Sunday, October 19, 2014

Zombies ate my news article

Also read this article on

Halloween is such a forgiving holiday for crafters and DIY costume-makers; a little paint splatter, tear or jagged seam only adds to the character of the project.

The same goes for digital journalists. Halloween is a great excuse to experiment with new digital storytelling ideas and apps, without the pressures of breaking-news deadlines or the expectation that everything be impeccable.

With my creative engine already in fifth gear, I tackled the ubiquitous Halloween events story in a new way this year.

I picked the most unusual spooky event -- in our case, it was a zombie shoot at the firing range -- and I went through it myself. My easy, free and quick digital project could be transferred to almost any Halloween activity: a corn maze, haunted house, pumpkin-carving, even trick-or-treating. 

The challenge: How to make an entertaining, unique video using only my iPhone for filming and editing -- and don’t give away the spooky surprises along the way. 

My project: I rolled up to the local police and sheriff’s office firing range and got dressed in the required full gear: a vest, pads, helmet. I turned on the free time-lapse app, Lapse It, and started filming. I taped my phone to my vest; no GoPro needed.

As I wound through the haunted house with my gun, shooting paint pellets at people dressed up like zombies, my phone captured the experience in time-lapse, giving enough of a teaser without giving anything away.

When I got back to my car, I moved the project to my photo album, then into the iMovie app that I already had. In iMovie, I added a simple title, transitions, a few still photos and royalty-free music. 

However, Lapse It allows you to add music right in the app, so if you don’t have or know iMovie, no need to complicate the project. 

In addition, in the app you can trim/cut your time-lapse video, add special effects and change the number of frames captured per second to give your video a different effect and adjust the length. I used 2.44 frames per second for some parts and 10 frames per second for other parts of my video. 

In total, the video took me significantly less than an hour to film and edit. 

I published the video on our website, along with the traditional Halloween events main bar and events sider. No doubt, this video is unusual for a newspaper (hello, dubstep?!), but hey, it’s trick-or-treat time, and sometimes you gotta keep readers on their toes. 

View the full video below: