Briggs: Chapter 8

March 14, 2012

Telling Stories with Video

Visual journalism is a versatile form of storytelling through video.

YouTube has revolutionized the concept of video journalism, granting virtually everyone the ability to produce and publish digital video on any topic. With YouTube, the audience is now open to all levels of quality and quick, unedited video footage is drawing more attention from viewers.

In this chapter, Briggs offers the following tips on how to plan, shoot and distribute stories through a visual platform.

Planning Video:

There are two main types of video, documentary-style and breaking news videos:

  • Documentary-style offers more control over what footage to shoot and requires advanced planning
  • A breaking news video is spontaneous. You don’t know what you are going to capture in advance, but you may pull in reactions from witnesses on the scene of an event to create a compelling story.


  • A visual way to organize different parts of a story
  • It is important to vary your shots when planning a story
  • Wide-angle shots gives a whole shot of the environment or setting
  • Medium shot presents normal view
  • Close-up shots focus in on subject

Video Interviewing:

  • Choose a comfortable location
  • Be aware of lighting and sound
  • Prewrite questions, discuss questions prior to interview
  • Use non-verbal cues to express interest
  • Record voice-overs to control an interview

Camera Choices:

When it comes to selecting a camera it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Media type
  • High definition
  • Video editing software
  • Accessories–batteries, microphone, tripod, headphone, lighting

Tim Peek, senior producer for NBC shares the following tips on creating web video stories:

  • Keep it short
  • Edit down to absolute minimum
  • Show only the essence of the event
  • Have a logical structure
  • Present in a professional manner
  • Let the story unfold by itself

Shooting Video:

  • Focus- automatic feature will focus on the subject you’re pointing at
  • Zoom- zoom before recording, don’t zoom while someone is talking
  • Exposure- appropriate lighting
  • Be selective in shooting, stop recording when transitioning between different shots
  • Hold shots for at least 15 seconds
  • Be silent while shooting
  • Use “rule of thirds” to compose frames


Visual Storytelling:

  • Arrange video clips in a logical, interesting orde
  • Hook the audience in the first 20 seconds
  • Have a logical story structure with beginning, middle and end
  • Use short clips
  • Stick to your central idea throughout the video
  • Let characters tell the story

Publishing Videos:

  • YouTube, Vimeo, offer free video-sharing services
  • Offer embed codes to publish on other Web sites
  • Helps distribute to a larger audience
  • Increase search engine visibility
  • TubeMogul is a Web service which will distribute videos to over 20 leading video sharing sites

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