Final Cut Pro snap tool

So far so good working on the videos. The graduate video has turned into two, one illustrating the marine resource management program at CEOAS and one illustrating a zoology program that lets students travel to the Bahamas to study lionfish. Both clips are just about finished, given some touch-ups and photo release forms from extra subjects who are in the photos. (Fingers crossed the releases come through.) The third video about the OSG Summers Scholars program is also almost complete, but only after some wrangling with the Final Cut Pro X program.

One difference between Final Cut 7 and Pro (which is the most recent version) is a feature called the “snap tool.” In Final Cut 7, this was a feature that could be turned on or off depending on the producers preference. In Final Cut X, the snap tool automatically pulls all of the clips you have cut forward on the timeline, making a somewhat seamless clip to work with. The problem lies in the fact that in Final Cut X, you can’t turn it off. This sounds like a helpful feature, but in reality, I’ve come to understand that this is one of the new features the masses have been unhappy with. Automatic snap makes it nearly impossible to efficiently sort your project according to subject, time, etc., because everything moves on its own, taking all the sound clips and text overlays with it, and things can get out of control pretty quickly. After poking through some Final Cut forums I found that the best way to work around the automatic snap is to lay a blank clip in the timeline that snaps and begin to build your project around it. While this still isn’t ideal for organization, it works much better for keeping your media clips where you would like them and lets you save sections for later placement. Despite the frustration that came while trying to navigate the automatic snap tool, it’s been a good learning experience that I can take with me. I’ve wanted to purchase video editing software for my home computer so I can work on projects as needed, but have been hesitant because I’ve heard negative things about Final Cut X. Now I know a bit about it and would feel comfortable working with it on my own.

Filming faux pas

Last week proved to be one that posed its own unique set of challenges, primarily with technology. As I’ve been going through the interview processes for the media clips, I’ve be touching base with Stevon Roberts, who resides in the fourth floor editing bay in Kerr. He has been more than gracious to show me the ins and outs of Final Cut Pro X, the digital editing software. It only varies a little from the program we use at school and so far, seems to be pretty intuitive.

On the other hand, the cameras, microphones, and such, have not. Each camera that I have (attempted) to work with has been different, and each has its own little quirks. For an interview with one of the grad students last week I reserved an interview room in the library that comes with its own camera. After getting lights that work (no windows in the room and on of the lights was burned out), finding out that the camera (which is mounted on the wall) cannot be adjusted, and getting a memory card (which was supposed to already be in the camera), we were able to begin the interview. It wasn’t until I was trying to download the videos that I found out that the Canon handicam I was filming with records in an .mts format, which Final Cut doesn’t recognize. This presented its own set of issues. Finally, after multiple trips to the library, and one very gracious person at the media help desk, I was able to at least get the video onto the desktop in the editing bay. More research and a brief conversation with Stevon, and I was able to get the video into Final Cut.

From this day (yes, all of this took a whole day), I learned that you can never be prepared for everything when working in the field. After making sure my Final Cut folders were ready for the media and calling ahead to make sure the room was set up for the interview, there were still a host of things that went wrong. But, despite all the frustration, I’m glad to say I’ve learned of some more items to add to the preparation list when getting ready for an interview.


Last week was a busy one. On Thursday I was finally able to start shooting footage for the videos and made a trip over to HSMC where I worked with an MRM grad student and three OSG scholars. Everyone was very generous with his/her time and I can’t express enough thanks to the scholars’ patience with the camera issues. When I realized the mic and camera were not compatible, Mark saved the day and I ended up shooting everything on a handi-cam. Probably not the most ideal choice, but given that I was an hour away from any equipment, it was definitely the best choice. After the camera snafu, the day picked up and I worked straight through until about 4 p.m. filming people in their work environments and interacting with other students and visitors.

Overall, I’m getting excited to see how all of the interviews will be connected. Everyone seems to enjoy the work they are doing and gave great answers during the interviews. Unfortunately, the only problem I see now is figuring out how to pare down all of the material into one three-minute video.

Moving forward

Very happy to get out of the office this week to interact with students and interns for work on the videos. On Wednesday I visited HMSC and had a great time working with everyone, despite the troubles I encountered trying to figure out how to operate a camera that uses a tape. Yes, a tape. The wave exhibits the interns created are super neat and seemed to be a big hit with center visitors. The hand-powered exhibit drew people of all ages and a lot of  people were drawn to the electric exhibit, but because it’s waiting for a safety feature, the exhibit is roped off from the public.

I also met with two graduate students who were very happy to share their research projects. One is collecting seafloor core samples and analyzing numbers of mollusks and gastropods in a given area. The other student is developing a harbor seal study to understand the seals’ feeding habits in oxygen deficient water. Not everyone who is interviewed will be included in the clip, but both seem to have potential for the video. Only time will tell.

Glad to be moving forward on the media projects, but wishing I had more time to develop them. The best way to get quality footage is to spend time with your sources and let them begin to act naturally around you. That’s when the good stuff happens. Maybe next week.

Good news and new projects

This week we found out that Stephen’s “Ask a Scientist” column for Oregon Coast Magazine was accepted, which is fantastic. A regular column in the bimonthly magazine will be a great way to get the OSG name out.

Aside from that, this week was mostly filled with more work for the website and the start of a new project. I’ll be making a couple of videos in the next five weeks. The first will be a two-to-three minute piece about graduate research opportunities available in marine science departments at OSU, and the second (hopefully) will be a piece with the OSG interns and the work they have done creating the new free-choice learning wave exhibit at HMSC. After seeing everyone’s presentations on Friday at the mid-summer check-in, it sounds like the group is excited about the work they have done and I feel like a media piece will be a neat way to bring the concept together. I’m looking forward to working with everyone!

Writing and Resumes

The highlight of this week was meeting with Robert Allan, the director of student development at CEOAS. (Some of you may remember him as the man who met with us briefly at Bombs Away during our orientation.) Robert is amazing. I first met with him the previous week for a brief professional development consultation. I had no idea what a professional development consultation was at the time, but I ended up learning quite a bit—hence, the second meeting.

During the meetings we discussed post-college options such as graduate school and employment. Robert had a lot of insight about where to find resources and information that I most likely otherwise would never have known. We also reviewed my resume and made some changes to the structure and vocabulary that I think will give it more of a “wow” factor and better represent the skills I have to offer. If you want to know about the science of resume writing, Robert is the man. While working with him, I quickly found that not only is he good at what he does—but he loves his job. Robert’s communication skills are terrific, which makes him easy to talk to, and his enthusiasm is contagious. I recommend that anyone who can make the time meet with him.

Wave energy in Oregon

This week was another that flew right by. I’m researching story pitches for a coastal magazine to help raise awareness about marine issues and the work OSG is doing. One pitch that came in late in the game was by far the most challenging, and the most interesting one out of the bunch because I didn’t know anything about the subject. Wave energy. What is it? How does it work? And why in the world is there so much hubbub surrounding it in Oregon? Well, after almost a full days research and very informative conversations with Mark Farley and Kaety Hildenbrand of the HMSC, I can answer all of those questions (mostly).

Wave energy is a very promising resource that if done right, may solve a lot of Oregon’s energy needs. But apparently there is a lot more that goes into harnessing wave energy than just floating a buoy around in the ocean. Wave energy requires a lot of space, whether it’s in a vertical or a horizontal sense. In addition to the mechanism that absorbs and collects the energy, a whole network of cables, mooring, pipes, and a bunch of other stuff is needed to keep the equipment from floating away or banging into each other, and to ensure that the energy that is collected makes it to land. Aside from the benefits of a renewable energy source, there are a lot of environmental factors that come into play when exploring wave energy farms. The cables and moorings are obtrusive and may block migratory paths or feeding grounds for marine animals and the electrical current can attract animals (like crab) to the cables. And on top of that, the rigid tethers and anchors could potentially make an entire soft-bottom substrate ecosystem disappear because they will attract hard-bottom animals like shellfish. They will in turn attract predators, and so on, potentially displacing entire populations. It’s a topic that could easily keep one researcher busy for months.

After delving into the subject, I have begun to fully appreciate the full scale of the Coastal Marine Spatial Planning OSG is involved in. The planning is a collaboration of land and water management and community stakeholders and the work falls under the premise of determining who and what will be the most or least affected by wave energy. In part, it’s the complexity of the situation that makes it so important that people are educated about the potential benefits and harmful “side effects” of wave energy. The resource planning spans the arenas of engineering, marine science, economics, philosophy, and sociology. Pretty fascinating stuff.

OSG Week 1 in review

Hello! After completing my first week as a science communications Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar, I have much to share. First of all, everyone at the program has been amazing. I’m working in the OSG main office at the Oregon State University campus under OSG Director Stephen Brandt and Marine Program Specialist Jenna Borberg, who are my direct supervisors. I am also working closely with Sarah Kolesar and Eric Dickey, who have been instrumental in acquainting me with the OSG and what it has to offer.

As a communicator, much of my work surrounds research, so I’ve done quite a bit of reading this week and learned A LOT. In the office I’ve been developing content to help raise awareness about the OSG, OSU’s Marine Council, and the Marine Sciences collaborative at the University—in addition to the partnerships OSG has with local, state, and national entities. Reviewing the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) that is used for the Oregon MarineMap and spatial planning of Oregon’s Territorial Sea, I learned how many layers there are in the decision-making processes. Also, the vast amount of data that must be collected and organized by each of the entities involved illustrates what is at stake for marine life, stakeholders, and future planning.

I was also fortunate enough to sit in on a conference call among marine science professionals whose collaboration illustrated the direct and instant action that must be taken when dealing with unforeseen crisis such as the tsunami debris. Everyone addressed the issue with a clarity and precision that showed how each entity must work together to produce the most effective and efficient solutions possible.

Finally, being an Oregonian, I have visited the coast many times, but primarily as a tourist—visiting the beach and devouring copious amounts of seafood. But after researching coastal happenings for story ideas, I am beginning to appreciate the coast and what it has to offer in a new way. The coast communities and institutions that support them work together in a network almost as complex as the ocean itself. During my stay at OSG I hope to help raise awareness about the OSG and the innovation they support in coastal fisheries and communities.

On queue for next week: Start developing the story pitches into articles and learn more about everything.

P.S. I’ve also picked up some fun stuff, like that juvenile oysters are called “spat.” Who would have thunk?