Pawanjot Kaur, One World Media fellow of 2022, shares with The Collective’s readers some tips on how to make video stories shine
If you are a journalist seeking to tell your stories using audio and video tools and grasp the importance of new media, let’s dive into the “how-tos”.
First, not all stories shine in audio and video format, some are born for print. Find out if your story has visual potential i.e. whether it can be told better with video interviews and moving pictures. If yes, then move on to the next step.
Imagine, it’s Day 1 of your field reporting. Don’t rush to shoot. Walk the land, talk to people and take notes while your camera and gadgets rest. This will help you plan your videography, arrange interviews and structure video story.
We should avoid approaching people with a camera pointed at their faces because cameras can change people, tempt them to perform. Also, chances are you will be thronged by onlookers, upsetting your chance to film the subject in peace. That’s why Day 1 should be used to talk to as many people as you can and mark out those who can give you useful sound bites later.
Come back to the people who made sense and request a short interview on camera. If they agree, make your character comfortable. Look for a place where you both can sit. Prepare your camera, mount it on a tripod and ask questions. Don’t freewheel from behind the camera. Ideally, this should have been done on Day 1.
Ask questions that encourage descriptive and structured answers. Avoid questions that elicit only one-word answers, but if they come your way, the ‘why’ would come handy. Request your character to answer in full, coherent sentences. This can be tricky but is crucial.
For example, you ask, ‘Why did you enroll in the computer training class at your village?’, and the answer comes – “Because I want to learn the skill” . The answer, if removed from your question, doesn’t make sense as a standalone sentence. There is no context to the sentence. So we request the character to say this instead: “I enrolled in the computer training class in my village because I wanted to learn the skill.” This is a full, coherent sentence.
Follow up the main question with ‘Why do you want to learn the skill?’ Best answer is “I want to learn the skill because I aspire to get a job in the city”.
This way, you establish a natural flow in the sound bite, and it also helps you on the edit table. Even if you cut the reporter's questions, the context in the interview will remain intact. If your character has a lot to say, then listen. Let it record. Don’t interject unless they have absolutely digressed from the point.
Once your sound bites are done, it’s time to capture visuals (or B-roll) to dress that video up.
Based on the interview example above, ideal B-rolls would be a) of the computer training centre b) of the village where your character lives and c) your character attending a computer class.
There are thumb rules on how to frame sound bites and B-rolls for video reportage and news documentaries.
a) extreme wide-shot or establishing shot
d) extreme close-up
Think that you're working your way inwards with your camera to show the audience what you see.
It’s perfectly okay to shoot on mobile phones. Ensure you follow the framing rules. For close-ups on a mobile phone, avoid zooming in, instead, physically move closer to the subject/object.
Do not forget that the most vital part of your story is audio. Below are links to easy- access mics that are compatible with most mobile phones.
If you have any further questions, you can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org