Thursday, May 24, 2007

How I Roll

"If you shoot half as good as you write you are Sven Nyquist." - Michael Rosenblum.

DSCF0264 -- 2I don't know about all that, but I do appreciate the nod to the legendary lenser. Truth is Rosie's just buttering me up, as he knows my passion for solo news gathering. And while I won't let the VJ prophet goad me into gloating, I'm more than happy to show my work. So, I've plucked the freshest fare from my station website, two stories that aired today within seperate newscast. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about either piece , but they're indicative of the kind of news I crank out on a daily basis. We'll get to the cinema in a minute, but first, a tutorial on how I roll. Word?

Greg Long and Jeh Jeh PruittMost folks think of a news crew as just that - a crew: one camera-person and one reporter, working interdependently to accumulate interviews and images. It's a time-tested model, one that's produced 98.7 percent of the very few chunks of news you choose to remember. But not all broadcast fodder is collected by a couple. Many times a photojournalist ventures out unaccompanied - either to gather small video squibs to spread among several newscasts, or - like myself - produce the kind of self-contained voiced-report most people associate with toothy correspondents. For decades, these versatile news shooters were derisively referred to as One-Man-Bands. These days, they're called Vee-Jays - an equally loathsome title in most camera scrums. For the record, I consider myself either, but Master of Found Light just doesn't look good on a business card. And Cameramanthropologist simply won't fit.

In our first feature we visit suburban Greensboro, where Soccer Moms have turned in there angels' muddy cleats for day-glo elbow floaties. When I first arrived poolside, I had only about ten minutes to interview the swim coach (sorry, Aquatics Director) before the offspring of a hundred cul-de-sacs arrived to mass urinate in the olympic-sized pool. That didn't bother me none - as I wasn't planning to take a dip. Instead I hunkered down outside the splash-zone and worked the far end of the glass. Forty-five minutes later, the kids exited the water for a juice-box showdown and I grabbed a Mom for a quick sit-down. Then I went home and cut my lawn. Teh next day I spent about 45 minutes logging my footage and writing the script. After a passing reporter read my words into a sound-booth microphone, I grabbed some Hot Fries and crawled into an edit bay. An hour later I emerged with this finished report and a slight case of heartburn. I like the video better.

Today my indigestion was gone so I knocked back a hearty cup of Joe before venturing into the very heart of Randolph County. My mission: be there and rolling when state biologists dumped a truckload of baby bass into a newly formed lake. Knowing a sweet gig when I saw it, I whistled all the way there. Upon arrival, I found a few newspaper shooters trading lies down by the dock. I joined them and we shot the shit until the tank-truck finally arrived. As it did, I fell into a trance, coming to an hour later with a disc full of fishy images. It was then I turned my attention to lunch. Gunning my engine toward higher ground, I thought more about the southern fried Chinese food awaiting me in Archdale than how I might put together this latest daily saga. Only when the fortune cookies were depleted did I gaze upon my lakeside footage, whereupon the story wrote itself. I did however, edit it sans the assistance of any supernatural forces. Now - cue the fish...

Lenslinger at the WheelThere you have it - two garden variety examples of the soft news fruit I peddle out of the back of Unit Four everyday. They won't change the landscape of the new media horizon but I'm certain a few of my captured moments will live on in the collective consciousness of the Greater Triad Metroplex. I however, will have forgotten most everything about them, focusing only on the deadline in the distance while enjoying the pleasure of my own company.

Somebody has to.


in-gun-ear said...

When you got done, you should have stopped by the TX on your way north. I was there, cussing out useless software in a RF power controller module. I think I liked it better when something broke, you could actually FIX something, not call the manufacturer for a "software update."

Rosenblum said...

Damn Sven
You shoot, cut and write great. But seriously, track your own stuff. That perky local news read really detracts from your work and also shows IMHO a disconnect between the piece and the read. No. Seriously. Do track your own stuff. And here's a trick I learned from Kuralt. Track it as you watch it... in a conversational voice. Don't read it.. say it. No hyperinflated local news amphetamene driven excitement, if you know what I mean. See how it goes.

Lenslinger said...


In the early stages of my career, I spent almost four years tracking and fronting my own work. After a brief reprieve from news, I returned to the form in 1997 - anxious to write shoot and edit but no longer so jazzed about shooting my own stand-ups. Would I still like to be on-air? Sure, in a perfect world.

But I like my current arrangement. I'm free to pursue visualy interesting feature-esque stories without having to mop my brow at the end of the day to appear on camera. Beside, I rarely find myself wanting to inject a reporter stand-up of any kind in my work, including me.

As for the voice-over, that I'd like to do again. But it seems the bosses don't see me in that light and would rather cloak my product in the booming tenor of our fine reporter stable. Whatever. At keast my non-persona allows me to escape duty as a full-fledged one-man-band, covering train wrecks and drive-bys beside better-prepared two person crews. I'm simply too old for that shit.

Perhaps someday I'll reconsider and re-write the VJ paradigm. Until then, I'm having a ball down here in Carolina and four out of five nights, getting home in time for dinner. Thanks for watching.

B. Weaver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Weaver said...

It appears the VJ Sith Lord is goading you...but he's right on much of what he suggested.

Anonymous said...

Those stoires changed my life!