Muñoz (right) interviewing using the Røde tie micCredit: Daniel Muñoz
A former correspondent for Spanish news agency EFE, Daniel Muñoz has covered some of the biggest sports events during his career, including Premiership and Champions League football, Wimbledon and the London Olympics.
Now, as director of communications for Academia Sánchez-Casal - a tennis academy in Barcelona - he is in charge of content creation for social media, a role which sees him use his mobile phone to shoot interviews and capture the action from the tennis court.
Journalism.co.uk spoke to Muñoz to get his best advice on what mojo techniques can be used in sports journalism, and how it can help tell players' stories.
Equipment and set-up
Here is what is in Muñoz's toolkit:
- Sony Xperia Z5
- Shoulderpod grip handle
- Osmo mobile DJI gimbal
- Røde lapel mic
- iRig Pre mic
- KineMaster editing app
He does many flash interviews at tournaments, and he will simply use the native camera to capture quick shots. The Xperia Z5 has a 23 megapixels camera which, Muñoz said, is sufficient to shoot with.
From there, he will edit on the KineMaster app on his phone and upload straight to social media. For pieces he would rather take his time on and use many different types of media, he will upload to a computer and edit on Adobe Premiere.
The two different microphones are important for different interview scenarios. The Røde is ideal for informal situations and can help the interviewee feel less nervous, whereas the iRig prompts the interviewee to speak more formally and give off a more corporate look.
"At the academy, there are many different members of the public. There are players, coaches, parents, media and partners. You need to adapt to those situations," said Muñoz, adding that mobile phones have a way of lowering the guard of the interviewee but it is important to not let professional standards slip.
"If you use a smartphone and your attitude is still very professional, they will respect you and answer you properly."
What makes sports journalism different from other forms of reporting? Muñoz said it is often in the interview. For the best quotes and insights, he stressed to capture people when they will speak most passionately: right after a match or training session. But it is important to bear in mind that they could be feeling dejected after a loss.
His two microphone set-up is key to gauging the nature of the interview. The Røde will be clipped onto the interviewee and grant them more free movement of the body and hands. The iRig can be held by the interviewee or the interviewer.
For the latter option, the shot will be at arms-length so the interviewer must be constantly monitoring that the interviewee does not step out of shot and maintain eye-contact.
"If you look at the camera it will look like a statement or a press conference," he said. "If they look at me, it looks like a conversation. It's not prepared, and people want to watch those moments."
Framing your shot
In sports, you can often make use of your surroundings for the interview, for example at gyms or courtyards, but be aware of background noise.
A lot of action, like an intense workout happening in the background, can also be distracting for the viewer. Your setting must not be too animated, so do not be afraid to relocate to somewhere quieter and with the relevant background in the distance.
B-roll and establishing shots are also key bits of footage so make sure to get some. Typically, this would be the interviewee in action. If they are participating at a tournament, you would want shots of them around the club or warming up. Get a range of close and further-away shots of the interview to mix together.
"Mobile journalism is perfect if you want to capture [sport]. It gives you speed to be ready to go in five minutes, to catch good sound and images. This approach is the same as I did all those years ago [for EFE]."
One of the limitations of mobile journalism that crops up time and time again is zooming and the ability to shoot objects in the distance. Often the solution is to 'zoom with your feet' - in other words, walk towards what you want to capture.
But that is not always an option when trying to capture the action from a sporting event because of arena restrictions or the hazard of stray objects. What is the solution?
"Never zoom. I avoid zoom because the image will never show up properly," Muñoz said.
"It might be better not to get a close shot and focus on another detail."
It is less of an issue during training sessions and you can use this chance to get low, crouching shots using the DJI Osmo mobile gimbal.
"This angle is impressive, it makes you feel like you are there on the court or on the field - or even doing the practice," he explained.
"Often I shoot behind the coach, when they feed the ball and doing drills. Sometimes, I go behind the player to show what the training is, the motions, how tired they are, how they move."
Shooting the action and telling human stories
Sport is most often action-heavy and the gimbal comes in useful to capturing those fast movements.
Before you start shooting, visualise the key moments you want to capture and prioritise them. If something important happens, your smartphone will then allow you to react quickly.
"Perhaps you will catch some detail when they change a play, or they take a break, or they play a nice shot.
"But it is more important what happens around the court, or around the football field, the action of the people who are there."
Muñoz tries to capture the stories which exist within the people who attend the games, as well as key players and perhaps their stories that have led them to the game.
"Have a big picture of the history you want to share, if it's one player who will participate in one big event, I want to capture them in the background of the tournament, as well as how they are coached, how their families have experienced the event [and the significance of that]."
Broader applications in sports journalism
"15 years ago when I was covering the Champions League or the Premier League, my only option was an article, to speak on the radio or take a picture," explained Muñoz.
"For journalism, many people are coming to the website mostly through social media - everything is very visual. Mobile journalism will help in many ways, for the sports journalist covering a tournament, [there is a lot to cover] and they do not have much time to cover everything.
"You can do little interviews and small shots to add extra value, to engage with your audiences."
The exception to this rule may be press conferences which tend to be a key feature in sports journalism. It is often hard or sometimes prohibited to film with your mobile phone because of club agreements with corporate channels. Audio and images tend to be supplied to news organisation by the organisers.
That does not mean you could not try to ask tournament organisers for permission to gain exclusive mojo content for social media, for example.
Tailoring content for different platforms
The academy posts its mobile content on many social media platforms, but Muñoz tailors the stories and the formats for the audiences there.
"Change the lead for Twitter, or make it a question. Instagram is more about the people involved in the story, so try to interact with them. Facebook you can explain more and you can switch the format between vertical or horizontal. As for LinkedIn, you can use more technical language."
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