Looking forward to the future of journalism

How to transcribe with Trint: An interview with CEO Jeff Kofman

Trint

Buried in my desk drawer is a scratched-up relic — a mini-cassette recorder that I used all the time as a young reporter to transcribe interviews. Now it looks like a discovery at an archaeological dig compared to my high-tech smart phone, which lets me record interviews for hours and share files instantly. But even … Read more

Review: Go back in time with Cogi to record fleeting moments

When we watched the State of the Union address with our kids a few weeks ago, 3-year-old Sophie Sue was amazed at how members of Congress were sitting still and listening. They weren’t fidgeting, looking around or running off to play with Legos. “Wow, they’re doing a good job, right?” said the little Tedesco munchkin. … Read more

Review of the SteadyTracker UltraLite and tips from company owner Rene Kropf

I have kids. Which means I own a video camera. Which means I chase my kids around with my video camera, trying to catch them in action. And the footage always looks shaky and horrible.

So I’ve read more than my fair share of reviews about stabilizers, Glidecams and Steadicams. They rely on gimbals and counterweights to produce smooth, dream-like shots. But they’re often expensive, and some customers complain it takes forever to balance these contraptions.

About 15 years ago, Rene Kropf and his colleagues were experiencing the same frustration as they worked in his garage trying to design a tool that could help stabilize shaky film footage for light cameras.

“We went down the same route of counterweights and all that,” Kropf told me. “And we saw that as a nightmare. It’s like, the sun went down and we still haven’t balanced it, so forget that.”

The SteadyTracker UltraLite doesn't rely on a gimbalKropf, the owner of Cobra Crane, a camera gear company in California, abandoned the gimbal system altogether. Instead, he helped devised something called the SteadyTracker Ultralite, a crowbar-like device with two adjustable weighted ends and a balancing pad in the middle that rests on top of your hand.

I recently bought the SteadyTracker UltraLite on Amazon. The SteadyTracker is touted as a simpler, inexpensive option compared to other stabilizers. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and produced some sample shots in this video review. When I called Cobra Crane with a few questions about the SteadyTracker, I was surprised to get a call back from Kropf, the company’s owner. He offered insights and tips that aren’t in the instruction manual.

“It’s relatively inexpensive,” Kropf said. “It’s pretty easy to use. And the biggest thing, the number one thing that people comment on, is it’s a super-quick set up, so you don’t miss shots.”

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New blog: The Art of Access

If you’ve ever had to deal with a government agency that tried to withhold public documents from you, check out Steve Myers’ interview with one of the authors of a new book and blog, The Art of Access. Instead of focusing on the intricacies of open-records laws, David Cuillier and Charles Davis write about the … Read more

Good read: ‘Telling True Stories’

Brian Chasnoff, one of the best writers at the San Antonio Express-News, started a new blog about the craft of reporting and writing, and it reminded me of a fantastic book for anyone who cares about long-form journalism. “Telling True Stories” is a collection of essays by the most thoughtful and talented people in the … Read more