Moving regular posting

Changing up a few things.

I’m using this site as a place to display work sample from here on out. I’ll be moving my blogging over to

Adjust bookmarks accordingly.

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My suggestions for storytelling with video (add yours)

On Friday, I was invited up to my alma mater, Chico State, to do a workshop with the videographers of my old college newspaper, The Orion.

As part of that, I gave them a handout with a few suggestions for how to tell stories with video. But, I figured that there’s people out in the public who know even more than I do. So I’m posting up the handout I wrote up and wanting to see what else people have to suggest as far as this subject goes.


  • The video should stand alone: A video should completely explain itself, without the need to read an accompanying story to know what the video is about. Example: If you’re shooting a rally of some kind, the audio/text should explain exactly what the rally is about, and the visuals/text should make clear where the event is happening.
  • Videos should match written material: While videos don’t have a specific nut graf like a written story does, it should be clear what the focus of a video story is. If the video is part of a package with a written story, the two should be of similar focus. Example: If there’s a package on a baseball player from a foreign country, the writing shouldn’t focus on his travel to Chico/cultural differences and the video just focus on his on-field performance.
  • Let the subjects tell as much of the story as possible: Viewers want to hear from the people they are seeing on camera, not Written on-screen text blocks and voiceovers should only be done if the on-camera interviewees do not satisfactorily tell the story on their own.
  • Good angles to shoot B-roll from: extreme close-ups on action (like on hands, feet, moving machinery, etc.), scrolling wide angles of large crowds, overhead angles, having action move towards you.
  • Not-so-good angles to shoot B-roll from: Dutch angles (camera is tilted to one side, used to create sense of psychological imbalance or tension), low-angle shot (only if attempting to show an object is extremely large), angles where you can’t see anything that’s going on (obviously)
  • Zoom in close on interviewees: Their head should be near, but not completely all the way to the top. If you’re not zoomed in close enough, the viewers’ eye could move to the background.
  • Shoot more B-roll than you’ll think you’ll need: Because you’re probably going to wind up needing more B-roll than you’ll think you’ll need. Too much B-roll is a good problem to have.


  • Think about the effect transitions have on pacing: Any sort of creative transition between shots (cross-dissolves, cube spins, etc.) slows the moving between clips. In most cases, you don’t want or have time for that, just cut straight across to the next clip. Fading out and fading in audio also has a slow-down effect, so limit those to the very beginning and very end of videos.
  • Pay attention to audio levels: If one subject talks loud and another talks quiet, adjust their audio levels so they are a closer match.
  • Beware the “Foreign Film Dub”: Make sure your audio is in synch with your video. Sometimes, the limitations of technology cause the two to get thrown off. If that happens, don’t ignore it – match them back up!
  • Avoid sharp changes in audio: If you’re switching between one interview in a quiet environment and another in a loud environment, use a cross-fade to limit the harshness of the transition.
  • Make the title and descriptions match: Just because you’re shooting video doesn’t mean the writing involved doesn’t matter. Don’t just rely on the lede of the written story or the print headline for the title of your video.
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This is how you interact with people on social media when you’re a news organization

Remember, they think what they’re saying means something. You have to reflect that when you write to them, even when they’re wrong.

This gentleman responded with his thanks and hopes we’ll write something on Mamo Rafiq soon.


Also important: When you say you’re going to do something, do it.

For an even better example of being a social journalist in the social media age, read this post by my KDMC small group teammate Mandy Jenkins, now a social news editor for HuffPo Politics.

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Starting a professional Facebook page

…and you don’t even have to friend me on Facebook to follow it!

You can click here to view it.

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Salvaging a video

Going to shoot video in your news organization? You better be flexible and be able to think your way out of problems.

It’s safe to say that things, usually, will not go as planned. The dream background will not work. Shadows are going to jack with your universe. Microphones will not perform to the best of their abilities.

That’s when you’re going to get well-acquainted with your video editing software.

We do a lot here with the Marysville Gold Sox, a summer college baseball team. For those of you not familiar with college baseball, during summer when school is out players will play on teams outside of school, often in towns that treat it similar to minor league baseball, but more affordable. Think of the movie “Summer Catch.” In that film, Freddie Prinze Jr. is playing in the Cape Cod League, the premier summer college league in the country.

One regular feature we do is “Meet the Gold Sox,” where a sports reporter interviews one of the players on the team using a two-camera shoot, then in post-production we overlay the videos with b-roll featuring game highlights of the player in action.

For a recent interview with a middle infielder from Northern Colorado University, the post-filming check revealed a number of problems. The first was one dealt with regularly in that players ballcaps create shadows across their faces. That can be dealt with easily by bringing up midtones, and I’d rather have baseball players wearing baseball caps.

A couple of other problems were going to be tougher to deal with. First, the mic was being held too far away from the player when he was talking compared to when the reporter was talking in it, which created a big difference in the sound level. Second, somehow the reporter wound up looking at the wrong camera for the wide shot, rendering a lot of the pre- and post-interview segments unusable. (Actually, I bet he looked at the wrong camera because the guy running both cameras — guilty — didn’t make sure to tell him which camera to look at first.)

This required a lot of work in the soundtrack with FinalCut Express to fix, along with strategically placing highlights, and cutting to our ending graphic sooner than we usually do.

For comparison’s sake, here’s a clip of raw video:

And here’s what the finished product looked like:

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