By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Fair use: The video

Check out my first news video — a discussion of the copyright dispute between the Associated Press and the Drudge Retort, featuring Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, and Rob Bertsche, a First Amendment lawyer with the Boston firm of Prince, Lobel, Glovsky & Tye. Cox’s blog post on the subject is very different from what you may have read elsewhere. As he was a close participant in the dust-up, you should read it.

Cox and Bertsche engaged in a wide-ranging overview at Saturday’s New England News Forum “Sharing the News” symposium at UMass Lowell, but I thought it would be interesting to try to boil their talking points down to a video. Cox and Bertsche are both well worth listening to, so I’ll leave it at that. My purpose here is to offer some technical observations with an eye toward improving.

1. In case you were wondering, I took this with my new Canon PowerShot SD890 IS Digital Elph. I’ve had it for a few weeks, and I’m pretty happy with it so far. It was overcast, so the lighting is exceptionally good in this particular video.

2. Yes, yes, I know I need to pay closer attention to background noise. I probably should have started over when the Laconia-style motorcycle rally (actually, it was one guy) nearly drowned out Cox. What I hadn’t anticipated were the bird noises sounding like something out of Alfred Hitchcock.

3. I edited the video with Apple’s iMovie 6. I’d like to try iMovie 7, but it keeps quitting out on me — even after I installed an update yesterday. In poking around the Web, I see that I’m not even close to being alone in finding iMovie 7 impossible to work with. Has anyone else had acceptable results? (And are iMovie 7 and iMovie ’08 one and the same? I think they are.)

4. I don’t like the titling options provided in iMovie, so I did the title slides in Photoshop Elements and saved them as JPEGs. I couldn’t figure out how to do them in color, so, as you’ll see, they’re in vivid black and white — or, as they translate to YouTube, vivid dark gray and light gray.

5. Steve Garfield tried to offer me some pointers on how best to export it for uploading to YouTube, but the dialogue box I got was different from what he showed me. The video looks really nice in iMovie. It degrades a lot when I save it as a CD-quality QuickTime .mov file. The title screens, in particular, look really bad.

Thoughts, comments and suggestions are welcome.

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  1. jhall

    Yes, IMovie 7 is awful. Apple even put out a free version of iMovie 6 for people who bought computers with 7 loaded on it to downgrade to, so that was something of an admission of the problems. My biggest issue, which might not be relevant to you, is that you can’t set chapters in it, so if you want to pull into iDVD & make a dvd with chapter markers, you can’t. As I said, it might be better for web video, as I think that was more the direction they were going with it. And yes, I believe ’08 & V7 are one and the same

  2. John Farrell

    Nice job. Background noise is probably always going to be a problem if you’re not going to mic people directly.Having said that, investing in Final Cut Express or Final Cut Pro (even an older version like 4 or 5 from ebay) will in the long run make your news life easier.If you’re going to make a habit of this.;)

  3. Dan Kennedy

    John: Thanks. It was pretty easy. How would Final Cut make my life easier?

  4. John Farrell

    (forgot to ‘post’ instead of reply)Final Cut allows you to work on the audio tracks much more directly. And add as many as you want. Select short portions to dampen, or to raise, add transitions between tracks, and fades you can adjust etc.

  5. DJS

    And, at the risk of stepping over the line regarding license agreements…Since you’re a NU employee, you can get steep discounts on Adobe Premiere and their other apps.I use Adobe’s Creative Suite (non-academic) for web work, and the ability to right-click on audio tracks, stills and illustrations on the Premiere time line and open those files in Audition, Photoshop and Illustrator is a real boon.It’s an outstanding investment if you plunge head-first into multimedia reporting.I imagine that Final Cut Pro is also available with an academic discount.Doug

  6. Dan Kennedy

    I actually like iMovie. More relevant: I’m not going to try teaching Final Cut Pro or Adobe Creative Suite to my students. That’s more appropriate for another class. I want to do maybe two weeks of quick and dirty video. I am curious to know how to make the best possible conversion to QuickTime, though.

  7. mike_b1

    Dan, I think for now, video feeds via the Web are cumbersome to watch, especially while I’m at work. But what I am more impressed with is is that how a journalist of your age is embracing the available technology. The latter isn’t “there” yet — as much for cultural as well as technical reasons — but I would argue few of the aged 50+ media crowd is approaching the “journalist as producer” role with anything but a large amount of fear and disdain. My hat’s off.

  8. John Farrell

    If you’re exporting right out of iMovie to make the obligatory “under 100 MB” file for Youtube, try this setting:320×240 QuickTimeusing Sorenson 3 codec or Apple H264data rate: 600k to 700k/secmp3 audioI actually encode my own stuff directly to FLV, that way youtube doesn’t mess it up with their boilerplate settings.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    John: I think I’ll try those settings tomorrow. I’m going to have to redo it anyway, as my friend Donna Halper found a hideous typo on one of the title screens. Mike: Thank you. We veterans aren’t as out of it as is sometimes presumed. Here’s an encore presentation of Cathryn O’Hare, editor of the Danvers Herald, who has embraced quick-hit video as a vital part of her job.

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