Teaching Examples

The magic combination for riveting video stories
February 16, 2007, 3:17 pm
Filed under: journalism, online, sports, video

I have watched this video from the Toronto Star four times in a row now, so I guess I’d better post it!

“I wanted to play hockey, really, but my mother told me to try figure skating … I never left figure skating because I loved it so much.”
— Patrick Chan, Olympic hopeful

Sports shooters will tell you that a lot of getting that perfect single shot is luck. The right equipment and long experience in knowing where to look MAKE that luck, of course. But in this video — a sports video — luck has nothing to do with how good it is. It’s a combination of wonderful editing (that’s why I watched it again and again — the images are so perfectly edited to the audio track, it just choked me up!) and a solid (audio) interview. This was shot and edited by newspaper photojournalist Bernard Weil. (More Star video here.)

I’m going to be showing this one to students for a long time.

(Found via Multimedia Shooter.)

Update (Feb. 18): John Bonnar posted a very nice critique of this video in the comments.

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9 Comments so far
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It really is good! The link came via the NPPA multimedia contest. I betcha that it places.

Comment by Angela Grant

I think it should win.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

Maybe. I haven’t finished watching the rest of the entries yet.

But I was so impressed with some of the shots in the piece. Especially one wide shot where you see him skating by in the foreground, and you see his reflection in the mirror in the background. Beautiful.

Comment by Angela Grant

I love the blurred black-and-white shot that freezes right near the start, and also the combination of the audio content and the shot through the glass where a younger boy is sitting.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

I’m sure this is wonderful, but the delivery is horrible. I’ve let the whole piece download before clicking play, downloaded the piece to my desktop, tried a different browser and still all I get is stuttering audio, freezing video, sudden jumps. This is with broadband wireless access. Same thing happened when I tried I different Star video from their very odd video menu (you can’t seem to choose individual videos). Production is one thing; delivery is the bigger thing.

Comment by Mark Hamilton

Hi, Mark. That’s quite interesting to hear. Are you on Mac or Windows? I’m on Windows XP, my home DSL is not so great (BellSouth, boo, hiss!), and I have installed the latest version of Flash Player 9 and the latest browser plug-in for QuickTime. Also, I’m using Firefox. The giant version of the Star video is QuickTime. The player thing on their video page is Flash, but maybe they are serving it up from in-house.

Anyway, all the versions are working perfectly for me — but I feel your pain! That is the kind of experience I always have with Windows Media Player video. However, my friends at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis tell me they see their users having the most trouble with QuickTime (go figure). Flash video should work great for everyone who has Flash Player 9 … but the Star might not be supplying adequate bandwidth out of their servers.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

Bernard Weil is a veteran photographer with the Toronto Star, only recently having made the move to videojournalism.

There are several reasons that this is an outstanding piece of work. Firstly, he uses the skills he’s honed as a photographer creating this video. Note how he uses differing points of view, camera angles and distances from the subject.

Secondly, he doesn’t use the talking head interview. Instead he uses an audio interview and lays it over top of the footage.

Thirdly, he uses slow motion, fast motion and black and white to enhance the video. These are three of the Top Ten Video Editing Effects as outlined in a recent article at About.com Desktop Video.

The three main devices in storytelling are: physical scene, action and dialogue. That’s the best way to show – not TELL your story.

Mr. Weil uses three different scenes. He shoots on the rink, behind the glass and in the dressing room. There’s lots of action in this video.

The only way he could possibly of enhanced this video is to have, perhaps, included some revealing dialogue (not casual conversation) between the skater and his coach or his parents.

Comment by John Bonnar

I was on a high-speed connection, and had some of the same problems Mark had. Perhaps it was the server load from all the people you sent to check out the video. 😉

I agree with Mr. Bonnar’s assessment, and would add that I thought it might benefit from showing some other activities that the skater does. Does he stretch before skating. Does he practice with a coach? etc. This might have helped with the middle of the video, which dragged a bit.

In that sense, I eventually arrived at the feeling that the skating was set up for the shooting, not the shooting capturing the real skating practice. Not sure if I’m saying that in a way that makes sense.

But it’s definitely a high quality product and one I’ll show students as well.

Comment by Murley

Beautiful. Wonderful. Applause. Applause.

Comment by Howard Owens

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