Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Architectural studies

I once had a News Director who had a term for a certain type of video. You see it in packages all the time. It's the lame b-roll of buildings, streets, and skylines used in lieu of anything actually happening.

He called it "architectural study" video.

Example: You're talking about a town in your market that is booming. Lots of new shops, all kinds of industries opening up, etc. But instead of actually walking in the doors of these new establishments and showing people working, you give me wide shots of streets, company signs, and other static shots that turn into video wallpaper.

And if a News Director sees this on your resume tape, he has a better term than "architectural study" video.

That term would be "lazy."

It all goes back to show-and-tell. While shooting a story most good reporters sort of "lay the story out in their heads" while at the location. By that I mean you basically know what you're going to need for your package as far as b-roll is concerned. (And if you are working with a photog, you should be talking about this while doing your story.)

Let's go back to our example of the booming town. You arrive and see a new coffee shop that has just opened and a manufacturing plant that makes blenders. You could set your camera up in the street and get wide, medium and tight shots of the coffee shop. Or, what a concept, you could actually go inside and get video of the barista making coffee, the nat sound of a cappuccino machine. You could shoot several exteriors of the blender factory. Or you could actually walk inside and see blenders rolling by on an assembly line, and get the nat sound of an employee plugging in each blender and testing it.

It's fine to get an establishing shot of a location. But after you establish where you are, the viewer needs to see what you're talking about. If you tell something without showing it, you're not doing television, but radio.


No comments: