- When shooting standups or look lives, the reporter should count silently...3-2-1. Don’t let your lips move until you start talking. The photographer should be rolling at least 10 seconds of static video before the reporter starts talking (for purposes of padding). The reporter should make eye contact with the camera a few seconds before they start talking.
- At the end of the standup, the reporter should hold their eye contact with the camera for up to 10 seconds while the photographer continues to roll (maintaining a rock steady shot). This padding is crucial when the tapes get rolled to air.
- Standups should be shot in front of backdrops that are relevant to the story and are easily identifiable. If the backdrop is ambiguous, then the reporter should make some effort to tell us their location.
Photography and editing standards - Making your story "broadcast-worthy"
Everything you photograph and edit should be considered “broadcast-worthy.” This means conforming to the standards of professionalism in photography and editing.
· static shots should be rock steady – no bumps or shakes
· subjects should be in sharp focus
· there should be appropriate head room and lead space
· audio should be clean (free from distortions or interference)
· perspectives (wides, medium, close-ups) between shots should vary
· avoid jump cuts
When shooting interview, the person needs to look just off-camera. This means that the reporter should stand close to the camera within an angle of 20 degrees. If the reporter stands at an angle approaching greater than 45 degrees from the camera, then the subject will start to appear in profile.
- Alternate the lead space between SOTs. Avoid using the same background twice when getting person-on-the-street shots.
- The background shouldn’t be brighter than the subject in the foreground. Otherwise, the subject appears backlit and dark.
- Adjust the camera height at eye-level with the subject as much as possible.
When shooting B-Roll - Get Sequences!
- First explore the shooting environment for a couple minutes to mentally note the shots that are relevant to your story. Once you have an idea of the shots, then you can start rolling tape.
- Fight the temptation to track your subject when they start to move. Let the subject move out of frame so you can edit more smoothly to another shot. You've got a place to cut once the subject leaves the shot.
- Avoid using shots of people’s faces that may falsely implicate an individual to a crime, disease, or otherwise controversial issue. Children under 18, especially those on school grounds, cannot be photographed without permission from parents or guardians.
Avoid private property - You cannot shoot on private property unless you have permission. Private property includes:
- Inside schools or on school grounds (learn more about media access to schools here)
- Inside shopping malls or even outside in the carpark;
- Inside grocery stores;
- Inside health clubs;
- Inside medical clinics (but even exteriors can compromise someone's privacy as they are walking in, e.g., Planned Parenthood, AIDS Clinics, etc.);
- Inside cinemas.
Action! Action! Action!
Always look for action that can be used to make a compelling sequence, especially if there is the potential for matching action. A sequence should contain a variety of shots taken from multiple perspectives.
Be aware that your video has the potential to become Web video, which is viewed usually in a small box on computer screens. Therefore, getting close-ups becomes crucial. The shots should be acquired as follows:
· 50% close-ups
· 25% mid-shots
· 25% wide shots
Get shots that have depth (angles), rather than flat, 2-dimensional symmetry (head-on shots). This means, show around the corner of the house to give the illusion of 3-dimensions.
Don’t be afraid to move the camera closer to your subject. Don’t rely on using the zoom for close-ups. Move the camera closer!
To pan or not to pan
Use camera motions (zooms, pans, and tilts) sparingly. Overuse can be distracting and lead to indecisive shots. If you deem it necessary to pan or zoom, make sure the end of the move is a more interesting shot than the beginning. Also, shoot a static shot for 10 seconds at the beginning of the move, and hold a static shot for another 10 seconds at the end. If the camera moves are too bumpy, then you’ll be able to edit the static shots.
Avoid editing wide shots back to back especially if they show the same angle. As you shoot, vary your shots. Be especially aware of getting cutaway shots, such as crowds or reaction shots that are just outside the principle action. Cutaways are useful when it becomes necessary to break the continuity of the principle action. They can help you avoid jump-cuts!
Getting good audio
When using the stick microphone, the head-shot should be composed as a close-up (bust shot). There are two reasons why:
- to move the stick microphone closer to the person’s mouth for better audio;
- to prevent the camera from seeing the microphone, which should be just out of frame (avoid the “disembodied hand holding the microphone” shot).
Editing - selecting the best shots
During the editing stage, each shot needs to support the story that you are trying to tell. Elements that do not enhance, support or otherwise distract the viewer should be eliminated.
· hand-held shots on static (unmoving) subjects
· “bumps” to the camera while mounted on the tripod
· any unsteady camera moves (pans or tilts)
· bad audio associated with the shot
· over-exposed or under-exposed shots
· out-of-focus shots (or use of auto-focus)
Use only shots where the subject is obvious to the viewer
You can’t afford to insert ambiguous shots in your story. With each and every shot the viewer should not have any doubts about the intended center of interest. The "center of interest" does not mean that the main subject is centered in the viewfinder, but it does mean that all of the elements of the scene point toward and support the intended subject.
When editing, it’s preferable to end a SOT at a natural break in the sentence (not in mid-sentence where it sounds like you’re cutting them off).
Padding is crucial. 2 seconds before the first audio, 10 seconds after the last audio. The padding shouldn’t contain any SOT unless the sound is natural (ambient or NATS). Visual padding shouldn’t contain any “bumps” or shakes by the camera. Padding is also a continuation of the shot that we see when we hear the first audio or the last audio. Don't cut to another shot and call that padding.
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