Chris Essig

Walkthroughs, tips and tricks from a data journalist in eastern Iowa

Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Tip: Embedding Vmix videos into a Google Fusion table

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Note: This is cross-posted from Lee’s data journalism blog. Reporters at Lee newspapers can read my blog over there by clicking here.

For any map makers out there, here’s a walk-through on how to take a Vmix video and post it into a Google Fusion table. It’s a perfect follow-up to the tutorials Chris Keller and I held a month ago with Lee journalists on how to build maps with Google Fusion Tables.

1. First we need a Vmix video so post one onto your website like you normally would by uploading it to Vmix and pulling it into the Blox CMS. I’m going to use this video in our example.

2. View the source of the page by right clicking on the page and selecting “View page source.” Then search for a DIV with the class of “vmix-player”. You can do this by searching for “vmix-player”.

3. Under that should be a Javascript file with a source that starts with “http://media.vmixcore.com/”. Click on that link to open up the source in a new window. You should now see a screen with a huge “Not Found” warning. But don’t be discouraged.

4. Now view the source of that page by doing the same thing you did before (Right click > “View page source”).

5. You should now see a page with three variables: t, u and h. The variable we want is “h”, which is the object tag we will embed into the map.

The page should look something like this.

6. Clean up the variable tag by removing these tags:

var h = ”

(This marks the beginning of the variable.)

h += ”

(There should be several of these. Basically this adds whatever follows  it to the “h” variable, hints the plus sign.)

“;

(These are at the end of every line of code.)

7. Now we need to replace all references to the “t” and “u” variables with their actual value. You’ll notice that “t” and “u” appear in the code for the “h” variable and are surrounded by plus signs. Basically that is just telling Javascript to put whatever “t” equals into that spot. We’ll do that manually:

So replace:

” + t + ”

With:

location.href

And replace:

” + u + ”

With:

http://cdn-akm.vmixcore.com/player/2.0/player.swf?player_id=48df95747124fbbad1aea98cee6e46e4

(Your link will be different than mine)

– It’s important to note that you need to delete the equal signs and the plus signs before and after “t” and “u”. Your final code should not have a double quote next to a single quote. We should have just single quotes around “location.href” and our “http://cdn-adk.vmixcore.com” link.

– It’s also important to note that when we grab the “t” and “u” variables, we don’t grab the semi-colon at the end of the variable or the quotes around the “u” variable.

For instance, let’s say we have this for our “u” variable:

var u = "http://cdn-akm.vmixcore.com/player/2.0/player.swf?player_id=48df95747124fbbad1aea98cee6e46e4";

So on our movie parameter, we’re turned this line of code:

<param name='movie' value='" + u + "'/>

Into this line of code:

<param name='movie' value='http://cdn-akm.vmixcore.com/player/2.0/player.swf?player_id=48df95747124fbbad1aea98cee6e46e4'/>

– Repeat this for every reference of “t” and “u” in the code.

Our final piece of code should look like this garbled mess.

8. The final step is to post that object tag above into a Google Fusion Table. The easiest way to do this is create a new column called “video” and simply put the above code into that column’s row.

9. Then configure the info window (Visualize > Map > Configure info window) and make sure the “video” column name appears in the HTML of the info window.

If you want to pull in just the “video” column and nothing else, you’re HTML would look like this:

<div class="googft-info-window">{video}</div>

The result looks something like this map. Click on the blue marker labeled “3” to see the video.

I am using the Fusion Table API to make my map instead of using the embed code provided by Google. It seems to work better with videos. If you are interested in see my full code for this map, click here.

That’s it. If you have any questions or something doesn’t make sense, please leave a comment or e-mail at chris.essig@wcfcourier.com.

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Written by csessig

July 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Video of tax rally approaching 400 views…

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– It didn’t receive an astronomical amount of views, but my video of last week’s tax rally got some attention from our viewers. I think it’s safe to say that video is becoming an increasingly popular medium for newspapers big and small because they do get a lot of attention. It’s no surprise that most editors who are hiring nowadays basically require aspiring journalists to have some sort of video knowledge. And YouTube is popular as it is, so why not jump on board.

– But just because newspapers are becoming more and more familiar with video, doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of video is increasing as well. Case in point: the National Press Photographers Association this year refused to give out a first, second or third place award in the News Video category because no entry met their standards. The judge’s comments are a startling wake up call for an industry clearly struggling to keep up with the times:

One of the judges stated that this was the Best of Photojournalism contest and unfortunately the work entered in this category did not hold up to the standards that we as an industry should be trying to achieve. It was clear from viewing this category that we all need to work harder in educating and training our staffs in both shooting and editing video for the web.

The judges did hand out an honorable mention to Colin Mulvany, a journalist at The Spokesman-Review who produced a video on a candlelight vigil. Mulvany has an excellent blog post, “Video at newspapers need to improve,” in response to the judge’s comments. Go ahead and read it all.

My favorite line comes at the end:

When I started this blog, I wrote a post called “What we can learn from TV news shooters.” The crux of that post : TV news shooters have done video storytelling decades longer than us newbie’s in the newspaper biz, and we can learn a lot from their successes. If you are lucky enough to go to a TV video workshop, you’ll get the fundamentals drilled into your head–Shoot wide, medium tight, super tight. Shoot action, then reaction. Get that camera on sticks! Use a wireless mic. Gather natural sound. What’s your opener? Closer? And, for Christ sake, white balance your video!

Exactly. I feel some journalists shoot video for the sake of shooting video, not realizing there are basic guidelines for newspaper videography. Mix shots, get good interviews, make sure shots aren’t shaky and audio is clear, and most importantly, make sure it tells a captivating story.

– Practice is also very important. And, quite frankly, most newspapers don’t have the money to hire a full-time videographer. This, I think, is my biggest fault because I just don’t get the opportunity to shoot video all that much. But journalists should try and get as many chances as they can. It doesn’t hurt to ask your editor if it’s alright to shoot video. Who knows, maybe they’ll say yes.

– Certainly, my videography skills aren’t all that great either. And I’m sure a lot of journalists are in the same situation. One site I always come back to for videography advice is this simple training video from BBC on the five shot rule. It’s worth a bookmark. It’s a great rundown on how to mix shots and sequence them together.

– That’s all for my rant. Hopefully some of this lights a fire under aspiring videographers. I know I want to shoot more video now…

“Raise our taxes!” “Raise our taxes!”

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Have you ever seen 15,000 people chat that? Yeah, neither have I…until today…

SPRINGFIELD — Thousands of teachers, social service providers and government workers surrounded the Illinois Statehouse Wednesday, calling on lawmakers to fix the out-of-whack state budget.

Link.

I shot a video of the event. Here’s a look:

So is all this rallying really going to push lawmakers to raise our taxes? The short answer is: Probably not.

“To say that is going to rally enough support for a tax increase, I don’t think so,” said state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington.

Link.

But that didn’t certainly stop them from coming. After the rally, many of the people participating in the rally visited one-on-one with their local lawmakers. We’ll see if that convinced any leery lawmakers to vote for a controversial tax increase in an election year. But if I were a betting man…well, you can see where I’m going with this.

Written by csessig

April 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Sheila Simon is Quinn’s running mate

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Simon wins:

SPRINGFIELD — Carbondale attorney Sheila Simon will run for lieutenant governor alongside Gov. Pat Quinn, bringing a well-known Illinois political name to the Democrats’ ticket.

The selection comes more than a month after Democratic voters picked Scott Lee Cohen to be Quinn’s running mate. But after Cohen quit the race because of allegations of violence and drug use in his past, Democratic lead-ers were left with the chore of picking a replacement.

Link.

Somewhat unexpected. Or at least it was a week ago.

Just for the record, I called it in one of my classes Monday night. Victory is mine!

I was there on Saturday and shot a video. Nothing spectacular but something nonetheless:

I really, really wish I would have gotten more B-roll shots. Oh well.

Written by csessig

March 28, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Quinn calls for deep cuts; nobody likes them

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Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed cuts

– Today was one of the most important days of the young legislative session, as the governor unveiled his proposed budget to the public. Not surprisingly, the proposal was very bleak. Quinn called for deep, painful cuts, including more than $1 billion in education funding, and basically dared the legislature to pass a 1 percent income tax (which is much lower than the first tax hike he called for). If not, the governor will be forced to go through with his education cuts, which could mean 17,000 teachers statewide are laid off. Talk about a depressing scenario.

Here’s the boss with more:

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn offered Illinois lawmakers a choice Wednesday: Raise the state income tax or cut spending for schools.

In a 21-minute speech to a joint session of the General Assembly, the governor outlined a gloomy $55 billion budget proposal that relies heavily on borrowing more money and again would delay billions of dollars in payments to people who do business with state government.

With all eyes on the upcoming election, Quinn said lawmakers could face voters in November after either cutting $1.2 billion to local school districts or bumping up the income tax rate by 33 percent.

“I have made some difficult, painful choices in this budget,” the Chicago Democrat said. “You must make some tough choices as well.”

For the full article, click here.

– Quinn is basically playing a game of chicken with the legislature. But could it pay off?

State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said the cuts put forth by Quinn were used to scare lawmakers into supporting a tax increase.

“I think that is a strategic move on his part to probably box in the General Assembly,” he said.

But, the state’s dire money troubles might force action this year, said state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington.

“The mess that we’re in might force compromise that’s desperately needed,” Brady said.

Link.

It’s also possible that neither of the scenarios will come to life. Only time will tell.

– Other cuts (noted above in the graph) were touched on in his speech, but they were basically lost in the shuffle on Wednesday because of how severe his education cuts were. But I spoke with some local officials on Monday, who were paying particular attention to Quinn’s proposed $300 million cut to local governments. And they weren’t happy:

Pana, for example, may need to look into some kind of tax or fee increase to plug such a shortfall, Mayor Steven Sipes said Monday.

Because Pana’s property taxes are capped, city officials would have to consider water rate hikes or a utility tax increases if more revenue is needed, he said. Layoffs are an absolute last resort because the town of 6,000 only has 45 employees.

“It’s going to be devastating,” Sipes said.

Link.

Not good news for any one involved.

– Like his State of the State address last month, Quinn addressed a joint House in the Capitol. Fortunately, his speech today wasn’t nearly as rambling as the SoS address, and lasted only a fraction of the length. He, not unexpectedly, called for a income tax hike. But he noted it would be earmarked solely for education, which was the only new, groundbreaking comment made during the 21-minute speech.

After the speech, I scrambled to get reactions from as many local lawmakers as possible. I think I talked with seven lawmakers. Mike and I spoke with nearly 20 lawmakers in all.

Like our SoS coverage, we basically wrote five separate stories for each of our publications. Here’s a quick wrap:

– The other controversial component of Quinn’s proposal that didn’t get much fan fare was his plan to continue “strategic” borrowing to help the state stay afloat. Bill Brady attacked Quinn on this as well during a presser later in the day. I was all over it:

The Republican state senator from Bloomington was critical of Quinn’s proposal, saying it doesn’t solve the state’s fiscal crisis and instead relies on record amounts of borrowing.

Quinn wants to borrow $4.7 billion to help pay state bills and to roll over an additional $6 billion in unpaid bills to balance the budget.

“Today was an embarrassing day. He (Quinn) asked for an extra 30 days and yet the best he could come up with was a budget that is $4 billion out of balance,” Brady said, referring to Quinn’s request to delay his budget address by a month.

Brady noted that Quinn doesn’t have a plan to repay the borrowing he proposed, and is simply “kicking the can down the road, trying to make it past the election.”

“Quite frankly I wonder if he plans on being here in January because we have a pretty big problem,” he said.

I also shot a quick video of Brady bashing Quinn. I believe it’s the first video the Lee Enterprises’ Springfield bureau has put out, which I’m proud of. Take a look:

– In short, Quinn called for deep cuts today and nobody liked them. This could be a sign of things to come, so be prepared for a very contentious legislative session. And don’t be surprised if nothing get’s done…

Written by csessig

March 10, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Scott Brown’s victory and Groundhog Day (the movie)

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It should be no surprise that the Illinois GOP has been overflowing with excitement after Scott Brown’s unlikely victory in Massachusetts. The state, after all, hasn’t elected a Republican to Senate for more than 35 years. Here in Illinois, many candidates and party affiliates are hoping the seating of Brown will signal a national Democratic dethroning come November. As a result, the list of local GOPers lining up to congratulate Brown grew long last night as the election results came in.

Mark Kirk, a candidate for U.S. Senate, for instance, used the opportunity to solicit supporters. Fellow Senate candidate Patrick Hughes tweeted about the victory, as did Bill Brady and Jim Ryan, candidates for governor. Republicans Kirk Dillard and Dan Proft went a step further and extended their congratulations in an official statement. Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady did as well, proclaiming loud and clear that “Illinois is next.” My bureau chief, consequently, wrote a story on the press release, as many media outlets did.

Adam Andrzejewski, the fifth candidate in the governor’s race to sound off on the Massachusetts’ election, went the furthest by actually releasing a video on YouTube congratulating Brown. Check it out:

It adds a more personal touch, I guess.

But the most bizarre response I saw–by far–came from John Arrington, a little-know candidate for U.S. Senate. In his press release congratulating Brown, he compared the movie Groundhog Day to Illinois. You’ll have to see this to believe it:

If you recall the movie Ground Hog day, Bill Murray had to relive that day over and over again until he got his life right.  Are we going to continue to relive the past here Illinois by electing the same corrupt, self serving, or unprincipled politicians? Or are we finally going to elect a principled servant of the people, who will go to Washington and defend the Constitution and move us past the reliving of Ground Hog day?

Groundhog Day, by the way, is two words, not three. But all kidding aside, what the hell?

Very usual…

Written by csessig

January 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm