After a rather thorough analysis of their first efforts shooting video consistent to international broadcast news standards, I sent the JAMA Video team out again to give it another try. If you happen to view the clips from their initial effort, you will see a wide range of abilities in terms of managing light, creative shot selection and, most importantly, how long it took to actually shoot and edit the piece. Well, this time, they nailed it.
Just as on the first day of training, each member of the team was given an hour to shoot and an hour to edit. I didn't let them off easy though: I walked around reminding each person of how much time he had left to create that sense of time pressure and urgency that was missing from the first day of practical training. I am sure it must have been very annoying to have me barking "22 minutes ... 15 minutes ... 7 minutes to go!" But it definitely served its purpose.
On the first day, several of the reports featured varying qualities of exposure balance, and the ability to meet the basic requirement of 1 minute of video content produced within a two-hour period was a struggle. This time, they all delivered work that could easily run on CNN or any other major network. The color quality was even, length of each shot was consistent and they each did a nice job at deciding when to use the tripod and when to go handheld with the camera.
It is very encouraging to see the progress we have made over the past week. When we began this process, the team did not understand the simplicity and discipline that is required to shoot for news. After all, these guys have had quite a bit of experience working on dramatic television for programs like Rien que la Vérité but never before as a "one man band" who will be responsible for shooting events under considerably different time constraints.
Next, for the third and final phase of our training plan the team will be put to the test in a real world scenario. The U.S. embassy is holding a special event called the "Mark Twain Award" in celebration of a local Congolese author. The event will occur at one of the embassy's facilities here in Kinshasa and the guys will be tasked to shoot the award ceremony, edit the video down to 90 seconds and have it available by noon the following day for broadcast on local Congolese TV stations.
We have spent a considerable amount of time talking about the importance of pre-production planning so I will be watching carefully to see how many batteries they bring, what kinds of cables are packed, and if they have sufficient supplies for a three hour event all the way across town. We will post their work here at the end of the week. All in all, after the great job they did on their second assignment, I am very confident they will just fine with their next task.