Friday, June 5, 2009

DAY 13

Day 13

Every photogs worst nightmare: file tape.

File tape to a photog is like telling a director to produce a genius film using only video from scenes he has saved from past movies. While a reporter creates a story with his words, photographers create stories with our images. Our art is in our ability to weave a tale through the lens of our camera- showing people what we see- transporting them there with pictures and natural sound. A piece full of file video is like a novel that has already been written... been there... done that.

I understand that there are times when file video is necessary. For example, during a high profile trial, file video of the crime scene is a crucial piece of the story. Viewers need a visual reminder of why they should care about that particular trial. But that is where the purpose of file video ends. After context, it is our jobs as photographers to show the viewer something new and interesting... something they haven't seen before.

Today I am responsible for a story comprised entirely of bad weather file video. It is warm and sunny out. The breeze is blowing only slightly, creating an enjoyable, balmy, morning. So why on earth are we doing an entire piece on bad weather? Your guess is as good as mine. Afterall, we aren't adding anything new, or showing the viewer anythbing that they've never seen before... heck- they've already seen this flooding video four times this weekend!

I feel a bit disposable today... part of what makes me a valuable asset to this news team (well, most of what makes me a valuable asset to this news team) is my ability to turn events into a seemless array of pictures... pictures that tell a compelling story. Not everyone can do that :-) But a monkey could look up a tape number, import it into the editing system, make a few chops and edits to it, and call it a day. I feel as worthless as a chimp.

Luckily, I'm sore from a rough day at karate yesterday, so I'm not complaining- at least not yet...

It's now noon... the complaining can start.

Part of the problem is where I am... worse then finding file at just any station, is finding file at KOAA. Here at channel five, we can shoot and write, we can make any live shot happen, and we shine during breaking news... but when it comes to archiving video-- we certainly don't walk the walk. It sometimes seems to me that our archiving system has not evolved since the middle ages. Not only is the system completely worthless, but us meager photogs are given the task of archiving our own stories at the end of every night. Now this may not sound like such a difficult task- and it really isn't- but when you are out shooting all day, and then get back fifteen minutes after your shift is over and still have to get gas, archiving video is the last thing that you want to deal with.

What ends up happening is that we save a bunch of stories, planning to log them the next day, or day after that.... but after one week, you've lost your chance. The system can no longer be updated... and any video that isn't already logged is gone forever. Although the story may still pop up during a search, there will not be an accompanying tape where the video should have been saved.

As I sit with my list of Colorado Springs weather disasters, I want to pull my hair out. Sure, I can find stories about lightning... but none of them were saved! It gets old going story after story for over a half an hour and having nothing to show from it. I almost wish that it was storming so I could just set up a camera and record it myself. After much searching I find the lighting and set my sights on a tornado that hit manitou springs in 1979. I wasn't even born then...where the hell am I supposed to find this video!

When I get a chance to glance at the clock I realize that it is already 3:30. I need to start editing so that I'll make my live shot. I've found three pkgs and a few shorter stories. Hopefully I can piece something together. Luckily the flood video is still in the system, so I edit it nicely with the reporter track. I'm not so fortunate with the lightning video. I have about four shots that last little more then one second each... the same goes for the tornado video. So, I take a big chunk, hit edit, and lay it all into the timeline. Not much I can do...

By five oclock, I've shot one interview, and spent about four hours searching for video somebody else had already shot. I've been a bit useless, but oh well. Tomorrow is a new day, and I'm sure I'll be busy enough...

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