Experience: Training Video Storytellers

I’m currently preparing for a trip to Thailand in late March to be a part of a training team for new video storytellers from across different parts of Asia.

Last year’s training was a blast! I was lead on the video training and we lead the students through a 4-day film school. Everything from the tech of their cameras to the concept of story.

The team I worked most closely with was the beginners. They really seemed to get the most out of it. We worked on a script and a storyboard and shot list during the first two days.

Students' Shot List

A photo of the shot list created by our students.

Story Board Drawings

The students’ story board drawings.

These two documents really helped the students to focus during the shooting and it encouraged them so much to see their ideas go from abstract to concrete reality.

The crew was very eager to learn. We used their cameras and helped them to learn easy tricks for lighting and shading.

I’m helping with the lighting during one of the final shots of the afternoon (orange shirt on the ground).

Looking forward to more this year!

Experience: Two Camera Interview with Short Turnaround

I’ve been gaining a lot of experience doing the solo 2-camera interview with 2-system audio. My technique is a lot like what Media Storm uses for their 3-camera setup. The only thing is that many times, I end up doing it solo. I have considered adding a third camera like a Go-Pro and using the wi-fi iPhone app or just using my iPhone. Just haven’t quite had the opportunity to do that yet.

This most recent trip was no different – I was going solo again. This trip, however, was quite unexpected. The client was a man who had spent almost a decade with his family living in a part of the Middle East where they had grown to love the people and for them, those people were family. About 18 months ago, the man’s wife was diagnosed with a terminal disease and she needed more medical treatment than they could acquire in country.

The man sensed his wife’s time was drawing to a close and asked if there was any way I could help facilitate it so that one of their best friends could speak at the funeral. As it happened, she passed 2 days after I got the first email.

I bought a ticket that morning and was on my way to another country a few hours east of here the next morning.

In my carry-on:

2 5kmkii bodies
1 24-105 Lens
1 70-200 Lens
1 24mm as a backup
1 Zoom H4n Recorder + remote & AC
1 Beyerdynamic Omni wired lav
1 Sennheiser shotgun + rycote
1 Sony Headphones
1 Omni light
1 Dedo light
1 Sescom Zoom to DSLR cable adapter with monitor tap
Batteries & etc.

In my checked bag:
2 Mic cables
1 SM58
2 light stands
1 tabletop mic stand
1 Manfrotto tripod head
1 Gitzo carbon Body
1 Sachtler tripod
1 Small Softbox
1 Large Softbox
Extra bulbs, filter paper, etc.
1 partial roll of gaff tape
1 Universal power strip.

My 0645 flight was cancelled and I was rebooked for a 1250 flight. That cut my trip down from 25 hours wheels-down to wheels-up to a whopping 19 hours.

The passing of this man’s wife meant that there would be a deadline coming quickly. That was exactly 56 hours after my initial flight was supposed to leave.

So, I arrived. We had dinner and I got to know the interviewee a little bit. All of this was through a translator as it was in a language I do not know.

I set up a two-camera setting with two lights and the audio was a simple omni lav.

A simple 2-camera setup.

A production image from a recent 2-camera solo shoot. Photo redacted to protect the client’s privacy. ©2014 lbmultimedia

As soon as the shooting was done, I copied the audio file off the Zoom, converted them to MP3 and uploaded them to a Wuala folder for the translators to get to work. The time zone helped in our favor on this as it was almost midnight at the shooting place but it was early afternoon for the translator.

After I copied the audio, I copied off the video cards and got to work on syncing. I really am grateful for the Premiere audio sync feature in the new CC version! It worked like a charm.

I took the newly synced timelines and added them all to one timeline. After all that, I packed up my gear.

I was surprised that the english translations were coming back so quickly. They seemed to go well. I worked with the translator to make some edits. We made some decisions about the final content of the video and then sent the English script to the VO actor who was graciously waiting on standby.

I went to bed around 2 AM.

I woke around 8 (overslept!) and there were audio files coming in from the guy doing the VO recording. They sounded great. Now all I needed to do was to sync English with a language I didn’t know! I was amazed at how easily this went.

I started working with my translator beside me but then we ran out of time and I had to dash off to the airport.

There were still some English VOs to download but I didn’t have time before leaving. Amazingly, I found a free wifi at the airport, downloaded the remaining files and boarded the plane.

I started working as soon as we hit 10,000 feet and was cutting and pasting video and audio. By the time I landed, I was probably 50% done with my edits. I took a cab from the airport to my office and started working almost immediately.

For the audio, I used Audition to do some sweetening, some clip fades, and ducking on the original language track.

The two cameras totally saved me in having to make all the video cuts I had. Three probably would have been even MORE helpful (note to self for next time…).

All in all, I didn’t have to pull a true all-nighter and the 18-minute eulogy/funeral sermon was completed and uploaded long before my deadline (meaning a couple of hours, but when your whole production cycle is 56 hours, that’s a lot of time!).

5 November 2011, Saturday

We made our first trip to the epicenter town, Erciş, today. En route we stopped to see some families who were immigrants from Afghanistan. Most of them were Tajik and a large portion of them had only recently come to Van. Their shanty homes were no match for the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The winter is on its way and the locals say, “It’s not cold yet.” Temps are hovering around freezing most days. Many are lighting fires inside their tents to keep warm and are suffering the effects in the form of respiratory problems like bronchitis.


After visiting with these families, we went to meet another family with whom we plan on spending most of Monday. They lost two sons-in-law in the quake and one whose wife had just delivered twins a week before. We spent a few hours with them and drank lots of çay and ate lots of bread.


4 November 2011, Friday

We made it to Van and spent some time at the local church here. They are doing a pretty substantial outreach for such a small group of people. They feed about 250 people per day. The kitchen is outdoors and on rather large camping stoves. People also come by to receive medical care. Tonight some folks gathered for an impromptu worship time.



3 November 2011, Thursday

While I was in Moscow (photos to come soon), eastern Turkey was it with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. As it turns out, this weekend is the Muslim equivalent to our Christmas holiday. Grace and I are headed out there to shoot and write. We’re taking along a little aid material as well. Yarn and knitting needles. One of the leaders of the Turkish Christian relief organization suggested that it would be good for the women to have knitting so they can both pass the time and prepare for the winter. Temperatures are hovering around freezing right now and many people are afraid to go into their homes (if they still have homes).


22 September 2011, Thursday

A Zenit a day…

I’m going to schedule the next few posts to come from a roll recently developed out of my Zenit B (A guy named Tom has written about it here). No light meter just guess, aim, sort of focus, and fire. and … wait. Wait for the film.  So, out of a roll I got 5 so-so shots which I will now subject you to because I got 5 shots that I sort of like.


A young man waits to exit the ferry.