Short video packages are important components of multimedia reporting. No clear standard has been drawn to define the length of online video reports, but usually these packages are less than ten minutes in length.
When discussing online video reporting, one may first ask why we use this platform as a story-telling medium. Mimi Chakarova, a documentary photographer who teaches multimedia journalism at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, believes video can tell stories in ways far beyond other media.
Chakarova told IJNet: "The main question for video on the Web is why choose video as the primary storytelling device? What is it about the story and subject matter that must be conveyed through video? Usually, the movement in the frame, if done well, can inform a story in ways that still imagery and sole audio cannot."
Chakarova said online video provides what still photography and audio provide together. Gestures and body movements are very difficult to show through other media, she said.
Before beginning to use video, we must evaluate the importance of this medium. Moreover, if we are shooting by ourselves, we must first make sure we are familiar with our equipment. Multimedia reporters often work alone and thus it is wise to spend some time learning about the camera -- such as through a manual -- in order to avoid possible problems on location. Online video reports or training courses can also help a videojournalist become familiar with the technicalities of shooting pictures for the Web.
When producing video for the Web, we follow the basic principles of video production. However, we must take into consideration the limits of the Web. For example, we should avoid using certain effects, such as fades and dissolves, because when video files are compressed for posting online, picture quality deteriorates. Zooming in or out or too much movement has a similar negative effect when video is posted online.
When shooting video, it is important not to begin movement immediately after pressing record. Rather, the camera should be still for a few seconds before any movement. Similarly, at the end of a shot, it is important to keep the camera still for a few seconds before stopping the film.
As with every multimedia project, before starting an online video project, we must prepare a road map -- to consider the pictures and shots that are required and prepare for interview(s). It is also important to consider the desired length of our report. For example, for a 4-6 minute video, editing a tape with more than an hour of footage would be a difficult task.
A well-organized road map can help determine the sequencing of shots, which can help in the editing phase.
According to Charlotte Buchen, a video producer with Frontline at PBS: "Editing takes the most time with video, so if you shoot intending not to edit much, you can make things simpler for yourself. This might involve more preparation for your shoot so you know what you're looking for -- what 2-3 interview questions you'll ask, for example."
She added: "Good audio is important for online video. People often do not realize this but they will tolerate a shaky camera or out-of-focus images for a lot longer if audio is good. Good microphones are as important as trying to shoot steady shots that are in focus, properly exposed, and white-balanced correctly."
To be continued.
Memarian is an award winning Iranian journalist and blogger whose articles have been published by the New York Times, San Fransisco Chronicle and the LA Times. Memarian is a multimedia journalism graduate of UC Berkeley.