Super!

super.jpegThis past Thursday I ran a trial session for a video training workshop with a Matt Brown, a reporter for the Lodi News Sentinel, my hometown newspaper. I learned a lot from him…and it seems he picked a few things up from me too. In about four hours we went through gear, shooting, organizing a video story (not quite writing – he is already an excellent writer), and editing. The latter seems to be the challenge with reporters and is what I’m going to have to focus on in these workshops.

But I want to focus on “supers” today. “Super” is short for “superimpose.” When you watch TV news you nearly always seen a title across interviews in the lower third of the screen. This title is superimposed over the video and serves a purpose. The top line is the name of the person and the bottom line is their title or a descriptor. A very efficient way to get information out without having to introduce them in the narration. You can use supers over interviews or to identify locations. It is important to keep them concise – if the descriptor is too long, then the lettering becomes too small to read…especially on the web.

And, by the way, Matt did a “super” job on his first package, which I hope to post sometime soon.

5 thoughts on “Super!

  1. I’ve had a few great conversations recently about “supers” and the opinions vary widely.

    Just about all say that they are necessary for IDing someone who doesn’t do so in the video.

    The controversy happens when the bar across the screen that the lower-thirds text rests on is colored or has a logo added to it.

    I’m getting a lot of newspaper video people say that anything more than just plan text screems of TV.

    Any thoughts on the lower-thirds text and how to avoid looking like TV?

  2. I honestly don’t like the colored bar myself…prefer plain text over video. But sometimes the only way to have text show up clearly is with the colored bar.
    Re “looking like TV.” Almost anything you do with have some tie-in with TV, cause in the decades they’ve been around, they’ve done it all. And TV has tie-ins with Hollywood to some extent…because H-wood was around for decades before TV.

    Suggestions (especially if you are on a staff…you need to develop the following):
    1 – Be consistent. Choose a (hopefully) conservative color for your subtitles and stick with it. Ditto the font – make it readable.
    2 – Be consistent (again) with how you title. First line should be name, second line a descriptor or title.
    3 – If you use subtitle for a locater, then put the specifics (220 Main Street or Micke Grove Zoo) on the top line and city/county…whatever…on second line.

    One reason this works is because folks are used to seeing that format and adapt to it easily. It’s also logical…doesn’t cover up crutial information (usually).

    That said, do experiment. Maybe what I’ve suggested works with the older generation…maybe vertical titling on one side works better with the upcoming visual generations. But again, consistency is important so folks recognize your style and (unconsciously) know where to look for information.

  3. It’s one of my pet peeves when video producers allow their sources to say, “Hello my name is Joe Schmoe and I live in Austin.” That stupid bit of audio takes up too much time when I’d rather be hearing something interesting. However, that information is necessary, and the perfect solution is a lower third.

    I think that new video producers need to worry less about “Is this like TV” and worry more about “What is the most effective way to provide this information or tell this story?”

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