It is the most important social happening of the year – as a social event, you could say it is sort of our Academy Awards. It is also the most viewed TV-program of the year.
I’ve covered the event several times – yes, you might argue that it goes into the category of sports… :-) as you are really, really in a hurry and you also sweat a lot…
Anyway. I got a call from my client couple of weeks ago: “You always say that you would like to do this differently. This year we’ve decided to skip print entirely and just focus on the web. Go ahead, dazzle us”.
Man, talk about a gig… and talk about pressure. And what an awesome gesture of trust from the client (EEVA-Magazine)
Totally free hands. So you can imagine: thrilled and scared. The great news is that I had time to prepare – the bad news: I’ll shoot from 7pm until 10.15 pm and the whole thing has to be ready next day by noon.
I code beforehand, test as well as I can. Agree with the client on visual elements: panoramic images, stills and short video interviews. Code mainly in HTML5, except for the panoramas which I have to do in flash. I also make a simple fallback template into full HTML5 (with auto detect) for the iDevices.
I work like a madman. First the red carpet: Canon 1Dx with a longer lens, high asa and no flash, jpg-format. I decide against the RAW-format to optimize for the post production – and as the light is very constant, you can preset accurate WB and exposure.
The redcarpet and handshaking takes c. 1.5 hours during which you do not move. I mean literally: you do not move. You stand on a scaffolding and you have about 40x40cm space to your feet, other photographers around you and this line of marines (with their bright, white hats) right in front of you.
Then, quick dash downstairs, change of cameras into 5Dmk3‘s to shoot video. As the place is packed with people and TV-crews, using both wireless or wired interview mics is a bit of a hassle. So I give a Zoom 4Hn (with a lavaliere mic) to my journalist. In retrospect, the lav was not a smart thing to do, I should have used a standard interview mic with the same recorder.
Shooting video is a hassle: extremetly tight and I have 45 mins to complete 12 short (one-two question) clips. But thank God quality of the video image is not a major priority in this.
Then the president and and his spouse dance – this I shoot with stills. Then 45 minutes left to do the panoramas. Use a monopod which extends up to c. 4meters and record the ambient with Zoom H1 recorder. Shoot with Canon 5Dmk3 and a remote cable release. All the time I am worried about three things: security might just kick me out (I see couple of agents and just smile and wink at them… :-) ). Then there is a problem that people might move into adjacent shots (I’m using four images – no nadir) and that I get stiching errors. But it turns out I do ok. Not great, but ok.
I take a look at my watch when I finish: it’s 10.08.
By 10.15 the cameras have to be out of the event.
I get back home where I’ve set up two computers. I put the first one to ingest and convert video into a optimized and proxy format, then use the other one to attack the panos. I manage to do decent stiching (PanoGUI), put the basic package together with FPP/FFC and do the stills with Lightroom. Finish around four in the morning, sleep for two hours and continue.
Do the video real quick with FCX. No real editing, just cutting the clip, adding a logo and doing dual audio to get decent sound.
As I’ve done the layout beforehand, it is just question of replacing texts and pictures. We open chat in FB (is this the modern media workflow? :-)) and I have my journalists doing the captions and I fill them to the images. My collegue and friend Arttu from DocImages is doing proofreading in Tampere and correcting my typos.
We publish the thing around noon… and get a message from my journalist: Internet Explorer does not display correctly. And my brain is tired… I have no IE, no windows machine to test this with. Sure, I could do it virtually, but do not have IE installed (my mistake, I know…. ) Juha-Pekka from DocImages joins the conversation and digs out his old, old PC – Arttu switches computers (mac into PC) in the university his at… and we start debugging. I know the mistake has to be simple, but I am just dead, dead tired.
I find it, a simple orphaned tag in the frame code – something what a more experienced coder would see in seconds – but takes me like ten loooo-ong minutes.
The thing is out and running around one o’clock pm.
I’ve set the code to autodetect iPad and iPhone: as the panos are in flash, for the apple devices they have to be done with strict HTML5 and Java. But I run into unforeseen difficulties and I have to just give it up. Basically HTML5/CSS3 panos do not behave as I had anticipated and I just do not have time to redo the design.
I do a very simple iPad-friendly version making a disclaimer there saying “you really should see this with a computer”.
Why don’t I push it further? Well, after working for like 24 hours with two hours of sleep and leaving the next day to New York (where I really need my brain in 100% top condition) I just have to be reasonable and set priorities. Next time.
I enjoyed doing this. Certain things I’d do differently (such as sound and choice of video cam) – I’d also buid a full working html5 panorama template for the iDevices in advance. What happened now was that software was updated after my last encounter with it and presented me with a problem I could not solve in this time frame.
Teamwork was awesome. I was in Porvoo, two journalist (Eija and Outi) in Helsinki (working for my client EEVA), Arttu in Tampere and JP in Vantaa. All of us connected in a chat doing common project. I mean, how cool is that?
A friend of mine said that this is the kind of multimedia he sees the future might consist of. I agree. Not like this, but something to this direction – and I really have to give credit to EEVA-Magazine for having the courage to try this out. Trusting me and trusting us.
It could be taken further – it should be taken further. I know it’s not great and it is far from perfect – doing everything by oneself in that timeframe does pose a challenge.
But it works – and it is different than what 99% of our legacy media was doing.