Monday, November 24, 2014

Audio Slideshows

This year I started off my Convergence Journalism class with a project called Audio Slideshows.

The audio slideshow is a way of telling a story over a subject using:
  • Sound bites from an interview
  • Nat noise
  • Photographs. 
These three elements are weaved together to tell a story. 

1. The first step is to choose a subject for your project. The person should be a good character. For a subject to be a good character, they must fit the following criteria:
  • They must WANT to be a character.
  • They must be articulate
  • They must have a good story to tell. 
I had my students pick a subject and create an Audio Slideshow over how they contribute to the Raven Nation (our school's mascot). 

3. Next, students conducted their interviews and recorded the entire thing using a voice recording app on their phones. We are working to use devices at our school, and this was the perfect opportunity to teach students how to record interviews that we will use later on in the year.

4. Using their phone's camera, the students then took pictures of their subject doing the activity. It should be something very visual: playing basketball, working on a computer, creating art. They used the 6-shot system to compose their photos. Read this post to learn more about the system.

5. The next step is to capture NAT NOISE of their subject performing their activity. If the story is about playing basketball, sounds of the ball bouncing, game noise or whistles blowing would be appropriate. These sounds will be layered underneath the audio to help tell the story.

6. Finally, it is time to edit the project together. We used Final Cut Pro X to edit the audio and video. Soundslides is another option to create the Audio Slideshow, but it costs money to purchase.

I tell my students to always start with nat noise to draw the viewer in.

Check out: "What makes a good audio slideshow" for more tips and tricks.

Here are some examples my students produced:

This project is a great way to teach students several skills:

  1. Interviewing
  2. Nat noise
  3. The 6-shot system
  4. Composition
  5. Editing audio and video.
Questions about this project? Please post in the comments below!

Friday, November 14, 2014

6-shot system for video journalists

Last winter I learned the 6-shot system from Bill Gentile for video storytelling. This system gives videographers a game plan for shooting video.

There is a list of six shots to get, and you can keep cycling through those shots to get everything you need to tell a story.

The shots are:

1. Close-up of the hands
2. Close-up of the face
3. Over the shoulder
4. Medium shot (Waist up)
5. Wide shot (Feet up)
6. Extra-wide shot (Establishing)

The first exercise I have my students complete is called "Cutting Carrots." This exercise asks students to film someone doing something routine, using the 6-shot system. They then will edit it together in a SEQUENCE to tell a short story.

Here are some examples:

This is what it looks like when applied to a complete news package:

This method for shooting video has given my students a game plan for shooting video. No longer do they go shoot and "Spray and pray." Shooting everything around and hoping to have something great. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Awesome interview tips

I asked my students to come up with five tips for awesome interviews. I received some great responses. Here are some of their tips with a link to their blog post:

Isabel Lauby: It is important to determine the location of the interview that is pertinent to the story line.  For example, when I did my package over boys on the drill team, I interviewed their coach while the band and drill team was practicing, providing a relevant background.  If you capture your interview in an interesting setting it will make your package better.

Pedro Von Simson: Use your first questions to make the subject feel comfortable. Incorporate easier questions about subjects such as their background that do not make the interviewee defensive. If you immediately start off with your tougher questions, your interviewee with be less likely to feel comfortable and therefore provide worse answers.

Tougher questions should close out the interview. These are the "meat" of the package where you get the important and controversial answers that lead to the soundbites that you will most likely incorporate into your package. The first questions are more important to develop background information about your subject for your voice over instead of being used as sound bites.

Quen Barkyoumb:  Prepare everything that you'll need to conduct an interview. Make sure your camera angle is on point, audio is at the right level, your computer is charged, the lights are in the right spots, and every setting is at its correct degree. This will give your interviewee a sense of importance because you're all ready to proceed without any distractions. If you're messing around with your technology during the interview, then your respondent is likely to be annoyed.