Connecting Digital Rounding, AIDET’s, and Key Words at Key Times

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When I was re-reading Chapter 3 of Hardwiring for Excellence, I connected with a letter written to to Quint from a director who attended one of his conferences. His name is Antonio and he spoke about three things he implemented in his department:

  • Rounding for Outcomes
  • Key Words at Key Times with Key Actions
  • The Pillars of Excellence
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WDBJ Shooting – It could have been me OR any of my colleagues!

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I have to say I am speechless. I am having a hard time articulating how much this is bothering me. This blog post is by no means trying to make this situation about “me”…but it could have been me. Yes…I was that guy, that photojournalist. They had no idea…none!

This comes almost a few days after the ten year anniversary of Katrina. I was a part of a crew that covered Katrina for Belo Corporation, who owned WWL-TV. Yes, we flew helicopters over areas where people were stranded, many of whom were trying to get our attention hoping we would help them. Some used guns to shoot at us while flying over, mainly to get our attention…we could not land because of the location and the danger.

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Stop the talking heads and flapping lips on social video! :)

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Yes…stop it. No one wants to hear your rants and dialogue? Just because you have an iPhone and video camera…it just is not working. People want more than you flapping your lips and ranting your thoughts on Facebook and Instagram.

I feel the old newsroom junkie in me coming out in this rant. My old news director used to preach to us…do not let me see your talking head during your live shots. People want you to show and tell, give the audience the opportunity to explore the story visually.

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Sharing Brittny’s Story at Fashion with a Passion 2015

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In January we had the opportunity to meet Brittany Speed, a survivor of domestic violence. We sat down to capture her story and we were amazed with her path, how she came to Safe Harbor, and how her story is empowering others.

Our friends at Safe Harbor asked us to capture, tell, and share Brittny’s story as a featured video for their March event called Fashion with a Passion.

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Storytelling, Apple, and Anderson University

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There is nothing more exciting than to see one of your clients being recognized by world wide brand. I was asked to join our friends at Anderson University to watch a special announcement. On Thursday, February 12th, Apple came to Anderson University to present a special recognition.

Anderson University’s Henderson Auditorium was packed with faculty, staff, students, community leaders and they had a few special guests on stage. Two representatives from Apple came to present Anderson University with the Apple Distinguished School designation for 2014-16.

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A Brave New World – C100 & 5D mkiii Combined

The shift has happened and a brave new world is opening for the way I capture and tell stories. For years, I have been trying to find a new way that combines my love for digital images and motion into one platform for digital photojournalism.

I have always tried to purchase cameras that match the workflow where I was trained; ENG or electronic news gathering. The equipment I always purchased matched the tools in the television news realm of ENG. Remember, I used to be a television new photojournalist. Television news cameras, audio, and lighting workflows was one of efficiency regardless of the situation.

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writing for the spoken word…chocolate chip cookie please!

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It sometimes takes a different viewpoint to write for the video and television medium. Many times translating our thoughts takes a different viewpoint. I sometimes have to get a coffee and cookie to work on a script.

I often find those I am working with on the project have a hard time seeing the words translate into the video medium. Specifically, each medium we use to communicate whether it be email, tweets, or video…the final written word is different for each medium.

I think and write as if I am writing for television, I write in the spoken word. I write as I imagine saying the words and find myself using the “…” as pauses or places for emphasis. Sometimes I use all lower cases to illustrate a soft tone, even not capitals for the word at the beginning of a paragraph for smoother spoken transitions. Then  ALL CAPS for emphasis of intensity or shouting.

I challenge those I am working with to sit back and read the whole script out loud. Speak it…say it…deliver it using your voice.

Listening to the script instead of saying it takes on a whole new medium. It is hard to write for the spoken word, we explain thing differently using our out loud voices. We pause for emphasis, we say words differently than in written format, we even omit words that are unnecessary.

Writing for the spoken word is like writing for a spoken conversation. You say a phrase and wait for a response, allowing your audience to adjust to your statement. You want the audience to not only hear your words but feel your words.

Writing for the spoken word still embodies the idea of telling stories. If you are writing a 30 second PSA for television, you do not want to share your closing thought in the middle of the script…unless that is the parenthetical design of delivery.

Or for that 30 second PSA or television spot…we do not want to cram 29 seconds of words into a 30 second final product…unless we do not want someone to breathe while listening. People need to breathe when listening, digest your creative thoughts, and store them in a way to remember your message.

I always encourage those who are writing for television or video to read the script out loud while recording yourself. Yes…then play it back and listen to the delivery. How about recording yourself with a video camera…reading the script to see the expressions in the lines of words, hear the pauses…feel the delivery. Many times…you will find the places to re-write and refine because now you see and her the script in the context of the audience.

Now it is time for a bite of that chocolate chip cookie!

Are you a storyteller? A practitioner or a technician?

So as I was sitting in the morning church service, there was a piano selection performed right at the beginning. As I was sitting there listening to this beautiful melody coming out of this grand piano; I thought this grand piano has been sitting at the front for a long time but I have yet to notice how beautiful it sounds. The soloist was playing this instrument in a way that brought out the tremendous musical range. The soloist was completely engaged with the piano, focused on the song, the notes, the stanzas. Why have I never noticed this piano before?

The audience was completely engaged in the music, tied to every note, anticipating the next stanza, watching as the soloist’s hands interacted with the keys, playing notes with methodical movements from one to the next. The piano has the potential to play that well…but it is the soloists interpretation of the music selection as she used this instrument to bring the story of the song to the ears of the audience.

About a week ago, I had someone question me whether the advent of Flip Video devices would create a drastic reduction in online video production industry? A great question. But as I listened to this soloist interact with this grand piano, I began to think about this question even more. My first response to this individual was simply whether I am using a Flip Video device, a high definition pro-sumer camera, or a $70K Sony HDCAM….it is not the device that tells the story…it is the practitioner who interprets the technology to create and deliver the story.

True practitioners, real storytellers know how to evolve with technology and maximize it’s potential to meet the needs of an audience. I think of a story I produced a few years ago about an Opera Singer on his way to re-merge as an Opera Sinder, my friend Ron Gattis.

When I first started working in video production (broadcast video production), I used what was called BetaCAM video devices. The camera weighed 30lbs and was the size of medium size briefcase positioned on my shoulder or on a tripod heavier than the camera itself. We would take the results of the video taping and use two large BetaCAM decks (Two large VCR’s) to edit between in a linear mode. One mistake and there was no going back…time to re-edit. Using that set-up, I won six Emmy Awards and numerous other AP awards for Television Excellence.

I tell this story…and many journalists before me endured broadcast video camera larger than this where the camera was split into two pieces.

Now, I work with a camera less than half the size, half the price, and edit on a laptop. I can deliver my stories to audiences broader than the DMA I was working in during my broadcast television days. I put the video into the laptop and can move the video around, manipulate it in ways that would take a major post-production house of 10 years ago tons of money and weeks of production.

The technology is changing, but I still have to use it appropriately to deliver a high quality story in a manner that allows the audience forget they are watching this story on a screen, remove their peripheral vision. Whether it is a theatre or a computer screen…I want to create that story within an interface that is interactive. You know what I mean, that moment when you are sitting in a movie and you are so involved with the story-line, you forget you are in a theatre. It is all about being in the “Zone” from both an audience perspective and a practitioner perspective.

Do you think that if the soloist was given a keyboard device that was no bigger than a laptop, she could render a melody worth sitting and listening too? Do you think Ansel Adams could render a beautiful landscape using a pin-hole camera that was created from a Quaker Oats cylinder? The ability for a practitioner to tell a story is embedded in our DNA, whether it is a Flip Video Camera or beautiful state of the art Grand Piano.

So next time you hear that beautiful melody/harmony coming from a Grand Piano…think for a minute, is it the Grand Piano rendering those beautiful notes….or is the vision of the soloist interpreting the potential of those keys and bringing you the audience into “their” world. I love telling visual stories!

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