10 Simple Ways To Create
An Outstanding Stand-Up

10 Simple Ways
To Create An Outstanding Stand-Up

Written by Soul Witness
🕒 May 04, 2021

The stand-up… AKA that awkward part, where you get in front of the camera to try to explain something better than your interview did. “Be more creative!” your News Director’s words ring in your head.

But…HOW?

If this sounds familiar, be assured that thousands of other journalists feel your pain. We have all struggled with this, and will probably continue to struggle for the rest of our time in the business.

Here are a few suggestions on how to make your ND happy, and have quality stand-ups to add to your reel. I will add that I’ve been an MMJ for 10 years now, and have never had a photographer go with me on a daily basis…or at all for that matter. So, while I don’t know it all, here are 10 of my tried-and-true tricks used to create better stand-ups.

1. Grab something.

Yes, we’re starting with the “old school” trick: Adding props. While this may seem easy, and like it’s been done 10 million times, you can still make it cool.

Having something to hold up, or just hold in general, can cut down on the “awkward hands” that all journalists are guilty of doing at one point or another in their career. It’s so common, it’s even become meme worthy.

Journalists be like… 

Some People Just Don't Know What To Do With Their Hands - 16 Pics | Tech girl, Pics, People

Having a prop can also lead to the “show and tell” tactic. If you are doing a story on something that you can interact with, and “do” while filming it, go for it! Think back to kindergarten. Who didn’t love show-and-tell? No matter how old people get, they still want to see how things work.

2. Dress it up.

Another age-old trick is to essentially, play dress up. I’ve worn vintage dresses in museums, a firefighter’s gear, and hats galore. Sometimes, the people you’re working with for the story will say no, BUT sometimes they say yes and keep handing you things to wear!

3. Ask for help.

With that being said, you can sometimes enlist the help of your interviewee, or someone else hanging around your shoot. For example, I went to an Educator’s Workshop, put on by the Marines, and I needed to film myself doing the obstacle course.

You see my problem? Well, I asked one of the Marines to just follow me with the camera (I had to put it on full auto), and it came out great!

4. Multiply yourself

You may be by yourself most of the time, but you can still film multiple YOUs! This takes time, and practice, and you may need to watch a few examples or a tutorial, but it is a great editing trick to have up your sleeve when you need it.

You can split up your script, and record yourself saying it two, three, four times, etc. Just remember to give yourself enough pad each time you shoot. Yes, you’ll look ridiculous standing there by yourself, talking to yourself, nodding at what you have to say…but, trust me, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

5. Use different angles.

Speaking of multiple takes…film yourself at different angles. This is an easy way to break up a longer stand-up, and make it more interesting. You can cut from angle 1, to angle 2, to angle 1 again, or even angle 3.

If you don’t have multiple cameras, this can still be done by moving the one camera you do have around. Pro tip: You can use your phone as well. Just make sure the angles make sense and look good when you finish editing.

6. Try a GoPro.

Another tip when it comes to angles is to incorporate a GoPro, if you have one. If you don’t, you can still get that “first person” view by using your camera. I re-create the GoPro look with a fisheye lens, that clips on to your phone. I got one from the dollar store years ago.

7. Film with your phone.

On that note, use your phone. Most NDs won’t have a problem if you use your phone to record yourself…if it looks good. Keep that last part in mind!

You can get creative with angles, and make your story have a certain feel to it if you use your phone. Is your story about social media? Use your phone to record yourself like Instagrammers. Use filters.

Does your story have a vlog feel to it? Use your phone to shoot a vlog style stand-up. To see these suggestions in action, check out this example done by an MMJ who inspired me. **Disclaimer: these suggestions should only be used if your story has these themes. Pitch it to your ND, or producer, before using these suggestions.

8. Have fun with editing.

Utilize your editing software. If you’re not familiar with all the editing tricks you can do with the program you’re using, ask a co-worker or look up YouTube tutorials.

Some edits here and there can turn drab and boring video into a great looking stand-up! You can even try adding footage together.

For example, get a wider shot of a living room entertainment set up, and put yourself in the TV. Or, shoot the control room, and put yourself in all the TVs. Also, you can add some transitions. Here is another opportunity to stretch your creative muscles.

9. Graphics and texts can spice things up.

While we’re talking editing, simply adding a few graphics, or some text, in your stand-ups can be a great way to drive numbers and statistics home. This trick can be used for when you are covering a serious topic, but still want to add some flare.

I hope these tips helped you, or at least got you thinking about how to get creative! The good thing about being an MMJ is, you can try something crazy and, if you don’t like it once you start editing, no one has to see it but you!

10. Don’t forget the backup stand-up!

My final tip is, say YES to opportunities and YES to creativity…but ALWAYS film a backup stand-up. That way, if something doesn’t work out, it’s as simple as using that other take.

Good luck! 😉👍🏼

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