Eric and The Pioneer: now in HD

Everybody’s going high-definition these days. Even the newspaper.

HD broadcasting is not just for the big boys with fancy expensive cameras anymore. I produced my first HD video Wednesday afternoon for a tour of the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

I think it turned out well for a first go around. You can watch the video here:

I started developing videos in August to see if I could handle them with my daily schedule. It was difficult at first, but now I’ve got the process down and I think the videos are getting better and better.

I decided to make the HD camera upgrade last week after some headaches with our current technology. The camera I was using before was a very nice model, but it was made for shooting still photographs. Not videos.

I ran into constant problems with lighting, sound and other related technical issues.

When I went out to Bemidji State football practice last week and the batteries were dead (forcing me to scramble and search the athletic complex for batteries), that was the last draw.

I worked with Thom Caya during my time at the Owatonna People’s Press. He was and is a fantastic photographer. His background includes jobs with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Arizona Republic and other big-time freelance gigs.

Thom’s personality reminded me a bit of Dennis Hopper’s character from the movie Apocalypse Now. He’s also very skilled in his professions.

He worked as an electrician/carpenter for his primary job while taking care of his parents during the time we worked together. Photography was just a side job to help supplement his sailing hobby, which took him around the Great Lakes each summer.

I think his sailboat is the only thing he enjoyed more than his camera.

Thom is an amazing photographer who can pull out the most amazing images from the most difficult of news stories to the biggest of sports stories.

His pictures always seemed to tell my stories better than my words ever could. That didn’t stop me from trying.

Thom practices a rare breed of powerful, old-school photojournalism that is not seen much anymore in the business.

He called Photographers “Photogs” and Journalists “Jurnos.” He had a fearless personality and the photographer’s eye. You could see that in his photos (like this picture on the right).

You can see more of Thom’s work by clicking this link.

I learned quite a bit from the guy and a lot of the success I’ve found in photography at The Pioneer is a credit to him.

Thom is equally skilled with is camera gear as he is with a hammer.

He always used to tell me:

“If you are going to get into the photography business it’s just like carpentry – invest in your equipment. Or any job you want to do as a profession. If it is your profession, you must invest or you will fail. And when you fail then you won’t make any money and then you’ll be living in a cardboard box. So don’t be stupid.”

He’d then go on a rant about how spineless politicians in Washington were ruining America.

Only he didn’t use the words ‘spineless’ or ‘ruining.’

He always made me laugh.

After my equipment let me down at football practice last week, I could hear Thom saying those words and laughing at me in his signature gravely-sounding bellow.

So, with Thom’s voice in my head, I decided to invest.

I did some quick research online and settled on the Kodak Zi8. It shoots in full 1080p HD, has a lot of great features and is a major, major upgrade from what I was using in a video capacity.

And it didn’t break the bank. It was so reasonable even a journalist could afford it.

The Kodak doesn’t give me Blu-Ray quality video. There’s some grain in it, but the quality is stunning for the $170 I spent on it.

Just think, the first Kodak digital camera was developed in 1975, was about the size of a toaster and weighed 8.5 pounds. It recorded to something similar to VHS tapes. Remember those? Ahh yes, Generation X’s 8-track.

My Kodak is 3.8 ounces and is about the size of an iPod.

I was happy with the performance, but I did have a screw up.

I had a nice interview with Event Center Project Superintendent Gregg Judge on the progress of the building and he had a lot of interesting things to say.

When I downloaded the video, somehow I stopped the recording at the beginning of our interview and started it at the end. I lost it all.

So I can’t blame that on the camera. Straight operator error there.

Thankfully I captured both interviews with Erin Cody and Tom Serratore and with that, I can call the first go around with the Kodak a success.

Tomorrow, I’ll be out at BSU men’s hockey practice to talk to the players about this weekend’s big series with the Minnesota Golden Gophers.


2 thoughts on “Eric and The Pioneer: now in HD

  1. Am I the only one, but I cannot load these videos onto my computer. I can load anything else….my computer is 4 years there a program I can download to watch these? Thanks!

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