What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Mistakes. We all make them. Try to learn from other people’s mistakes so you can avoid repeating them. Small mistakes can ruin a great video. As a producer, I refused to air a package because of a single poorly lit frame or disheveled shirt collar. If you make a mistake while you’re shooting, DON’T include the mistake in your edited video.

The following videos all have great components, but I would never use them because of a few errors. Let’s watch them and identify mistakes you should avoid in your next video.

Here are a few lessons from this video:

  • You should pay attention to the backdrop of your interviews. Make sure backgrounds enhance your visual. The background shouldn’t detract or distract. You should especially avoid interviewing more than one person in the same spot if your background looks ugly. Also, remember to pull your interview subjects away from the background. Creating depth will help push the background out of focus so your viewers can’t see all those wrinkles or imperfections behind the person.
  • Use b-roll to transition from one interview to the next. If you’re editing two interviews back to back and the interviews weren’t shot the exact same way, you should make sure they have different backgrounds, different distances, different angles, etc. The dissolve transition at 00:11 looks unprofessional.
  • Use lead room to create negative space in the area where your interview subject is looking. The first interview had decent lead room, but the second interview was centered. Only center an interview if the person in the video is looking into the camera. Most of the time, you’ll want to interview people on the rule of thirds and have them look either left or right of the camera (depending on which side you’re standing on).
  • Is this really the most relevant thumbnail for this video? Make sure you pick relevant and visually compelling images to showcase your videos.

Here are a few lessons from this video:

  • Better lighting would have dramatically enhanced the quality of the b-roll at the beginning of this video. If you don’t have a lighting kit, use natural light. Instead of shutting the blinds in shots like 00:02, open the blinds and use that sunlight. Just make sure you move the camera so you’re not backlighting.
  • When you cover an interview with b-roll, make sure you use a sequence of at least three clips of b-roll before returning to the interview. The b-roll at 00:11 doesn’t flow that well since the editor immediately returned to the interview video after one clip of b-roll. This looks like you’re just trying to cover a jumpcut. Remember b-roll should enhance your story.
  • Take a look at 1:28. The videographer did not follow the rule of thirds or use lighting. The iris should also be opened more when you shoot people with darker skin tones. Remember that darker skin reflects less light. That means the camera can’t capture as much detail if the videographer doesn’t add light and open the iris.

Here’s the main lesson from this video:

  • For the most part, this video is pretty well shot. But, I would not post this because of one small, but very important detail. Go to 3:10 and take a look at this poor guy’s shirt collar. Remember to help people out. If someone you’re interviewing has something out of place like a messed up collar, hair sticking up, crooked tie or necklace, fix it!

Here’s the main lesson from this video:

  • If you’re doing a story about a food truck, immediately show me lots of extreme close-ups of food. Food can be the easiest b-roll because there’s usually texture, depth and color. Get extremely close to the food and make sure there’s lots of light on it.

Here’s the main lesson from this video:

  • Always check your video before you leave a shoot. If your video is overexposed, reshoot it. It’s very difficult to improve overexposed video. If your camera has a manual iris, make sure it’s at an appropriate size to let in the right amount of life. Don’t backlight your interviews.

Here are a few lessons from this video:

  • You don’t need to start a video on a person’s face. Try starting with nat pops or sound bites covered by super compelling b-roll. Your first few shots should be the best video from your entire project. Start strong.
  • Use b-roll sequences. Don’t cover an interview with one clip of b-roll and then return to the video. Layer at least three clips of b-roll back to back over the interview sound, then return to the interview video.
  • Avoid using a company’s logo (like at 00:15) unless it’s a beautiful logo and fits naturally into the frame. Those black bars on the side kill me. Make your own graphics if needed (try Canva).
  • Shoot a variety of angles, heights and distances. Where are my extreme close-ups?

Here are a few lessons from this video:

  • B-roll should generally only last for 3-seconds each. The opening shot was way too long.
  • Don’t backlight people. The shot at 00:25 was too backlit. Instead, use the light to your advantage. Let the light shine on his face, not his back.

Here are a few lessons from this video:

  • Graphics change quickly. What was considered acceptable a few years ago, isn’t anymore. Be modern, clean, clear. Text should look cool and fit the theme. If you put text on the screen, leave it up long enough for people to read it. Better yet, put less text on the screen. Avoid back-to-back text full screens. Text should enhance the storytelling. It should be concise and important.
  • Headroom and lead room off in most interviews.

Try to identify errors in the following videos to help you prevent making the same mistakes in the future:

Published by JeanetteAbrahamsen

I am an instructional designer and TV news instructor at the University of South Florida. My passion for innovating learning led me to pursue my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Instructional Technology. I love creating media to enhance eLearning and foster online engagement. I teach students to create multimedia stories for broadcast, web and social media platforms. I lead the Florida Focus class where students produce daily news shows that air on Tampa's PBS station. My reporting classes collaborated with Tampa's NPR station to produce award-winning stories. I am an Emmy Award-winning journalist. I produced thousands of hours of TV news in some of America's largest media markets at Tampa's NBC station, San Diego's ABC station and the San Diego Union-Tribune. I also produced immersive 360-degree virtual tours at the University of South Florida and reported for Hashtag Our Stories.

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