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A Backpack Journalist’s Dream Come True? A Look at The JVC GY-HM100U

23 Sep

The days of tape-based video cameras and real-time digitizing are numbered. Now, it’s all about the memory card.

The JVC GY-HM100U is a nice little camera that records directly to SDHC cards (it has slots for 2).

Despite its small size (weighing in at just over 3 lbs), this camera packs a professional punch. It shoots in HD up to 1080P and comes complete with XLR mic inputs for professional level sound.

If you’re a Final Cut user, imagine adding to that the ability to record directly to QuickTime movie format. Picture an editing workflow of drag and drop replacing the headache of log and capture. Would that sweeten the deal? Well the JVC does just that.

The camera also stores files in MP4 format for use with other non-linear editing systems.

Here’s a helpful review of the camera, complete with test footage, from London-based director and filmmaker Philip Bloom.

Video journalist Glen Canning’s review is also worth checking out.

After extensive research, I finally got mine and am excited to put it to use.  At nearly $2,800, it’s a bit of an investment (both for newsrooms and individuals), but the ease of post-production should help make it worth it.

Check back soon for the results of my test runs…

Editing Photos When You Don’t Have Photoshop

21 Jul

If you don’t have access to Adobe Photoshop and aren’t crazy about your computer’s default photo editor, there’s another program you can use: FotoFlexer.

FotoFlexer is a FREE online tool for editing images. You can crop and retouch any photos you upload to the site, and even add shapes, text and effects.

Digital journalist Mark S. Luckie of the 10,000 Words blog recommended FotoFlexer as an alternative to Photoshop during a session on backpack journalism at the NAHJ convention.

TIP: When you first open FotoFlexer, instead of uploading your photo under “Upload Photo” on the homepage, click “Login” on the right-hand corner, but don’t actually register. Just upload your photo there and start working!

Here’s the before and after of a picture I took on President Obama’s Inauguration Day last year. In addition to cropping, color enhancing and sharpening the photo, I was also able to add a caption and border.



And for that more historic look, the classic black and white:

TIP: The one quirk I ran into with FotoFlexer was saving my edited photos. After clicking the “Save” button on the top toolbar of the edit screen, I couldn’t get the save to My Computer or save to Facebook functions to work.  The My Computer save stalled every time I tried it and the Facebook never linked right, but I was finally able to save the photos using the URL/Link option under “Share Photo.”

Once the URL shows up, you can paste the link into your browser to open the photo in a webpage, and then right click, and select “save image as” to save it to your computer.

Final Cut Shortcuts for Editing on Deadline

18 Jul

An advanced Final Cut workshop I attended at the NAHJ Convention focused on tools for creating better video stories.

Some of the best tools at our disposal during the editing process are          keyboard shortcuts.

Many of you might already know these, but I think it’s worth it to review them.

Up/Down Arrows: for moving between cuts,  Up=previous cut, Down = next cut

J,K,L: for playback, J=rewind, K=stop/play, L=fast forward

[ ] brackets: for trimming, [ = trim one frame left, ] = trim one frame right

U, V: for editing,

N: turns snapping on and off

A: to activate pointer on mouse

Apple T: to set FCP’s default transition, a 1:00 cross dissolve

(you can also create your own shortcut-linked transitions with “Make Favorite Effect” under the Effects tab)

Apple Z: Undo (one of my personal faves)

*TIP – When dropping clips to the timeline, a down arrow appearing over the clip being moved means all other clips will stay in the same place, a right arrow means everything will shift to the right.

The website Key XL has a longer list of helpful FCP shortcuts: see it here.

For more Final Cut tips, visit this site created by Colorado University at Boulder instructor Paul Daugherty, who taught the NAHJ Final Cut 2.0 course.

More iFun: Audio/Video Editing & Slideshows

17 Jul

A number of iPhone apps are now making it possible to edit both audio and video directly on your phone.

VeriCorder offers several of them.

1st Video Net enables you to record, edit and send broadcast and podcast-ready video using your iPhone.  With a Vericorder Corporate Account, Vericorder says you can integrate the program into your newsroom system to be able to automatically send your completed stories via FTP using WiFi or a cellular connection.

ShowCase from Vericorder allows you to create audio slideshows on your iPhone or iPod Touch. ShowCase can also be integrated with newsroom systems for direct sharing.

VC Audio Net for the iPhone and i Touch is designed for recording and editing audio clips and sending radio stories back to your newsroom.

Vericorder also sells mini-external mics for the iPhone that run about $20 a piece.

(For info on getting a corporate account, contact [email protected])