Top 10 Random Tips for making video

The number one random tip? Sound! Many people make the mistake of thinking the video part is the most crucial aspect of your multimedia package. Which is a big mistake. Viewers will forgive a shaky camera (if the story is compelling) but dodgy audio will have them clicking away from your page at quick-time.

To put it bluntly, sound is the most important element in the mix. There are lots of bad examples out there – journalists working at speed who simply point the camera and press record, ignoring the howling gale or cement mixer whirring away in the background. You can fix a lot of these problems in post production, again something many newspaper journalists appear to be ignoring. A howling gale, in my opinion, is the most annoying sound out there. It crops up on most outdoor amateur videos but for a professional the base line, at the very least, would be to lower the sound in post production so you can just about here the voice (and wind!) and use captions. It will take more time but will make your video one hundred times more watchable.

2) Story. There are no short cuts here. You have to put the time in sourcing a a great story. You can have brilliant, arty shots with crystal clear audio but if there’s no story there is reallly little point, other than practise, which is no bad thing of itself. Dig out the stories, like a good old-fashioned hack.

3) Equipment. This leads back to sound. You need a good digital recorder with a lavaliere mic. You also need a mic for the camera. The equipment I use can be found here.

4) Get better at interviewing – don’t talk over the interviewee. Sounds easy but the natural urge is to encourage people with the odd “sure” or “I See”.

5) Tripod – get one. Shaky footage is just below dodgy sound on the fordidden list.

6) Prime lenses. Professionals differ as to the merits of prime (fixed focal length, like 50mm) lenses over zoom lenses. The general consensus is that prime leneses are better quality but the main point I would make here is that using, say, a Canon 50mm for your project will force you to move around the subject more than if you were using a zoom. What I mean is that if you follow the four principle shots of a good video – long range, medium, close-up and super close-up, the work involved in obtaining those shots will mean you have to do a lot more moving and carrying. You will have to think about the shots more than if you were using a zoom, where you can stand in pretty much the one spot for all of the shots. There’s great explanation from Scott Bourne here as to why prime lenses are the way to go.

7) Read this book

8)Video editing: In times past you worked with a team of camera people, sound technicians and video editors. Not anymore, you need to become a proficient editor. There are plenty of software choices to pick from. If you’re relatively new to online journalism then FCP X is probably the package for you. Don’t belive the negative press, it’s actually a geat piece of software.

9) Sign up to Vimeo and subscribe to some of the great channels they have for professional video journalists and creatives. There is a wealth of advice there – for free!

10) Get out there and shoot video every day. Don’t get stuck behind a desk thinking about what you’ll shoot, just go out and do it.

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