Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Days of the New(s)

So, it's been two months since I dropped my last crumbs, and I need to get my writing groove back.

It's like a muscle, and I feel that if I neglect it any longer, it'll atrophe and become more of a vestigial appendage. I got to reading some of my earlier material, and I want to connect with that same gonzo columnist style I tried to emulate then. It could have something to do with reading an issue of Car and Driver while waiting for a vehicle inspection to finish. The guys writing that magazine have ways of making words talk. Another inspiration has been Wil Wheaton's work, both on his blog and in his books, which has been really great to read. As a matter of fact, I'm listening to his podcast, Radio Free Burrito, right now. With that out of the way, let's get to the real post.

The new year has brought about new changes to the 39 Newsroom. In the first month of the year I was working a dayshift on Saturdays, but the dayside reporter was taking her leave to complete the gestational cycle of her progeny. Instead of assigning someone to cover that shift, the powers that be decided it would be better for me to turn natpacks on those days. In those four weeks I did more of those than I had in the entire nine years of my career. I shared one of them in a previous post, and I'll collect the rest of them here.

Bringing Ice to Life

Sprite Step-off

Cirque Dreams Auditions

U.S. Marshall’s Jewelry Auction

Maybe I should embed those, but it's the quickest way for me to get this done, right now, so that's what you get.

In the weeks after doing these stories, I got into a funk, which took me a while to figure out. What was happening during this time is that everyone was getting new equipment as we transistioned to our HD workflow. This rollout was kind of slow, and I was one of the last to get new stuff. That was fine, but what was getting me down was that, with the new HD gear, all the SD video I was shooting was only good for that day's story. Here's a little inside baseball as to why this bothered me.

We in the news business have a saying, "You're only as good as your next story." The work I do today pretty much has no point past it's final frame of video in the newscast. That's our blessing and our curse. If we do a great story, we want that moment to last forever, but if it's just a cluster of a day, assuming I didn't destory the newscast, we get to do it all over again tomorrow. For me as a photojournalist there was a subconcious caveat to this. The video we shoot today becomes the file we pull for years after. Need a shot of kids in a classroom? Pull some file. What happens when a station moves to HD is that SD file becomes less useful, only to be used if doing an update to an old story. What was happening is that I was shooting video that wouldn't even be considered for file, because it was SD, so it had no life past it's airing in the newscast.

As I said above, this was subconciously affecting me, and it only clicked when someone asked if the great video I shot that day (of kids in a classroom, no less) was HD or SD, because they were looking to build the HD file library. Once I figured it out, I was able to shake it off and life got back to normal.

Then I got my new gear. I traded in my large Sony Beta SX for a babycam, a Sony EX3 XDCAM. For the next couple of months I would figure out how to bend it to my will, and I can do most anything I want with it, except zoom into something a block away. I also was able to divest myself of the DNE-700 edit system, and take delivery of a new 17" MacBook Pro, loaded with Final Cut Studio and unlimited creative potential. Now my limitations are the lack of training on the system and time.

I've not become an Apple devotee, but damn if that sexy slab of silver hasn't become as natural for me to use as my camera. I want one of my own, to be sure, but don't know if I can justify the expense. I'll have to start my own business, I think, just so I can have an excuse to buy it. As for those people who say Macs 'just work,' though, you are all a bunch of damn liars. I've had stories miss slot because Final Cut Pro went into Not Responding mode, and lost precious minutes to getting it working correctly again.

This week I got a new piece of kit to assist in our Web first intiative. The station also replaced my work phone, which had developed a large blemish on it's LCD screen. These two items are embodied in one device, the iPhone 3Gs, in the 16 GB capacity. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed the cacophany of tweets that followed the past month of silence. This is indicative of what might have been if I had a phone with either a data plan or unlimited texting. Expect more.

It's been a while, but I created something today, and it felt good. Also, I'm thinking about a podcast, but that would require more work, so I don't think it'll happen, but I have a title. I'll let you know if I get it off the ground. Thanks for reading.


Holland said...

I had almost given up hope you ever updating this thing again.

Senator's Forum said...

Cool stuff Senator. Always nice to put a few nat PKGs together, did you know?