This post is another one that I’ve pulled from the archives of other training blogs I’ve written. This was originally published April 29, 2009.
Back to Mindy McAdams again. I can’t help it; her series, “Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency,” is so full of good advice for print journalists moving into the online media that it can’t be ignored.
This time, McAdams is looking at video. She’s not just concerned with the techniques, though. She wants to make sure that reporters creating video stories are creating stories that are worth telling.
Most journalism students, and a lot of reporters too, “wouldn’t know an interesting story if it fell on their head.” For a story to be interesting and worthwhile on video (and in most other media) it has to have three “things,” she says:
- action or activity
- “you’ve got to see it to believe it” or “something people just want to see”
So she recommends that before any cameras or other recording devices come out, the reporter scopes out the story, just to get a feel for the place and the characters. “Remember,” she writes, “this is not breaking news — this is a story. People will be doing these things later; it’s not a one-time action that you are going to miss without your camera.”
Plan, plan, plan. That’s her motto.
On the practical side of things, McAdams also suggests a shoot first, ask questions later approach — meaning that she would rather that reporters shoot their footage before going in for an interview. If you interview first, she says, then you wind up shooting footage to cover the material you learned about in the interview. Shooting first might open up some new doorways for questioning later, questions you didn’t think of before. Shooting first could take your story in a completely different and more interesting direction.
McAdams also talks about the “five-shot method.” You should get five shots of everything you film, she says, to give you options in the editing room.
- Extreme close-up of action detail
- Close-up of the person doing the action
- Medium shot, face and action together
- Over-the-shoulder view of the action, the point of view of the person doing the action
- One more different, creative angle
“It’s not that you will necessarily use all five shots,” she writes. “But if you’ve got them, you’ll find that editing is immensely simplified.”
Other tips for video beginners:
- Dot not move the camera horizontally (pan).
- Do not move the camera vertically (tilt).
- Don’t zoom.
- Press the “record off” button — often.
Great advice, and I recommend reading the entire post. If you missed the link at the beginning of this post, here it is again.