Whither to aim…

…high?  Low?  In between?

Like I used to tell my students, you gotta know your target audience before you even think about creating a visual story.  Well, the same thing applies to writing a book.  In this case, The Basics of Videojournalism.

Our original demographic was high schools…then we realized there was a wider potential audience, so we have adapted to that.  And we’ve also finally settled on some of the finer points about our audience, including what level of gear they need.

Roughly we’ve broken gear into four basic groups.

 

1. Point and shoot cameras. Flip type cameras with no zoom or a very short distance zoom (or worse yet, optical digital zoom) and no microphone input.

2. Consumer level camcorders with one smallish chip, a decent zoom and no microphone input.

3. Prosumer/low end professional level camcorders with three chips and either XLR or mini-jack mike inputs.

4. DSLRs.

So we are taking aim at a target audience who fits in levels 2 & 3 – but we don’t plan to forgot those above and below. While the bulk of the learning will cover all levels of gear, most of the technical advice will help out those in the middle. However, we plan to have specific advice targeting the P&S and DSLR crowds.

For instance if you’re doing an interview with your handy dandy three-chipper and a wireless mike, no worries. Good clean audio, on a tripod, great composition. But what if all you have is a burning desire to learn and a P&S? We got ya covered with shooting tips which will work for both you and your gear. DSLR? Different issues completely, but once again, we’ve got ya covered with workarounds to get good audio and more.

This is more than a generic how-to book – I’ve got decades of broadcast news in my past, plus a short gig shooting videos for a newspaper AND I know my way around a lesson plan pretty well. And co-author Larry Nance has the practical technical background balanced with an artist’s heart and soul (and tempered by a very hard business head). So stick with us – teachers, because we WILL have lessons to help your students learn. And students too – cause what could be MORE fun than having fun learning?

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Going in circles, biting my…

…well, not fingers.  Work on The Basics of Videojournalism progresses.  The focus this week is to get the chapter on shooting done, complete with illustrations.  Those we take care of tomorrow with former McNair broadcasting student (and someday film cinematographer) Louis Martinez, who will be acting as our model for illustrations for the book.  Author Larry Nance’s son Amani will be helping out too, being interviewed on camera.  

All the while Larry is snapping the stills I will be shooting video.  Yeah, this is gonna be one interactive book.  We’ll not only show you with words and pictures how to do it, there will be a DVD (or two) with demonstration video and raw videos to show what you should be shooting (steady, well exposed, good light, etc).

Problem is…the more we write, the more we realize we need to write more.  

Shooting was supposed to be a pretty basic chapter that has now expanded, is growing, and is taking on its own life.  It seems to me that too many “how-to” books pretend to tell you “how-to”, but don’t really.  So when Larry and I say, “This is how to…” we plan to show the basics and then some. Read, look at the photos, view the video showing HOW to, work with raw video files to see how it should look. Interact and learn. One thing I learned in years of teaching is that there are different learning styles…and I suspect a lot of folks who want to learn video are visual and kinetic learners – they learn by seeing and doing.

Of course all of the above is creating more and more work and research. But taking into account Larry’s personal knowledge base (which is expansive) and all of my musings and blogs, we’re off to a pretty solid start.

Diving deep for a while…

Obviously I haven’t posted in a while…and it’s gonna be a while longer before I can resurface to do much. The Basics of Videojournalism, my not-quite-an-epic is sucking up all my time. It is taking shape from a core workbook, pages and pages of notes and comments, onto something clearer and cleaner.

In organizing, we are adding more material…as Larry and I perused the posting on backpedding, we realized we needed a chapter on camera and personal safety. The material for the teacher’s edition is growing. We plan to shoot many of the illustrations in early November.

Hopefully I’ll be back by Christmas (please let it be sooner).

Dammit we need a name…

We can’t keep calling this “the high school textbook on videojournalism.” One – it has no personality. Two, it’s way to much to type. Here are a couple of thoughts.

The Basics of Videojournalism (Larry Nance)

Videojournalism: Thinking Visually (hmmm…sounds like a website I saw once)

VJ (only the initiated will buy this…and a lot of folks interested in Victory over Japan/VJ Day)

And YOUR suggestion is?

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