Pieces to Camera – BBC Academy 2015

Pieces to Camera – BBC Academy 2015


Not long ago, Pieces to Camera were something
you stuck on the end of a piece, a bit embarrassed, amid a bit of teasing from cameramen about
just wanting to get your mug on the box. Well now, editors and audiences like to see you
connected with a story. It makes it more convincing. So here’s my personal guide to how you can
make the most of your piece to camera. Wherever you are, use language that’s simple,
conversational. Imagine you’re just talking to a friend. I think it’s best not to write
down a piece to camera first. Whenever I do, it all comes out rather “woodenly”.Instead
I work out the words in advance, mumble them to myself, attract the odd stare and then
just give it a go. Because that way if anything is going on, you’re there to seize the moment. VT: “For the second year running Tajikistan
is desperately short of rain and it’s fast becoming a dust bowl. But drought isn’t
the only problem. This country used to be part of a superpower – now it’s one of
the world’s poorest. It’s not quite Africa, but it’s getting there. Tajikistan is collapsing
but with Afghanistan as a neighbour, the outside world keeps it distance so people are suffering
alone”. Lyse Doucet: “And the injured are now arriving,
they keep arriving at this main hospital in Gaza. They’ve been taking in casualties
here every day since the operation started but never have they taken in so many casualties
on a single day – and this day isn’t over yet, nor is the operation. Inside four little
girls wait with their grandmother for news of their mother – 28 year old Isra”. Ian Pannell: “This is supposed to be day
two of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and as we’ve been hearing… the peace has not
settled in. We’ve been hearing the consistent sound of artillery shells being fired – there’s
another one. Most of it appears to be outgoing but what the people of the People’s Republic
of Donetsk are saying is they are suppressing fire…. The
Ukrainians insist they haven’t broken the
truce, accusing the rebels of shelling their own territory”. A piece to camera is also a really good way
of leading viewers from one location to another, whatever they may be. Don’t walk unless
there is a really good reason. Only move if it helps convey how different places or different
issues are connected. VT: “This is now the biggest single scientific
project anywhere in the world and this vast cavern is just part of it. There are 6,000
scientists. It’s going to cost over 2 billion pounds. This tunnel runs in a circle for 27
kilometres and all to look for the smallest things in the universe – the tiny particles
that make us and everything else”. Theo Leggett: “So what could you do with
a dusty old station that hasn’t seen any passengers in more than 80 years? Well London’s
Transport Authority reckons these tunnels would be the perfect place for an art gallery.
You could put a shop in a space like this. And this cavernous lift shaft could become
a lovely little boutique theatre or concert hall”. Claire Marshall: “So this sample will provide
a snapshot the tourist can’t get….just what the water looks like at a microbiological
level. The vast majority of English beaches are clean – last year more than 99 percent
made the grade but this is forecast to drop by 6-percent”. You might think about using a simple device
to explain a complicated point. I’ve found that a small rock or even an apple can help
do that. VT: “When most of us think of gravity what
comes to mind is the old story of one of these falling on Newton’s head. But scientists
here believe something that Einstein predicted – that gravity actually moves through the
universe in the form of waves – a bit like ripples across a pond”. LOOK EAST: “There’s new life saving equipment,
new water carriers and a new water support vehicle to deal with pollution and chemical
incidents. This new equipment isn’t just about advances in technology. This thermal
imaging camera for example is much lighter and easier to handle. It’s also about the
changing role of our fire and rescue services”. Of course some stories don’t lend themselves
to an interesting piece to camera – I’ve stood outside many-a-Brussels building in
despair. Then all you can do is come up with a phrase that grabs the viewer’s attention.
But wherever you are, relax, be natural and try to make the best use of your location
– good luck.

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