I have produced more than 100 videos for the web as a reporter for the Wichita Eagle and a freelance reporter for various publications. I’ve picked out a couple dozen here, which highlight different reporting and production skills. Most of the these videos supplement a written piece. So, while many of the videos can stand alone, they are typically more meaningful when seen with the article.
The videos range in time from about one minute to about four minutes in length. The majority of them were shot and edited on the same day, after producing a print piece. But a few of them were features, where there was more time to refine the edit.
A couple of the pieces were shot with DSLRs and a combination of wireless, lav, cardioid and shotgun microphones hooked into a Marantz or a native XLR jack. The majority, however, were shot with either just my personal Iphone or a combination of my Iphone, a Sony RX-100 and a low-end Zoom and sometimes a lav mic. Nearly all of them were edited in Final Cut X, although a few of the breaking news videos were edited in a Videoliscious on my Iphone.
1. ELECTION PROTESTS: BREAKING NEWS, NEWS JUDGEMENT
NOTE: This video was viewed more than 130,000 times on Youtube as both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump were vying for the Republican presidential nomination. But despite its obvious appeal, I was the only reporter in town who decided that it was important enough to stick with the story. I shot and recorded everything with an iPhone and edited it the same day, along with filing a print story and photos.
2. BOYS CHOIR: ADAPTING QUICKLY, MUSIC
NOTE: I shot and edited this over a weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, as part of a two week residency. I used a Nikon camera with an ordinary lense and a zoom lense, and both shotgun and lavalier microphones, both of which I’d picked up for the first time that week.
3. FLOATING LIBRARY: EXPERIMENTAL EDITING, SENSE OF TIME, BORROWED MATERIALS
NOTE: I returned to shoot this art project three separate times. I did a lot of playing around in the editing, including with split screen images and a photo montage. I also shot the video with a fancy camera (a Canon C100), multiple microphones and lenses, and combined my footage with additional sourced material, to create a piece that conveys a sense of a whole month’s passing.
4. ROBOTICS CLUB: FEATURE, EDUCATION
NOTE: I shot this over a couple of hours and edited it the following day. During my seven years in the classroom as I teacher, I’ve seen just about every kind of student and teacher there is. So I was able to quickly understand and portray the different student and teachers, by selecting key moments that highlighted their personalities.
Mountain Brook Robotics Club prepares for the World Championships
5. NIGHT FIRE: HOTEL EDITING, FIRE SHOTS
NOTE: I had already filed several videos that day as I traveled hundreds of miles to and around the scene of the state’s biggest wildfire. But as I was heading back to my hotel to call it a night, I saw some fire at a ranch and decided to pull in to get one more interview. I shot it with just my iPhone and edited it in my hotel room.
6. TORNADO: BREAKING NEWS, NIGHT SHOOTING, RESOURCEFULNESS
NOTE: This was the first time I covered a tornado and I had to analyze the weather patterns to make sure we were safe to even drive into the town. I found myself wandering through the dark with almost no power, lots of downed electric lines, and just about the only lights came from a nursing home that was missing several walls. I finally found a family, which had showed up at their destroyed trailer, and caught them at their most emotional moment. I hadn’t done much night shooting before this, so I had to borrow one of my subject’s flashlights. We returned to Wichita in the early morning and I finished editing the video at 6 a.m. when I knew most people would be ready to watch it. Then I went to sleep. Some of my photos were also picked up nationally by the Associated Press.
7. CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS: DEEP INTERVIEWING, COLLABORATION
NOTE: I knew I had really good interview material from having spent a number of hours talking to the family. But since the Eagle had a video intern at the time, I brought him along to shoot a couple of scenes with his nicer equipment and then worked with him on organizing the edit, while I finished editing the story.
8. THE TINIEST TOWN THAT BURNED THE MOST: QUICK TURN-A-ROUNDS
NOTE: I published over 10 wildfire videos which were collectively viewed over 100,000 times. A lot of my time was spent just hustling to gather as much material as I could, recording audio and video, taking photos and interviewing, and driving from town to town. It’s tough to make the decision to stop collecting and start putting it together. But my editor said we needed a front page story for the next day, so I took the footage from a single stop and quickly wrote a story and then edited a video for it, while working in a gas station Subway, about 100 miles from where I originally gathered this material.
9. BIG QUAKE: SPEAKING, EXPERTISE, RESOURCEFULNESS
NOTE: It was Sunday evening and I wasn’t supposed to be working but I knew from past experience that lots of people get on the internet in the hour right after an earthquake. So after spending about 10 minutes trying to find someone who had felt the earthquake who I could interview, I decided speed was more important, and I would just have to talk about what happened myself. I had been interviewing so many geologists for my earthquake stories in the lead-up to this earthquake, that I had become one of the most knowledgable reporters in the state about the earthquake epidemic. This video not only lead our website but was one of the top videos in Kansas City, three hours away, as well.
10. SPANISH POLICE: TRANSLATION
NOTE: I’ve translated parts of other videos but this is the only video that required me to translate it all the way through. This skill allowed our English-speaking audience to see a message from local police that wasn’t being delivered in English and to help our readers see into the minds of the immigrants in our community.
11. WHERE THE FIRE STARTED: INVESTIGATIVE,
NOTE: I had spent several days reporting on the largest wildfires in state history but I hadn’t seen any stories that explained how the fire started. But by analyzing maps of the fire and calling local businesses nearby, I was able to identify the exact spot at which the fire started and interview the people who lived across the street. My editor told me it wasn’t necessary but I thought allowing our readers to see the very spot at which so many lives had been upended would give them a deeper understanding of what had happened.
12. REPLACING POLLS: SPEED, NARRATION, CAR EDITING
NOTE: I shot, edited, voiced and uploaded this video in under an hour. As I drove to my first location the day after most of the fires had died down, I noticed all these work crews putting in new electric polls. I thought it would be a good way to quickly give people a picture of just how extensive the rebuilding effort was going to be. As you can hear in some of my other fire videos, wind can really cut into your usable audio, so I recorded in my car.
13. EARLY VOTING: STILL PHOTOS, TEXT
NOTE: I used still images of voters I talked to that day and then selected a key quote, which both captured their political views and personality, and then changed font sizes on key words to help readers get a sense of how people said it, even though there was no audio.
14. FAMILY REUNION: COLLABORATION, SCRIPTING, MULTIWAY SHOOTING
NOTE: McClatchy Video Fellow, John Albert, helped me shoot the final scene in this story, which I had been following for some months. So we shot the final scene together at the airport and then had to quickly edit the video together that night to get on the website for a story in the paper the next day.
15. DRONE CHAMPION: TIME LAPSE, VIDEO ON VIDEO
NOTE: I don’t always have a ton of time to get lots of video. So even though this was a non-deadline feature story, I had to use the footage from this one afternoon to try to tell this drone pilot’s whole story, or at least to supplement the written piece in an interesting way. What I like about it most is how I used time lapses purposefully to give a sense of time passing.
16. ELECTION NIGHT: MULTIMEDIA, TEAMWORK, KANSAS POLITICS
NOTE: This was a big night in Kansas politics, when moderate Republicans took back control of the legislature. We had a lot of people working that night. The video I produced, which focused both on the significance of that moment, as well as the drama of an election night party, highlighted my versatility. My editors could send me there to tweet, take photos, file short reports and then, at the end of the night, they had a quality video to use with their main election story, so the photographers on duty that night could focus on getting their shots.
17. IMMIGRATION AT THE DOOR: PHONE AUDIO, EMOTION, ORGANIZATION
NOTE: This video shows how important it is to record everything and to keep it all well filed. I interviewed a woman whose husband had been picked up for deportation back in January but she wasn’t ready to tell her story then. But I stuck with her and, five months later, when I was ready to write a longer piece about how immigration policy was changing Kansas, I still had her amazing audio. It was recorded over the phone so the quality isn’t ideal but her emotion is so raw, it still works. I just had to convince her that it was important for people to hear the quality of her voice if she wanted them to understand her, and to find a way to illustrate the story while still trying to protect her anonymity to strangers.
18. ARENA NOISE: CREATIVE SOLUTIONS, MUSIC
NOTE: Since I haven’t fully dipped my toes into motion graphics, I had to find a creative way to illustrate the readings of a decibel meter for this video. So I ended up graphing the readings into a Powerpoint and then recording the built-in animation from the power point. I thought this was a fun way for people to think about the relative noise (and potential hearing damage) from different places around town.
19. WIENER DOG RACES: SILLY, DAILY
NOTE: This was a silly assignment but it highlighted how playful video can actually be much better than anything you would write.
20. WICHITA POLICE: EMBEDDED VIDEO, MULTIMEDIA
NOTE: I had to be careful while shooting embedded video with the police that I didn’t get in the way of or interfere with their work. And there were times when I chose not to record, even though the footage would’ve been really interesting. But even still, you can see how intense an “ordinary” Saturday night can be. This was part of a larger piece that included photos, another video and a map of downtown crime, which all worked together to tell the story of the strains on the police’s downtown police force.
21. MARCHING IN THE STREETS
NOTE: I wasn’t officially working during this march but because I wrote most of the stories about race relations at our paper, I wanted to at least be present so I could gather material. But the march was so naturally dramatic I just had to get out of the way. I ended up creating several more videos of different parts of the march, and including drone footage that I’d obtained from one of the marchers, but as with all breaking news, it was important to get something up quickly so people would watch it.
22. ELEVATOR INSPECTOR: COLD OPEN, READER-INVOLVEMENT
NOTE: This is a pretty standard feature video, which was only unusual in that it involved helping a reader answer a question they had about the city. My favorite part is just the cold open. I often have to introduce people in the video with text, so it was cool to have such a natural way to introduce Bill Loveland, the elevator inspector.
23. GAS STATION ALTERCATION: SYNCRHONIZING POLICE FOOTAGE AND INTERVIEW
NOTE: This video really helped you get into the mind of a really controversial, dramatic incident during election season. I edited down four different gas station camera angles that had been released by the police in their raw form, with audio I’d recorded in a phone interview with one of the main participants. I was able to take parts of my phone interview and inject them right into the moments during the altercation, so we knew exactly what was going through this young man’s mind. I did this again with the 911-call audio from another participant, which I again used to synch with several different gas station camera angles. Although the written story was also very interesting, this video captured the intensity of the moment.
24. FIREMAN OF THE YEAR: MULTICAMERA, DAILY
NOTE: I thought this was a good example of how, with just a bit of extra effort, you can turn a straightforward story into something a bit more interesting. I was told the night before that I would be covering an award ceremony for a firefighter. So I managed to get down to his station to interview him that night and talked to the woman he saved over the phone. I then played around with using three different cameras of the ceremony itself so that the video would have a little bit more dynamism.
25. POLICE BARBECUE: STORY JUDGEMENT
NOTE: We had an 8 p.m deadline for an event that started at 6 p.m., so I had to quickly assess what the story was about, get some key shots, while frantically writing up the story. The video itself isn’t great but I think it showed my quick judgement: the event was a success, there were people of different backgrounds speaking to each other and it made the people really hopeful. This video went viral along with the story, because the event itself was so unusual and interesting.
26. CITY WALKING: FUN
NOTE: I edited and produced (but didn’t shoot) these five fun videos about different walking maneuvers to help you survive in New York City. We were working on a story about density and this was a way to take, what could’ve been a dry subject, and bring some life to it.
27. FEARLESS BEE KEEPER: GET THE SHOT, OUTTAKES
NOTE: I shot some of this video while dozens of bees flew into my hair, glasses and neck. I had never worked with bees before but since I saw this young girl going up to the bees without any problem, I thought I would give it a try. It was scary. I got stung once on the forehead (which you can see in one of the only times I’ve included an outtake.)
28. GAY MARRIAGE: PREP WORK
NOTE: Sometimes you get a little advanced warning when breaking news is going to happen. We knew that the Supreme Court would rule on gay marriage in the next week, so I was able to interview two couples ahead of time, so that when the decision came out, I was quickly able to produce two videos to go with our breaking news coverage. I had in mind the New York Times’ wedding videos when I made these, although one of them ended up relying on the breaking news footage.