Monday, December 10, 2012

It's anchor tip week: first up, the camera turn

Most young people getting into the business dream of the anchor desk. Then, one day, your shot comes.

You're given a script and told to read the prompter.

That, boys and girls, isn't remotely the definition of anchoring.

It's an art, one that is often natural, but one that can be improved upon. Some people "get it" right away, some never do.

So this week, we're going to focus on little things that can take your anchoring to the next level, make you more comfortable and therefore more marketable. Today we're starting with something so basic that it's almost never taught: the camera change.

Every newscast has them. You read some stories to one camera and the rest to another. And invariably, rookies finish a story on camera one and simply turn their heads to face camera two. This not only looks awkward, it makes it hard for the director to punch cleanly.

First, you have to know a camera change is coming, so marking your script is crucial. Let's say you have a story on an election on camera one and the next story will be one on the economy which will be read on camera two. Take a black magic marker and on the bottom of the election story draw a big, impossible to miss arrow pointing in the direction of camera two and write a big number 2 next to it. (This assumes that you actually look at your script occasionally, instead of just relying on the prompter. More about that later in the week.)

So now you've started reading the first story and you already know the next one will require a camera change. When you get to the end of the story, look down at your script, then look up at camera two. This will give the director a natural cue to change cameras, and make your anchoring smoother.

One more thing... just because you're looking in a different direction doesn't mean your whole body has to shift. If you want a different look, simply turn your head toward camera two and keep your body facing camera one. It will give you a different, slightly three dimensional look and make your anchoring more interesting.

Remember, anchoring often requires baby steps. You learn a little at a time, and hopefully bring it all together at some point.

Tomorrow, more tips.


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