Newspaper Video Dissection: David Simon by The Guardian

Competent video for newspaper's websites has been a long time coming. Too often management has asked more of reporters and photographers without giving them the proper tools, training and time to be successful. Both The Guardian and The New York Times are leaders in investing money, time and talent in creating regular online videos. Together these two organizations have set an industry standard.

Let's look at an example from The Guardian, Australia Edition:

Writer David Simon in Australia

Watch: David Simon Interviewed by Guardian Australia posted November 1, 2013

This is a simple interview with writer David Simon shot in natural light. It appears this was shot with one stable camera and one roaming camera collecting establishing shots, detail shots, b-roll, and a second angle on Simon.

The crew for this shoot could have been as small as two people (including the interviewer), but more likely it was a three person crew. The audio on both Simon and the interviewer is essentially clean, and as we know 'good video with bad audio is bad video'.

The interview opens on a close up of Simon talking and they stay with this shot for over a minute. This is unusual for a short online video. It would make more sense if they didn't have establishing shots to set the scene, but as we see they have all those shots and yet they choose to stay on Simon, so it's obviously a deliberate choice. We can assume they did in an attempt to focus the viewer's attention on the content of what Simon is saying.


Detail Shot of David Simon's Shoe

Detail Shot of The Top Half of David Simon's Head

Detail Shots: An extreme close up of the top of David's head, and of his shoe used to cover edits.


B-Roll of the Coast

B-Roll of a Boat

B-Roll of a Bridge

B-Roll Footage: Shots of the coast, a boat and a bridge.


Establishing Wide Shot with Interviewer

Second Angle Establishing Wide Shot with Interviewer

Establishing Shots: These two short wide shots are the only glimpses we get of the interviewer.    

This video is an example of the basic elements of competent newspaper video: good audio, decent lighting, multiple cameras or angles, detail shots, establishing shots, b-roll and moving focus (a stylistic choice favoured by The NY Times).