Story Tellers, an excellent resource for video storytelling

If you want to learn to be a better video storyteller, check out Story Tellers: Tips Stories and Resources for video storytelling. It is geared for TV news shooters, but the fundamentals are there for all kinds of video stories. This week, Darren Durlach, a former TV news shooter, now with the Boston Globe, gives great tips for gather audio.

Story Tellers Tips , Stories and Resources

 

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Beyond the Yellow Ribbon

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon link

It has been a relaxing summer and as you can see by my lack of posts, I’ve been taking a break from blogging. When I haven’t been on vacation or furlough, I’ve been shooting both stills and video. My most recent project “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon,” is yet another collaboration with Spokesman-Review reporter Kevin Graman. We spent a couple of days at a retreat for local wounded war veterans. It was (as usual) a rush to get the edit done.

Local TV news (KXLY) showed up just after we did. They grabbed a few interviews, shot some b-roll and were gone in 30 minutes. We stayed 48 hours and shot a dozen interviews. When I watched the TV version of the story, I was actually impressed. see: Local veterans getting much needed retreat.

They defined the story quickly, gave viewers the pertinent information with context from the injured soldiers.  The writing was brisk, and snappy.  But as I sit here seven days later, I have not much recollection of their story. It didn’t really stick with me.

I think the narrative, from both the veterans and the reporter  voiceover in my video, go much deeper. I tried to keep the pace moving by editing in strong sequences of action between the talking heads. In the end, I can’t say my edit is any better—it’s just a different way to tell the same story.

One technical note here.

I used the tiny Canon HF-10 for some of the b- roll footage. I had it on a monopod, which made it easy to do high angle shots. I recorded everything in 1920p x 1080p, so it meshed perfect on the timeline with my Sony XDCAM EX-1 footage. I am hard pressed to tell the difference between  video clips from the $900.00 HF 10 and the $8000.00 XDCAM.

Things I learned on this shoot.

If you’re doing a lot of interviews, mix it up some. I shot mostly tight. Having a wireless mic on the subject frees you up to move the camera to a more interesting angle. Try the side or a wideshot, then move in later in the interview. The opening shot  in my video (a side wide shot,) which was my last interview, was an inspiration that came to late. If you have a second camera, shoot a different angle of the interview, which you can edit in as a cutaway later. Also remember to change up the direction the interviewees are facing. You don’t want everyone right facing into the frame like I did. For some reason, all my left facing interviews I didn’t use.

Finally, remembering to get some b-roll of each subject you interview makes life in the edit suite go so much smoother. The one sequence of the veteran Chris Carver on the high ropes course worked out great because I had him talking about how challenging that moment had been in the interview. I would have kicked myself if I had missed shooting that b-roll!

In search of “The Lemonade Kid”

I received an email from Texas State journalism student Lesley Ornelas today with an odd request:

 

Hello,

My name is Lesley Ornelas and I am currently a journalism student at Texas State University in San Marcos,TX.

John Goheen recently spoke to one of my journalism classes  and asked that we help him find the boy in his Lemonade Kid news story. He would like to do a follow up on him.

I found a post about the video on your web site.

I see that you have a large following and was hoping you could post something on the site to help in the search.

This is the basic information I have so far about the boy.

The video was shot in 88′ or 89′.

His name is either Sean or Shane and the video was shot by Lake Washington in a suburb of Seattle, Washington.

Thank you,

Lesley Ornelas

If  anyone has info on this kid–now an adult– let me know and I will pass it on. The “Lemonade Kid” is one of may all-time favorite nat sound pieces and one the my early inspirations for doing video at my newspaper.

lemonade1

Here is my original post on The Lemonade Kid:

 

In my  “What can we learn from TV news shooter’s” post, I asked if anybody had a link to The Lemonade Kid nat sound piece I’d seen years ago. Thankfully “Thom4” came through for me and found it, and other classic videos shot by master video storyteller John Goheen.  The Lemonade Kid really peaked my interest in video storytelling early in my still photojournalism career.  I believe I saw it at a NPPA Flying Short Course way back in the early 90’s. It just blew me away. Watching the Nat sound package back then, I had no concept of how it was edited together. All I knew was that it just worked brilliantly as a story. I watched it again today for the first time since I gained some video editing knowledge. What I saw was a master class in video sequencing. This is not a hard news story, or some barnburner with action. It is just a slice-of-life story, with a precocious kid as the star attraction of a street corner lemonade stand. “Thom4” writes:

 “Thanks for the respect and a chance to provide you with the link to one of my favorite TV nat sound packages “The Lemonade Kid.” It was shot by photographer John C.P. Goheen and you can watch it by going to Terranova Pictures under the television projects tab. I heard John speak and show his work at a seminar more than 12 years ago in Atlanta. I had never seen this type non-narrated story before. John does some of the most amazing television photography I’ve ever seen. I would jump at a chance to spend more time learning from him. I steal all my best ideas. By the way, I’m a TV news photographer working in Orlando, FL. I’ve been shooting video for 13 years now.”  

 Play it through once and just enjoy it. Then play it again and watch the edits carefully. Look at how they flow. Watch how effectively Goheen uses his detail shots and the sequencing of wide, medium and tight shots. The other thing that works in the piece the way the narrative is gathered. A wireless mic was all that was needed to capture the sound of the kid and the customers. This allowed Goheen to pull back and get nice long shots without missing a beat in the audio. After checking out The Lemonade Kid, click on Keith’s Lunchyet another Goheen classic. I wish the compressions on both were better, but I am just grateful as hell to see these stories again. Truly inspirational.  

 

The Edit Foundry

editfoundry

One of my great frustrations as self-taught newspaper video storyteller is that I have not been able to find much help in taking my editing beyond the fundamentals. Sure, I’ve mastered the skill of editing wide, medium and tight shots into basic sequences. But when it comes to really understanding the “why” of a video edit, I still feel a bit unsure as I blade and trim on my timeline. Terms like matched edits, pacing, writing to my video, are skills I sort of understand, but know I really need to improve on.

I stumbled upon this blog called The Edit Foundry tonight as I was cruising through the forums on B-roll.net. The Edit Foundry is written by two-time National Press Photographers Editor of the Year, Shawn Montano. Montano, who has edited news video for most of the TV stations is the Denver area, is a master editor. At last year’s NPPA national convention, I heard him speak and was impressed at how he is able assemble someone else’s video into a well-paced engaging story.

In his blog, Montano takes a story he has edited and deconstructs it by breaking down the sound bites, narration, transitions and sequences. His finished stories are linked on YouTube. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to see it the edits visually. More important, Montano tells why he made an edit, or added a transition etc. to his story.

I have said for a long time that newspaper videographers can learn a lot from TV news shooters and editors. Sometimes we ink-stained types strive so hard to be different, that we never learn the fundamentals of shooting and editing a good video story. The old adage holds true here: You can’t break the rules until you know what they are. For the hundreds of struggling newspaper videographers who could use a kick of editing inspiration, then go visit The Edit Foundry and get schooled.