Are you looking to expand your multimedia skills? If not, you should be, says Conde Nast Entertainment video producer Jehangir Irani.
"The days of having a single skill set are over," says the self-taught Irani. “It's a good idea to start learning and trying."
Irani recommends that journalists getting started in photo, video or audio launch a blog and start posting their work. Then, they should network with people and outlets publishing work they like. "Share their stuff and they'll share yours," says Irani, a former web producer for social media site Mashable.
Here are Irani's tips for getting started with photo, video and audio:
Then, pick something you want to spend the day shooting. It doesn’t have to be related to your work. "If you're a print business reporter, but you love going to the botanical gardens, go and shoot trees," Irani says.
Get started by finding a camera you can use for practice, and start shooting action that interests you.
If you rent or buy a videocamera, make sure it has sound input, called an XLR port, Irani says. This will allow you to plug in a mic and record directly into the camera. Otherwise, you'll have to sync up audio and video later, which can be complicated.
Irani recommends starting simple, and picking a subject that allows for multiple types of shots.
If you want to shoot a news video, watch a news program on television and pay attention to how the background and foreground are set up and lit. Then try to replicate it by filming your family or friends.
Audio stories will be minimalist on narrative and dialogue, and incorporate a lot of natural sound. For instance, a story that takes place at a school may include natural sound (also known as "nat sound" or "ambient") of children playing, a teacher giving instructions, or a bell ringing. To create a rich audio story, you must capture many layers of sound.
A good audio story will include natural sound, voiceover narration, sound bites that advance the story, characters, sounds to establish milieu and a script. It's important to write a good headline and synopsis to accompany a radio report.
Irani cautions against using smart phones for audio recording, because their microphones aren't calibrated to pick up the range of frequencies, which are the many levels of vibrations that create sounds (from an organ to a loud car horn). This results in audio that is not as sharp or crisp as when using a higher quality microphone. But they're a good option for getting started.
A good basic audio story example is Zack Seward's “A Look At The Minor Leagues,”.
To listen to what others are doing with audio and to post your own for free, he recommends Soundcloud.
"Focus on something you like," he says. "And just have fun with it."
You can see Irani’s complete list of equipment suggestions here.
Jessica Weiss is a Buenos Aires-based writer.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Epsos under a Creative Commons license.