Using a Digital Still Camera to Cover TV News

CNN SF uses a Sony digital camera to capture courtroom art for video editing of daily reports on the Scott Peterson murder trial going on in Redwood City, CA. The use of a digital camera simplifies the capture process and speeds up the editing of news segments for staff editors.For many years whenever there was a trial in which the TV cameras were excluded from the courtroom the TV folks have had to rely on the courtroom artists to get their images of the drama taking place inside. Each metropolitan area usually has one or more artists that specialize in this type of art. The styles of the artists vary from charcoal based art to pencil art to pencil and water color art renditions of the lawyers, judges and defendants in the case. Vickie Behrenger is a long time courtroom artist in Northern California. For the Peterson case she is providing court art to wide number of media outlets ranging from CNN to local news affiliates.The way it works is that the artist sketches away during court and when there is a break they run outside and as quickly as they can they finish up 1 or more pieces of court room art for the media cameras. You have to be good at drawing people in a hurry and you have to be good under pressure. Over the last 20 years or more TV cameramen would anxiously wait for the art to get posted on the wall outside the courthouse so they could shoot it on tape for their stories.The trick to making it interesting for the folks at home is to take a variety of shots of the same piece of art, utilizing zooms and pans to create the illusion of motion. We would invariably spend ten minutes shooting one piece of art in a painstaking effort to give the editor enough to work with in the edit room.Now through the use of digital cameras it is possible to integrate digital images with video images to help speed up the process, make the storage and archiving easier, and give the editor complete creative control.CNN has been covering the Scott Peterson murder trial since the story first began and they discovered that using the Sony Mavica MVC-CD500 camera they could make the process of capturing these images more efficient every day. When art is posted by the courtroom artist Vickie Behrenger outside the court house in Redwood City, CA the CNN editor or cameraman can walk up and snap a couple of images on the digital camera and walk away within a minute.Then the digital images are downloaded into the computer in the CNN workspace across the street. CNN edits their daily stories on a Mac G4 Powerbook using Final Cut Pro 4 software. Once the digital court room art images are imported into the software the editor can then use the power of the software to crop, zoom, pan, or shrink the image as they see fit to work into the script of the story. This is a very effective method of bringing these images into system. At the end of the day the images can be archived onto DVD for storage and easy retrieval for stories in the future.The Sony Mavica is easy enough to use that any member of the news staff on location can be called upon to capture the images when they become available. “We have almost no trouble getting these images from raw art to edited video in a very quick fashion. Then to be able to store them on DVD makes our library retrieval so much easier.” Says Jeff

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