Two years ago we started a relationship with Vericorder and its mobile journalism products. The company has continued to evolve, branching off into cloud storage and content management systems in addition to Voddio, the main video/audio editing program.
We have another team of students working with, assessing where the products stand now. You can read about their progress on their Cell Phone Reporting blog. I am also assessing the products and using them as they fit into my regular course of work.
First of all, Voddio is an amazing app, very powerful with lots of cool features. The ability to edit video, write scripts, work in two video and two audio tracks, add fades, dissolves, titles and more is pretty neat. In just two training sessions with Vericorder founder Gary Symons we had learned just about everything we needed to be a functioning mobile journalist.
With all that Voddio is, for me, the system is still limited by the hardware it’s paired with. My world is increasingly focused on sports and for that I need something better than a wide angle lens of the iPhone and the super wide angle lens that comes with the kit. Even the “telephoto” lens is not effective because it just doubles the wide angle lens, giving you the equivalent of a 50mm lens (equivalent to your normal field of view with your eyes.) That’s good for many feature stories, but not good enough for most game action.
This week I took the camera out with me to of the games for Missouri men’s lacrosse team. I knew I wouldn’t be shooting action due to the equipment limitations so I focused on getting feature work.
Having to get close to guys throwing hard rubber balls around can be a bit intimidating, but the resulting video can be exciting. The shooting went well, but at the end, I found myself faced with the heart of the issue for me with Voddio: it doesn’t fit my journalistic style. I know too much and have too much top-notch equipment available to me to “settle” for this system. I have good digital audio recorders, good video cameras (tape and digital) and at least three video editing applications available to me. It is counter intuitive to take steps backwards. While the students are interested in the ease and convenience of shooting with the iPhone, they are using Final Cut to do the editing.
I shot about 35 clips of video in the course of an hour. That’s way too much to keep track of as you’re working in Voddio. Yes, Voddio can handle it, but I couldn’t remember all I had shot and trying to sift through it would have been tough.
I say would have been because I didn’t edit the video on the phone. I loaded it onto my laptop and edited in Final Cut Pro X. If you have just a few clips to work with, Voddio is great. Let’s say a main interview and 5-10 cutaway shots. Great, no problem. But 35 was too intimidating for me, too complex. With that many clips, assembling a story is a lot tougher. Unless you’re going to just string the all together, I don’t think Voddio is the app for you.
Here’s the video I put together. Warning: it’s NOT a story, it’s not stellar journalism. It’s not even journalism.
The team at Vericorder will be disappointed in me, but at least they know that I’m not the kind of journalist they need to target. The stories you tell using this system need to be shorter and a lot less complex. Six to 12 shots is a good number, or longer, continuous shots that don’t necessarily tell a story.
I’m going to keep trying it, but I’m not ready to bring this system into the classroom.