Sometimes, as editors, we make the mistake of thinking anyone under the age of 30 is born shooting great video. Son, just go out there with your phone whatsit-thingy and come back with something suitable for the nightly news!
Well, good video, like good writing and good gumbo is hard work and takes practice. It takes a thoughtful approach, the right equipment and the time to make it happen.
Last week I sang the praises of Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald reporter Erin Carson’s video from the scene of a drowning. I have since had the opportunity to talk to her about her process and wanted to share some insights.
Learn what you are doing. Erin has a journalism degree from Indiana University. Her concentration was broadcast and global news and her training shows. That video from Gaston Dam was clearly not her first rodeo. I’m sure she would be the first to tell you, that some training is a big help. You don’t need a four-year degree. Heck, you can search for video techniques in YouTube to turn up some helpful hints. …
You can’t do everything. Those aforementioned editors (and I’m including myself in this sweeping indictment) sometimes point to the door and implore a reporter to take a pad and a phone and to come back with a 20-inch story, still photos, some video and why don’t you post to Twitter and Facebook while you are out there? Unreasonable expectations are rarely met. In this instance, Erin went to the scene with fellow reporter Khai Hoang. She did the video and Khai handled the print story. She says producing that two-minute video required a couple hours at the scene and about three hours to put together. In other words, it was pretty much a full day all by itself.
Planning and tact count. In that instance, emergency crews were searching for a body, and the victim’s family was nearby. Erin says she didn’t go marching up to the family with her camera aimed and firing. Instead, she asked if they would like to talk, and they chose not to do so on camera. And we all know cops can be testy at a scene like that. You aren’t their most pressing concern. Years of fostering good relations with the emergency folks paved the way for the privilege of being on the boat with them. Erin said rescuers were very good to work with that day.
Think about the script. That isn’t a word I heard in my print journalism concentration while in college. Erin says she may have some idea where she’s going with a video story when she’s filming, but she waits till she gets back to the office and sees all the video bites before she writes her script. Don’t wing it; write it.
The technical specs. Erin used a Canon 60 DSLR to shoot the video and edited it on Adobe Premiere, which she was able to get on her own machine while in college. You can use other cameras and other software. Sometimes, it’s a matter of what you know how to use. She relied on the mic in front of the camera for this one, but know that sound quality is where a lot of good video goes off the rails. Consider a lavalier mic. Need help? Try Alessia Alaimo on the Wick digital team. She knows stuff.