Do you want to create a professional-looking mobile news report for your blog or Facebook page? There are plenty of workshops available. But you might learn more by spending a few minutes watching Philip Bromwell’s “Celebrating Swift.” Shot on an iPhone 6S Plus, using the FiLMiC Pro app, this 1 minute 54 second mini-doc was edited with the LumaFusion app and broadcast over RTÉ (Irish television) on January 7, 2017.
Bromwell’s techniques are hiding in plain view. Here’s a cheat-sheet to help you spot them. Of course, you don’t have to try everything. Implementing even a few of the ideas will elevate your work.
We present the “secrets” in the order they appear.
- Start with a surprising angle. Bromwell uses a high-angle shot (looking down) that makes us wonder exactly where we are. This is similar to starting with an extreme close-up, which is another trick the filmmaker often uses.
- Let the expert enter the frame. This is basic theater strategy has worked for centuries on stage, and it works in videos.
- Use narration that adds information rather than tells what the audience can see. Two seconds into the video Bromwell, who serves as the narrator as well as the director, says: “He is a literary giant.” That kind of tease is far more effective than if Bromwell had said, “Here we are in the stacks of a library…”
- Use plenty of close-ups. Note how often in this short video we see book spines and art work.
- Give the expert something to do. Bromwell shows the interviewee pulling a book from the shelf. It’s a small action but more engaging than if he had started with a “talking head” shot.
- Begin with the expert speaking off camera. This kind of introductory “voice over”–achieved in the editing–can creates a bit of intrigue.
- Let the audience get to know the expert before identifying her. What the woman says and does makes us want to know who she is. Bromwell waits about 30 seconds before he superimposes her name.
- Mix in longer takes with short ones. Bromwell builds his reports out of clips averaging about five seconds. But for variety, he will include more leisurely shots, such as the one starting at 00:36.
- Use visual examples (“B-roll”) to illustrate what the expert says. An obvious case is when the woman talks about a particularly valuable edition of Gulliver’s Travels.
- Give yourself credit. A conventional—and effective—way to end a report is to identify the filmmaker as we hear in the last few seconds: “Philip Bromwell, RTE news. Dublin.”
If you watch this mobile news report several times, you may discover other lessons. If you do, we invite you to mention them in the comments section.
You’ll find an interview with Philip Bromwell here.