Advanced Video Camera and Editing

Visual Storytelling Techniques

Getting the Picture (Cover Footage or B-roll)

  • Visuals have an impact on the audience
  • Must conform to broadcast standards
  • Shooting a Sequence makes the story compelling – a Sequence is a collection of shots that show the same action and assembled during the editing process. The Sequence consists of the following shots:

i.               Close-ups

ii.             Medium Shots

iii.            Wide Shots


Broadcast Standards

  • Focus – the eye is directed at the part of the shot that’s in focus
  • Exposure – except for artistic effect, the shot must be properly exposed
  • Composition – needs to be adjusted for head room, lead space 
  • Sound – a bit more important than video because audiences are more tolerant if the video is bad, but will be less tolerant of bad audio


Stand-ups and Interviews

Stand-up - reporter looks directly in camera. Shows the reporter’s physical presence on location. Also, stand-ups are useful for producing verbal and visual bridges within a story. Finally, stand-ups solve the problem of finding suitable shots that tell the story.

  • Background should be relevant to story
  • Minimal camera moves
  • Can incorporate multiple locations

For the stand-up, you should know what you plan to say before you record. For narration, first script what you plan to say and then record.

Interview – the speaker should look just off camera (composition using the standards of proper head room and lead space). There are two types of interviews:

  • Sit-downs
  • “people on the street”

In Sit-down interviews, the camera should be positioned immediately off to the side of the reporter. That way, the interview subject is looking just off-camera (framed as a 3/4 profile, not as a shot that emphasizes their ear). The camera height should be at eye-level.


For ‘people-on-the-street’ interviews, the same framing applies. However, the photographer could also get a 2-shot showing the reporter in the same shot as the subject.

Separate interviews should require alternating lead space and a change in background to avoid “jump cuts” during the editing process.


Interviews can also use ‘Reversals’ and ‘Over-the-Shoulder’ (OTS) shots. Reversal shots show the reporter asking the questions. Sometimes these questions are staged because the reversals are usually shot after the interview. You should remember ‘The Line’ – if the subject is framed looking screen right, then the interviewer is framed looking screen left. The perception that the reporter is interviewing the subject is ruined if both the reporter and subject are looking in the same direction.


Additionally, shooting interviews can attempt some variety of shots (Extreme Close-Ups, Close-Ups, Medium Close-Ups). In news, the most commonly used shots are medium close-ups (MCU) or close-ups (CU). For example, the photographer might consider changing the shot from a MCU to an ExCU when the reporter is asking a question that might evoke a more emotional response.


The Background should also be relevant to the person being interviewed to reinforce their relationship to the story. For example, an interview with a car salesperson could be shot with the car lot in the background. Avoid backgrounds that are too busy as they will be distracting to the viewer.

  • Be sure the backgrounds are relevant
  • Not too busy, but never bland
  • Not brighter than the subject
  • Give subject some distance from the background so they don’t seem to be a part of it.

Both Stand-Ups and Interviews rarely use camera moves.


Interviews Tips

  • Take notes about possible b-roll
  • Have your subjects say and spell their name on camera
  • Don’t talk, say “uh, huh,” or anything while your subject is talking
  • Allow a pause after your subject finishes talking before you ask your next question
  • Don’t be afraid to stop the interview if you’re not happy with the shot or audio.



  • Keep the primary lighting source behind the camera
  • Avoid shooting your subjects in front of windows or bright backgrounds


Shooting for the Web

  • Use more close-up shots because the space on the computer screen or mobile phone is often very small.


Backpack Journalism

  • Reporters need to broaden their skills, not specialize
  • Reporters become “SOJO” or “One-person bands”
  • Reporters shoot and edit their own stories using portable equipment
  • The video is often exported to an online source
  • The total cost is low compared to sending a crew. Cameras can also be of consumer quality. Total configuration cost could be under $1000, including camera, computer and editing software.


Elements for a Video Blog

  • Standup
  • Interviews
  • Cover Footage
  • Narration


Click to learn more

Use a tripod - often!

Types of shots

Rule of Thirds

Stand-ups and Interviews

Visual Storytelling Techniques