4 Hour Challenge – Jeff and Primavera

When Biohacking Meets Art

Behind the Story: GoPro and Remote Reporting

This piece represents a reporting experiment, and though we weren’t able to get as much together in four hours as I had hoped, this was a proof of concept of remote reporting with the latest GoPro camera.

GoPro’s Hero3+ camera can stream live high-quality video to a smartphone app, and the camera’s features can all be controlled remotely. So yeah, we strapped the camera to Primavera’s head, and I sat in the next room essentially looking through her eyes and deciding when to record or not as she worked on a biohacking project she’s in the middle of. A picture below shows a screen grab from my iPhone during the recording.


I watched them work for a little over an hour, recording about 20 minutes of footage total. Then I recorded short audio interviews with Primavera and with a scientist she was collaborating with. The narration is an edited version of that interview with Primavera, and I didn’t have time to edit in any of the other interview.

We had two major issues I hadn’t accounted for:

* Slow rendering time: GoPro was designed to capture high-quality footage of high-action scenes. It can record in 1080p resolution, which is overkill for this project. I set it for 960p, but I should have dialed it down further, since the high-res footage created two problems. One, the file sizes were immense. We generated about 15 gigs of raw video. The files were slow to transfer from camera to the computer, so time was lost simply waiting for that. And then when I brought the files into FinalCutPro, the program had to render them, which was also time consuming. This meant I had far less time to pick and choose clips and fine-tune the piece to meet our four-hour deadline. I probably should have used GoPro Studio, free software that comes with the camera, but I wasn’t familiar with it so I went with a program I know better.

* Light issues: We started our project at around 2:30 pm, and the light was excellent then. The building we were shooting in has skylights, so it was pretty ideal. But by 4:30 the light was getting dim. Things still looked fine in the viewfinder and on the app, but once we imported the footage, everything after 4:30 looked so dark you can hardly tell what is happening. We had to scrap most of that footage, and the short clip that is in here looks like we switched to black-and-white.

Bigger Issues

My theory on this is that subjects of a story might feel less self-conscious about having a reporter’s camera present if the reporter wasn’t in the room. That theory was totally wrong. All three of the people involved in this biohacking project were frequently thinking about whether the camera was getting things, and they spent time handing the camera off to each other, trying to get the camera to look through the microscope’s viewfinder, etc. Because as the reporter I wasn’t able to decide where the camera was positioned, this was really a story co-created with the subjects. I did the editing and made decisions about what to put in and what to leave out, but I only had footage that the subjects had decided to take (with some general instructions by me at the outset).

There may be a few situations where it is simply too dangerous for a reporter to tag along, but where subjects are willing to carry a GoPro. But that’s probably a rare case (I’d be curious to hear what others think, though).

For me, this fits into a broader project on having subjects make multimedia diaries of their lives, and it seems like Google Glass is better suited for that (less invasive to the wearer). Still, the GoPro is an interesting new tool.

Video: Clay Johnson makes a case for conscious information consumption

Clay Johnson who co-founded Blue State Digital which is credited for U.S. President Barack Obama’s election campaign’s online success in 2008 speaks about his new book ” The Information Diet” in a Panel discussion at MIT Media Lab .

Four-hour challenge:
Start: 17:00 2/15/2012
Finished Editing & exporting media: 20:55 2/15/2012
I was unable to post the Video online within the 9 pm time frame. I managed to upload it by 9:20 pm.

Video Link:http://www.sparksforchange.com/?p=75

MAS S61: assignment #2

Four-hour challenge:
Start: 19:05 2/18/2012
Finish: 22:26 2/18/2012

CAMBRIDGE, MA — Harvard (23-3, 9-1 Ivy) beat Yale again 66-51 to tie the school’s record for victories. Harvard set the program’s record with 23 wins last season, when it tied for first place in the Ivy League.

With four games left in the season, Harvard is on track to claim sole ownership of the Ivy League title this season and make it into the NCAA tournament for the first time since its sole appearance in 1946. The Ivy League does not have a conference tournament so the top team in the league receives an automatic bid for the NCAA tournament next month.

Harvard also extended its home win streak to 27 games, the second longest home court winning streak after Kentucky, which also extended its home winning streak to 50-0. Harvard is 10-0 at home and has yet to lose at Lavietes Pavilion this season.

Led by the inside-outside duo of guard Brandyn Curry and forward Keith Wright, Harvard dominated Yale in virtually every category: field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, rebounds, assists, as well as points in the paint. The Crimson made 54.3% (25-46) of its shots and outrebounded Yale 33-22.

Keith Wright scored 10 points and hauled in 8 rebounds, tying Brian Cusworth’s school career block record with 147. Brandyn Curry led Harvard with 18 points and 5 assists. Guard Oliver McNally added 9 points and 2 assists while forward Kyle Casey chipped in 8 points.

Saturday evening’s loss to Harvard drops Yale’s Ivy League record to 17-7 and 7-3 in the Ivy League. Yale was led by center Greg Mangano, who had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 5 block shots. Unfortunately, Mangano received little support from his teammates, none of whom scored more than 8 points.

Harvard climbed into the Top 25 men’s basketball teams for the first time this season. However, the Crimson fell out of the Top 25 after each loss. Harvard has lost three times this season: to University of Connecticut December 8, Fordham January 3 and Princeton February 11.

Next weekend, Harvard will play Princeton (15-10, 6-3 Ivy) and Penn (15-11, 7-2 Ivy) at home. After that, Harvard will have two more league games against Columbia (14-12, 3-7 Ivy) and Cornell (10-14, 5-5 Ivy).