Another date for the diary

31 03 2011

Getting lots of hits to your video uploads is easier said than done. You might have created a masterpiece of video journalism, but you’re not sure what to do with it to maximise it’s effect. But help is at hand!

If you want to be part of the new wave of online creators and if you want to discover how to successfully create, distribute and earn money from your videos on YouTube, the following event is for you.

The first ever European YouTube Partnerships event dedicated to producers, directors, writers, artists, video and media professionals of the future is coming up and it promises to provide some valuable advice and tips to make you and your videos stand out and even make cash by sharing advertising revenue.

YouTube, in partnership with British Film Institute (BFI), on 14th April, are holding a “Becoming YouTube Stars” event at Ravensbourne College.

Spaces are strictly limited so you’ll need register.

If you have any questions, contact: becomingyoutubestars@google.com

Sarah Stewart

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7 tips for video journalism success

30 03 2011

By Richard Dodwell

In a world of mass media, it is often difficult to grasp the basics. Outtake TV is a prime example of video journalism gone wrong. Here we help you to better prepare yourself before, during and after shooting your video to avoid any accidents.

  1. Master the art of the interview. – Tricky, we know. But sometimes just listening to everything your interviewee says is the key to producing a fantastic piece of video journalism. Look out for key points, topical pegs and anything else that may drive your story through the narrative.
  2. Learn your narrative. And keep it. – Editing a piece of footage for publication, or to share on the internet, can be a time-consuming business if you lose your narrative. That is, the story or thread to your piece of journalism. By knowing which direction you want your story to go – you are more likely to pick up on the best points and visuals that will highlight the point, or world view, you are trying to share with the world.
  3. Ask but don’t tell. – Asking questions of interviewees or in a rhetorical fashion to accompany a GV (general view or shot) is fine. But don’t feel the need to tell your viewer what they are seeing. Unless they are blind, they are most likely to be able to get what they should from the visuals themselves. This is a much more powerful way of telling the same story.
  4. Learn from the experts. – Pick your favourite video journalist and try to gauge exactly how they make their films so engaging. What angles do they chose? How many sequences are there? What colours do you see? What is this person in the shot telling me? Burma VJ‘s Anders Østergaard is a very good example to learn from.
  5. Perspectives are the key. – The most powerful video journalism often involves a wide variety of perspectives. Whether the majority of voices in your video are on one side or the other, the variety of tone, sound and language can really diversify your piece – not only validating your story but showing your passion for human interest.
  6. Learn to communicate on group projects. – Often when out on a shoot with more than one person, it can be difficult for a video journalist to exercise their true creativity when they feel pressured by a weary accomplice or scrutinising teammate. Communication is one good way to resolve this and ensure greater efficiency and general wellbeing.
  7. Have fun. – Video journalism should involve a good amount of enthusiasm and passion. Even in the most dire consequences your reasoning for being present and filming should remain genuine and compassionate. You must also learn to have fun, as this can come across well in video journalism – causing your creative flair to further release itself and ensure audiences are gripped by your craftily sought-out footage.

We appreciate feedback on any of our practical tips. Or if you just want to communicate with us then you can contact us on Twitter at World_VJ.





Canon in D…a lust-have for the budding video journalist

30 03 2011

The newest Canon D series provide a perfect opportunity for budding photo and video journalists.

With the HD capture for film, and the high quality pictures these cameras can take anyone can suddenly become a video journalist.

Previously, where it may have been difficult to bring in proper filming equipment, you can now use a standard SLR camera and capture High Definition video in the palm of your hand.

This camera has a wide range of lenses to use and very easy to grasp controls. Its quality is outstanding and it has been used for a number of successful short films.

It is becoming more and more obvious that anybody with a journalistic flare can begin to become a video journalist.

Check out the latest models here

Sarah Stewart





Video Journalism Courses…money well spent?

29 03 2011

New York magazine has announced that it will unite with  partnered with video Rosenblum TV journalism training and consulting company to launch its Video Academy, offering a course to aspiring video journalists in the US.

At $995 (£621.53) it’s not a cheap weekend’s training, but following the success of other video academies established in the city by Rosenblum TV founder Michael Rosenblum, students will be able to study with filmmaking and video production experts.  The final video projects produced will be showcased on nymag.com.

London offers a similar training course for video journalists. The Frontline Club promote a 5 day course in Final Cut Pro for £735 with a discounted rate for freelancers at £580.

Neither the Frontline Club nor the Rosenblum TV weekend training school offer a formal qualification at the end, so we’re left to wonder if an aspiring video journalist, with access to even the most basic filming equipment, could manange to gain the skills necessary to create and distribute a high quality piece of video journalism without shelling out a month’s rent.

We think it’s possible. It’s always nice to have someone in the industry to guide you along and point out the pitfalls and perils of video journalism, but it IS possible to go it alone, especially  in the face of areas we’ve run into difficulty with. For example, getting to grips with Final Cut Pro- there is some amazingly clear advice out there. Well, here, actually.

Sarah Stewart





Blog v Blog: Video Journalism tips of one blogger scrutinised by another

29 03 2011

By Richard Dodwell 

Blogger Greg Linch has a few tips on how to be a video journalist. Here we scrutinise each of his claims – to see which are the most valid and applicable in relation to the online digital revolution.

From Greg Linch’s blog, our responses are in bold:

  • The story rules. If it’s all pretty pictures, make me a slideshow.

True. But what about motion capture?

  • You’re making a video — not taking a video (h/t Kenny Irby, who really brought it home). It’s not yours. You’re just helping the person or people tell their story or stories (h/t Rich Beckman).

Yes, but make sure to fact-check the story to avoid libel or images which are an inaccurate portrait of events.

  • Lexicon is important (h/t Kenny). Just like with making vs. taking, you’re not shooting, killing, chopping anything. And you’re not a shooter. Words matter. You’re better than that.

You are when you a journalist employed by a news organisation. Be careful not to include anything irrelevant.

  • Video for Web can’t suck just because it’s online. As Rich says, it should be better because it’s primarily being viewed at a smaller size, which enhances your sense of imperfections. But it can also be viewed full-screen, on TV, etc.

Yes, but for youtube purposes or fast-news don’t worry yourself that your video isn’t HD. The BBC/Sky News have run very poor quality video in the past captured on mobile phones. This is because it is first-hand footage.

  • Shorter = better. But there’s no rule for length. It should be as long (really, as short) as it needs to be.

It should be however long you want it to be.

  • You’re not doing soundbites — you need to ask subjects questions so you have them telling as complete a story as possible [Update: As Eric noted in the comments, and I almost included here the first time, this includes making sure you have full sentences. Also, I’ll add that you need to the proper context. How? Awesome questions.], which leads to…

True – context is everything.

  • Avoid narration (way too many people use it as a crutch, both on Web and TV). It should be your absolute last resort. Only reason to use it, I think, is if the story suffers without it. Also, somewhat related…

This may be important, particularly for extended documentary footage… but in relation to online video this does not matter as much.

  • Ditch standups. I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to hear you. I’m watching your video because I care about the subject — not you. Sorry.

This is a dodgy remark. Your experience as the reporter may also be vital to the piece… particularly if something has happened to you off-camera, but in context of the visuals.

  • On that note, I don’t really want to see them talking either. More so if it’s just them sitting in a chair, in a boring office, with their boring talking head. The less talking head, the better. If I only see a talking head once, I’m happy.

This is a rather naive analogy. Talking heads might be saying something interesting – just make sure they are relevant and important to the piece. Otherwise omit.

  • Get it in the field, the first time (h/t Jim Virga). Yes, technology allows you to clean up sound and color correct video, but it’s still not going to be as good, it can be very time consuming and it’s lazy [field work]. In that vein…

If you are in a developing country and your resources are limited, then endless editing is probably out of your remit. Raw footage can be powerful – but you may need to perfect your camera/directorial skills first. See Practical Tips for more information on how to shoot video.

  • There’s a saying that audio is 70 percent of video (h/t Miami Herald vjs). Most people are more forgiving if the visuals aren’t great, but if the audio sucks, they’re probably saying see ya. I can’t emphasize audio enough.

This is true and I have found this personally when creating a 7 minute film. Audio with appropriate footage can really bring a video piece to life.

  • Headphones. Always. It shouldn’t even need to be on here. And they’re not your be-all-end-all. The audio meter to see levels is your bestest friend in the whole wide world.

Headphones if you have time. If you are witnessing a shoot-out in the Bahrain protests then you probably won’t have time.

  • Have the eye of a photojournalist making pictures when you aim the camera.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

  • Get tons of b-roll. There’s an 80:20 “rule,” which basically means get a lot more footage than you need. Which ties into…

100% correct. We at World VJ cannot emphasise this enough.

  • You may only have one chance to get everything you need. Don’t take anything for granted in terms of interviews and b-roll.

Again, very important.

  • No canned shots or b-roll. If you ask someone to repeat something they’ve done or do something they plan to do, you’re making stuff up. Sorry. Not good journalism. Any re-enactments, simulations, etc. should, first, be avoided at all costs and, if you must, be clearly disclosed.

True, but don’t hesitate to ask someone to clarify something that you have either misheard or they have not said clearly on camera.

  • Record mostly in the range of medium and tight, but be sure to get establishing (wide) shots.

True.

  • Record sequences.

Always.

  • Story. Just wanted to make sure you remembered.

We have.

  • There’s no formula.

But planning doesn’t go amiss.

  • Try interesting angles and approaches (h/t Mike Schmidt). Break outside the “safe” zone (h/t Jim). If it doesn’t work, don’t use it. If it does, cool.

Yes but only if you are certain you have enough conventional footage in case it all goes horribly wrong.

  • Your goal should be to use as few (ideally, no) automatic settings as possible (go manual with exposure, white balance, sound and focus) once you’re comfortable with the gear (h/t Jim). I want you to say, “This is my camera. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” You need to explore all the buttons and menus and settings. You need to be able to troubleshoot any problem that you could possibly troubleshoot. When you’re a professional, you can’t make excuses (h/t Jim Virga). No one will want to work with you. If it’s really beyond your control, then it might not be your fault, but you still don’t have what you need. (This is more a problem on deadline.)

On an exercise at City University my team found that the automatic setting on the camera caused sporadic blurring of the subjects in shot throughout the film. This was undetectable when played back on the tiny screen of a camera, but on a big screen is unavoidable and potentially annoying.

  • Just because you can create a video full of narrative, doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes, you just need to let the pictures do the talking. If the video can show it better than a person can describe, just leave that out.

Doesn’t this contradict your idea that every piece of video has to be a story? Every story has a narrative.

  • There is no perfect video. It can never really be finished (h/t Jim Virga). You need to accept and embrace that it can always be better. That’s why it’s so important to knock out as much as you can as early as you can. The more time you have to edit and re-edit and re-edit again, the more time you have to get feedback, the more time you have to sleep on it, etc., the better.

We at World VJ encourage optimism in order to better your technique.

  • How’s that audio? Just checking.

Fine, thanks.

  • Send it to everyone who’s opinion you value or can give you constructive feedback. That’s good for several reasons; namely, it’ll will make you better and it will help get your work/name out there.

This is true, but be weary of biased feedback from friends or those who would naturally support the material. I.e. I recently showed a piece of video journalism I made to a homeless charity and they thought it was fantastic (the film was about homelessness)

  • Show your video to the subjects. If they have e-mail, send them the link. If they don’t, go to them with your computer. Again, it’s not for you. It’s for them and your viewers. (h/t Rich)

This is good practice. Especially when building contacts.

  • There’s no magic. It’s not something you’re born with. It’s almost all skills you can learn with practice.

But if you find you are naturally gifted in this area – go for it.

  • You’re doing an important job. Keep at it and kick butt.

World VJ couldn’t agree more.

 





Dates for your 2012 Diary!

29 03 2011

It’s never too early to start preparing mentally for the next broadcasting expo! It begins in Earls Court on the 14th Feb 2012 and lasts for two days. So if you’re the kind of person who would struggle to pick between an evening at the movies watching a rom com on Valentine’s day or an evening with the ENPS Mobile Suite, this event is for you.

It is such a worthwhile opportunity to experience the latest in broadcasting techniques and technology. It is also visited by influential industry professionals, so it’s the perfect opportunity to network.

The Broadcast Expo this year was held in Earls Court over three days from the 15th to the 17th of March. It was packed full of free master classes, new product launches and demonstrations. It was split in to two areas the Broadcast Video Expo and The Production Show.

The Broadcast show focused on a range of new technologies ranging from HTML5 and video blogging, to the launch of the new Avid Suite, cameras and audio equipment. There were a wide range of talks given by industry experts as well as live demonstrations.

The Production Show focused more on the production of broadcast. With talks from location managers, film agencies and production managers it gave a great introduction to anyone wanting to break in to the industry as well as helping answer issues that arise from many broadcasts.

You should definitely check out the website, and read the attendee’s comments. One of which is posted below:

“It’s a very important show for me because it’s the only UK based broadcast show. It’s definitely the place to come to share ideas and innovations. I’ve seen the show grow over the years and I think I’d put it into the ‘Brilliant’ market now, because it certainly has grown and grown and is good for many different things.” Steve Teague, ITV Group, Head of News

For more information, click here.

Sarah Stewart





Musings on Libel in video journalism

28 03 2011

By Richard Dodwell

 

Libel is a contentious issue. Although we all try to avoid it – sometimes, particularly in controversial areas, it is totally unavoidable. Often it occurs by mistake. So in the rush to complete an edit on-time – or when you haven’t received adequate training – it can be a daunting prospect to either be faced with a libel suit, or a penalty of reduced marks for a journalism course.

 

This commentator sets out the parametres for which you can avoid libel on the internet.

 

Here is a more video specific post on one individual’s response to accusations of libel in a youtube video post.

 

Ultimately, it is vital that you receive adequate training in what counts as libel in your respective country, whether from whoever is teaching you or from books/internet resources.Furthermore, it is important that you are supported with your video posts throughout. If the training you receive is slapdash or you are not thoroughly supported in your work – then an accusation of libel is that last thing you need, as you will not have a support network to fall back on or help fight your case. (As encountered by youtube poster.) Some have even found a total lack of support or sensitivity from their University tutors.

 

More importantly, have a think about whether what you are posting is accurate. Do not produce a piece of video that is not 100%, even if you witness other’s mediocre projects receive greater success. Quality is what will suffice in the the developing world. The legal jargon will just become common sense.