Neal Augenstein

Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

Talking #iphonereporting with AARP

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2014 at 9:57 am

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Had a fabulous #iphonereporting training session with a couple dozen members of AARP‘s social media and TV teams, with lots of how-tos, and discussion about content that can be generated on a mobile device.

Click on this Storify to see what we talked about.

New Samsung S5 sounds better than iPhone

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2014 at 5:58 am

 

When I started #iphonereporting in 2010,  only the iPhone had the hardware and software capable of recording great-quality audio in the device’s built-in microphone, doing precise editing and mixing, and sharing a fully-produced audio wrap.

An Android phone is catching up, quickly.

The built-in microphone of the new Samsung S5 with the phone’s Voice Recorder app sounds every bit as good — perhaps better — than the iPhone 5 recorded into Voice Memos.

Here’s an A-B test:

 

To my ears, the S5 sounds warmer than the iPhone 5, with better bass response, but plenty of brightness, too

On the downside for the S5, there is noticeable wind distortion several times throughout the recording, although I’m confident slipping a windscreen over the bottom of the phone will eliminate the problem.

While the iPhone 5’s built-in microphone sounds a bit tinnier, it does a better job of capturing the ambient sounds of birds tweeting than the S5.

Both the S5 and iPhone 5 produce .m4a files, and are easily trimmed and emailed or sent as SMS attachments.

 The fatal flaw for #iphonereporting

The audio improvement in Android hardware and software is great news for journalists who encourage newsmakers to turn a smartphone into a microphone during a landline interview — more interviewees can now provide great-sounding audio.

However, I still haven’t discovered a powerful, easy-to-use multitrack audio editing application for Droid — and that’s a major problem.

The goal of #iphonereporting is to be able to record, edit, and transmit finished pieces entirely on the mobile device.

There are several iOS editing apps available, which can do the fine-tuning, snipping, moving, and overlaying needed for professional-sounding content.

Apple hasn’t substantially improved its built-in microphone since I got my first 3GS.

Samsung has done its part to close the hardware gap, let’s see which Android developer wants to become the mobile journalism rock star.

Let me know if you have any questions.

(BTW, AT&T provided the S5 used in this testing)

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.

#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!

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.

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.

Twitter chat on #iphonereporting

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2013 at 8:29 am

Participated in a great Twitter chat hosted by PBS MediaShift, sharing tips and strategies on #iphonereporting.

Click here to see the Twitter chat

Let me know if you have any follow-ups!

Cheapest, most important accessory for #iphonereporting

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

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A microphone windscreen costs under five dollars at any music store or online, yet it’s the most important accessory for #iphonereporting.

The built-in microphone of the iPhone is very susceptible to wind — even a stiff breeze can ruin a recording.

Yet, a simple windscreen has allowed me to use my iPhone during coverage of a hurricane.

Just slide the bottom of the iPhone into the windscreen (remember the built-in mic is just to the left of the charging port) and you’ll be fine.

Looks silly? Maybe. Works? Yep.

Instagram video tutorial

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Vine’s got some major competition.

Instagram can now shoot 15 seconds of video, compared with Vine’s 6. You can choose one of 13 filters, select a cover frame, and share easily.

I’ve been pretty outspoken that while Vine and Instagram are capable of easy, fun, and in some cases very artistic videos, there are better alternatives for #iphonereporting.

Unless you’re just shooting and posting, shooting and posting, shooting and posting, editing counts — and you can’t do much of it on Vine or Instagram.

In Instagram you can delete your most recent snippet, Vine has no editing.

In a real news situation, I’d likely shoot with the built-in camera, edit in Voddio, upload to YouTube, and tweet it.

Still, there is something to be said for fun.