PCT Info on putting together a class video - Page 1 - Image Acquisition
This information explains how we managed data and software to produce the Class of 2011 PCT video.
It is only meant as an example. Others have used different techniques and softwares.


First, it is a good idea to get copies of the previous years productions and watch them. It will give you ideas and possible formatting options available. You will have full control over the format and content of your production, so, these are simply examples of what was done in the past.

We evaluated some of the previous years videos to get an idea of running times and time allotted to each section. Here is a summary of our analysis.

Putting it all together!

1) October - November: Contact hikers -Donna Saufley should have an email list. Also try the Dinsmores. We were able to get a bit over 200 email addresses. We are also wondering if the KO organizers would part with their list of (your year's) hiker emails. We did not pursue that. The more emails you have, the more submissions you will receive and, ultimately, the better selection of images you will have to choose from.

Using gmail, Put the email recipients into your contacts. List them all in a single group "Pct hikers". Once they are all listed, make sub groups (Group 1,2,3, 4 etc). Move about 80-90 from the main group into group 1, the next 80 into group 2 and so on. Make a final group for stragglers - all those who contact you after your list is done. We do this because Gmail will not mail out to more than 100 recipients at a time. Note: you will have to transcribe the email addresses from Donna's hand written list to gmail "contacts". The easiest way to do this is to use a spreadsheet like MS Excel. Make A1 = First Name, B1= Last Name, and C1=Email address. Put their traill name in "A" (first name), their last name in "B" and their email address in "C". Use your "home" and down arrow keys to jump back to column A after each entry. Save this file as a .csv file. Gmail will then import this file to its "contacts". Before you make the entire list, check it with a few entries to see if it works. As an alternative, you can enter each email directly in Gmail as a new contact.

2) Gmail: Make a template (called a "canned" message) email message (see example) - Send it as many times as you have groups (above). Put all recipients in the BCC box so their email addresses will be hidden. To do this, load your canned message, click on BCC, choose your group (like group 1) from the top drop down, under "my contacts". Before you send it, add your email address in the "To" box (maybe as "undisclosed recipients") - as some programs will dump emails without a name in the "To" box. Add a subject line and send them out (we had four groups, so four separate emails) - Use a creative subject line like "2011 Hikers! - We need your trail images!"

3) Send the first email out just before or after Thanksgiving. We sent ours out on 11/21. NOTE: This email is just to give you an idea of what to write. You are welcome to edit it and change it as you see fit. Please do not include our email address on it! We requested only the best 100 shots from each hiker. You may wish to make this number more or less. A few people may send in all of their pictures! One hiker sent us over 1,000 shots - it was ok but added time to the job.

Set a due date of January 15th or so. Allow yourself extra time for stragglers perhaps an extra week, as some will come in late. Note: If history holds true, you will get very few submissions at first - don't despair, they will arrive, mostly in January. Our last submission came in February.

4) Optional, for computer savvy people, you can accept zipped files sent up to a server - you will simply download the zip file and open it on your computer. A fast broadband connection on your end is required - it will take about 10 minutes to download a gig of information.

Some hikers sent us a link to a Picassa web file with all of their images - we had no desire to sort through all of their images and download certain ones we thought good. Unless you are starved for media, we do not recommend you spend time doing this. Instead, send them a nice email and request a disk or flash card.

As packets of images are received, log each one in and the type of media (ie disc, flash drive or card). We did this on paper. We also checked off the person's name on the hard copy email list that we received from Donna Saufley.

Write on the envelope the hikers trail name. Load the images from the media to a dedicated image folder on your computer. Our main folder was titled "PCT Images". Make sub folders for each hiker - Use their trail name or real name as the title of the sub folder. If they didn't sort the images for you, now might be a good time to make more sub-folders under the hikers name and move the images to each respective folder. Back up this main folder to a separate drive periodically. Ideally, you should get submissions from at least 60 hikers to have enough media to work with. We received media from 85. Keep all of your original envelopes with files in a box somewhere - you may need to refer to them again.

Optional: Send an email to the person who submitted the images telling them that they were received.

While you are waiting for January 15th to come around, start deciding on what songs / music to use on the video. You can audition most music on YouTube, Amazon or iTunes. Save the song files in another special music folder. MP3's work fine for this video. You will need about 30 songs. We also listened to music from movie soundtracks and used a couple of tracks from movies on our DVD. We also found free sound effects on the web, wind noises, thumping sounds etc.

Picture Management is very important!

To keep track of who submitted which image, it is a real good idea to rename each image with the hikers trail name as part of the file name. Get this free program - FastStone Image Viewer. I used it to do batch renames for every image. Use the "batch rename" under tools to change the filenames. F4 is a good shortcut. Open one of the hikers folder, hit F4, choose the batch rename tab, Click the "add all" link. The folders or files should show up in both the left and right windows (no need to open folders, software will find your images). Under the right window, in the Template, choose *_ts. Change the "ts" to the hiker's trail name (example: *_tequila jack). Click on "rename" and voilà , your images will now maintain their original file name with the hiker's name added to the end. This will help you to reference every image you use.

Note, this will not rename video clips, only stills. It takes about 90 secs to do one hikers files - maybe a couple of hours work in total. Make sure you change the hiker name at the bottom each time that you move on to the next person's images as it is easy to forget and mis-tagging the images is irreversible (as far as I know). If you choose to do this, do it before loading up images in Bridge or Lightroom - or whatever image management program you use.

We also made a web page with the request on it. We sent up a listing to the PCT-l and referenced this web page and in our second email message, we also referenced this page. See the web page here. If you are not able to do this, let us know and we will host a page for you on 724network (submit copy and two images). - This offer assuming we are around at the time :~)

Send out your last request on or about January 5th, it is after the holidays and give the hikers 10 days to get it together. Don't fret, most of your submissions will arrive from Jan 1 - Jan. 20th. Here is what we sent out as our 2nd email. By this time, you may have a theme developed and can request specific shots, like all of your images of downed trees or poodle dog bush.

Now, really the most time consuming part of the class video is organizing your images. You will want to use the best ones and they will need to be cataloged with some type of software program. We found it best to organize pictures for each section of the trail in geographic order (south to north) before starting to assemble your movie. Adobe has two such programs that can be used to organize images: Adobe Bridge and Adobe Lightroom. I used Adobe Bridge. With it, you can put stars on your favorite images, you can sort them into folders that you make - Example: "So. CA" or "Campo to Big Bear", or "Fire images" or "Food" or whatever you like. Then, you can simply drag the images you like into that folder - images can exist in more than one folder. NOTE: Adobe bridge does not like file names with an apostrophe in them! A file name like "Rockin' crossing the river.jpg" will crash your database. If you use Bridge, do a search in the filenames first and change all the files with apostrophes in them. As a side note, you could request that hikers do not use the apostrophes in the file names when identifying their images. Another option would be to move all images that you know you will not be using from a hikers folder to a PCT "trash" folder. This will give you fewer images to cull through when you are choosing images for the video.

Adobe Bridge also shows the meta-data for each image. From the metadata, we could see what camera was used etc. More importantly was the "date created" as, on many occasions, we could place a shot, knowing where the hiker was a day or week before.

We ended out with about 12,000 images to work with. Because of hiker attrition, you will find that you get most of your images for Southern California. By the time you get to Washington, you may only have 50% of this number. It will seem overwhelming at first but - Don't despair! This is very do-able! You just have to be organized and getting organized is the first step before making the video.

Now, what about editing? Go to page 2.