By Christian Regosch
In July of this past year our board member Scott DeGiralamo and myself had an idea to make a video about Tacony. Neither of us are cinematographers but how hard could it be? We know the neighborhood, so all we would need to do was to film what we know, add narration, a soundtrack, and edit it into a video. So with a quick brainstorm and storyboard we began making the video.
After a week or two of research we settled on the style of video we liked. Back in 2013 Visit Philly created a series of videos highlighting the strengths of some of the Philadelphia’s up and coming neighborhoods. The videos catalogued all the unique sites, shops, and history of these communities within a 2 to 3 minute timespan (click here to check them out). To add depth to the video they brought in a local business owner or resident to narrate the video and drive home the theme of community development. At first we watched the Visit Philly videos to find ideas to incorporate into a documentary style video that would be about ten minutes long. When we watched these videos we thought we could do a great similar video for Tacony. Awesome places to eat, great historic buildings, and quality outdoor spaces. We got to work storyboarding and outlining potential locations, shots, and film to include .
Each of the videos included a narrator with local ties. This provides the pacing for the video and reinforces its “street cred.” For our video we asked Louis Iatarola to serve as the narrator. Lou and his father are both lifelong residents, and led the restoration effort of the Tacony Music Hall. This meant Lou could easily speak at length about Tacony.
We conducted the interview twice. In our first attempt our lighting was off and the camera set up was incorrect. On our second attempt we simplified our set up and properly placed the lighting around Lou. This resulted in a better and more stable baseline for our video. Each interview session lasted forty minutes which means the audio you hear in the video is the best of the best from nearly 80 minutes of recording.
This still from the first interview shows Lou standing in a slightly different location with a darker lighting scheme.
Getting the Shots
This was the most time consuming part of creating the video. Every shot you see in the video comes from a larger cut that is at least one hour’s worth of work. In total we filmed about 25 hours worth of footage. Most shots were pretty straight forward, film up close and then phase out. But two shots in particular required technical expertise. In the beginning of the video right after the opening credits you see a shot of Torresdale Avenue. This shot was done using a jib to obtain a crane shot (hyperlink to the terms). This held the camera 12ft in the air and allowed for a panoramic shot of Torresdale Ave. Right near the end of the film you’ll see a shot of a Master Oon’s Karate studio that moves along with the action. To achieve this shot we laid down track and put the camera on a dolly. This allowed us roll along the front of the studio and capture all of the action (learn more here: jib and dolly).
Here you see Scott, his cinematographer Dean and myself working the jib, trying to get a shot of the avenue on a sunny day.
Editing is a lot like writing, it may seem straight forward but to really do it well we had to revise and revise again. But on top of revising we had to go through hours of film to find the best shots and compile them into the final product. That’s exactly what Scott did. Scott served as our editor and worked multiple late nights to edit the video to his high standards. Our last edit for the video was done immediately prior to uploading the video to our YouTube account. We even put a public version of the video online and had to take it down because certain scenes looked washed out after we uploaded it to YouTube, requiring us to make more adjustments.
A shot of myself and Computer Guy Employee Manny reviewing footage of Lardner’s Point Park.
We introduced the video on our Facebook last week and the reaction has been incredible and overwhelmingly positive. As of Monday the video has been viewed over 2,000 times on YouTube and has reached 24,000 people on Facebook. But the best parts are the comments! People who live in Tacony now and those that once lived in the neighborhood are happy and proud to see that their community is being shown in a positive light. The greatest testament to this is the amount of shares we’ve gotten, currently 84 people. At the current rate this video will garner as many views as the many of Visit Philly Neighborhood videos and could surpass the total in the near future!