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How to shoot your first video story

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.

Basic Tips for Video Stories

Above is a video I found to try and get students fired up to make some videos and show what WASHINGTON POST YOUTUBE CHANNEL and NEW YORK TIMES YOUTUBE CHANNEL are doing on their YouTube Channels.

Below are a few tips I gave them to try and follow while creating video story projects.


Avoid shaky camera and bad audio.
To do this use a microphone and tripod.

Backgrounds and green screens
Always think about having an interesting background or using a green screen.   If you use a green screen you have to change the background.  Make sure to light the person and the green screen.


Edit the video in Final Cut using an intro  and have a basic title and by line.  Lead into your story by talking directly into the camera with a green screen background or talking over B ROLL.  Edit the video in Final Cut.  It isn’t hard to learn and is pretty much like  iMovie, but way better. If you use background music have it very light in the background. I like videos that have loud transition music and nothing when people are talking.  There is nothing worse than not being able to hear people speak.

Upload it to YouTube Channel. Embed this video into a post and then categorize it in video.



My biggest suggestion is to use the microphones and lights that we have purchased this year so you can produce great video.  Also use the tripods.  Shaky video and bad audio are the biggest killers of video stories.


Hooray for Hollywood! Time to make a movie!

It is what you all have been waiting for (I know, not really, but work with me).
Time to make a movie.
Click Making a Movie for a tutorial on iMovie.
(You can probably find a tutorial on making a movie on MovieMaker, if you prefer.)

VIDEOCAST (100 pts)*(due April 20)
Video (2:00-3:00), quality, blog-related ___________________(40 pts)
Audio (voice over and natural sound) quality ________________(40 pts)
Editing (video, audio) ________________________________(20 pts)

*20 pt. deduction for late assignments.

Your movie is due Thursday, April 20, at 11:59 p.m.

IMPORTANT: For every one minute of video that you shoot, you will spend, on average, about three minutes editing.
So, shoot minimally.

A Video about Vol State Journalism

As we were discussing in class, here is an example of a video.
This one was done seven years ago.
But, it is still an example of:
– different locations,
– audio over,
– and, live audio.
So, check it out at Vol State Journalism.

Sound and Slide Assignment

The SOUND AND SLIDE assignment is due Thursday, April 6, at 11:59 p.m.
It is worth 100 points. 
Photographs (20-30), quality, blog-related (40 pts)
Audio (music or voice), quality, photo-related (40 pts)
Editing (photos, audio, timing- 2:00-3:00, etc.) (10 pts)
Title, captions (10 pts)

EXTRA CREDIT: Use of both music and voice (10 pts), not applicable if late.

Playing audio through entire Powerpoint

Problems, problems, problems.
I hope that I can help you solve one of them.
Here is a link to playing audio through your entire Powerpoint.
If you have any more problems, please let me know.
Good Luck!

Photos / Sound can be impactful

So, you have completed your Podcasts and now it is time to move on to the next fun-filled element of our class, the Sound /Slide (actually that is a copyrighted name for a program that allows photographs (slides) and sound to merge together). So, we better call it Photos /Sound, just to be safe.
Photos / Sound takes still photos and combines them with sound, thus Photos / Sound.
You may either use Power Point, iMovies or (if you have a PC) Movie Maker.
Download the photos into your appropriate program and then add sound (natural, recorded, podcast or music).
EXTRA CREDIT (5 points) if your sound is a combination of two or more.
Be sure and title it and caption the photos.
It should run 2-3 minutes.

Here is an INCREDIBLE example by NPR, “Life After Death.”
This example come from the Source’s article, “The Evolution of NPR’s Picture Stories.”

OK, now that you have completed your Photos/Sound project (due midnight April 21), You must post it to your blog.
Some of you opted to create your Photos/Sound with PowerPoint, while others used iMovies, while others used MovieMaker (PC product).
Either way, it is important to save it to YouTube for easier conversion, viewing, embedding, and linking to your blog.
I am a firm believer that when you “can’t figure it out,” one must Google it.
I have already Googled it for you.
So, here is the way to move a Power Point to YouTube.
Here is the way to move an iMovie to YouTube.
And, here is the way to move Movie Maker to YouTube.
I will look forward to seeing your Photos/Sound presentations.