Project Survival

Static Sequence for Homework Assignment:  Must include at least five different shots.  All must be shot from different angles and focal lengths.  No moving objects in the sequence.

Soundbite Framing:  Never, ever put people up against walls when you interview them.  This makes them look cornered.  The literal back against the wall implies the figurative “back against the wall.”  Don’t do it.  Get your interview subject as FAR AWAY from the background as possible.  This adds depth to the shot.

Editing:  Stop recording before you make framing adjustments when you shoot.  If any camera adjustments…tilts, pans, etc. get recoded, make sure these movements don’t end up in your edited video.  Edit around them.  In other words, no camera movement in any of your video.

Matched Action Sequences for Project 2:    Must include at least three shots.  All must be shot from different angles and focal lengths.  If you do not vary the angle (work your way around the object), you will receive a zero for your project because this is considered cheating.  Varied angles ensures you have not cheated and created “fake sequences” during the editing process.  Multi-part standups do not count as matched action sequences.  Your matched action sequences MUST be of someone else doing something, NEVER the reporter doing something.

Mark your Matched Action Sequences on your package script:  This will allow the instructor to identify what you intended your matched action to be.  Just mark this on your script by hand with pen or pencil.

Standups:  Find interesting subject matter to be in the background behind you. Do not point to the objects in the standup that you are referring to.  This can feel insulting to the viewer.  Do not play dress up…no clothing, hats or other gear that are not required (it’s okay to wear safety gear, but ONLY IF you are required to wear it to be in a given area, such as a construction or fire zone.)  Do not show the audience how to do things they already know how to do, such as pump gas.  Demonstrative standups should demonstrate something new or teach us something new.  You are allowed to shoot multi-part standups if you want to attempt to do so, but this is never required and these are difficult to edit well enough to make them appear seamless.  And, remember, multi-part standups do not count as your required matched action sequences.

Standup placement:  Standups should NEVER be the first thing the audience sees in your package.  This makes you seem like a show host or tour guide rather than a journalist.  Also, do not place standups too near the beginning of the story.  Typically, you want to have at least one soundbite in the package before you get to your standup.  This means you need to think about your story structure before you shoot your standup.  If you shoot your standup after everything else is shot (video and interviews) , you’ll have a better idea of what to say.  Think about what will come before it and after it.  Would a bridge standup that transitions from one main idea to another main idea in the story be effective?  Would a closing standup work well?  Would a demonstrative standup be effective?  Think before you shoot.

Nat pops:  The audience needs to hear and see the subject of your nat pop.  In other words, a great comment from someone off camera cannot be used as a nat pop. Make sure audio levels are at full level (-6 in Final Cut) during the nat pop and are faded down to “half level” (-24 in Final Cut ) at the beginning or end of the nat pop as appropriate.  Generic ambient sound (room noise, outside noise, traffic noise) does not constitute a nat pop.  Nat pops have purpose – they add something to the story.  Nat pops make the viewer feel present/engaged in the story.  Nat pops should be about 3-5 seconds long (on average).  But nat pops at the very top of a package need to be longer because the first couple of seconds are not likely to make it on the air (about 5-7 seconds).

Nat pops need to be “woven into” the story.  In other words, the video and nat sound for the nat pop should continue to play as you begin your next reporter track.  Or the video/audio for the nat pop can begin prior to the nat pop and the audio can be faded up as the nat pop starts.

Do not ever place nat pops at the every end of a package, after the reporter has signed off.  That nat pop will not  make air because the story has ended.

Tracking:  Do not start your tracking for your package at the very beginning of the timeline.  Start it two seconds in, so that your first words don’t get cut off when the story airs.  If you have a nat pop at the top of the story, start your tracking several seconds in at whatever point is appropriate.

No radio intros for soundbites!  Do not introduce people before their soundbites.  This is necessary in radio because we do not see the person who is speaking and have no way to indicate their name or title.  In tv stories, we see the speaker and their name and title are fonted on the screen.  DO NOT use names and titles before soundbites as a way to set up the bite.

For example:

BAD, BAD, BAD:  DAN LONGSTRETH, ANTI-SMOKING PROGRAM COORDINATOR FOR THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, SAYS SOME PEOPLE START SMOKING AT A YOUNG AGE BECAUSE OF PEER PRESSURE.  “Some smokers get started as teenagers because their friends smoke and they don’t want to feel like they don’t fit in or appear to not fit in with the crowd.” 

BETTER:  SOME PEOPLE START SMOKING AT A YOUNG AGE BECAUSE OF PEER PRESSURE.  “Some smokers get started as teenagers because their friends smoke and they don’t want to feel like they don’t fit in or appear to not fit in with the crowd.”

Ending your package:   When you finish saying your outcue “Name, WUFT News” at the end of your last track, let that final shot continue to roll for at least five seconds so the story isn’t in danger of “going to black” while still on the air.  Don’t change to a different piece of video right at the end after you say your outcue.  Stay on the same piece of video that was rolling as you said the outcue.

If you end your package with a standup, say “Your Name, WUFT News” at the end of the standup and then hold still for five seconds and let the camera keep rolling on you for that five seconds.  Leave this “pad” at the end of your standup when you edit it into the story.

Do not end your package with a soundbite.  You, the reporter, should always have the final word and provide the “big picture” final thought for the audience.  This adds to your credibility and puts you more in command of the story.

Central characters:  Every story should have a central character…the main person in the story whom we meet AT THE VERY BEGINNING, follow throughout the story, and come back to at the end of the story.  When you introduce your central character, you MUST show him/her to the audience!!!!!  And throughout the story, whenever you mention your central character, you must show him/her to the audience again.  Anytime you say someone’s name and talk about them, you must show them to the audience.  Say Sally, show Sally.  ALWAYS!

Name fonts (also known as CG’s or character generators):  If you use more than one soundbite from one person in your package, only font them once on your font list in the script.

Here’s a partial list of point deductions for projects:

Reporter name missing from anchor intro: -5
Anchor intro missing entirely: -10
Anchor tag missing entirely: -10
Radio style intros for bites: -15
Missing location or name font: -5 each
Package outcue wrong: -5
Nat pops not properly noted on script as TAKE SOT command: -5 each
Matched action sequence not noted on script (this should be handwritten on the script): -5

Web story missing: -30

Tracking starts right at top of package:  -5
Jump Cuts:  -2 or more per incident (depending on severity)

Matched Action Sequences:
Action doesn’t match:  -5 or more per incident
Missing entirely:  -15

Nat pops:
Irrelevant:  -5 or more
Source of sound can’t be seen:  -10
Missing entirely:  -15

At least one soundbite MUST be in pkg before your standup.  Reporter cannot be first “talking head”.  If you appear first:  -10
Irrelevant background or away from story scene:  -5 or more

Shot too close to a wall or against a wall (no depth to the background)  -10
Bad framing: -10 per incident

Central Characters:
Missing from Project One:  -15
Missing from Project Two:  -25
No b-roll of central character (just soundbites):  -20
Limited b-roll of central character:  -10

Fact Errors:

Point deductions range from -10 at the minimum to a zero score for the project.  Pay very careful attention to what you write.  If you’re not sure about something, don’t guess.  Double-check names, titles and facts in question.

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