Get Me That Live Shot, Qik!

Camera Phone video for television news is quickly reaching critical mass. This is a trend your station can’t afford to ignore.

Ken Elmore from Audience Research and Development turned me on to a great combination of the Blackberry Curve and a new service called Qik. In his blog, Ken said:

wcbdI love it when someone figures out the potential of what the web gives us and applies it to day-to-day newsgathering. WCBD-TV
in Charleston, SC leads the way in using social media to deliver
information to its users and viewers. Count on 2 launched a new initiative using Qik. Each of its multimedia journalists carry Blackberry Curve phones and each have their own Qik account.

Here is a link to a sample from reporter Larry Collins, covering a recent festival which draws thousands to the area.

Skype Version 4.0 is getting the most attention in TV newsrooms.

It is being used almost daily on the OPRAH show. Local news is discovering the technology has improved over the past few months. According to some blog posts, Skype can now deliver up to 30 frames per second when you’re doing video calls, assuming you have a decent enough broadband connection. (They recommend 400 Kb/s or higher). But even if you have low bandwidth, call quality will remain clear.

The power of medium resolution streaming video on television news programs and internet sites hit home for us at WPSD-TV in late 2007. That is when we became one of the the first local news stations in the country to use STREAMERNET on a regular basis. (Streamernet has since left the broadcast market)
My original vision was live traffic coverage during winter weather. But our Dash Cam far exceeded expectations. Our team enthusiastically embraced IP live shots. And, so did our customers.
Our first hint that STREAMERNET was gaining traction was the memo put out by Kentucky State Police. The memo warned troopers to keep up appearances since we had live cameras in our news cars!
But a month later, when a popular resort restaurant caught fire, 1,400 internet users watched our news team drive to the scene for 40 minutes. The shot was just a car driving down the road!
The financial model to sustain this technology came a year later when a local high school football team made the playoffs and 14,000 people (including some graduates overseas in the military) watched the game.

I love what WCBD is doing but they would do well to adopt these best practices we developed at WPSD-TV before News Video over phones became so available.

1. Respect the limitations of phone video. Rapid movement and camera zooms won’t translate well. Use them as necessary, but be aware you will experience video breakup.
2. Move the camera to get in close. With lower resolution, details will not be as clear.

3. Wide shots work on television, not so well on the small screen. Work medium and close to your subject when shooting streaming video.

4. In most of your shots, keep the camera tight on your subject. Because a Web video frame is so small, lower-third titles require a greater percentage of the screen’s real estate. During shoots, make sure to frame your shot in such
a way that there’s room for big lower-thirds below your head shots.
5.  Be aware of the direction of your light. Position subjects with the light on their faces. Shoot with windows behind or beside you, not in front of you.

Shooting video for the Web is all about rules and limitations, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

Poynter Online – WTSP uses Skype

Broadcast Engineering – WSPA uses Skype

NBC in Augusta uses Skype

If you need help selecting equipment, training your staff, or developing strategy, Contact me here


One thought on “Get Me That Live Shot, Qik!

  1. …thanks for the shout out. I would love to go on the road and apply these and other ideas in news rooms around the county….any thoughts?

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