Neal Augenstein

Posts Tagged ‘iphonereporting’

Here’s a phone, go be a reporter

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm

It sounds ridiculous, and it is.

Far too many news organizations — most notably newspapers — have tossed smartphones to trained journalists, and expected them to assume new responsibilities, and immediately deliver the same quality content they did on traditional gear.

I consider that journalistic malpractice.

While news managers have noticed #iphonereporting can deliver professional audio, video, photography, text, and social media far cheaper than on legacy gear, few empower their employees with strategies, tools, and freedom to create.

Consider the award-winning photojournalists and print reporters who have been told they are expected to suddenly execute their perfected craft on a tiny consumer-grade device.

Concerns about quality are well-founded — it is easy to produce junky content on a smartphone.

Yet, with some creative thinking and consideration about what smartphones do and don’t do well, it is possible (and fun) to tell beautifully-produced stories.

Reporting on mobile devices isn’t better or worse than “the way we’ve always done it” — it’s another way to inform and entertain.

The phone is a tool. That’s it.

A photojournalist’s trained eye and years of experience in framing shots and knowledge of lighting, pacing, and visual storytelling is going to produce a more polished nuanced report than a would-be reporter armed only with an iPhone and apps.

A radio reporter who knows how to use natural sound to bring a listener to the scene is going to be better-equipped than a person who is presented with a phone and some apps, and told “go be a reporter.”

To my way of thinking, the most exciting aspect of #iphonereporting is the freedom to tell stories in the manner best-suited for the story.

Sometimes what’s happening is best portrayed by a reporter and newsmaker. Or, just the newsmaker’s voice. Or a montage of photos with natural sound. Or a series of short videos. Or a single photo.

Allowing journalists the freedom to tell stories in unconventional, and still-to-be-discovered ways is the most empowering and smartest thing a news manager can do to help newsrooms transition to #iphonereporting.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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#iphonereporting when you lose the Internet

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

Since #iphonereporting involves data transmission,  you need an Internet connection.

As everyone knows, sometimes you can’t connect to the Net because the service is down, or because too many people are using it.

So, I always tell clients to have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

I shared some workarounds with On The Marc Media.

Marc Blank-Settle of the BBC pulled together a Storify on options for mobile journalists when you’re out of touch with the Internet.

Let me know if you have any questions!

#iphonereporting tip for windy days

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2014 at 11:49 am

The iPhone is very susceptible to wind, even a moderate breeze.

The problem is, while it’s difficult to hear when you playback your audio on your iPhone, wind gets magnified by a radio or TV station’s audio processing chain, and the listener hears a very distorted sound.

For 3 bucks, buy a regular microphone windscreen from Amazon.

Here’s the workaround:

Rather than standing outside to record your track or natural sound, sit in your car and open all or some of your windows.

Turn your head to the left (or right if you’re in England) and read out your window.

The car will block the wind, but will allow the natural sound in.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Another Voddio workaround….

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2013 at 9:42 pm

VeriCorder’s Voddio – my audio and video multi-track editing application of choice – has been severely affected by iOS 7 Touch User Interface.

Recently, I and several Voddio users,  including BBC’s Nick Garnett and WTOP’s Ari Ashe experienced  problems in the Editing screen of the application, trying to move selections along and around the timeline.

After sending a video of my frustrating user experience to VeriCorder’s Kirk Symons, he was able to explain what the problem was, and how to deal with it.

Essentially, I was working too fast for Voddio, and confusing it.

“When you are tapping and sliding all at once, the UI is not being able to determine which Touch action you are trying to do,” Symons wrote in an email.

The solution: when touching the clip you want to move, hold it until a blue flash appears.

The blue flash “is the feedback to show that the UI has indicated that it recognized your intention to Move the clip,” says Symons.

Symons acknowledges the user interface determination was faster in the older iOS 6, but VeriCorder and other companies are dealing with the dramatic changes Apple imposed with iOS 7.

I’m pleased that VeriCorder’s top guns were willing to exchange emails and get on the phone to explain the workaround, but that shouldn’t have been necessary. I’m not sure why the company hasn’t tweeted the fix or included it on their website.

I do know customers who have purchased Voddio for #iphonereporting trust that it will work dependably. I hope VeriCorder will live up to that trust.

Adding Google Glass to #iphonereporting

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm

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Today was my first attempt at combining Google Glass with #iphonereporting.

WTOP purchased Glass a month ago, and I’ve been experimenting with it in the newsroom.

To be honest, I’ve been disappointed with the quality of the audio that’s recorded in videos shot with Glass.

While the video images are nice, my narrations have been distorted, and audio of anyone I’m holding a conversation with is almost inaudible.

To conduct an interview, it was clear I would have to record the audio on another device and sync it with the video.

This first video contains audio recorded on Glass. It’s tinny, distorted, and wind-affected.

This second video contains audio recorded on iPhone in VoiceMemo, and synced in post-production. In my opinion, it’s superior to audio recorded on Glass.

First impression: This is an awful lot of work to complete a basic reporter task. Even if something is technologically possible, if you end up doing MORE work than before, it’s hardly worth it.

I’m hoping Glass developers have improvements in audio hardware, software, and user experience on their radar.

iOS 7: How it’s affecting #iphonereporting

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Any operating system update invariably results in changes: some for the good, some bad, some totally unexpected.

I’ll keep adding to this list, so if you post or see any tweets about how iOS 7 affects #iphonereporting, send them to @AugensteinWTOP,

 

Voddio bug with iOS 7: The problem and the fix

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm

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The new multi-tasking protocols in iOS 7 will inadvertently STOP RECORDING AUDIO if the screensaver kicks in, or if the Screen Lock button is pressed.

Here’s the fix:

Change the Auto-Lock timer to “Never” before starting a recording session.

You can make this switch in Settings, in the General category.

The down side: the “Never” setting chews up battery life.

Vericorder is aware of the bug, and apparently working on a fix.

As Voddio is my go-to field recording and editing app, I hope they find the fix quickly.

Thought you’d want to know….

iOS 7 update: How to turn your iPhone into a microphone

In Uncategorized on September 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Just say no to old-fashioned phone interviews.

With a few simple steps, a reporter or newsmaker can record near-studio-quality audio on an iPhone, using the built-in Voice Memos app.

The interface for iOS 7 is different than previous versions, but the principles remain the same.

In iOS 7, you can now email up to 15 minutes of audio – a big improvement over previous versions.

If the file is too large to email, Voice Memos allows basic trimming, in the Edit function.

iOS 7 has a very nice new Edit feature – the option to Save As New Recording, or Trim Original.

 

Pro tips on shooting video

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2013 at 10:58 pm

It’s easy to shoot video with an iPhone. It’s not easy to do it well.

The built-in camera on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch allows you to shoot High Definition video, but the challenge is knowing what to shoot, how to frame your subjects, and how to edit the images to tell your story in the most effective way.

One of the things I’ve learned since I started #iphonereporting is that shooting video isn’t ‘one size fits all.’

In some cases you’ll want to…

  1. Capture breaking news as its happening, and share it immediately.
  2. Do a quick edit to string-together a few video sequences.
  3. Create a polished movie.

iphonelandscape

How should I hold the iPhone?

Hold the phone horizontally, in the landscape orientation.

Photojournalist Van Applegate with WJLA, in Washington, D.C., says since a television screen is wider than it is tall, the camera should be held the same way.

“We’re often hampered in TV news by the layperson getting great video at the scene, shooting video vertically. This limits the quality, and our ability to enhance” the smartphone images, Applegate says.

Should I use the built-in camera app or a more sophisticated movie app?

I generally shoot video with the Apple native camera app, because in a breaking news situation I don’t want to be struggling to find and launch an app, even if it offers features the built-in app doesn’t have.

Glen Mulcahy, Innovation Lead with RTE Ireland, says while the convenience of the native Apple app is great, his favorite video app is FiLMiCPro ($4.99).

“The extra features like higher bitrate, audio monitoring, with on-screen LEDs and image stabilization are really a fantastic improvement on the native cam.

Mulcahy, who publishes a VJ Technology Blog, has been training journalists to use HDV Camcorders, HD capable DSLRs, and more recently smartphones to make multi-media content for 8 years – he shot this iPhone workflow tutorial with FiLMiCPro.

How should I frame the shots and how long should they be?

“Start wide, establishing the scene, then try to go tight,” says Applegate. “Most people just want to see what’s going on as if they were there, so I find a wide pan to be effective.”

Mulcahy tells his students to “look for the most interesting parts of the action and then capture those as the detail/close up shots.”

Without enforcing a specific order in which shots should be gathered, he suggests students “get 1 wide shot, 2 mids, and then 3 close ups.”

As for how long each shot should be, Mulcahy says “The general rule is either a minimum of 10 seconds or as long as the action requires, particularly if something is entering or leaving the scene.”

What are guidelines for editing video on a mobile device?

Since Applegate – whose Twitter handle is @VBagate – needs to devote his time and attention to shooting and editing video using his traditional TV camera, the content he shares on social media is usually unedited.

Applegate shoots his iPhone video using the free Tout “quick cast” software, which provides a speedy upload of a video segment that can be shared easily on social media.

Vine, which is free, provides an easy-to-use method of shooting up to 6 seconds of video, and quickly sharing through social media. I prefer the newer free Instagram video feature, which allows up to 15 seconds of video, and basic editing.

When editing a more involved project, Mulcahy’s strategy is simple: use your best shot first.

“The audience’s attention span is short. If you want their attention, you need to “hook” them at the start,” says Mulcahy. “This often means using a strong picture and ideally a strong natural audio track to set up the story.”

On the subject of audio, while I normally use the built-in microphone for #iphonereporting, it doesn’t work well for video.

The reason? To properly frame an interview subject requires several feet of distance between reporter and interviewee.

I recommend using a standard field microphone, like a Shure SM63 or Shure SM58, with a Vericorder XLR adapter cable, which allows the microphone to be much closer to the speaker’s mouth.

What video editing app do you recommend?

Mulcahy favors iMovie ($4,99) on iPhone and Pinnacle Studio ($12.99) on iPad.

I prefer Voddio (Free, with $9.99 in-app share upgrade)

The multi-track video and editing app works especially well on iPad, but even on iPhone the interface is clean and dependable, once you learn the swipes and gestures.

voddiovideo

So, there you go – a few basics on shooting video. Let me know if you have any questions.

Mobile, yes. Video, no.

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2013 at 12:36 am

Mobile is the future.

Everyone loves video.

Yet, video isn’t the answer on mobile.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

The problem with video: it’s not easily consumed on a tiny screen, and smartphone users aren’t willing to just sit and stare.

A recent marketing study by Experian shows users spend less than 1% of their time watching video.

And who can blame them? There are so many other tasks smartphone users want to try to fit in while grabbing a cup of coffee, waiting for a bus, or stopped at a traffic light.

Sure, there’s time to consume a 6-second Vine, or even a 15-second Instagram video, but a person rushing to check email, post on social media, and surf the web doesn’t have the inclination to concentrate on something that requires two senses, as watching and listening to a video does.

I contend a well-produced audio feature, is far better content for a smartphone or tablet.

ultimatetweet

A few months ago, I detailed the Ultimate Tweet, which lets a user simultaneously listen to an audio feature while viewing a photo montage.

My premise – when producing content for mobile, audio is better than video – does have some potential drawbacks:

  1. It’s more time-consuming to edit, write, voice, mix a longform audio feature than to shoot a Vine or Instagram video.
  2. Audio production is becoming a lost art, as fewer would-be journalists choose radio, in large part because of low salaries.
  3. The perception video is a better storytelling method than audio.

Granted, I enjoy consuming video on my iPhone as much as the next person, and there are times ‘moving pictures’ are the best way to tell a story.

My suggestion:  consider how users will receive your content, and choose the best tools for telling the story creatively.