In this tutorial, the author tells us how 15 different shots were edited into a single sequence. He goes through the shots, one-by-one, explaining each one’s purpose and what it does for the overall story.
Some tips to take away from this video:
- Sequences should have some sort of “opener” to get them going. In the case of this scene, the cameraman uses static shots of the flowers sold by the flower merchant.
- Sequences should generally start with a wide, “establishing” shot to give viewers a sense of the whole scene.
- Use a variety of medium and close-up shots through the sequence.
- Close-up shots can be used as good transitional shots. (Think of these shots like the actor coming on stage to talk to and distract the audience while stage hands change the set behind her.)
- Pans and zooms should have a purpose, a clear purpose. Don’t put them in because you can. Put them in because they help tell the story in some way.
- Keep pans short, less than 20 seconds.
- Each shot in the sequence should show the viewer something new or different that helps tell the story.
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 was able to to go through one of the BBC’s excellent tutorial/training courses online, the “Guide to Good Shooting.” I recommend the course because it provides interactive exercises to help you figure out some of the specifics of setting up good video shots and provides diagrams to help explain some of theories behind lighting and composition.
- Like with everything else I’ve read so far, the emphasis is on planning, on knowing what you’re getting into before you start filming or recording.
- The course emphasizes the importance of having a checklist and getting all the shots you came for — but it also advises that you keep an open mind and adapt your plan when you notice the story changing.
- The course goes through tutorials on focusing, composing shots, capturing movement, setting up interviews, adjusting white balance and lighting.
Originally published on another of my blogs on May 1, 2009
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.