Behind the Camera at the 2015 Radiothon

The Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children holds a Radiothon to raise money for child life services each year. This years Radiothon, number 5, was my first opportunity to volunteer. Now that I'm part of Marketing and Communications, volunteering didn't mean sitting on the phone bank for a couple of hours, or manning the registration desk. Instead, I was giving the task of manning a new Radiothon feature, the Nemours 90 Second Theater.

Nemours is a pediatric health care system with 2 free standing children's hospitals and dozens of primary and specialty care clinics. I've worked with Nemours in IT since leaving the Navy in 1997. Most of my time was spent leading the Application Development teams, but last year I was offered a new challenge in Marketing and Communications as an in-house video editor and technical architect. Video editing has been a fun challenge. Like programming, video editing is a creative endeavor that requires some technical knowledge and logical thinking.

The idea of the Nemours 90 Second Theater was to give folks a chance to say what they like about Nemours, give shout-outs, that sort of thing. Like a photo/video booth.

So with mic and camera setup, I started interviewing folks early on day one (6am) and continued doing interviews up to the last hour of the Radiothon. Near the end, we closed down the interviews, and I joined the rest of the folks waiting for the final total.

While I'm not a videographer, I figured this was a great opportunity for learning, so I used every new interview as a chance to learn a little behind the camera skill and interviewing skill. By the end, I was feeling more confident.

I interviewed Nemours executives, associates, patients and families, radio staff and personalities, politicians and celebrities. Among the ones that stood out for me were stories by fellow associates who shared why they now work for Nemours. I heard several stories of folks that have children who were treated by Nemours, then sought jobs at Nemours because of the care their children received. I don't have a similar experience, but I do value the positive and thoughtful working environment at Nemours, and am frequently moved by the stories I hear. I also had a brief chance to interview the Governor of Delaware, and after the band Echosmith performed, they kindly agreed to answer a couple of questions for us on camera.

All in all, it was a great experience, and generated tons of footage.

At the end of day one, I quickly created a day 1 wrap up video and challenge video to share on social media. Once back in Florida, I combed through most of the footage and created an after Radiothon video for social media, and a quick video of Associates to use during an internal meeting.

There were many lessons learned. First, audio.

We used a wired Lavalier mic for the audio. It did a great job with one person, an ok job with two, but with more, the audio wasn't great. The desire was to have plenty of natural noise of the Radiothon in the background. Next time, we will either have multiple mics, or some sort of zoom recording setup with two ambient mics.

The corner we setup provided excellent natural light from the large window on one side. Most of the time it was fine. The overcast sky created a nice soft light. But we did have a couple of hours of sunshine, and the harsh direct light created some challenges. In the future, we'll need some way to screen the incoming direct light.

Overall, I didn't have to think too much about composition. But on several of the one-person interviews, I should have pulled in closer to them to reduce the unused head space and to cut the empty chair out of the frame.

When someone is telling me a touching personal story and they begin to cry, my first instinct is to stop and let them collect themselves and offer some comfort. But that's the kind of raw emotion we want to capture on video, so I learned very quickly to let folks continue and get out their stories. The conversations have natural breaking points. I learned my job is to be an active listener behind the camera, maintaining good eye contact and offer a sympathetic nod or posture to encourage folks to keep talking.

Here is the end of Radiothon celebration video. Enjoy!

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