This primer also applies to SOUNDSLIDES and similar
There are a number of differences to bear in mind when producing video for consumption on the web as opposed to broadcast.
It is important to PLAY TO ITS STRENGTHS and downplay its disadvantages; (nb this primer does not apply to broadcasts using the web as a distribution platform instead of satellite etc — it applies to the use of video in multiple-media web sites)
WORK FLOW PRACTICE
In practical terms, this means the web producer should be working with the other reporters/editors to search out which elements video can be used to IMPROVE the story package
If the video is the main piece, they will still need to work with others because you should not be burying salient or exclusive elements in the video
In practical terms, video tends to be used more often as a SUPPLEMENT TO rather than the main element of a story
WHEN THE VIDEO IS THE CENTREPIECE
The rules here still apply but you do have a little bit more leeway. Nevertheless, don’t expect people to click on the video/SS to discover the salient points / exclusive facts etc buried within.
Ensure they are extracted and referred to on the rest of the web page. Ensure you have a great headline and lede — don’t repeat the hedline to the piece and the hedder to the video/SS.
Use text/stills/ diagrams etc on the web page where the vid is embedded to reduce the amount of backgrounding in the video story
In fact, good diagrams/charts/stills etc should be displayed on the page as breakouts as a matter of course so viewers can linger over them.
EMPHASIS: DON’T bury important elements within the video (see Yujia’s vid on the train ride from Beijing) – background re the real-name ticketing system was buried. I put a link to it in the lede but we really needed an additional pointer on the page. Ideally, it would have been nice to hear him discuss it.
Think about how people consume web video: are they sitting back with the remote control thinking: “entertain me?” Or are they viewing a web news story made up of various elements competing for the “next click”?
A: the latter. In a news story, a video adds to, elucidates, brings a new dimension to the story that may be played out in text, pic, audio etc.
WEB VID IS RARELY A STAND-ALONE REPLACEMENT FOR ALL THE OTHER ELEMENTS ON THE SCREEN
TIME IS TIGHT. It is very easy to click through to the next element.
So give your viewers a REASON to click through and view the video — be precise
- Good: View the moment Charles Eliot realised his clothes were on fire ….
- Good: View a defiant Charles Eliot threatening the police officers arresting him …
- Good: Join a walk-through of the Temple of Doom where Charles Eliot imprisoned 400 students and forced them to complete their assignments within deadline …
- Yawn: The story in video:
- Yawn: Jessie Smith reports on events so far:
- Yawn: Julian Chan discusses what makes a serial killer with sociologist Kirk Lee
WHAT DO PEOPLE WANT TO SEE
Never underestimate the taste of your viewership. What people look and sound like, how they come across (how many people are surprised when they get to match the “real” person with someone whose stuff they’ve read, listened to etc?)
How something unusual/unbelievable happened? Or played out? Or just “What is was Like?” — there’s nothing, for instance, that can replace the realisation of raw power tennis players use unless you’ve seen it first hand and close up at a major event.
Video goes further than audio or text at conveying this power but even video cannot replace real-life.
KEEP IT SHORT AND TIGHT
Do not waste precious time repeating information that has already been stated.
In practical terms, that means:
NO elaborate intros
NO elaborate backgrounding, gorgeous, lingering framing shorts (sorry!)
No signoffs — “This is Jake van Dooligan for Vox-Asia.” That info should be on the web page.
Keep “talking head” elements to the bare minimum. In fact consider keeping them totally separate (and be tough with yourself: are they REALLY necessary? Would what they say be better expressed via (a) different medium/media? EG pix with audio clips? Pull-out written quotes? Or as separate video elements?
Remember people tend to “SKIM” OR “SKIP” over web pages.
That means choose a number of short vids over one long one and LURE readers into clicking on them (if it takes too long to load, your reader will have departed)
Consider drafting a VERY, VERY short intro screen — The Times standalone intro and the SKY brand intro tis TWO to THREE seconds.
SIZE / CAPTIONS
People often view web video in fairly small dimensions so keep captions short or risk them filling the screen – remember you have the web screen itself available to add written etc backgrounding etc
Viewers tend to be fairly tolerant about the quality of web video — build on that tolerance. For eg: tell them what to expect (eg that the vid was shot on a cellphone) and enhancing it as much as possible.
Don’t just write it off correctable-quality due to snobbery that you weren’t using top of the range kit — If the worst comes to the worst, you can use Youtube’s editing tools to get rid of shake and enhance colour.
Note: Viewers tend to be more tolerant of poor vid than audio — poor audio can be a killer. Consider v/o or some other means of rescue.