View Full Version : how do ENG crews do it?

02-21-2005, 12:53 PM
Part of the learning process with my DVX and video production is realizing that it's all about control. You need to control the lighting, sound, movement of the camera and people you're shooting...the more control, the more predicable the result. So far, I never have as much control as I wish -- either due to time limitations, lack of skill, whatever.

So I wonder, how do news crews get decent footage when they have to rush in, conduct an interview, and leave in a few minutes? I know that one part of it is "crew." I work by myself, and I know even one assistant would be a HUGE help. But what other tricks do they have up their sleeves to produce consistenly usable footage?

02-21-2005, 01:44 PM
I shoot news in the bay area, and you're right, sometimes we are literally in and out of a location within minutes because of deadlines/travel time/etc. Then again, when I get 10 minutes to set up proper lighting (key, back and fill or background splash), it's a rare occurence, and even then I'm sure it's considered a rush job by those who do true production shoots.

I would say the basics are always what saves me:

composition, depth of field, and the lighting triangle (meaning: camera, reporter/producer as close to the lens as possible, then your key light on the other side of them, and your subject/interviewee at the 'tip' of the triangle). This can apply with the sun as well, although without time to set up scrims, you get harder light.

I wish I could draw it for you. Anyway, I learned a lot of the basics through a bootcamp held by the NPPA (Nat'l Press Photographers Association). They have it every year in Oklahoma.

02-21-2005, 02:13 PM
Brad, Thanks for the insights. What would happen if you had to do the entire job yourself -- camera, lights, sound, interview? That's similar to what I do, but without the rush.

02-21-2005, 04:55 PM
Actually, on some days, I get sent out by the assignment desk to do just that. Some people call them 'photo essays', or 'nat. sound pieces' in the tv news biz.

(nat. being short for 'natural'. in other words, you're not hearing any reporter/anchor track--just soundbytes and other audio that helps tell the story.)

Anyway, on those days, I have to be the reporter (to ask the questions), the photog. (obviously), and the audio tech (simply clipping on a lav. mic and then monitoring through headphones). However, the risk to this is as I ask questions, I usually stand to the left or right of the lens and tell them to look right at me and ignore the camera. Well, if you have a shifty person, or perhaps someone who isn't used to being interviewed, they might sway. To remedy this, I usually frame the shot wide, but then you lose some depth in your shot, not to mention that all your interviews are framed somewhat alike. Whenever possible, I try to have the subject sit down in a chair that doesn't swivel. People don't realize it, but if they're in a swivel chair, they WILL SWIVEL. It's a natural reaction. Anyway, if you can make sure they're still, you can frame tighter and not worry as much.

Audio? Just keep your headphones on........

Now keep in mind this is all coming from someone who shoots daily news/documentaries. So although creativity and artistic work is sometimes rewarded, it all comes down to "Just get it done!!" I can spend lots of time lighting a shot, but if I miss my slot for the nightly news, then I'm toast, so you have to weigh it out.

If you're doing it all yourself, Powerdog, just get the basics down solid, then tweak if you have the time, which it all seems to come down to: time and money.

Wow. Didn't think I'd write an essay! Hope it helps.........

02-22-2005, 06:49 AM
It helps a lot! I just wish I could watch you in action...I'd probably learn even more.


03-01-2005, 01:49 PM
the only thing you would learn is to not get a job in news :D
of course I have been doing it for nearly 10 years now.Which is why I would love to start doing my own work and not deal with the egos.And the 7 different managers calling me with the same questions all day, even though they all sit 5 feet apart, amazing since I do believe we all have degrees in communication!!!!!!! >:(

03-14-2005, 10:09 AM
i have thought about getting a job in news since they seem to be plentiful but i wonder do you get bored very early on? It woudl seems that shooting the same type of event day in day out must wear on you.

03-14-2005, 01:44 PM
ITs pretty simple, as far as doing it myself. I just go in and already have the mic set up and just find the person i need an interview with..and get it..with camera on the shoulder. I prefer to do all my news work on my own...one man band kind of thing. If there is another person it just makes it harder to get them to see some of your methods.

03-17-2005, 01:17 PM
I never get tired of it. Sure, you have your ups and downs, but you can't beat the variety. Every day you do something different, although you can take that statement with a grain of salt. Yes, I have done the, "Gas prices go up" story more than a couple times, and countless California recall stories, etc. But you also do stories that really have potential. Twin sisters crying after one gave another a kidney transplant. A veteran from Iraq taking his first rehabilitative steps. The "bushman" in San Francisco jumping out and scaring tourists.

Trust me, it beats sitting indoors all day. But that's just me.

And you get paid to shoot it, edit it, and have a lot of control in the creative process. Think of it as your own 2 minute reality film you get to shoot each day.

Now, rushing to the airport for the next anthrax scare............well, you have your bad days too..............

03-18-2005, 07:58 PM
i have thought about getting a job in news since they seem to be plentiful but i wonder do you get bored very early on? It woudl seems that shooting the same type of event day in day out must wear on you.

What? tell me smitty what does a cowboy like yurself do every day.(just kidding)

1 man band is the way!! Know your gear!!!!!(and limitations there of) and you can always improvise on sound and lighting.

I always explain that my voice will be edited out,so for example , if I ask you your age and you say 36 it is not usable,however if your response is I am 36 then we be in bidness..

hope this helps.

03-20-2005, 03:00 PM
Do 12 weddings, 4 dance recitals and 3 school gradutions. After that, "run-and-gun" begins to become second nature, very easy, and you get great shots out of bad situations. Nothing like trial by fire to master a technique.

04-06-2005, 10:52 PM

Great insight...thanks.

If you could draw out that triangle you were talking about...it WOULD BE A HUGE HELP! I'm new to this game, and am having to do a lot of "run and gun: type of shooting.


04-06-2005, 11:38 PM
Briefly read through all of this.. You basically wanna know how to shoot quick with great results. I will echo similar comments of experience and simply doing this stuff all the time makes you become quicker. For fantastic advice on setting interviews in cramped spaces by yourself in less than an hour, Walter Graff is the guy to turn to. His website is bluesky-web.com and it's fantastic. He also offers a lighting workshop in addition to the resources available online.

Hope this helps.
brian wells

04-08-2005, 04:44 AM
It all comes with expereience, and te proper training in Journalism for TV. Basically you will have about 18 minutes to go and get all the shots you need, and an interview or two. Then get maybe two more stories...again maybe 18 minutes each to get them. Then come back to the station have everything edited and ready for broadcast. Stressful = Yes , Satifaction from providing people with awesome news = priceless.