Friday, October 17, 2008

Can video journalism up ante for multiskilling?

Two way Live report - war games from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

As a piece of narcism I look like I'm 12 years old, but this video tells a story behind the broadcast.

It's an amorphous word, "multi-skilling". What are the limits?

For video journalism there's the obvious roles: shoot, edit, report

But there are other facets which can be nurtured, and our bosses were keen they were deployed within the work flow.

Thus it wasn't uncommon to complete a story, then with a sat truck nearby re-connect your camera with cables, pause for thought, fit your ear piece and then have a live 2 way with the studio.

The story here in itself is a fascinating one particularly if you're into Bond 007 cum real life intel.

Here the UK's government allowed a one off visit to its war games room in Northwood several feet below ground.

It was an eerie, yet stimulating journey.

The rooms were cavernous, protected at the entrance by huge immovable doors and a sentry armed stood guard.

Inside the room murmured giant wall sized computers and an oval table with VIPs names etched on it.

There was a pool of crews and we had a limited time to get our story.

This led to perfecting a style called "track and rushes". Here with the visual image and memories of the sots (interview clips), you found a quiet place, wrote out your full script with annotations and voiced the piece.

The idea was any editor or colleague could take your tape, digitise your voice over and cut a piece the way you would have wanted.

The skill of track and rushes, which was honed into minutes ( 20 mins) certainly concentrated the mind.

In some ways it mirrored the old practice of wire reporters feeding live copy down to their newspaper miles away.

And as soon as that was over, the studio rang up asking for a live 2way.

Multiskilling in Video Journalism
Video journalism did not launch my journalism career but it did bolster areas of it e.g. live 2 ways, long format productions and news presenting.

Here's a fuller list
  • Writing - knowing how to write for different platforms.
  • Reporting - making 1-5 minute pieces with accompanying Q and As
  • Producing - bringing together the elements for a balanced story, or not sometimes.
  • Directing -Where to place the camera and subjects. Increasingly, many of us learned to direct without overtly guiding our subjects. In other words films were made in situ.
  • Camera work and Lighting - Working an array of cameras from $50,000 digibetas to DVCams. That included understanding white balancing, back focusing, choosing appropriate lenses and filters. Getting to grips with steady cams, dollys, blondes, redheads..
  • Presenting-Voice projection and inflexion.
  • Presenting and packaging. This was also helped by 8 years of BBC radio work
  • Interviewing - Getting to the point or sometimes being forensic. You didn't have time for extended interviews, unless they were extended interviews.
  • Graphics - using Photoshop and After Effects. Eventually making motion graphic pieces
  • Mixing and Post -Riding levels on sound desk+ Cool edit
and later:
  • Interactivity: Flash and Director with lingo
  • Web: Dreaweaver and CSS, Fireworks and basic java
  • Creating long format features 40 mins plus.
  • Compression - codecs , difference between bits and bytes.
Were all of these necessary. No!

Did they help, Yes!

And where they helped the most wasn't in selfishly trying to undertake everything, but understanding the working habits and vernacular of specialists working these seperate fields.

This often meant being able to combine technical, creative and an editorial understanding of a project and serving as an interpreter between sizeable ( 30 upwards) teams.

Can video journalism up the ante for multiskilling?

I think so.

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