Great Balls Afire

I know many of my posts have been trying to explain how I’ve done something, with the idea being it might help someone else learn how to do that something. I’ve also blogged about how not to do something, in hopes that someone else will avoid someone else’s mistakes. This is a hybrid — how I did something, so someone else could avoid my mistakes.

First things first: Ever since I contemplated doing video, Ganon Baker has been at the forefront of the subjects I wanted to take on. I’ve been going to the Nike Skills Academy for Girls in Beaverton, Ore., for several years now and Baker has been captivating that whole time. He crackles with energy, says funny things and is capable of mythologized physical feats.

So here’s the product, done for ESPN HoopGurlz though some of you may be seeing it here before it gets posted there:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s a nice little video story. But it really could have been better.

Yeah, yeah, yeah (do I said like a Beatle?), I know people say that all the time and, often, they’re just fishing for the no-it’s-really-good compliment. Truly, I’m not. There are some problems with this piece. Really, there are.

First of all, you probably should not shoot your dream subject just minutes after you pull your brand-new camera out of the box. Yes, your Honor, I plead guilty. I literally got the authorization to purchase a professional-level video camera on my way down to Beaverton for last summer’s Skills Academy. I pulled into a pro-video store just miles away (no sales tax in Oregon), bought the camera, a flash card and other accessories, then sped to my hotel and cooked up a battery. Now I was Spike Lee, right?

If you notice, the Bo Jackson gym on the Nike campus has two giant walls of windows on either side, making for tricky exposures — the kind of exposures for which I was not prepared at all. Remember, I barely knew how to turn on the camera. Oops. I guess I forgot how many years (and counting) that it’s taken to feel comfortable with a still camera.

Ganon Baker, as he appears in real life!
Ganon Baker, as he appears in real life!

Still more fun to come: I brought my wireless mic and Baker agreed to wear it. I caught him saying all kinds of things! Trouble was, I didn’t really think my way through the audio part, my being so caught up in turning on the video camera and all. I left the audio on automatic, which would have been great for a lot of things except, say, a camp director communicating with a gym full of basketball players. Yeah … lots of yelling … and therefore distorted audio.

It gets worse before it gets better. I got a lot of action b-roll but I left Beaverton without having done an interview with Baker. Sigh. Luckily, I caught up with him in Atlanta and, by then, I’d learned how to set my audio manually. So at least you can understand Baker when he’s talking about himself. Baby steps, everybody, baby steps.

I had a great vision for an opening, but, well, I didn’t think I could get him to stand still long enough to execute it. I don’t want to say what it is because I’ll try it with someone else. As a substitute, I used a bunch of stills at the beginning in an attempt to convey movement and energy. It kinda works but, believe me, my other idea would have been better.

I get how to take photos, but not do pushups like this!
I get how to take photos, but not do pushups like this!

(OK, by the way, when people talk about multimedia, most everyone’s minds jump to video. Pictures and sound — I get it. But since I have been illustrating my own stories with my own photos, I’ve also been a multimedia journalist — you know, images and print. I’ve also done sound and images. So now that I’ve been stills in video, am I now a multi-multimedia journalist?).

In closing, I have a request: Please stop by ESPN HoopGurlz and watch the video there, so it can get enough views and ESPN lets me keep doing videos. Believe me, I almost know what I’m doing now. I’ve made enough mistakes to have earned at least 20 acres and a mule.

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