Lights, smart phone, action: Capturing great video on the go is easier than you think

By Stefanie Kure, ASBPE Kansas City board member

Gone are the days of having to wield a watermelon-sized video camera on your shoulder or being forced to hire another company — typically at the cost of thousands of dollars — to produce high-quality video footage at work-related happenings. Today’s smart phones, along with a host of related accessories, are enabling even the most novice among us to shoot topnotch, cost-effective video at a variety of events that take place outside the office.

Amy Fischbach, field editor for the Electric Utility Operations section of Transmission and Distribution World magazine and a contributing writer for EC&M magazine, along with Penton Media Online Editor Nikki Chandler, recently put their mobile video shooting and editing skills to the test at the 2014 International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo, an annual outdoor event that attracts lineman from around the world to compete in events based on traditional lineman tasks.

Drawing on their experiences at the Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo, Fischbach and Chandler offered 10 tips for easily and successfully shooting video on the go to attendees at the ASBPE Kansas City boot camp, held November 7 at the Google Fiber event space.

1. Invest in the right equipment.

Start by purchasing a smart phone, external microphone, small tripod, and portable battery charger. According to Fischbach, a decent microphone costs around $50, a tripod runs about $20, and an external battery charge typically can be purchased for anywhere from $40 to $100.

“The bottom line is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to produce decent video,” she said.

2. Download helpful apps.

Fishbach advised downloading the YouTube Capture app to quickly and efficiently upload video clips. If you want to try a new approach to video, Fischbach recommended using the Hyperlapse app from Instagram.

3. Free up as much memory as possible your smart phone.

Because videos take up a lot of memory, make sure all your previous photos, videos, and unnecessary apps are off your phone before a major event.

“I know it’s a pain to have to delete Angrybirds from your phone only to reinstall it a day later, but it’s better than running out of memory in the middle of an important interview,” said Fishbach.

4. Learn the different ways to conduct an interview.

Perform a video interview in selfie mode by putting you phone in a tripod, placing the tripod on a table, and then sitting next to your source. Or, if you’re working as part of a team, ask a coworker to hold the camera while you hold the microphone and interview your subject.

5. Make sure each interview includes an opening and closing statement.

Just like interviewers do on television, consider using an opening and closing line. For example, “This is (your name) and I am from (your publication or website). Today, we are talking to (include the subject’s name, title, and company).

6. Limit your interview to a few questions.

To make your video clips about two minutes in length, only ask two or three questions.

While your source is speaking, try to smile and nod your head without adding any comments like ‘yes,’ OK,’ or ‘mm hmm.’

7. Create your own YouTube channel.

After you finish taking all the videos, you can then upload them via YouTube Capture to your own channel.

“Doing this will make it easier for your editors, designers, and online team to grab the embed code and use it in social media, enewsletters, and on a website,” explained Fischbach.

8. Get your source’s information.

To ensure that you have the correct spelling of the source’s name, title, and company, you can type this information in the description of the video when you upload it to YouTube Capture. Oftentimes, it is a good idea to show it to your source to make sure it is correct before posting it on YouTube.

9. Edit your clips using YouTube editor.

This free editing tool allows you to trim the beginning and end of a clip, overlay music, combine multiple clips, and even slow down a clip.

According to Chandler, it took her around two hours to edit all the videos Fischbach took at the Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo.

10. Promote your clips.

Once your clips have been edited, be sure to embed them in video galleries, tweet the links to the clips, and link to them in enewsletters.

“You can also use them as your notes when you go to write a story for a print publication,” said Fischbach. “Simply place your smart phone next to your computer, play the clip, and then type the notes on your desktop or laptop.”

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