawn’s body in the casket. My brothers and sister still make fun of her for this. That day she got a crash course in when and where to take pictures.

Chapter 2: SuperMedia Saving Journalism So It Can Survive the World

This chapter exemplifies the war between old and new media ending and the benefits and consequences. Throughout the past decade technology has improved, which has impacted networked journalism. Jeff Jarvis describes networked journalism’s collaboration with the general public and professional journalists. Together, they work to get the real story. Even after the story has been published the public can continue to contribute their opinion through a variety of outlets. In old media this was somewhat rare. Public contribution to media was very limited. While the chapter pointed out the consequences of technological innovations, all that stood out for me were benefits.

The costs of marketing and distribution have decreased significantly over the years. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become major sources of advertising. They are casual and informative. For example, my cousin has been working for Entercom for about two years. She constantly posts advertisements for work via Facebook. All of her friends and clients see these messages and can easily contact her for more information. She is has been extremely succesful and recently was recognized as Entercoms’ top sales representative in Buffalo.

Secondary contact also plays a huge role. In the past it was very limited, now every mainstream media outlet has an e-mail address at the very least. Consumers are encouraged to share feedback as well as information and views that contribute to a network of editorial production. When a serious event occurs media organizations welcome viewers to send mobile phone pictures and video. The recent events in Japan exemplify this. On YouTube witnesses to such events posted graphic videos.

The general public makes the modern-day journalists job easier. The journalist does not have to guess what the people want to hear, the people tell them what they want to hear. They send in videos and photos and information. The journalist does not have to run around looking for people to interview, the people are coming to them.

The chapter stated the journalism is pointless if it is not trustworthy. With the general public providing these experiences, it is easier for other readers to trust what they are reading. Bloggers are also able to gain a high level of trust because they are embedded in the real world. Untrustworthy or irrelevant bloggers can easily be ignored. Bloggers are not meant to replace mainstream journalists, they are just another source of information, anyone can have a blog.

It is incredible how many media outlets have developed over the past decade, this may pose a problem to some, but not to me. In my opinion the more media outlets, the more knowledgable you can be on current events.

Chapter 10: Gathering and Editing Media

This chapter discussed how to gather images, audio, and video and the proper equipment used for online journalism. It also provided aesthetic conditions to take into consideration when gathering images and video.

I have always found that it is quite difficult to shoot video in an attractive manner. This chapter states that capturing video is very similar to taking still photos. The rules of photography still apply. When recording video everything happens so fast and you have one shot to get it right. In photography, you can take multiple photos of the same thing until you get what you want. I decided to practice my video skills during my three-day trip to Florida over spring break. I shot video of the sunset, kids playing on the beach, and the massive crowd gathering on the beach to watch the sunset. The composition style I used for most of my videos was mostly long shot, since my goal was to get the beach during the sunset and what people were doing. I need more practice before shooting my video for my Growing Green piece for this class.

Taking composition into consideration when shooting a video is crucial. It was interesting to read about what framing methods to use with what situations. For example close-ups are intended to convey emotion. This seems obvious, but it was something I have failed to take into consideration in the past.

I also found it interesting that the interviewee should not be looking directly at the camera. After reading this, whenever I watch television and someone was being interviewed I actually noticed this element.

This chapter will be extremely helpful this week when I am putting together my sound slides. I have a lot of new tips and tricks to take into consideration.

Photojournalist Danfung Dennis: How I Cover the Afghanistan War with the 5DMKII

Danfung Dennis is an embedded photojournalist. He was embedded in Southern Afghanistan with United States soldiers. The footage he has is absolutely incredible. He captures the traumatic conditions that these soldiers face. One of his videos “Hell and Back Again” is only one minute and thirty seconds long. In the minute and thirty seconds he captures the life-threatening situations that U.S. soldiers face. He displays soldiers shooting of their guns while hundreds of bullet shells hit the ground, explosions where dust completely fills the air, he also captures the soldiers attitudes. Hearing the soldiers yelling different things to each other such as, “Lets go!”, and “What the fuck?!” show how life-threatening the situation really is. You see one soldier repeatedly yell “What the fuck?!” while displaying a number of hand motions and you can feel the anger and fear in his voice and body language. At one point the camera faces the ground as Danfung runs to another location, it shows how fast passed the battle grounds are. When you watch it you gain a better understanding of what the soldiers on the frontline are dealing with and how life-threatening their everyday jobs are.

Photojournalists who are embedded in situations, like the one Danfung Dennis is in, are fearless in my eyes. They go on to these life-threatening situations unarmed. The risks they take arte equivalent to a fire fighter and the soldiers actually fighting in the Afghanistan war. The photo f Danfung Dennis down on the ground photographing, while soldiers are running above him is so amazing, it shows his dedication.

My grandfather always used to say that if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life. After reading these three articles, and looking at the situations these photojournalists get themselves into you can tell how much they love what they do. It is truly inspiring to me.

Sides of the Wire: America in Afghanistan by David Bathgate

In this article David Bathgate examplfies the main idea from chapter 7 “News Reporting and Writing”. He lets the setting and the people around him tell the story. He begins by presenting his location, Kabul, Afghanistan. He describes the weather and military impacts of his surroundings.

In several areas of this piece David Bathgate describes how this area is changing. What stuck out to me was when he stated “Afghan men dared again to be clean-shaven; many women left the burkha behind to strut their new independence through the streets of the city.” This is a powerful sentence, the first statement regarding men shaving and women ditching their Burkhas symbolizes their independence. Many people hold the common stereotype that middle eastern women are expected to wear a Burkha, which covers their entire body not allowing any skin to be shown. A similar stereotype is that men have long, over grown beards. These physical traits are not by choice, it is what is expected of them. For them to feel that they have the freedom to ditch these customs shows how that they feel a sense of liberation.

The photographs he took are excellent, but what I was also interested in the captions that went along with each photo. In class we have discussed the importance of keeping our captions short and sweet, while still presenting enough background information. David Bathgate does a wonderful job with this, especially his shot of the bakery owner. It did not require much background information, however I would not have known what the objects in the photo were. I think that that his caption for his first photo stating, “A Shiite Muslim woman finds her way through the back entrance to Takia-Khona Mosque, Kabul, Afghanistan.” could have been a bit more informative. Forexample, in the backround I notice a blurred little boy. Who is he? What is he doing there?

The Long Haul by Lucian Read

Lucian Read has the ideal attitude anyone should have when performing their everyday job. He travels back and forth to a distressed place like Afghanistan and has learned to not only love the stories he captures, but also the culture as well. He says that his space.gifunborn son will have a Pashto name. Pashto is the official language of Afghanistan. American names and Middle Eastern names are extremely different. A child living in America with a middle eastern name stands out. A very close friend of mine, Sumeet, is from Afghanistan. I have met many of her relatives and family friends and each name is as complex as the next. Lucian Read has fallen in love with the culture in Afghanistan. He will share this culture with his soon to be born son by naming his son using the Pashto language.

The videos he shot capture so much with what the story is about. I really wa interested in the first video. It was interesting to see people maintaining the farmland. The shot where a tractor drives across the screen was interesting to me. I have this idea that Afghanistan is so undeveloped. And the shots of the people from Afghanistan maintaining the farm lands look so rough and unkept and all of a sudden this big piece of machinery drives by. It was somewhat a break in repetition in a the form of video.

The photos that he took were awesome. The one with the two soldiers holding up Sergent Brad Kasal is so sad, moving, and amazing all in one. The expression in each mans face shows the distress of the situation. I can literally feel Sergent pain when I look at it.

Menscher- Chapter 7 Writing the Story

This reading had a huge impact on the way I read and write. Unfortunately, I was behind on the reading assignments and handed in my rewrite before reading this article. I am really kicking myself in the butt for that now. This article truly changed my outlook on reading and writing.

I have never been too fond of reading honestly. I have attention deficit disorder and have a hard time focusing, especially when I read. Although I have always been told that reading “makes you smarter” I refused to believe it. My way of thinking was that it is not like because I start reading random books more my grades will improve or I will suddenly be able to retain information. However, the way this particular reading worded the value of reading actually did motivate me to challenge myself. The reading stated that reading is like exercise. That reading helps a writer to learn new tricks and styles of writing. I never thought of it like that. I want to get more into journalism and learn how to be a better writer, which is not going to happen without practice and dedication.

I decided to challenge myself by reading a book that took me a bit out of my comfort zone. While I have always found interest in science fiction novels, I decided to read “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut. I realized that my attention deficit disorder was not the reason I had a hard time focusing on reading, it was my lack of motivation. The motivation that reading different books by different authors and different genres would help me as a writer pushed me to read this book with great interest. I literally became hooked, I loved it.

I am stunned that after reading an assignment my outlook on recreational reading has completely changed but it has. I have just began reading “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I am eager to get into this book and learn new writing tricks and styles.