Columbine Memorial: 11 Years Later Video Project

April 20, 2010 marked the 11th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School. Classes were canceled and media attention of the day was actually pretty low key compared to the seemingly endless coverage over the last 10 years. For the first time there were no official events planned for recognition of the tragedy. The community will never forget but it is starting to move on. For the most part, our coverage in the Columbine Courier would be minimal. I decided to take my Canon EOS 7D down to the memorial and try to put together a small package for the web. The video above is what I came up with. For more technical details and explanations click “more” below.

This was pretty much the first video that I have shot in about 4 years. It wasn’t easy. Shooting video with the EOS 7D is challenging to say the least. I quickly recognized that there were going to be some technical issues that I would need to overcome in order for it to work. I definitely need to get a bigger, heavier tripod that is actually designed to shoot video. It would greatly cut down on some of the “jitters” in the video.

Pulling focus was actually a lot easier than I anticipated. I was able to move the tripod, set exposure, focus and start shooting easily. Using the Hoodman Loupe 3.0 and a RedRock Micro mount gave me pretty good results. I now recognize why a follow focus system would be make it even easier.

I didn’t have much trouble getting a good exposure for many of the shots. There were a few that got lost on the cutting room floor because the exposure for the sky and foreground was too far apart. A matte box with a couple of good graduated neutral density filters could have solved the problem.

I had a Sennheiser MKE-400 mic wit a “dead cat” windscreen on the camera while shooting. I was able to capture some decent natural sound even with the limitations of the camera’s automatic gain control. In the end I decided to scrap the audio after failing to get a decent interview with anyone. I’m still not happy with trying to use an external recorder and syncing the tracks in FCE. I think there is a better solution here somewhere. The music track was cut in Garage Band and trans-coded to a 48khz AIFF with Quicktime and imported into FCE HD.

I originally shot the whole video at 30fps in 1080p but realized that the version of Final Cut Express I was using would not easily support the format without a bunch of rendering. Looks like I need to beg for an upgrade so that I don’t have to trans code the entire thing. I shot a little over 12 minutes of video and it took about that much time to convert the video from 1080p to 720p using Mpeg Streamclip. After converting the files to 30fps at 720p, I was easily able to edit the footage using FCE without rendering any of the clips first. 720p at 30fps is not really a broadcast standard but the final project was most likely going to end up being hosted online only so it was less of an issue.

Speaking of hosting, the video is on because our company website currently does not support HD video. Isn’t that special?

More videos to come in the near future (I hope). If anyone has any questions feel free to leave a comment below.

3 thoughts on “Columbine Memorial: 11 Years Later Video Project

  1. good post and great video. As far as the audio I am hoping Canon makes an update like they did for the 5D Mark II and takes of the AGC. It seemed like this video worked better without audio though, just the music. If I were you I would look into getting Final Cut Studio Pro. You can log and transfer your footage from H.264 into Pro Res 422. This gives you more options when editing and color grading. Looks good though and hope to see some more videos.

    1. Thanks for checking out the video. As far as the audio goes I’m in the same boat. I really hope that Canon puts out a firmware update to “fix” the AGC. They would dominate the news video/photojournalism market if that happens. Final Cut Studio would be great. However, unless the paper I work for puts up the cash for it or I stumble upon an extra $1000 that probably won’t happen. Right now I’m hoping for the $99 upgrade to Final Cut Express.

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