Go, Dogs! Go!

Prompt: Find an example of a good journalistic video on the Web. What makes this story worthy of being told through video (as opposed to still photos and/or text)? And how might the video or story be improved? (Be sure to link to or embed the original video in your blog post.)

Flying Dogs from Columbia Missourian on Vimeo.

At the Missourian, we’ve been giving special attention to video lately. Honestly, I think most of our photo and multimedia departments’ efforts have been spectacular (it’s all kind of magical to a text reporter), but I especially liked this video.

When you have a subject that is so based around motion, such as dock diving, there’s just no way words can do it justice. Sure, they could very nicely describe how a dog jumps or what the rules of the sport are, but they can’t capture the call the trainer makes or the splash of the water or the excitement of the dogs as they race to catch their toy. The motion is really at the heart of what is happening, and video captures that best.

I like how this video satisfies most, if not all, of my curiosities about the dock diving dogs. I get to see them from multiple angles, including underwater, behind and in profile to see just how far out they jump. Within those shots the framing and composition is interesting — there is movement in and out of the frames and I don’t feel like any of them are repetitive.

I see them interact with their owners and trainers and with each other. While the soundbites are very informative and definitely add to the piece, they almost seem like gravy when the video shots are this good. I barely need the explanation to understand what the dogs are doing and what they are like when they’re doing it.

As far as improvements, I don’t have a terribly long list. I might’ve liked the soundbites to have a slightly more obvious story arc, and maybe include more voices from the other people present. It also seems like the soundbites from the main source are just a tad too quiet, and sometimes the b-roll sounds overshadow it.

Generally, I think it’s a great feature video. The journalists got shots that I wouldn’t have thought to get. It’ll still probably take me awhile to think “visually” enough to realize what of the action in front of me should be included in a story. What’s cool, though, is that the first time I watched this video, I really liked it — plain and simple.

Now, I watch it and I still really like it. But I also am starting to think about how it was made, why the journalists might’ve done what they did, and how I might employ some of those strategies in my own reporting and video gathering. It took me years to get to that place with writing. I suppose it just goes to show that self-awareness (and a hunger to emulate what’s good) goes a long way toward improving your skills.