Friday, April 09, 2010

Destination: Vegas!

After an election cycle, a couple of tornadoes and more b-block masterpieces than you can shake a tripod at, Team 'Slinger is about to take on Vegas. Our mission: pierce the very heart of the world's largest electronic media show, all while collecting as much swag and complimentary cocktails as possible. It's been two whole years since Weaver and I last winged our way out West and a lot has happened since. Namely Twitter... and Facebook... and Foursquare... and every other social networking site I'm too provincial to grasp. My point is there are more ways to over-communicate than ever before and that's exactly what we plan to do: Over-communicate. Don't get me wrong. We're gonna chill. But between the gadget swarms and contemplative strolls, it's my intention to keep my half dozen readers updated and on occasion, entertained. But to do that, I have to loosen the reins on this humble sight. See, normally I spend all of 30 minutes on an entry before slamming home the POST button (I hope that explains the spelling errors). But in order to file reports from the field, I've resolved to spend even less time on my tortured soliloquies and more time playing simple show and tell. I still reserve the right to clean things up when I get back home, but while we're on the convention floor I wanna throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. Soem things to look for:

Twitter: With a limit of 140 characters, it's hard for a gasbag like me to convey my thoughts. But it's also the easiest way to share burst of information past, so keep an eye on my Twitter feed to the upper right and know any cogent content was still hammered out with two jet-lagged thumbs....

Flickr: Longtime readers know I'm a sucker for the 'point and shoot' and my particular Flickr Photostream is rivaled only by that of my oldest daughter's. Sooo, be sure and check out my photo page regularly for all the pictures I'm too embarrassed to explain...

Livestream: Right now the little video box to your right is playing the winning entries from a recent contest. It's stellar television, but once site founder Kevin Johnson puts boots on the ground, he's not start issuing live reports. Look for a couple of Southern fried photogs to make steady cameos.

Youtube/Qik: Between myself, Weaver, Krolfifer, Turd and Amanda Emily, we'll be packin' more glass than most headshops. While much of the video will expertly edited at a later date, we're gonna try really hard to fire off a few 'off the cuff' videos (something that's very hard to do when you erase mistakes for a living). Oh yeah - they'll even be in Hi-Def!

: My surly editor Mike James is expecting some kind of correspondence from me for his well-traveled gossip sheet, If you're a subscriber, drop in often. If you're not, consider ponying up some coin and becoming one. Why? You'll be supporting the man I plan to strong-arm into editing my memoirs.

Caveat: No, it's not some social networking site your kids are into (as far as I know). Rather, it's my little disclaimer explaining how very little of this shall come to pass. After all, this IS Vegas! It's hard to be trenchant let alone grammatically correct when your eyelids are soaked in bourbon and the cops want to know whey there's an emu in your room...

I'm SURE there's a logical explanation, Occifer......

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Set Up, Stand Up...

Stephanie Stillwell Stands Up
Ahhh, the Solo Stand-Up. If you're not careful, they can be as painful to watch as they are to shoot. But Stephanie Stillwell has the process down cold. She should. Everyday the News 14 reporter goes it alone: shooting, writing, editing and FRONTING news stories from across the broadcast spectrum. It must get old. In fact, doing it ALL is a recipe for Burn-Out: that feckless feeling you get when the weight of one more assignment feels like more than you can bear. Yet Stephanie soldiers on - often with a better attitude than that wordy, furry photog she runs into so much. Hey, I may consider myself the King of Most Media, but at least I haven't got to cap off each grueling shoot with a star turn in front of the lens. Been there. Got the sweaty dress-shirt.

Perhaps that's why I have such mad love for all the one-(wo)man-bands out there. News crew purists will balk at that assertion; they'll claim the solo news-gatherer produces substandard work, that their pictures are less cinematic, their coverage less complete. Meh. You can't judge one journalist's output by the egregious sins of another. Neither can you convince me that someone willing to schlep hardware across the shifting landscape of news deserves to be there less than some overly-perfumed princess who tweets and primps and poses in the car while her photog slays the dragon of the day. Granted, Stephanie would welcome the help, but she's not letting her lack of a partner stop her from getting the job done and earning MY respect in the process. Guess I should tell her that one day...

Perhaps I just did.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Rick's Epiphany

Portier in ReposeRick Portier is many things. Subtle ain't one of 'em. Instead, the Louisiana lenslinger is known for his vicious wit, bedevilling stare and glaring lack of fructose syrup. Which makes his latest findings all the more landmark, for a guy who calls himself Turdpolisher isn't about to rent his mouth out. I knew he'd had a change of heart recently over working solo. Now it seems he's wrapped his head around it as well and - like your humble author - concluded there is indeed a future for broadcast journalists as long as they're willing to work outside their comfort zone...

There it was, big as day. A friendly comment on my Facebook status. To be sure, Alfonzo Beta meant it as a joke. Hell, the mustachioed video tape is known cut-up in the photog world, but he hit the conflict I've been feeling right on the head.

Ya see, when ABC sent lots of sore shoulders (and stackers) packing last month, it caused lots of other guys with a permanent half-wink to reconsider their lot in this business. Sure, we all saw the change on the horizon. In true photog fashion, we bitched and moaned, and did little to stem the tide of change, but the bean-counters and their new BFF, Satan Rosenblum, would not be deterred. The dawn of the new age in journalism is on us, and last week I -- gasp -- crossed over to the dark side.

Actually, it was more like three weeks ago. It started with a lot of soul searching. Okay, it started with a six-pack of Bud Light. But however I sliced it, there was no denying the fact that in the evolving landscape of this leaner business we all love to complain about, a talented photog can be king. The only thing stopping us is us.

Think about it. Who logically can make the seamless switch to one of Rosey's minions, and your penny-pinching Adult-in-the-Room's favorite, a fresh face from the halls of academia who's studied all about prepositional phrases, double negatives, and polished their telegenic grin, or a unshaven, scruffy-haired shooter who's learned the hard way when to ask the tough question and when to blend into the background? Sure, said bobble-head might look better doing it, but when the pictures from the point-and-shoot come back blue, out of focus, and over exposed, there ain't much that Avid can do to improve it.

Now if the same an experienced photog goes out, shoots the story, asks the questions, and can -- gasp again -- even write it as well or better than the starry-eyed intern, who's more valuable?

And who can make the transition to a one-stop-shop for all the Adult-in-the-Room's needs? The easy answer is the experienced photog. Simply because we already got two-and-a-half of the three parts to storytelling down cold. Any photog worth his salt is gonna bring back better pictures than a reporter pressed into shooter duty. Any shooter around long enough to develop his hundred-yard stare understands storytelling and all the tools at his disposal, and they already have an idea of how to write. Hell, I'd even argue that you can't shoot a story without being able to write it.

So we should be, hands-down the logical choice when it comes to transitioning the newsroom to the new, sleeker model. But as everybody with an electronic lump on their shoulder knows, newsrooms are anything but logical. Bean-counters would rather hand a pretty face a point-and-shoot babycam that Uncle Fred used to shoot his son's wedding than foist a photog on their precious viewers. So I decided it was time to move myself one step up the food chain. I've been doing my best Lenslinger for three weeks now. Sure, I'd rather it be nat packs for the B-block, but I've written a couple for the pretty boys to voice and made it into the A-block a time or two.

Last week when the face was late, my lack of vocal talent was pressed into service. It still ain't what I'd prefer to do, but I've got a feeling that as the business gets leaner, we'll all be doing whatever we gotta do to stay on top. In the land of the bean-counters, the guy with the most to offer usually keeps his job. Build a life raft with the talents you have. Where else are the suits gonna find a camera monkey that can shoot, edit, run every live truck, run the satellite truck, write and occasionally report the news?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Bash in Sight

B-Roll Bash BannerI may be forced to watch the NCAA National Championship Game tonight, but in seven short days I'll be prowling the sausage party that is the B-Roll Bash. But I won't be alone, for Team Lenslinger has grown considerably. There's The Mighty Weave, Adam "I used to sleep in my news unit" Krolfifer, the artist occasionally known as Turdpolisher, the prodigal photog Brad Ingram, archivist extraordinaire Amanda Emily and the very kewell Kathy Newell. Once on-scene we're sure to chat up founder Kevin Johnson - along with a room of friendly pros and heavy hors d'oeuvres that makes the Harley-Davidson Cafe such a cocktail friendly environment.

But as fun as the bash may be, it's only part of the NAB experience and this year we here at Lenslinger Labs hope to bring more of it to you than ever before. Look for tweets, quick videos and a myriad of goofy photos to flood this page once we set foot on the convention floor. That's the plan anyway; things kinda get loopy in the rarefied air of indoor Vegas. Just know we'll do our best to document every turn of our journey, if for no other reason that it's kind of what we do. And if by some chance you find YOURSELF surfing the floor of the world's largest electronic media show, do get with. I'd feel awful if I didn't give you each and every one of you an opportunity to buy me a drink...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

If It Pleases the Court...

Bill and Butler
As a standing rule, I'd rather watch the Slap-Chop guy's audition tape than endure too much college basketball. Call it a quirk, but I get littel joy from the roundball. Still, it IS religion down here, so I feign allegiance- lest I get Gillooly'd in some hallway scrum (worst place to get Gillooly'd). Which is why I'd yet to form an opinion on the NCAA Championship currently winding up - other than to embrace the 'underdogma' inherent in Butler's unlikely rise. That is until the station called. Now I'm pulling for those Nancy Boys at Duke thoroughly disembowel those scaborous Bulldogs, for reasons I'll detail in a minute. First though I'd like to share with you a favorite pastime of mine for matchups as big as this:

I call it Name That Photog!

Yes, few things annoy my teenage daughters more than my little version of Where's Waldo - a staggered round of Dad-like gestures in which I spend the entire game giving couch-side shout-outs to cameramen and sports shooters I recognize on the sidelines. Look - there's my buddy Bill Welch - all pleated pants and poker face as Coach Whats-His-Nuts soaks in the adulation of a sweat-shirted throng. Last time I saw Bill, he was picking his way through an ocean of broken lumber in a tornado-ravaged neighborhood. Or was it a sea of sixth graders at a middle school science fair? Tell, the truth they both had the same vibe... At any rate, I had no idea he was anywhere near Indianapolis, let alone on the edge of where so many sports fans would love to be. Ya know, Greg Pell is right - that Bill Welch fella has a real future in this business! I'll be sure to look for him during tonight's coverage - though for all I know the NCAA only allows logo'd robots to hover on the hardwood during such a sacredly commercial event. Still, a 'slinger can dream - which is why I'll keep my eyes peeled into the wee hours, for nothing makes me chuckle like catching a glimpse of a buddy scratching his ass in Hi-Def. Hey, we ALL got hobbies...

Oh and why am I pulling for that dark blue blight known as Duke? Simple, if the Blue Devils win, I roll out of bed early and head straight for a Rockingham County bunker - where dozens of hopped-up screen printers will be cranking out Duke Champ t-shirts by the pallet. There's easy tee-vee to be had in those piles of nylon, and perhaps a friendly biscuit for my troubles. If Duke loses, no t0-shirts will be made and I'll be forced to attend the morning editorial meeting - a tepid enough summit that could very likely end in my being dispatched to cover a urinal cake taste-test or some other such unpleasantry....

Go Duke.