Camp VJ London – Day 1: An intro to visual storytelling

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend day one of the Visual Editors’ videojournalism training in London. The four-day course covers the fundamentals of videojournalism with proceeds going to not-for-profit news project Beamups.

Below are some introductory tips to visual storytelling learned from the course.

There are still places available on Wednesday (October 28) and Thursday’s (29) programmes, which will focus on video editing and selling your videos respectively.

Day one was spent learning how to use our cameras, the basic shot types and – after a stint in the field (well, London’s Finchley Road) – some simple editing skills.

Here are my main lessons from the day:

Using your camera:

  • Hold your camera from beneath e.g. using your hand beneath to make it more stable;
  • If you don’t have a tripod and need to steady your camera, find a natural tripod (a ledge, a table) or use your own body to stabilise the shot.

What film can do:

  • Film can handle multiple story forms e.g. images (both still and moving); graphics an animation; and audio;
  • Use visual elements to solve problems in your story e.g. to help move between locations or compress time, such as the transition from day to night.

Some tips for audio whilst filming:

  • “Microphones don’t have brains,” Robb told us, so you need to monitor how your film might sound while your in the field;
  • Take a pair of headphones out with you – while you’re concentrating on the visuals there will be many sounds your camera and its mic pick up that don’t even register;
  • Sometimes you need to think of your camera as an audio recorder to capture extra sounds in addition to all the shots you need.

In the afternoon we were sent out to practice the morning’s lessons, in particular the idea of 3:6:9 – three angles; six seconds; nine locations for the camera.

And here’s what I ended up with after an introduction to my editing software (Final Cut Express) and 45 minutes working on it. It’s not finished, but it’s a start!

In particular, I need to look for links (colours/characters/objects) between the scenes which will strengthen the transition from one to the next.

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