How to assign video

December 2, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on How to assign video 

3D! We were having a discussion of how to assign video over on the NewspaperVideo email list, and I posted this:

We’ve been doing video for the past five years at the Miami Herald. I’ve learned a few things about video assignments.

First, if your paper is anything like mine, none of your reporters, editors, or photo assignment people will have a clue what makes good video when you’re starting out. So don’t put video assignments in the same pipeline as your photo assignments. If you have a dedicated video producer, let them make the call on what to cover. Choose one thing a day to produce a video from and make sure the person doing it has all day to work on it… they’ll need the time. If your big bosses are making a fuss about video, all your reporters and editors will be requesting video on their stories – don’t automatically assign it. Pick and choose what to do. The person picking and choosing needs to know both video production and your web stats – video on the web ain’t the same as ink on paper.

Second, if you’re after web traffic, realize that there are only a few things that will get hits in video on a newspaper site – primarily hard news and sports. Most of your traffic will come from the story level pages as people arrive there from search engines, so make embedding video with the story a top priority. Because of that, try to do video from the top web stories of the day – which are seldom the same as the lede print story. If you’re compelled to cover feel-good features and cultural events, go into it knowing they won’t get much traffic.

Third, as you’re picking what to cover, make sure your videos are compelling and emotional… facts and figures have no place in video. Show, don’t tell. Make ’em short and make sure the opening shot is amazing and action-packed – most people click off videos in the first ten seconds, and you have to grab them fast. Videos need a story arc – a beginning, middle and end – so long after your still shooter has gone home, your video guy might be waiting to get that ending shot – it takes much much longer to shoot a video than it does to shoot stills.

And finally and most importantly, always keep in mind that crappy video has absolutely no value to your newspaper. Advertisers hate it; viewers click off it immediately; and your staff will hate doing it. Pick stuff that’s worth doing and give people the time to do it well. Don’t do predictable and newspaper-story-style video – the point of video is to tell a story a different way.

Video is a bottomless rabbit hole that will take huge amounts of time to do. Do not expect your photogs to be able to cover their normal assignment load while also producing video. On the other hand, video is the most amazing story tool ever. No other medium can bring people to tears or make them laugh with joy the way that video can.

Although I forget sometimes that there are newspapers who still don’t do video as part of their daily work, it seems like most do. Video is a part of almost every metro photo department these days. Since every metro photo department is a faint shadow of what they used to be, you have to be really smart about doing video. The time investment every time you press the record button is enormous.

If there’s one message I feel compelled to share after going through a few years of the learning process, it’s that video traffic is a good thing but won’t pay the bills. No advertiser wants to be associated with crappy news clips and amateur quality features – even if they get a lot of hits. All of us need to put our efforts into producing high-quality work and look for things that can be turned into series and channels. At the moment sports coverage seems to be the most fertile for this and advertisers are willing to sponsor ongoing and predictable sports shows. That predictable part is really important – sponsors want consistent quality and consistent frequency.

Which isn’t to say we should spend all our time trying to pay the bills. Use the skills you learn producing consistent high quality stuff to tackle your own stories and make your videos really compelling. I can’t say enough about the power of video to move people. Use it wisely and well. There are many outlets for quality news video stories and more and more of us are doing documentaries and work for broadcast in partnership with other outlets. It’s a big world out there and newspapers are becoming an ever-smaller part of it. Spread your wings, everyone… Never have the tools to produce cinema-quality video been available to us so easily, even on pitiful newspaper salaries. Learn to use them!

In the end, It’s all about the story. Photojournalists are well equipped to tell stories.

2010 NFL rules and restrictions for online video

August 1, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on 2010 NFL rules and restrictions for online video 

Training camp has started for NFL football and it’s the season for rabid football fans to find out as much as they can about their favorite teams. But they won’t find much video on news sites – the NFL won’t allow it. I couldn’t find this posted anywhere, so thought I’d pass this along:

The 2010 NFL rules for non-game video are unchanged from 2009. If you shoot video during credentialed access, you can post up to 90 seconds of video and can have it up on your site for only 24 hours. You cannot archive it for on-demand viewing. You must post links to nfl(dot)com and your local club site. Of course, no game action at all. The restrictions apply to training camp, coach pressers, locker room, etc. as well as the season. You can do as much talking head video of your reporter standups as you want, however.

Still photogs can’t post more than 10 pictures during a game. No sequences that give the impression of video, either.

Newspaper video as cinema – from Dan Chung of the Guardian

July 22, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on Newspaper video as cinema – from Dan Chung of the Guardian 

Mongolian Racer from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Dan Chung from the Guardian UK newspaper made a production out of a story on Mongolian horse races. He gives a complete rundown of the equipment he used and how he did it over on his blog: DSLR News Shooter

Whenever I look at Dan Chung’s work, I have pangs of longing to go out and shoot visual stories. He does great stuff. Alas, the metrics and the bosses say I have to produce daily news stories and not features. I have resisted shooting DSLR on news stuff just because it’s so hard to use. Might have to rethink that….

The trough of disillusionment

July 8, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on The trough of disillusionment 

Oversold or breakthroughs? |  Great cocktail napkin graphics exploring the Gartner hype cycle and how it applies to dslr video cameras.

Obama admin bans press from filming BP oil spill areas in the Gulf

July 7, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on Obama admin bans press from filming BP oil spill areas in the Gulf 

via YouTube – Obama admin bans press from filming BP oil spill areas in the Gulf.

This pisses me off, so I’m reposting it here – the administration that promised “transparency” now threatens all citizens with felony charges for getting near the oil spill and its victims.

Life in a Day – Ridley Scott and YouTube

July 7, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on Life in a Day – Ridley Scott and YouTube 

YouTube – lifeinaday’s Channel.

Ridley Scott, Kevin MacDonald, and a gazillion YouTube participants plan to document a single day on earth – July 24th – to make a feature film for Sundance. Should be interesting. I’d hate to have that editing job!

24 HOURS IN 19500 FRAMES on Vimeo

July 7, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on 24 HOURS IN 19500 FRAMES on Vimeo 

24 HOURS IN 19500 FRAMES on Vimeo on Vimeo

I spent many years photographing NASCAR, Indy Cars, and Sportscar racing. Autosports photography is very difficult, dangerous, and it’s really hard to make nice images in the cluttered, barricaded, and advertising-blanketed environs of a race track.
So I was stunned when I saw this video by brothers Tim and Nick Hahne, who shot with one 5Dmk2 each and four lenses between them during a 24 hours race at Nürburgring. They did a terrific job of capturing the look and feel of auto racing – and all without fancy rigs or mounts for their 5d’s.
Really inspiring work, guys!

Blog for documentary film makers

July 7, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on Blog for documentary film makers 

DocumentaryTech is a new blog for documentary film makers and is put together by Edward J. Delaney, who is a “former reporter, bureau chief, columnist and contributor at such publications as The Denver Post, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Colorado Springs Gazette, The National and other newspapers. Occasional contributor to The Atlantic Monthly and author of two books of fiction,” and by Kurt W. Lancaster, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University, who trained Christian Science Monitor reporters in video journalism.

Google TV – will this change everything?

June 16, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on Google TV – will this change everything? 

Google TV will bring the internet and TV together on your big-screen display in your living room. Will this change the TV industry? From what I saw at NAB this year, the broadcast industry is doing everything they can to head off the convergence that is coming. In addition to Google TV, there is a new “Freedom” Intel chip-based set top box coming this year that will also provide OTT – Over The Top – delivery of internet-based programming.

I think a big shift is coming toward internet delivery and away from broadcast, no matter how many barriers the broadcast industry throws up.

duPont Awards deadline July 1

June 16, 2010 · Posted in A-Roll · Comments Off on duPont Awards deadline July 1 

Passing this along from one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in broadcast journalism, the duPont Award from Columbia University.  They’re seeking web entries:

Call for Entries

Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards

Honoring the best in television, radio and digital news reporting

We invite you to submit stories from network television news, local television, radio, independent productions and web-based programming. The duPont jury looks for excellence in reporting and evidence of commitment to important stories. We especially encourage the submission of daily news stories and breaking news coverage as well as feature stories.

Enter online at

Deadline: July 1, 2010

Thank you!!!

Abi Wright

Director, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards

John Chancellor Award

Graduate School of Journalism

Columbia University


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