Class Agenda – Monday, Nov. 6

Intro to Video Journalism

With video, we build on the compositional techniques of photography and the structural, storytelling aspects of audio with one obvious additional element: Motion.

How does video storytelling for the web and mobile differ from TV and film?

  • Need to be CLOSER to your subject. Web videos are smaller and more compressed.
  • 40% of online viewers leave in the first 20 seconds. Another 40% leave after a minute. So you have 20 seconds, max, to grab your viewer and make sure they stick around. Ideally less than that.

How important is audio?

  • Good audio is of paramount importance. If you have low-quality video and good audio, the video will still be watchable. If you have gorgeous visuals but terrible audio, it will not.
  • Tips for gathering audio

When is narration necessary?

Sometimes, you can let the subjects of your video tell the story all on their own — as long as you edit with care, presenting what they’ve told you in a way that makes narrative sense. One benefit of non-narrated videos is that they can feel more organic. There’s no disembodied voice stepping in to tell the story, which keeps the focus on the characters in the story.

But sometimes, for clarity’s sake or for stylistic reasons, narration is necessary, or text.

Narrated videos

Text-Narrated videos

These are more and more popular thanks to social media distribution because they automatically start playing as you scroll through your feed and they can be watched without sound.

Non-Narrated videos 


Shooting Your Video

There are two main components to any video: your interviews and your B-roll. The rules of composition we learned for photography (thirds, colors, patterns, symmetry, etc.) all apply here, but you also need to keep an eye out for motion. Tracking shots involve following the action with your camera, while static shots involve keeping your camera still, but that doesn’t mean there’s no motion involved; you might just be letting the action go in and out of the frame.

What is B-roll? And what difference does it make?

A big difference.

Things to keep in mind while you’re shooting B-roll:

  1. Shoot more than you think you’ll need.
  2. Get a variety of shots. Close-up, medium, wide, detail shots, static shots, tracking shots.
  3. Use a tripod whenever possible. If you don’t have one or you’re shooting in a mobile, chaotic situation, be resourceful about stabilizing your shots.
  4. Think about your interviews and let them inform your B-roll shooting decisions. Look for shots that illustrate what the person is talking about.
  5. Hold your shot longer than you think you need to. A good rule of thumb is to hold it for at least 10 seconds (AFTER it’s already steady).

Things to keep in mind when you’re shooting your interviews:

  1. Frame the shot with your subject on one of the thirds, angled so that they’re looking slightly INTO the frame. Have them look at you, not at the camera, so be mindful of where you are sitting. It’s a bit intense when someone looks directly into the camera.

2.  If you’re working with a translator, be mindful that the subject will want to look at them, so make sure they are positioned in the ideal place to draw the person’s gaze.
3.  Prioritize good audio.
4.  Make sure their face is lit, but not too harshly.
5. Think about composing the shot in a way that allows for some negative space where the Lower Third will eventually go.

The Five-Shot Sequence

When it comes to B-roll, your job is to use these visuals to tell a story in a way that is very clear and keeps the viewer not just interested but oriented: clear on what’s happening. Cutting together a sequence is often an effective way of doing this.

The classic sequence that every budding videographer learns when starting out is the five-shot sequence.

  1. Close-up on the hands.
  2. Close-up on the face.
  3. Medium shot.
  4. Over the shoulder shot.
  5. One additional creative angle.

You won’t always edit things in this exact way when you do a sequence in the real world; sometimes it’ll only be three shots, or it might be ten, and they might be in a different order. But the five-shot sequence is a useful framework for thinking about depicting an activity clearly and engagingly with video.

How to fit video into a larger multimedia story?

Here’s one great example:

Ambulance Work in Liberia Is a Busy and Lonely Business

On Wednesday, pitches are due. We’ll workshop them together. Next week, we’ll practice shooting a five-shot sequence with the Sony cameras and microphones, and you’ll have your first lesson in video editing.

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