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Getting Started

Immersed In Virtual Reality with Vanishing Point Media

While interest in virtual reality journalism is at an all-time high, information about the production process remains relatively scarce for the unacquainted video journalist. VideoJournalistToday sat down with Annie Lukowski and BJ Schwartz, veteran producers and co-founders of Vanishing Point Media (VPM), to get a sense of where VR is in relation to the world of video journalism. Based out of Los Angeles since inception in 2014, VPM is a full service production company that has created immersive experiences for brands including “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” LA ComicCon and Banana Republic.

Good Editing Is Really Just Good Thinking

If you ask me which I prefer, shooting or editing, I wouldn't think twice before giving my answer: editing. The reason, I suppose, is that I'm a writer at heart, and editing is pretty much the same process, except that you're delivering your message through images and sounds instead of just words. That adds exciting new dimensions to your creativity and the way you express it. Now, I'm not going to go into the technical aspects of editing (like which software is best), because frankly, that's not my forte. As I said, I'm more of a writer than a technician. I've always said that good writing is really good thinking, and the same applies to editing.

Being a Jack-Of-All-Trades Ain't So Bad

ImageWhen I was at film school, a common complaint was the hyper-specialization of movie sets. You had one guy to set up the lights and one guy to plug them in. The camera crew had all kinds of people whose function seemed ridiculously limited in scope when you looked at it. Most people blamed unions, and suspected blatant "feather-bedding" (favoritism) was going on. While unions are certainly still around, the best strategy for success in today's world, where television and the web are rapidly merging into a single entity, is to be able to wear multiple hats. You need to shoot as well as edit. In fact, don't stop there...

Welcome to the Real World

June - a beautiful time of year. The sun is shining, the summer is still fresh, young and full of promise. And, for newly minted college graduates - particularly in journalism - it's a time of dread. This is when you realize that investment of $100,000 and four years of your life has come down to this - a piece of paper with some fancy letters on it, handed to you at a Hogwarts-like ceremony where everyone is dressed in traditional caps and gowns and an endless chain of serious-sounding words are intoned. Now you take that paper and trade it in for a career in journalism, right?

Telling Stories Through Video Journalism

ImageA journalist with a video camera is really no different from one with a pen and paper. No matter what the medium, you're telling a story. The tools you use are different, but the technique is largely the same. First of all, remember the inverted pyramid. When telling the story, you're moving from the most specific to the most general (the rationale for which, in the days of newspapers, was that an editor could cut for length and not have to worry about losing important details). You begin your story with the lead - or "lede," to use the industry specific spelling - the general summation of the story's topic and the hook to draw the reader/viewer in.

The Art & Science of Being a "Preditor"

So you want to be a "preditor" (producer-editor). Cool word, huh? Preditor - kind of has that lone wolf feel to it. Have DSLR, will travel. And that's kind of what you're doing - being a one-man (or woman) production studio. The more you can do yourself, the more likely you'll get work. That's the reality of video production these days, at least for the web. A potential client wants to fill up his site with video content, and he wants one person to be able to do it. That person should be you. That means that you have to be able to plan out the shoot, execute the shoot - serving as shooter, gaffer and audio tech - then take it home and edit it together on your laptop with basic graphics. Next you export it, send the client the video file or go the extra mile and upload it to Vimeo or YouTube for them, writing up a text description and maybe putting in a tag or two.

The Vanishing Video Package: Making it Smaller, Lighter and Cheaper

ImageToday'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.

Opportunities Emerge With Lower-Cost 4K Cameras

ImageIf 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.

How to Tell a Good Video Story

ImageSo 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.

Audio: How One-Person Can Get Professional Audio for Video

ImageIt'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?