Thursday, August 3, 2017

Trang and I started out the day by getting in the wrong Über. Then rain-induced traffic delays. We arrived at our first interview 45 minutes later than we originally planned, at the home of a woman who went to college with Trang’s dad, with whom we had hotpot dinner last week (or at least I think it was last week, I’m losing track of time). We arrived rushing, but I was prepared for the full day of interviews with a charged camera and two extra batteries. I screwed it on to the tripod, took the lens off, turned it on and pressed the red record button to test the lighting and… The LCD screen was completely dark and blurry. I panicked. What happened? The camera was perfectly fine the last time we used it. Trang and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so I used her phone for the interview and hoped the problem would disappear as soon as it appeared.

Bean curd drink

Since we were in the area, we had lunch at Trang’s maternal grandparents’ house, who we visited my first weekend here. Her grandfather was taking a nap when we arrived so we ate with her grandmother. I tried these fried shrimp chips that are hard to explain beyond the word “addictive.” We took a nap after lunch and Trang’s grandmother gave us the bean curd drink (a derivative of tofu) she had bought for us before we came. It was a weird texture but the added sugar made it refreshing.

The problem with the camera’s video recording didn’t disappear. Our second and third interviews were at the floral book café we’ve frequented. We used the camera anyway, in case “we’ll fix it in post[-editing]” applies here, but I had a sinking feeling no manipulation with lighting on my computer could rectify the situation completely. I filmed some b-roll of the third interviewee with Trang’s iPhone (which shoots surprisingly really clear shots), hoping I could use it to overlap her audio in case the dark video can’t be fixed.

It’s been really frustrating. When we got back home, I read the manual over probably 3 times, sent out a cry for help on Facebook and Instagram, emailed the technical director at the journalism school at my university, talked with a photographer and a professional videographer. No one has a clue. We’re leaving in the morning for a weekend vacation at Ha Long Bay, so I’ll just have to find a solution when I’m back in Hanoi Monday.


On the plus side, I had some amazing pomelo (a grapefruit equivalent) and honey tea at the floral book café. It’s probably my favorite tea I’ve tried here so far. I love that place.

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