Five-Shot Sequence

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After working with video in Digital News Production and Digital News Reporting, I thought I had it down.

But trying to use video to tell a story in a way that I won’t be manipulating with my own narration in editing is tough.

Yet tackling it will only help me in the future.

Like Mark Briggs writes in chapter eight of “Journalism Next:” “Those who go on to journalism school will graduate with a broader array of skills than most of the experienced journalists working today.”

When I graduate from Auburn, I will know how to shoot, edit and tell visual stories both for news and for more documentary-style stories. As someone hoping to go into magazines, which are going through their own digital evolution, this is going to make me a marketable job applicant.

Writing is wonderful and I love it, otherwise I wouldn’t be in the field that I’m in. But skills in writing aren’t enough anymore.

So though it stresses me out sometimes, being able to produce video work that my teachers are asking me to this semester will truly help me as I apply for jobs. I won’t be floundering in the digital world.

As I began to tackle this 5-shot sequence, I knew I wanted to do a food how-to. So I thought of something simple–if I have to focus on shots being in order I didn’t want to worry about capturing a billion steps.

It seemed tedious to me at first, but then I read chapter five of Kenneth Kobre’s “Videojournalism: Multimedia Storytelling.” In the section on shooting sequences he writes, “Just as goods in the pantry don’t make a meal until the proper ingredients are mixed in a recipe, all those shots seem unrelated only until it’s time for the final edit.”

Wow, how true that is.

As I shot, I started to think about flow and how things would work together in the final product. That’s when the sequence started coming together.

In the video below, my friend Sarah Crawford shows us how to make a popular party snack–Golden Grahams Candy.

Take a look:

Coming up with the sequence turned out to be easier than I thought. The difficulties came when I realized that I had taken seven-second shots and not all of them were sturdy.

Due to nowhere to fit the tripod, I practiced bracing as I filmed. I am apparently not quite as balanced as I once thought. I found a few places that shook during editing that I hadn’t noticed in the field.

So lesson one: take way longer footage of each shot so I can ensure stable video.

The other problem I encountered was that my friend spoke a little too quickly in her video. I had to separate sentences in editing.

Lesson two: ask the interviewing to speak slowly and clearly.

These were the two issues that jumped out at me. So now if I were to tackle a larger news video, I would know to cover my butt with tons more B-roll and exert a little more direction/control in the interview.

Overall, I like this piece. I think I could produce similar videos for how-to features at the magazine I’ll be interning at over the summer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be one of the first interns to take the challenge to work in multimedia at Alabama Magazine!

Applause for Tiger Dining

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It’s pretty hard to talk about dining in Auburn without at least taking a glimpse at on-campus options.

With a required meal plan of $300 for commuter students and $995 for residents each semester, it gets a lot of attention from students. Some love campus options and some hate them.

I tend to give Tiger Dining, the organization behind campus dining venues, credit. In the three years I’ve been here, there’s been a ton of changes.

We’ve gained a Chik-n-Grill, a Go Greek! and now a Chobani bar in the Student Center. They’ve added a lot of build-your-own-(insert food name here) venues in the Village Dining center, including stir-fry, pizza, pasta, salad, sushi and more.

Even good old Foy Hall has gotten a revamp with the addition of Panda Express, Tender Lovin’ Chicken (TLC) and Pizza Phlats. And Lord knows Terrell Hall has been fixed up quite nicely, now boasting a Taco Trek and an all-you-choose-to-eat option.

For people wanting to eat green? There’s a venue for that now, too! Lupton Hall in the Quad now holds not only the old favorite Lupton Deli, but also the new farm-to-table option Plains-to-Plate.

Carts and food trucks have even begun to roll onto campus.

I make no arguments for the prices–those are pretty steep sometimes–but the quality has really improved leaps and bounds.

As a resident assistant, I’ve met personally with Glenn Loughridge, the director of Campus Dining, multiple times. Somehow, the topic of healthy options comes up every time. Why? Because that’s what students want, so that is his focus.

How did Loughridge and Tiger Dining know what changes to make? They’ve made an effort to seek out student input and listen to what they have to say.

They’ve worked with Residence Life staff to try to see what residents want. They use Twitter and Facebook daily. There’s even a focus group of student with special dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance or vegan/vegetarian lifestyles, that helps give Tiger Dining an idea of what is needed on campus.

So no, Auburn does not have the giant cafeterias with all-you-can-eat buffets that you see on almost every other college campus. No, it’s not exactly cheap.

But we do have variety and we do have quality.

I, for one, applaud Tiger Dining.

As a little bonus, below is a video package I did recently on the addition of the Plains-to-Plate venue. Enjoy!

Impressive Audio Slideshows

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an audio slideshow must be worth at least five thousand.

In an audio slideshow, readers get to not only see the images and read the captions, but hear a narrator add life to the story. This could be a reporter narrating or even the subject.

Peter Frank Edwards’ “The Whole Hog” slideshow for the New York Times is a good example of the subject telling the story of the photos. The slideshow depicts Scott’s Bar-B-Q in South Carolina and is narrated by the owner, Rodney Scott, along with raw audio from the restaurant.

Scott tells his story of growing up in this family business, the history of the business and comments on its uniqueness of being out in the country. He describes the difference between how his business cooks its meat–and the skins–compared to other barbecue joints. He sets himself apart.

This slideshow is an excellent example of community journalism, to which I am very partial. It gives people a look at a small, family-owned business that is thriving out in the country. This benefits both the owner who is getting exposure and the barbecue-loving viewer who watches and then thinks, “I’ve got to try that place.”

It really inspires me because this is basically what I’d like to do for a magazine someday. Getting to seek out and featuring small-town gems like this for, say, Southern Living Magazine would be my dream.

You’ll notice that the captions on the pictures are more factual rather than adding to the narration. They simply identify the people in the pictures and clarify what is happening if it is not completely obvious. A few of the photos don’t have captions at all, but those images don’t need further explanation because a viewer can tell what is pictured.

The restaurant featured in this gallery brings to mind many local barbecue joints here in Auburn. Moe’s Bar B Que, Country’s Barbecue, Barbecue House, Byron’s Smokehouse, Mike & Ed’s bar-B-Q…we really love our barbecue around here.

Which one do you think would give Scott’s Bar-B-Q a run for its money?

Alright, alright, back to the topic. So, audio slideshows.

While using a subject to narrate the slideshow adds a little more of a personal aspect to a story, a reporter-narrated slideshow can still add life.

For example, Eric Asimov’s “Dining in Napa Valley” slideshow, also for the New York Times, adds pizazz to the traditional dining review.

In the slideshow, Asimov gives an overview of dining in Napa, California. (Good thing he’s a wine critic!)

He discusses the restaurants he went to and describes both the atmosphere and the food. After looking at the accompanying article (a tad long for my taste), I appreciated the option to look at pictures and listen rather than read.

Hey, even journalists get tired of reading.

As Asimov narrates the pictures, captions clarify what the viewer is looking at. When he shows dishes, the captions tell you what’s on the plate. The audio and the pictures are loosely joined. By this I mean that the pictures he shows all come from the place he is talking about, rather than being described in the audio.

This is a good example of when the captions are definitely necessary.

This type of journalism is more on the consumer side. Asimov has basically made a go-to restaurant list for anyone wanting to enjoy some great food when they visit Napa.

What I love is that Asimov has paid a lot of attention to detail. He describes not only the dishes, but the ingredients and the atmosphere of each restaurant as well. He specifically sought out the newer restaurants that may not be well-known yet.

He also looked at a variety of restaurants. From upscale to diner-like, he gives an example of a small variety of options for travelers.

I can picture making something like this for great restaurants of Auburn and Opelika. For the upscale I’d probably talk about Maestro 2300 over on Moores Mill Road.

I’d definitely rave over their lobster risotto.

Rather than a diner, I think I’d go with a popular game day option: Niffer’s. Every student should eat there at least once during their time in Auburn. It’s borderline tradition.

Which Auburn or Opelika restaurants do you think deserve a shout-out?

A Fair Take on Coffee

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College students love coffee. Yeah, I just dropped some (obvious) knowledge on you.

What college students also love is when they can feel good about their purchases.

Our generation is often happy when we can not only buy our coffee, but know that the people who grew and picked it were treated well and paid fairly.

Enter Wake Up Coffee Company.

Take a look at the gallery below to see what this new South College Street shop brings to downtown Auburn.

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The Auburn branch is just one in the Wake Up Coffee Company tree. Each shop is dedicated to the same fair trade, sustainable and community-centered standards.

I don’t know about you, but I could go for a vanilla latte now.

Galleries I Like

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There’s no denying that humans are visual creatures.

With that said, photos are a powerful tool to any journalist or writer. Even for a future journalist like myself–who is interested in reading news–there’s a much greater chance that I will click a story if it’s accompanied by a great picture.

I can tell a story without using words if I have the right pictures.

Pictures pull a reader in. Whether to a place, into a culture or even into an emotional state, photos can transport you somewhere you’ve never been.

For a taste of what I’m talking about, take a look at the links below.

http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/fw-photo-tour-brooklyn#!slide=16

As a foodie myself, the “F&W Photo Tour: Brooklyn” by Daniel Krieger for Food & Wine is a great example of how I remember vacations. With his pictures, he takes you through Brooklyn. He uses images of dishes, restaurants, people, and a few non-food places to give the viewer a sense of the city.

When I travel, I associate the places I’ve been to the food I had there and the people I met. You can learn a lot about a city by going out to its restaurants, trying its food, and just taking everything in.

I admire his use of lighting and angle. He doesn’t just take a picture of a plate, he finds the best side and orients his camera to present the most visually appealing shot. He makes the viewer want to go try that food or see that town.

This gallery is actually an excellent example of community journalism in that it serves to interest outsiders in coming to see what Brooklyn is all about without advertising anything. Krieger simply shows what is in the town in a beautiful way.

I appreciate that he adds a link to each photo that takes the viewer to the site of the business that is featured in some way. He’s giving credit to who created the image, since he is only capturing it.

If someone were to photograph a tour of Auburn in this style, can you imagine what it would feature? An artistic shot of Toomer’s lemonade followed by a festive image of the rolling of Toomer’s Corner after a game, perhaps? Or maybe a shot of someone eating conquering the Cheeburger Cheeburger Challenge followed by a shot of downtown Auburn at night?

The possibilities are endless, really. Like a song, food can trigger the memory of a time or place.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/slideshow/2013/08/19/fast-food-upclose/#slide=1

“‘Fast Food’ Up Close” by Jon Feinstein for Fox News is not a beautiful gallery, but it is real. Unlike most other pictures of food in the media, these photos are not styled or lit to make them look appealing.

What Feinstein did in this gallery is show what people are really eating when they order fast food. He simply eliminates the top bun from sandwiches or piles the fries, nuggets or onion rings against a black background and snaps the image.

The result is a bit gross. Without the pomp and circumstance of food stylist-aided company photographers, dishes from fast food restaurants look as unappealing as they are unhealthy. Some of them swim with grease or appear to be still frozen.

This is excellent journalism because it is shedding light on something important. Feinstein is showing his viewers what they’re really eating. And with the rampant obesity in our country, it’s a good message to send.

Living in a college town, this is something I think should be more widely publicized. While young adults may be able to eat this kind of food and not blow up like a balloon now, it can seriously harm them down the road.

The simplicity of the pictures yet complexity of the message that I get from them truly inspires me with this gallery.

Do the images in Feinstein’s gallery make you think twice about hitting up a fast food burger joint for dinner?

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/12/25/dining/20131225-REST.html#1

This third and final gallery is another one by Daniel Krieger, this time for The New York Times. Though “Top 10 Restaurants of 2013” is a light story, Krieger’s photography is excellent.

He has a variety of shots for each location. There are delectable close-ups of dishes mixed in with beautiful scene-setting shots and character shots of chefs and staff members in action. The gallery celebrates each restaurant.

As for the journalistic aspect, this is definitely a consumer story. No, there is no heart-wrenching tale. No, there is not a breaking news event or national problem that Krieger is depicting.

But for a city like New York that draws thousands of tourists, galleries and stories like this are important. Visitors want to know where to eat and businesses want to be seen as the best of the best.

Personally, I think photojournalism that celebrates an aspect of the community is some of the best kind. It gives members of the community the feeling that the news organization cares or can keep them in the know on social happenings.

That translates to increased readership.

I can see a “Best of the Plains” gallery now. What restaurant in Auburn and Opelika do you think should make the cut?