The Hilltopics experiment

Anybody who’s seen my print work knows I don’t often venture into other ways of storytelling. However, I know that as a journalism student, I shouldn’t restrict my efforts to one area.

That’s why I was excited when the art director at Bradley Hilltopics asked me to think of video ideas for the upcoming issue. After taking a look at the list of stories on tap for Winter 2012, I decided our best bet would be the groundbreaking at the new Pi Beta Phi house.

I’ve never actually had all creative control over a video before. Usually I relied on a team to help out with some particular aspect since most video work I’ve done has been for class. Usually I worked on pre-production while somebody shot the video and somebody else edited it. Remember, I helped produce six commercials last spring.

I felt confident in myself based on what I’ve seen from my classmates. So, on probably the windiest day of the year, I took my little tripod and MiniDV cam over to Fredonia and Institute to film the groundbreaking.

Here’s what I came out with.

There are things I like and I don’t like.

Overall, I like this video because it was something new for me to do. My editors thought I could pull it off and I didn’t want to disappoint. The magazine hasn’t ventured into video yet, so I was in a place where I could set the bar. The other video I put their brand on them was actually a recycled video I did for a digital journalism class.

I think the video is “good enough,” but I hate settling for “good enough.” Unfortunately, I had to in this case.

The overall video quality isn’t at the level I was hoping for, both because of the camera and because of the lack of external microphone. Given how windy it was, though, it could have come out a lot worse.

I also don’t have a copy of Final Cut Pro, so I had to learn iMovie ’11. Some of the lower thirds are off by a few pixels because of how they lined up. That’s as best as I could get them.

As it relates to composition, I knew something was off when I set up the shot with Stephanie. I just didn’t know what. It finally hit me when I imported the footage: She should be on the right side of the frame with the sign on the left.

I’m glad to say that I think the Hilltopics experiment worked since I delivered something my colleagues said they enjoyed. The video complements the story that will appear in print and on the Web. Thankfully it doesn’t overlap too much, a fear I had as I knew an editor (and alumnae) was covering the event, as well.

I just hope that whoever replaces me at the magazine as I graduate in a few weeks blows this video out of the water.

By Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is a B2B marketing professional, a black belt martial arts instructor, DDP Yoga instructor, and a personal trainer.