Ten rules for video journalists

Travis Fox

Everybody likes lists, right? Travis Fox of the Washington Post shared his “10 golden rules” for video journalists at a recent workshop at the University of Miami on creating video narratives.  [Thanks to Chrys Wu for sharing this, as well as another great post, “How to tell a Multimedia Story,” that focuses on audio.]

  • Golden Rule 10: Get “X-roll.” X-roll is when you get your interviewee’s money quotes in their natural environment.
  • Golden Rule 9: Shoot within 180 degrees around a subject. In other words, don’t walk around your subject when interviewing them.
  • Golden Rule 8: Sequence your video with a variety of detail, tight, medium, wide shots as well as cut away shots. 50 percent of shots will be tight, 25 percent medium and 25 percent wide
  • Golden Rule 7: Remember 80:20 ratio (80 percent should be b-roll and 20 percent should be interviews)
  • Golden Rule 6 Get close to the subject when interviewing them for audio purposes
  • Golden Rule 5: Stay quiet when shooting
  • Golden Rule 4: If you do not get the shot, you do not have it.
  • Golden Rule 3: Do not move the camera when shooting (unless you are an advanced videographer)
  • Golden Rule 2: Hold every shot for 10 seconds
  • Golden Rule 1: Wear headphones

Can’t argue with any of them.  Hadn’t heard the term “X-roll” before; in the textbook, we call that “active interviewing.” And I’d amend rule #6 to read, “Get microphone close to the subject.” I do hope you’re not depending on a built-in camera mic to get top quality sound.