This week’s post is from Eldon Khorshidi, Director of Client Services.
In both short- and long-form packages, visuals are such a critical aspect of a story. Sure, voiceovers, background music and interview questions are important, but without strong pictures, your story will be a radio edit and not a news package.
And in today’s journalism landscape, reporters often have to shoot, write, edit and produce themselves, from start to finish.
Here are seven camera techniques to help capture the most effective visuals in your stories.
1) You can never have too much B-roll — It’s always better to overshoot than undershoot. Your story can go in any number of directions, which will require different shots. Be prepared and give yourself options by capturing as much B-roll as possible.
2) Don’t shoot against a white wall — There are ways around this one—making sure your “white balance” is on the right setting, angling correctly, etc.—but in general, you shouldn’t shoot an interview against a white backdrop. Just like shooting in the direction of sunlight, white walls usually create a glare and distract the viewer. Try to avoid if possible.
3) Don’t shoot against a window — This one is self-intuitive. Unless you’re going for a shadow/reflection effect, stay away from windows.
4) Use manual focus — Even on higher-end cameras, the automatic focus feature is not foolproof. Cameras often focus on different, sometimes random aspects of a shot; they’ll focus the lens to a short, middle, or long distance, when you may want a different shot. It’s always better to manually focus in on the object you want, then proceed.
5) Dress the microphone under a shirt or jacket — When using a lavalier microphone and clip, make sure to slip it out of sight. If your shot is from the neck up, you can place the mic on the outside of your subject’s clothing, just out of the frame. If you’re taking a full body shot, hide the mic under the collar or shirt.
6) Shoot sequences — The most effective shots are visually stimulating, all encompassing, and unpredictable. In order to accomplish this, use a variety of different shots:
Shots that are parallel to your audio
Pan the horizontal axis
Tilt the vertical axis
Last but not least…
7) Have fun! — There’s a reason you’re doing this in the first place. Love your story, expand your imagination and enjoy the process. After all, this stuff is supposed to be fun.