Athletes of the Year Visual Madness

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An annual event at The Gazette is our athlete of the year story. Ten finalists, five males and five females, are chosen from athletes throughout our coverage area. Sometimes the athletes bring their jerseys, medals, racquets, shoes, and various balls to The Gazette's studio for the portrait session. Other times, I've traveled to Decorah, Tipton, Manchester, Troy Mills, Williamsburg, and even Madison to a catch up with athletes.

It's a race against time to schedule the shoots with the finalists. Most have summer jobs,  or are leaving for college or have already left to tend summer classes and/or training camps in their respective sports. I appreciate them making time in their schedules.

Last year I pitched an idea to use my Iphone and an app called Hipstamatic to produce stylized portraits. I also pitched the idea of producing a short video interview with the athletes.

The videos were nothing special. Just them, looking into my Iphone, responding to questions about their most memorable sports moment, disappointments, role models. Everyone liked the video idea so well that when I brought it up for inclusion with this year's group of finalists, it was met with positive responses.

This year, I wanted to  take it to the next level. Continuing on the theme of where the athletes got their starts, I asked them to provide some photographs that I could incorporate in the video. I also pulled photos from The Gazette's archives to tie the old photos to the more current ones. I zoomed in or out on the photos as well as panned across them to give them a sense of motion. This is often referred to as the "Ken Burns Effect". Named for documentarian Ken Burns who uses the effect regularly in his historical documentaries. Some video editing software have an actual "Ken Burns Effect" option. My version of Final Cut Pro lets you do it old school. I had more control over where and when the effect started as well as where and when it stopped.

I've never done anything like this before so it was a learning experience. The first one I put together was of Lisbon's Ben Knake.

I think his and the one of Marcus Paige were the best. The editing is a little cleaner with Paige's video. It was one of the last videos I put together so my workflow was streamlined somewhat. Plus, it's tough not to like filming Paige shooting hoops on his backyard basketball court.

Knake's, however, is my favorite, primarily because of his interview. He was just a relaxed, engaged speaker.

Check out the videos from the other finalists and profiles written by ace writers Jeff Linder and Jeff Johnson.


Melissa Alger, Lisbon

Mackenzie Bigbee, Williamsburg

Annie Dale, Cedar Rapids Xavier

Allie Hutcheson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy

Shelly Stumpff, Iowa City West


Mark Atwater, Linn-Mar

Jordan Hay, North Cedar

Ben Knake, Lisbon

Marcus Paige, Linn-Mar

Charles Rogers, Iowa City West


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