Keystone Multimedia Workshop- What I learned – Part 1

As a photographer who graduated college in 2005, I have attempted to keep up with the industry and it’s ever-changing way of reinventing itself.

Attending the Keystone Multimedia Workshop I pushed myself to learn Apple’s Final Cut video editing program in three days.

For those who are not in the industry, the program is a harder, but more specific way of editing compared to Imovie, which is what I was used to using for video projects I have done in the past. I used the word harder because instead of one step, there are five, to do something, but there is more artistic and pinpointed ways to complete the project.

The biggest reason why I wanted to attend the workshop is to learn the program, as it is an industry standard for most publications. I also wanted to learn how to create more visually stimulating multimedia presentations.

Equipment available

At my publication, a small weekly, I supply all of my own equipment, which includes a Canon D7 body, Canon 28 mm fixed lens, Canon 18-135 mm IS (currently broken), and an antique (bought new in 1996) Canon 80-200mm lens, a Canon Speedlite 580EX II flash (still learning how to use that), and a tripod I got at Target for about $30 bucks.

I wanted to use the equipment that I have and will be using when returning to work, but it was great having some equipment I don’t have available to me for my project.

At the workshop, a wide variety of lenses, cameras, and audio equipment was available for use.  I learned what equipment I really need to invest in, at some point, when I have money.

Three items I need to get to do multimedia projects are a video tripod, that swivels more fluidly (instead of my jerky still tripod), shotgun mic (for clear and crisp audio) , and a earphones that actually  reach my ears (to listen and make sure my audio is working).

Let me just note that as a writer, the only equipment needed is a pen and paper, but the photographer that I am, I want the equipment to do the job well.

Equipment is expensive, but as I have learned, to do the job, getting good audio, and a video that doesn’t make people seasick (handshake), is the bare essentials of getting a good piece.

Finding the story

Each student at the workshop was expected to create at least one multimedia project by the end of the week. After learning and listening to tech talk for most of the day Thursday, we all headed over to opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics Pennsylvania in hopes of finding an individual that we would do a story about and then after collecting images and video, put together a piece.

When arriving at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park,  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. My head was still full of tech talk.

Lets’ start with the fact that I parked really far away from the event and was carrying a heavy (compared to what I am used to) video tripod, camera bag with my equipment, and it was hot, about 80 degrees that evening.

Most of the students went right down to the field to be right in front for the action, but I wasn’t sure what my story was going to be so I walked around, people watching for a while.
Usually when I cover an event I walk around and listen to find interesting conversations or watch facial expression to find people who may have a good story to tell, or just someone who is photogenic.

I took some photos of fans cheering at the beginning of the ceremony and then had a seat in the stands, I needed to sit for a second.

That’s when I photographed a candid moment between a mother and her son. Tracee Brown leaned over and kissed her son, Tre George, before heading up to talk to friends and family, vowing to return shortly.

I then followed Tracee up the steps and spoke to her when she reached the top. After explaining who I was and what I was doing, I pulled out my recorder and started getting some information from her.
This was the first lesson I learned, to listen. I had not figured out what to do with the image, or what the story would be, until I talked with Tracee.

While doing the interview, I learned that Tracee and Tre were from Harrisburg. I enjoy talking with people and went back and fourth asking questions, not realizing until later, that I had ruined my audio. (By talking it makes it harder to edit later.)

After meeting the rest of the family I decided that this would be my story. Trey was competing in the 200 meter race and the long jump the next day (Friday) and I planned to spend time with him, to get more stills and video for the piece.

Feeling better, knowing that I had a plan, I decided to head down to the field to get some shots of the rest of the opening ceremony, which was almost over.

Returning back to campus, I was exhausted and a little grumpy since I wasn’t used to carrying around the tripod. But I was excited to upload images and start working on the project.

After editing photos, I started to learn a bit of Final Cut, but it was so late, and I was not happy with my audio. I headed to the Penn Stater Hotel for some rest.

Waking up Friday morning, I felt refreshed. Planning to head to breakfast, I opened my door to find a copy of USA Today, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s one of my favorite newspapers, mostly because there is great photography.

After breakfast, I headed over to the classroom to get working on my photos and getting equipment that will help me get better photos at the track.

Bruce Zake, one of the faculty members at the workshop, was very kind in letting me borrow his Canon 80-200mm Image Stabilization lens. I didn’t have to sign it out, but his works were “If you break it, you buy it.”

I headed to the track in anticipation of meeting up with Tre and his family. I arrived and searched for volunteers with the works “Help Me” and a question mark on their shirts, to locate the right place to find Tre.

I spent most of the time before meeting up with Tre under a tent (to avoid from getting sunburn again) and setting up the equipment that I had just borrowed. Practicing with the tripod, audio equipment, and huge lens, I spoke with some really cool volunteers.

Finding Tre, I decided I wanted to interview him before the event, so I pulled him aside and started the video. This was funny. The announcer, who was covering the events, blasted in my audio the second I would start recording. Another lesson learned.

I then spent most of the afternoon following Tre around, and taking photos of him interacting with volunteers and other athletes. Tre is very photogenic and I was really happy with some of the candid moments I was able to capture of him while he waited to compete.

After getting tons of stills, video , and audio, I headed back to begin the process of uploading and editing.

Here are more photos from “A day at the track”

Learning Final Cut, and producing a project, all in a few days, I knew it was going to be tough. I struggled with understanding the format, and how to use the program, to do what I wanted to do.

Since I didn’t get a whole lot of background on Tre, I decided to title my story, A day at the track. It’s what fit the best, I thought, for what my images portrayed, a day in the life with Tre.

Friday was a long day. After working as much as I could to get done, I realized that my brain was fried at about 11:30 p.m. The project wasn’t done, but I was.

I still needed to figure out what I was going to do for the final day of the workshop.

I was struggling with a story idea when faculty member John Beale suggested that I do a story on an interesting bistro in town. After hearing the idea, and making sure it hadn’t been done before, I knew that was it.

So I headed to the hotel to rest and gear up for the final day. I had walked over to the classroom, and when opening the door to leave, I discovered it was raining.

Fellow classmate Malak Shaher was attempting to wait it out, but we talked and realized that the rain wasn’t going to let up. I was about to start walking when I remembered that my rain jacket was in my camera bag. I had just bought it a few weeks ago after nagging from my editor that I needed one. It had already come in use the last few weeks with the rain and also protected me from the sun at the Pa State Track and Field Championship, which I had covered for the Lebanon Daily News the weekend before.

As Malak and I walked back to the hotel in the rain, I spoke with her about her experience here in America, all the while hoping in my head that the lighting flashes wouldn’t strike us as we walked through the parking lot.

As she spoke about being from Yeman, I was inspired by her and her strength in coming to a country and taking on the workshop, only being here for four months.

After arriving safely to the hotel, I headed up to the room.

Read my next post – Keystone Multimedia Workshop- What I Learned Part 2, about the final day of the workshop.

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