Becca Habegger is a multimedia journalist at WBIR in Knoxville Tennessee.
She built a new resume reel. It’s updated with recent work. Becca is currently not looking for a job. I was curious then why she spent time building a reel. I was also impressed with the reel. I asked her questions about the reel. She gave me such good information I thought I would share it with you.
Becca Tip #1 – Start your reel with a 50 to 60 second montage
I was very impressed with the standup montage at the beginning of the reel. Becca says, “A mentor once told me to: A) start your reel with a 50 to 60 second montage and B) start that montage with a clip in which you look good. It may not be your most impressive standup or your flashiest live shot, but that first clip of the montage/entire reel is your handshake to the news director, who you want to take you seriously and, ultimately, hire you.”
I was also interested in knowing why each standup selection was less than 8 seconds long. Becca says, “Each clip in my montage is chosen and placed in the lineup very intentionally. Some show I can shoot and edit creative, multi-part standups. Two or three of them are really short, and those I placed between some of my longer clips.”
“It’s all about pacing. I want my montage filled with clips that, as I mentioned above, are long enough to get across my point (what am I showing the news director I can do in this clip?) without being so long that the viewer will lose interest. And two longer clips generally shouldn’t go back-to-back (the same applies for two quick clips),” she adds.
Becca has a social media standup in her montage.
Becca says, “Stations are increasingly moving toward digital and social-first. It struck me that a reel showing live shot aptitude, strong writing and creative standups should ALSO now have a clip or two from a ‘social video’ I posted to my Facebook page or my station’s Facebook page during big coverage. That shows: A) I UNDERSTAND that social videos are important and B) I can do them– and do them well.”
Becca tip #2 – Show Social Video in your reel
She has a clip showing herself asking a question. Becca says “As a multimedia journalist, I constructed my reel entirely of video I shot myself (except for the opening live shot– there was a photographer running that camera, but everything else was me).”
She adds, “I showed the clip with me asking a question to demonstrate that I, while working solo, can shoot and edit a multi-camera interview, which can add production value to a story.”
I was curious as to her logic of the 1st package on her reel. Becca says, “My first story demonstrates my ability to take a hard/consumer news piece and make it interesting by finding and showcasing a good “character” through strong writing and shooting.”
I observed a slow zoom in on herself during her standup in the package. I wondered why she did that. Becca says, “I’m not breaking any barriers here. I’ve seen many skilled photojournalists use this technique for an opening shot and I like it, so I’ve added it to my own toolbox. Essentially, it’s a matter of setting the scene with a wide shot, and the slow zoom/push is meant to draw viewers into the story. (In the same spirit, a wide shot slow zoom *out* as a closing shot is also a solid choice for a PKG.)”
In her 1st package on here reel there is a section with music. I was curious why she choose a package with music to lead-off her reel. Becca says”Music is like Fats, Oils & Sweets on the old Food Pyramid: USE SPARINGLY. On the Storytellers page, I’ll occasionally see good debates about music: whether to use it at all and – if so – how much? Usually, I see a lot of people saying, “Eh, it’s a case-by-case basis.” In this case, I felt the music tied together a long and VERY-multi-part standup that included some fast-motion video. Then, I chose to keep the music playing under my video as I flashed written quotes from the contractor’s response up on the screen, because I felt it maintained the pace. Once the quote section was done, I faded the music.”
You will notice many stagnant shot have slow zoom added in post. Becca says “As a journalist constantly seeking to grow my skills, I go through periods of little experiments, trying out different techniques and seeing how they come across.”
She adds, “This year, one of the things I’ve been trying is slow pushes on stagnant shots to keep the video moving, especially if the tracking or soundbite beneath it is dry. I don’t live or die by the slow push. I could take it or leave it. I think all the slow pushes in my recent stories speak more to the benefit of trying and learning and growing.”
I am always impressed with shot variety in anyone’s reel. I wanted to know how important that is to her. Becca says, “Shot variety is super important. Granted, that can come back and bite me on a dayturn, when I have limited time to log/write/edit and I feel I’ve overshot…but in a perfect world (and when not under the tightest of deadlines), I’d always rather end up with more shots than not enough.”
She adds, “Tight, medium, wide. Super-tight. Super-wide. I keep all of those in my mind when shooting. I want variety of each– not just a bunch of wide shots and, like, two tight shots. You don’t want to “back yourself into an editing corner.”
Becca does not dip to black between the packages on her reel.
(Link below goes directly to there transition between 1st and 2nd story)
Becca Tip #3 – Dissolve between stories on your reel
Becca says, “My thought is, dipping to black kills the energy. A news director watching could say then, “Alright, well, I know there’s another story, but I think I’ve seen enough.” The dissolve keeps the viewer engaged while also signaling, “Hey, this is a new story!” Analogy: think of a DJ playing electronic dance or house music…she or he goes right from one song into the next. You know it’s a new song– but the flow doesn’t get interrupted!”
Becca tip #4 – When you export PKGs for personal archive/reel make sure you export with several seconds of pad on the end
I’ve only known Becca for about a year. This is one of the first stories I saw from her.
In that short amount of time I’ve noticed drastic improvements in her editing. I wanted to know what changes she’s making. Becca says, “I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think my edits have become tighter, my sense of pacing has improved, and a lot of that boils down to increased confidence. Also, in this PKG, I notice my writing is pretty general and fluffy…not because it’s a feature but because I didn’t invest in any one character. Who do you really feel you got to know in this story?…That’s right, nobody. I think my storytelling has improved since last year (Thanksgiving 2015), and I’ve come to focus more on people and what makes them interesting than trite platitudes to fill space between soundbites.”
I also feel she has more confidence in her narration. Becca says, “With experience comes confidence, simply put. I feel like I’ve been pushed professionally (in good ways) to grow this year, doing more hard news and creative standups. The confidence in my voice reflects the ever-growing confidence in my skills.”
So Becca, why is the last story on your reel this story? She says, “I love that it was a 100% unique, organic and original story idea. My assignment on general election night was to “find a unicorn.” At my station, WBIR-TV in Knoxville, that means go find a unique character and tell a compelling story. I knew I had in my own recycling bin at home a bunch of political flyers I’d received in the mail, so it occurred to me I should stop by our local recycling drop-off center to talk with people, as they recycle their own flyers, about how sick they are of the political campaign season, how glad they are to see it coming to a close and what their hopes are for coming together as a nation post-elections. There’s also an obvious metaphor in throwing away political ads. I got lucky and found some great characters! I just love this story and put a lot of heart into it.”
Becca Tip #5 – Avoid stories that can be dated like winter weather coverage for a reel your producing in June or election coverage for a reel your producing in March
Becca’s personal challenge when putting together this reel? Only uses clips from February of 2016 to now. Here a some final tips
Becca’s Tip #6 – If you have a good package or live shot export that to an external hard drive that day at the end of your shift
Becca’s Tip #7 – label your files with dates and why you exported it Here are some examples of her labeling
102116 Dragon crash survivor shares story – STANDUP.mp4
101016 e-911 employee returns to work – WRITING – FRONTED.mp4
081916 KY Jail Treatment Program – GOOD STANDUP.mp4
Becca’s Tip #8 – Regularly uploading stories you liked to YouTube or Vimeo or whichever video hosting site you prefer allows you to always have something fresh on-hand to share
She treats her YouTube channel like a evolving portfolio: https://www.youtube.com/beccahabegger