Five video story forms

If you’re new to working with video, especially online, it’s important to think about the kind of story you’re trying to tell before gathering the visuals you’ll use to tell it.  Our recent post on how Web video is different shared how the Washington Post categorizes Web videos into three “tiers.”  At the Arizona Republic, deputy managing editor Michael Roberts talks about five “story forms” for video.

  • Event: One time, ongoing or recurring.
  • Guide: Tour or how-to.
  • Profile: Person, place or organization.
  • Slice of life: Sights and sounds, often familiar.
  • Man on the street:  Quotes and views of people.

Roberts suggests that you first decide what form you’re using, then collect information about the story and plan the shoot to gather video and audio.  Before you put the pieces together, decide on a structure.  Are you telling the story in chronological order?  Are you grouping information by topic?  Either can work, but in every case your video needs a clear beginning, middle and end.

This may all seem obvious to experienced photojournalists, and it leaves out a lot of other video story forms.  But it’s a useful road map for anyone who’s new to visual storytelling and who’s expected to produce Web videos quickly.

By the way, we’re now working with some folks on developing additional ways of thinking about Web video, so stay tuned.