The idea behind video storytelling parallels photojournalism: We are using images and natural sound to tell a visual story. To ensure the best outcome, follow these guidelines before and during video production.
Before producing a video, the key question to always ask is: Why would someone want to watch this video? When planning a video, review this list of standards that every video should strive to meet. If the proposed video doesn't meet most of these criteria, then a video should not be created.
Is there a story?
Is there a story that can be visually told with a beginning, middle, and an end?
Does the story have movement?
Is a person doing something? Is there a process to capture? Rarely are sit-down interviews — by themselves — interesting to watch. The subject of the video should be filmed doing something that pertains to the story. An exception would be an interview with someone well known or high profile.
Is the story visual?
Where does it take place? If a communicator is writing a story about robotics research, shooting a video of a researcher in the office talking about it won't work.
Is there a main character?
Is there a main character in the story that can be followed and used to help tell a larger story? Strive to tell stories in a character-driven manner with the idea that viewers can relate to a person rather than an idea or theme.
Do you have access to the subject matter?
Can the videographer physically get close to the character or subject? It takes time — and lots of angles — to get a full story in video. If you can't get access to an event, a video talking about the event will not work.
Do you have enough time?
It takes time to prepare for a video shoot, find and follow a good character, conduct interviews, and edit the piece. Lead time is critical to producing a compelling story. A typical short video takes a few weeks to plan, and about a week to shoot and edit. In-depth pieces can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. That said, with enough pre-planning, it's possible to deliver a web video in a few hours.
Adapted from the Los Angeles Times Video Story Criteria, Rexblog.com, and the Boston University Productions Office Producer's Manual.
Regardless of whether a video or photo is being filmed in a Georgia Tech lab, classroom, studio, or in front of a green screen, the clothing your subject wears is just as important as the location and light.