Ah, April. Students are interviewing, interviewing, interviewing. Recruiters are visiting campus, students are being asked to Skype interview. There’s lots of excitement — and not a few red flags.
Anyone who has ever had a bad job knows the red flag. You tend to see them in hindsight, but when you look back you go “How could I have gone to work at a place that did X?” My favorite was the department admin who was handling the scheduling of my interview and wouldn’t provide me a list of whom I’d be interviewing with. I pulled out of the applicant pool.
Then there was the boss who offered me a job and said “You have 24 hours to decide. There are plenty of other people who want that job.”
I took that job. It turned out she was a lousy boss. I should have known.
After a lot of experiences, I’ve found a simple rule: Little things usually indicate big things. A high turnover rate recently indicates that management is doing something to move people out. Why? Flying in the night before the interview and the business has no one to take you to dinner or at least coffee? I question both how organized a company is and how much they care about people. Does the person I would be working for treat the administrative stuff poorly? I tend to think they won’t treat anyone who works for them well.
The way bosses act can be indicative of a company’s culture or values. If a company tolerates a person who treats employees badly, is it a place you really want to work for?
Here are four red flags. None of them are deal breakers. But they should cause you to think.
1. The potential employer doesn’t value your time. Look, everyone’s time is valuable, yours and theirs. And you want someone who feels like your time is an investment. Phrases like “squeezing you in,” and actions like repeatedly scheduling and re-scheduling the appointment show a lack of respect for your time. It also speaks to disorganization. A friend tells a story of going to an interview and being forced to wait in the lobby for an hour after the interview was supposed to start. She was told by someone’s admin that they had forgotten her interview. Why would you want to work at a place like that?
2. They say things like “We deliberately understaff to make sure that everyone has enough work.” HUGE giant red flag here, since it translates to “We don’t have enough people to distribute the work to and we don’t want to hire more.” Go to this company and you will work like a dog. I worked for a company like this once and we had weekly meetings where people would go around the table rating their workload from 1-10 and the most frequent answer was “11.”
3. You don’t get a straight answer in the interview when you ask “What will my first week/month look like?” Smart employers have an onboarding process — a way to get you acclimated to the company. Smart managers who work at places that don’t have formal onboarding processes will still have a plan: “After doing paperwork we’ll grab some lunch with some of your new co-workers, then you’ll do a little online training. On the second day…” If you hear an answer of “We just drop people in the pool and see if they can swim,” think twice. It’s not a deal killer, but onboarding programs — or people who think about doing that — are signs of smart management.
4. Don’t let them change you. You are who you are. A friend relates doing an interview at a TV station and the first set of the day’s interviews went well. Before the second set with senior management, the news director pulled her into a bathroom and tried to get her to change her hair. Unless you’re going into TV, your example won’t be that extreme. But if someone wants you to change basic things about you — your approach, your personality, a part of your physical appearance that is part of your identity — you want to have a moment of pause.
Special Bonus No. 5: Distrust anyone who says “I’m a straight shooter,” or “Let me be frank with you.” Because they’re not and they won’t. They’re trying to project an image. Every time, every time, I’ve had a potential employer use those words I have lived to regret taking that job.
Last time I blogged about the apps that made it through the year on my phone. I promised to do the next piece on what’s in the kit itself. Lots of pictures in this one, words beneath in case you don’t like ThingLink.
But let’s talk kit theory. There’s a lot of different ways that you can construct a kit, but when you’re talking about mobile journalism, you’re facing the conundrum: the more quality you add to the production — via lights, sound equipment or tripod — the less mobile you become. My kit is a reflection of that. It’s light enough that I can carry it for hours without breaking down, but it has a lot of stuff in it for those “just in case” moments.
First, let’s talk about the bag, which has been dubbed “Old Ironsides,” because of the patch (the patch and pin are for the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry, 1st Armored Division; I have a former student who is serving as a combat medic with the unit and I keep it on the bag to to honor her and to remind myself that I really don’t have bad days).[thinglink 610295344089006081]
It’s a Vanquest Javelin right-shoulder sling-style pack. I prefer the sling since I don’t like stuff around my waist (or in my lap if I’m squatting down). And the overall weight of the pack would be awkward around the front of my waist. I’ll configure how I need to before I start shooting and then bring the bag around to my front so that I can get into the front compartment where I keep lenses and the other things that I’ve found I need quickly during shooting.
Going compartment by compartment, here’s the front top pocket (it’s the one with the patch on it). This is “ready gear,” stuff I need quickly.[thinglink 610295391266537473]
I keep my telephoto and wide-angle/macro lenses in there. That’s not exactly true; the angle of view is so wide on the iPhone and iPad’s default camera that putting a 2x telephoto lens takes the view field back to what we see with our eyes, so the telephoto is on almost the whole time.
I keep gaffer’s tape in there, and I’ll use it to attach lights to walls, attach my pre-amp to a tripod leg.
I use a cold shoe rack to expand the space to mount accessories. Mounting a wireless receiver AND a light can be impossible on a frame with a single-cold shoe mount. This mitigates that.
I use a Joby GripTight mount if I’m doing something simple with the phone and don’t need to put lighting or sound equipment on it. It snaps around the phone and lets me put it on a tripod or monopod.
There’s a pocket knife in there for those knife emergencies: cutting tape, cutting apples.
Randomly, there’s an Apple Lighting to SD card reader. If you’re field editing on an iPad or using a system like Videolicious’s enterprise-level product that breaks up small files for transmission, you can use this to take video from your shoulder cam or DSLR and load it on to the tablet. Truth: I keep it in there for emergencies and because it’s light, not because I use it all that much.
Next up: The main compartment. Or the kitchen sink. It’s where the bulk of my equipment goes — and the bulky equipment. The bag has Velcro rails and comes with dividers that can attach to make it configurable. I’ve broken mine into two levels. The top level is things I reach for a lot: pre-amp, frames, mics. The bottom level is a heavy-but-useful clamp.[thinglink 610295410853937153]
I love me my iRig Pro, which allows me to put XLR-cabled audio equipment to use. It serves as a pre-amp, lets me adjust gain externally and converts analog to digital signals.
The RØde VideoMic Pro is a compact shotgun mic. It can connect to your phone or tablet via splitter or you can run it through a 1/4″-XLR adapter to pass the sound through the iRig. The mic uses rubber bands to suspend it from the frame to reduce vibration. They are
tricky a pain in the ass to reattach if they pop loose.
I’m a fan of the Sennheiser ew 100 series of wireless microphones. They have pretty good range and an automatic channel scan to find the channel with the least interference. The package I bought has a body-worn transmitter, a receiver and a wireless transmitter for a stick mic, which is worth the price of admission. In the bag, they live in a cable pouch from WaterField Designs (as a shameless plug, for which I receive no you should totally buy their bags, which are designed and made in the United States. I have two of their briefcases, several laptop sleeves and a bunch of their pouches).
I carry two frames in my bag, a BeastGrip and an iOgrapher. I use them for different things, and until I switched to an iPhone 6, the iOgrapher was my go-to frame (the iOgrapher is specifically sized to the phone, and I was using a 5s frame; they’ll have 6 and 6+ frames ready soon, I’m told). The iOgrapher has those huge handles on the side which make it easy to shoot actively with and fairly easy to self-stabilize. It also has a ring for the 37mm lenses that I use and 3 cold-shoe mounts. The BeastGrip is a 3D-printed universal frame that uses sliders and expanders to fit most phone frames (my iPhone 6 barely fits in there, but it does fit). It’s got some handholds on there and numerous attachment points for clamps, lights, etc. The company is coming out with a new version, which doesn’t really look all that different from the old one, but has the ability to mount a DSLR lens on it.
My stick mic is a RØde Reporter mic. RØde will tell you that it has all sorts of shielding to make it omindirectional but primarily pick up the conversations. Here’s what I know: It creates beautiful sound. I use a Sennheiser wireless transmitter at the end of the stick mic and it’s portable, great for interviews, audio pieces or just gathering sound in places where the shotgun is awkward.
I’ve built the bag to have two levels. The lower level of the main compartment holds a superclamp with a double-ball joint head. I use this in conjunction with the phone frame to mount the phone to rails or boards or the running board on a truck. I’ve also used it as a second tripod on multicamera shoots.
So that’s the big stuff. What you don’t see is the various charging cords and external battery I have stashed in the side pocket. I’ve used the Mophie PowerStation XL, which I’ve found great at retaining power but not as good at multiple rounds of charging, and certainly too expensive at $129. I’ve recently switched to an IntoCircuit Powercastle, which holds the charge just as long and is much better about charging multiple times and it’s less than $25 at Amazon right now.
Judd Slivka Tools and Toys AirStash+, apps, camera+, Diptic, filmic pro, Hyperlapse, LapseIt, mobile journalism, mojo, MultiTrackDAW, Pinnacle Studio, RecoLive MultiCam, snapseed, Steller, Storehouse, StoryByte, ThingLink, TwistedWave Editor, TypeA, Voice Recorder Pro
Getting towards the end of the year, so it feels like a good time to review the things on the phone. A lot of old standbys here, a few new things. I have what the wife calls “an app problem,” so I’ve limited it here to one screen on my phone — the one with the apps I’m using regularly.
There are so many apps. So. Many. Bad. Apps. Photo and video apps are fast-growing part of the app ecosphere, but so many are done poorly. It’s not a depth vs. flexibility so much as it is just poor design and coding choices.
Here’s what I’m using now (narrative below the ThingLink if you’re the kind who still likes words):
Still using FiLMiC Pro for videography. The iOS8 update has made it a world-beater. You can control the ISO, aperture and frame rate on it now. The developers fixed a HUGE problem with trim editing in the app, so it’s now possible to easily trim and create sub-clips for exporting. And they coded in lots of manual color correction options — white balance, saturation, contrast and brightness.
Lots of time spent in Pinnacle Studio, just like last year. iOS8 didn’t bring a lot of obvious changes to the app, and that’s OK, because it’s just a good solid editing app. It doesn’t stabilize or color-correct. It edits. It has one audio/video track and three audio tracks. It has a frame-by-frame editor. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do. A major improvement in the newest version is the ability to transfer project files from the phone version to the tablet version via AirDrop, keeping the project assets intact. Rough-cutting on the phone and finishing on the iPad is nice.
I’ve been doing some multi-camera stuff this year and found the awkwardly named RecoLive MultiCam the app I keep going back to. I can slave up to three other devices to my phone or tablet and stream their video to me. I can tap-edit angles in real time and it will save my shots for me or I can transfer all the raw feeds back to my phone or tablet and edit them at my leisure there.
Hyperlapse is Instagram’s timelapse product. It’s free and it’s pretty great, but don’t use it as a timelapse app, since there are better ones out there. Use it as way to produce stable tracking shots. The app stitches together different frames and matches the subjects in them to deliver a stabilized shot. Here’s an example that I did at 2X speed; there’s a lot less bounce than you’d expect going up the steps and the tracking to the left is much smoother than my normal awkward gait:
I still find myself using a variety of apps for audio. I’d give a toe off my left foot for a single app that did everything I wanted it to do.
Voice Record Pro is a sentimental favorite that visually shows levels and exports to pretty much every file format that matters. It stands alone in allowing an audio file to be exported as a video file so that you can split out the audio in a video editor and not have to go through weird import voodoo things. I wish it let me monitor sound as it was recording.
MultiTrack DAW was designed to record and mix music, rather than journalism, so it’s maybe a little too button-pushy for me. But if I’m recording and producing content in the field, it’s the only app that allows me to do it without constantly crashing (looking at you, Voddio).
TwistedWaveEditor is a high-quality, well thought-out app for single-track editing. If it were multi-track it would be perfect. As it is, if I’m recording and editing a single track, this is what I use. Its files open in most other apps, it has really good filters and adjustments and I can monitor while I listen.
AirStash+ is more a piece of hardware than an app, but I’m including it here since it has an app and I use it a lot and this is my blog. Anyway, storage space is at a premium on mobile devices and the AirStash+ is basically an SD card that fits into its own WiFi hotspot. I use it to move files on and off whatever I’m shooting on, particularly if I’m doing a longer-term thing using the my iPad, which is only 16GB (note to reader: Don’t buy a 16GB iPad if you’re doing video).
Camera+ is an app that I’m less enamored of than I was. They incorporated manual controls into their iOS8 version and it still give you a lot more control than the native camera app. I just don’t like the design and the inability to obviously lock some of the settings. I do love the in-app editing functions, though. You could use just those and accomplish 90 percent of your editing without leaving the app.
LapseIt is, for my money, the best timelapse app out there. It’s a very narrow app, but a very deep one. Doing timelapses requires you to worry about exposure, locking focus and frame rate. LapseIt lets you manage all of those in very granular ways. Its newest version lets you import pre-existing video from the Camera Roll and change its speed, which is very handy if you capture something but don’t want to go into a full-fledged editing program to slow it down.
Here’s an oldie but a goodie: 360 Panorama creates immersive panoramic shots very quickly then shares them (bonus: it generates an embed code, too). Anyone who has ever spent time swearing over the combination of tripod angle changes and stitching together 18 shots in Photoshop will love this. And the 360-degree shot is an easy way to put the reader/viewer/user there.
For photo editing, I’m all about SnapSeed. It’s fuller functioned than the next best product (made by Adobe), is intuitive to use and allows for spot edits, rather than full-frame ones.
I am the most anti-scrapbook kind of person you will ever meet, largely because I have the emotional range of a turtle. So it took me awhile to come around to using a collage app, because, you know, it seems so scrapbooky. There’s fodder for another blog post and at least two or three visits to a therapist in those last couple sentences, but collage apps are great because we can get a lot of information into what the Internet sees as a single picture. We can use those as the foundations for other apps. I love Diptic because it’s fast, easy to use and easy to make corrections on.
I’m a huge fan of ThingLink, which puts interactive layers over photos right from the field.
I love TypeA. Everyone who uses it loves it too, since it creates a caption beneath a photo, saves it as a photo to the Camera Roll which can then go direct to the social web or can be used as the basis for another interactive graphic. No longer do you have to waste 140 characters telling people what’s in the photo.
ChartMaker Pro is great for meetings where you’re live-tweeting and there’s lots of tabular data being presented. There’s nothing fancy here. The app creates Excel-looking charts that can go to social or back into the Camera Roll where you can bring them in and out of other apps.
These next three are storytelling apps: Steller allows you to incorporate multimedia into a book-style Web and mobile-friendly presentation. Storehouse is the Snowfall of the iOS story platform world: It’s a words n’ pictures machine with automatic video play based on scroll depth. StoryByte makes photo slideshows complete with captions that go direct to the social web.
Next time: Stuff in the bag, including some odds and ends I didn’t think would make it there.
Flickr is changing its user terms to sell a specific type of user-generated images without compensating the user. Not surprisingly, people are mad about this. This old post about Facebook changing its terms of service to use uploaded photos in ad continues making its way around the Internet (ironically, posted mostly through Facebook). And just yesterday a business owner was complaining to me about how Facebook’s monetization policies are keeping her from reaching her audience’s newsfeed (her rant was inspired by this WSJ.com article).
My question to her: Why are you surprised?
The relationship of user:Facebook is the same as that of tenant:landlord, except that no money really changes hands (insert “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” line in the argument). What it means is that you have no control over what happens to your creative goods.
There’s an equation at work here: It’s less of an investment to go with what’s out there than to custom-develop something, even if it’s as simple as a website. When I worked for a large state agency with thousands of photos to manage, we lacked the funds and the organizational oomph to invest in a photo archive system that was open to the public but still serve the agency. So we put 4,000 photos on Flickr. It seemed like a good idea in 2010. It could still be a good idea, assuming that Flickr doesn’t continue to lose its mind and try and profit from there (the secondary lesson: frequently check the permission settings on any “free” social platform).
This equation is at the the center of the argument that you shouldn’t build on land you rent, only on land you own. It makes sense when you want to do improve a house and it makes sense when you want to base an online presence somewhere. The problem with free services it that you’re entirely at the whim of the service provider (Facebook limiting brand Page appearances in users’ newsfeeds is a good example, as is Twitter’s decision to insert favorited tweets into a person’s followers’ feeds). These places aren’t in business to lose money, so why wouldn’t they manipulate the business model to their advantage?
The underlying problem is that we’ve become accustomed to being given something for nothing. It’s Facebook’s and Twitter’s and Flickr’s and everyone else’s business model. You can only do so much monetizing the basic service model. The big money is in licensing, in advertising and in making brands pay for reach.
How do you counteract it?
— Buy a piece of land. You don’t need to go as far as building your own server stack, but you need to be in control of your platform.
— Build a website and concentrate on the engagement functions: quality content, newsletters. Bring people into your home, not an apartment that you rent.
— Don’t ignore the freeish social platforms like Facebook, but don’t make them the centerpiece of your engagement. If you want people to visit those locations of their free will, make it worth their while to check it by having frequent deals and incentives.
I really should just call this “Something to put pre-roll on,” because that was the point of the presentation. I gave this last Thursday at the Walter B. Potter, Sr., Conference: Innovation and Transformation in Community Newspapers held at the Reynolds Journalism Institute (note: I am a huge fan of conferences held two floors above my office).
Slideshow is embedded below, but here are the takeaways:
1. About 3/4 of online video watchers watch in-stream ads (like pre-roll) to completion. That’s fantastic in this day and age and a way to help an outlet’s advertising rate card.
2. You need something to put in-stream ads on and if you’re the Cabool, Mo., newspaper, local content is going to play better than anything else. Especially local sports and man-bites-dog stuff. So you need to figure out a way to produce it.
3. Mobile tools provide a relatively cheaper way of providing an all-in-one gather/edit/publish experience.
4. Then there’s two conceptions of what a mobile kit looks like, RTE’s mobile grab-kit and the one we’re giving our advanced mobile students at the Missouri School of Journalism.
Saved you a bunch of clicks right there. Presentation is below if you want to see it.