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Chapter 8: Telling Stories with Video

Thanks to the emergence of cheap video cameras and free video-editing softwares, video journalism has become easier than ever. Even without purchasing over $35,000 worth equipments that used to be requirements, anyone can produce high-quality videos and upload in Web. It has become  so easy that millions around the world frequently upload videos. In mid 2009, YouTube reported that 20 hours of videos were uploaded on their server every second.


Image via Wikipedia

As a beginner in video journalism, what kind of mindset should we have?

Perfection is not necessary. Just do it and make as many mistakes as you can.

Of course, it is always better to produce the perfect video that we think of. However, quick and less polished videos tend to attract more viewers, because of it s natural atmosphere and intimacy it provides to the viewers. Even professional video journalists intently give imperfections in their videos, such as shakes or interruptions by others in the video, to emphasize certain aspects in the story.

The following video is a footage of the protest in Egypt, which also captured the reporter being attacked by protesters in the middle of turmoil:

As shown, the imperfect handling of camera and the sudden attack on the reporter well delivers the atmosphere of the scene.

Different approaches for different projects

  • You will never know what will happen while filming a breaking news video. Although you will often not have access to the closest to the scene, capturing witnesses and surroundings of the scene can also make a good video.
  • Breaking news stories can also be connected to the press conferences to help audience analyze the situation.
  • Compilation of highlights can shorten the length of the video with the most available information delivered to the audience
  • A documentary video gives you more freedom. However, it requires more planning and resources.

There are three kinds of shots — wide shots, medium shots and close-ups. It is better to mix your shots to give your video a variety. It is recommended to use “five-shot sequences,” which consists of five different consecutive shots to keep the audience focused on the video.

Stand-up is often necessary in reporting breaking news or covering major sporting event. The below are some tips for planning your video:

Bauer Bosch Video Kamera

Image via Wikipedia

  • Keep your content short, but always be ready to provide something little extra for the audience
  • Even when reporting breaking news, always write a script and warm up
  • Be stable in posture and breathe easily
  • Use some hand gestures to make yourself look easy on camera


  • High definition or standard definition
    • With abundant resources and technologically knowledgeable staffs, don’t be afraid to use HD
    • If your resources are limited with amateur staffs, it may be better to use standard definition
  • Media type
    • DVDs have many limitations, including slow writing speed
    • Solid state media, such as flash memory cards, have faster access time and more flexibility
  • Video-editing software
    • Make sure the video format captured by a camera is compatible with the editing software you will be using
    • Some programs do not work with DVDs or with new AVCHD format
  • Accessories
    • Tapes and batteries for longer running time
    • Microphones to capture more delicate sounds
    • Tripod when the video is to be captured in a stable setting
    • Headphones to make sure the audio is being recorded clearly
    • Lighting to be used in darker environment, or to change the tone of color of the scene

How do you shoot a video?

It’s simple. Follow these steps: Focus, zoom and adjust the exposure. Aim for solid clips rather than dramatic, spectacular clips. Be selective when to run your camera to save your runtime, and avoid panning and zooming in the middle of the video to prevent the audience from feeling dizzy watching your clips. Keep your voice silent to avoid putting unnecessary, or often unpleasant sound effects in your video, and follow the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds: When framing your video, the most important subject in the frame should be aligned on one of four axis points in your imaginary nine-square grid within the frame.


  • Keep it short
  • Choose your own fitting editing software, ranging from free softwares such as Windows Movie Maker and iMovie, to professional, pricy softwares such as Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, Corel VideoStudio, Cyberlink PowerDirector and Pinnacle Studio.
  • Publishing can be done via YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv and Metacafe.
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