Video Storytelling Exercise

Objective: To shoot and edit a video story that is approximately 2:00 to 3:00 long. This story will contain soundbites (SOTS), voice over (VO) and cover footage (b-roll) with Natural Sounds (NATS). Stand-up is optional.


This assignment applies what you learned before -- effective camerawork with sequences and sound recording -- compiled into a story that is engaging to viewers.

You have the choice to work individually or in teams of two. 

What to turn in:

  • One video file H.264 of your completed package, or uploaded to YouTube.
  • One script (typed and in script format – no hand-written scripts)

What is a video story?

Do you have a story to tell? A video story may use the classic narrative structure consisting of:

  • A Beginning - introducing us to a protagonist
  • A Middle - featuring perhaps any obstacles that provide conflict or tension
  • An Ending - the climax where the protagonist achieves (or doesn't achieve) their original aim.

Your responsibility is to take a story idea and develop it visually. Consider the sound elements, using natural, or wild sound along with sound bytes and voice over. You are allowed to use music as well. You may structure your work according to these suggestions (used by professionals in the industry):

  • Come up with a story that has visual potential;
  • Do some research to know your story and why it's worth doing (why should we care about it?);
  • Ring up possible sources to come up with a good focus or angle (know what your story is about);
  • Set up an interview or two and try to determine your main character;
  • Shoot 10:1 ratio (10 shots for every one you use in the final edit);
  • Log the footage and transcribe the SOTS you hope to use;
  • Write the script and always write to your footage;


Video and Sound

Get a variety of shots that can be used to construct sequences. Exploit any action you can find in your shot to get matching action. 

Point your camera to sounds as you hear them. Often you will be running from one location to another. The interview will inform you as to the shots that are required to tell the story.

Use the hand-held microphone or the wireless for interviews and stand-ups. As you begin to script, select the best soundbites. Take note of any natural sounds (NATS) that will bring your story to life! Golden Rule for selecting soundbytes: if you can say it better, then it's not a soundbyte. Find soundbytes that can only be expressed by the person who said it, that convey emotion or experiences that the reporter cannot say.

Write visually – tell the story in pictures!

Story Ideas:

You could cover a story about everyday events, such as serving coffee at the café in ATLAS, or making pizza at the local take away. How about interviewing someone at the bike shop and getting footage of what they do? Remember you need at least one interview (one character to help generate audience empathy). You can also ask people on the street what they think about a particular subject (but always have a main character - someone who does something).

Tips for shooting:

  • Test the camera equipment before leaving the Armory.
  • Shoot at least 10 shots for every one shot that appears in your final product. That way, you create opportunities for editing.
  • Get a variety of shots from different angles so you can build numerous sequences.
  • Static shots must be rock steady – using a tripod is a must!
  • Hand-held shots must still be stablised.
  • At the end of your shoot review your footage to make sure you recorded good audio.
  • To get good audio during interviews, compose a close-up shot so you can move the microphone closer to the person’s mouth (if you're using the stick mic).
  • Always use headphones to monitor the quality of your audio.
  • Write your script after you log your footage (writing the script a must before you edit).
  • When editing, build your audio bed first and then add your cover shots.