A mantra for shooting better video

“Wide, medium, tight, reverse, reaction.”

That phrase has been running through video journalist John Bullard’s head for nearly 40 years.  Bullard has shot video stories at the local level and for networks like CNN and ABC.  He owns his own video production company and is a regular freelancer out of Washington, DC.

Video journalist John Bullard offers advice to student journalists.

He says, despite the move to multimedia, the basics of good video storytelling remain the same.

“First of all, you have to work to avoid jump cuts,” says Bullard.  “A wide shot can take you anywhere you need to go in a story.”

If you’re working with a reporter, Bullard says don’t dismiss the need to get a reversal — essentially a shot that views the action from the opposite side of the previous shot, as in the case of a reporter interviewing someone.  The reversal creates the effect that you are looking from one person to the other.

“Always, always shoot a reversal of the reporter, no matter what.  Even if they say no, it could save you when it comes time to edit.”

Bullard says you’re not always in “a picture rich environment” as a video journalist, so it’s important to shoot absolutely everything you see that’s relevant to the story in those situations.

He also has a piece of advice for today’s multimedia journalists.

“You’re expected to write, to shoot to edit, so in the words of comedian Steve Martin, you’ve got to be so good you can’t be ignored.”

So get that mantra into your mind:  Wide, medium, tight, reverse, reaction.

Bullard shot this piece while working for CCTV in Washington, DC. See how many sequences you can identify.