Demoing best practices for video

Demoing best practices for video


June 24, 2015


Truth: I’ve taught the same courses for the past five years. I spent a chunk of time doing major course revisions during the summer and minor ones during off time in between semesters. But for the most part the concepts and demos are set.

Teaching a completely new course means as much as I’m planning, I’m also learning to adapt on the fly. My lab/classroom has an older-model projector. It only showcases in 4:3 ratio.

Today I demoed how to frame a subject using a 16:9 camera, hooked into an aging podium through a VGA cable with an adapter to my Macbook. A student asked me if I had enough cords running from my podium/computer.

The reality is, as journalism students it’s important to adapt. You figure out a way to make it work. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. If something doesn’t work on a first go round, we reconfigure and try again. It’s something that is necessary to do in the field, especially when doing multimedia reporting. If I don’t adapt and change, it’s impossible for me to ask my students to do so. Or to teach them, for that matter.

Today’s demo involved my students tinkering with the five Canon Vixia cameras we have for borrowing, small “baby” tripods and tripod adapters for phones.

The first lesson: respect and appreciate your equipment.

Media companies are not flush with cash these days. Even a $200 expense can hit a budget pretty hard. All multimedia equipment should be handled properly, even my students’ personal equipment.

I also covered good framing vs. bad framing, interviewing, blocking shots, planning ahead, color and lighting among other topics.

When I realized my room was far to dark to demo the content and still be able to see the screen, I ran into the adjacent office space and grabbed a lamp I’ve had on my desk for the past few years.

After student recommendation, I pulled the shade off it and moved it to near where Robert, the student pictured on the big screen who happens to be hiding behind the iMac, was lighted nicely.

In tight deadline situations, reporters sometimes can’t control the lighting. You sometimes have to “go with what you’ve got.” The purpose of this demo is to give students the tools to figure it out when they’re faced with similar situations.

This photo demonstrates nicely that “adapt and change” mentality.


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