Video stories and the Derwent River

Last week I bussed 20 odd kilometres down to Kingston and participated in a workshop, organised by ABC Open (go to https://open.abc.net.au for written and video stories from around Australia), about making video stories with tablets and IPads. Since then, using my Samsung tablet, I have taken a series of video shots beside one section of the Derwent River. To tell a story, different video shots are needed for linking together. At the end of this week I will return for a second workshop to help me edit different shots together into a coherent story.

I would like to share some of what I have learnt so far.

Firstly, we should always make videos using the ‘landscape’ rather than ‘portrait’ orientation. Once I was alerted to the fact that the landscape orientation typifies movie screens, televisions and computer monitors, I understood this was the preferred way for our brains to operate (our eyes ‘sweep horizontally across the landscape’ for survival more often than up and down).  This morning I looked at an online news story which included a short video presumably taken on a smart phone by a public bystander to the event. The film was oriented in the vertical portrait direction so that when screened on my computer monitor, two lumps of black either side of the tall narrow image made it difficult to ‘read’.  So I have learnt that lesson.

Other learnings included: the idea that I should not move the tablet to record the video, rather I should swivel my body from the waist. Doing so creates less shudder movement resulting in clearer videos. I should never use a zoom function when it is an option on a device, rather I should take a series of sequence shots then edit them together.  Not everything has to be in focus if a story is being narrated.  Aim to record a series of peak moments in order to compress time. Beware of recording with the device directly face down because devices can revert to the portrait orientation once in the position of being parallel to the ground – therefore, I must remember to keep an angle on my tablet in such a situation.

We were informed that the journalism standard is a 5 shot sequence where each video shot is taken from a different angle or distance.  Now I watch news broadcasts differently and can analyse the variety of shots. We were recommended to make each shot about 8-15 seconds in length to provide sufficient information for editing. In addition, we were counselled to be patient as we record, in case there is an unexpected (and interesting) change in what we are recording.

At the end of the workshop’s theory session, including watching a number of good and bad videos available on the internet, I started to plan my story.

I was urged to create a story associated with my project to walk along the Derwent River and, while this idea sounds like it should be easy for me to develop, it has not been.  In fact, I have found it quite difficult to determine a story line, create a story board of the shots which will be woven together and then get the best mini videos to demonstrate each part of the story.  When I recognised the hundreds of stories associated with my walks, I realised that it would not matter on which story I worked, all I needed to do was make any choice and then get on with it.

For the past couple of days, I have made a series of brief video shots involving the Tasman Bridge which spans the Derwent River. On my way home, I recorded the following 9 seconds of traffic streaming along and over the Bridge. This video doesn’t fit with my story so I have inserted it unedited.  The video shows traffic on the Tasman Bridge with Mount Wellington in the background, viewed from the Rose Bay High School overpass.    See the video at https://vimeo.com/121886583

I am now ready for the workshop on editing to create a visual story.

2 thoughts on “Video stories and the Derwent River

  1. jenspen1961

    some great tips here! You have reminded me yet again about swivelling at the waist ha ha! It sounds as if you got so much out of your first lesson. Cant wait to see your first video. Have a great day 🙂 ps what is your name please? I tried to find it on your website but couldnt? Thanks, Jenny

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