by Diane Taylor
As a retired writer now enjoying freelance, I’m having a great time. I can do the stories I want to do, and I’ve found that I love the whole process of writing, photographing and making videos….yes, making videos.
I grew up in a family of photographers and I typically can hold a camera without shaking. A couple years ago, I found that in telling some stories in Las Vegas, I was desperate to show my subject (a convention, a new destination, etc.) in all its moving glory. I experimented with the video option on my point-and-shoot Sony camera, and because I’m somewhat of a ham, I talked while I shot. By golly, the pictures were good and the sound was much better than I imagined. One small camera: I could take pictures AND video.
However, playing back my video, I found that not everything I filmed was wonderful, so I then had to learn video editing. I had a MAC computer and it came with iMovie. I gradually leaned how to use iMovie to stitch scenes together, to eliminate throat-clearing sounds and dumb remarks by yours truly, to brighten scenes and to use a scene of just background noise to re-record segments where those not-so-bright remarks could be corrected. Yep, I spent hours editing….not as a professional, but as an interested amateur.
Because I post a story every week for Living-Las-Vegas.com, I typically spend two to three hours filming and then many more hours editing and writing. (I do it for love and the money I save by NOT gambling.) Before each filming episode, I research the project so that I can include a few facts in the narration. If I go to a convention, for example, before filming, I find out the convention sponsor, expected attendance, the convention’s history in Last Vegas, the kinds of folks who will attend, etc.
The videos accompanying my stories are first uploaded to You Tube and then an “embed” link is included in the Living-Las-Vegas stories. People also find the videos directly on You Tube, and they may even subscribe to my channel. (My channel is “DTBenefits”. In my working life, I was a benefits manager.)
You Tube keeps track of statistics and as I write this, my channel has 619 subscribers and 602,973 views – not Justin Bieber stats, but not bad for an aging amateur. Comments on You Tube are typically quite kind, and when I check my email, I will get a notice that someone has subscribed to my channel or sent me a comment, and that news makes my day.
You Tube will typically cull out spam, and I can delete any messages that are racist, nasty, etc. and I have had a few of those. I leave negative comments that are reasonable – and because I have the time, I answer most of the comments. For me, hearing that someone from Holland or Australia has watched one of my videos is quite an honor.
Making videos is “free” once you have the camera and the computer, and if you have a writer’s sense of organizing a story, you can organize your commentary as well: tell the viewer what you’re going to show them, show it (with narration), and then clearly end it. Make the scenes short and leave out extraneous words. If you film a scene and know it isn’t interesting, re-do it – maybe two or three times. Yes, you have to think on your feet, and you must be your own vicious editor.
I typically film an ending to a video before I get to the end of the visit I’m filming. I believe in endings so the viewer isn’t confused. And oh yes, bring along an extra battery and have a generous memory card. The videos I make these days are between 15 and 20 minutes long, and I typically edit out a third to half of what I film.
Always have business cards with you so you can tell filmed subjects where they can see the video.
I have much more to learn, typically about cameras, sound and lighting, so I’ll keep at the video-making. I do believe journalism’s future will increasingly depend on writers who can talk, photograph and make interesting videos.