This site seems to have a pretty good mix of both seasoned online producers and beginners. I think I'll start things off by giving the beginners some simple advice for getting started with web video. In subsequent posts I'll tackle things like storytelling, shooting, equipment, editing tricks and whatever else comes to mind.
I am by no means the man with all the answers, but I have been doing web video long to have some things to share. If I should happen to miss or overlook anything, feel free to share in the comments. I'm sure there are plenty of new things for me to learn too.
So let's get started.
Producing a video for a newspaper.com, even a short video, can take a long time to put together. For beginners it usually does. But it doesn’t have to. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they first start is thinking that everything needs to be beautiful and perfect. The truth is, you can do something tomorrow that you are really proud of and in six months, when you look back at it, your going to immediately see what you could have done better.
Don't worry about it. You won't get better by scrutinizing a work in progress. Practice is the only real path to doing better work. Do more stories, not just more editing.
When you go out to a story, think about what you're likely to come across before you get there. What you see may not be exactly what you were expecting, but at least your eyes will be open. Why do I bring this up? Because all too often, new videographers go out to a story and leave the camera running. If you record a bunch of stuff you know you're not going to use, it will just take you that much longer to go through it all later.
When it comes to equipment, having a more expensive camera will not make you a better videographer. In fact, the more expensive the camera is, the more likely you are to get confused by all the cool features it has. I've lost count of all the times people have returned to the newsroom with no sound or color bars instead of what they need. It's better to start simple and work your way up.
Which leads me to my last point... Get to know your gear. Test it out before you use it.
And use it often.