Practice makes perfect: a beginner’s guide to videography

March 23, 2011

“The only way to learn video journalism is by doing it. It will take time and practice to master the fundamentals. But don’t let that stop you from trying to learn, because you must just DO IT, over and over, to get good at it. The best thing you can do is attempt to make all your mistakes as quickly as possible.”- Angelena Grant of NewsVideographer.com

Many journalists feel intimidated by the idea of videography, feeling that high level video work is necessary when telling a story visually. This, however, could not be farther from the case. Our audiences don’t care if our filming is worthy of the next Academy Award. They are very forgiving with the level of skill apparent in the video. “If it’s authentic, if it takes a viewer to a news event or behind the scenes of somewhere important, it works,” says Mark Briggs.

The only item you will need in order to create video journalism, at the most basic level, is a digital camera, or a smart phone with video capabilities. If you are more experienced with video, though, you can try adding the following items in to the mix:

  • Large capacity batteries
  • Additional mini-DV tape or storage capacity on memory cards
  • External microphones
  • Tripod
  • Lighting equipment

Once you have suitable equipment for your reporting, you should get out on the field and practice shooting. Some methods you should focus on as you verse yourself in videography include:

  • Getting good clips so you don’t waste time editing
  • Avoiding panning and zooming
  • Holding your shots so you will have more material to work white
  • Staying silent so you don’t produce unwanted audio
  • Framing and composing the footage in a way flattering to your subject
  • Ensuring that you can hear the subject, because, as Angela Grant states, “if you can’t hear what people are saying, there’s no point in watching the piece.”

After you have collected film that meets some, or better yet all, of these qualifications you can edit the image. Some things to keep in mind during editing include:

  • Making sure that your video software is compatible with your video equipment
  • Keeping the piece short as viewers lose interest more quickly on the Web

Once you have produced your final product, you are ready to distribute your piece. Before placing your video online, it is important that it is compressed, facilitating easier downloading. YouTube is just one source that compresses files for its users, but if you are up to the challenge, you can always compress the file yourself. When the video is placed on the web it is important to consider the audience. If you want your family, friends, and a small amount of loyal followers to view your video, than you will probably just want to upload it to your website. If you want millions of people, perhaps around the world, to see the piece, then uploading to YouTube or another video-sharing site is imperative.

Although you may fear that viewers will not watch your piece because it is not up to par with that of news stations such as NBC, your viewers will still appreciate and watch your work. It is imperative that you remember that the quality of your videography skills is not what is important in your stories, it is the quality of your content.

To learn more about video journalism, watch this video.

Entry Filed under: Briggs "Journalism Next" Chapter Reviews. Posted in  Briggs "Journalism Next" Chapter Reviews Tags: , , , .



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