Standing Around – Vincent Gonzalez

Over the course of the semester, I have made great progress on my digital project consisting of short videos presentations of statues part of the Statuary Hall collection in the U.S. Capitol. Below is the introductory video to the series presented by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society Director of Programming and Scholarship, Samuel Holliday.

As I started the project, the amount of video and audio editing was daunting to me as I had never previously edited videos and was unfamiliar with editing software, ClipChamp. The idea for this series was to cover every statue in the collection presented by different employees of the USCHS based on their own home states. Additionally, the series would highlight certain statues during the months dedicated to the history women, African-Americans, indigenous people, and more.

The process started by recording video on my cellphone and recording the audio using a recorder. I would then later overlay the better quality audio, captured using a microphone on the presenter’s collar, on the video recorded by phone. I instructed the presenter to start the audio recording followed by a clap of their hands to sync the start time on both the audio and video.

I also found an option on ClipChamp to insert titles that can be placed anywhere on the video and for how long I wanted. I used the title graphic to introduce the presenter and their title. I enjoyed this creative aspect of video editing and started inserting titles in each video. The above video covers one of the two Hawaiian statues that will most likely be one of the first posts since it is one of the most popular statues.

The original idea I had for the videos is to present the statues in a fun way that would grab and keep the viewers attention. After recording the video and audio, I would then take B roll highlighting the statue itself and some of the details that are pointed out in the presentation. I would also attempt cover up breaks in or fumbling speech but haven’t quite figured out how to edit the audio file into separate files skipping over the fumbles. Below is a sample of the B roll taken for one of the statue videos.

As I started to record more videos, I frequently had trouble figuring out how to get the video files off of my phone and into SharePoint where the USCHS stores its files. The videos are too big to be emailed and possibly too big to upload into SharePoint on the mobile app. After attempting to upload, it would show that the file uploaded successfully, but no new files showed on the website version. The long way around the size difficulties I found was to upload from my phone into my Google Drive and then downloading those videos onto my computer before then reuploading the files into SharePoint. After the files were safe in SharePoint, I would then delete the downloads off of my computer and phone to save space.

Although this is my first time editing and producing videos, I still am frustrated that the finished products are not as good as I want them to be. I find the longer videos with our Public Historian, Steve Livengood, are too long and tend to drag on. This could be more easily solved by having him write a script to follow rather than riffing which often leads to loss of eye contact with the camera and a tendency to stumble for the next words. Below is one finished video of such example.

Again, I enjoyed the creative aspect of using title graphics to both introduce the speaker, the statue, and the state they represent. I also enjoy the idea of splicing in B roll of statue closeups, but feel adding too much distracts from the flow of the video. It’s best to interrupt the video by cutting to close ups detailing the aspects of the statue highlighted in the presentation.

Charisma and comfort begin filmed also effect how successful the videos are. There is no doubt Steve is knowledgeable about the subjects, and his Capitol tour is the best I’ve taken, but the method and rhythm he presents does not pop on camera as well as Sam’s videos. In the future, I will give more instruction to “direct” the presenter on the best methods to present the statue’s history. Below are more examples of other videos I have recorded of Steve. In the second video, we can see how a script would be beneficial as Steve seems to run out of information to speak about concerning the statue. That video is an unedited clip I did not use, but am presenting here as an example.

I feel the series has great potential for success beyond the semester’s class as I become more comfortable with producing and directing the videos. I also have found the best times to record these videos are outside of visitor hours, either in the morning or afternoon, as the distraction and background noise disrupt the speaker. I am hoping to upload these videos onto the USCHS social media sites, but am holding off on posting because I am concerned about the frequency of posting I can keep up with. There is a deal of scheduling the speaker to record the video, giving them notice to rehearse and research the statues, and then downloading, uploading, and editing the clips.

As this is a project and not my primary responsibility with the USCHS, I am not able to record and edit as many videos as I’d want. I have a handful more videos I have not gotten to yet and so far it seems recording the videos is the easiest part as the videos are only about a minute long. Below are more B roll videos of statues I plan on cutting in on the longer videos recorded.

Progress has also come to a halt because in the past week my computer audio has completely stopped. I am still working with our IT partners and Dell to sort out the software issues after establishing the hardware is working correctly since a technician replaced the computer microphone. The software issues I experienced with getting the files onto the computer to edit them and the audio disaster were naively unexpected as were the ease of which I though this project would run. Once the audio issue is fixed, I will again be able to download the audio recording off of our recorder and into ClimpChamp to sync with the video. Below is an example of one of those audio recordings.

3 Replies to “Standing Around – Vincent Gonzalez”

  1. These look great! You have made so much progress over the semester and it looks like your hard work is paying off! Sorry to hear about your computer issues and I hope those get resolved so you can add more to this already impressive project.

  2. The videos are looking great! I think your addition of the text titles on the videos looks good and is working well too. The way you are editing together the shot of an individual talking about the statue with close up of elements of each of the statues works really well. There is so much interesting detail in these statues that it’s great to be able to switch back and forth between those close in shots and the broader context with your speaker.

    I think your instincts on the Steve Livengood video are right. For the style of the videos, it would probably work best to have a short and tight script for what he wants to say so that you make sure that the main highlights get hit as quickly as possible. That said, there are a lot of statues to do over time, so I think you could also start with what you have for some of these and then always go back later and redo some of the ones that aren’t as strong as others. I do think the Crawford Long one works quite well.

    In any event, I think your project is already a huge success. This is a great idea and you have really brought it to life. I think if you stick with this it could be a really powerful way to help get the word out about these statues. If you do keep sticking with it, I think it would be worth thinking through some of the ways that you could publish and distribute the videos online. Given that folks often want to know the statues from their specific state, I think it’s clear that folks would want to see them organized that way. But beyond that, I think there would likely be interest in being able to view statues of people based on different time periods they lived, and demographics. So long run, I do think if you did build out this library of videos there are a lot of things you could do with how/where you embed them and share them on the website.

  3. This is just awesome, I am glad you went through with making these. The audio issues are very unfortunate, but I think your experimentation with B reel and audio has led to a great product, and these videos could have many uses beyond the class. Can’t wait to see the finished project.

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