Video Shooting Guidelines

Video Shooting Guidelines

  1. No Zooms or Pans
    When the eye and the ear are in competition, the eye wins. Therefore, your viewer will follow the movement instead of listening to the sound and be distracted. Pans and zooms reinforce the presence of the camera, so use sparingly and only deliberately. Do not chase the action. Do not zoom.
  1. Rule of Thirds
    Frame subjects on the intersection of the three-part grid. The asymmetry creates tension, dynamism, drama. Crop the forehead, not the chin -> eyes fall on the thirds.
  1. Ten second steady shots
    Hold each shot for at least 10 seconds to ensure you have enough good footage.
  1. Seek Subjective Sound Bytes
    More emotional content and less factual information. Thoughts, feelings, opinions, emotions, observations. Feeling vs. Knowing. You will always remember what you feel longer than what you know. Facts are forgetable; emotions convey the facts–they are the delivery vehicle.
  1. Shoot B-roll and a variety of shots
    Wide (context, establishing shot), Medium, and Close-up (details, examples). Action and reaction/consequence. Lots of closeups.
  1. Always Monitor Your Sound: Wear Headphones
  1. Capture Nat Sounds and Shut Up
    Avoid the conversational affirmations (“uh huh”, “yeah”, “right”) and let your subjects speak. Don’t try to fill the gaps in the silence.
  1. Use Good Lighting
    Put camera on the shadow side of the subject. Three-point lighting system: Key (most important, main), Back (separates subject from background–lights up shoulders and head, opposite of key), and Fill (half the intensity of the Key).
  1. Strong Opener, Strong Closer
    Same as in print: Lead and Kicker.



Video Storytelling


Distance Learning content for JRNL10 (3/28/2017)

Video storytelling for the web and for mobile is very different from the traditional broadcast model. Why? Online video is not restricted to the structured format or length that networks demand. Online video therefore varies in length considerably, from very short explainer videos you see on Facebook feeds from NowThis or AJ+ to long, documentary series like those from Vice. Online video tends to be edgier, more creative, more intimate, sometimes more casual, sometimes more poetic and less literal, and often without a traditional stand-up reporter narrating the whole piece.

Don’t rely on an omniscient narrator to explain everything in a video. Opt for your story to emerge organically from the interviews and from the video itself.

The best way to learn about video storytelling is to watch what others have done. In this class, examine the following videos and think about the discussion questions related to them:

  1. Rubbish Removal from the New Yorker (8:22)
    Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 4.16.44 PM.png

    1. Successful video stories have a way of linking personal stories to larger universal themes. How does “Rubbish Removal” do this?
    2. We see characters undergo transformations in stories. They learn something along the way and they are different in the end than they were at the beginning. What kind of change do we see the main character go through in this story?
    3. The first two minutes of this story has great sequences that keep an upbeat tempo. What are some of them?
  2. Henrik Hansen: Shinya Kimura Chabott Engineering (2:45)
    Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 4.18.12 PM.png

    1. Good stories have surprises. What was surprising to you in the video about Shinya Kimura?
    2. Good stories have details, and with video that means close-ups and extreme close-ups. What effect do the close-up b-roll sequences (sequences that are not the interview) in the Kimura video have?
  3. Wordless: A poet’s struggle with Alzheimers by Almudena Toral in NYTimes (4:51)

    1. In “Wordless”, the term “Alzheimer’s” isn’t actually said until two minutes 17 seconds into the video. Why introduce the term so late into the video when the story is about Alzheimers?
    2. In “Wordless”, how are the b-roll shots (the shots that are not interviews) used to reinforce the themes/narrative in the video?
  4. Shoot One Please by Ken Christensen (7:08) in NYTimes

    1. How do we know that the young man in “Shoot One Please” is conflicted about hunting without a narrator saying so? How is that conflict expressed visually?
    2. How is the onscreen text used in “Shoot One Please”? Is it effective?


Post your thoughts on at least TWO discussion questions, but choose questions from different videos. (I don’t want you to just answer two questions on the same video). Post your answers in the comments below this blog post. Feel free to respond to your classmate’s reactions!





Adobe Premiere Resources


For tutorials on Adobe Premiere, refer to these links:

A tutorial for the 2015 NPPA Multimedia Immersion by Lenny Christopher, with Regina McCombs, Curt Chandler & Jason Kohlbrenner


CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

UC Berkeley Advanced Media Institute