We at Journalism in Motion have just finished the TV component of our course, and I’ve found that the process of learning how to film and construct a storyline for TV has changed the way I watch TV and video for good.
Constructing a fair and accurate report using visual imagery is an acquired skill, but it’s essential for a lot of video journalism. So I wish I’d seen this excellent list of tips for shooting video by the BBC College of Journalism a long time ago.
Video journalism is a fiddly blend of the technical and the creative: if your kit isn’t working properly you won’t have a video report at all, but to create an effective piece you’ll usually need to go way beyond checking the sound levels, hitting the red button and standing back.
The BBC’s top tips include:
• Check your kit and make sure your batteries are charged
• Focus on the story, and try to sort out all your interviews in advance so that once you’re on location things run smoothly
• Use a combination of types of shots, varying wide shots to let the viewer know where they are with close-ups that show details
Lots of the video journalism we’ve discussed on this blog has largely ignored all of the above: often, the most striking reports are simply eyewitness accounts of extraordinary events, where the best thing the observer can do is hold the camera steady and try to take it all in. Often, this falls into the category of citizen journalists who just happen to be there when something incredible happens.
But for professional journalists who are attempting to tell a full and balanced story in video, the BBC’s advice is spot on.