Teaching Video, Part 7 -- Choosing Your Video Stories and Shooting them Wisely

When going for a video story, you want one which will be visually driven and sound rich. You want it to have action, controversy, characters and new information. You want to "sequence" scenes and subjects which will be in your story. You don't want your story to be boring, lacking variety, without interesting information, visually unappealing, and helter-skelter in its organization. You want each shot you use to be framed nicely and well lit. You want the audio to be pristine. You want to have a story you will be able to move along with nice flow, pacing, variety, personality and information. This takes practice and also constantly thinking on your feet, visualizing what you can get, and what you should get to be able to edit a decent story.

Always Thinking of Your Anchor Lead

Your anchor lead is what the anchor will say before your report begins, or a tease on the Web in between the headline and your script. You want to always be thinking of what your anchor lead will be, before you go out and shoot, while you are shooting, and right after you've finished shooting (or think you've finished shooting), so you are always keeping focus, and know what you are going after. Did I deliver on my anchor lead? Do I have what I need? Has my anchor lead (i.e. focus statement / one sentence commitment), changed? Do I need more video or other video to really validate that commitment?

Audio Is Still (Nearly) Everything

You also want to know your story well enough, so you'll have something to say in your script which you will voice as a reporter. So make sure to get the necessary information you will need as a reporter. You can do this while you are shooting, but never forget the essential element of fact-gathering. Second, you want to get quotes from participants, experts, profiled subjects, interested parties, bystanders, promoters, fans, concerned citizens, the powerful, the powerless, the attention grabbers and the voiceless, etc... relevant interviews and soundbites related to the story you are telling. Third, you want nat sounds which also relate to your story and will bring it to life. Fourth, you want to record your standup if you will be including one. So in a sense, all the shots pertaining to your audio are the most important.

A Bucket List of Shots

After you feel confident, you will have enough information and enough of an audio track to build your story from is when you should start working on your bucketlist of shots. If a person will end up with a soundbite in your video story, you want to make sure to get shots of them, with a sequence on an instant, and also some variety, based on your lexicon knowledge of shots.

You also want to sequence an exciting moment related to your story, be it an action moment, an emotional one, a decisive one, if not it can be a staged one such as a speech, an award being handed out, a ribbon being cut, etc ... You also want plenty of cutaways on location of your story's topic, and in the environment your story is being told in. Finally, you never want to leave a scene or an entire report, without making sure you have some sort of opening shot (such as opening a door, starting a machine, shaking a hand, walking on board ....) and a closing one (walking away, closing a door, going to sleep ....). You don't have to go too much into cliches, but you do want to be able to give a sense of an opening and closing.

Once you have all this material, you'll be able to do a natural, seamless edit, which won't take hours and hours, but which will logically build out of all the work and thinking you did while collecting your material in the field, staying committed to your anchor lead (which can evolve).

If you enjoyed this tutorial, make sure to check out the other chapters in my video series.

Teaching Video, Part 1 -- Your Equipment and How to Use It

Teaching Video, Part 2 -- A Lexicon of Shots

Teaching Video, Part 3 -- Shot Composition and Sequencing

Teaching Video, Part 4 -- Nat Sounds and Action Shots

Teaching Video, Part 5 -- Interviews

Teaching Video, Part 6 -- Standups

Teaching Video, Part 7 -- Choosing Your Video Stories and Shooting Them Wisely

Teaching Video, Part 8 -- Ingesting Into Premiere

Teaching Video, Part 9 -- Writing Your Script

Teaching Video, Part 10 -- Editing

Teaching Video, Part 11 -- Raising Your Game

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