With audiences heading to social media for news, it's becoming increasingly important for media organisations to develop an engaging video strategy for audiences on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
But although journalists can quickly produce a range of videos for social media straight from their mobile phones, news organisations should take the time to consider the needs and wants of their audience first, explained Robb Montgomery, mobile journalism expert and founder of Smart Film School.
After all, different video formats serve different purposes and suit particular situations, such as whether viewers will be watching on desktop or mobile, if they are looking for short or long-form journalism, or watching with the sound on or off.
1. A quick hit
"This is the type of video you are going to produce in near-real time," Montgomery said.
This video format suits journalists who are short on time, yet looking to keep their audience informed with engaging video content.
"One way to do this is to record a video within Twitter, where you do a voiceover while recording. Frame a shot, film for four or five seconds, and then repeat – it's useful for a quick show and tell piece."
Go Pro's Quik app offers a range of presets for reporters to produce animated videos while out in the field, while iMovie is a popular choice for mobile journalists looking to have more flexibility, able to overlay multiple clips and combine different pieces of audio for an effective short piece for social media.
"A video portrait, a character study, is a great way to get started with different types of shot-making and editing on the phone and it is something that is so easy to do all in one device," he said.
"You can put together a couple of walking shots at different angles, and cut together with maybe 30 seconds of them talking or you introducing them. It is a beautiful way to make a short video about a character."
Newsrooms around the world have been experimenting with livestreaming over the past few years as social networks have started to support the format and offer an opportunity for publishers to connect with their audience while reporting live.
For example, on Facebook Live, NowThis holds regularly scheduled shows where it can recap the week's news for those that have missed it, ABC News is able to cover the Republican and Democratic events in the United States in a new and exciting way, and reporters at IBTimes UK have established a closer connection with their audience through speaking with them as they comment on live streams.
"I'd like to see more newsrooms experiments like this, where publishers run 10-15 minute shows with their reporters for online audiences on social," Montgomery said.
"I don't know why more publishers aren't building live studios right now just for Facebook Live, setting up a couple of cameras or even iPhones for a little DIY studio," Montgomery said.
He suggests that newsrooms looking to use something proprietary should look into Iris from Bambuser, which allows reporters to send lives directly to their newsrooms.
3. First person
In this video format, the story is told completely by the responses to interviews the reporter has filmed – there are no pieces to camera by the journalist and there is no need for a voiceover.
"It reveals the interviewee's personality using an observational narrative – this is a powerful form of documentary film-making."
"You are the tour guide on a walk-through video, where you take people behind the scenes," said Montgomery.
"I've seen this done as a one-shot by VRT News in Belgium where the reporter talked to a line of refugees waiting to sign up for benefits, where the reporter would just do one take, flipping the camera from himself to the refugees as they told their stories and they asked questions."
He explains that a walk-through can also be achieved through adding a voiceover over multiple shots, which is a quick and easy way to give audiences something extra on top of the news story you are reporting.
"Explainers come in different forms," he said.
"Usually they are filmed as POV (point of view) or an expert is filmed showing and explaining a process.
"Sometimes these are table-top shots, other times they can be interviews, but you have lots of detail and less talking heads – it's not about you, it's about the process."
"Kinograms are silent movies – they've been with us for more than 75 years, where they would alternate title cards with sequences."
Just as people enjoyed newsreels at cinemas, audiences on social media can now engage with videos without turning up the volume, explained Montgomery.
Montgomery explained that an overhead video implies a studio set up, with lights and tripods, usually with the camera facing down at a table where objects can be brought in and out of the shot to demonstrate something.
A multitude of shots can be used here, along with voice overs, background music and on-screen text if desired.
While most mobile journalists will not be creating complex animations, they can incorporate simple graphics into their work to help explain complex issues.
"Numbers should be visualised – any process that is difficult to film should be done with graphics."
9. Immersive – 360-degrees and phone simulations
As virtual reality and 360-degree videos are becoming more accessible formats, audiences are now accustomed to consuming news in more immersive ways.
Apps such as Bubbli, 360 Panorama and Splash have allowed reporters to produce immersive 360-degree visuals using just their smartphones. Taking panoramic photograph on an iPhone is also a good starting point.
"When we post a panorama photograph to Facebook, it will play back for a user on a mobile device as if it were a 360-degree photo – it's the easy way to get started.
"It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, it's just about re-imagining that view port [the user's visible space], because that is a personalised viewing experience, and that's why it is a hit."
For mobile journalists with 360-degree cameras such as the Ricoh Theta S, Montgomery advises them to study the 360 Camera Surf School video on YouTube which, although not produced by journalists, is a "good example of a story told with a compelling character, great sound recording and appropriate overlays that guide you where to look."
Additionally, phone simulations have also been an effective way for some news organisations to connect with audiences, such as when BBC Media Action produced a vertical video to show the struggle of refugees.
The video appears to take over the viewer's phone, giving them a first-person perspective of the news story.
"This is about eight to ten minutes long, where you can start to grow as a film-maker, where you start to think about entrances and exits, introducing ideas, filming sequences, start to bring in more storytelling elements to make your piece more immersive," he said.
Journalists often filming on their phones may decide to experiment with different stabilisation tools, lenses and effects to make the finished products feel like professional pieces.
"I recommend getting a phone with the most storage you can – get rid of games and apps you don't use for bigger projects like this."
Check out Robb Mongomery's YouTube playlist of mojo story types here.
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