iPhone + Eye-Fi Workflow

News Journal staffers have had company iPhones for five months now, and have moved from viewing them as a novelty to finding out how the best utilize them when gathering news. Reporters that never shot video are now shooting video, photographers I didn’t expect to use Instagram are using Instagram and developers are working to create apps for various special projects.

Personally, I have used my iPhone to tweet photos and information from assignments, tethered it to my computer to transmit images and have used it to shoot video when out of memory in either my Canon or Sony.

Out of all of the uses for the iPhones so far, my favorite has to go to our chief photographer, Suchat Pederson. Shooting with a Canon Mark III, Suchat has paired his Eye-Fi SD card with his iPhone, which he hangs around his neck. Every photo that Suchat tags in-camera is automatically transferred to the camera roll in his iPhone (by default, the Eye-Fi will transfer every photo taken, but you can change it to every tagged photo using the Eye-Fi app). From there, you can bring your photos into an app like Photogene2, which lets you batch apply IPTC information and then send the photos in via FTP, email or a variety of other methods.

Using this method, a photographer is able to transmit professional quality images directly from the scene, as opposed to relying on your iPhone camera for up-to-the-minute web content. Already, Suchat has used it to transmit images from accidents and sporting events, allowing our website to have a gallery up before he is even back in the office.

My first wordpress theme

Okay, technically it is a child theme of the popular TwentyTen theme, but, as you can see from the before and after above, they bear little resemblance to each other. Creating a photoblog here at The News Journal has been on the to-do list for myself, the assistant new media editor Andre Smith and our photo editor Suchat Pederson for some time now, but it wasn’t until the new iPhone initiative came through that Andre and Ashley Barnas brainstormed the format as seen above (previous iterations all took the form of a more traditional photoblog, similar to The Big Picture).

While a typical photoblog would have been nice, because we lack a traditional photo editor (Suchat does far more shooting than photo editing, and would not have the time to scour the wire to put together photo packages) and with the increasing focus on breaking news and sending images from the field, we decided to create a frontpage that displayed the latest photographs from all of our photographers. To make things easier, each photographers is his/her own category, and thumbnails are automatically created from images inserted into a post, for use on the frontpage, archives and category pages. While most photographers will update their images once they are done with a shoot and back in the office, the blog is set up in a way that it can receive images via email from a smartphone (that they will all now have) or pull in from Flickr directly to the appropriate category (the first, thanks to Postie, and the latter thanks to ifttt).

In keeping with the focus on social media, photographers will all have a Twitter follow button next to their name. On posts and category pages, custom sidebars feature content for each photographer … a headshot, short bio, set of thumbnails (currently set to random, but possible latest), latest tweets, etc. Some of this content is hard-coded to “photographer proof” it, but below the hard-coded area is a widgetized sidebar that each photograph can personalize. Also, because we have a strong focus on video, if the most recent post in a category is a YouTube video, it will be playable on the front. When it moves from that latest post spot to the recent post on the front (there are three smaller thumbnails below each main image) it reverts to a thumbnail. Initially, I had that playable as well, but it just seemed too small to be worthwhile. If the embedded video isn’t from YouTube, it will still create a thumbnail for use in both the main and secondary slots on the frontpage.

Plugins used:

As with anything I’ve done on my own time, from my first Vuvox timeline of Drake basketball to the small jQuery project I worked on in November, I have no idea where this will end up. If anything, it was good practice and gave me a better understanding of what makes up a WordPress theme and how to manipulate it. What do you think? Not bad for a first effort? What features would you look for in a newspaper photoblog?

Live demo

Top 10 After Effects tutorials with journalism applications

Recently, After Effects has become one of my favorite programs to play around in. I admit, I am pretty much in love with typography and infographics, so becoming enamored with AE was the next logical step. However, the majority of tutorials out there are focused on special effects for film or title screens. Here are some of my favorite tutorials that I believe could have some sort of journalism applications.

Rhythmic Motion Typography

My friend Shaminder is convinced that this is overdone, but I still enjoy the effect. You’ve seen it in everything from Ford commercials to the initial Cee Lo Green F*ck You music video (not to be confused with Skee-lo).

Animated homage to Bruce Lee

An extension of the previous tutorial, this one includes additional animation and camera moves along with the kinetic typography.

Cinematic opening title

This tutorial shows you how to utilize scripts in After Effects to pair an effect with some external file or database to create an interesting 3D fly-through effect. It could be paired with something as mundane as text from a speech, or perhaps graduating seniors and their senior quotes, or something as serious as a list of casualties from Iraq. Koci used it to great effect in his Interrupted Lives piece on Iran (the effect is just about 1:00 in).

Dynamic Bar Graphs

This one seems straightforward enough … You could use it to add a little interest/graphics to an issue story filled with numbers.

Map your destination

This tutorial has arrows jumping from point to point as you move along in your travels. I’m not sure just what I would use it for yet, but hopefully you have a story that it would be useful in. Similar to this is the Trim paths tutorial, that features an animated red dashed line instead of arrows.

Motion tracking your golf swing

I doubt you are going to be filming a golf video anytime soon, but motion tracking comes in handy for a number of things, from effects like this (if you were profiling an athlete for an all-state prep sports feature) to using it for image stabilization.

Twixtor faux-slow motion tutorial

Twixtor (a $300 plugin for After Effects) takes video shot at 60fps and slows it down to 1000 or even 2000 fps. The tutorial gives some guidelines on how best to shoot prior to importing into After Effects, and then what settings are recommended once you are using the plugin. There also exists a built-in plugin called Time Warp, though I read that its algorithms are not as sophisticated and result in more artifacting when video is slowed down.

Endlessly zoom into your own Droste Effect

This one just seems fun.

Bend flash video in After Effects

This tutorial shows you how to take a flash video and bend it around the geometry of an object that you have in a background photo. I could imagine using something like this if I was trying to build out a landing page and had some sort of looping intro video that I wanted to appear integrated into the scene.

Virtual 3D Photos

This tutorial reminds me of the sort of movements seen in the RJD2 music video for 1976 on MediaStorm … or perhaps of those NBA Where Amazing Happens commercials. It involves cutting up a still image into different layers and having them move at different speeds in relation to each other.