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Tips for Filming a News Broadcast

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Misty Faucheux•updated: 1/26/2009

Broadcast news is not an easy project, but here are a few tips to help you put together both a professional or home news program.

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    Hard Enough

    News broadcasts are one of the most specific and stringent types of videos that someone can produce. They are usually done in large studios that are equipped to both run the production like a machine, but also to troubleshoot any problems that may occur. The reason is because they are almost always broadcastingas well as working with national affiliates.

    These can be done yourself as well, such as college broadcasts, video podcasts and public access. Whether in a professional studio or in your basement, there are certain things that you can observe to make the broadcast look even better.

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    Forget Live TV

    Doing a live broadcast is not a great idea unless you have the superbly vetted professionals. Almost no one can read long monologues correctly without any problems and adding news packages to the broadcast requires extensive equipment and software. It is much easier to just record the news cast in small clips, and then edit it together with the news packages in non-linear editing software.

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    When doing a broadcast, you really need to consider the backdrop. A black curtain is often fine, but somewhat boring. Never have a window unless you have the best possible equipment and location to compensate for the problems it will create.

    What is often a great option is to place the control room, where you will do any of the mixing, directly behind the anchors. This will make it look a more professional news room. If this is the case it is important for everyone in the control room to never look out onto the floor because the camera will pick this up.

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    Make sure that there is a wide and professional desk for the anchors to sit at. This helps present them with authority, and it will look awkward if there is a small or short table in front of the camera. The anchors have to look comfortable at this sizable desk.

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    Queue Card or Teleprompter

    Make sure that there is either a good queue card system or teleprompter in the works. It is next to impossible to have the anchors read or memorize their script, which will be unreasonably long and delivered to them with short notice. Make sure that the teleprompter is placed as close to the bottom of the camera as possible.

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    Eye Contact

    Though the anchors are able to read the text and look into the camera the whole time, they really should not do this. This can make the audience feel uncomfortable, and the anchors will appear as if they have sacrificed their humanity to a robot race. Instead have them look down at a few sheets of blank paper every eight to ten seconds.

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    Hair and make up rules need to be observed even more than normal because the audience will be focused on the anchor’s faces for such an extended period of time. Make sure to use powder to reduce all the shine, but do not overdo the make up on men because it will appear irregular.

    Women are told to have short hair because this conveys authority immediately to the audience. The general rule is to keep the hair above the shoulder, but this is often forgotten by cable or nternet news. It is an archaic rule by many standards, but some people still feel that it should continue to be applied.

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    Lighting is to be a lot more important because of the extensive time that the anchors faces will remain static on camera. Keep the whole set lit well will a soft, diffused lighting.

    Keep minority skin tones in mind because many standard lighting set ups are keyed into Caucasian skin types. Make sure to do lighting tests with the talent ahead of time to see how they will end up looking on camera.

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    Broadcast News

    These tips will not ensure a quality broadcast, but will help you avoid some amateur problems. Take an assessment of the resources that you have and see if you can actually put together your own news show.