You Will Obey The Law: Of Unintended Consequences

 My new Video Tech class has presented a lot of challenges this year. First was just having enough equipment to deal with the large influx of students who wanted to take the class. Second is all the tech issues that seem to be popping up.

The newest one is again an iMovie HD (5.0.2) issue. Apparently in iMovie, if you make too many audio segments in a movie, then it can drag your project to a crawl. This has happened to two of my kids in the last two days. I think I finally found the problem on a discussion board. The solution seems to be to export your audio as an AIFF file and then get rid of all the small audio clips, then reimport just the one big one.

We’ll see if this works on Monday.

Mr. C

-Update:  It works.  The hardest thing was discovering how to export the audio.  Choose full quality quicktime under the share menu.  Then use expert settings to make it an AIFF audio file.

Experts vs. Independent Voices

I know that journalists are supposed to maintain their credibility and independence.  They are not supposed to have anything to do with their sources.  But on a high school yearbook, that is often just not possible or even really very realistic.

First of all, the best source for information about the cheerleaders is our cheerleader.  She know all their names, grades, what the cheers are called and what the heck a “herky” is.   She is also the one most motivated to make sure the cheerleader page is done well.  No one else really wants to do it.  And I really don’t blame them.   It is not a rewarding job. If you misspell one name or get one fact wrong, then you could end up with an irate mom on your hands.

The same is true of nearly any club, organization or sport page in the yearbook.  The kids who really care are the ones who are involved in that group.

So, I gave up on trying to tell them that they can’t design the pages for the groups that they are involved in.  It just doesn’t make since.  They are our in-house experts.  We are stupid to waste that resource.

Of course we need to make sure they don’t pack the page with pictures of just their buddies or themselves.  But you can train them not to do that and of course check the pages before they go to print.  And even run a copy by the sponsor to make sure the team captain wasn’t left out.  (Don’t give them “approval” just ask them to look for mistakes).

In the changing world of journalism we are entering – experts are the future.  Doctors/reporters and lawyer/reporters who practice their profession and report on it from an expert’s point of view are going to become more common.  We need to get used to it and train our kids how to handle it ethically.

Mr. C

iMovie: How Many Ways Can You NOT Hear The Audio

Let me count the ways (iMovie HD)

1. The Mac’s computer audio is turned down or muted

2. The audio master level in iMovie is muted

3. The audio of the clip is muted

4. The audio button of a specific track is turned off

5. The headphones/speakers are turned off

6. The audio is not importing

Too many ways!

Mr. C

7. The headphones triggered the separate level set for the external source and muted the audio.

8. The audio cable is broken

9. The headphones are broken

10. The monitor you are using has it’s own audio levels that can be adjusted on the monitor.

11. The student muted the audio level in iMovie while importing the footage (kills the audio).

Yearbook: It’s Like Sprinting A Marathon

This year, the great state of Texas gave us a longer summer.  We started school nearly two weeks after last year.  A new law was passed last legislative session that moved the start of school to no earlier than Aug. 24.

With school starting later it seemed like everything was really rushed.  Our first football game actually happened on the Friday before school started.  And then it seemed like a lot of things happened late.  Our homecoming was near the end of October and our Senior Night nearly November.  Now we have a ton of deadlines and it seems like they are all here at once.

This year, it seems like we are constantly sprinting in a Marathon.

I just want to catch my breath.

Mr. C

iMovie HD glitch

We still use iMovie HD aka iMovie 6.0 because I’m not ready to give up all the money we’ve sunk into plugins to “upgrade” to iMovie ’08.

But today I ran into a problem we’ve had before.  I thought it was a cable problem (firewire cable), but in reality it is an iMovie problem.  Sometimes iMovie stops recording audio.  You will hear it record, it will be on the clip in the clip pane, but when you move it to the timeline to edit – no audio.  The solution is to disconnect your camera cable from the mac and restart iMovie.  Then reconnect everything – it works.


Mr. C

Being A Good Journalist Is About Habit

I have found that too many students don’t know how to prioritize. They are not grounded and have little direction to help guide them. And as a teacher, I felt I needed to help them. Because my job is more than just teaching them the inverted pyramid or how to write an effective lead. If I don’t give them the skills to be an effective person, then they will never be an effective journalist.

A great way is to spend a few days (and a few dollars by getting a classroom set) with The Seven Habits of Effective Teens. This book is great. It really helps kids learn how to set goals (including how to meet deadlines). It helps them to face their fears (like being on camera or interviewing someone).

Here is a companion web site for the book from it’s English publisher. It is well worth the read and worth sharing with your students, especially if they need to work on their time management and goal setting skills.

Mr. C

Smile: Journalism Is Going To Be OK!

I love to go to Wal-Mart. Yes, that Wal-Mart. Because everywhere you go in the store, there are smiley’s. I love the smiley. It is a sign of happiness and optimism.

Growing up as a child of the ’80s (high school c/o ’85, college c/o ’90), I’m a huge fan of Ronald Reagan. If you’re my age or older, you remember the stagflation, recession and general malaise of the ’70s. It seems as if journalism is heading for it’s own malaise in the last year or two.

Of course it is easy to be depressed about declining newspaper circulation numbers, declining nightly news ratings, declining reading rates and more. We can be depressed about it, or we can ask ourselves “Is it the medium or the message?”

I have a feeling it is the medium. As the Chinese say, “I hope you live in interesting times.” It is a curse that they use.

But I’d rather live in today’s media world than that of my youth or the “golden age” of top down journalism. Had I lived then, I’d either be a teacher (like I am now) or a drone working for a giant newspaper filing my daily stories and typing out my 1-3 thousand words a day. I’d never have to take a picture or shoot video. And reader feedback would be limited to those 4-5 letters we printed each day.

I love my job. I get to teach video, photo, writing, web, designing, and much more. Moving to the web has reinvigorated our journalism program. We were getting dull and dusty. More multimedia is helping to attract the best and the brightest to the journalism program. This is a good thing. We are not just seen as nerdy writers who also take pictures.

Now, we’re the cool kids. We do all that stuff on the school web site. The internet is where these kids live. It is the future of our business. Instead of whining about it, we need to find a way to charge into it. Be brave, blaze a trail. If your content is rich and vibrant, then people will follow. The only reason to be afraid is that you really are dull and boring. And even so, wake up, look at what is out there and emulate it. There is some really cool stuff on the net.

Stop being gloomy. Journalism will survive this. So what if you work for a google or yahoo instead of the New York Times or NBC. They’re just brand names after all. People will always want and need information. If you learn the skills necessary to find, distill and relay that information in an interesting way, or in a way that people can actually use – then someone will reward you for it.

What I think is that too many journalists are scared that they won’t survive this change. And if they don’t wake up to the potential of the web, then they are right. They will be left behind by journalists who do get it. Multimedia is the wave of the future. We must learn to use it to tell stories. But we must also layer our multimedia with rich, multi-layered content.

On the internet it is the content that will drive them to your site. You can’t just recycle AP stories and call that content, it must be new, original, useful, layered, and multimedia. And lastly, it ain’t that hard. Kids do it every day on myspace. We are trained, college educated journalists.

Step away from the typewriter, grab a camera, open an application, get your mouse and start learning how. Will it always be easy, no! But we can do it. We will do it, or we will perish. And those that won’t learn how to survive in the wired world deserve to perish.

But enough with the navel gazing, the rehashing of missed opportunities and the “woe is me” attitude. We must always believe in the transformative power of story telling. The web is more powerful than any medium before it, because for the first time you can combine words, pictures, video, audio and more. And it is interactive.

“Someone once said that the difference between an American and any other kind of person is that an American lives in anticipation of the future because he knows it will be a great place. Other people fear the future as just a repetition of past failures.” – Ronald Reagan

We can’t let fear of the future keep us from moving journalism forward. We must all be optimists. So remember to smile the next time someone asks you about the future of journalism. Because we haven’t even begun to imagine what cool things we will be able to do yet.

Mr. C

23 Tips To Turn Up Your Web Site Design

I came across a great blog post with 23 Tips about how to design your web site with an eye towards usefulness and readability.  This list goes beyond just the usual F shape design.  If you teach web design, then this is well worth the read.

Mr. C

Watch A Movie With Heart

I recently watched “A Mighty Heart” with Angelina Jolie as the wife of Daniel Pearl, the WSJ reporter killed in Pakistan in 2002. The movie is moving and well acted, and of course you already know the story, so there is no shock in the ending. It is rated R for language and violence, not suitable for the classroom. I do add it to my list of great journalism films.

Mr. C

Light Me Up!

If you are trying to teach your video or photography students the basics of 3-point lighting, then you definitely need to check out this great resource from lighting company – Lowell EDU.  They have several interactive online lighting tutorials, a glossary and great photos of nearly every kind of field light you might use.

Mr. C