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Shooting video for the web feature

Shooting Video for the Web: Another Angle

Shooting video for the web in-house is increasingly part of ‘business as usual’ for all sorts of organisations that need a professional, engaging online presence. Technology means that simple videos don’t need a professional cameraman. However, a little knowledge can go a long way to give a more professional feel to your films.

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The Challenge: Make Videos Visually Interesting

When moving pictures were first invented there was only one shot – a wide shot showing moving images from a park, a busy street (full of horse-drawn carriages and men in top hats) or even a steam train bearing down on the camera lens – and this was enough to keep people interested. But pretty soon that novelty wore off and we discovered that to begin to tell a story in film you actually needed other shots to draw in the audience. Shots like the close-up and tracking (or dolly) shots were invented and filmmakers realised that editing these shots together was the key to creating a compelling story. But even using all these techniques, when we sit down to watch classic black and white movies from the 1920s and 30s, they still appear to us rather slow-moving and dull.

A Second Challenge: We are all Film Literate

Shooting video for the web provides another challenge: We all consume a lot of filmed material. From an early age, we are learning what good, even amazing, visual story-telling looks like. We now expect things to move along at a much quicker pace, just in case the audience should lose attention. For example, in this one minute video, I’ve used 17 different shots, giving an average shot length of 3.5 seconds.

Two Cameras Can Give a Lot of Visual Interest

If you have the luxury of two cameras, it can be useful to film the interview from two different angles and then cut between them during the edit. Even when shooting video for the web, you could carefully repeat the interview. In professional television, the same thing may be filmed many times from different angles, and five or more versions cut together to create a clean and believable version of reality.

Just a few cutaways, some bold graphics and an up-tempo music track and modern videos have gone from seemingly simple shoots to something with much more pace and sophistication. It all takes a bit of planning and creativity but it is possible to make what is, in essence, a simple talking-head type video, into something that really stands out.

Shooting Video for the Web: Want to Learn How to Make Great Little Films?

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If you or someone in your team would like to be taught to create videos with style, why not give us a call. I run bespoke one or two-day ‘shooting video for the web’ courses under The Media Coach brand. We can together practise a wide range of professional techniques that will take your inhouse filming to the next level. Call +44 (0)20 7099 2212 in the first instance to discuss exactly what you need.

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In defence of clichés

Allsorts ImageClients often express horror and disgust at the idea of using a cliché in an interview. They feel, as serious professionals, that they should not be using what they see as trite, overused and near meaningless phrases to talk about their important issues.

Well, there are some clichés I hate and would never use but in general I find clichés very useful.

Divided team

This is a subject that divides Media Coach trainers. Some of these professional wordsmiths, whose writing skills were honed at Reuters and the BBC, are reluctant to write anything that might be seen as ‘lazy’. Others, like me, are delighted when technical people can tell their story in colloquial language.

Arrogance

A knee jerk dismissal of clichés is, for me, an arrogance of the chattering classes.  Cliché’s communicate meaning quickly and in a way that is familiar and inclined to provoke empathy. Clearly that is not true if it is your pet hate cliché (mine is ‘at the end of the day’ which I once counted 17 times in one interview on Radio 4.) But phrases such as,

‘It’s like buses, nothing for an hour then three come all at once’
or
‘Horses for courses’
or
‘There is no one size fits all’
or
‘There’s a time and place for such things’

All of these are instantly recognised in the UK and communicate meaning very quickly.

Owned by the people

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Trainer Madeleine Holt believes acceptable clichés have to be in common parlance

My colleague, Madeleine Holt, says clichés are bad news unless they ‘owned by the people and routed in our history and common parlance’. She cites ‘don’t rob Peter to pay Paul’ as being a good example. She avoids, in messaging, anything that echoes known ‘spun’ phrases. So ‘Education, Education, Education’ she sees as having strong echoes of the Blair era of spin and therefore to be avoided at all costs. Similarly, we would probably all agree that ‘green shoots of recovery’ should not be used because when Norman Lamont used it he was lying, or perhaps misguided. Either way the folk memory has negative connotations.

Laura Shields in Brussels wrote a whole blog on how ‘game-changer’ was a grossly overused and now a meaningless phrase. I happen to completely disagree with her!

Oliver Wates, once a senior editorial figure in Reuters and our go-to person on written style, is inclined to wield the red pen when it comes to clichés.

Judicious

Despite the prejudices of these very clever people I will continue to advocate the judicious use of clichés and why – because I am always seeing my carefully chosen phrases in the write up of my clients interviews. Journalists are actually very predictable and rarely turn down a good cliché.