Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mine is Bigger than Yours

We've all heard the joke that size doesn't matter but I'm here to tell you it does.

Penis Envy

Over at Lenslinger's blog he took up the subject that he so accurately says,

"In the daily camera scrum, no one issue sparks a firefight quicker than the VJ debate.....shrinky-dink lenses are threatening to take the ‘crew’ out of news crew"

I was going to put a simple little comment about it on his blog and ended up writing this long winded diatribe so I figured I'd share it here too.

The main purpose of my comment was directed toward the people who don't understand why we wouldn't want a lighter workload.

As the master of my own personal $300 handycam I have to say that, other than the occasional instance that I want or need to be less conspicous, I don't want to be fumbling around with the minute controls of consumer gear even if it does weigh a fraction of what a Pro Camera like our XD cameras.

XD Cam Chris

If I was made of money I might be the only dad shooting home videos with a $30k XD Cam.

And even though camera makers like Sony do make cameras with pictures that rival their big brothers there are plenty of reasons why professional video cameras are a little bigger, weigh a bit more and have easy to manipulate buttons.

vj Heidi 4

Ease of use by a professional, the weight to help hold it steady and size to allow the manual controls to be spread out allow better video to be gathered and manual changes to be made quickly on the fly.

AirCare (4)

With tiny, menu heavy consumer camcorders there's no way to keep shooting while manually adjusting for continuously changing shooting conditions.

Simply put, a bigger camera helps us do our job better, a mini-camera is just a cop-out. I think the 16-18 pounds of the XD Cam is probably ideal.

Look Up

The Betacams we had before the XDs were roughly 25 pounds.

The typical VJ Handycam is about 8.

To quote Lenslinger again, " I don’t wanna take a toy into battle."

Of course we did shoot all of the NAB Video for with two little Handy Cams...NO, not the one on the Miller Tripod...the itty bitty one's in our hands!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Finding Pacu
A Fish Tale

Meet Pacu, no that's not it's name, that's what it is. A Pacu is a fish cousin of the carnivore Piranha, but a Pacu, even with is sharp teeth and strong jaw, is usually a vegetarian and can grow to be a lot larger than a Piranha.

Pacu (2)

Both species are native to the Tropical waters of the Amazon so it's amazing that this fish was hooked by two guys fishing for catfish at the lower side of the High Rock Dam on Tuckertown Lake.

Pacu (4)

Chad and Karlton were fishing Sunday afternoon when the fish broke from it's vegetarian ways and attacked the night crawler at the end of their line. The fight that ensued to land the fish rivaled that of anything they'd ever caught and when they landed it they new they had something different than the usual fare of bream or bass.

Pacu (3)

The 3 pound fish had more grip in it's mouth than a bream or bass too. The razor like teeth, almost human like, were quickly noticed by the anglers, luckily before they tried to grab the fish by the lip as is done with most fish around here.

Pacu (1)

The guys carefully got the fish out of the net and got it back to shore for all the world to see. They didn't really know what they had, they just knew it didn't belong in this lake.

State Wildlife agents say that these types of fish are only found in North America in people's fish tanks. But when people get tired of the fish they sometimes dump them in the nearest body of water.

Chad and Karlton now have a great fish tale and it didn't get away!


Saturday, August 26, 2006

High School Football
On the Web

I love shooting High School Football. I've done it every year since 93 and I have to say it's a great change of gears from the grind of daily news coverage. Ah, the joys of a double shift every Friday, every fall. I wouldn't change a thing.

And new this year to our station is a larger than life web presence. It's different, it requires a little more work, but it give the fans, the viewers, the kids who love to holler, 'Put me on TV,' a whole new way to enjoy their high school football.

Every game we cover will have extended highlights, every big play that we captured on disc, no time contraints for a 20 minute show.

Now, we'll give you the quick, down and dirty on the air and the extended, as much as you can stomach, watch and see if you made the B cut, online.

And it also allows for some creativity that, in the past, has always been left on the cutting room floor.

S0, while I was shooting my game tonight, I felt inspired knowing that I already had to cut web versions of my 2 games, so I went the extra mile and put together a 3rd, totally different web entry...Sounds of the Game. <<<----Click there to watch.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Not Patio Furniture

You don't want to leave your couch or your favorite recliner on your porch or anywhere else outside if you live in Coolemee, NC.

Watch the story to know why.

BTW- I have gotten really lazy at breaking out my digital camera lately. I'll work on that because I could've had some great pix today. :(

Random Thought

If Pluto is now just a dwarf planet, what's next, Uranus becomes just another moon?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Swim Moms and the Meter Man

A couple of weeks ago I had to cover the Greensboro City Swimming Championships, the swim meet to beat all swim meets around here. There are 2200 kids who are active in the 22 swim clubs in the Greensboro Metro Area and I think they all attend this meet.

That makes for a complex logistical nightmare to the folks holding the meet and the parents brining their kids. The parking lot at Lindley Park Pool where the meet is held is only good for a couple of hundred cars, if that, and unless you are the early bird you are left fending for yourself on narrow neighborhood streets that surround the park and it's pool.

Of course that situation is the perfect scenerio for a intrepid TV Photog looking for a visual, compelling, emotional story, because with all those swim moms (and dads) vying for for the closest open spot, and the rest walking for blocks to get to the pool, there was plenty of opportunity for trouble.

My angle on the day....the meter maid, or technically the meter man. He was a good sport too. I followed him around and watched him ticket the worst offenders and turn a blind eye to the marginal infractions, explaining his every move along the way.

He could have towed a lot of cars from tow zones and in front of fire hydrants but even those got by with just a ticket.

The second leg of my story was to go poolside and get all the appropriate cover video to tell the story and interview parents and friends about their confidence in where they parked. With all the inherant natural sound involved in a swim meet the foundation for my story was solid.

But the final leg of my day(these things come in threes) was to get the reaction shot. We hear all the time that good TV is about action and reaction so I was on a mission. I had the action, now I needed the reaction.

It was easier said than done. With 30 or more cars in the 10 block area with tickets on their windows I could hunker down on one and wait for it's owner to come calling or I could drive around the neighborhood and hope to get lucky and catch someone just getting in their ticketed car. I chose the latter in hopes of an earlier catch, but in fact missed several of the cars that I had pinpointed for sitting with for the durations, as they left while I was around the block.

But finally with some luck I spotted two ladies getting into a ticketed SUV and I quickly parked illegally in the middle of the road, jumped out grabbing my XDCam from the shotgun position and gathering the sought after reaction. She was a good sport, grabbing her ticket and wondering out loud why she was cited.

The meter man made his way past and told me of a tow away that I had just missed.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Missing: Geico Gecko

If you don't know what the Geico Gecko is you've been living in a hole somewhere. It's one of the most brilliant advertising campaigns concocted in recent years. It ranks right up their with Life Cereal and Mikey.

But Geico is giving the gecko a break by using real customers and paid, somewhat washed up, celebrities in their newest ad campaign. My impression of this new campaign is that I like it.

But sometimes in these high budget attention grabbers you have to question the legitimacy of the face value. Sure they say these are real customers, but are they really?

I got that answer on Tuesday.

That was Brenda Coates. This is her Geico commerical. She is an administrative assistant at High Point University and she is a regular Geico customer.

She sits alongside Burt Bacharach in her commercial and he tickles the ivories and sings little quips after she says her lined.

I had the good fortune to interview Ms Coates and get the skinny on her free trip to Hollywood to shoot the 30 second spot.

She was amazed at the size of the production, listing off for me the number of trailers and trucks and crewmenbers all spread out along a residential street in a rented house just to spend a day shooting a one take 30 second ad.

She even asked them how many commercials they were doing that day when she saw the in depth production setup. They quickly told her that day was all for her.

She found herself in this position when she was rear ended by a Geico customer and she was ultra pleased with the way Geico treated her and her damaged car.

She said the first thing she thought of when they guy who rear ended her told her who his insurance was, was the little green lizard!

She wrote a thank you letter to the company and received a personal 'You're Welcome' from Warren Buffet (yes the billionare).(Berkshire Hathaway owns Geico)

She switched her auto insurance to Geico and the marketing people got wind of the whole story and it fit into their new campaign.

In June they flew her to Hollywood, gave her some spending money and now she's a national star.

Look out Chris Daughtry.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

TV News Theory
More news = Slow Day

Some of my favorite days at work are when the $h!t'$ hitting the fan and we're balls to the wall all day long with seldom a moment to stop and think about it. I live for those day, though I don't want them everyday either. But it's certainly a change of pace when there is big breaking news and we have to go after the nuts and bolts, the people involved and all sidebars you could ever watch.

That was the case today with the arrest of the terror suspects in London and the resulting new restrictions at airports.

The problem with these busy days is when you end up on the crew with a bottom tier, B-block sidebar story that has to be short and is usually repeating information from the lead stories.

Such was my luck of the draw today. Though I was with one of our newest, chipper, young and intrepid new reporters we were given the consumer angle assignment to find out what people should do now if they are planning to travel.(in case they aren't reasonably able to form their own opinion after watching the first hour and 10 minutes of coverage.)

So we did the travel agent bit.

The travel agent office was sort of busy, the phones were ringing a fair amount, so I got a bunch of phone calls, a quick interview, but no lucky standup moment that makes these types of stories magical. Phooey. We figured we'd try again at the airport. At the airport, interviewed 3 people headed for their planes, got a few b-roll shots, but again nothing magical so we went to lunch with our other 3 crews we had at the airport turning different angles on the terror story.

With all that A-Block smotherage(a Lenslinger term I believe)the producers wanted our stroyt short and sweet and so my colleauge massaged our digital footage into a script and we turned a B-Block package, with a total run time of 30 seconds.

It went something like this... Soundbyte, track, nat break, track, nat break, track, soundbyte. I spent about 10 mintutes putting it together.

Watch it HERE!

All in a hard days work.

Film, Tape, Disc

An interesting question came up today over lunch, but bear with me while I back track.

We TV folks like to chastise others for using phrases like, 'What are you filming?' The filming part being our peeve, because film has been out of TV since the 70s or early 80s depending on your market.

But even as video tape has been around for more than 25 years people, including insiders, still ask that question and use that word, FILMING.

The answer is that we aren't filming anything. For all these years we've been taping the news. Even at home we've spent 20 something years taping shows with our VCRs. Now, of course, we're Tivoing everything even when using a DVR of the non-Tivo influence like mine from Time Warner.

So now with the digital revolution on the new question that is cropping up is what are we doing when we aquire digital moving images to a plastic media disk in the form of ones and zeros?

XD Disc (3)

We sure as heck aren't filming. And we're not taping anymore, even though it's habit now for the reporter to tell interview subjects to say their name so we'll have it on tape.

But I understand habit and it sounds strange anyway to tell someone we want to get their name on disc. And what kind of look would I get if I said I was i discing something?

I guess for now we'll say taping erroneously, or maybe just say we're 'recording video' or videoing maybe.

Any thoughts appreciated.


If you look carefully you can see the buttons and dials that differentiate the camera inside this blue Port-a-Brace Camera Cover. It's a brand spanking new Sony XDCam that has been on the street for about 3 weeks in the hands of WXII Photojournalists.

XDCam Doug

Doug says he loves it but he's still adjusting to all the fancy features and menu settings, or as he put it, "I think it makes toast, I just haven't figure out which button!"

The next step for WXII is Non Linear instead of Disc to Tape in the Live Trucks and not having to Edit NLE and then Dump back to tape at the station.

Been there, done that!

XD Cam Chris

It's hard to believe my Fancy XDCam is coming up on it's 2 year anniversary!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fun With Technology
Wireless Video

My first day back at work from my much publicized vacation also brought with it a chance to play with a new toy.

For our 6 o'clock live shot, instead of the usual wired hookup to the umbilical back to the Live truck we used a portable transmitter like the one in the picture above to send a digital COFDM video signal back to it's corresponding digital reciever.

The location of the live shot was inside of a Target store for a story about the upcoming (now going on) Tax Free Shopping Weekend. The visual for our story was at the rear of the building, diagonally across from the front doors. I couldn't have asked for a better worst case scenerio to try out this new toy!

The hookup is incredibly simple. The transmitter hooks on the Anton Bauer battery mount and the battery mounts on the back of the transmitter. The connection of the camera to the transmitter is the same as a conventional (analog hookup) live shot.

The reciever hooks up to the Live Truck the same way; just one video cable and one audio cable.
In this case, I ran our umbilical to a point just inside the front doors of the store so there were no walls in between me and the receiver.

I think the technology of the shot worked great, although I was a little wild in the excitement of my unlimited ability to move about the building.

This is great technology and I can think of many, many possible uses for more creative live shots, even ones static from a tripod, using the ability to be places where it's not conveinent to run a cable!

Bolt in the Night

On the way home from my vacation, around Columbia, South Carolina, a very spectacular lightning storm was tossing bolts left and right. I pulled the Canon from the back seat and starting trying to capture a bolt while driving at interstate speed. (I know not the smartest thing.)

But I did get the shot!

Bolt in the Night

Not even cropped. Straight out of the camera!

I like to go look at the super big version of the picture and look at the detail of the bolt. Click on the pic to do that.


In case you didn't notice it's hot. Just how hot is officialy determined by the National Weather Service at official recording sites, in the shade, in a grassy area, away from pavement.

But since most people move around outside in cities, near pavement, in the sun, with motor heat contributing to the sunny oven, I think we should make the official temperature what our fancy car thermometers proclaim.


This was the temperature at 5:45 this afternoon after my truck had sat in the sun in the parking lot for about 3 hours.

It leveled out at about 97 as the air flowed through it when I drove away.

Vaction Over
Back to Work

Ah the joys of a new workweek. I've been back at work 4 full days now and I finally found time to put the wraps on my whirlwind tour of Florida.

Disney (99)

Here's the quick version of where I last left off on my Vacation follies....

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We spent Tuesday at Disney World. We started with Animal Kingdom. It's a big crowded zoo with a couple of great 4-D adventures, overpriced food but a lot to look at including the man made Fake Mt Everest.

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The fake mountain has a roller coaster that runs through it but the line was more than 2 hours long!

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Saw a few of my distant relatives. I think the one above is from somewhere in Georgia.

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After Lunch we made our way over to EPCOT to see if the future world ride still predicted flying cars by the year 2000.

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What I found was the GM Test Track ride that strapped humans in a car and made us the test crash dummies!

After going through an indoor obstacle course the test vehicle accelerates to 70 mph in quick fashion and zips through 2 high speed, high banked corners. The line for this ride was 2 hours long, but then I found the imfamous single rider line, which indicated a 60 minute wait. I was onboard in 30 minutes!

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After checking out the Test Drive and the Living Seas exhibite we monorailed it over to the Magic Kingdom to visit Walt and Mickey. We kept our stay at MK short. A few stops in the shops and we were pooped. Time for supper.

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Wednesday, Thursday, Friday were spent in Bradenton with our friend Mike(background) on the Manatee River.


A little billards, a little beer, a little wine, a little fishing, a little seafood, a little italian and some shopping for the Missus.


I played catch and release by the way.

It was a great two weeks, but it went by far too quickly as usual.

Next stop, Christmas!