Today Brian Steel and I (Kirk Mastin) headed over to the Seattle Times to shadow Photojournalist Steve Ringman for the day. After meeting Steve and getting a brief tour of the Seattle Times Newsroom, we headed with Steve to the Alaskan Way Viaduct where a press conference was about to take place. Apparently the Viaduct is sinking into the ground and slowly falling apart. Now the question seems to be what will happen to the Viaduct in the near future: will it be fixed? will it be replaced? will the Viaduct be abandoned with only I-5 serving the Seattle commuter? The press was there to find answers.
Soon after arriving Brian and I huddled with the other media representatives as a press conference was called among the din of generators, water pumps and machinery. Immediately Brian and I realized that audio was going to be a big problem. The Flip camera has good audio if you are in a quiet room and can get close to your subject. With constant traffic and the din of machinery the audio was a mess. If we held the Flip camera within a meter of a subject’s mouth we could manage decent audio. Further away than that, not so much.
Interestingly enough West Seattle Blog was there, as well as Travis Mayfield, a reporter from KOMO 1000 News radio. To my surprise I saw that Travis was making a video/podcast using a Flip Video camera. I ducked away from the main event for a few minutes and got an interesting interview from him about new media and traditional radio. Travis also indicated possible interest in being part of the project. If the team working on radio is interested please let me know and I will get his contact info for you.
After being led into the construction site by the PR person (who was a really nice person to work with by the way,) Steve began getting some really nice close shots of the workers, especially a worker who was cutting a large pipe with a blowtorch. Brian quickly and cleverly improvised a way to get closer to the action by holding the monopod out horizontally with the camera tilted up at the worker who was cutting the pipe.
After watching Steve work his magic we headed back to his car where he uploaded his photos to the Seattle Times. Now it was time for part two, where Steve would show us some of the cutting edge New Media work he is doing at the Seattle Times.
At the Seattle Times, Steve led us to an improvised studio space where he was preparing to interview Mimi Gates a member of the Gates family, about her involvement with the arts in Seattle. The project focuses on several key words for each interviewee which describes their life. In the case of Mimi Gates it was ‘constructive rebellion’. It was a very interesting interview and very well thought out. Steve set up three lights: a background light and two soft boxes. Using two HDV cameras and wireless mics, Steve set about filming the interview with various camera angles. I think our class could learn a lot about his interviewing techniques: lighting, sound and managing a tight shooting schedule.
Overall the day went really well and we have follow up interview with Steve this Wednesday. Now we must decide whether to stick with only the Flip video for this part, or supplement it with a separate audio recorder which we will synchronize with a hand clap at the beginning of the interview. Another possibility is using a DV camera for the interview. I think good sound from the interview plus the B-roll from today will be sufficient to tell a story using minimal gear. After Wednesday our team will be even more sure of how the final piece will turn out.
Everyone with the Spielberg team would like to thank Steve Ringman for being such a fantastic subject and guiding us through a busy news day. The projects that he is working on and his enthusiasm with video and new media is a huge boon to the Seattle Times and I think his work will serve as an example for other papers in the Northwest.