From the Field Live

A live blog by CBC reporter Phonse Jessome


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  • Haven't done one of these for awhile and a few VJ's have been asking why. They understand the answer because they are too busy most of the time as well. That said I will offer this brief one today, because I caught myself being stupid at this accident scene this morning.
    I was out chasing accidents on slippery roads to file live radio traffic and news hits as well as pics for the web and TV video for later in the day. The usual. So I had the camera on my shoulder here where I was parked and got some shots of oncoming traffic and a pan to this scene. I was standing at the back of my tuck with nothing protecting me from oncoming traffic. Stupid move number one. I never do that but I felt rushed. Next I was not wearing any reflective clothing and I was about to walk across three lanes of slippery highway and climb over a cement median in traffic. That's inexcusable. I have the jacket in the truck and as I came to my senses I put it on. If you don't have one in your truck see your news director or station manager today. We play in traffic in less than ideal conditions with one eye closed and the other in a viewfinder. We need to be seen.
    My final stupid move was to stand at the median and shoot. That shot wasn't worth that risk. But we all do it.
    This one sounds like common sense advise and it is. But look at the car hanging off the guardrail. He knew he was driving on slushy icy roads. A little common sense would have saved him this headache.
    We don't have airbags or metal cabs to protect us. Try to pack some common sense with the camera today.
    To quote Sgt. Phil Esterhause from Hill Street Blues. Hey, let's be careful out there.
    Sorry. Couldn't resist. Next update will be more practical.

  • Focus is critical when you are shooting in challenging conditions under extreme time constraints. And no I don't mean that kind of focus. In this high def big screen world picture focus is always critical. I'm talking about story focus.

    As a VJ you get closer to the action than any other reporter. You have to because you are carrying the viewer on your shoulder and today's viewer expects to be in the thick of it. Being in some of those locations can be distracting and you have to fight that.

    We do some amazing things in this job but if you want to do the job well you can't take the time to enjoy the experience. You have to stay focused on the camera and the story.

    Consider yesterday. I was tethered to a Hercules aircraft at ten thousand feet. I was at the end of the open ramp shooting with my foot dangling, my boot bouncing in the slipstream. Now as I sit here that sounds like fun.

    The truth is I wasn't even thinking about where I was. I was preoccupied with the challenges of the shoot. Eleven search and rescue techs were about the jump and I needed enough video to tell an entire story. You miss a shot in a situation like that there is no redoing it.

    I was worried about the extreme light challenges. Dark inside the plane, brilliant sunlight and haze outside. I needed to follow the jumpers down the ramp and out into the light. That was priority one. I played with the neutral density filters and iris settings as we approached the jump point until I found the best combination. Once they start jumping it's too late.

    Next the cache. The back of a Herc is rock concert loud so there was no way for the jumpers to tell me when we were close. I had to keep the camera pointed at the lead jumper and wait. The cache running meant I had his first movements even though I hit record a second after he started.

    While I was doing that I was anticipating the movements of the next jumpers and how I wanted to frame them as they came into the shot. That was critical because there was such a short gap between jumpers.

    All camera operators must be in the middle of the action but as a VJ you need to think differently. You need to think story. What shots do I need. What sequences will help me tell this story. You need to see those shots clearly before they happen.

    The key to success in any extreme scenario is focus and anticipation. Both begin on the drive to the shoot. I work out a mental story board and imagine how it will unfold in the edit suite.

    In this case I knew I needed shots of the techs jumping out and free falling. Great video but certainly not enough to tell a full story. I wanted shots of the techs getting ready inside the plane. Looking out the open back. Checking each other's gear. Stuff you can anticipate. I gathered all of that video as we climbed to altitude.

    I developed a trick years ago that really helps on shoots like this. We all know how rushed we feel when we know we only get one crack at it, especially in a physically challenging environment. Again this speaks to focus. Because I have storyboarded the item I have a basic script in my head. As I shoot these cutaways I read the line I expect to use over the shot silently in my mind. I force myself to do it slowly. Make the camera movement or action on screen fit the script.

    Actually I do that on almost every shoot. It really pays off in the edit suite. It also forces you to put your head in the story and helps eliminate distractions.
    Like a slip stream that unties your boot.

  • The second hand sweeps toward the top of the clock. It's 5:55 in the morning and ready or not you're on. So begins another broadcast day.

    The blog has been silent for the past few weeks because I have not been in the field. I have, however, been in uncharted territory.

    I started working part time in this business when I was 17, been doing it full time since I was 19. Yet here I am at 51, a rookie again.

    At least this time around I am battle scarred enough to know the importance of figuring out what I don't know. The climb up that learning curve started when I slid the camera into the cabinet, shed the VJ gig and headed into the studio last month.

    I've been hosting CBC radio's Information Morning shows in Sydney and Halifax. What a ride.

    I anchored a TV newscast for a couple of years in the mid 90's. Trust me, for a pure adrenalin rush, two hours and forty minutes of live radio beats reading a TelePrompTer and making camera changes hands down.

    That of course is one of the things I didn't know. There are many others. Chief among them the critical importance of time management in live radio.

    The newscast at the top and bottom of the clock are hard timed. They begin whether you are finished interviewing the current guest or not.

    Information Morning is, as the name suggests, an information packed morning show. There are live guests in studio or on the phone ready to talk about the top stories of the day. Every few minutes a new guest and a new story. In the past I've been on the show reporting from some breaking story or other.

    As the host though you interview all the guests trying to draw out a complete picture for the listener. You have six minutes or so per guest. A lifetime I thought going in. A flash I know now.

    I won't begin to try to explain what it takes to be a good host. As I said I am a rookie and I don't know enough to take that on.

    What I did discover is how well suited a VJ mindset is to this new challenge. I've written before about the importance of prioritizing and juggling many tasks in the field. Especially in the file for all news world we live in now.

    A VJ has to be focused, efficient and comfortable accepting that you cannot ever get to everything. You prioritze or triage and hope for the best.

    You have one eye in the view finder, one on the clock and your mind's eye on what's next.

    Drop the viewfinder and slip in a guest instead and the mental gymnastics are pretty much the same.

    It's been fun feeling my way arpind the studio and the clock but the second hand just swept me out of the host's chair. Next week it's camera on the shoulder and back into the field. A radio ready VJ.

  • Ready set live. Just landed in a small town where I will be doing network hits in the morning. It's going to be my first time using the Dejero unit for a live hit. So of course I am worried about it.

    I have the luxury of time, a rarity in this game, so I took advantage of it and ran a test.

    The setup you see in the picture took five minutes from park the truck to ready to go live. I wanted to see how quickly I could be up and running because some day it will matter. No point in running a test if you aren't going to push it.

    As you can see there are only two cables. The white SDI cable runs from the XDCam to the Dejero. The black line is a power cable running to the inverter in my truck. That isn't necessary because the unit will run on two camera batteries. I prefer to use the inverter and save the batteries. Especially on a road trip like this.

    Cue line is just the iPhone and an earpiece. Dial in and you are hot.

    The real test here was for the network. They need to know if the signal strength here is enough to link up with minimal delay due to buffering. It is. I hooked up with the resource desk in Toronto for a test. We have a 1.5 second delay which is as fast as the Dejero gets.

    Success. So now I break down and go find the motel. In 13 hours we will do it for real.

    Amazing when you think what this technology allows. Five minutes after I arrive at a scene I am up and live to the network. No big cable runs. No big Sat truck. It is a network hit so at least I will have a camera operator. He arrives in the morning.

    Once I find the motel it's time to do some writing. You know, that reporter stuff.

  • You travel a lot in this job and when you do it's usually a grind. This time yesterday I did not expect to be where I am tonight. That happens.

    When it does it's important to stay on top of the gear. You have no backup on the road. Road work is work. It's not travel. If you catch a few sights great but it's not why you are out here.

    This was a 14 hour 470 kilometre day. So after that final deadline is met what's next.

    First, fill the tank. No, I don't mean hit the nearest pub or drive-thru. Take the truck to a gas station and fill it. At this point tomorrow is a mystery and may mean hitting the highway hard and early. You never want to start a day at the pumps. It is usually time you don't have. Do it at the end of the day no matter how burned you feel.

    Next find a room. Usually you can book something during the drive if you know where your day will end. I try for motels with sliding patio style doors in rooms off the parking lot. Makes loading and unloading easier. You want easy.

    Next get the gear set up and batteries charging in the room. Your room really is about the gear because tomorrow you will need it to be fresh even if you are not. Remember a VJ does not sign off with the final live hit or tape feed. After that you tidy up the cables and anything else you used today but will leave out in the truck overnight.

    Then when the gear and vehicle are ready my advice. Eat light and sleep. You want to be on top of your game when you are playing on someone else's home turf.

  • Okay. This is the second time I've had a post disappear on me after I tried to edit a typo. No idea what's happening but I am less than thrilled. Sort of funny that the scribble live app I post this blog with is acting up when the blog is in part about camera apps.

    I am not adding the picture to this rewrite because I deleted it after the first posting. It is still down there below this new version. I think.

    The point I was trying to make earlier was how sometimes a web picture fails as is the case below. Sometimes a remote blog posting also fails.

    In this case I had my main camera set up for the changing light conditions just before sunrise and was waiting for the plane that was the subject of my story to arrive. I knew it was five minutes out.

    Becaus there is always demand for content even when nothing is really happening I often find ways to shoot my camera and tweet that. It shows that we are on the ground and ready and gives a sense of action to a scene. All I was doing was letting people know the plane was coming and would be there in five. Not a lot but something.

    I always send a picture with any tweet. It helps the web editor back at the station who is trying to build a bigger story around the information I provide. I also think it gives twitter followers a little something extra.

    The problem here is the iPhone camera. It only allows limited exposure choices. If I exposed on the camera body the sky exploded. Exposing on the sky left the camera too dark. I tried to compensate by including the monitor on the side of the camera. It didn't work.

    I know there are better more robust camera apps and have tried a few but one thing you have to remember to do this job is how to do it efficiently. I am a VJ who also files to radio and the web. The technology around all of it is changing so fast it is dizzying.

    I need a camera app that is seamless. Take the picture. Tap and tweet. Done. Move on to other tasks. So far the iPhone camera is the fastest and despite it's limitations I use it.
    I guess the picture below is proof that isn't always the best policy. But I got great shots and sounds with the main camera as the plane arrived. I wasn't tied up playing with an app. That is what counts. As for tweeting a sub par pic. A swing and a miss. Just keep swinging.
  • Sometimes the toughest thing for a VJ is knowing when to forget about the camera. Just let it sit.

    On some stories you will witness a powerful moment, a perfect shot or opening sound byte and not pull the trigger. Not even look into the viewfinder. That sounds like heresy but hang in there.

    This mother's story is a good example. The details are in my other blog. It lives beside or below this one. I'm never sure of the web geography because I write this on my iPhone and can't see the web page. If you find and read it you'll see what I mean.

    The point here is simple. As VJ's we can't get so caught up in the technical side of the storytelling that we lose the human side. We deal in human tragedy a lot. It's never easy nor should it be.

    When you are asking someone to revisit a personal trauma you need to know they are going through powerful emotions in front of you. They need eye contact. Sometimes they need a hand to hold. They need to know you feel it with them.

    That's what they need from you. You need video to tell their story. How do you accomplish both?

    I take a few minutes before I even lock the camera onto the tripod to connect. I thank them first and offer condolences when appropriate.

    I explain the technology and apologize in advance for time I will spend with my eye in the viewfinder during the interview. I tell them there are meters in the viewfinder that I need to monitor. It's a little thing but it helps.

    Then I ask if they are ready to share their story with our viewers. I chat a bit about the camera as I set it up. It is an intimidating monster and you really need to help them relax with it.

    Then we begin. In this interview you can see my relatively loose framing. I do not push to the tears when they flow. I feel the urge but I don't do it. We live in a high-def big screen world. The tears will show. Heresy again I know.

    At the end of the interview I shut the camera off and sit with the guest. The VJ voice in my head is begging for cutaways at this point. Asking for sequences. Shots of photographs of the dead. All the things I lnow I need. I ignore it.

    This is where I see those shots I am not getting. As they breath easier off camera they often tell more, they feel more. I resist the camera and give them that eye contact and understanding they need. I can use what ever new infornation they give in the writing back at the station.

    Later as they relax, I explain the need for more video and help them through it.

    You might think it is better to have a separate camera operator on a shoot like that. It is. But only if that person has the right skill set.

    I've seen situations fall apart when a cameraman asks for the wrong thing at the wrong time. You can lose a person who is overcome with emotion in a heartbeat. It's a delicate balance.

    That said, I've worked with two cameramen on stories like this who have a gift.

    Peter Dawson a colleague on the CBC french network side is one. He and his camera seemed to disappear in a kitchen as a mother cried and told me about her son. This was only minutes after the Coast Guard called off the search for his body. It was an intense moment and he did nothing to add to it. It was like he wasn't there.

    The other is Murray Titus. He flies around in a helicopter shooting on the west coast now. He has the ultimate camera gig. And he is magic in the field.

    I'll never forget how he blended into the scenery shooting every moment as a woman stood with me beside a mass grave in Bosnia. Her husband, son and grandson were among the dead.

    I heard her sobs and birds chirping. I didn't hear the two hundred pound cameraman make a single move. She didn't see him.

    You're not likely to find someone that good. Your best bet is the VJ code. Depend on yourself. Learn to be a compassionate person first and a technician second. Your story will be better for it.

  • For a VJ in a fully integrated newsroom being on THE breaking story is a wild ride. We cover breaking news constantly but you can't do this job and not occasionally end up in the centre of a real storm.

    At 5am I was racing to the airport. A plane was inbound after the pilot reported an engine fire and declared a mayday. You can feel the slamming of the secondhand at times like that.

    The plane landed at the same time I did. I ran through the terminal to the upper level observation deck. The best spot to get a shot of anything happening out there. I spotted a slow moving airliner trailing a parade of fire trucks. Bingo. I set up the tripod and locked the camera in position.

    Now at this point I should be concentrating entirely on camerawork. If flames burst from the engine or passengers started sliding down the inflatable ramp I had to get broadcast quality shots.

    The horizon was hinting at pale blue, the field was mostly black, the aircraft was being painted by a strobe of multi coloured flashing lights. The distance and darkness were real issues as well. There are camera choices to be made.

    It's not a point and shoot gig. I chose auto white tracking, flicked on the double extender and popped the gain up to 24db to deal with the loss of light that causes.

    Once the camera is set I should be in the view finder following the action. But. By now I can hear the howling of the desk demons. They live in the desk and scream for content 24/7. Much louder if they smell a big meal like this. The demon keepers who ride the desk were already pinging my iPhone and begging for content. Right. The J in VJ is for journalist. I need to get information to feed the beasts.

    Here is the list. The radio editor needs a few lines of copy for heads and the 5:30 cast. The web editor needs a picture and even more information. Now. That's local demand. An airliner mayday and possible fire attracts the network radio and 24 hour TV desks as well. Our assignment editor was waking a backup camera operator but for now it was all mine.

    So. How do you juggle the demands of the all news all the time multi platform world we work in when your story is the one they want now?

    First. Your top priority is sitting on that tripod. Remember, if it didn't happen on camera it didn't happen. Ignore the desk. Let them have some of the adrenalin. Speaking of that. Be careful, time lies when you ride the A train.

    Slow yourself down. Take a series of long slow shots. Longer than you think you'll need. Writing in the viewfinder helps. Read a line of copy silently as you get the shot. See it on air not just in the black and white space in front of you. Force yourself to get cutaways. Shot of the tower across the airfield against the brightening sky. Couple of tights of fire trucks. The planes lined up at the terminal. Keep your left eye on the target plane as you get that done.

    Now. Lock the camera on the plane. This is where that cache feature I posted about earlier really pays off. I knew I didn't have to keep recording. I had six seconds to react if flames erupted from the engine or that ramp dropped.

    Second priority. Get a picture to the web and get content to the web and radio editors. Twitter can let you do both at once. I took an iPhone pic of the monitor on the side of my camera showing the locked off shot. Tweeted that with what I did know.

    I hadn't made a single call yet but that doesn't mean there was nothing to report. Just send the simple facts. I could see there was an emergency landing. That fire crews were surrounding the plane. I sent a few tweets describing what I could see. You'd be surprised how just a few facts can slow the demand. Give them something to chew on. It buys you time. You need time now to gather facts.

    Third. Chase hard with the phone so you can fill out the story. Always keeping an eye on the plane and your camera. This is where it really pays to have good contacts who you trust and who trust you. No one will officially comment while an incident is only minutes old. If they trust you they will talk. But that stuff is basic journalism and believe me if you want to be a VJ you better have the J side locked down because the camera is a task master.

    Final step. Connect to the control room with that handy iPhone app that gives broadcast quality audio and begin the live-hit parade.

    In this case no fire, no injuries and the demands fell off after an hour or so. Fine by me.

    Well, one more demon to feed. Post a blog.

  • I like fog, usually. It gives atmosphere to certain scenes. Fog shrouding a tree line like this can be a good story telling tool.

    Unless, that is, the story has nothing to do with the kind of supernatural feel fog can create. That's my issue here. I arrived early to get a sense of the area I will be shooting in only to find it hidden behind a heavy fog.

    My original plan was to shoot the opening of this story compressed from a slight distance. You can draw the viewer in that way. There are filters that help in the fog but when it's this thick even they won't work. Time to rethink the opening and some of the other shots I had in mind.

    I am big on having a tentative shot list in mind when heading out on a shoot. VJ's have enough to worry about so having the list helps free me up to worry about other story related issues or just plain journalism.

    The thing about having the tentative shot list is that while it can save time on a shoot it can also prove to be a waste of time if you get there and the shots can't work. So now I need a new visual approach to this item. One that works in a heavy fog.

  • You shoot from moving platforms quite often out here. It can be fun, but it's uaually hard work.

    You'll shoot from planes, helicopters, boats and pretty much anything on wheels. It's always a challenge. Motorcycles are particularly difficult and dangerous. Difficult because your range of movement is so restricted and dangerous because your movement back there can momentarily take control of the bike away from the rider. Not a good moment.

    A gopro locked to the frame is by far the best option but this week I needed more than a gopro would get so I saddled up with the XG on my shoulder. I've done it a few times. If you haven't here are a few things to consider before you try.

    First and most important, don't do it unless the rider taking you out has several years of two up riding experience as an absolute minimum. Ideally, you want someone with specialized training. A police rider or someone who teaches safety courses. You don't want your attempt to get video to end up as a YouTube moment for someone else, or worse.

    Next. Make a mental shot list before you go. What do you need to tell the story. I wanted tight and medium shots of bikes on the road and rolling highway shots that showed how close cars get to a bike in merging and multi lane situations.

    To get what I needed I knew I would be shooting left and right from my shoulder and I would lower the camera into my lap to shoot tights of wheels, boots and the pavement.

    Once you have your shots and camera positions clear in your mind tell your rider. Then get on the back of the bike and let the rider stand holding it centred as you move the camera into the positions you'll use. Our cameras are heavy and will altar the feel of the bike. Best for him or her to get a sense of it. Listen carefully to what he doesn't want you to do. Like shift the camera quickly in the middle of a turn when the bike is already leaning.

    Finally, communicate out there. You need to take control of the bike. Let him know if you want to speed up, slow down, make a second pass at a shot or get closer to the subject. You may be in back but you can't sit there and be a passenger. You are both out there for one reason. It's about the camera. Make sure it gets what it needs.

  • I don't remember when gopro cameras became such a fixture in the business but it seems every ENG operator has one now. I was assigned one today. Late to the party.

    Up until now I've been balancing the iPhone on the GPS mount on the windshield to get driving shots. It works. But it isn't a secure mount.

    Speaking of mounts. The reason for this post. Take a look at the base in the picture. That plastic mount is part of the packaging the camera came in. It holds it in the display window in the box. It is supposed to be disposable. I don't think so.
    I cut it out of the box and applied Velcro to the bottom and the dashboard. Now I have a locked shot showing centre line through right hand shoulder of the road. I put a similar block of Velcro on the opposite side of the dash for a shoulder through left hand lane angle. One in the middle for straight ahead.

    Added bonus. I now have a permanent mount to lock the thing on so it doesn't fight for precious space in the bottom of a kitbag in the back.

    I still have the actual mounts that came with the thing to play with. I'm thinking front and rear bumper cams.

  • A few weeks ago I mentioned the new Dejero Live unit that frees us up from Satellite trucks and remote telco feed drops. Now I've used it often enough to see its shortfall.

    Don't get me wrong it is amazing that something that small can let us go live from the field. Trouble is the further into the field I go the less reliable it becomes.

    The box latches onto the signals from all available cell providers and bunches them together to make a pipe big and fast enough to jam broadcast quality video and audio through.

    Works great in the city where cell signals are plentiful and strong. I'm in Yarmouth feeding right now. 300 kilometres from the city. If you look at the top left hand corner of the unit you see the 7.9 second delay. I had to slow it to that speed in the set up menu to allow it to buffer and package the content and slip it through.

    Here in Yarmouth cell service is not as plentiful. It is raining right now so I have the box inside the truck and the unit has lousy antennae. Both facts combine to give me a weak signal. One that will not handle the size of the digital package I am trying to feed it without that delay. I tried it just turns to digital garbage. Even with the strongest signal there is a 1.8 second delay. So it never really is live.

    I'm fine now feeding raw tape back but if I had to go live it would look like I was standing here for eight seconds after the host asked me a question. Again it would be fine if I was sending back "live" pics of a fire or other news scene where the delay would go unnoticed. Just no way for me or a guest to speak live to the host from here right now.

    Technology is advancing quickly and it is making TV faster and more mobile. Just don't retire the Sat truck yet.

    Post script. Now I'm parked beside a cell tower outside of town refeeding the video. The editor called after the first feed. The quality was just not there. Like I said hang on to the truck.

  • This picture shows how combining technology can help tell a breaking story from the field.

    The tan briefcase sitting on the far side of the bus shelter caused quite a stir. For almost two hours the bomb squad shut down part of downtown Halifax. Someone called 911 to report a "suspicious package" left at the bus stop. The caller used a pay phone and refused to leave his name.

    That behavior was suspicious enough. Given events in Boston over the past week it's fair to say police were extremely cautious.

    We were kept a relatively safe distance from the bag. It is a strange part of this business that I found myself negotiating with police to get closer to the briefcase.

    Bomb squad tech said if you can see it, it can see you and that's a bad thing. My response. If I can't see it I can't cover it. So seeing it became the challenge. Once we agreed on a distance I flipped the extender switch doubling the reach of the lens and locked off the camera . This is the shot I got. Not bad for TV but what about the web and twitter. They were screaming for content.

    No way to extend the reach of the iPhone camera. It has great quality and its ability to send images directly to the web makes it a rock star out here. That said it really is useless if you are not on top of the subject. Enter the colour monitor on the side of the new cameras. I grabbed this shot of the monitor with the iPhone. While marginal it was enough to satisfy the demand for immediate content from the web crowd.

    Oh, the brief case was just a brief case. Good drill for the bomb squad robot and my iPhone.

    In fairness to the iPhone I am posting this from a parking lot in Yarmouth while waiting for the rain to stop so I can get a shot I need for today's story. Like I said. Rock star.

  • Sometimes you have to be pushy out here. It's never comfortable and can leave people with the impression you are - well, pushy.

    At times like this it shouldn't be necessary. Oh, but it was. That's Economic Development Minister Percy Paris against a brilliant backdrop in Yarmouth.

    Almost 24 hours earlier his department notified us that he would be making a Ferry related announcement at this restaurant early the next morning. That's big news in Yarmouth and his department knows it.

    I left at 4:30am to get there for it. I figured I was driving into the usual professionally staged event. Nope.

    Arrived to find no audio board, no podium, no backdrop, nothing at all. Well, there was a helpful restaurant employee with no idea where the minister would be speaking or where I should set up.

    So with the viewer in mind, not the minister, I picked that wall. It was the only one not filled with windows so it was the only choice.

    So the tables and chairs already in place had to go, the arriving guests in search of seats be damned. The podium used by the greeter at the restaurant was taken from the entry and shoved against the wall.

    You can see it is far from perfect. A little ugly actually, but my job isn't to stage it. If forced to do it I will go with the barest minimum. I needed a head and shoulders shot, some side shots for cutaways and sound. Oh right, no audio board either.

    I pinned a mic. on the minister's lapel while he was chatting up the Mayor. I did say excuse me as I grabbed his jacket. Now at this point the room was filled with people waiting for him to speak and he wanted to glad hand. But in this gig you must impose yourself on him and in this case on the room itself to do the job. When he finished speaking and stood to the side of the podium smiling, I left my camera, walked up, pulled my mic. from his jacket and pinned it to the next speaker. Pushy.

    In the end I didn't use the minister in the item. Maybe his office saw that coming and didn't bother.

  • You spend a lot of time waiting for the shot you need out here. The cache feature on the new cameras makes life so much better.

    I spent the past half hour waiting at the side of a highway. I need a good shot of a motorcycle in heavy traffic for the story I am doing.

    This picture shows the shot I framed as I started to wait for a bike to roll into view. Of course if I hit record when the bike rolls into frame I have already missed a second or more of the shot.

    The green light at the top of the viewfinder and the word cache at the top of the screen tell me that is not a problem. In its cache mode the camera is constantly recording but it only saves the last six seconds. The cache time is flexible, I have mine set at six for suspect shots in court. Works fine for me at that interval.

    In this case when the bike rolls into the frame I hit record. The camera then adds video to the six seconds it has just saved. So when I get back to the station I have the option of backing the shot up to the point where the bike enters the picture just before I actually hit record.

    In a case like this when you are waiting for something that could happen at any second and will not be repeated cache is a game changer.

    Before you ask. It burns more power and battery life is critical out here. That's why we don't just leave the camera in cache all the time.

  • Working accident scenes like this is always a challenge. First it's about getting video and web stills in low light. Even though I know the scene will change at first light I always like to get the dark images as well. Something about that grainy middle of the night look that I like to use when ever possible. When a tractor trailer flips and dumps a load of fertilizer on the highway in the middle of the night you want to show the viewer how it looked in the middle of the night. The same is true at crime scenes or any other breaking news event.

    This morning I used 12db gain to suck in as much light as I could into the camera. I also turned on my LED fill light. It takes away from the grainy feel but I really did need it here. Also had to use the fill to get enough light for the stills for twitter and the web story.

    The other challenge here is safety. Shooting at an accident scene in the dark is dangerous. You keep one eye shut and focus on the information in the viewfinder. Kind of of makes you a cross between a moving pylon and a speed bump. This one was a bonus shoot because the RCMP closed the highway. There wasn't any oncoming traffic to worry about.

  • There it is. The new world order. Not exactly new, technology has been around a year or so. That makes it ancient I suppose. Still, this is my first time getting my hands on a Dejero.

    You hook the camera to the box for a live shot (slight delay) or to feed video. That's what I was doing here. The box reaches out to several cell providers, Bell, Rogers, Virgin etc. it gathers several signals amd combines them into one. It then splits the video into segments feeding them through this strapped together wider bandwidth stream.

    It reassembles it at the other end and pow no more need for remote drop boxes and Sat trucks. Cool.

    It is on the hood of the car because it is a little too cell sensitive. That's a problem. Antenna is not the best. As for the location. I did not pick it because of the coffee. It offered the best cell service/parking lot combo near the Pictou Courthouse. Down town Pictou didn't work.

    And yes I grabbed a coffee after the feed. Couldn't just use their parking lot and not make a purchase. That would be loitering.

  • There is a problem solved quickly. The webbed wonder on the fourth floor chased it down. Turns out the scribble app does not allow editing, even text editing, when there is video in the post. It does allow me to edit that same text from my desktop. Hmmm. Sort of defeats the whole From the Field purpose.
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