KCRA – Land Park Volunteer Corps

Published On July 10, 2011 | By Mike Carroll | Shooting News, TV News Vault

This is a quick follow-up to a story I did for KCRA last year, shot with my Canon 7D, about the neighborhood clean-up of William Land Park, which is in-part organized by my friend Rick Stevenson.

The Land Park Volunteer Corps is a collection of residents around William Land Park in south Sacramento who get together at 8AM on the first Saturday of each month to help weed, garden and maintain some of the landscaping of the park. This had been the professional duty of a staff of Sacramento City workers. However, the severe budget cutting that the City has had to impose have led to the park staff being reduced to a handful, like all the park services across the city, and not sufficient to keep up the park. So the Land Park residents themselves are pitching in a few hours a month to help keep the park up, as are residents around other parks around the city and county.

As I work dayside on Saturdays as a news cameraman at KCRA, I was hoping to make this event into a story for the evening news. There had been breaking news in Stockton over the night about a rash of shootings and I was being sent there with KCRA reporter Sharokina Shams to cover that story, but we were asked to swing by Land Park and grab some footage of the clean-up for a reader on the KCRA 3 Reports 5 o’clock news.

We arrived at Land Park and Sharokina had a lot of researching of overnight police reports on her laptop for the Stockton story, so I told her to keep doing that and I would grab all the footage on the clean-up.

I decided to make this a speed challenge. I haven’t turned a reporter package in several weeks and I wanted to get back into the system. Also, the staff reporters have to crank out stories in no time because of deadlines, I wanted to take a stab at writing and putting together a package in very little time.

I jumped out with my camera, a KCRA Sony XDCAM and not the Canon 7D this time, and quickly shot three interviews and some B-roll. Just a little over eight minutes. Then jumped back into the truck and we headed on to our primary story in Stockton.

I like driving after shooting something because it gives me something to think about while I’m behind the wheel. I quickly came up with an anchor intro and a couple loose paragraphs of info for the story. When we got to Stockton we stopped so Sharokina could finish up some KCRA.COM web updates, giving me time to scribble out my script, quickly log the interviews and pull some bites (bits of interview that are used in a news story).

My messy handwritten log and script pages. Notice the paragraphs have to be numbered “1… 2… 3” and the accompanying interview bites are noted with “A,” “B,” “C” to try and make some sense. It’s one thing to write it out this way while the creative process is in flow. It’s a bit of a struggle a few hours later when I’m trying to edit it all together and thinking to myself, “Where is 1,2 and 3?”

I haven’t been carrying my MacBook with me lately and I also didn’t have a notepad to write on, so I wrote on the back of script pages that I was keeping in my pack to recycle. Hardly the cleanest script I’ve ever written. In fact, it was so scattered that I had to record my tracks a paragraph at a time because it took me a few seconds to figure out where I was going from A to B to C.

We shot the rest of the story in Stockton, then while Sharokina was writing her 5 o’clock script I recorded my audio track and laid down the A-Roll – my track and the edited bites to form the body of the package. By this time Sharokina was ready with her track. I started editing our primary story at 4 o’clock. By 4:20 that story was finished and at 4:22 I jumped into filling in the holes in the Land Park story with pictures. By 4:27 that story was finished as well. Speed cutting to see how tight of a deadline I could work on. Both stories were being fed back to the station by 4:30.

First thing I wrote, the introduction for KCRA anchor Chris Riva to read to then pitch to my story. I often write the “intro” first because then I have a better idea of the sound and writing that should flow next to kick off the “package” – the edited news story.

In all, I’d guess that I wrote, logged, tracked and edited this story in just around an hour or so.

In the end, this was a bonus story for the station. They’d only hoped for a 30-second reader about community volunteerism and they were delivered with a fully written, tracked and edited package running one-minute and ten seconds, plus anchor intro and wrapping tags.

Admittedly, this could have looked much, much better if I’d had even a half-hour to spend shooting the Land Park Volunteers instead of the barely fifteen minutes that were available. But the bottom line in news is that you make the best you can within the time and other limitations that you are working under.

And both KCRA 3 Reports and the Land Park Volunteer Corps received more than they bargained for. So, in the end, a win-win all around.

Here is the first story I did on the Land Park clean up last year, shot with my own Canon 7D:

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

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