Today's videographers want their gear packages light in weight and compact in size. This not only cuts travel costs, but allows videographers to work faster in high stress level video shoots. Late last year I traveled to the South to record some video interviews. As with many shoots these days, I was a one-man-band. After that trip — as I have done countless times before — I cursed the heavy weight of my video gear and slowly begin the process of lightening things up. I began by laying out the assortment of gear in an effort to see where all the unnecessary weight was. Much of it, I quickly determined, was in electrical cable and outlets, light stands, tripods and quartz light fixtures with their accessories. I knew it was cumulatively too heavy and I began to investigate how I could effectively replace the stuff with smaller, less bulky equipment for the road.
If you're a young person seeking to become a Video Journalist, it has never been a better time. There's an old saying: "With chaos comes opportunity." Nothing could be truer today in the scrambled field of image-making. A friend who is a veteran still photographer told me the other day that he can't advise anyone to aspire to being just a still photographer anymore. Today, he said emphatically, the new field of choice is multimedia storytelling -- video, photography and a mix of everything else thrown in. The market for video-centric image-making is growing fast. But it's not just the old image-making categories anymore. Now you are expected to combine text, images, video, audio and other elements to tell a compelling story. How you do that and how unique your talent is will make or break your career. If you're a young person seeking to become a Video Journalist, it has never been a better time. There's an old saying: "With chaos comes opportunity." Nothing could be truer today in the scrambled field of image-making.
So far we've looked at skills most anyone can be taught or trained to do. With writing — otherwise known as the execution of "a good story, well told" — it is much harder because no one can teach another how to write a compelling story. As with the visual artist, recognizing and writing a story is a talent that comes naturally. Not everyone can do it. Others can guide you in the right direction and give you tips, but no one can teach another person to write. That may sound contrary to what "trainers" will tell you, but it's true. However, becoming a good writer is essential to videomaking. It's part of the "talent" part of the process. You must learn how to construct a story from the ground up in compelling prose. In this section, we'll look at what it takes to be a multimedia writer, but we can't tell you how to do it.
It's a cliché, but it's true. In television production, audio has long been the stepchild of video. But it doesn't have to be. In fact, audio is just as important as video, and -- if you master the techniques well -- it can give you a competitive edge over other videographers. In a one-man-band "run and gun" video shooting situation, recording good audio is much harder than when having a professional sound operator at your side. But it can be done. You simply have to think through what you can and can't do well. What can you do?
Making pictures to support television news has changed dramatically over the past few years. From the medium's beginning in the 1950s until 1975, images were shot on 16mm motion picture film. First it was black and white and then color beginning in the late 1960s. In 1975, film images began to be replaced by video--shot using a new generation of back-breaking "ENG" (for electronic news gathering) cameras and recorders. The discipline of film was lost with video. With film, the camera operator either got it right (exposure, lighting, precise film loading) or there were no images. With video, the process began to become much more fool-proof, though not necessarily good in terms of production value. Today, news is transitioning from much smaller video camcorders to self-contained DSLRs. The reason is television news is not just for television anymore. It's now for web pages, smartphones and tablets, as well as the home TV.
It's no secret that the traditional world of journalism no longer exists. Today it is a topsy-turvy existence -- with journalistic storytellers having gone through continuous shake-ups and job losses and the companies that hired them moving through one downsizing after another. In this chaotic environment, it would be foolish to predict where the business of journalism is heading. I'm not even sure that true journalism--in its purest form -- can survive as a business. There will always be a few brave soles pursuing it, but their business models are still forming and unproven. In this series of columns, I will avoid the volatile business issues but want to focus on the essential skill sets a person needs today to become a good journalist.
A young reporter working for an Alabama television station was recently fired for revealing too much information on her personal blog. The story, though missing some details, says a lot about today's news business. Shea Allen, the 20-something female reporter fired, wrote a blog called "Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter" and did some personal YouTube videos. She was quickly creating a signature of her own, something her bosses at WAAY-TV, Channel 31, in Huntsville, Alabama couldn't take.