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|| News Item: Posted 2007-11-11

NFL Films - Style Audio and The Making of 'Jack the Umpire'
By Carlos Delgado

Photo by Carlos Delgado

Photo by Carlos Delgado

Delgado's gear for audio collecting is an Olympus WS-300M Digital Voice Recorder and an Audio-Technica ATR35s Lavalier Microphone.
(Editor's Note: The Sports Shooter Newsletter asked three participants in the SSA Multimedia Boot Camp to relate their experiences and how the new wave of visual story-telling will affect their careers in photojournalism.)

The idea was born at halftime at the Chargers game a week before the Sports Shooter Academy Multimedia Boot Camp. I was sitting on the grass talking to fellow photographer Matt Brown about the upcoming workshop, and a little light went off in my head. I said, "Wouldn't it be cool if I put a microphone on a referee for the game?" Indeed, it was a cool idea. I had a week to work on it.

My gear for audio collecting is an Olympus WS-300M Digital Voice Recorder and an Audio-Technica ATR35s Lavalier Microphone (mini newscaster-style mic that clips on a shirt). The plan was to come up with a way to have the recorder securely clipped on the ref's belt and have cables and everything else out of the way. I borrowed my sister's cell phone case and with a Velcro strap, I got everything to fit in snugly.

On the drive back from San Diego, Matt suggested I practice recording a whole game and editing the sound during Monday Night Football. After recording four hours of television, here was the plan: I was going to try and sync the recorder and a stopwatch. With a notepad, I was going to mark down the time of when an interesting sound byte or moment happened. All this was to prevent listening to a three to four hour recording in real time while on deadline.

That plan went out the window on game day. I made sure I got into the officials' locker room early and found the umpire to ask him if he'd wear this contraption. The condition was that he would have to know where the stop and record buttons were so they could keep that confidential ref-talk secret. I gaffer taped it up to his belt, and from then on, it was a dice roll hoping he would hit the right buttons. I was also hoping the setup wouldn't fly off if he got nailed.

Final Cut Pro is a monster. Up until now, I've been a Soundslides kind of guy. A full day of training and I'm beginning to see how powerful of a story-telling tool Final Cut Pro can be. It was a lot to absorb in one day, but I did my best to use what I learned the following day at the Fullerton College football game.

To see Delgado's winning multimedia project, please click on this link:

Photo by Carlos Delgado

Photo by Carlos Delgado

This is how Delgado had the recorder securely clipped on the ref's belt and made sure the cables and everything else was out of the way.
My Olympus recorder records to WMA format, which must be converted to AIFF before importing into Final Cut. After I edited my photos from the day and had a storyboard going, I started cutting up my sound in iMovie. I'm familiar with iMovie and I use it to convert my audio files using Flip4Mac. I had three hours to sift through four hours of audio. It didn't help that faculty member Bert Hanashiro was yelling, "Hurry up, Carlos!" every five minutes!

Somehow, I found some good sound bytes that fit into the story. I knew there was probably way better ones somewhere in that four hour recording, but with Bert's hollering and faculty member Myung Chun poking me in the ribs, I settled with what I stumbled on by scanning and playing and scanning and playing.

After I had my sound file, I imported it and my photos into Final Cut Pro and put together a slideshow. No fancy transitions. No second-guessing. I just quickly put it all together and barely made deadline.

When it was all over and the sweat had dried off, we watched my piece through the LCD projector during the closing slideshows. Myung said, "It's like NFL Films." That's what it reminded me of too. Jack was the perfect guy to document for a game. He had character and a great voice. It makes me want to do more of these on other interesting people.

Multimedia is part of the business. No question about that. Thanks to the Multimedia Boot Camp, my knowledge of audio gathering and post-production took a giant leap forward. I'm thankful that the faculty put on this Boot Camp experiment. I learned tons of information that I know I'll be using in the future. If knowing how to produce compelling multimedia pieces is going to increase my chances of making money in this crazy business, then I'm all for it. The sky is the limit with multimedia. If multimedia is the future, I want to be George Jetson… and now I have the tools.

(Carlos Delgado is a recent graduate of Cal State Long Beach.)

Related Links:
Delgado's member page
Awards handed out at Sports Shooter Academy Multimedia Boot Camp.
Delgado's winning multimedia project

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