MEAA workshops

MEAA workshop – Enhancing your work with audio and video

This post includes the notes and links for a workshop I am running on enhancing your work with audio and video for freelancers. This workshop is not intended to be a how to (I can’t possibly cover capturing and editing video and sound in three hours) but more a launch pad for discovering the opportunities multimedia adds to a story.

Structuring a story of online

In Australian major online news services, multimedia components tend to be incorporated in news coverage. But as with everything, if we look overseas we are finding a very different picture. Most stories are now incorporating some type of multimedia element, whether that be audio, video orphoto slide shows. So you would expect that would be the way things will go here in Australia.

One of the main reasons, we aren’t seeing it yet is that the online team is working separately to the rest of the editorial sections. So the Sunday Age property editor for example is thinking about using stories online. Enter the converged newsroom


As news organisations begin to operate in a hub-spoke style newsroom (as pictured above) section editors will more aware of a responsible for their online sections. What this means is that your will be at an immediate advantage if you can provide multimedia content along with copy.

Of course, it isn’t just the major daily newspapers or broadcast houses which are markets for your work, the emergence of online media has also meant a lot of specialist independent online media sites. And of course you are working in a global market.

Take a look at this example of an independent online beauty news site which relies heavily on video.


Works really well as an add of a Q&A interview or a podcast (where the reporter tells the story) to your copy.

Audio Equipment
At a bare minimum you need a recorder that can connect to your computer (generally via a USB cable) and upload an audio file that is a WMA,MP3, or WAV.

Things you need to know:
MP3 is the compressed version of audio and the best for use on the web. That means it is smaller.

So, uncompressed files are larger. But you can edit an uncompressed file so that you have all the audio data available and unadulterated. When you finish the editing, you can export a new MP3 file.

A few tips for interviewing when you want to use the audio.
Adapted from Mindy McAdams (you can find her blog in the blogroll on the sidebar)
As a journalist, you already know how to interview someone. But you need to change a few small things if you want to get clean audio that can be added to a story or used in a podcast.

  1. How you hold the microphone, or the recorder, can make noise that interferes with the words of your interview subject. Don’t move your fingers, hand, or arm during the interview.
  2. Laying the recorder on a table can also allow unfortunate noises.
  3. How will you know if the recording is clear and clean? WEAR HEADPHONES. Listening through headphones is the only way to ensure that you know what the recorder is recording.
  4. Try not to speak during the answers. For example don’t say uh-huh. Give the subject visual encouragement, not audible.
  5. Use eye contact to keep the interview subject’s mouth from pointing down at the mic and blowing on it.

A great interview example

A great podcast example

Audio Editing
Audacity is a free audio editing software that will let you do everything you need to. Here are some detailed instructions on installing and using the software.

Video Equipment
You don’t need an expensive or big camera to capture online video. Here is an example of a video shot (edited using Final Cut Pro) using a Canon digital still camera. Mexican wrestlers

It was shot with a Canon Powershot SD800 IS point-and-shoot camera and edited in Final Cut Pro. All you need is a camera with image stabilisation and the Cannon IXUS range does this well.

Rules of video
Works well:
– for interviews
– how to
– an emotive or powerful scene
– performance or show

Long is not better. In fact, a lot of studies show that like everything online, viewers of online video tend to flick through – watch a few minutes and move on. So you should aim to have video no longer than four mintues.

Video Editing
Some resources

Using editing software
Shooting and editing video

Online video editors

Cuts – Insert sound effects in your videos, add captions, loop the best parts and in minutes you can share your creation with the world.
JumpCut – a free service that enables you to upload, edit and share your videos. Offers keyframe-based editing, effects, transitions and actions.
Photobucket – Edit videos within a browser using Flash and remix photos and home videos with other elements, such as music, video captions and transitions.
StashSpace – Upload, store and edit your videos online. You can also record videos directly from your camcorder or digital camera.

Some tips
The reporter shouldn’t appear on camera, because ‘this is not TV news style’. It is nice if the subjects in the story can tell the story themselves. Audiences seem to like that. But there’s nothing wrong with well-written narration to get the facts across succinctly.

Good video example – not a TV story providing images and interviews – has obviously been cut together, but is a very basic edit.

Mindy McAdams has written another great post on interviewing for video which may be helpful.


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