“Finding emotional angles is key for any story’s success,” she said. Putting a human face on your news report makes it more engaging.
To tell a good story in video, always ask:
- Is the story visual?
- Do you have a compelling character?
- Is the story easily explained?
- Do you have a scene?
- Is your expert compelling?
- Do you need an expert?
“These were the questions we used at BuzzFeed in order to decide which stories would become video and which wouldn’t.”
After asking those questions about your story, Upadhye shared some best practices when it’s time to go into production:
- Find an emotional angle
- Use live streaming for breaking news
- Find compelling characters
- Film scenes whenever possible
- Use more than interviews
- Use voiceover when you didn’t get what you needed in the field
Step 2: Choose the right video format
Choosing the right video format is important to achieve good storytelling. Upadhye classified digital video formats into different categories:
- Social news video
- Live streams
“I love making documentaries, because they dive deeper into the human element of stories we see on the news,” Upadhye said. Documentaries can be an expensive format though. They require more production time, equipment, and team effort.
On the other hand, social videos can be made faster and for less money. Upadhye encouraged participants to think creatively about ways to merge digital formats, such as creating shorter versions of documentaries that can be used across social platforms.
“Even with a nice camera, sometimes I like to shake it up a little. We use modern equipment but do the filming as if it was made using a smartphone. The result is more authentic, and people love watching,” Upadhye said.
The consumption of News on mobile is primarily done vertically and Upadhye recommends using the app Premiere Pro to film and edit videos on mobile.
Step 3: Remember the big picture when you’re in front of the camera
Upadhye offered a few tips for how to cover the story whether you’re in front of or behind the camera:
- Be prepared. Know the story you are telling, but don’t worry too much about following a specific script. Instead have an outline with bullet points of things you want to cover.
- Avoid jargon: Talk as a normal person would and avoid using acronyms. You are speaking to a broad audience — be simple and succinct.
- On live streams, repeatedly connect back to your who, what, where, and why. Viewers will tune in across the course of your video and need to be caught up quickly.
- Every question is a new question. Never say “like I said before”. From the point of view of editing, you’re saying it all for the first time. In addition, always speak in complete sentences.
- Wear solid, bold colors. Avoid patterns and black and white.
Step 4: Find a good space to film, and do what it takes to get the right shot.
- Expect disruptions.
- Pay attention to audio and try finding a quiet space.
- Find the best space and light possible to film in.
- Do what it takes to get the shot: move furniture, set up props, take pictures off the wall, etc.
Step 5: Integrate the content seamlessly onto the site
The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. If you add just a little video to a piece or integrated more in-depth footage throughout a story viewers are more likely to stay in the page and share the story.
The Video Accelerator Program
The Facebook Journalism Project’s Video Accelerator Programs are designed to help news publishers create excellent video and build sustainable business models from that work. Funded and organized by The Facebook Journalism Project in collaboration with The International Center for Journalists, the program includes hands-on workshops led by news industry veterans and coaching from industry experts. Catch up on all the lessons from the Video Accelerator here.
Sign up for the FJP newsletter for monthly updates on the Accelerator Program and its learnings.