Length: 20 to 40 seconds (maximum)
VOSOTS are breaking news stories. For the story to remain timely, they must be produced as close to the airdate as possible. Preferably, students should produce VOSOTS (or VO's if this is what's assigned) the day or even night before the newscast, but they must be ready by 9am the day of the newscast.
You do not need a story submission for VOSOT assignments, but must communicate with the producer and instructors about your idea(s) and get them approved before setting out to do the production.
The VO portion of the VO/SOT is always read by the anchor in the studio. The reporter must work with the anchor to script it.
- VOSOTS will be shot within 48 hours of the newscast (preferably the day before).
- The VOSOT must cover spot news, which is breaking news or topics that are still relevant or can be followed up on the day of the newscast, e.g., gas leak in the chemistry building or last night’s windstorm.
- The student who shoots the VOSOT must also script it and make sure the anchor has seen it before they read the story.
- This is an individual project – the student reports, shoots and edits their own package.
- 90 percent of the footage must be original (cannot rely on footage from third-party sources)
- Other iterations of the VOSOT may be used, such as a VOSOTVO
or even a SOTVO, but this must be communicated with the producer and recorded as such in the rundown.
- Reporter writes the script for the anchor to read from the studio. For a VOSOT, the script starts with the anchor on camera, followed by a TAKE VO, which the anchor reads, followed by a TAKE SOT.
- Mechanics of the VOSOT involve exporting two video files each using the same slug - one for the VO and the other for the SOT, e.g. Rental Prices VO, Rental Prices SOT.
- The reporter is strongly encouraged to get a SOT from someone who has expertise in the subject, but SOT(s) may also include VOXPOPS (voice of the people) to get reactions of an event.
- Must make sure to script the story in Inception.
- The video must be edited by 9am the day of the newscast.
- VOSOT scripts must be completed no later than 10:30 the morning of the newscast (some flexibility for Same-Day VOSOTs if these are assigned) - the deadlines may vary depending on what else the student has been assigned.
Report length: typically 30 seconds, but no more than 45 seconds (depending on whether there are multiple SOTS)
The project is engaging to watch. Camera shots tell the story visually with sequences that clarify and build upon the previous images. Shots change every seven seconds or less. There are no camera jiggles or lighting problems. The interview composition is balanced.
NATS and dialogue are balanced properly. SOTS are engaging and no longer than 12 seconds. No pops or other distracting sounds in the audio.
Easy to understand, active voice and conversational, has meaning to the audience, conveys solid information and audience becomes better informed at the end. There is evidence of research and proper attributions (where the information comes from).
Shots are trimmed properly (seamless) and transitions fit the piece. No jump cuts or words that have been cut off. Images seem to fit together.
News stories take on numerous structures. During the newscast one structure starts with a short on-camera anchor read followed by video that is played while the anchor continues to read. This video is called the VO (Voice Over - the anchor talks over video). In some instances, the VO may be followed by a SOT. After the SOT is played, the director might then cut back to the anchor on camera as they read a tag to finish the story. In the final form, this news story is what we call a VO/SOT
The reason why VO/SOTS are cut as two separate pieces of video is all about timing. If the VO/SOT is a single piece of video, then the VO portion needs to be timed precisely to correspond with how long it takes for the anchor to read the script. But should the anchor read too slowly during the VO, then the SOT will begin before they are finished. Building the VO/SOT as two separate pieces of video provides the show director with flexibility to roll the SOT separately the moment the anchor is done reading.
- VO/SOT: the VO portion of the story goes on the A tape, and the SOT portion on the B tape. That way, when the studio director calls to roll the tapes, there's sufficient overlap to account for the amount of time it takes for the anchor to read the VO portion of the script.
- VO/SOT/VO: the VO portion of the story goes on the A tape, and the SOT/VO (sound bite followed by additional VO material) goes on the B tape.
- SOT/VO: Gotcha! This news structure is recorded on a single tape and the anchor is cued to start reading when the VO portion comes up. There may be other VO/SOT variances, but let's not get too complicated!
- 2 seconds at the front before first audio
- 10 seconds at the back after the last key audio
Mechanics of an A/B roll for a VO/SOT/VO or VO/SOT/TAG
- When writing the script for a VO/SOT, start with a sentence or two before the VO video is supposed to appear. Don't start the story with video.
As said earlier, the VO footage that goes before the SOT is recorded as the 'A' portion of the A/B roll. Write the script and then edit the video with shots that time with what is said in the script. The VO should include natural sound (NATS), but keep the audio level low. Like with all video that is sent to the studio, include 2 seconds of padding at the front end and a full 10 seconds at the back. The padding might come in handy if the anchor reads slower than anticipated.
The sound bite (SOT) will be the first thing on the 'B' portion of the A/B roll. Edit with the usual padding. When you export the video, the slate for a VO/SOT should indicate which is the VO and which is the SOT, but both have the same slug.
Script something for the anchor to say after the SOT, either as an on-camera tag or with more video (VO) – voice over (which becomes a VO/SOTVO. Depending on how you are going to end your story, you have two options.
o For a VO/SOT/VO, at the end of the sound bite edit more voice-over video to match what you have written in the script to go after the bite. This is still on the B portion of the video. Edit a full :10 of pad video at the end of the B-roll tape.
o For a VO/SOT/TAG. Continue showing more video of the SOT beyond the end of the intended outcue. But after the SOT's outcue, cut the sound. We should continue to see the “talking head” as padding. If you do not have a full :10 for pad, freeze the end of the shot you have.
The A/B’s of writing a VO/SOT/VO or VO/SOT/TAG
- The “news peg” usually becomes especially important, and often will be in the story lead.
- Plan to use just one sound bite. If you use multiple bites from different people, edit them back to back.
- Bites need to be long enough to account for the live presentation of a VO/SOT. At least :07.
VO/SOTs give you one additional reason not to write into a sound bite with wasted words, like “Mayor Jones had this to say" because if the “B” tape does not roll, it will be awkward not to hear what Jones said.
Writing into a sound bite in this way (Mayor Jones had this to say) wastes words and does not tell us anything interesting about what we’re going to hear. In either VO/SOTs or packages, write into bites with statements that can stand on their own. Let the CG do the work of identifying the person.