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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 15, 2011 @ 10:33 am

    Getting audiovisual content into irishtimes.com’s election coverage

    Hugh Linehan

    You may have noticed that we’re using the election campaign as a testing ground for some new developments on irishtimes.com. As many of our users have pointed out, the site has been behind the curve when it comes to producing audiovisual content, along with exploring the full potential of social media tools such as Twitter and Audioboo. To that end, we’ve been producing daily podcasts and other audio since the start of the campaign, and we’ve been shooting some video, using smartphones and small, low-cost video cameras.

    ‘Where’s the spellcheck?’ Irish Times reporters get to grips with video.

     As we expected, it’s been a learning process for everyone involved, and we have a long way to go. But, as this report by Eanna Ó Caollaí shows, we are getting there… at least, I think so. What do you think?

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    • Ted says:

      Love the principle, it’s the buffering I hate. So, what’s the FG policy on national broadband speed and infrastructure?

    • Seán B says:

      You are getting there alright. If you could add some clear IT idents to each of the audio and video contents, it would take away some of the “homemade” feel to some of the content. If you could extend these products to some of the other areas of the site such as culture, it would be a huge draw (for me anyway).

      I still find the site hard to navigate however. For example, where are Ross O’Carroll Kelly articles located? They are in Society->People->Features under some strange categorisation.

      I commend the move his articles in the print edition to the Magazine. The inane writings of a pointless out-of-touch self-absorbed product of the Celtic Tiger era are perfectly at home in the Magazine. And Ross O’Carroll Kelly will sit perfectly well beside these Róisín Ingle articles.

    • Mark says:

      Nice work, great to see stuff like that happening in the Times. Looks good too from a shooting point of view.

      Few [of course, pedantic] comments: instead of the walking/panning shots it would’ve been better to have taken set positions. Once you start walking with a camera or moving it, it becomes obvious how it’s being held/mounted (and thus the quality of the video is impacted). Pick the shot and let the camera run, pick another etc etc, then in the editing process you can cut them together so the shots don’t look boring. Also, if the person is talking to an off-screen reporter they should always be looking across the frame from the left third of the frame into the right third, or vice versa. In one or two of the vox pops above they were looking from the left (or centre) out of the frame to left, or from the right third out of the frame to right.

      What’s was that one shot on? And what smartphones are you planning on using?

      If you’re using the iPhone camera it’d be worth buying an OWLE to give it a little more stability and manual zoom/focus ability (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLlpvRFVwBU&feature=related). They can be pricey enough though. A cheaper alternative would be to use the Gorillamobile (http://joby.com/gorillamobile/iphone4/) mount and wrap the arms around the reporters fist, that’d remove some of the horizontal tilting you get from holding the iPhone in your hand. That type of movement is rarely seen on professional [news] footage (bar Blair Witch type stuff), so when it does appear which really makes stuff look amateur.

      To improve the audio you could go for a Rode Video mic (http://rodemic.com/microphone.php?product=videomicpro) which will plug into the 3.5mm jack usually used for headphones on the smartphone.

      You could also use a 3.5mm/3.5mm audio in/out splitter (http://url.ie/95lo) to allow the reporter to use both headphones and mic at the same time and thus monitor audio quality as they record (the ‘Voice memo’ feature on the iPhone gives decent audio monitoring levels). It would also allow them to direct from where they want to capture the incoming sound. A shotgun mic as opposed to the one used in the video would have reduced the ambient noise. A decent one with an XLR-3.5mm lead will work with most smartphone and vastly improve sound quality. Pricey though (circa €350)

      Of course instead you could just buy the lapel mics they sell in Conns Cameras on Wicklow St which plug directly into a 3.5mm headphone jacks and try them. About €25. Sound is decent enough once they’re pinned in the right place and the person’s body blocks out a fair area of incoming sound, which would be useful in the situation above. Might be worth testing them if you only have one or two of the mics in used by Eanna above dotted around the office.

      Looking forward to more. Thanks Eanna/Hugh.

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