Latest Entries »

Too many or too few cuts: The number of cuts in your project determines the pace of your video. The more cuts, the faster the pace. If the pace is too fast, the viewers will become frustrated. If the pace is too slow, the viewers will become bored. Both are deadly for your project.

Jump cuts: A Jump cut happens when you cut between two shots of the same subject without a large enough change in the position of the camera. The subject in the shot will seem to suddenly jump from one place to another. You can cover these by inserting cutaways between one shot and another.

Too many effects: Just because you have 99 transitions in your NLE, does not mean that you have to use them all in each project. Aim to be sparing in the use of transitions, filters and effects. As a guideline, ensure that the majority of transitions used in your video are cuts and dissolves.

Continuity Errors: Continuity errors occur when something is inconsistent from one shot to another, such as the level of water in a glass, a character’s hairstyle, or the color of an extra’s t-shirt? You can avoid continuity errors by paying careful attention to the details in your shots. Review your video and keep an eye out for anything that changes from shot to shot. Paying attention to the details in your shots will help to create an illusion of continuous action so the audience believes that the event is unfolding before their eyes.

Television, motion pictures and web video appeal to the senses of sight and sound. This is a fact we have to recognize, accept and then use to ensure that our message is communicated effectively to our target audience.

I recently heard a Christian minister complaining that advertisers use the media to sell their products by appealing to the viewers’ senses. We all relate to the physical world around us through our five senses, and the truth is that the visual media does connect with viewers through their senses of seeing and hearing, but this is not a negative idea but one of the strengths of these media, and it is a concept that media producers should be thinking about constantly when they are creating programs, promos, commercials, etc.

The visual media can take viewers on a journey by using sight and sound. Therefore to successfully communicate our message, we need to create images and sounds that will engage our audience’s attention and use them to help convey the message. Using appropriate music, adding sound effects, varying your camera angles, changing your shots often, using moving shots, creating attractive graphics, and designing an interesting set are some of the ways that you can appeal to a viewer’s eyes and ears, and create an environment that will aid in the communication of the message.

A good practice is to analyze the programs, videos, commercials, etc, that appeal to you to determine what elements the creators used to get your attention and convey the message, and then implement these elements in your productions.

Another thing to keep in mind is that everything communicates, i.e. everything sends a message. The music you choose can either help or hurt your message. So will the lighting, colors used, the talent’s wardrobe and makeup, in fact every detail you can see or hear will send a message to the viewer. It is our job to ensure that everything seen and heard communicates only what you want them to receive.

THE ROLE OF THE PRESENTER

As a presenter, it’s up to you to make sure that everyone is comfortable; the audience wants to feel safe in your hands.  You’re the bridge between guests, program content and audience, and it’s important that you remember to fulfill that role.

Always remember that you are part of a team.  Keep your ego in check: it may be your downfall.

As well as being the host and link for the audience, you are the bringer of news, information and entertainment.  The viewers trust you.  They have no reason to doubt you – unless you give them one, and you can do that in several ways:

  • By being false to yourself
  • By being uneasy with yourself or with your program material
  • By being nervous
  • By presenting mixed messages with your image
  • By poor vocal delivery

REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO

Don’t generalize.  You are not talking to thousands and millions of people.  You are talking directly to the one or two or three people in front of a TV.  It helps to visualize someone you know and place them in the lens of the camera – maybe a friend or relative.  Picture someone who likes you, wants you to do well, and is not critical or judgmental.  Talk to them, tell them the story, invite them to watch, give them the news.

For every program, find a “friend” who would be interested and then decide what your role is.  Are you a teacher?  A conduit of information?  Or, an entertainer?  Above all, talk to your viewer.

OPINION AND ATTITUDES

Consciously or unconsciously, the viewers will read your intentions and your feelings.  They’ll pick up them up from your energy or your body language, your eye contact, vocal inflection and a hundred other seemingly small ways. Be careful to impart only those opinions and attitudes you intend to communicate.

TV presenting is not the road to fame.

TV presenting is about communication not self gratification.

Be ready for criticism – everyone is a critic.

A presenter needs to find a balance between ease and formality, between honesty and objectivity, while at the same time working within a technical and time-limited framework.

TV presenting is NOT glamorous.  It is NOT a “9-5” job.

WHAT QUALITIES AND SKILLS YOU WILL NEED?

THE QUALITIES

  • Always be ready for anything – on and off the set
  • Be forever optimistic
  • Be good natured
  • Have patience
  • Be flexible and adaptable to change at a moment’s notice
  • Be able to put on a happy face even when you’re feeling like death
  • Be able to look and sound fresh and cheerful for the 22nd take, even when it’s not your fault
  • Be able to take harsh professional and personal criticism, identifying that which is justifiable and valuable and that which is not
  • Be ready to listen and take direction
  • Be creative and able to make suggestions, not demands
  • Be co-operative and stay out of everyone’s way until you’re needed
  • Be able to relax, and appear to be relaxed
  • Be happy to be yourself
  • Laugh at yourself

SKILLS

  • Be able to sight read
  • Be able to make sense of poorly written scripts
  • Be able to make scriptwriters’ words sound like your own
  • Able to make a complicated text or concept understandable to the viewers
  • Be able to rewrite scripts, adding in new information
  • Be able to summarize a piece of text or interview with confidence and clarity to camera
  • Be able to “ad lib” and fill in time
  • Be able to judge time and have a good mental clock
  • Be able to learn lines quickly
  • Be able to not be distracted by a director’s instructions, out-of-vision activity or technical breakdowns
  • Able to acquire a wide general knowledge so that you have an understanding, show genuine interest and can speak with coherence on a variety of subjects
  • Able to acquire and practice good vocal skills
  • Be able to cat nap

NOTICE THAT ALL THESE QUALITIES AND SKILLS CAN BE DEVELOPED AND REFINED.

Critiquing is a valuable part of the learning and refining process of television production.  Although you should critique every aspect of a project, we will be focusing on critiquing shots in this article.

Before you begin, you should decide the purpose of the critique.  Are you trying to improve your overall technique, deciding whether or not to use a shot, offer suggestions to others, etc.?

Make sure to view each piece several times to get an overall sense of the shot and then begin to focus on specific elements such as lighting, framing, composition, etc.  Pay attention to what catches your eye or ear – what attracts or distracts you?  Determine what was the intended focus of the shot.  Make a list of what worked well and what needed improvement in the shot.  How could you improve the shot?  What would it take to make it better?

Remember that the purpose of doing this critique is to improve your work.  So periodically go through your notes and apply them to your future productions.  If you do this process well, the quality of your work should improve.

To critique the piece, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does each shot have a purpose? Can you identify the purpose and message of the segment?

2. Are the zooms, pans and tilts well executed? Do they have a purpose?

3. Does each shot have a beginning and an end?

4. Is the camera shaking? Was the tripod used?

5. Is the image in focus?

6. How is the lighting?

7. How is the background? Does it add or distract from the shots?

8. Does the audio have good quality? Can you hear clearly what the producer intended? Do you hear other background noises that are distracting?

9. Was the microphone the right distance from the subject? Was the correct kind of microphone used?

10. How would you rate the segment in general?

Whatever your reason for recording footage, the following are some simple things that you can do make editing easier:

1. Plan your shoot

Nothing gives you a better chance of getting the shots you want than knowing what’s going to happen where and when. Be as clear as you can about what you need to get before you arrive and you’re far less likely to miss the most important moments.

2. Stand securely

Stand squarely with your feet apart and both hands on the camcorder to steady it. When you move the camera, move it smoothly and with purpose. Decide before you move where you’re going to stop and really concentrate on steady unhurried movement. Don’t overuse the zoom and if in doubt, don’t move.

3. Avoid long zooms

The more you zoom in, the more wobbly your shots will be because at high zoom levels, the slightest movement is magnified. Try to simply get closer to your subject and if you can’t do that, brace yourself against a solid object.

4. Get a mixture of shots

Shoot a mixture of long shots and close-ups. Get panning shots which cover the whole event as well as focusing in close on the main event. If your entire video is made up of the same kind of shots, it will quickly get boring.

5. Think in scenes

You’re going to be editing your day’s filming, so think about that when you’re shooting. Decide how you’re going to edit and make sure you have all the shots you need to tell the story you want to tell. Big wide shots set the scene well while close-ups allow you to focus attention on the main action.

6. Over-shoot

Turn on the camera a few seconds early and don’t stop filming until a few seconds after you think the shot is over. That way you always have “room” when editing to cut or fade into and out of your shot.

7. Watch out for shot killers

Your camera will automatically adjust its exposure whenever you move between dark and light areas so avoid filming in front of windows and lights or turn off the auto-exposure feature. Likewise, if there’s a lot of movement in the shot, turn off autofocus and set the focus manually.

8. Looking room

If you’re filming a person and they’re looking to the left or right, move the camera to give them a little space in front of their nose to look into. If you frame them so they’re face to face with the edge of the screen, the shot won’t look balanced.

9. Eyes on a third

When you have people as the main focus of the shot try to balance the shot so that their eyes are a third of the way down the screen. That way, however you frame the shot, it will always look balanced.

10. Get cut-aways

Don’t just shoot the action. Get the occasional shot of people’s reactions to whatever you’re filming. Try to grab the odd shot of a piece of local architecture, or objects in the same room. You’ll be able to use these shots later when you edit to cover cuts you make in the main action or moments when main shot doesn’t quite work.

If you’re going to be appearing on camera, it’s important to you (and to your producers) that you look your best. Here are a few tips on the proper use of makeup and clothing when you’re in front of the lens. Bear in mind that the producer and director are the ultimate authorities, so please defer to their wishes.

Clothing

* Pastels are the best colors to wear. Other good clothing colors include beige, gray, green, brown and blue.

* Avoid white, red and orange clothing. Combinations of contrasting light and dark colors such as black and white, dark brown and white or dark blue and white should also not be worn.

* Black, or dark browns and blues are fine alone or combined with pastel colors.

* Solid colors are best. Avoid fine checks, stripes, herringbone, and similar patterns.

* Avoid very glossy, sequined or metallic clothing. Also avoid clinging attire, or low-cut neck-lines.

Makeup

* Use makeup sparingly, unless you’re told otherwise by your Director.

But do you really need to wear makeup? For both men and women, the answer is yes.

* Wash your face with soap and water, then apply an astringent. You can wear a foundation if you like, but more importantly, use powder. When you arrive at the studio, we may apply a little powder, especially on the nose, forehead, and bald spots.

* Keep your other make-up simple. Avoid make-up which contains glitter, or is “frosted.” The director can advise you as to what looks best.

* Because the eye of the camera focuses on a man’s beard more than the human eye does, try to shave as closely as possible before going on camera. If you’re scheduled to appear later in the day, bring a razor.

* Do not get a haircut within a week of appearing on camera. Style your hair to keep it away from your face and out of your eyes. Some hairpieces may appear to be a different color on camera. If you intend to wear one, you may wish to consult with the director beforehand.

* If there will be any close-ups of your hands, give yourself a manicure.

Eyes

* Eyeliner and mascara are acceptable, if used lightly. Eye shadow should be avoided – especially dark colors or vibrant blues.

Face

* Use powder that closely matches your skin coloring. Be extremely cautious in the use of rouge because it will stand out on video if used in normal shading.

Lips

* Lipstick should be of a lighter coloring. Stay away from deep reds and extremely glossy types.

If you have any questions about wardrobe or makeup, bring several options and consult with the director. Remember, we want you to look your best!

When recording your voice for broadcast, you’ll notice that the most important thing is not the words you say, but how you say them that will make the difference.

Listen to the sound of your recorded voice. Bear in mind that any listener or viewer will tune you out if your voice is: too nasal sounding; too high-pitched; has an insincere tone; or is monotone.

You can make your voice sound more powerful yet trustworthy by using the following delivery tips:

#1: Breathing from your diaphragm will give your voice power and you’ll have better control. Practice taking deep breaths so your shoulders do not rise; then as you speak, let your breath come from the area under your rib cage.

#2: Lower the tone of your voice slightly. You will sound more trustworthy and friendly. Also, speak in a conversational tone as if you are telling your best friend about something. Also, respect for your listener should come through your voice.

#3: Vary your pace of speaking. Don’t rush, or go too slowly; but change it up. Be sharp with beginnings and endings of your words to communicate clearly.

#4: Spice up your delivery by making the adjectives and verbs sound exciting. Say them with intensity, or quieter, or mysteriously. Try saying “yes” in five different ways to give your voice variety.

#5: Use pauses in your delivery to convey a climax or an emphasis of thought. This is a key technique used by actors. It will bring you closer to persuading the listener because you’ll be speaking with passion.

By following these tips, you’ll make your voice more pleasant and yet persuasive. The bottom line to consider is will listeners be enticed to stay and listen to what you have to say, or will they change the channel.

It is said that Ernest Hemingway used to counsel young writers that the first principle for good writing is learn all the rules, and the second rule is to learn when to break them.

Knowing the rules provides a framework upon which we can start creating, but we also need to be flexible enough to make adjustments when the situation requires.  As communicators, we need to know the rules for framing, composition, movement, colors, sound, music, lighting, etc. and what effect they have on the audience, so that we can know when to break these rules to effectively communicate a message.  For example, in video editing, we are taught to avoid flash frames (one or two stray frames of video that suddenly appear), yet when they are used by a skilled editor, flash frames can create a feeling of excitement, or stress, or simply grab a viewer’s attention.

Knowledge is power, or to put it another way, knowledge gives us the power or ability to use the tools in our hands more effectively and with greater skill.  Thus, the better we know the rules of our craft, the more power we will possess to effectively communicate our message to the audience.

The bottom-line: let’s continually learn our craft and develop our skills so that we can be effective in what we do.

  • Apply a conversational approach using  shorter sentences that are informal and easy to understand.
  • Connect with your audience’s emotions – if you do not make them care about the people and the content of your presentation, they will move on to something that they do care about.
  • Your presentation must be logically constructed – viewers need to know where you’re taking them, what concepts are important, and when you are going to change the subject.
  • Do not overload the viewer with too much information.
  • Give your audience enough time to understand a concept before you move on to the next one.
  • Make a point and then expand on it – use effective illustrations.

REMEMBER: your success is determined by whether or not you grab and hold the audience’s attention, communicate the message effectively, and cause the viewers to respond as desired.