This is a touching piece of video produced as a final project for a documentary production course at Central Washington University, in Spring of 2011 by Jacob M. Chase. This video is emotionally captivating and is a great example of how one can produce a moving video despite it only being just over six minutes in duration.

The video opens with a black shot and then a low angle shot of the teacher’s feet entering a classroom, this is perhaps to place the audience’s eye level at that of a small child. We immediately hear, what we assume, is the voice of the teacher, we see her talk and interact with her kindergarten class but her voice is narrated over the visual. We also hear children’s voices alongside the voice-over.

Chase uses a lot of close -up shots of the children, this captures emotion, personality traits, and uniqueness. Close-up shots are also highly effective to help the audience relate with the person on screen.

There is a very good narrative structure, as an audience we are captivated and are eager to know what is happening. The story flows well and there is a sense of a beginning, middle and end.

Franco-Bulgarian historian and essayist, Tzvetan Todorov, once said that all stories follow a structure as so;
Begin with a state of equilibrium
Disruption
Recognition
Attempt to repair
Reinstatement of equilibrium

When one applies this structure to this video we see that it follows it. At the beginning of this story we see happy children in a playschool setting. The atmosphere appears to be good and the music also prompts the audience to believe that all is normal. A state of equilibrium is created.

At 1.22 minutes the music changes to a low tone and prompts the audience to expect a change in mood, a disruption. We then learn that a child from the class has recently been killed in an accident. We see close-up shots of an empty chair, of artwork, and of some of the children. Berger once said that narratives rely on the viewer having stores of information that make it possible for them to understand what is happening and as an audience we understand how certain types of music mean certain things.

At 2.36 minutes the music tempo begins to rise and we see children playing, we learn of how they speak positively about their class mate who has passed away. We see recognition.

The teacher in the video attempts to discuss the child’s passing and she claims how the children speak about seeing their friend again in heaven. The teacher and the class move on from this tragic event and we see shots of the children laughing and playing. This is an attempt to repair.

Just as Todorov suggests, most narratives end with a reinstatement of equilibrium, in this video we see happy children at the end. We see how the teacher works hard to ensure that parents know that their child is loved and cherished in this environment. A state of equilibrium is reinstated.

The use of a voice-over is very effective as we are watching what is being visually displayed to us without a distraction of someone speaking in real-time. We hear the voice-over but we are focused on the silent visual.

The clips cut to one-another without any white/black shots and the editing is very well done. To the audience an editing process should be invisible, a video should flow effortlessly and this video achieves this. Classic and good editing creates a sense of continuity in both space and time and ensures the audience can read what is unfolding and once again, this is achieved in this short video.

The camera pans across the room to capture the scene. The Mise en Scene is quite effective in this piece. The arrangement of people and objects are carefully framed in the selected shots. The audience sees artwork, empty chairs and close-up shots of children.

This short piece is a very powerful video with good editing, shooting and narrative.

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Getting used to the world of video journalism…!

This year, for the first time, I am delving into the world of video journalism.  I am taking a twelve week module in video journalism and I am ready to learn and explore the ever-changing craft of story telling.  For my first assignment I had to explore the subject field and I have found many useful resources for anyone starting out in the area of video journalism.  

Introduction to video journalism: 

Firstly I have researched a few helpful resources to get us started in the field of video journalism. 

  1. I came across a good video on Youtube by renowned video journalist David Dunkley.  In  this short video, Dunkley poses the question of ‘what is video journalism’? This was the first video I came across during my research and that is probably because it is exactly the question I asked myself.  In order to research the field of video journalism, I needed to understand what exactly it is and how it is defined.  In this short video many working video journalists attempt to answer Dunkley’s question. We learn that video journalism is similar and also very different to the traditional ways of reporting and indeed story telling.  This short video is well worth a watch for anyone who is setting out on the path of video journalism.  Check it out here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20qMg9menao.  
  2. While looking at work from David Dunkley, I also came across a very interesting video on Vimeo called, A Brief Visual History of Video Journalism.  Now that I had an idea what video journalism was and how it differed from traditional ways of reporting and expressing story, I wanted to know where it all began.  This video is a visual journey of video journalism starting in 1995, a year after newspapers began to put their editions online as well as print.  In this video there are many interesting interviews including one with former CIA former boss Quincy Jones. The originals of video journalism are mentioned as well as new and emerging techniques from various continents including Chicago, Cairo and South Africa.   This video is one way of understanding the roots of video journalism and how it has and continues to change.  watch it here: https://vimeo.com/8561712
  3. Another good resource I came across was DSLR cinema, cinema raw and cinematic journalism by Kurt Lancaster.  This was good because it is an online supplement for the book video journalism for the web: A practical Introduction to Documentary Storytelling, Routledge 2013.  I read parts of this book for a module in documentary last year and it is a great source of information for anyone studying documentary or video.  The online version contains endless short and compelling documentaries and it also has workshops, equipment tutorials and videos. Here’s the link: http://kurtlancaster.com/video-journalism-videos/
  4. So why is video journalism important? That was the next question I asked myself and so that’s what I looked up next.  I found a lot of useless stuff in this search but I did find one which I thought was quite good.  It was a video on Vimeo by Dr Sam swan, author of Video Journalism, talks about the importance of video journalism.  He discusses the staggering trend of people accessing their news online by video and also through television.  He talks about the appeal of live coverage.  Swan discusses how many newspapers now hire video journalists to video content for their websites.  This is a very interesting video to watch! Here’s the link: https://vimeo.com/70986601.  
  5. The internet is full of online courses which you can sign up to and learn a craft and video journalism is no exception.  I found numerous videos about Bill Gentile’s introductions to video journalism.  Bill Gentile is a video journalist with over 30 years experience and has made some award-winning documentaries.  One youtube video about his course offered lots of information for video journalism students and so I selected it for here.  He discusses the areas of video journalism that you must learn and also the importance of it.  There are samples of his work in the video also.  If anyone was to take an online course in video journalism then this certainly seems like a very highly regarded option.  The introductory video can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70IH-36I2vU.  It is well worth a watch even if you have no intention of doing an online course because it points you in the direction of areas you need to explore in video journalism and so from here I was able to look up video editing, shooting techniques, useful platforms to get your work out there and so on.  

Next I looked at some examples of good, short documentaries.  This area is full of competition for the budding video journalist.  There really is endless great work in this field but also a lot of average and so locating some good work was time-consuming despite the volume of it.

  1. I have a Vimeo account and I have been slightly addicted to it since I set it up and I have ‘followed’ some video makers that I liked including Stanley Grant.  I chose “Girl Poet takes on the Taliban with her Pen” as I loved this video.  The story is captivating as it captures the audiences heart in just over two and a half minutes. The documentary is based around a young 11-year-old girl called Tuba Sahabb who lives in a simple home in the suburbs of Islamadad. The brave young girl is speaking out about women’s rights in Pakistan. The documentary is very well shot and really grabs the audience’s attention. There is a beautiful shot at 2:19 of Grant sat side by side with the young girl. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhQvAEJEaiI.
    2. The second piece I chose as a good example of video journalism is a piece by Bill Gentile, as I mentioned earlier is an award-winning video journalist. His documentary Afganistan, the forgotten war was released in July of 2008. There is an interlude online which is about 25 minutes long, but is well worth a watch. This piece is so moving and is visually beautiful. It captures the day-to-day life of working in a war zone. The documentary shows us exactly why Bill Gentile is so successful in this field. Watch the interlude here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZSReT2J-94.
    3. I came across Glenn Milner on Vimeo and I liked some of his work so I started following the channel. He has made endless captivating documentaries but one which particularly stood out for me was, Fukushima; Alone in a nuclear zone. The story is about Nato Matsumara, who is the only resident left living in the 20km exclusion zone around Fukushima nuclear power plant. He has refused the government’s pleas for him to leave his home-town of Tomioka as he has vowed to take care of his animals and animals which have been abandoned in the town as a result of its evacuated state. The video was filmed undercover for the Telegraph.co.uk and was directed, shot and edited by Glenn Milner. The video is subtitled but nonetheless it holds the viewer’s attention. It is visually captivating and there are some beautiful shots of the ruins and emptiness of this area. A very interesting watch, see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDtEF1qAIQc . If you like this then I would recommend following Glenn Milner on vimeo and checking out some of his other work.
    4. Ross Kauffman is another video maker who I have been following on vimeo. He is the Academy Award winning director of Born into Brothels. I chose Wait for me as an example to put here as it is a three-minute documentary and it shows how a short video can be as effective as an hour-long documentary. The documentaries or stories that I will make later in this module will be about this length and so I found this video a good example of how to use that short time effectively. kauffman documents the story from 1995 of a young man who took a trip across Southern Europe, wandered into Bangladesh and vanished while hiking in the Himalayas. wait for me is the story of his mother’s spiritual and emotional search for her vanished son. The piece is visually beautiful and emotionally and sensitively captured. Watch it here: http://vimeo.com/3013863.
    5. When I discovered that Ross Kauffman was the director of the award-winning documentary Born into Brothels, I decided to watch it and I liked it so much I chose it as one of my top 5 for here. This is a story about Calcutta’s Red Light district and is an Oscar-winning film about the children of prostitutes who embark on a transformational journey with New York based photographer Zana Briski, who teaches them photography as a way of digging them out of a life of poverty and possibly for some prostitution. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kyXFr2g1x8.

    The next section of resources for the video journalist fall under production.
    1. I came across a Vimeo channel called Film Journalist Education by Robb Montgomery. This channel is great as it has tonnes of videos and stories from students and video journalists from across the globe. There are videos from students in Cairo with voice-overs and translations. There are some really good examples of students work and shows how high the standards are in this field and how big the competition is in this area of journalism. There is a video of USC Professor Jeremy Kagan and MHZ Networks producer Glenn Luther and they are discussing the challenges for modern documentary film makers. This is a great video to watch to get an insight into the challenges the video journalist is facing now in the changing world of journalism and story-telling. Check out the channel on Vimeo by searching Robb Montgomery or click the link here: http://vimeo.com/channels/videojournalist.
    2. when I had to set up a Vimeo account I had no idea how to navigate through it so I looked up tutorials and I found one on Youtube which helped me a lot. This tutorial is great as it brings you step-by-step through the process of using Vimeo. From setting it up to uploading content this tutorial shows it all. It was this tutorial that helped me to set up my account. It is a great resource for a crash course in vimeo or indeed just to refresh your memory. It explains the rules surrounding uploading content, issues such as ownership and content of videos. It teaches you how to add titles, tags and descriptions to your videos. It also has an interesting and useful section on setting your privacy settings. The tutorial also demonstrates how to ‘add’ your video to channels, groups and albums and also how to set up and create albums. A fantastic resource, get it here: http://vimeo.com/64654583.
    3. I have never edited video before so I looked up tutorials on how to edit and I found a fantastic tutorial about imovie. This youtube tutorial is a complete crash course on the ins and outs of using imovie. It is an 11 minute video and I felt after watching it and taking notes that I would be confident in using the software. There is a step-by-step guide on uploading videos, editing, cutting, adding text, images, songs (music clips) and voice-overs. It is a good resource to re-cap or refresh your memory without watching a two-hour tutorial. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YbA-g1meCg.
    4.I also found another good editing software and tutorial called Movie maker 2. This is a Microsoft Windows editing software. I downloaded this software and I tried it out using a video I had on my phone, I found this software very beginner friendly. I have lots of experience using protools and editing audio and I found this very similar in the way you use it. With this software it is very easy to create professional looking videos with smooth transitions. You can also add impressive credits and titles and this is all very easy to do. A 9 minute tutorial on youtube is great to get you started on this, watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZXK68NS7gU.
    5.when I came across Robb Montgomery’s work I found a piece he had done called; Paris: Web video is not TV. and although this is a video I thought it was a handy resource in terms of production because we learn from it how producing a video for web is so different to TV. He talks about the visual, audio, motion graphics and so on. He also talks about the social narrative of video journalism for web. watch it here: http://vimeo.com/2806383.

    To get familiar with video journalism you have to watch it and you have to throw yourself into it 100 per cent. It is an extremely interesting area as I have discovered already and I have only yet scratched the surface. I plan to keep researching and updating this blog with new good and helpful resources that I come across.

    Jennifer

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