With the constant push for more and more content, I am seeing producers use wipes between stories to keep up the pace.  This can be a highly effective technique to showcase stories.  It also can be very uncomfortable to watch if misused.

So when should you wipe between stories?  There are three common rules:

  1. If stories have the same type of subject with a common link (i.e. – three crime stories that happened overnight, three parades on a holiday etc.)
  2. To showcase different elements of the same story (i.e. – “Here is what the fire looked like when it first started.”, then a wipe to more fire crews arriving on scene, wipe to helicopter dumping water, then a sot from a worried neighbor.)
  3. To showcase a section of news (like national headlines, local headlines, craziest vids of the day etc.)

When you veer from these rules, you can put anchors in some interesting situations.  For example, it does not work if you have a taped interview on a serious political issue, then wipe to vo of a charity event.  A wipe needs the stories to be related somehow.  Morning show or weekend producers, with one anchor, often use wipes to get around a pre-recorded interview.  That is, they wipe out of the interview to avoid making it obvious that the interview is pre-recorded.  But that is not the best technique.  So what do you do?  Well, you can have the editor end the taped subject on an image that does not show the anchor.  That way you can show the anchor back on the set to do a transition line without sweating it.  Or, you can wipe to a story that is related.  For example, in the case of the pre-recorded political interview, wipe to a quick followup about a political story.  Then show the charity event, with the first line on camera.

Bottom line: Wipes are effective when the stories have a common link of some sort. They do not help you pick up the pace if the stories have nothing to do with each other. In that case you confuse and slow the viewer’s reaction down.


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