Students on the Lawn

Video Concepts, CCREFS Filming and Video Conversion

by Daniel Hopkins '13, CEF Summer Media Intern

Over the past two weeks I’ve spent the majority of my time writing video scripts, brainstorming new video concepts/themes, filming with CEF intern Jack Lehrecke, uploading time-lapse photos and researching methods of converting AVCHD video files into a high quality format supported by my editing system. 

As the media intern, it is my responsibility to produce creative and informative videos while at the same time keeping the audience interested.  The most challenging part of this process is simply coming up with an idea to put into action.  I’ve found that brainstorming original ideas in which are realistic, catchy and appropriate to the subject matter is a more difficult process than it may sound.  I also believe it’s very important to have an eye-catching introduction for these videos to lure the audience in effectively.  So far I’ve come up with a scripted introduction for the video explaining the surveying process behind the Comprehensive Campus Renewable Energy Feasibility Study (CCREFS and a general layout and direction for all four videos.  I hope to have the introductions of all of the videos written out in a storyboard within the next week.

Last Thursday, June 28th, I spent part of the afternoon observing what goes on behind the surveying process for a photovoltaic (PV) installation.  Jack Lehrecke was a great help by clearly explaining the several characteristics of a building that must be taken into account before a solar panel installation can be considered.  He explained that a roof is considered feasible if its substrate is suitable (stone based roofs are not suitable for example), its slope is less than 60° and it is facing south or west, but preferably south.  Jack also explained that certain geometric features of a roof that cause shading will determine where exactly the solar panels should be installed.  One of these features is termed an “eve”, which is the part of a roof that exceeds the height of the rest of the roof, therefore casting a shadow over a certain area.  By obtaining this type of information, I feel more able to form questions for upcoming interviews with the CEF interns.  By being more knowledgeable about this subject matter, I will be able to write more specific questions, and in return obtain more thorough responses from my interviewees.

I’ve continued to check on both time-lapse cameras as well as upload and edit photos from them over the past two weeks as well.  I was able to talk with Kirk on one of these occasions about when the solar panels were due for installation.  This allowed me to return to the farm on the appropriate day, and at the appropriate time to film the solar panels being placed on the Equine Center roof.

The last task I’ve been working on is researching video editing software forums in hope to find something that will either support the video format of the supplied camcorder (.MTS), or will successfully convert this format into a usable video format, without losing a great deal of video quality.  I had initially downloaded some free software that could convert these files into .AVI, a common video format for Windows editing systems, but could not retain the high quality picture of the .MTS video files.  I’m slowly coming closer to finding an alternative means of editing these video files, but have found myself very frustrated with this issue.  I do know that once this dilemma is solved, I will have learned a whole lot about video encoding, compression settings, and the many complications behind mysterious video formats.  This will be a huge benefit in my future of video editing.