Pieces to camera: David Shukman

Pieces to camera (PTCs) are a way of adding impact and context, and help to bring immediacy and authority to a report. David Shukman is the BBC's science editor. His previous briefs include Northern Ireland, defence, Europe and world affairs.

Your audience wants to know you’re there - right where the story is happening. They want to know what it’s like to be there.

A PTC - that is, talking in vision direct to camera - can add something extra to your report. It can be used, for example, to indicate scale, the passage of time or significance.  

As David Shukman explains in this film, it’s crucial to include your camera operator in any discussions right from the start.

His advice is to:

  • Use yourself to show height, size or scale
  • Maintain eye contact with the camera. Looking away will make a point, so be sure you intended this
  • Wear a radio mic to avoid having to shout - unless you want to place yourself in the noise and action around you
  • Avoid writing your PTC. Work out a good beginning, a good end and any key phrases 
  • Walk only to make a point; otherwise keep still. Use movement to connect or contrast places, issues or perspective
  • Use props when appropriate. Something you can hold in your hand, like an apple or rock, can sometimes help to simplify a complicated point 
  • Some stories don’t naturally lend themselves to a PTC. You can still try to come up with a phrase that will grab the audience’s attention.


The College of Journalism offers face-to-face and online courses for BBC staff:

On-Air Performance 

BBC training is available to non-BBC staff on a commercial basis.