Technical How-To: How Long Do Clips Need to Be?

by Kaitlyn Mitchell

This week at Stringr, we’re tackling a question that Stringrs frequently ask: How long does a submitted video need to be? And what does it mean to submit only “raw” footage?

At Stringr, the quicker you upload your video, the more newsworthy it is. This makes it more likely for your video to be promoted to our customer.

The only way you can get your video to us as quickly as humanly possible is by NOT editing your video footage, as tempting as it is for you perfectionists out there. We see you there. We NEVER promote video submissions that have been edited to include subtitles over the footage and music over the natural sound. Our customers employ their own professional video editors who will edit your video to their liking — so there’s no need for you to.

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You will regret over-editing. Leave the hard work to us!

By unedited footage, we don’t mean a 20-minute video that shows your subject AND the inside of your coat pocket while you’re not actively shooting.

At the curation desk, we prefer to see your clips separately uploaded. If that means you submit 10 or more different video clips, no problem! You can actually group a set of clips — See our video on the Stringr home page on how to do this.

Many of you have asked — What is the proper video length of each footage request?

We here at Stringr ask that individual clips are no less than 10 seconds each, and ideally we are looking for about two minutes of footage. Unless you’re shooting action-packed breaking news, five-second clips are too brief to interest our customers.

But if you’re shooting plain old b-roll, it’s best to make each clip you submit at least 15 seconds to one minute in length and that you should provide a variety of shots at different angles and vantage points. The rule of thumb with b-roll is: the more you have to work with, the better.

While there is no time limit for your videos, note that the longer your video is, the longer it will take to upload from your smartphone using the Stringr app. So it is best to cap really great footage at one minute or so and submit another clip if you want to show more of the action. A fantastic feature of the Stringr app is its ability to upload your video in the background while you continue to shoot more clips on the app. It will then upload those clips separately.

Let us be clear: we do not frown upon editing your video clips together in a separate app before uploading to Stringr if it is done well and shows a variety of shots; however, if that prevents you from getting us your footage as fast as possible, it may not be worth the extra effort.

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Stringr footage from Chicago flooding in mid-June.

Happy Father’s Day, Stringrs! Stay dry — best to avoid taking your car for a swim like these unfortunate folks from Chi-Town.

To Cover or Not to Cover? Seeking Out the News

by Kaitlyn Mitchell

The team at Stringr’s curation desk in New York City is hard at work around the clock, actively monitoring breaking news in our 10 live markets. But there’s no need to wait for requests. We want you to be on the lookout for newsworthy events too.

As an enterprising Stringr, you ARE allowed to submit a video that is not associated with a specific footage request. But to avoid wasting your own time covering something that won’t interest our customers, we recommend you follow the guidelines that we ourselves stand by as to determining if an event is newsworthy.

  1. Crime: Unfortunately, crime impacts many communities. Our customers are interested in crimes that involve innocent people: think children, parents and individuals who should not have gotten caught in the cross fire. If you happen to be witness to a crime before police arrive, ALWAYS call 9-1-1 before you take out your camera or phone to film anything. Safety for you and others should always be your number one priority.

    NEVER EVER TAMPER WITH EVIDENCE. A still from

    NEVER EVER TAMPER WITH EVIDENCE. A still from the film “Nightcrawler.”

  2. Motor Vehicle Accidents: MVAs are also far more common than you may realize, and don’t generally constitute news. Again, go by the “unusual” rule of thumb — for instance, if the accident seriously impacted traffic on a major route, if a vehicle is on fire, if a large number of people/vehicles were involved, if pedestrians were involved or if a car crashed into a building. Please note, if you’re driving by an accident scene, NEVER film while driving. It is dangerous and against the law. Rather, safely pull over to the side of the road and exit your car before filming anything, and as always, make sure that emergency personnel have been contacted before shooting video. Also, make sure that your involvement will not have any further negative impact on emergency efforts or traffic.
  3. Protests: For excellent tips on how to shoot a protest, check out this week’s video blog. This week one of our Stringrs from Texas captured vehement words being exchanged between different groups of protesters at an elementary school in McKinney, Texas, where police activity at a pool party earlier this week has flared racial tensions in the area.

    A still from video of the McKinney protests.

    A still from video of the McKinney protests.

  4. Weather: Weather events generally have to be extreme to warrant coverage; think flooding, tornadoes, water spouts, hail, dramatic lightning, etc. We’re interested in weather video that shows the weather’s effect on people: how they live, work and commute. Check out our video blog on shooting weather. A terrific example from this past week is our Texas-based Stringr, Dominic Nagella’s video of the Trinity River flooding over a roadway near Dallas. His video showed the river flooded over a roadway, but it also had a compelling subject — a young boy standing on a road barrier, fishing in the floodwaters. The cars and trains moving on the highway near the horizon of Nagella’s frame provided additional interest for the viewer. His b-roll footage was purchased by one of our customers.

    A still from video of the Trinity River flooding over a roadway in Texas.

    A still from video of the Trinity River flooding over a roadway in Texas.

At Stringr’s curation desk, we have access to news wire services that allow us to hear about breaking news first! If you decide to seek it out on your own, please remember to follow the letter of the law and stay safe.

How-To: Shoot Motion

Video is great because it captures the motion of the world around us.  However, when shooting, you don’t necessarily need to follow the motion to capture it best.  In a lot of scenarios, keeping the camera still is the best way to record what is going on.  Before pressing record, think about the subject matter and how it is moving.  Understanding your scene can help you plan your shots ahead of time, making you more efficient on scene.

When shooting a scene or an event, think about how it is moving within your frame.  If there is a lot of different motion, like people walking in a crowd, set your camera up to capture everyone moving instead of following a single person.  If there are less people try to capture where they are moving by having them move across the frame.

Using wide or medium shots is the best for capturing motion because you can show where everything starts and ends.  You want to avoid panning back and forth, which creates shaky and often ugly footage.

Instead of panning around the scene to capture everything that is occurring, shoot a variety of different shots from different angles. When shooting complicated scenes, simply keeping the camera still is the best way to capturing the movement.

When shooting, don’t be afraid to move the camera position to capture the best shots. Instead of zooming, move the camera closer to the subject to get clearer shots. If there is a lot of motion to one side, move to that side to avoid having to pan.

If you want to track a certain subject, make sure to keep the camera steady and not cut the subject off by having lead room in the frame.

By using a variety of different shots, you automatically increase the quality of your footage.  So remember to keep your shots steady and not cover the entire scene in one sweeping clip.