The Day's Top Videos of 2013
From the football field to the stage, from the shipyard to the back yard, The Day's video staff has documented life in southeastern Connecticut and beyond. There have been tearful moments as well as joyous ones. This collection represents our staff's favorites.
It was a long drive, but getting to see a creature that spends 17 years underground and emerges for only a few weeks to procreate and die was something I couldn't pass up. Cicadas look and sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but my curiosity overcame any sheepishness I had about being so close to so many creepy bugs. Inevitably, one ended up climbing my shirt, and I had to stay still long enough for photographer Sean D. Elliot to get a picture of it.
I met Jake Kaeser a few years ago when I was doing a profile on the New London band The Weird Beards. In a band full of characters, Jake stood out. His bandmates were young enough to be his children, and his joining the group came via a ukulele he built for bandleader Brian Skidmore. For Jake's profile, I spent an afternoon in his shop while he worked on the pieces of wood that would become a harpsichord. As with any short video project, most of our conversation didn't make it into the finished piece. We talked for a long time about raising children and maintaining a life-long curiosity. I was left with the conviction that I too could continue doing what I love, both professionally and personally.
The past two football seasons have represented a huge change in the way a small newspaper like The Day covers local sports. Traditionally, my job was to passively observe and record events as they happen without staging or directing anything that was in front of my lens. When The Day started doing live webcasts of games, part of our format was a video “open” to kick off the presentation. This put me in the somewhat uncomfortable position of scripting and directing a short piece that would set the scene for the night's game. We came up with the loose idea of the two teams staring each other down from across the Mystic River. Assistant sports editor Mike DiMauro wrote a script, former bandmates of arts writer Rick Koster composed a theme song, and I found myself dodging pedestrians and traffic in fading light while trying to keep ten high school kids from bursting out laughing.
I woke up at 5am that day to get to the farm before the volunteers. As the people started arriving and going into the fields just before daylight, I started filming this silent and calming scene. I kept coming back to film this girl who's solemn face and unwavering pace caught my attention. There was something in the light that would not let go of me. Later in the week the farmer Duane Button explained to me that the young 14 year old girl named Daisy Jackman came to harvest all week with her little brothers. Working hard and silent in memory of her father who used to bring her every year since she was a child and had recently passed away. More than harvesting the sunflowers for a fundraiser to benefit Make A Wish Foundation, Daisy was mourning her father and remembering those sweet summer mornings lost in fields of sunflowers. That same feeling crept through me affecting my choices of images to capture and even in the edit this feeling lingered. I think the video captures a little bit that feeling.
Mystic Ballet puts on stage their version of the Nutcracker at Foxwoods. Mystic Ballet's Creative Director Goran Subotic shares his vision of what a contemporary Nutcracker Ballet should try to convey. What drew me to this assignment and kept my interest was the fact that I had no idea what ballet was, did not know what I "was looking for". During my filming visits, watching the dancers rehears and train for hours, I got a glimpse at the beauty of the movement. I felt at moments overwhelmed filming the dancers moving to the music, being one with the music. This video was my attempt to understand ballet using my medium "the camera" as the tool to explain it for me.
New London firefighters, volunteers from Newton and other parts of CT helped build the playground called "Emilie's Shady Spot playground" on Riverside Park dedicated to Emilie Parker one of the victims who was shot on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. After spending two days with this community I was honored to capture emotions ranging from loss to found, from sadness to happiness and from unity to love. This one brings me sadness and joy and makes me think about my own four year old daughter so much more.
That circus and carnival workers actually have their own language has always been exotic to me — particularly since my father really was one of those people who ran away at 16 and joined a carnival. As such, I grew up absorbing a lot of the lexicon he'd use on occasion.
That the seminal power rock band Death — almost completely forgotten despite their originality and influence — would experience a miraculous resurrection, is an amazing story. That they'd come to New London to headline the I AM Fest is even better. They were as cool and gracious in a pre-show interview was a bonus.
Huoppi and I had no clue that our spur of the moment video commentary about the forlorn New London Christmas tree would ignite a civic will-to-power that crossed all political and social lines and actually result in a solid makeover for the Yule Tree. We wish we could take credit for any sort of visionary call-to-action but, as with most of our videos, the whole impetus is to make each other laugh.
As a newspaper photographer I have photographed more things spilled over highways then I ever thought possible. The list includes, paint, fish, chickens and a mobile home. On September 18th I added Champagne to the list when I covered a traffic accident involving a tractor-trailer carrying crates of Champagne. Thankfully no one was seriously injured when the truck struck a state DOT truck on the side of the highway and rolled over. The highlight of the breaking news video that I posted is when the bucket-loader that was called in to clean up the accident accidentally drops its load of bottles that shatter and spill all over the road to the groans of on-lookers.
SEAN D. ELLIOT:
I spent a significant portion of 2013 documenting the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan. One big project within the scope of that documentation was a time lapse that condensed nearly two months of the work into just over two-minutes. A camera was positioned in the attic of the paint shop overlooking the Morgan and programmed to record an image ever five minutes (with longer durations over the weekends when not as much work was happening) day and night. The time lapse showed the process of removing the wooden structure built around the ship to make it possible for restoration work to continue throughout the colder months. With the exception of the final night, the images from the overnight hours were edited from the collection and the whole thing was set to a chantey sung by Seaport Chanteyman Goeff Kaufman.
This summer The Day's photo staff were issued new digital SLR cameras with high definition video capabilities. This means every member of the staff can produce not only still photos for the print and web editions of the paper, but we can produce videos as well. My first real effort on that front came working on a story about the state of Connecticut's only apiary inspector. Mark Creighton is responsible for inspecting over 6000 bee hives in the state and I was there when he visited an Old Lyme beekeeper's hives. It can be a challenge to balance capturing the still images with recording of the video, and even more challenging with angry honeybees buzzing around. At one point in the video you can hear one particularly persistent bee making repeated passes at my hands and near the camera's built-in microphone. I think it gave the video a real intimate sense of the situation.