Inside the Brazil Digital Video Accelerator: Scriptwriting & Digital Video Narratives

Video Accelerator

The Facebook Journalism Project: Video Accelerator recently kicked off in Brazil

Visual Narratives

The first session covered storytelling and narrative building on digital video

Video Best Practices

The session also covered topics like building a digital video team

Leia em português

Web or television video production is still a constant challenge. Skill, investment, and innovation are key focuses in the daily exercise of producing video content. That’s why the Facebook Journalism Project Video Accelerator Program kicked off on May 6, to spark a series of conversations with leading journalists in the news industry to share experiences and inspire a more organic and high-quality content experience through video.

The Video Accelerator is part of the Facebook Journalism Project and in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting quality journalism around the world. The first Accelerator session focused on the theme of Scriptwriting & Digital Video Narratives, and featured Emmy® Award-winning video journalist and documentary television director, producer, and writer Craig Duff. Specializing in multi-platform storytelling and solo journalism, Duff is a professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in the United States and was responsible for multimedia projects in Time magazine, The New York Times, and CNN and Turner Broadcasting.

Based on his experience within the digital space and his observations of current methods of reporting and production in television and video around the world, Duff addressed the following topics during the Video Accelerator:

Facebook Journalism Project Digital Video Accelerator

Why Video? Because You Can Show Instead of Tell

“We always have a question. The idea is the curiosity of something. That’s what’s at the heart of what a video can be, what it can do, what it can show, how to help people see, witness, and understand more deeply and feel the video. This is what makes the video stronger. It’s that discovery of witnessing,” said Duff.

According to the journalist, video has many forces — especially with emotion. “You can see the tears, the smile of someone, the relationship between people at the moment. It is also very good to show instead of tell. You feel the intensity of the emotion,” Duff said.

In addition, Duff reinforced that situations and characters help the viewer experience the facts presented in the video first-hand, as exemplified by this video produced by Vox.

Video Styles to Experiment With

Duff presented some of the most widely used video styles today, especially in American and European media organizations. They include:

Duff recommended experimenting with your video style. The video Get clever with your clutter…and these 7 organization hacks!, for example, is one of the most watched on Facebook and received 440 million views a year and a half ago.

“The interesting thing is that it has no language. It is all visual. You don’t have to speak another language to understand the video.” Duff comments.

Whatever the video style, Duff recommended sticking to these video formats:

Facebook Digital Video Accelerator, Brazil

The Magic of Good Storytelling on Video

The recipe for a video seems simple: find a character, talk about a subject, and add empathy.

“Empathy alone will make things flow,” said Duff. “Empathy is you connecting with the other person, it is understanding. The best documentaries, the best video pieces I’ve ever seen take this understanding: to have the experience of the other and communicate it in an explicit way.”

The best documentaries, the best video pieces I've ever seen take this understanding: to have the experience of the other and communicate it in an explicit way.
Craig Duff Professor Medill, School of Journalism

How do you achieve this empathy between the video character and the audience? “The person and his subject matter are important,” said Duff. “We want stories about people and we want people who have something to tell. We need to know what they want, something they fight for, what their conflicts are, and how they come into action. This information leads to the visual moments.”

The number 3 is magical in video, and occurs a lot in the life of storytellers.

“Character, conflict, and action — three things that are important to a story. There are also three acts: the beginning, the middle and the end,” Duff said.

“At the beginning, we present a situation, a character. We hear about the story and something happens to our character that drives the rest of the action. In the middle, the conflict is increasing, and then leads to the climax and a resolution.”

The Non-Mathematical Formula to Shooting Your Video

In addition to the characters, the location of the recording is also important for the narrative. “The focal point of your shooting and the variety will set the pace and make your video stronger,” says Duff.

To get the most out of the narrative construction of a sequence, Duff reinforces the 4:8:12 formula to get every possible angle of a shot and ensure a variety of scene:

“A rule to remember is 180°. You can reshoot everything on the other side, once you have enough material,” Duff said.

Duff also shared an overview of team models he has seen in newsrooms around the world:

At the end of his participation in the Video Accelerator, Craig Duff presented Goodbye, Earth: A Story for Grown-Ups as another example of video style.

“It’s very interesting times that we are living in, there are so many great stories. Using video to tell those stories makes things more interactive, use each platform and get involved, start a conversation, create an audience, not just clicks and visualizations; being interactive doesn’t mean just clicks, it is getting involved with your story,” Duff said.

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.



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