Video instruction, Stage 2

Today I tried to prepare my students to shoot their first online video story. They have one week to come up with an interesting story, do prep and research, and arrange an interview with a suitable person. Next week they will get their gear and learn how to use the tripod. Then they have one week (sharing one camera between two students) to complete the shooting. After that, they will write a script. Finally, they will edit.

Up to now, they have only done practice work with shots and sequences.

I spent a lot of time watching online videos, mostly from newspaper newsrooms (but some from TV news too), to find varied helpful examples to show in class. Here are the four I decided on, with my comments:

  1. Swords and Chivalry (2:20)
    • This illustrates B-roll well.
    • It has a flaw: The woman spinning, in the middle, illustrates what happens when you indulge yourself. You have this really nice sequence of her working on the spinning wheel. You have a nice interview with her. But you shouldn’t use it.
    • A 2-min.video is too short for an interlude.
    • The first few sentences of the audio do not orient us very well. It’s hard to understand what the guy is talking about.
  2. Cheney High School’s P.E. Competition (2:24)
    • Here we have two good interviews, plus a narration.
    • The narration adds facts — the exposition. This can be a more efficient way to convey information than using audio from your interview(s).
    • Even if the videographer shot more than these two interviews, it seems perfect that there are only two, and not more.
    • The interviews help us understand WHY the story is unusual or worth telling.
  3. VT Thanks You (2:33)
    • Here we have a lot of good SOT — in addition to the interview.
    • We are missing some of the factual details we need to make this work as a stand-alone story. For example, what day is it? How did people know to come here? Whose idea was this? A bit of narration would have helped this story.
    • Angela Grant wrote an excellent blog post about the storytelling in this video.
    • Note how at the ending, we return to our character. This is a master’s touch.
  4. Barn Report: Corkscrew Curls (1:26)
    • A little rough, this could use some narration to help us understand what’s going on. However, there are a lot of interesting shots.
    • Notice how much you learn about the goat — visually!
    • The music is very, very annoying.
    • This video is one of several “Barn Reports” shot by San Antonio (Texas) Express-News journalists at the San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo. If you watch about three of these videos, I think you’ll get some good ideas for how to conduct a better interview. Ask yourself: “What’s missing?” What do you want to know? What’s the missing exposition?

For the class assignment, my students need to shoot B-roll and an interview — in that order. The final edited story will be between 2 min. and 2 min. 30 sec.

Thanks to Colin Mulvany (Spokane), Angela Grant (San Antonio), Mike Fagans (Bakersfield), and Evelio Contreras (Roanoke) for all their hard work.

2 Comments on “Video instruction, Stage 2

  1. I guess I was trying something new and different with the video. We have to do one “Barn report” each day from the rodeo. I didn’t want mine to look and sound like all the others.

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