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|| News Item: Posted 2011-05-15

Confessions Of a Video Newbie

By Nic Coury, Monterey County Weekly

Photo by

Nic Coury of the Monterey County Weekly says video is another tool for telling stories but it's definitely not for every situation.
I never wanted to be one of those “video guys”: the awkward video behemoth, microphone cables hanging everywhere and the dreaded noisy backgrounds completely rendering an interview useless. As I often tell people, I would love to go back to the days of Tri-X with a 35mm f/1/.4.

As technology provides new tools for our profession, I decided to make a conscious effort to learn more multimedia and add audio and video skills to my resume and with the advent of video integrated into our still cameras, I could safely experiment with video without dropping a lot of money I did not have.

Shooting Nikon, I picked up a D300s as it shared the same batteries and grips of my other bodies and with the always helpful recommendation of the message boards, I bought a Sennheiser MKE-400 and a Zoom H-2 and went to work shooting shake-y, hand-held video.

The first video I ever shot was the Big Sur Fashion Show about two weeks after I bought my camera ( and I had no clue what I was doing in iMovie, especially adding the element of time into my shooting. I had zero idea what in and out markers were and what on Earth was rendering? I was in far too deep.

After reading a bunch online with Sports Shooter and learning from friends who shoot video far better than I do, I bought Final Cut Express and a decent video head and learned to not approach shooting video like a still photog, but still in a story-telling method.

I’ve recently taken to video a bit more seriously, but it is still a process. I do like that I can semi-successfully shoot both stills and video at an event with essentially the same equipment.

With the announcement of the Nikon D7000 and cleaner high-ISOs and 1080p video, I sold off my D300s and also bought the newer Nikkor 16-35 f/4 VR, which gives a nice range of 24-50 with stabilization, which works extremely well for hand-held shots.

I still use the Sennheiser and added a Hoodman Loupe, which is fairly basic, but gets the job done. I still need better stabilization hand-held, but always one for workarounds, I found that simply unscrewing my video head and resting movement arm on my shoulder, sort of works. A lot of sound is cleaned up in Final Cut, but it’s pretty clean. I do wish, however, I could monitor sound, so I may invest in that this year.

All in all, video is just another tool for me as a journalist to tell stories. It is definitely not for every situation, but can help illustrate stories sometimes the words and still images cannot and I will continue to shoot video for both my newspaper and my own clients and personal projects. Now where is my 35mm and some Tri-X...

Photo by

Coury's gear includes a Nikon D7000 body with a 16-35mm f/4 VR lens, Sennheiser MKE-400 and Hoodman Loupe.
Things I like about shooting video:
- Finding new ways to telling visual stories.
- Being able to use my entire range of lenses for video, from a fish-eye to a 300 and especially using way old Nikon lenses from the manual-focus days, like a 1970s 55mm f/3.5, which is stupid sharp.
- Watching my still images become animated with motion and time lines.
- Capturing fast action and slowing it down, like really slowed down...

Things I don’t like about shooting video:
- The meticulous process of converting video, importing and exporting it all while making sure my frame rates, file size and compression is the exact same on all of it and only finding it out after the lengthy full movie export and upload onto YouTube.
- Making sure my microphone is turned on...
- Making sure I have more than enough b-roll BEFORE returning to my desk.
- Preferring the frozen moment in time that is captured solely in a still image.

Nic Coury is a staff photographer with the Monterey County Weekly. To view samples of his work on his Sports Shooter member page: and at his personal websites: and .

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