News in Motion

Video is, first and foremost, a visual medium. And strong video stories have a clear narrative arc and a powerful human focus that help audiences connect with issues and individuals. Thus, video stories are best when movement and live action contribute something that could not be conveyed any other way. For example, no other medium can tell the story of a firefighter safely pulling three small children from a burning building better than video. Of course, you may not be there with a camera when that happens. But if you are, video will certainly be more powerful, immersive, and dramatic than a written piece.

Today, viewers can watch local, regional, and national news on a variety of stations, as well as on computers and mobile devices. In recent years, news organizations have been embracing video on their Web sites. In fact, the majority of most multimedia content on news Web sites comes in the form of video. Likewise, more and more people are accessing video on their mobile devices.

This chapter provides an overview of what constitutes a strong video story. We will explore types of video packages, video storytelling techniques, interviewing, camera shots, editing and technical considerations, and equipment. Some of you will go on to specialize in videography and dig much deeper into this topic. However, even those of you who don’t will greatly benefit from an introduction to basic video storytelling. It will not only improve your multimedia storytelling skills overall, but it will put you in a position to be a stronger multimedia collaborator.

Topics Covered

Video news packages
Standard video news packages for television or the Web are relatively straightforward, and there is a basic process you can use to create one. This process is generally comprised of three segments: pre- production, production, and post-production.

Preproduction
Preproduction includes all of the steps you should take before you begin shooting, including establishing a solid focus for your story, thoroughly researching your subject, and finding people to interview. A methodical approach to pre-production can go a long way toward getting a solid story off the ground.

Production
There are three basic kinds of footage you should collect for your package: b-roll, interviews, and on-screen talent (or reporter stand up). Make sure you have an adequate amount of footage in each category to ensure your edited news package is well rounded and has a variety of storytelling devices.

Camera Shots
Video quality is largely dependent upon how well the videographer executes camera shots. Likewise, good visual storytelling requires varying shots in a single piece to keep the viewer’s attention and create a dynamic presentation. A videographer should be conversant in different shot techniques, as well as understand how to implement them in a story package.

Camera movement techniques
Camera movement techniques serve many purposes. They can be used to make an object appear bigger or smaller, blurred or placed in focus. By learning proper techniques, a videographer can use movement to tell the story.

Composition
There are many ways to frame a shot. And the composition of various shots within a piece can make or break your visual storyline. Remember to vary shots within a package and examine every shot to ensure you have an aesthetically pleasing composition.

Post-production
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A methodical approach to post-production will help ensure that you produce a tight, cohesive story. When outlining interview footage, it sometimes helps to go back to the core journalistic questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. As you review your interview footage, search for sound bites that answer those questions.

The technical aspects of editing are largely focused on making sure that each scene flows smoothly into the next and the storyline is clear and well developed. This can include properly trimming and sequencing of footage, adding transitions and titles, and adding narration to complete the story.

Technical considerations for online video
Video may well be one of the most complicated forms of media to effectively produce and display for online formats. Videographers and photographers should have a basic understanding of the concepts of bandwidth, data rates, video resolution, compression issues, and delivery modes.

Video and screen size
Screen size and viewing experience are key considerations for how stories are shot. Watching television is a different viewing experience compared to watching video on a computer or hand-held device. Thus, when shooting news video, try to consider the types of platforms on which your audience will view your piece.