Prompt: What are the hardest things about doing video, and what can you do to improve your ability to do them?
This question couldn’t come at a more perfect time because, honestly, I think video is incredibly difficult. All of it. All the time. The second time out filming the Wednesday night ballet class was a little easier this time, but it still didn’t feel at all intuitive. I suppose I could be more specific…
- Anticipation: With photos, the goal is to capture the decisive moment. With video, it’s capturing a series of decisive moments, and I still lack the judgement to discern the best way to do that. How long is too long? I know there are rules about 5-second shots and the length of details vs. wider shots, but it’s still hard to tell at this point where to cut in and where to cut out. I can’t quite anticipate it yet. I think the best way to improve this is to practice with different shot lengths and types until I get a better feel for how to transition in and out better.
- Audio + Video: I can handle audio. I can handle visual. But putting them together at once is a whole different story. I have a hard time thinking about how to balance a good audio clip with an good series of images. What if the audio and video aren’t timing out together? Sometimes I know that I can use natural sound over b-roll footage, but having just a solid clip of video that also happens to line up with audio that makes sense and is complete is challenging. I’m not sure how to get better at this because it seems to heavily dependent on the subjects. Maybe I just need to get over the idea of getting a perfect shot and think more about how I can edit in the most accurate, but smoothest, way possible.
- Subject matter: The hardest part about filming dancers is that they are constantly moving. They also don’t necessarily repeat combinations enough so that I can take the three or four minutes necessary to line up a five-shot sequence with appropriate audio. By the time I am on shot three, they have moved on to a new exercise, so it’s hard to maintain continuity in the shots even though I have the advantage of knowing ballet class structure well. Again, I think practice makes perfect in this case. I know I can’t ask sources to repeat movement just because I missed something, so I either need to become faster, or learn to edit in such a way where every shot doesn’t need to necessarily be a continuation of the former. Part of that might be making sure to get detail shots so I can use an action-cutaway-action sequence, which will help bridge those gaps.
Luckily, my editing skills have usually developed more quickly than my reporting skills. In the end, I think I’ll be able to fix and splice and narrate my clips into submission.
I am happy to say, however, that I survived my 9 week crash course in multimedia journalism. We’ve finished the basic skills portion of the class, and all that’s left is our final project combining everything we’ve learned. Just 2.5 short months ago, I had no idea how to use a DSLR, put together an NPR-style radio story or what a five-shot sequence even was.
Now, I do.
I’m no pro just yet, but I feel so much more confident in my ability to take on any kind of reporting challenge. You want an audio slideshow? Got it. Text piece with a photo gallery? No problem.
This might be the exhaustion at the end of a long week talking, but it’s a little heady knowing that I’ll leave here in May being as prepared as I possibly can for getting a job. I upheld my end of the bargain, challenged myself, and learned a lot. If that isn’t a reason to celebrate with a Friday evening pizza and a pint of Blue Moon, I’m not sure what is.