Rozana Introduces Journalists to Main Principles of Mobile Video Production

Rozana’s trainers continue, together with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Facebook Journalism Project, to provide training for journalists in the Middle East and North Africa, mainly on video and mobile journalism. The workshops were held in the Arabic language and lasted for six weeks.

The first webinar was held on 12 November as part of the ICFJ’s training sessions on mobile and video journalism, which was initiated by the trainer at the Rozana Media Development Center (RMD) Syrian journalist Mais Katt, who provided instructions and methods for journalists on how to use mobile phones to produce journalistic content.

After this first webinar, the ICFJ organised a second webinar on Thursday, 19 November that lasted for two hours and witnessed the participation and interaction of 370 journalists from the Middle East and North Africa.

The third session was held on 26 November for two hours, during which the Egyptian journalist Mustafa Darwish, winner of the 2019 Thomson Foundation mobile journalism for best press report, presented an overview of mobile journalism.

During the training workshop, Darwish discussed the numerous advantages of using smartphones to shoot news reports, namely the low cost of equipment compared to expensive professional cameras and the expenses of hiring a shooting crew, in addition to the high-quality of phone cameras, the convenience of filming and moving to different locations, which also helps protect the journalist, in addition to the quick access to live broadcasting and sending materials via smartphones.

The fourth session was held for two hours on 3 December, with the participation of 311 journalists and students, during which Darwish provided practical advice on mobile journalism and information on the tools used to prepare press reports using mobile phones, while stressed the importance of paying attention to sound quality when producing journalistic materials with a mobile phone, and recommended using an external microphone to record the audio.

Like the previous sessions, and since mobile phones would be the journalists’ best friends in 2021, the fifth session training facilitated by journalist and media trainer Sarah Hotei on 16 December witnessed the participation of 295 participants from different parts of the world, during which she spoke about the process of producing and editing videos using mobile phones.

Hoteit started the training session with presenting a story about a Lebanese centenarian, who is allegedly 125 years old, produced by the Dutch channels Deutsche Welle (DW) and Zoomin TV in two different ways. Hence, DW presented the story in a serious manner, while Zoomin TV used fast-paced music as an addition.

Hoteit said that the story was the same, and as was the shooting style and the hero, but the difference lies in the storytelling technique through editing.

After presenting this example, the trainer provided useful tips to help the participants determine the style they would choose to produce their stories as a first step, and in a second stage, they should determine whether the story would be humorous or serious, in addition to focusing on the planning and implementation, including the identification of the shots that are supposed to appear in the beginning, the middle and the end of the video.

Here, Hoteit emphasised that the journalist needs to know in advance the scenes and interviews he/she wants to conduct in order to plan the montage process.

After completing the previous two steps, the journalist has to choose the music, which Hoteit considered to be one of the most difficult stages which she often finds challenging. This step also includes the choice of timing for each shot, which need sometimes to be expedited to go along with the pace of the story or slowed down to reflect suffering or demonstrate the lapse of time. Therefore Hoteit recommends flexibility when choosing shots and timing depending on the nature of the story and the target style.

Some of the webinar participants asked about sources of music that could be used for free and without copyright restrictions. Others responded by posting links to websites offering royalty free music.

The participants noticed that the visual stories that were shown include a written text on the screen that translated the speech of the story protagonist, so they asked the trainer about the importance of such a method. In effect, the facilitator answered saying that this technique had many advantages, especially when the journalist wants to clarify to the Arab World’s audience some words that are said in a certain dialect, hence, adding subtitles to the video is important so that everyone can understand the video story in case they cannot activate the sound in public transport or in the workplace.

During the webinar, visual stories were presented and Hoteit explained how to work on this type of productions and provided tips related to editing, including the importance of each shot to be meaningful in a way that allows the video maker to present something new; while emphasizing the need to avoid repeating the same shots unless repetition has a purpose in the video.

The media expert stressed that a story that may take a day or a short period to prepare should be told without adding time-consuming shots which do not serve the story. She also provided specific technical guidelines to follow while editing the video, including ensuring the continuity of shots.

Hoteit concluded the session by talking about editing apps, including the LumaFusion program, which she thinks is the best, however, it is a paid app and available only for IOS phones. She also showed the trainees how to use KineMaster and provided them with the names of other useful apps.

It is noteworthy that these training sessions are held remotely, as an extension of the training of journalists in the Middle East and North Africa within the “Social Media Platforms Solutions” program, which was launched in partnership with the Facebook Journalism Project and in cooperation with the Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum held by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the International Journalists’ Network (IJNet).