VJ Bootcamp – TOP TEN LIST

Just back from the 2010 Visual Journalist Bootcamp in Langley, WA.  Here’s the skinny.

TOP TEN LIST OF VJ GEMS TO REMEMBER (MediaStorm):

  1. 70% of video production is audio
  2. Ask paired questions, then shut up. (use the Dumb Dog look for clarification)
  3. Let the motion happen (lock on tripod, reduce pans/tilts/zooms)
  4. Let each piece “breath” with 10 second lead-ins and tail-outs
  5. Get Video portraits (x4): shoot wide, medium, close, extreme close
  6. Shoot stills in series (with various emotion) for cutaways
  7. Shoot Clean-Ins and Outs (action crosses the entire frame)
  8. Chase the metaphor
  9. Lead clips with audio (then reveal)
  10. Edit by subtraction

Storm statements:
“I never start a story knowing what I am going to say.”
“Story will always trump technique.”
“Good Audio + Bad Video = Documentary;  Bad Audio + Good Video = Trash”
“One death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic.”  (ergo:Tough stories must be humanized.)
“Rise above the noise; produce quality content.”
“Always shoot the fridge.”  It’s the billboard of a person’s life.

Other points to ponder:

  • Authenticity and Transparency are needed more today than Objectivity.
  • Strategic Dissonance (see Image #1) bodes well for new media content providers. ~Toni Deifell, Q-Media Labs
  • Well crafted new media storytelling will save journalism from “the Amateur Digital Disruption”. ~Hanson Hosein (ex-MSNBC, CBC,  now U of W professor)
  • Content Marketing needed to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood audience… and move them to measurable action. ~Russell Sparkman, Fusionspark Media.
  • An emerging term in the lexicon of Social Media is “Content Strategy”.

Proceedings were livecast via UStream.  Word was that the broadcast would soon be posted for play on demand.

6 Comments

  • BradJ says:

    Oh, I get it. That’s a handy tip! I tend to not do too much interview-style stuff, because answers are of unpredictable value. I’ve found that it’s generally easier to achieve better results with something more or less scripted. But this would quite likely achieve the goal I’m after with significantly less mechanics. Hmmm…

    I’m now waiting with baited breath for the other answers! 🙂

  • BradJ says:

    That’s a great post, CP. There’s lots of important and memorable tips in there.

    One question: what are “paired questions”?

    Also, could you further unpack “strategic dissonance”, “content marketing” and “content strategy”. These aren’t self-explanatory, but they sound important! 🙂

    • CP says:

      Brad: that’s four questions – three of which will need an essay or VJ Bootcamp to answer! 😉

      The ‘paired question’ is a simply a technique to draw interviewees away from one-word answers so that you can get quotable statements from shy or otherwise guarded individuals. Like closed versus open questions, they force a person to think about their answers and elaborate a response.

      Closed questions let folks off the hook and leave you with nothing to write about:
      Q: “How was the workshop?”
      A: “Good.”

      But if you break the ice with an easy question and follow it up with something more involved, you’re apt to get more meat for whatever article or feature you’re working on.

      Q: “Who was the Keynote speaker and what was the gist of their message?”
      A: “Brian Storm was the speaker. He really pushed the importance of audio as the backbone of any good video production…”

      With that kind of ground being broken, you’ve got the makings of a discussion and some potentially useful information to report on.

      As for your other questions, I’m on deadline now, but am up for the challenge to flesh out some answers as soon as I dig myself out from the present workload. Stay tuned.

  • CP says:

    Very true, Brandon. There’s no small amount of responsibility in how we say what we say… even right down to what music score we lay down with it. A remixed version of Mary Poppins shown during the workshop really drove this home. See it for yourself on YouTube.

    • Wow, that was actually quite frightening. Give the whole movie such a completely different feel. I’ve seen that kind of thing done before. Such an incredible power of influence audio + video; what a deadly combo.

  • Nice points! Sounds like it was a great weekend.
    I love what you wrote about Audio and Video. That is such a complex and delicate relationship. I find that bond so fascinating; how it’s completely affects not only our perception of what were being exposed to, but also how it can pull at our emotions so well.

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