With television news becoming more and more visually driven, one noted cinematographer says broadcast journalists need to continue to evolve their skills to keep viewers captivated.
“If you want to be a storyteller, then visualize the story you want to tell,” said Matthew Libatique, two-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer.
Libatique, who has been the director of photography for feature films including Star is Born, Black Swan and Iron Man, expressed the need for young filmmakers to act as their own directors of photography (DP) on their stories and to focus on maintaining the story’s narrative flow.
“We are not who we are without the cinematographer,” Libatique said. “The DP expresses the story visually for the director.”
Those in TV news are expressing the story visually for the audience. While the entertainment and news broadcast industries are very different, there are still commonalities between the two, including key technical aspects Hollywood uses, such as proper lighting and camera framing, that broadcast journalists should incorporate into their craft.
“If you want to be a cinematographer or a DP, then learn how to light,” said Libatique, “Keep the source of the light honest and think about how it hits someone’s face.”
No matter if in Hollywood or the in newsroom, properly focused technique will make the end product more valuable, consumable and watchable for viewers, according to Libatique.
However, though efficient technique proves to be a constant no matter the field, it can take the story only so far, Libatique said. “Shot lists and storyboards are useful, but sometimes winging it can be better.”
Libatique urged storytellers to trust their instincts and believe in themselves, which can sometimes mean going off-script if it enhances the story.
“Storytelling can be like a puzzle,” he said. “You have to figure out the right pieces for it to work.”