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Story Creation, Writing, and Video Production Tips

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This chapter is from the book

Premiere is a powerful video production tool. By choosing Premiere, you've made a commitment to take your video production quality up several notches. To do that requires more than learning new editing techniques. You also need to hone your story-creation skills, writing style, and even business acumen. By moving to Premiere you're showing the kind of interest in video production that frequently leads to a profession within that industry.

This hour will take a break from step-by-step Premiere techniques and address those issues. I've turned to some colleagues and friends in the TV news, film, and video production industry and asked them to offer expert tips within their specialty.

The highlights of this hour include the following:

  • NBC-TV correspondent Bob Dotson's story-creation tips

  • Writing in the "active voice"

  • The Good Writer's Dazzlin' Dozen from noted writing consultant, Mackie Morris

  • Scriptwriting tips from the respected Hollywood writing team of Stephen Black and Henry Stern

  • Expert advice on shooting film from noted German cinematographer Charly Steinberger

  • Practical suggestions on how best to start a video production company from industry veteran Sam Prigg

  • Tips on doing on-location, multicamera videotaping from multiple-award winner Joe Walsh

Getting the Story Right

I worked in the TV news business as a reporter and anchorman as well as shooter and editor. In my 11 years working on-camera and off, I constantly critiqued my work and asked others to do the same. Some offered their advice in writing and I hung on those words of wisdom:

  • An NBC producer who ran the affiliate "feed"—a daily collection of stories made available to local network stations for their use—once wrote about a prison counseling piece I submitted to him. He said that my "story talked about" the subject "but showed nothing" about it. My tape "cried out for some natural sound of a session in progress."

  • A Seattle TV news director wrote that my stories had a sameness—a voice track, a sound bite, more voiceover, another sound bite, and a standup close. "Mix 'em up," he suggested.

  • And a consultant took me aside to tell me to "break up my on-camera pacing with pauses."

I took all those tips to the bank. The NBC producer ended up buying about a story a week from me. The news director helped me get a job in a much larger market. And the consultant's advice helped me land an anchor job at that station.

I'm a believer in heeding expert advice.

In putting together this book, I've had the enjoyable opportunity to contact many of the people who have given me advice or from whom I have gained a lot of practical knowledge. Each agreed to provide expert tips focusing on their specialty. You've already met photographer Karl Petersen in Hour 1, "Camcorder and Shooting Tips," and editor John Crossman in Hour 5, "Adding Transitions: From Dissolves to Zooms."

I compiled six such expert columns for this hour. I lumped them together because I think they all speak to enhancing your skills beyond the fundamentals of camerawork, editing, and simply learning how to use Premiere's toolset. Further, you may want to take what you do with Premiere and move into a career in video production. These experts speak to that.

Up first, Bob Dotson.

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