Piece To Camera Reporting

This week marked the end of my lectures and tutorials for my TV and Radio subject. In a month’s time I will undergo both a week’s worth of radio and TV Praxis for assessment. I’m particularly worried about the piece-to-camera (PTC) which is part of any local story I submit as a reporter for QUT News. I know I can’t be the only person in the world who worries about reporting a story on camera so I’ve been trawling the internet for tips.

I like what David Dunkly from Viewmag has to say about PTC, he says keep it simple unless you want an autocue or consider yourself an actor.

David’s Tips for doing a piece to camera:

Tip #1 Keep it short not more than three thoughts, unless you consider yourself an actor doing lines.

Tip #2 If you are going long and want large sections on camera then consider what actors and psychologists call active experiencing to get through or get yourself a cheap autocue.

Tip #3 If you are doing short one use the beginning of each sentence as a marker to start you off.

Tip #4 Keep it conversational – simple words – the spoken word rather than written one.

Tip #5 Report for your audience rather than other reporters. Reporters tend to spend inordinate amounts of time often trying to be impressive for their showreels, which should earn them their next job.

Link to David’s Article: http://viewmag.blogspot.com.au/2008/05/stand-upspiece-to-camera-vj-vlogger.html

I also came across Rick Grant’s blog on advice for better public relations and journalism. Rick has used the great example of Johnnie Walker’s “The Man Who Walked Around the World” advertisement as the best way to approach a PTC.

Link to Video (Highly Recommended!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnSIp76CvUI

From Rick’s Article: “Carlyle worked over two days before on the 40th take he pulled it off.  I could try for 40 days and never do this. There are a couple of things going on here that helped him greatly. First, he is a highly trained actor. And second, notice that he is performing actions in relation to props and locations as he goes.  He clearly had blocked out the walk so that when he came to a particular rock, bend in path, or prepared prop such as the whiskey barrels etc, he knew that he had to be saying a specific thing in his script at that precise moment.”

“And that’s the key technique that television reporters can use to nail their 18 seconds of on-camera faux wisdom. Put some movement into those 18 seconds.  Start talking, take two steps, raise arm and point, gesture to camera – all of these elements and things like them in an on camera standup or bridge give you markers.  The act of finishing the two steps acts as a trigger to the next phrase, the arm raise prompts for another sentence, the gesture to camera triggers to emphasis you need in your concluding statement. If you just stand still in front of the camera, have no clear idea of the kinds of things you want to say (never mind the actual words) and try to look natural, then all you will do is provide endless fun for the video editor who will snigger uncontrollably as butchered take after take comes up on screen.”

Link to Rick’s Article: http://www.rickgrant.com/blog/how-tv-reporters-can-perform-better-on-camera-by-watching-a-scotch-commercial/

I really like how Rick Grant has simplified how to approach executing a PTC. Using markers or even just taking a few strides could improve how I deliver my PTC, as well as keeping my script worded simply. I also have to remember to slow down my speech, not something that Rick or David advise, just something my Dad always tells me…..I feel a lot more confident about reporting for QUT News, let’s hope these tips work for me out in the field!

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