Thursday, November 13, 2008

Logging More Malawi Video

Oh thank goodness. This past weekend I discovered that just about everyone finds logging video tedious. I was at the Nieman Foundation’s 70th Anniversary convocation and telling my tale of woe about logging the video I had shot in Malawi to friends who are television producers and documentary makers.

Here I was afraid that I was doing something wrong—that something about my print journalism training had messed me up forever for dealing with video. What other explanation could there be if logging video was taking me so long and seemed so excruciating?

All the TV and video folks assured me that what I was feeling was absolutely normal. And that that sense of being overwhelmed by all the material I had gathered would eventually go away as I got better at planning my shots, producing and editing on the fly.

It is a situation that’s very akin to the kind of ruthless editing you have to do when you write. My friend Lorie Conway urged me to focus on just two stories out of the gigabytes and gigabytes of video, audio and digital stills I have—at least for now. Log to those stories (leaving out the bits that don’t support those pieces). I can always return to the original material later as time allows.

This may be easier said than done. Every time I go through the material I see more avenues to explore. Plus I feel such a sense of responsibility to the folks who shared so much of their lives with me. But you can’t do everything at once.

So I have been back at logging video with renewed vigor and once again combing through the photos Eileen took. Have also hired a journalism student for help with logging some of the audio. Will probably focus on a story about malaria and another about nurses’ daily challenges and successes at just one of the several hospitals I visited in Malawi.

One thing is for sure, the pregnant woman's lament has got to find a home in there somewhere.

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