By Josh Davidsburg
I’m a former journalist now in recovery, with temporary relapses back into the field. As soon as Hurricane Irene’s cone of uncertainty landed on Maryland, I ran out and bought some rain gear for my Canon T3i.
I was a TV reporter for seven years, working in Maryland for WMDT in Salisbury and WBAL in Baltimore, and in Fort Myers, Florida for WBBH. I usually worked with a photographer and only occasionally had to VJ or one-man-band, but I always immensely enjoyed shooting and editing. When the economy tanked, I landed a job in public relations. I started out writing press releases and handling press calls, but when our agency got the opportunity to buy some video equipment, I jumped at the chance.
I’ve been shooting on an ENG style camera (Sony EX1R) over the last year for work, but when it came to buying my own personal gear, I started to do more research. After I came across DSLRnewsshooter.com and other blogs, I realized a DSLR was the way to go. You can’t beat the bang for your buck.
Shooting Irene wasn’t dangerous. As a reporter I’d been in much worse storm conditions. My big concern was making sure my camera didn’t get too wet (the T3i is not weatherproofed). Due to the short notice, I ought a really cheap rain cover, which was basically a plastic bag with a draw string, but it kept the camera dry. I tried to shoot from under cover and out of open doorways, but I did get wet.
It was important to me to make sure I got soundbites. A lot of the DSLR videos I see on Vimeo or YouTube are just pretty pictures over music with no sound; that’s not what I wanted to do. I feel a piece like this needs the sound to really move it along and make it personal.
I have to admit that at first it was awkward asking people for interviews when I wasn’t shooting for any particular news agency. As a reporter, I had no problem talking someone into being on camera, but since I was just doing this for the net, it felt a little weird approaching people. But I got over it.
I have a very, very basic setup (I’m just getting started). I bought a Canon T3i, Rode Videomic & boom kit, Davis & Sanford tripod, the basic kit lens (18-55mm) and a basic prime lens (50mm f/1.8). I shot this using the Technicolor Cinestyle profile, edited it with Final Cut Pro X, and color graded it with Magic Bullet Mojo.
I really enjoyed shooting and editing this mini-doc. I had a lot more freedom to be artistic with color grading and music than if I had been putting together a traditional news package. It’s a shame that local TV news doesn’t encourage creativity, production value or story telling, because I really think there’s a place for it and that viewers would embrace it.
As always, I would love any feedback or criticism from those of you who have been doing this a lot longer than me.