It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks…maybe harder still an old professor. But Dr. Randall E. King, Director of Broadcast Media and Professor of Communication, decided this fall to embrace the digital revolution and shoot an entire news feature for WIWU-TV on his iPhone 4.
The iPhone has opened up new ways of telling stories with video, and King wanted to see if producing a complete piece was possible. “We saw some accessories from a company called Vericorder two years ago at the Broadcast Education Association’s national conference,” he said. “This year, we bought a few of those items for students, faculty and TV station staff to try out and I decided the only way to learn what I could do with it was to turn around a full piece on a deadline.”
King took the equipment to Grant County, Indiana’s Mississinewa 1812 Festival, an event WIWU-TV covers every year for its Crossroads newsmagazine. He focused on some of the historical re-enactors who populate the War of 1812 village with crafts, music and authentic food.
The video accessories for the shoot included an Owle Bubo, a stable mount for the iPhone that also allows tripod connections, and an XLR-adapter that Vericorder developed to attach professional microphones.
The results? “Shooting was a lot easier than I expected,” King said. “You have to change some of your common practices since you only have one channel for audio at a time and you need to make sure you’re capturing good natural sound. And you have to get much closer to your subject since the iPhone doesn’t have a zoom lens, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since I’m often telling our student producers not to zoom and pan. It makes you think more like a still photographer, getting good action in your frame rather than playing around with camera movement,” he said.
Editing was an additional challenge. King downloaded Vericorder’s iPad application, 1st Video, which allows multi-track, nonlinear editing on iPad or iPhone. Any new editing environment has a learning curve, but the story was completed and ready for broadcast on the next edition of the weekly show.
King said IWU’s Media Communication and Convergent Journalism students will probably see mobile apps included in future classes. “Mobile storytelling and mobile media are here and will be a big part of the future for our students, so they need to know what is possible and consider the best way to tell a story,” he said. Students may also use the new tools in special event coverage including the upcoming election night and the NAIA National Basketball Championships WIWU-TV covers each year when IWU teams qualify for the tournament.
“The question for us in media communication is not, what’s the coolest technology?, but, how can we tell the story better? faster? more efficiently,” King said. “If mobile tools get us more places and allow us to cover stories in new ways for an audience, then we want our students to know how to best use those tools and carry those skills with them as professionals.” Sometimes that means a prof, who started his TV news career in the 80’s, has to keep going back to school.
See the finished story: