This coming Saturday, the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last surviving wooden whaling ship, is going to leave Mystic Seaport for the first time since it arrived in 1941. The decision to sail her again was made during the early stages of a restoration project that began in 2008. Reporter Ann Baldelli and I shot an interview with Steven C. White, president of the seaport, and then I had a day to cut down the 45 minute interview and edit this piece from more than 600 photos by Day photographer Sean Elliot.
I wish this story were about the cool underwater images I captured last week of migrating herring. Instead, it’s about how I watched a helpless animal drown in a piece of man-made technology meant to help wildlife survive and prosper.
Last week, I was working on a video to accompany a story about herring migrating to their inland spawning grounds, and how their population is growing in East Lyme thanks to human intervention. We received a tip that a number of herring were going through the Latimer Brook Fishway near Flanders Four Corners. I arrived with a waterproof video camera and immediately saw a large group of fish in the clear water of a pool at the entrance to the fishway.
I was in my car reviewing some of the footage when I heard a strange noise, and saw wings flapping inside the fishway’s chain link fence before disappearing below the concrete wall. I grabbed my camera and looked down over the fence to see a bird, later identified to me as an osprey, struggling in the water between the fishway’s outer concrete wall and the inner metal trough where the fish travel upstream.
I recorded what I saw, assuming that the bird would free itself, possibly carrying away a fish it had caught. After a few minutes, it was clear the bird was stuck. I wasn’t sure what to do – I don’t think 911 generally handles wildlife emergencies. Honestly I wasn’t even sure if this was an emergency.
There was a phone number for the state DEEP fisheries office on the sign in the parking area, so I called and let someone know what was going on. The person I spoke with wasn’t sure who would handle a situation like this, and I was transferred to another office. I ended up speaking to at least five different people, none of whose job descriptions, it seemed, included rescuing a trapped osprey. One person even asked me why I couldn’t just reach down and help it myself. (The bird’s claws and beak were the main reasons.) After half an hour, someone finally gave me the number of A Place Called Hope, a raptor rescue center in Killingworth. I spoke to Christine, who was in the middle of another project about 45 minutes away, but was going to drop everything to come try to help.
Given how much time had passed, she asked me to try to reach the bird with a long branch in the hope that it might grab on with its claws. I found a tree branch, but the bird was now motionless with its head below the water. By now I felt a responsibility to the creature, so I managed to fish it out and confirm that it was in fact dead.
Maybe there was nothing I could have done. Animals die in the wild all the time, right? But I was frustrated that it took so long to get in touch with someone who could help, and regretful that I had waited so long to try to physically assist the bird.
After standing outside in the pouring rain last night at a girls lacrosse game, I woke up to snow on the ground. On April 16. I had the opposite feeling back in the winter when snowpacalypse was forecast for something like the seventh time. I set up a GoPro in the front yard to capture a time lapse of the impending blizzard. What we got instead was a glorified dusting with temps in the teens. Without a specific weather story to pursue, I took the time lapse concept on the road throughout the day and put together this video.
I’ve been trying to make this video for several years. One year I was on vacation, another we were chasing UConn basketball. For some reason, things kept coming up that prevented me from working on the first day of the high school baseball season. This year, I put it on the calendar early, got in touch with the coaches in advance, and had everything ready to go. The weather worked out perfectly on both of my shooting days. I briefly thought this video was not going to happen again this year. I had asked the Montville coach to let me know when the groundskeeper would be prepping the field before the first home game. The night before, he told me to be there at 8:30 a.m. The morning of the game, as I was getting ready to take my kids to school, I saw an email from the coach saying they were already out working on the field. I thought this project was sunk for another year, but fortunately for me (unfortunately for the groundskeeper) the wet spring meant that the field needed extra work. I arrived in plenty of time to shoot the field work, do some editing, and then go back for the start of the game.
I spent most of the past fall working nearly full-time on high school football. We broadcast three live games in the fall, and along with them we published several dozen video features on the players and coaches. I shot and edited this piece in one afternoon and evening at the end of the regular season and just before the start of the playoffs.
My co-worker Jenna Cho tagged along on our last high school basketball broadcast of the season and shot this behind the scenes video. It covers the big picture view of our workflow, but doesn’t get into the technical specifics of hardware and software, so I figured I would elaborate a little bit. Because we’re a small newspaper, we don’t have a dedicated crew or equipment for live streaming sports. Almost all of the gear is used for something else during the week and then gets re-purposed for our sports broadcasts. We use the cameras for daily and long-term stories, and the audio equipment and switcher get used for our weekly live music show, Live Lunch Break. There is certainly room for improvement, but this setup has worked well for us so far.
Cameras: We use four cameras for the broadcast and a fifth for the clock on the scoreboard. The action cameras are a Sony PMW-200, a Sony EX1R and a Sony FS100. The camera for the on-air talent is a Canon HV20. The HV20 is connected to the switcher via HDMI, and the other cameras are connected via SDI. Since the FS100 doesn’t have an SDI output, we use a BlackMagic Design HDMI to SDI converter.
Switcher: The cameras are switched using the BlackMagic Design ATEM Television Studio. It is mounted in a rolling rack case along with a BlackMagic monitor that we use for multiview. The HDMI program output goes to a BlackMagic Hyperdeck Shuttle for recording in HD. The Shuttle passes through an HDMI signal to a small television monitor so the talent can see the program when they call the game. The SDI program output is connected to a laptop for streaming via a BlackMagic Mini Recorder into the Thunderbolt port on a MacBook Pro running Wirecast.
Computers: We use three MacBook Pros. One is running the ATEM software to control the switching and graphics. A second is streaming the program via Wirecast software to Livestream. Wirecast is also used to insert video features and advertisements. The third laptop is running a second copy of Wirecast to provide a scoreboard.
Scoreboard: Wirecast has a nice built-in scoreboard. I decided to customize ours with a graphic “skin” that adds The Day’s logo, team colors and logos, and a clock. The clock is captured using a fifth camera – a Sony Z1U – connected via S-Video to a Sony deck, which is connected to the laptop via firewire. The clock goes on the top layer in Wirecast, the skin goes on the second layer, and the scoreboard itself goes on the third layer. The skin includes a colored background for keying. The laptop is connected to to the switcher via mini-display to HDMI cable. The scoreboard is overlayed using the upstream key with a mask and chroma key. Our sports reporter sits next to the on-air talent with this laptop. He keeps statistics for the game and operates the scoreboard.
Audio: We have an 8-channel Mackie soundboard. All of the program audio is panned to the left, and all off-air communication is panned to the right. The left main out is used for the program audio. It goes either directly to the laptop running Wirecast or into one of the cameras which provides the audio to the BlackMagic TVS. You could also use an analog to digital audio converter directly into the switcher, but that’s a piece of equipment we don’t have at the moment. In order to have different mixes, the Aux Send 1 goes to the talent’s headphones, and the Aux Send 2 goes via wireless transmitter to the three camera operators and the sideline reporter.
Streaming: The laptop running Wirecast gets the program feed via SDI into a BlackMagic mini recorder in the Thunderbolt port. Wirecast sends an SD stream to Livestream, and records an SD .mov file to a Lacie firewire drive.