Tag Archives: video blogging

Video tips from award-winning videographers

The joys of pingback have led me to the News Videographer blog – and just in time for my lesson this afternoon in Flash video galleries: Video tips from award-winning videographers, summarised from NewsLab. My favourite tip:

Don’t stop the action for the interview. “Go with the flow,” Tim says. “Try to ‘interview’ your subject while they’re doing what makes them comfortable, or doing what your story is really about.””

Video: how to be an online journalist

A great way to start the week: my students are back from their Easter break, and one has not only posted a story about police being unable to keep up with 999 calls, but also created a witty video of ‘how to be an online journalist’, with royalty-free music to boot (note: Corbis is mentioned in the video – students are allowed to use image banks as long as they cost it up for a professional operation).

New contender for worst newspaper video

And I thought the Bolton News was bad. The bar has just been lowered by Reading Evening Post’s Sports Editor David Wright’s video bulletin, a painful lesson in how not to do online video:

Rule #1: if you’re aiming to imitate broadcast television, make sure you’ve watched it since the ’80s.

Rule #2: if you use a cloth for a background, make sure you iron it.

Rule #3: tempted to use those fancy transition effects on your video editing software? Sleep on it. Please.

Rule #4: if you’re going to do ‘green screen’ make sure the green covers the whole background.

Rule #5: don’t start talking to your mate while the camera is still filming.

Rule #6: speak clearly, slow down.

Rule #7: film at a time or place when people are not coming in and out of a door and mumbling to each other out-of-shot

Rule #8: do more than one take.

It’s not David Wright’s fault that he has to learn his trade in public. I doubt Surrey and Berkshire Newspapers have invested in any training for him, and it’s clear they’ve not invested in facilities. Perhaps material like this may persuade them otherwise.

UPDATE: I hope David’s hits have shot up – they’re watching him in Australia and Hungary.

Rocketboom may charge for shows

Advertisers aren’t interested in 200,000 users, reports MarketWatch:

“So, how does Rocketboom keep the lights on? Baron says the video blog has become kind of a loss leader and a promotional device for the real money. Like a blog, he says he has established the Rocketboom team as experts in using video on the Web. “We get consulting opportunities, conferences give honorariums. For us, there are many off-shoots.””

Students revel in video

Last week I had the tall task of introducing students to online video in barely three hours. Thankfully they were thoroughly engaged in the subject – particularly enjoying the examples I showed (most of them in my previous post on four types of video journalism.

In order to get them using the editing software (rather than Avid I picked something free that anyone can download – Windows Movie Maker) I sent them out to record video diaries for their blogs, with the emphasis on movement, personality, and mise en scene.

The draft results indicated they’d got the idea. I’m waiting to see the finished versions but below is Felicity’s reflections on being Communities Correspondent (Polish & Jewish), which is nice and breezy for 20 mins’ work and shows good use of movement (if not great audio at the start):

Ian Reeves vlogs on ITV, video awards, Telegraph

Ian Reeves’ second vlog builds on the quality of the first, inevitably moving from the general to the specific, with a fantastic dry sense of humour that makes it all very entertaining. His USP is his ability to capture online video and showcase it – this week it’s the Telegraph’s Business Report (boring but sells advertising), ITV’s surprisingly good online local TV offering, and the US web video awards (but is Being A Black Man video, or flash interactivity that happens to have video embedded?).

Congratulations Ian, your vlog is one of the few pieces of online video I thoroughly enjoy watching.

Defining and conceptualising interactivity

A conversation with a radio colleague yesterday about a new course that I’m involved in – a Masters in Television and Interactive Content – threw up the question of how people define interactivity.

“What you mean by interactivity is probably not what I think of,” he said.

“I see interactivity as giving the user control,” I replied.

“Well OK then, we both think of interactivity in the same way. But to most people interactivity is video on the web and flashy things, which couldn’t be less interactive.”

I began thinking about this idea of how you define interactivity. “Giving the user control” is a nice summary, but what does that mean? How do you conceptualise it to make the process easier? Rolling it over in my head I’ve come up with two dimensions along which interactivity operates. Firstly:

  • Time: where broadcast required the user to be present at a particular time, and print to wait for the next edition, technologies such as Sky+, podcasts, mobile phones and websites allow the audience to consume at a time convenient to them. The PDF newspaper is an interesting development that also allows readers to avoid the dependence on print cycles.
  • Space: where television required the user to be physically present in front of a static set, mobile phones, mp3 players and portable mpeg players and wifi laptops allow the audience to consume in a space convenient to them. Portable radio and portable newspapers have always had this advantage.

Both these seem to be about hardware, and miniaturisation. The second level of interactivity is more about software:

  • Control over output: With linear media like TV, radio and print, the consumer relies on the ability of the producer, editor, etc. to structure how content is presented, or output. New media allows the audience to take some of that control.
    • At a basic level, for instance, hyperlinks allow the reader to dictate their experience of ‘content’.
    • With online video and audio, the user can pause, fast-forward, etc. – and if it has been split into ‘chunks’, the user can choose which bit of a longer video or audio piece they experience.
    • RSS, meanwhile, allows users to create their own media product, combining feeds from newspapers, broadcasters, bloggers, and even del.icio.us tags or Google News search terms.
    • Database-driven content allows the user to shape output based on their input – e.g. by entering their postcode they can read content specific to their area. At a general level search engines would be another example.
    • And Flash interactives allow the user to influence output in a range of ways. This may be as simple as selecting from a range of audio, video, text and still image options. It may be playing a game or quiz, where their interaction (e.g. what answers they get right, how they perform) shapes the output they experience.
  • Control over input: Again, the old media model was one that relied on the producer, editor, etc. to decide on the editorial agenda, and create the products. The audience may have had certain avenues of communication – the letter to the editor; the radio phone-in; the ‘Points of View‘. The new media model, as Dan Gillmor points out, is one that moves from a lecture to a conversation. So:
    • Blogs, podcasts, vlogs, YouTube, MySpace, etc. allow the audience to publish their own media
    • Forums, message boards, chatrooms and comments on mainstream media blogs allow the audience to discuss and influence the content of mainstream media, as well as engaging with each other, bypassing the media
    • Live chats with interviewees and media staff do the same.
    • User generated content/citizen journalism sees mainstream publishers actively seeking out input from consumers, from emails to mobile phone images, video and audio.
    • Wikis allow the audience to create their own collaborative content, which may be facilitated by mainstream media
    • Social recommendation software like del.icio.us, Digg, etc. allow users to influence the ‘headline’ webpages through bookmarking and tags.
    • A similar but separate example is how page view statistics can be used by publishers to rank content by popularity (often displayed side by side with the editorial view of what are the ‘top stories’)
    • I hesitate to add the last example but I will anyway: email. Although we could always, in theory, contact producers and editors by telephone, they didn’t publish their numbers on the ten o’clock news. Email addresses, however, are printed at the end of articles; displayed on screen alongside news reports; read out on radio; and of course displayed online.

I’m sure I’ve missed examples, or entire other dimensions. If you have an input to make, comment away.

Four types of online video journalism

Well my search for wisdom on the subject of online video took me down the corridor to my genial colleague Bob Calver, Senior Lecturer in Broadcast Journalism, and a fellow online journalism lecturer. I recorded the whole thing on video (naturally) – link to come. But here’s some thoughts that came out of the discussion, as well as from looking at online video around the web.

Firstly, I think you can categorise online video (journalism) into four types:

  • ‘Moving pictures’. I call this the ‘Daily Prophet approach’ after the newspaper in Harry Potter where the images are magically animated. This is where video is added to a text story as an illustration, without narration but in the same way as a still image might be used. A good example is this story from the Eastern Daily Press. I’m also thinking CCTV footage would fit here;
  • The Video Diary. This splits into two sub-categories:
    • The video blog/vlog: person speaks into camera about their thoughts/opinions/experiences – Ian Reeves’ first attempt is a good example, which also happens to include some reflections on online video journalism;
    • The personal account: person with a story to tell is filmed by another person about their thoughts/opinions/experiences. This may be combined with others to form a video feature. The Washington Post’s ‘Being a Black Man‘ is one example of such video being integrated with a multimedia interactive.
  • Edited narrative. This is essentially a replication of the TV documentary or package, but in (generally) shorter form. The Exeter Express & Echo seem to have the right idea here, going out onto the streets to talk to (gasp) people (one student commented that the story itself would have been much duller in print), although they also do…
  • TV show/vodcast. Again, this is replicating broadcast techniques and is generally the most redundant type of online video. Rocketboom is an example of it done well (most likely because they are not coming from a print or broadcast organisation, but are online-only). The Daily Telegraph do it with their Business Daily, as do many local newspapers, including the Bolton News and Manchester Evening News. For advertising sales departments, it’s a useful way of tapping into TV advertising budgets, but for readers it’s redundant compared to searchable, scannable web text. Its only real use is for readers who want to download a video bulletin to watch on the move (vodcast), so why do so many newspapers force users to stream it? Control, control, control.

When should a journalist turn to the video camera?

When it adds value, Calver says. When the moving images contribute something that couldn’t be conveyed any other way. Interviews, for instance, can be done quite adequately in print or audio and may, in fact, be less interesting on video – unless the interviewee’s facial expressions are significant enough to be essential (the shifty politician, for instance), or there are visual tools to be used.

A couple of faux statistics emphasise the importance of thinking creatively about your filming: “People get bored after – what is it? Eleven, twelve seconds of an image being on screen? And they say 80% of information is not from the words people hear but from the images they are seeing. So you need to film movement, film the subject working at their computer, entering the office, etcetera, for cutaways” (these are cliches, so more creative options would be even better).

“Make sure you have enough pictures to cover the story too. You often see stories on news channels where they’re repeating the same images – a train on an embankment; waves crashing on a beached ship – over and over again because they didn’t get enough images.”

The Blog Effect

Bob agreed that blogs have influenced video journalism online so that the journalist themselves becomes an ingredient of the story. Since journalism became a conversation “part of that is who you’re talking to – what are they like, how are they dressed”, and video journalism allows you to include those signals. Rocketbom is a good example of how the medium has taken on vlog conventions; ze Frank is an example of those vlogger tricks (quick editing, user contributed content, jump cuts) and quite simply a vlogger par excellence. When I showed one of his vlogs to my students yesterday one asked “Can we watch another one?”

Online journalism documentary – and why video blogging is ‘a good thing’

PBS have been doing a TV series called “News War: What’s Happening to the News”, which is a comprehensive history of journalism in the US. Of interest to us OJ types, however, are parts 19 and 20, ‘The New Universe of Online  Media’, and ‘The Revolution’s New Synergies’ which are available to watch on this page.

‘The New Universe of New Media’ features interviews with the team behind online TV news service Rocketboom, the founder of massively successful blog the Daily Kos, and Jeff Jarvis, as well as stuff about important events like the Trent Lott story (kept alive by bloggers) and Rathergate (a documentary’s veracity being questioned by bloggers).

‘The Revolution’s New Synergies’ is about how mainstream media have incorporated new media forms like blogs, and taken up leads through new media.

Bill Cammack gives a more thorough overview of the series, and the accusations that blogs lack original material, from a videoblogging perspective:

“With video blogs, I think [the lack of original reporting] is much less true. Granted, there are video blogs that are really videotaped versions of text blogs. Instead of typing the information they got from search engines, people sit in front of a video camera or webcam and talk about it. Not much difference from text blogs there in terms of lack of originality. ANYONE could do it who chooses to use a search engine to look up their chosen topic. What I’m talking about is the ability to show someone, anyone… somewhere, ANYWHERE (that has a viable internet connecton) something that they otherwise would not have been able to see. I don’t see any way that anyone could deny that visual and audio documentation of something that happened can be AS relevant and important, if not MORE SO than a shot, produced, scripted and edited news piece, such as the Frontline piece I’m currently commenting on.”

In other words, the very fact that you are filming video – assuming it is not of you talking – means you are creating original content. This is probably the most persuasive argument I’ve heard for bloggers taking up their video cameras and audio recorders – it (hopefully) forces you to leave the desk, and find material. Of course, it will not be searchable, and it will be harder for someone to scan. So it had better be good.