Writing to Pictures – Part 1 – BBC Academy 2015

Writing to Pictures – Part 1 – BBC Academy 2015


Broadcasting House in the heart of London home. The BBC’s biggest multimedia newsroom. Journalists
working here write to be read, write to be listened to
and write for television same story different storytelling skills and I think it’s important to remember in this multimedia age, that writing for or with or to pictures, is different
from writing to be read or writing to be listened to. It’s a skill that some just seem to have, it’s a skill
that others work hard to acquire and it’s a skill the some people never
really quite get In 25 years with the BBC I’ve been fortunate to work with some of
the best in the business of television news. I’ve watched them
at their craft and occasionally even made myself useful. They’re very different people They’re very different journalists, but when it
comes to working with pictures I believe they do have some things in
common. This is a personal look at those shared
traits. Now, if there’s one thing that unites all of those who
have a reputation for being able to write well to pictures it’s this… they look at the pictures; they REALLY look at the pictures. The best in
the business of television news understand the obvious, that at its best television is about the pictures. I was working with the Royal
Correspondent Nicholas Witchell and picture correspondent Duncan Stone
on that Royal Wedding day. We had a tiny edit suite just by
Buckingham Gate Next door was a sophisticated
network logging operation that was designed to make sure no great
shots were missed Nick was in the Abbey but able to watch the main broadcast on
a little TV. When he got back to start editing his picture log hastily scribbled in a
notebook was, rather irritatingly, better than
anybody else’s a hugely experience correspondent Nick was totally across the pictures – his raw
material “…the marriage register signed Prince
William and his wife”… He hadn’t just been vaguely watching, he’d been paying
detailed attention. “…and with the formalities over it was a chance for some of the other
principal players best man and maid of honour, father of the
groom and mother of the bride to exchange views on
how it had all gone that’s certainly something all the
guests will have been discussing as they took their tales of the wedding
home with them”. In my experience, the best correspondence say things like
what’s your best picture let’s go through the rushes, what have we
got. More than this they build in time for looking at the
rushes and crucially they look at the pictures BEFORE they
start writing But what is it they’re looking for? A
great opening shot, a killer sequence, pictures that will tell
the story… Of course all of these things, but I
believe they’re also looking for something else. Inspiration. That certain something in the picture the stimulates a line. It
might be a landscape or something in it. It might be some
action or some drama in the frame. It might be a face, an expression an emotion It might be a sound, perhaps a voice… It might be something that seems
out of place that somehow illuminates a story. Watch
out for cliches the teddy bear in the rubble of the
earthquake has been done, but remember it’s concentrating on the pictures that gets
the creative juices flowing It’s the pictures that inspire the
memorable lines… Mud is all they have to hold off the rising sea Backbreaking labour to try to rebuild
their island’s defences Under a monsoon sky this is an apocalyptic scene. Workers toiling on an embankment wrecked by a storm
last May Without it, this community can’t survive. In the old Libya, where the prisoners sky was just a patch
of light, arrest was arbitrary and sentences could be indefinite or cut
short by an execution fear still isn’t far away in the new
Libya’s prisons we were asked not to show the prisoners
faces

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