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Monday, December 14, 2009

Minneapolis feature reporter brings the art of storytelling to UNO

More than a dozen members of the UNO and Omaha-area community gathered to learn about the art of storytelling from former KETV reporter Boyd Huppert in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service Building on Dec. 5.

Huppert speaks before UNO students, faculty and Omaha-area professionals about the art of storytelling (Andrea Ciurej/UNO).

Huppert, who started in broadcasting at 16, serves as a feature reporter for KARE-11 in Minneapolis. He was also a TV reporter for WSAW-TV in Wausau, Minn., WEVR in River Falls, Wis., and WITI in Milwaukee. He is also the recipient of four Edward R. Murrow Awards, a National Headliner Grand Award and an Emmy for feature reporting.

Before Huppert's presentation, father-son duo Dave and Roger Hamer of WOWT gave audience members the 101 on camera techniques.

As a reporter, you have to know your focus, Huppert said.

"The focus can be whatever we want it to be," he said.

The focus of your story needs natural moments to personify the story, so viewers can get to know the interviewee.

Huppert said there is a difference between the character and an interview. Viewers don't get the opportunity to know or learn about the source in an interview-like setting, he said.

Huppert said reporters can do the following to treat their interviewees more like a character in a story:

- Establish a focus.
- Have a handshake shot by introducing the character and showing the handshake.
- Provide one quality that will stick out about the character.

This is where TV reporters have an advantage over print journalists, who have to paint a picture through words.

"Say it, prove it," Huppert said. "We have a variety of ways to convey information."

Huppert also spoke about the benefits of natural sound.

Natural sound - real world sound during action sequences - places viewers at the central location of the story, he said. It also provides additional information, so the reporter doesn't have to do all of the talking, and sets the pace or "throttle" for the story.

"This is the case where less is more," Huppert said. "We need to get really good at the set-ups. Then we give the punchline to someone else."

But remember, every story needs to have a beginning, middle and end, the Hamers said.

Meghan Bird (left) does a stand-up interview with Roger Hamer (middle) and Dave Hamer (right) (Andrea Ciurej/UNO).

"You basically have a front row seat to what is going on in the community," Roger Hamer said. "Think outside the box, think outside the norm."

The Hamers provided tips on how to use the camera effectively:

- Shoot and move. Don't shoot from one spot.
- Stick to the 180 degree rule, stating that two characters or elements in the same scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. Draw a line through the scene to compose the shot and maintain foreground/background relationships.
- Sequence your story using cutaway shots, an image different from the current action. These shots will add human interest and save time when editing.
- Practice conservation of movement. Don't run back and forth when filming, shoot as you go.
- Watch the position of the microphone. Make it natural.
- Ask yourself, "Do I need it and is it vital to the story?"
- Dont' stage your shots. You don't want to influence action in the story.

"You are your own photographer, you are your own reporter," Roger Hamer said. "If you've seen it in the viewfinder before, stop."

UNO students, faculty and Omaha-area professionals listen in on the presentation (Andrea Ciurej/UNO).

The Hamers also gave tips on how to show reporters on camera:

- Keep it brief.
- Keep it interesting and meaningful.
- Maintain from story.

Keep the reporter close by, though, Roger Hamer said. You can stir away from using the viewfinder and develop a feel for the camera in use.

Remember to get differing opinions when searching for a focus.

"Don't be afraid to bounce the idea off of someone else," Roger Hamer said.

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