Chicago Ribfest 2013

Chicago Ribfest 2013

As an instructor at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, Chicago Campus, it’s my pleasure to work with students to help them develop their broadcast skills. It is always best if a learning experience can be realized while on location at an actual live event.

On Saturday, June 8, 2013, three students at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting had an opportunity to join me at RIB FEST, now celebrating its 15th year as an outdoor festival on Lincoln Avenue. There were three blocks of vendors selling bar-be-que specialties that included ribs, brats, burgers, hot-dogs and corn on the cob. There were two stages for music and a number of fun activities that included face and tattoo-painting, giant slides, trampolines, miniature golf and an area for little ones to dance.

The assignment of the day: capture as much of the fun and festivities of RIB FEST with crowd reaction, sound bites from participants and fill the report with visuals that in the business is commonly referred to as “B-Roll.” To set the stage for the “package” we needed one of the students to serve as a “host,” reporting on the activities by providing the editor a stand-up introduction, a mid-section transition and a stand-up close. The “host” or reporter also conducted the interviews that the editor inserted into the “piece” or “package” as it is known in the TV media business.

Two of the students served as camera operators. I needed to make sure that they had both cameras set in an identical mode so that we could edit material at the same bit rate. We decided to give this “package” a video look of reporting something “LIVE.” We discussed the option of giving the package a “warm” look of film but felt that a festival demanded realism of being on the scene as it unfolded. So we set the cameras to a high definition 16×9 format of 1080i at 30 frames per second. Because there was a great deal of sunlight at the time we shot, we set the NDF (neutral density) filters at ¼ to in effect shade the amount of light coming into the lens.

The student who performed as a reporter was chosen in part because she was dressed appropriately for an on-camera appearance. The other two students were in jeans – so it made sense to have the female student fashionably dressed do the reporting. This was for her a brand new experience so I tried to coach her on how to ask questions that elicited a response other than a “yes” or “no” answer. As the day went by, she became much more comfortable except when she did the close. The close required her to finish off the story and featured her exclusively. We wanted her to wrap things up and note her desire to try the “grub.” It took a few takes but we finally got a good one that had a bright smile and fit with the festival theme of the day.

The camera operators were free to get a good deal of “B-Roll” footage so anywhere they saw something that was fun – they captured it. One of my favorite shots was of a dog (from his eyeball point of view) and a little boy who was engaged with a bubble blowing gun. In both cases, I suggested to our camera operators to shoot at the eye level of the dog and that of the boy….it made the shot much more interesting than trying to capture it from an angle looking down.

Once all of the footage was shot, the material was turned over to a member of the team that was not on location who reviewed all of the shots, catalogued the material and then using the stand-up, transition and close, did the post-production – editing the pieces of video and audio together to create a “package” just like the news teams at the various stations produce everyday an carry on the newscasts.

For a first time effort, our students did a remarkable job and should be pleased with their attempt – I know I am. Here’s the video they created to chronicle the fun of RIB FEST, June 2013.