Off-the-Record Video Journalism at Camp VJ

Well, I had a little bit of a problem using the camcorder. Thought the red dot meant “Stop”, and the green dot meant “Go”. (Hey, I was at Camp VJ because I’m not usually the person holding the video camera. And of course, because Robb Montgomery was in town doing his guru thing on Video Journalism.)

Anyways, I got it completely backwards. On-the-record was off. And off-the-record was on! So I didn’t get any of the “good footage” I thought I was recording. I just got the edges… Fortunately, that’s where the story turned up.

Note: The music is “Showdown” by Manolo Camp and is from Opsound and is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

For the Record: Top Ten Things I learned at Camp VJ

10. Wear headphones to “hear” what your microphone is actually recording. Otherwise you’re recording blind.

9. Use a tripod for interviews. Let it be the cameraman, so you can concentrate on interviewee.

8. A newspaper story is NOT a product. It is a service. So, your story must evolve and respond to your customer’s needs.

7. The grammar of photography (and videos) is made with the type of shots you use — wide, medium, close-ups.

6. Use a sequence of images to tell a story through time.

5. Remember 3-6-9: Walk the line between camera and subject: Wide, medium tight (3 shots) – 6 seconds each – Three angles for 9 sequences.

4. Hold your camera like a weapon. Steady. Use two hands, centered on your spine for stability.

3. Keep eye contact with your subject. Listen, nod and try to keep your mouth shut while they’re talking.

2. Do all your tech prep (Make sure everything works and double-check it!) before the interview.

1. The red light on a video camera does NOT mean “Stop.” It means “Recording…”

Thanks to Robb Montgomery, Roger Gillespie, Kathy Vey, and the Toronto Star for putting together three great days of learning!

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