Hurricane Irene – a short shot on the Canon T3i

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 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.

Shooting with the Canon T3i

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.

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Posted on September 1st, 2011 by Josh Davidsburg | Category: Canon 600D / T3i, DSLR video news, Journalism |

4 responses to "Hurricane Irene – a short shot on the Canon T3i"

  1. Side7 Says:
    September 1st, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Looks great! One question, how were you able to get permission to use the Mumford & Sons track? Label?


  2. Rabonour Says:
    September 1st, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Commendable work. The editing was dramatic, but not in a way that struck me as inappropriate. It’s clear that you don’t have a background in DSLR photo/video, but I mean that in a good way. The piece is stylistically dissimilar to most DSLR video work I see.

  3. mdrewpix Says:
    September 1st, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    You are absolutely right that viewers would embrace a more artistic take on these sorts of events! Editors – and a lot of shooters – are stuck in a 1985 mindset. Time to wake up and get with the times. And a great piece, by the way. Keep at it!!

  4. Josh Davidsburg Says:
    September 1st, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks! I wanted to be creative with the editing and not too dramatic. The fact that I’m not with a news organization any more, I could be a little artistic, but didn’t want to overdramatize or sensationalize it.

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