Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Kagan Hearings in Lapse

The multimedia team has leveraged its toolkit to create an impactful time-lapse video of the first day of Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. It compresses the entire session into a fast-forward two-and-a-half minutes.

What could have been a facile visual stunt has been laboriously executed to give viewers a memorable and meaningful summary of the day's events.

Producer Craig Duff reveals that he and Mark Rykoff used more than 2,000 images by photographer Brooks Kraft, who locked down the camera in a corner of the room (though the piece is artfully punctuated by closeups as well). The video is bookended by the participants and observers assembling and recessing -- so before and after the main event, we see the room quickly fill and then empty.

The soundtrack consists of highlights of Kagan's inquisitors, both laudatory and adversarial, and her responses -- with slight audio overlap that quickens the pace without sacrificing content. Note how background music is subtly and selectively used to draw and keep your attention. What sounds like a solo cello adds urgency, dropping out to accentuate Kagan's concluding statement, and then returning for a brisk finale.

For part of the sequence, a zooming effect was created by progressively enlarging each individual image in post-production. "Labor intensive," Duff reveals (on his Facebook Wall!). "But I got into a kind of Zen rhythm."

If you've seen other meritorious examples of time-lapse photography used for videojournalism stories, please share them with us.

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