Being a Video Journalist is empowering – you can produce, film and edit your own videos exactly the way you want.
Since the beginning of the VJ movement with Channel One in New York being a Video Journalist has come a long, long way. In my opinion (for what it's worth) the VJ moment really came with the release of the Sony VX1000 – the world's first prosumer mini DV camera. This camera, coupled with an audio box for XLR input, was the basis of my kit at ITN for a couple of years in the late 1990's.
Back then we were viewed with huge scepticism by the television news community and we had to put up with a lot of flack. But by it's very nature being a VJ is not as intrusive as a full crew – I managed to secure several exclusives for ITN by simply just not looking like a camera crew. You can build up intimate relationship with your subject and people are much more likely to open up to you on camera because they don't feel intimidated.
However there are challenges to doing it all yourself and here are my top tips VJ filming tips based on years of experience:
1/ Use a tripod – always! I still see so many great videos ruined by wobble vision. If you have a decent tripod with a ball head it takes seconds to set up. It's so important, especially with small hand held cameras which are hard to stabilise. I can only think of one or two situations in my whole news career when I couldn't use a tripod.
2/ Get everything on tape – name, spelling, position – saves a lot of confusion later. Do this while you're focusing - you'll be setting up the camera so you won't have a notebook to hand and it also helps cover the awkward moments while you set up.
3/ Give your composition more looking space and get them to sit down on a non swivel chair. That way you are not constantly stopping the interview to check they haven't gone out of frame.
4/ Saying that after every 3 questions re-check your composition
5/ Stand close to the camera – this way you can achieve a good eye-line and can check composition easily
6/ Use headphones – and a tie mic. Getting close is the key to getting good audio and you won't know if your hand-held mic keeps getting into shot as you're filming
7/ Use your elbows! Working on your own in a media scrum situation is not for the faint hearted – you need to be close to get good audio and there is only so far your arm will stretch
8/ Remember the J of VJ don't get so caught up with the filming that you forget the story
UK Video School Training - everything you ever wanted to know about making great videos..and some things you didn't!