By Donald R. Winslow
PORTLAND, OR (May 31, 2007) – NPPA's Multimedia Immersion bootcamp got off to a fast start Thursday on the second day of the four-day seminar when students learned how to do audio and how to shoot and edit video. After the all-morning session broke at noon, the students grabbed their gear and hit the streets to start shooting video and gathering audio for their first class stories.
Today's session opened with Richard Hernandez teaching a workshop on how to use Soundtrack Pro. "I build my audio first," he told the multimedia students. "Audio is not just one track. Layering the tracks with a lot of clips is really wonderful." He then demonstrated how to build layers of sound using audio loops and Soundtrack Pro's timeline capabilities, and warned students about the ethical concerns of using sounds and loops that are "canned" and are not the real audio clips from their stories. "Don't do it!" he told students. "You'll be fired. Get clean audio right up front, and you won't have to worry about [whether] what you're doing with the sound is ethical.
"When I first started, I wanted to do all the audio in one track. Then I learned this," Hernandez said. "Layered audio is sophisticated audio, and you'll soon realize the power and potential of sophisticated audio by doing it this way." He then taught students how to fade tracks in and out through the layers, stair-stepping loops through Soundtrack Pro's timeline, audio cross fades, and panning audio from left to right speakers. "This is like a language. If you don't practice it, and play around with it all the time, you'll forget about how to do it."
Hernandez also talked about the importance of using headphones, so that you are sure of the sound you're getting, and about using the correct microphones.
Rich Beckman, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, taught the morning's final session on how to use Final Cut Pro and how to shoot video for the Web.
"You shoot tighter interviews, because on the Web it's going to be in a little window, and you want to shoot simple, not against a really complex or moving background, because it's not going to come through on the Web," Beckman said. "Shoot tight, and shoot clean, and use motion only when it's needed and not when it's not part of the story. You've got to think about what the final product is, because the key is that these files have to be small when they're done. Otherwise no one's going to see them on the Web. A three minute video on the Web can be really big. So as you shoot and think about your shots, think about what you can do to keep the file size small, think about the really standard, basic things."
"You should break the story down into no more than three, maybe four, major thoughts," Beckman told the students. "It's going to take about 20 to 30 seconds to tell a little aspect of a story, of a person's life, but it's going to take at least that long to get a complete 'video' thought across. So we think about what clips we can use to best tell that story, and then we think about how we can sequence those 'best thoughts' into a little story.
"It's a lot better to think about your clips as you're shooting, and only bring them in to your editing instead of bringing in 13GB of video and having to go through it all," Beckman said. He compared it to how still photographers shoot an entire assignment, but have a feeling or know that certain shots are better than the rest and edit to those images first. And it takes less time to capture a few of the better clips rather than importing the entire shoot. "Most people shooting video for their newspapers these days for the Web are the only ones editing the video, so you're the only one who has to understand your video and what you're editing. It's not like at one of the bigger shops, or in TV, where there are teams of editors. This is something you're going to be doing on your own, and you need to learn ways to work fast and save time and do the best edit first."
When the morning's audio and video sessions were finished shortly after noon, students got their multimedia gear and hit the streets to start working on their first projects. There's no deadline this afternoon, but students will start coming back with their first efforts today and will begin to upload and edit their audio and video clips tonight. A few students say they are also going to shoot still digital images to incorporate into their multimedia stories.
This week at NPPA's Multimedia Immersion workshop the students are learning on state-of-the-art gear. Aperture, represented at the session by Bahram Foroughi from Apple, provided MacBook Pro laptop computers and their photo imaging software Aperture along with Apple's multimedia software applications Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro. The Canon XHA1 and HV20 video cameras have been provided to the workshop by Canon's Consumer Imaging Group, represented at the session by Simon Kerr. The microphones have been provided by Sennheiser, and the WS300 digital audio recorders have been provided by Olympus. Aperture and Canon are the major sponsors of the program, and additional sponsors include Soundslides, The Digital Journalist, Olympus, Nikon, Digital Railroad, and the National Press Photographers Association.