Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Panasonic AG-HVX200 Shoot: "You've Got a Choice"

It wasn't the time that I started but the time I finally dropped off to sleep.

The sand man finally got the eyes shut around 4am, and just as my batteries started recharging... *BZZZ!* *BZZZ!* *BZZZ!* Six o'clock. Time to get up, get washed and out the door to shoot some footage of voting in Baltimore City.

My albino turtle was glazed with dew that looked like the mist that still covered my eyes while starting the car to head for several polling places to capture Marylanders getting out the vote. Three different election wards yielded 12 gigs worth of about 75 minutes of NTSC size footage. Fighting my own instincts to shoot more, I returned to get started with editing the raw shoot for an election day package for the web.

John was ready for me as Final Cut Pro converted the MXF files that the Panasonic HVX200 camera wrote, into the ".mov" movie format. They were dropped into a huge 200 gig server, and John extracted them to begin laying out possible packages, trying to get the product onto the web by the mid-afternoon.

By the time it was finished, we had a 3-minute package that Steve was ready to upload, as he expected a large rush to view web footage. Walking back to the editing room, Steve unknowingly gave some desperately- needed feedback. During a web meeting, a number of editors commented about how the vision I have shot looked more creative than the video shot by television camera operators. And as Steve reviewed the edited footage, he noted several more shots that we placed in the package. "See, that's what I'm saying," Steve mentioned as it rolled. Another clip showed, prompting him to talk about it again.

Photographers have a more creative vision with camera angles. Honestly, picking up a video camera compels me to consider shooting the pan shots, or the zoom- ins or zoom-outs. It can be easy to step into the mold of treating a video camera like... a video camera. Video cameras can be shot without feeling, thought, or passion for the frame. It's important for the user to turn that camera into a digital film camera, and treat it with respect. It's still a piece of gear with a viewfinder, focus and exposure controls, and a way to capture what the user shoots.

Quite often, the shooter can be told to cover a podium function or other type of press conference. But remember: Anything that draws a crowd draws individuals within that crowd. And each person has a unique mind, which lets them do what they feel. But the camera user has that same special gift. We can do what we expect others want, or we can simply draw from what we know or have learned. Like one 73-year-old voter said, while waiting in his wheelchair to vote: "You've got a choice." The future is an open ticket. We're simply stamping where we go every moment.

If we screw up, learn from it. Messing up becomes a failure only when we fail to grow. I can only tell you that I'll look back on this video, shaking my head at how terrible it looks. But I've learned from the experience, and I'm growing in the process. Meanwhile, it's done, and even has a nice "thank you" smile.

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