A good example of “beyond radio” content

Check out this story at NPR and notice how it much it differs from the audio transcript:

9 Powerful Moments in the Day of a Viral Web Editor at BuzzFeed

Photos and radio are great companions!

And please note, everyone: A transcript is NOT the same as a script. Those two words are NOT interchangeable!

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Tips for learning about your camera

My main list of basic advice (for indoors shooting, note especially ISO and white balance):

Photo quality tips for point-and-shoot cameras

Do not think you need a DSLR. You don’t:

Photojournalist covers the Olympics with an iPhone

This is the same article I linked in your assignment:

Get the Most from Your Point-and-Shoot Camera

The way you steady the camera — with your hands, or with a tripod or monopod — makes a big difference in all low-light situations:

How to hold the camera

I hope these tips will help you. But don’t forget your Kobré textbook! There are lots of great tips there as well.

Fixing the ‘permalink’ URL on a WordPress blog

A lot of the students here have generic URLs for their WordPress posts. This is something a savvy person wants to change, because the generic URL makes you look like a WordPress novice. Like you don’t care about your blog.

Changing this is very easy.

If your URL to a blog post looks like this, you should change it:

http://mysite.com/blog/?p=123

The number at the end of the URL is what makes you look like a noob. Here’s how to change it:

The most common choices (below) are:

  • Month and name
  • Post name

If you want to try a custom structure, find the heading Structure Tags on this page:

http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks

Timing for a broadcast script

It’s helpful to know how long the voiceover is going to take before you record it. A common estimate in broadcasting is 180 words per minute. News anchors read at about 150 to 175 words per minute.

Let’s say you have a sequence of three shots, total 15 seconds. How long can you make a VO to cover that?

Some math: 180 (words) divided by 60 (seconds) equals 3 words per second. To cover 15 seconds, you can’t say more than about 45 words. Never try to speed up your talking — that won’t communicate effectively, and you know it. Notice that broadcast anchors read MORE SLOWLY than 180 wpm.

How long is 45 words? What’s something you know or remember that uses only 45 words?

I happen to know that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is exactly 45 words:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Of course, you might not be able to intone that intelligibly in 15 seconds. (It takes me 22 seconds to do it.) Time yourself and see!

What you need to know to make better video

Colin Mulvany of The Spokesman-Review has been writing many great, great posts about newspaper video and online video in general. In his latest, he has just about condensed everything you need to know into one single post. Here is the outline:

  1. Speed up the pacing.
  2. Define your story — in the first 20 seconds.
  3. Start it with a very strong visual.
  4. Start it with natural sound.
  5. Stop zooming and panning already! What are you, 12 years old?
  6. Use a wireless microphone.
  7. In and out, in and out: Mix nat SOT in with narration.
  8. Be diligent in the fight against wind noise.
  9. Shoot creatively.
  10. Edit to include surprises.
  11. Leave the viewer feeling fulfilled.

Isn’t that a wonderful list? Now just remember to do all of that!

Why big video files cause trouble

See this post by Curt for information.

If your external hard drive is formatted as FAT32, it would be better to reformat it to NTFS.

It has been more than a year since I bought my external hard drive and did the research to use it correctly, and I had forgotten about the formatting business. Curt’s post gave me a flashback. (Thanks, Curt.)

Of course, if you do reformat your hard drive, that ERASES EVERYTHING on it. So first you would copy everything to some other location (like a hard drive on another computer) — and then do the deadly reformat procedure.

Video interview with B-roll

Watch this example (2 min. 37 sec.) and notice two things:

  1. Do you feel like you are seeing too much of the interview subject? Her voice and her story are very good, but do you really want to keep coming back to her so many times? (Maybe we should see her only two or three times in total.)
  2. By the end of the story, you may have been distracted by the owners and the dogs — you may have forgotten what the event was about. The storytelling very effectively returns us to that idea — it is a photo shoot for the dogs — by saving the dog portrait photos until the end. This creates an ending that feels satisfying — a very good ending.

You can obviously make a video like this one!

Tight shots help you avoid jump cuts

The wonderful Colin Mulvany explains how this works in a comment on a blog post by Angela Grant:

Avoid putting two mediums or two wide shots together [side-by-side]. Also, tight shots make great scene transitions between two similar shots. I’ve also found that by having a lot of tight shots available, my edits goes much quicker than if I had to cobble the edit together with two wide shots.

Even though the extreme close-ups are harder to get on the site, they will save you in the editing process!

The blog post links to a good example of a bad jump cut. Learn to recognize these so you can avoid making them.

Shooting sequences really matters

I know I’m overloading the course blog this week — sorry!! But this is really good:

The sequence is the foundation of all video storytelling. Sequences compress time in a video story. Without this compression, what you’re left with are long video clips that visually bore viewers to death.

Proper sequencing gives the video editor a better way to pace a story by using a variety of wide, medium and tight shots. This helps move the viewer through a story efficiently.

That’s from a blog post by Colin Mulvany, the videographer from The Spokesman-Review. He started blogging very recently, and I LOVE his blog! It’s very enlightening!

The week ahead: Shooting 2

Make sure that what you shoot this week follows the criteria provided in the Shooting 2 assignment.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you shoot in sequences, exactly as you did for the Shooting 1 assignment. Even if there are no close-up hand shots (for example, the divers probably do very little with their hands, except climb up the ladder to the diving board), you must still get AT LEAST five different shots of each “thing” you expect to use in the video. The sequence of five or more shots must have BOTH different shot types (extreme close, close, medium, wide) AND different positions (stand here, stand there, over-the-shoulder, down on the floor, etc.).

  • Shots should be short, e.g. 10 seconds, whenever possible.
  • STOP RECORDING after EACH shot!
  • Sequences are composed of shots. Shoot at least five shots for every sequence.
  • “Events” are shown as a series of sequences. A 2-min. video probably includes 3-5 events (not including the interview).
  • How many sequences should be in an event? The story will determine this. You need to think about this BEFORE you start to shoot. This is what you do while you are walking around without your camera for the first 30 minutes.

The one exception to “short shots” is the interview. Set up the camera, set up the person, start recording, take your hands OFF the camera, and conduct the interview without touching the camera again. When finished, turn the camera off.

One interview should work well for this assignment. As I said in class, you may conduct MORE than one interview, but I want you to choose only ONE interview to use in the edited video. Thus if you interview someone and it’s very bland and factual, FIND SOMEONE BETTER — and do a second interview.

I was thinking about Laura’s cake decorator. What if she is boring? Laura might end up interviewing the bride-to-be about her cake — and what it means to her. That might be more emotional than the cake decorator’s interview, and hence much better audio to match with the visuals of the cake being decorated. We do not want to see a how-to about cake decorating!

Don’t be overly literal: Maybe Curt can match audio about Romania to visuals of ice cream. Just because I am skeptical does not mean it’s impossible. Curt might be more creative than I am!