Angela Grant at News Videographer has listed some characteristics of stories that work well with video. These slam-dunk video stories should have:
- Lots of movement and action
- Something people just want to see
Of course, these characteristics are obvious, but Grant includes several examples of each kind of story beneath the list items. It’s worth checking out the list of links.
Originally published on another of my blogs on May 5, 2009
Recording moving images can be hard enough; you’ve got a lot of different things to think about when the camera’s on. But the sound that goes along with your video is just as important, if not more so.
Consider this, we have to compress the heck out of video to get it into formats that will play happily on the lowest-common-denominator computers out there. However, audio quality remains pretty good, even when it’s compressed. So, as the quality of the video decreases, we must rely on audio more and more to carry the project.
Put another way: Users will often tolerate poor quality video, but if that crappy video is paired with terrible sound, they won’t even give the video a chance.
So, here are some things to keep in mind about the sound you’ll be recording with videos in the field:
- Rooms are seldom as quiet as they seem. Even things like a running computer, the air vents and fluorescent lights can turn what you thought was good audio into unusable trash.
- Make small talk with your interview subject while you set up the camera and microphones. Not only does it help put the subject at ease, and you can get an idea of how loudly they’ll be talking and whether you’ll need to tell them to speak up.
- Be aware of the sounds you make.
- If you’re using a clip on microphone, ask your interview subject not to move around too much. The sound of a microphone moving against clothing can ruin an otherwise perfectly good soundtrack.
- Be aware of the different abilities of the microphones you’ll be using. If you’re relying on the microphone built in to your camera, realize it will not produce great quality in noisy situations. It may be best to ask the person you’re interviewing to step into the hallway or some other, quieter space.
I want to add one thing to this list (for now). Rooms with hard walls, like most of the cinderblock-built rooms on campus, tend to create an echo when people speak loudly and clearly. We kind of tune it out when we’re sitting there having a conversation with a person, but a microphone is not so forgiving — even a poor quality one like the one built-in to your Kodak cameras.
If possible, situate your interview subjects in a room with something on the walls, curtains or fabric or even wood. Just something that won’t echo as much.
I know I haven’t come along yet with the fifth and final installment of the Twitter series yet, but I came across this document tonight and thought it was too good to not post right away.
Vadim Lavrusik is an adjunct journalism instructor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also works with Facebook to teach journalists how they can put the social network to good use in their reporting.
The document embedded below is one that Lavrusik put together to help journalism instructors integrate Facebook into their curriculums, but it also offers a bevy of tips and ideas for how to make Facebook into yet another tool for your reporter’s toolbox.
Lavrusik describes it thus:
I’ve included some key aspects of Facebook that can be used by journalists in their reporting, as well as examples of assignments that can help familiarize students with Facebook as a reporting tool.
Back in 2009, I came across a series of posts by Mindy McAdams, an online journalism instructor. One of the posts in the series, “Tell a good story with images and sound,” has some great tips for deciding whether your story is interesting enough to support an audio or video medium.
I list a series of her tips below, but I’ve also included a chart that she designed showing the energy level of a story. (She talks mostly about photo slideshows with audio in her article, but the principles work for video too.)
McAdams is a big proponent of deciding what message you want to communicate about the story before you go in. Once you have that message figured out, make it your mission to gather the resources you need to tell the story. A storyboard might help, but any kind of planning would be better than no planning at all.
She is also a big supporter of figuring out your opening and closing before you decide on the middle of the story. The strongest slideshows and video stories she has seen start out direct and to-the-point. That hooks a viewer. Then, the story needs to move toward a satisfying and worthwhile conclusion. That way, even if the thing wavers a bit in the middle, the viewer will probably say with the video for the duration.
- Shoot a lot of photos or video to capture the ambiance of the location, more than you think you need.
- Consider the interview a dress-rehearsal for the on-camera or on-mic interview. This means re-asking some of the important questions from the interview, the questions whose answers will drive your story.
- Let the subject know you’re recording and why you’re asking questions over again, but don’t tell them how to say things.
- Don’t record too much audio; it just makes a lot of extra work in the editing bay later.
- Do the math. For example, if your video is going to be 120 seconds long and you want to interview six people and use them evenly, that means you need no more than 30 seconds of video per person. That might mean asking each subject only one or two questions per interview to get what you need.
- For audio production only, gather as much background noise as you can. You may wind up needing it during the editing process. Try to get at least a solid minute of the “silent” room.
- Editing is a repetitive process. Know that going in.
- McAdams suggests deciding on the opening and closing of your piece first, then filling out the middle of the piece.
- She further suggests filling out the middle of your piece with photos that show a good mix of angles and distances to improve the pacing of your piece.
She has other tips too. Read them here. Her whole series on multimedia journalism (12 posts long at this point) is linked below. I’ll be writing in more detail on at least one more of her posts, the one that has to do with video.
There may come a time in your journalism career when you will have to start a story based on something posted to Twitter or another social network. Or, perhaps, you’ll simply have to refer to a tweet in a story.
Don’t laugh or think it’ll never happen. With the rate people are using social networking sites these days, it’s not a matter of if but when.
When your turn does come, refer to this handy blog post from Twitter Journalism that offers quite a few handy things you can do to make sure the person tweeting is tweeting the truth.