Timothy Johnson is Free (view this story)

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Rep: 444
Eric Seals Feb. 24, 2014, 6:53 a.m. permalink

Hi Grant,

When I saw it was only going to be a 1:17 piece I kinda knew your video was more of a quick video clip from the event than a longer more interesting story. 

Sometimes you gotta make due with the time you have and maybe this was the case. Perhaps your paper wanted a very quick turnaround on this but with a story like this there is so much great potential that could be done from style to storytelling, the visuals and his emotion on finally being free.

For me a guy who spends 29 years in prison, given a new trial then found guilty and released I was really hoping to hear from him in a formal sit down interview about so many things, nice b-roll, a video piece that made me feel for all that he went through, missed out on etc.

Could you have come back to him later that day or the next day for more storytelling? Talked to you editors about shooting a longer more personal video story? Getting into the past 29 years? You know, some of those good hard hitting questions that get to the core him? What it was all like? What he missed out on with family friends, the future for him? 

So much potential here that when shot, edited & told right would have readers and viewers of your newspaper totally engaged.

I love the still image above with Timothy being hugged and looking up along with the cops giving you the stink face. Those kinds of moments are so important when doing video storytelling. Not the aim and shoot what you can which is what I felt this short piece was.

Did you have to shoot video and stills?? Curious because often when you have to do both one and sometimes both suffer. Like I said the still is nice (wish the woman in the pink sweater wasn't at that exact spot)

Shoot your video like you would your stills, that's what makes photojournalists transitioning into doing some video storytelling a no brainer. We see moments now we just add movement and sound to them.

I've been there done that before with something like what you shot that is fast paced and fluid in a court house but you gotta be steady in your shooting and make sure you focus is spot on.

As far as mics. That Sennheiser on camera mic is more entry level for picking up sound. I had that when I first started shooting video with HDSLR's, used it twice and then moved on to better equipment.
This Rode Video Mic Pro is really good at picking up sound, you just have to monitor your audio levels in your camera.

In terms of your confidence with the mic it just gets better with lots of use and practice.

Hope that helps,


Rep: 0
Grant Blankenship Feb. 24, 2014, 1:32 p.m. permalink

Thanks, Eric,

First, yes, I was shooting stills and video that day. I clearly remembering seeing the moment in the thumbnail shaping up and cutting the video to head straight for the still image. The thinking was that whatever else happened, that moment would tell the story. For better or worse, that was my decision.

After interview would have been nice, agreed. Mr. Johnson declined to sit down with us after his release. Might be worth coming back to, though, and folding in some of the run and gun stuff. He's  worth a folo. Maybe I can talk the reporter into that. Thanks for that idea.

Back to shooting stills and video at the same time. Doesn't everyone in newspapers have to work that way? At least on a daily assignment? I was trying to wring every last bit of value out of what I was seeing. Maybe I should have just kept to stills?

To that end, I found out about a Shure mic with a built in WAV recorder recently. I think in that situation now I would roll well monitored audio and shoot stills. Thoughts?

Thanks for the time and critique.

Grant B.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Feb. 24, 2014, 5:39 p.m. permalink


I thought it was a stills and video event for you. 

Too bad he declined to sit down after his release (even after a few days) 

This would of taken lots of planning and hustle on the front end but in terms of a really good video piece (and I'm sure you thought this) it would have been so cool to have formed a relationship with some of his family and his lawyer days or weeks before his release with the goal of having awesome access after his release.

In terms of stills and video at the same time I can't speak for everyone at other newspapers but at my paper and I know several others where doing both is not always the case depending on the assignment. 

It is nice to have the flexibility of using our news judgement if a certain assignment needs or requires both stills and video. Some papers want to always feed the video beast that is the web with everything and others are selective in what's fed or even who shoots to feed the beast. Often reporters with iPhones might shoot video at something leaving us to shoot stills but then sometimes photojournalists do the very quick clip then get back to shooting. 

In a case like a prisoner getting release we might of had one still person and one video person shooting in court and the follow outside. 

Hopefully you don't have to do the juggle all the time and perhaps this was just one of those times it had to be done.

Looking forward to seeing more of your stuff on here.


Rep: 0
Grant Blankenship March 1, 2014, 6:32 a.m. permalink

Thanks, Eric.

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