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Context in video storytelling

Rep: 91
Peter Huoppi July 14, 2010, 7:20 a.m. permalink

This is a discussion we have here at The Day from time to time, and I see it cropping up in various video forums:

Do the videos we produce need to stand alone as stories?

I assume that most of us are publishing videos with at least a headline and a sentence or two of associated text. Many of the videos we publish at appear right on the page with a related story. It's certainly easier and quicker to make a video that is somewhat incomplete. To tell the full story, you might need more interviews and a well-written voiceover. This takes time, and can be hard to fit into a 90-second video piece.

But most of us also publish our videos in players that have a "share" button. Whether you use YouTube, Brightcove, Vimeo, Catsfire or some other service, your videos can be embedded anywhere on the Web. Unless the video is incredibly interesting on its own, I fear we'll lose potential audience and give ourselves a less-than-professional reputation if videos are floating out there with our branding in the pre-roll but no context and incomplete storytelling.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals July 14, 2010, 7:56 a.m. permalink

Great question!!

We have this discussion as well at the Detroit Free Press sometimes.  

When I shoot a 1:30 piece for TV, I write the intro and outro for the anchor to read which has information that I don't have to put in the video saving me time and giving me a better, tighter edit.  However if I take that same video and put it on the web it loses tons of context and is that incomplete storytelling your talking about.

In cases like that when publishing for two different outlets I think videos do need to stand alone as stories and should be shot be edited as so. What I do is build a video piece for the web first with scripting, narration etc and make it a bit longer if it calls for it then I also cut it down for TV.

Also for the web I'll write a 8 or 10 inch web story to go with the video and a frame grab of a cool visual or compelling image that the web team will put on with my headline, a few short sentences and hopefully that gets the readers attention and they click to read my story and watch the video.

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans July 14, 2010, 10:22 a.m. permalink

I'd carry the conversation even farther and ask: do we need the title of the piece on/in the video?

It sounds like we are all asking the same question at our respective news organizations.

With the ability to share, link and re-post players I am starting to come down on the side of self-contained, tell the entire story in the video.

My only caveat with this is that, especially with a news story, you may need to get something up fast with the story post and then refine the video and update it. More often than not we can always find ways to sharpen a video, rework it, make it better. Yes, I know that takes time.

But when I look back at work I did a year ago, that ties in to a new story or a change in the story, the "old" video doesn't stand up as well.

So my thought is to keep an eye on the longer "tail" of video, and that would seem to push telling the entire story in the video.

Rep: 33
Adam Wisneski Aug. 4, 2010, 9:06 p.m. permalink

We (me and myself) have this discussion at the Tulsa World. It's also brought up the question of whether our video strategy should be based on the user experience RIGHT NOW, or should it be based on what we think WILL HAPPEN in the next 1.5-2 years. 

I believe if we don't start trying to predict where our videos will live in two years, we're going to be caught with our pants down again, just like when the internet gained traction.

Right now, most video strategies I've heard have been based on what kinds of videos people watch at work, on their desktop computer. 

But what about Google TV? Won't this turn TV on it's head. What about when suddenly video content is as convenient to watch as Channel 8 news? What can we do that TV doesn't do right now? Local documentaries? Publish full interviews with the Mayor? Make videos that dig deeper into the context of a local issue?

Will we have 20 min local documentary style programs that people can watch while they eat dinner? Or will we have crappy 2 min. videos meant for the fickle desktop internet user?

And what about the iPad? Aren't these things just a couple years from taking over? Video works completely different on iPad. Snippets from events seem to make more sense there since the videos live embedded in the stories. I'd say even a 30 sec. clip of a cool trick at the skate park would embellish a story.  

I'm interested to hear what you all think. 

Does iPad now provide a platform for more video clips instead of full video stories?

TV over internet: How do we win when people suddenly have on demand access to content produced by ... well ... whoever?


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