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ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “On Aurora” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

June 17th, 2013

Alexia Foundation Logo
This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 11/28/2012.

It happened one evening in early August. We saw a woman sprawled beside the road, holding her head. We looked, drove past, then my wife asked if we should stop. We did.

I rolled down the window and asked if she was ok. She said she was in pain and everyone was driving by. She said all she needed was a ride. It was crushing, but I quickly understood what she was doing and probably why she was in pain. I asked where she wanted to go.
Just off Aurora Avenue
“Aurora,” she replied. We were 200 feet from the highway. I asked where.

“Anywhere,” she replied. “By the donut place.”

“Near 125th?” I asked. She replied yes. That was not a go; we had a nine year old in the back and I didn’t want him any closer to her. In the driver’s seat, my wife asked if I’d get out and talk with her. I did, and she drove up the block and waited.

Kneeling down, I asked the woman if she was “working.” She replied, softly, that she was. She identified as a prostitute.

I asked if she wanted me to call someone, that I knew of a safe place she could go. It wasn’t what she wanted to hear, because she started screaming at me for not giving her a ride, for wanting to take care of my family, not her. She got up and walked off.

She was an adult, she wore a short black skirt, black tank top, and had a rather large black hand bag. Her hair looked to be bleached, she wore heavy makeup, and she moved erratically.

North of 125th is where the older prostitutes tend to work. It is likely that a john or a pimp hurt her then dropped her beside the highway, leaving her to find her way back to where she would earn the night’s money; for the pimp, for the drugs, for whatever.

For us? She walked away; you can’t force help on people who don’t want out of “the life.”

But I, we, wanted to do something, to help. We didn’t want to turn away but, in the end, we did. And now our son is scared of the bad people who hurt her.

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Posted in behind the scenes, documentary, human rights, human trafficking, iPhone, journalism, Leaving the Life, multimedia, photography, prostitution Comments Off on ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “On Aurora” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

2011 CLIENT REVIEW: EDITING WILD CAUGHT ALASKAN SALMON

April 2nd, 2012

With the Alaskan salmon season approaching, I thought I’d share some work I produced last year for Dan Lamont, a fellow photographer and board member with the Blue Earth Alliance. He needed an extra set of hands to finish up a project with the Seafood Producers Co-Op. Multimedia is time consuming; working as a team can make all the difference.

The Co-Op was updating its website with new content Dan had shot. They wanted to tell the salmon story, and why wild-caught salmon is so special, through video. With all the assets already shot by Dan, my job was to make a short overview piece for the Co-Op, plus a subject-specific short.

The challenge for me lay in careful image and video selection. Dan had already produced a couple of other subject-specific shorts, and we didn’t want the entire package to be reusing the same visuals. He had spent several days in Alaska capturing all the footage and stills, but working alone he could only gather so much footage, and only so many stories, and stay within budget. Having shot fishing stories in Alaska myself, I know how time intensive and expensive it can be.

Working in Dan’s editing suite, I was thankful for how he’d organized his assets, provided a rough audio track, and outlined the themes. All I had to do was clean up the audio and build the visual sequence in Final Cut.

It was fun to work in a collaborative atmosphere, and to enjoy Dan’s excellent culinary skills (lunch was on him!).

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Posted in client, collaboration, corporate, editing, multimedia, technique, work of others Comments Off on 2011 CLIENT REVIEW: EDITING WILD CAUGHT ALASKAN SALMON

DOCUMENTING “PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY ON THE ROAD” WITH PETE BROOK

December 10th, 2011

With an eye toward prison reform, writer and academic Pete Brook analyzes prison photography from behind his desk. After three years, he decided it was time to get out, on the road, and meet the people he’d written about. Especially the prisoners.

Pete is clear that he isn’t a photographer. Instead, he writes for Wired.com’s RAW File and runs his own blog where he dissects photography about the prison system in America. I knew him peripherally through the photo community and through introduction several years ago by a mutual friend. I like what he does, so when he put out an ask to help make a Kickstarter video, I offered to shoot it and Seattle Times staffer Erica Schultz edited it with Pete in an 11 hour binge.

Prison Photography has built a community over the years. There’s no money involved, so for Pete to get on the road, he had to ask for help. The Kickstarter campaign began. By using social media and crowd-sourced funding, he successfully raised more than he thought it would cost to make the grand American tour, meeting photographers in person, visiting prisons, and seeing education programs at work.

Click here or below to read more and see a scene cut from the video.

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NOMINATED FOR AN EMMY AWARD

July 27th, 2011

When I walked into MediaStorm, on my first day, I saw the golden Emmys resting on the window sill and decided I wanted one. Not because I covet a trophy, but because I wanted to have the opportunity to help create something powerful and important enough to rise above all the others. And have an impact.

“What do you know about Pakistan?” Brian asked.

“Well, that they’re complicit in the war in Afghanistan but they’re also nuclear armed and an important ally in the region?” I shrugged.

He nodded, then told me he likes to walk into projects with very little knowledge so he can digest the content with an open mind. I made a mental note.

I spent three months working on this project, through several reviews, then handed it off to Eric Maierson when I left; he went through a couple more reviews. Doing a crisis guide on Pakistan is complicated. During that time I sat in on several meetings with the Council on Foreign Relations team, explaining and sometimes defending the edits I’d made. I wanted powerful and dramatic, but also true and factual. I made both.

The script I was working with came from the Council’s team–some of the smartest, most knowledgeable people on Pakistan’s history and politics. And, if they wanted General Petraeus for an interview, they could get him (and they did). The images and video I sourced were from the world’s best photojournalists and news videographers. It was awesome, inspiring, and I wanted to do the story justice.

And so, a year later, it turns out this project was nominated for an Emmy. That very same golden trophy sitting on the window sill at MediaStorm.

In late September, we’ll see if it wins.

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COMMITTING TO LONG-FORM STORYTELLING

June 29th, 2011

I couldn’t help but write about another Tucker Walsh post at the Digital Naturalist because he interviewed Noah and Tim Hussin or America reCycled. I was one of the 103 backers who donated a (meager) sum to their Kickstarter campaign, and continue to enjoy their long-form storytelling as they bicycle across the country and document “people…finding innovative ways to come together and make revolutionary change on a local level, to regain control of their lives, rediscover independence, and recycle the American Dream.”

Along with their Kickstarter campaign, they won a $5000 grant from National Geographic, have a PayPal button, and manage to get by living simply on the road.

It’s definitely a commitment to a lifestyle, and having met Tim Hussin in the MediaStorm office (he’s another alumnus of the MediaStorm family…and another Tim) before he left on the trip, I enjoyed getting a glimpse of how the journey is unfolding. If you read the interview, you’ll find a lot of the MediaStorm ethos in the brothers’ words, as well as some insight in their process.

Say the brothers (and I agree):

“…it’s common that people hardly spend time producing their stories, so how can they expect people to spend the time to watch them? We spend months shooting and editing some of the longer stories in this project, so in the end 20 minutes of material isn’t really too much.

“We firmly believe that as long as a story is interesting and engaging, then people will continue to watch and listen. And it’s important to show and prove to people that the content you produce is in fact worth dedicating more than three minutes of your time to. Then, when people come to your site to watch whatever you’ve produced, they’ve already set aside enough time to watch it all. ”

Set some time aside, I think you’ll enjoy it.

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Posted in Canon 5D Mark II, coolness, inspiration, media, multimedia, work of others Comments Off on COMMITTING TO LONG-FORM STORYTELLING

NON-PROFITS AND NGO’S NEED STORYTELLING: WHY CHARITY WATER IS LEADING THE WAY

June 20th, 2011

During my morning ritual of sipping coffee and going over the news, RSS, and social media feeds, I saw a post at The Digital Naturalist. It’s a profile on charity: water, an organization successful at generating buzz, getting people to donate, and then going out and securing clean water for communities in developing countries. It’s a simple concept, with a simple message, and it doesn’t hurt that its founder, Scott Harrison, used to be a promoter in NYC.

Tucker Walsh interviewed Mo Scarpelli, of charity: water, about the non profit’s messaging. For the non profits and NGO’s out there, I think the take-away is that charity: water emphasizes how important communications and social networking are to its mission. For instance, they have leveraged a new communication tool to become, they say, the first non profit with more than one million twitter followers. Tweeting can be much more effective, and is much less expensive, than direct mail–or even email.

The story of charity: water – The 2009 September Campaign Trailer from charity: water.

I can’t definitively say that charity: water is leading the way, but it’s a good example. The organization has raised millions in a few short years, holds creative and well attended events, has made some excellent partnerships, and helps average people get involved through innovative fundraising models. Additionally, with the help of substantial private donations to cover operating costs, the organization can commit 100 percent of public donations toward direct services (building wells).

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Posted in activisim, advocacy, fundraising, multimedia, NGO, non profit, technique, work of others Comments Off on NON-PROFITS AND NGO’S NEED STORYTELLING: WHY CHARITY WATER IS LEADING THE WAY

HDSLR CAMERA “RIGS” – STORE BOUGHT (then modified)

April 11th, 2011

Part of shooting good video means capturing good sound, which is nearly impossible using an HDSLR. The solution I’ve chosen is to record audio to an external device and then sync the sound in post production using the Singular Software application “Pluraleyes” with Final Cut Studio.
The ergonomics of an HDSLR aren’t very conducive to shooting video. Add an audio recorder and microphone(s) to the mix and it’s even tougher–but it’s opened up a great market for accessory manufacturers who design HDSLR “rigs.” You can definitely do it yourself, but I’m not a terribly handy person. So I decided to go with a store bought solution.
I’m listing my kit as well as those of a couple other videographers whose solutions look quite workable (and which I might emulate if the situation calls for it).
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Posted in Canon 5D Mark II, gear, multimedia, technique, video Comments Off on HDSLR CAMERA “RIGS” – STORE BOUGHT (then modified)

I’M GOING: A CELEBRATION OF LIFE

April 6th, 2011

It seemed important to record the events that ended up in this piece. First, I was visiting my Grandma last year, and she’s got some stories. We’re celebrating her 90th this month. Second, it was Carol, who’s 60th we celebrated last year. That said, it is family, it is informal, and I wanted to participate. So, while I took my camera out, I was making snapshots and “snapshot” video.

But there is a short story here, one I wasn’t anticipating creating. It’s about family, love, and strength in the face of adversity. I pulled this together, from those “snapshots,” for myself and for everyone else who’s been in a similar place.

For the tech-types: I used a tripod while recording Doug. I had the mind to use a tripod and an audio recorder for sync-sound while interviewing my Grandma. Everything else was hand-held, using the camera’s audio input and, sometimes, the just camera’s mic. You’ll hear the automatic gain control overwhelmed.

I’m Going from timmatsui.com on Vimeo.

Family and friends gather from across the country to celebrate my aunt Carol’s 60th birthday in April of 2010.

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Posted in Canon 5D Mark II, family, love, multimedia, video Comments Off on I’M GOING: A CELEBRATION OF LIFE

HDSLR CAMERA “RIG” SOLUTIONS: BUILD YOUR OWN

March 31st, 2011

In my search for what I think is my “perfect” way to shoot video and dual system audio, I’ve paid attention to a lot of other people’s solutions. What quickly becomes apparent is there is no single answer. Your needs will change with the situation, and there’s any number of ways to address it.

For instance, are you running after subjects? Maybe a Glidecam would be best. Can you “eyeball” it or will you need a monitor? Can you take a tripod with you? Do you need to be discrete? Do you have a sound person?

To make a climbing analogy (sorry, I can’t help it), documentary still photography is like free-soloing or climbing without a rope. There’s minimal equipment. Shooting HDSLR video is more like aid climbing, where every inch of vertical is gained by using highly specialized equipment. If you don’t have the right piece, you’ll have to find a different path.

When HDSLR videographers realize the need for dual system sound, because the cameras cannot record good sound, one of the first questions is where to put the microphone quickly followed by where to put the recorder.

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Posted in audio, Canon 5D Mark II, gear, multimedia, technique, video Comments Off on HDSLR CAMERA “RIG” SOLUTIONS: BUILD YOUR OWN

AIRING ON LINK TV: SREY NETH, CROSSING THE GENDER GAP

March 15th, 2011

Several months ago I entered the Link TV ViewChange contest, looking for another means of distribution for a story I felt needed to be told. As a finalist, I found Srey Neth’s story would see the distribution I hoped for. I think it is a great example of independent distribution leveraged by social media.

Yesterday, Link TV told me they’ve compiled half-hour episodes from the ViewChange entries. Srey Neth’s story will air in the “Crossing the Gender Gap” episode.

The film will air Wednesday, March 16th at 8:30pm PT/ 11:30pm ET and Saturday, March 19th at 6:30pm PT/ 9:30pm ET on DIRECTV 375 / DISH Network 9410. Srey Neth: Victim to Survivor will be part of an episode featuring inspiring stories of women fighting poverty, disease, and oppression in the developing world.

The film is also available to watch at Hulu.com/viewchange and Link TV is planning to disseminate my film through other outlets as well such as Snag Films, WGBH’s “World” Channel (which is carried on 150 PBS stations), and other international stations.

Many thanks again to Transitions Global and Srey Neth who offered me access and their trust to tell an important story.

www.linktv.org/programs/viewchange (where the “Crossing the Gender Gap” episode will be available online, starting later today)
www.viewchange.org/videos/srey-neth-victim-to-survivor (Srey Neth video on ViewChange.org)

@ViewChange (twitter)
@LinkTV (twitter)
facebook.com/viewchange
facebook.com/linktv

And don’t forget my Facebook Page and Twitter Feed!

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Posted in activisim, advocacy, articles, award, coolness, events, human trafficking, media, multimedia, publishing, recognition, social justice, video Comments Off on AIRING ON LINK TV: SREY NETH, CROSSING THE GENDER GAP

TIM MATSUI CONTACT INFO

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