During one of my first forays into multimedia ever I found myself knee-deep and just a bit over my head.
There I was standing in the middle of pigsty, trying to not get any more crap on myself than I had already done, all whilst balancing a camera, tripod, microphone and the still camera slung over my shoulder.
The sequences of artificial insemination, feeding and tagging were shaky at best and I wasn’t exactly sure where my narrative was going. One trip turned into a few more because of numerous mistakes. At home and in the edit lab I manage to break at least two hard drives and was fairly certain my instructor was on the verge of killing me.
But as these things go, it was all a learning experience. It’s easy to be over-encumbered at first when starting out with multimedia or becoming more multi-platform savvy.
The package came together and I eeked closer to knowing just what the hell I was doing when I couldn’t fall back on the comforts of print journalism.
Earlier this year The Chancer wrote about being a jack-of-all-trades journalist and the danger of being a master of nothing. The scary thing about starting to figure out how to be multi-platform and adept at producing multimedia pieces is exactly that.
Multimedia reporting is still very much a skill in flux. No one is exactly sure what it entails, and it seems the definition of what multimedia actually is changes quite frequently.
I’ve always, and will always, believe multimedia to not be just a broadcast package or a short documentary, but a a 3-minute or so long piece that has the narrative structure and storytelling qualities of a narrative print piece or a in-depth radio piece (from something like say ‘This American Life’).
Being a jack-of-all-trades is not a bad thing. There’s always room for improvement and for speciality. And being multi-skilled is a specialty itself. Just like being adept at courts, investigative and sports, knowing how to operate a camera, edit and tell a clear and coherent story takes time and practice.
Here are some general tips on just getting started in familiarizing yourself with multimedia:
- You need a camera of some sort – it doesn’t need to be a Canon 5d MK II or something of the highest broadcast quality. Flip cameras and even those on the iPhone work fine.
- Watch and listen to as many pieces as possible. MediaStorm. This American Life. The New York Times. The Telegraph. These all have great multimedia product, or quality storytelling.
- Take notes of what you like. The way something is shot and edited. The way a story is told.
- Play around with free software like Soundslides and Audacity, or if you can, use your school’s edit lab to teach yourself the basics of editing software like Final Cut. You can find tutorials at Lynda.com (they cost money)
- Get out there and just experiment, then upload it to Youtube, Vimeo or whatever and let people see your hard work and ask for critiques!
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look