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Friday
May292009

Video provides material for the radio star!

As many of you will be aware, being a one-man-band reporter, shooter, producer, editor, graphics designer and so on, is no easy task.

Well, for some of us, it doesn't end there. In the current economy, many multi-skillers are attempting to produce material for more and more clients. Rather than produce different pieces for different clients, one pretty good model is to resell material to multiple clients (if it is contractually legitimate to do so), and that often means not just television networks... it means multiple media types, and multiple platforms.

More or less every story I do for a TV outlet is turned into a radio story for various stations and networks, and a text story for broadcasters' websites. I have been doing this for many years. In fact, radio is my background.

It's important to distinguish between a media and a platform. When I talk about multi-platform, I am talking about producing, say, a video which can be shown on multiple platforms such as TV and the internet. When I talk about multi-media, I am talking about producing a project of multiple forms of media, such as radio, television, text and so on.

I remember when multi-media really started becoming a buzzword in newsrooms. Back in the early 1990s, the BBC began turning most of its newsrooms into multi-media centers, and its reporters were required to produce their stories for radio and television. It's a good model and, for a freelance one-man-band video journalist, allows you to make additional revenue from your existing work.

But it's not quite as straight forward as you may think, from my experience. I have compiled a couple of tips for successfully converting your existing television stories into radio stories, and doing it quickly. It really is a very fast process, IF you take a few important things into account at the start of the process. You can make life difficult for yourself if you don't:

1) When you are scripting and editing your television story, bare in mind that it will be turned into radio. To avoid a wholesale sound remix when it comes to converting your TV project into radio, make sure you use natural sound in your TV version that will make sense for radio. Think about whether the sound you are using will require explanation for a radio audience that does not have the pictures to help them.

2) Avoid visual references in your script. In television, it is easy to write things like "on the left" or "in the background" and so on. When you are writing your TV piece, think about what will work for radio. Also, avoid things like "here a man hammers a nail". This will work for TV, but for radio you might want to use a sound-up of a hammer and nail, and say something like "A man hammers a nail". The word "here" doesn't really work for radio.

3) In your TV script, use set-up to introduce your soundbites. This is obviously not so easy when you face time constraints. But it will help you significantly when you come to exporting the sound for radio. If you don't introduce your speakers, the radio audience will not know who the speakers are. When you're filming, be sure to gather establishing material for each of your interviewees so you have pictures you can use to introduce them.

4) If you follow the tips above, you should simply be able to export the sound from your TV story and you'll have a radio piece. Once you've cut your television story and exported it from your editing program, go through the sequence and take out the sound that will not make sense for radio. For a radio story, chunks of dry voicetrack is fine. That is better than having natural sound that will confuse the listener. You may want to be more diligent in using fades and tidying up the audio when cutting a radio story. Afterall, the audio is all the audience has, so imperfections in the audio will be much more noticeable than on the television.

When you have fine-tuned the piece, simply export the audio, mixed down to mono with the natsound track and the voicetrack.

5) If you use Final Cut, you will probably export a .wav file. To convert this to other format, I recommend a piece of Mac software called Switch. It can convert from pretty much any audio format to any audio format. Here is a link to that software.

The ability to produce radio is a useful tool in the freelancer's arsenal. Radio is nowhere near as lucrative as television. But if you are producing something for a television client anyway, and want to make some additional money from the same material, you can sometimes make up to $500 from a radio story of a few minutes in duration. If you're a one-man-band, it might just be another instrument worth adding to your one-man orchestra.

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