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How to shoot your first video story

April 6, 2017

By Lindsay Grome, Blend
Lindsay is the Director of Community Engagement at the National Scholastic Press Association. Prior to her job with NSPA she worked as an award-winning television news reporter at PBS-affiliate Lakeshore News in Merrillville, Ind. She is a graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

 I was a senior in high school when I decided I was going to be a broadcast journalist. Excited about the opportunity to get out into the community, meet new people and tell some very cool stories, I had no idea how much work the term “journalist” would really involve. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that not only would I have to use my talent as a writer, but I would also have to quickly become adept in the technology of producing a story — lights, camera, white balance.It only took one bad backlit shot to ruin my first big break before I hunkered down to make sure I wouldn’t screw up another story due to my lack of detail. In multimedia reporting, the words you write are just as important as the shots you choose to tell the story. Knowing how to do both will not only help you tell better stories, but will also make you stand out of the pack.
Shoot until your heart’s content. Depending on whom you ask in the professional broadcast world, individual shots or clips of video in a package should be no longer than 3-5 seconds. Filling a two-minute story could require up to 40 good shots! That means you have a lot of shooting to do.
Remember the 180 degree line. When shooting, you must not cross the 180 degree line. If you start shooting a subject from the front and then decide to go behind them to get a shot, this confuses the viewer. You can shoot anywhere within the 180 degrees, but as soon as you cross it, it will become very difficult to edit your video.
Next time try shooting creatively. Try a different angle or point of view you haven’t thought of before, such as from above the crowd or on the ground as someone is walking toward or away from the camera. These shots can make for great transitions and help keep the viewer’s attention.
Mix it up with wide, medium and tight shots. Some panning and zooming can make it interesting, but too much distracts the viewer.
Subject B-roll makes your job easier. Take some B-roll shots of the subject you interviewed at a different angle from where you shot them — with wide, medium and tight shots. These shots can be used when introducing a subject you’ve interviewed. Just watch out for jump cuts!
Be mindful of the headroom while framing your subject. Too much and they won’t become the focal point of the shot.
Focus is key. It’s simple, but important. If your subject isn’t in focus, your audience won’t be focused on your story. The best way to achieve a crisp focus is through manual zoom. Simply zoom in all the way to the subject’s face, focus your lens until you can see every wrinkle and pore and then zoom out to frame the subject for the interview.
There are no second chances. The time you put in now is absolutely worth it. Aim to produce material you’re proud enough to post on Facebook to show your family and friends. You can’t take back the two minutes of air time you just filled and it will always be documented. Make sure it counts.
White balance. There’s nothing that can be more disheartening or ruin a good package more so than yellow or blue video. In order to avoid this, you must white balance. Hold a piece of white paper in front of the subject’s eyes before shooting (this goes for interviews and B-roll) and press your white balance button. Clear video in a flash.
Watch your lighting. If you’re shooting outside, shoot with the sun behind you and facing your subject. If you’re shooting inside, don’t put your subject in front of the window —  your back should be to the window. If you have filters on your camera, make sure you know which environments to use them in.
Learn how to do it all. So you want to be a reporter, or, maybe you’re a behind-the-camera kind of person. So what? In order to be a better videographer, reporter, anchor or producer, you need to take a walk in the other’s shoes. Take the opportunity to report, shoot video, edit and produce stories because you’re going to need all of these skills to tell a good story or continue in the field.
Learn from others. Not exactly sure how to tell a good visual story? Take in and watch as much news as you can by the professionals. By simply being an engaged viewer you can decide for yourself what stories keep your interest and why and then emulate some of those shooting techniques into your own stories.
Practice, practice, practice. The only way to become really good at something is by doing it. A lot. You won’t become a good videographer until you’ve shot in different environments, using different filters in various lighting with the best angles for creative shots and the perfect levels for audio. Check out the camera and start shooting. It undoubtedly will make you a better overall journalist.

From → Video

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