Video Portrait Exercise

Profile a person who is involved in some activity. That person can be a family member, friend or even a community member running a business. The total running time for this exercise will be 2-4 minutes, although definitely no less than 2 minutes.  

Find a person who is involved in an activity that they're willing to share that also has strong visual potential. Write up a treatment of your story (a narrative description of how you expect the story will look once it's complete) and set up a time to discuss it with your instructor. Once you get feedback, you'll then be able to start the production work.

Get footage of this person doing something (this is your b-roll). You will need to demonstrate sequences, depth and also good NATS. Get creative with angles and perspectives. Use additional lighting, especially for interview shots. Apply the 5-shot rule to any single activity to make sure you're getting enough footage. But you will likely need to shoot at a ratio of 10 to 1, or 10 shots for every one that gets used in editing.

All assignments must be shot with the equipment assigned to the class unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor.

You will also need to do an on-camera interview where the person can tell us more about who they are and what they do. You will need to transcribe this interview and isolate sound bites. Keep in mind that the longer you interview someone the more time it will take for you to transcribe it. Don't use the interview time to search for your story; have a focus and ask a few good questions that will support the focus. 

What other elements do you think you might find that could tell more about this person? Look for cutaways and other shots that say something visually about this person.

Again, the procedure in order:
  • Find a person who is willing to be your subject (the earlier you know the better)
  • Come up with a focus statement and write a treatment (one or two pages)
  • Set up a time to discuss with your instructor
  • Start the production work (the earlier the better)
Scripting and Editing
You have the option to write a script that includes a combination of reporter narration track and sound bites, or you can use the sound bites only for your narration, which is more of a challenge. You need to ask the right questions to guide the interview towards SOTS that will help move the story forward with a beginning, middle and end.

Edit the piece using the fast package professional workflow: 
  • Start with a script (use fully transcribed sound bites) and set up a time to go over the script with your instructor for feedback
  • Edit the audio first
  • Insert the b-roll
  • Polish

Set a goal for yourself to finish the rough cut with time to spare. You will need to spend more time polishing the rough cut, which means trimming clips for pacing, smoothing out audio issues, and even doing some colour correcting. Your instructor will be happy to show you some techniques that can make your video look its best!