Adopt a multimedia journalist: Adam Westbrook

Image from adamwestbrook.wordpress.com.

Image from adamwestbrook.wordpress.com.

Adam Westbrook

Example 1: Short Film: “How to Make a Film”

In addition to making news and documentary videos, Adam Westbrook also posts various vlogs and blogs to his website talking about multimedia journalism. This video is a sequence of B-roll shots of someone making a cake. Over the shots are title slides with tips on how to make a video that metaphorically go along with the clips playing. For example, the text said “Collect every shot on your list,” as the subject was putting the ingredients in his shopping cart. I like that Westbrook put some light music over the video to let viewers know this is a lighthearted video, not a serious tutorial. He also used very close up angles and rarely showed the subject’s face, which makes sense because the viewers are supposed to be paying more attention to the tips presented and connecting them with his actions. One shot has the camera inside the shopping cart; another is right next to the mixing bowl as the subject mixes the ingredients. I think doing vlogs like this is a good idea because it will help you connect with your followers and give them a closer look into what you do.

Example 2: Documentary: “Fell: Drawing Sense from Death”

This video is a profile of Australian artist Toni Lebusque. It focuses on how she recovers from the death of her parents. According to Westbrook’s description, “This feature uses editing as a storytelling device, creating a slow, reflective feel.” This is evident in the way he transitions between shots and focuses on the frames of the subject’s artwork. In the first sequence of shots, he is incorporating the British model. It starts off with a few close-ups on her hands as she works. There are also over-the-shoulder shots and far-away shots. Many of the shots are dark or out of focus at first, then they transitions to clear shots of the intricate doodles she is making. This helps isolate what we are viewing so we can focus on what is important to the video—the artwork. The first two shots of the artist’s face are a silhouette shot and a blurred shot, creating somewhat of a mystery and letting us focus first on her words. When he transitions to the A-roll shots of the interview, the shots always use the rule of thirds. When he transitions to a shot of the artist getting a tattoo, we hear the sound of the tattoo needle before we see the tattoo artist working, which is a good use of natural sound.

Example 3: Explaining green energy

This video features fellow filmmaker Matt Walters taking on the challenge of going green. In the video, Walters attempts to demonstrate how to produce methane gas from animal waste and vegetation and transform it into useable energy. Something I found interesting about this video is that in many of the shots, Westbrook circles around the subject with his camera as the subject demonstrates how to make the gas. I think he was attempting to grab the viewer’s attention and show all angles of the subject as he was working. This also showed the viewer that the subject was working in his backyard. However, it made me as a viewer feel somewhat dizzy. Something I thought was effective in this video was how Westbrook darkened the borders of the shots of landfills when the subject was talking about the dangers of methane gas to the environment. I also like some of the far away shots when the subject is talking that show the large, green trees in the background. Following the subject with the camera as he walks around is also effective because it takes the viewer along for the process.

Example 4: Audio slideshow: The prison lawyer

This audio slideshow presents the story of John Hurst, who went to prison for killing his landlady and later went on to campaign for getting prisoners the right to vote. This slideshow uses a variety of shots and natural sounds to show the vast dynamic of who the subject is. The opening shot is of the subject sitting in a chair and staring directly at the camera. Over this shot is audio of him talking about the murder. This creates an unsettling feeling. We also see shots of the subject smoking and close-ups of ashtrays and cigarettes, along with some natural sounds of the subject lighting his cigarette and puffing smoke. Later in the clip, the mood shifts when he talks about his campaign and we see color shots of books. We also see and hear the subject’s dog, which characterizes him further as a dynamic subject, not just a killer.

Example 5: Explaining voting systems

This video uses motion graphics animation and typography to explain the new voting system that would be on a referendum for voters in the UK. Westbrook uses large text in the beginning of the video that shows up on screen as he narrates. He also uses complimentary colors when showing the names of the old and new voting systems. The most helpful part of the video was the bar graphs and the animated voting sheets that illustrated how each system works. Westbrook’s description says teachers now use this video to show students how parliament works. Doing this type of informational video is a good idea because it will help your audience to understand the news that you report.

Example 6: Documentary: Eye tracker

This video documents an experiment conducted by students at Kingston University. The experiment looks at the eye movement of babies. As the audio from the interview begins playing, viewers only see a black screen with the name of the university in the corner. Then, a super close-up picture of an eye comes into frame. This was an interesting way to introduce the video. The woman who runs the experiment then is shown in the A-roll interview shot, which uses the rule of thirds. The close-up shots of the baby viewing the experiment were effective as well as the over-the-shoulder shots of the person analyzing the results on a computer.

Example 7: Press Night: making a student newspaper against the clock

This video shows the journalism students at Kingston University in London putting out a tabloid edition of their newspaper and struggling to get the pages out on deadline. This video did not seem as professional as Westbrook’s other pieces. The footage is a bit shaky, though was probably going for a more personal and less formal touch.

 

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