For the next couple months I’m not going to be shooting as much. I’ll be in the office training reporters on shooting video. I’m also teaching the Documentary Photojournalism course again at MacEwan University this semester.
Postmedia sent a Kodak Zi8 video camera to every reporter in the chain and so I’m repsonsible for taking five Journal reporters at a time under my wing and teaching them video storytelling.
My goal isn’t to flood edmontonjournal.com with hundreds of poorly shot videos but rather to teach reporters (and photographers) how to make proper judgment on what to video and when video is appropriate and when it is not.
Key’s to a Successful Video – It takes a lot of work!
A good Visual Story ———> Story is always #1. As Scott Rensberger says “A good story is EVERYTHING. If you don’t have a great story, then everything you do to help a bad story is equivalent to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Good Quality —————–> Sound is most important. If the viewer cant stand to watch or listen to a video then they will abandon it. If a video is of poor quality then people won’t share it with their friends.
SEO friendly description and tags —————————–> The text and linking around the video have to be written in a way so that a person could easily Google the video. Some videos do poorly on our website but then get thousands of hits over time on YouTube. Example. Example. Example. Because people outside of our normal audience find and share it.
Social Media —————–> In order for a video to be successful (ie. watched a lot) it needs to be socially shared. It needs to get out on twitter, linked on blogs and shared on Facebook. If a video is of poor quality then people won’t share it with their friends. My World Record Dodgeball video only got 1,000 views on the Journal website but over 600,000 on YouTube because people shared it and blogged it.
Learning from stats ———-> A reporter learns to judge what makes good visual stories after doing several videos and following the stats/metrics. You see what kind of videos are successful and what videos aren’t worth doing. You need to understand who your audience is and what they want. You also need to find new audiences that you didn’t know where there.
My guiding rules:
-If the video wastes the viewer’s time then it was a waste of your time.
-If the video wastes your time then why would you waste your friend’s time by sharing it?
-If the story isn’t interesting then no one clicks on it.
-If the quality is poor then no one shares it.
-If the words/description are poorly written then no one can google it.
-If the reporter isn’t proud of the video then he/she won’t blog/tweet/promote it and neither will anyone else.
And if you need to pay for a reporter, heat, electricity and bandwidth to keep a business going then you can’t afford to do crappy video when there is soooo much video out there competing for viewership. You have to be smart about it.