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Video Storytelling

The ability to tell a good story with video is a difficult yet important skill for journalists and communicators to learn. Video is not just on TV anymore — you can find video stories online and on mobile devices as well. You’ll work in teams of two for this project. Let’s partner up and review the instructions for Blog Post 10 – Video Storytelling.

Important video to watch if you’re shooting with your iPhone.

1. Pre-Production (Before You Shoot)

Choose a story (or event!) that is well suited for video. This includes stories that have strong visual components and that have any sort of motion.

Identify your sources. Seek out multiple and diverse perspectives for your story.

Write preliminary interview questions after researching the story. Plan out your questions, story focus, and narrative (i.e., beginning, middle, and end) in advance, as much as you can. However, also remember to be adaptable during the interview and ask appropriate follow-up questions.

“Show me, don’t tell me” is the mantra in video storytelling. Find a way to show a story unfolding with video. Minimize the on-camera interviews with people (i.e., “talking head interviews”). It’s more interesting to watch an event occur rather than here about it from an interviewee.

Plan to shoot a variety of angles and types of shots. For suggestions, see Production, below.

Consider how you (the reporter) will fit into the story. Will you appear on-camera to set the scene or conduct an interview? If you’d like to try that, go ahead! Or, will you be completely invisible to the audience, just like you were during the Soundslides project and the audio profile project? Or, will you narrate the story without appearing on-camera?

2. Production (When You’re On-Location)

Plan on shooting before and after the event (if shooting an event). This ensures you have a variety of material to create your edited story from. Also, it helps develop a narrative of before, during, and after the event.

Shoot B-roll. B-roll is supplemental footage that relates to your story. For example, a video story about the the UW track team’s meet should include video of athletes warming up, tying their shoelaces, talking with coaches, etc. These are the shots that you can use to fill time while an interviewee is talking or while ambient noise (e.g., background noise from the event or music) is playing. For a 2-minute story, shoot at least 30 seconds of B-roll footage.

Shoot on-camera interviews with your sources. When shooting interviews, remember to look around at your surroundings. Is it relevant to the story? Can you move somewhere else to get the interview that is not as chaotic or loud? Just as with the audio interviews, encourage your sources to relax, act natural, and provide context to the answer they are giving to your question. Don’t be afraid to re-shoot a question and ask a question again. Oftentimes, the source gives a better and more eloquent answer to your question the second time you ask it.

Optional: Shoot on-camera reporters. If you’d like to appear on-camera as a broadcaster at some point, then this project is a good opportunity to practice. You can introduce the story and provide context to the significance of the story. You can transition with your voice and appearance between story segments. And you can conclude the story and provide a summary or “what happens next” statement.

Shoot a variety of camera shots. Whether you plan to be a visual journalist or not, you need to understand and learn how to execute the types of shots. See this website for visual examples and descriptions as we go over the definitions below.

  • Extreme wide shots. Shows the whole entire scene of an event, location, or story. These shots give viewers information about where the story takes place. They set the scene and give context early on in a story.
  • Very wide shots. Shows less background and shows the subject in the large scene. The subject is barely visible.
  • Wide shots. Shows the whole subject so the visual emphasis is on the subject rather than the background.
  • Mid shots. Shows the subject even closer, but a bit of the scene is still visible in the frame.
  • Medium close-up shots. Shows the subject even closer and the subject’s features and expressions are more of the focus.
  • Close-up shots. Shows the subject’s head to shoulder area.
  • Extreme close-up shots. Shows only the subject in the frame, such as the subject’s eyes and nose.
  • Cut-in shots. Shows some other part of the main subject, not the face and shoulders.
  • Cutaway shots. B-roll that is used as transitions between shots or to add information not offered by shots of the main subject or scene.
  • Point-of-view shots. Shows a scene from the subject’s perspective such that you feel like you are in their shoes.

Optional: Camera movement techniques. Camera movements are more advanced production techniques. They may not work out well if you do not have a high-quality video camera. Thus, I would avoid these techniques unless you have prior experience with video or unless you have a high-quality video camera. If you decide to use camera movements, see the techniques below:

  • Zooming: Going from wide-angle to close-up or vice versa.
  • Panning: Moving the camera horizontally.
  • Tilts: Moving the camera vertically.
  • Tracking: Moving the camera around accordingly to track the subject.

Composition concerns: Give headroom so the interviewee has space above their head during the shot. Avoid distractions in the background of shots. Remember the rule of thirds still!

Be Flexible: No matter home much planning you do in pre-production, from deciding who you want to interview to what types of b-roll shots you want, something is bound to not go your way, or the event you’re at will be different than you envisioned. Be willing to change you plan during production based on what is happening at the event in real time.

3. Post-Production (The Editing Process)

Editing programs. You have access to Adobe Premiere Elements in this lab, CR 207, as well as Ross Hall 423 (next to my office), AS 228, and the IT building computer lab. However, you are free to use another editing program, such as iMovie, FinalCutPro, or Windows Movie Maker. Adobe Premiere and FinalCutPro are the industry standards for video editing. iMovie is pretty good for being a standard software on a MacBook. Windows Movie Maker is pretty awful and I don’t recommend it unless you have no other options. Also, consider downloading  a trial version of Adobe Premiere. The IT building has a beautiful Mac computer in the scantron room that has FinalCutPro on it.

Conceptual Editing. You want to brainstorm and plan out your story before you begin with technical editing. You want to have the story flow ironed out first. If you’re stuck, think about how you’d tell a friend your story. What did you start with? What else did you tell your friend? How does the story end? Also, search for sound bites that address the who, what, where, when, why, how, and so what.

The video editing process is similar to the audio editing process. Remember the tips associated with audio editing.

Keep your story focused — it’s supposed to be about 2-4 minutes.

Project Requirements

Below are the main points you need to consider while working on your project. I will use these elements to evaluate your work.

  • At least 2 sources
  • At least 5 seconds of ambient noise, natural sound, or music
  • Video is between 2 and 4 minutes
  • Video shots are diverse (see camera shots and camera movements above)
  • Speakers are introduced with titles and/or the speaker self-identifies themselves and/or the reporter identifies the speaker
  • Story has a beginning, middle, and end (narrative arc)
  • Editing is smooth

Video Storytelling for Public Relations, Promotions, and Marketing

Video can be used for a variety of different reasons including journalism, PR, marketing, and advertising, and the way that you edit and shoot a video is a little bit different for each one. In each case you want to be able to tell a complete story.

Journalism: Tell the whole story from all sides. Find opposing arguments for interviews so that viewers can get facts from both sides or multiple sources with different things to say. Add b-roll that is relevant to the story even if it is not the most artsy shot it might be the most informative.

Public Relations: In this case you will probably only be telling the story from one side, the side that the company, department, etc. is on, and you video will likely be positive, factual information about the company, etc. the b-roll shots in this type of video should highlight those positive things that the interviewee is talking about. Example

Promotions: These videos are a lot like advertisements. To make an exciting promotional video, you want eye catching shots, that include whatever it is that you’re promoting. A lot of the time these are artistic shots, or fast pace shots that keep the viewer engaged, and interested. Example

Video Storytelling Examples From Past Classes

Example of Promotional Story on a Local Company – Louisa Wilkinson and Taylor Dilts

Example of Journalistic Story on a Non-Event – Hannah Robinson and Esther Seville

Example of a Promotional Story on a Local Band – Kaisha McCutchen and Bianca Coca

Example of Journalistic Approach with No Reporter Narration – Edward Timmons and Miranda Anderson

Example of Journalistic Approach  With Reporter Narrative – Jordan Blazovich and Nick Robinson

Example of Journalistic Approach to an Event Story without Reporter Narration – Kaitlyn Camargo and Lauren Garrelts

Example of Journalistic Approach to a Non-event Story without Reporter Narration – Brittany Hamilton and Scottie Melton

Example of Promotional Approach – Courtney Gifford, Travis Hoff, Sam Weinstein
Border War: The ROTC Story

Audio File Conversions

A lot of iPhones save the audio file as a “m4a” file.

A lot of Android phones save the audio file as a “3ga” file.

When you upload your audio file to SoundCloud, you may not need to convert your audio file to another format.

However, when you edit the file in Audacity, you will need to convert the file to a “wav” or “mp3” file. To do this, you can visit a popular audio conversion website: Zamzar (m4a to wav) or Zamzar (3ga to wav).

You can always Google for assistance, advice, or other questions. And, of course, you are free to ask me questions as well!

Gathering Audio – The Artform

Audio Interviewing Tips

Gathering audio that is clean, clear, and crisp is no easy task. This post outlines some hints for you to consider before you conduct audio interviews. It is developed from the hints listed on MediaStorm’s audio training page.

Know Your Equipment: Be comfortable operating your audio recorder. You should know where the buttons are without looking at it. You should know what all of the buttons do. If you’re uncomfortable with the audio recorder, your subject will be as well.

  • So, practice with your audio recorder, even if it’s just your phone, BEFORE your interview.
  • Also, be sure that you can confidently get the audio file from your phone to a computer and opened in Audacity. Practice now.

Location: Find a quiet location with little background noise. Find a spot with soft surfaces that absorb sound. A couch or fabric chair is better than a wooden chair. Cover a table with a blanket. A car with closed windows is a great location. Avoid hallways and large rooms that echo.

No Ambient Noise During Interview: While you do want to use ambient noise in your audio story, you don’t want the ambient noise to interfere with the person speaking to you. Avoid consistent background noise by picking a small quiet room with carpet and soft chairs. If using the TASCAM, try using the foam covering to see if it helps quiet ambient noise. You want to collect ambient noise separately and not fight it during the interview.

If Ambient Noise is Unavoidable: Press the record button before you begin the formal interview. Allow the recorder to collect the ambient noise without anyone’s voices interrupting the ambient noise. This gives you clean ambient noise to insert into any pauses during the editing process.

Get Close: Put the microphone about 2 inches away from the person’s mouth if you’re recording at a moderate “rec level” (about 5-7 on the TASCAM). You can put the microphone farther away if you’re recording at a higher “rec level” (about 9-10).

  • Remember though — when editing, it’s easier to bump up the volume than bump down the volume. Thus, err on the side of caution and do not record at a level that is TOO LOUD.

Use Headphones: Put your headphones into the headphone jack on your digital audio recorder. Hit the “record” button. Now ask the person to talk. Ensure that you can hear the person clearly. If you can’t hear them clearly, put the microphone closer to their mouth and/or increase the “rec level” to a higher sensitivity. Keep the headphones on your ears during the whole interview. You’ll know exactly how the person sounds the whole time.

Speak Up: Ask the person to speak up and speak louder if you can’t hear them properly and clearly when you have your headphones on.

Don’t Fidget: Do not fidget and play with the audio recorder while gathering sound. The audio recorder picks up the noise when you rub your hands on it. Avoid this by not fidgeting.

Focus: There’s many things to think about while conducting an audio interview. Can you hear them clearly? What are they saying? What’s my next question? Where is the interview going? How can I take the interview in a different direction or somewhere I hadn’t planned if they say something interesting?

  • If you don’t get the 5-minute interview right the first time, do it again!

But Also Engage: Listen to the person. Make eye contact (don’t look at their mouth). Seem genuinely interested in their story. After they’re done speaking, stay in silence for a moment. They may add more detail to their thoughts.

Uh huh: Don’t do it. Avoid saying those filler words during an interview. You don’t want YOUR voice recorded when the person is talking. Instead, nod, smile, use eye contact, and lean forward to encourage the person.

Avoid Comment. Resist the urge provide in-depth responses or comments to your interviewee during and after everything he/she says–that means more editing for yourself or not being able to use the audio at all.

Pause. During the audio interview, leave a brief pause after the interviewee finishes answering a question and before you begin your next question. Giving more pause will leave you more room for editing.

Ask Explanation-Needed Questions: Don’t just ask, “How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a journalist?” You’ll get the answer, “I few years ago.” Ask questions that need more explanation, “What inspired you to become a journalist and when did you make this decision in your life?”

  • You want the person to answer in complete sentences that clearly answer the question, not short phrases that may need a narrator’s explanation.

Ask Again: Don’t be afraid to ask “Why?;” “Please explain that more in-depth.” “Please say that again, I didn’t quite understand the first time.”

Ask Sensory Questions: “Tell me about…”; “What did it sound like when…”; “How did it feel when…”; “What did it smell like…”; “What did it look like when…”; “Describe the scene for me.”

Last Question: Always ask, “Is there anything else I should have asked? Is there anything else you want me to know?”

Audio Editing Tips

Consider these audio editing suggestions.

  1. Decide how you want to organize your story before you begin editing; know what the beginning, middle, and end should be before you begin editing.
  2. The end should bring closure and finality to the interview topic. Don’t end with a statement that leads to more questions from the listener.
  3. Use the zoom feature extensively during your editing, it really helps get the cut to be as flawless as possible.
  4. There are two ways to edit audio: Build or destroy. To build while editing, take a blank audio track and then create an interview from the original. To destroy while editing, take the original interview and cut it down.
  5. While editing, write down the points in the track that you’re working on. That way when you go back and listen to it, you can listen for the cut/transition and move things around faster by referencing those breaks in your notes.
  6. Always save the original audio file separate from the file that you’re currently editing. Also consider saving “editions” of your audio file such that each audio editing session that you engage in is a unique file. That way, if you make a grievous error, then you can revert to the next most saved/updated/edited file.

SoundCloud

In our unit on audio, you will use Soundcloud to share your audio files on your blog. Let’s register.

Practice

There is no better way to learn audio reporting than by trying it out for yourself! So, let’s try to record ourselves on our phones or devices. Let’s get it off our phone and on the computer. Can you open it in Audacity? Or, do you need to convert the file? Google your questions about your specific phone or device.

Audio Storytelling

Journalism oftentimes gives a voice to the voiceless. With audio journalism, you can hear the emotion, hear the ambient sounds, and hear the expressions of your sources. Now, we can do audio journalism online and not just on the radio. Before we learn about the logistics of audio, it is important to first understand what makes excellent audio journalism. Here are some examples.

One in 8 Million – A New York Times audio slideshow about a few of the 8 million people living in the New York City region. Let’s listen to one teenager mother’s story.  Let’s listen to the audio profile and discuss what you like and dislike about the story. Could this story be told better with any other style or method? Note that for the upcoming two assignments, you will interview a classmate (or someone else) for 5 minutes and then edit the audio to 2 minutes.

NPR provides the best audio journalism in the United States. Here’s an example of their reporting. Notice the journalist’s narration, the sources’ quotes, and the audio of specific examples relevant to the story. First though, let’s read the print story. Then, we’ll listen to the audio story. We’ll compare the stories and discuss the differences as well as the similarities.

This American Life provides great long-format audio stories, usually about feature stories.

Audio Profile Project

Please download the instructions for the Blog Posts 6 and 7 – Raw Audio Profile and Edited Audio Profile and we’ll review what you’ll be accomplishing with audio!

SoundCloud

In our unit on audio, you will use Soundcloud to share your audio files on your blog. Let’s register and do a tutorial.

Practice Audio Recording with Your Device

Let’s practice audio recording and getting the audio files off our devices and onto the computer. The biggest complaint that students have about the audio unit is having trouble getting the audio off their device and onto the computer in a workable file format. So, please do that now.

Record yourself counting to 10 with your device. Next, get the recording off your device and onto the computer. Attempt to open the file in Audacity. Then, attempt to upload a file to Soundcloud.

NPR’s Ira Glass

iraglass

HSI, Day 8: Censorship & Ethics of Banning Books

— Finish Magazine & Advertising Activity —

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Activity: Small Group Discussion

Discuss these questions with your group members:

  1. Why was the first amendment needed?
  2. What are some benefits about the first amendment?
  3. What are some drawbacks of the first amendment?
  4. How does book banning relate to the first amendment?

Class Discussion & Blog Post: Ethics of Banning Books

Each group discusses one of the responses with the class.

Now, let’s look at a list of books that are commonly banned. As you can see, the reasons often deal with foul language, racism, sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, and homosexuality.

Here is a video summary of 10 commonly banned books.

The sides of the debate are typically either:

  • Pro-censorship: Protect children, protect integrity of character
  • Anti-censorship: Protect free speech

Let’s talk about what these arguments mean.

It’s important to realize that religious books and references are sometimes banned as well. Here is a Fox News pundit explaining how one school banned a religious reference in a school paper. Banning religious and Christian books.

Class Discussion:

  • Is this type of ban appropriate and fair?
  • Is this ban different than banning nonreligious books?
  • Have you experienced anything similar to this?

Case Study: And Tango Makes Three

Now let’s explore a case study of book banning. We’ll watch the clip together and then you’ll write a post that answers the questions below. There are no right or wrong answers; it’s just your thoughts and opinions.

The local public elementary school has banned the children’s book And Tango Makes Three. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book follows the six years of their life where they formed a couple and were given an egg to raise.

Blog Post: Book Banning

  1. Briefly summarize the book and its content
  2. Discuss both the pro-censorship and anti-censorship viewpoints.
  3. Was the ban unwarranted? Or, was the ban appropriate?
  4. Do you have any personal experiences with your own school or parents banning books?
  5. How many books on the Top 10 Commonly Challenged Books Lists have you read? Which books have you read?
  6. What is your general opinion about book banning?
  7. Can organizations, schools, and families really “ban books” in our time of the internet and social media?
  8. How does the first amendment relate to book bans?

— Class Discussion —

Updating to HTML5 Markup

Ch. 12, Modern HTML: HTML5 Markup

Monday and Wednesday

Download the correct HTML (right-click, view source, copy and paste code into Notepad, save as “blog.html”) and CSS file (click link, copy and paste code into Notepad, save as “starbuzz.css”) for this assignment

Why change from <divs> to HTML5 markup — pp. 545-547.

Updating the Starbuzz website to HTML5 (conceptual) — pp. 548-558.

Adding a blog to a web page — pp. 559-572.

Adding navigation to your website — pp. 573-577.

Adding video — pp. 578-593.

Embedding video with YouTube

Adding audio — p. 710

See the Starbuzz Blog with an mp4 video that autostarts.

See the Starbuzz Blog with multiple video sources that does not autostart and for an embedded audio file using HTML5.

Friday

Required attendance workday. Submit Assignment 6 – Website with CSS Formatting & Layout by 11:59 p.m.

 

Internship: Advertising/Research

Advertising / Research Intern for Appaloosa Broadcasting

The intern would help us research companies before initial contact, write scripts for ads, help with production of advertising and help us prepare proposals that will then be taken out to real life clients for presentation.

Contact:

Lars Sturlin
GSM
Appaloosa Broadcasting
307-745-5208

Student Work: Video Storytelling

Alison Clarke and Katelind Higgins

Andrew O’Neill and Ben Banta

Bianca Coca and Kaisha McCutchan

Brooklynn Gray and Max Renton

Charlie McClain and K.C. Schooner

Edward Timmons and Miranda Anderson

Esther Seville and Hannah Robinson

Jordan Blazovich and Nick Robinson

Kaitlyn Camargo and Lauren Garrelts

Louisa Wilkinson and Taylor Dilts

Intern at Wyoming Public Media

The News Department at WPR is looking for interns: http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/news-internship-spring-2015.

It’s great experience for anyone interested in audio, radio, reporting, and editing. Also, internships are one of the most valuable college experiences you can get. Many employers require internship experience.

You can earn COJO upper division credit for the internship as well, which will help you work toward graduation and upper division credit.

I highly recommend this internship.

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