Become A Better Videographer – Shoot Like A Video Editor

For those of you who shoot video, want to get better at shooting video, edit your own video, or edit video shot by others, this article is all about you wonderful guys and gals. As someone who is editing a lot, I thought this short video was fantastic. The great hints and tips provided here are totally free, you don’t have to buy anything to get something out of this article, and if you aren’t doing this stuff already, this is guaranteed to make you both a stronger video shooter, and a producer of stronger edits.

Editing is the flip side of the creative coin to shooting. Editing and shooting cannot exist without the other and there is no hope of creating a strong or coherent story without the editing process. Editing is more than just simply cutting the video together of what has been captured. It’s a way to tie together the narrative and story that should have been set by the camera operator(s), DP, Director or whoever is in charge of footage that is being shot. Just as any photographer or videographer has to decide what to leave in or out of their frame, every editor must decide what stays and what gets left on the cutting room floor.

The editing process works best when the editor and camera operator(s) do some pre-planning and get together and discuss the final envisioned outcome before the shoot even commences. It also works when the camera operators practice some simple techniques like those outlined in the video, which can make the editors job much easier, especially on larger edits, with multiple cameras. Even if you are shooting and editing your own work, you will still benefit from this video because the principles still apply.

Caleb Pike is the guy behind DSLR Video Shooter, which is a great site for those who, like the name suggests, are shooting DSLR video. Caleb kindly put together the great little hints and tips here, which I personally think are invaluable. Even if you aren’t editing and you’re just passing off your footage to your editor, trust me, you will be forever in their good books if you start adopting and practicing these great little tips if you aren't already doing so.

Caleb’s seven tips are based around some simple but highly effective camera operator techniques, namely:

1. Transitional shots - how to shoot them

2. Slate your shots (if you don't have a slate, you can easily use a small white board and marker).

3. Overlap your shots - to show the action from every angle and give you more options 

4. Get it on film - great tip if you are doing a lot of interviews

5. B-Roll - get that b-roll!

6. Practice A Lot - great if you aren't already editing. Seeing the finished product through an editor's eyes will strengthen your shooting skills

7. Keep The Tone In Mind - you want to tell a strong a story as you can. Keep the narrative linked to your camera work

All of these are explained in more detail in his video.

Finally, I would like to add my own little tip here. Unless the shoot absolutely calls for a lot of focus and zoom racking, try to hold on a point in the frame for a few extra seconds when shooting. Frame up and hold the shot without moving much, and with no racking focus/zoom. Once you have your framing set up, keep it there a little longer than you think necessary, just for a few extra seconds. This gives you (or your editor) a bit of pre and post roll of steady, focused, strong footage that might be needed if the clip length is a little short, or if the editor wants to incorporate a transitional element or dissolve between clips. There is nothing worse than finding some great footage, only to have difficulty using it because the camera operator racked or moved the focus/zoom, panned/tilted too quickly or moved too soon.

Hopefully you found these useful. If you've got any of your own little tips you would like to share,  I would seriously love to hear from you – please feel free to leave a comment below and share with the community so we can all benefit.

Article Credits [DSLR Video Shooter]

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19 Comments

These are good tips. May I add a few more as well? Mostly to speed up post, because that cheap producer who didn't budget enough time for the shoot also didn't budget enough time for the edit:
1. When recording dual system sound, please send the sound to the camera. Yes we can sync it in post but it can take a half-day to sync dailies in post and only 5 min to hook that cable to the camera during the shoot.

2. Even when shooting MOS its helpful to have a mic on the camera, especially when there's no script supervisor. You'd be surprised how often the DP or director will say relevant information, give comments on a good take or even hearing the reaction of the crew applauding or laughing. Most editors will start with that take!

3. I want to reiterate Caleb's #2. Slates are fantastic. The trend, especially with east coast shooters, is to ignore slates; let the editor figure it out. And we can because we're just that good! But again, we're pressed for time in post as well. In addition, it's really difficult to organize a project when the shot has no information. And when the director's CERTAIN he shot that one shot, theres no way to find it except to scan through ALL the dailies. Btw, if you follow my #2 and have a mic on the camera, someone can just yell out the scene and take info. That works, too.

Want to make the editor your best friend? Put the slate in front of the camera BEFORE you roll. That way the icon that represents the take in his or her NLE will be the slate. happy happy joy joy.

David Geffin's picture

Anthony you rock - those are some fantastic tips, thank you for taking the time to share those. I have to admit, i do a lot of MOS shooting because a lot of my projects will be creative and set to music, but it's such a good idea to have mic and slates on other stuff. I work with a client at the moment who feeds me edits each week where i think both of your 2 and 3rd tips would work really well, especially just shouting out takes (although i love the idea of seeing the slate info as my icon for the file icon in Premiere!). Thanks again!

A piece of software that I found that if bought on sale doesn't hurt too much is Pluraeyes. It makes syncing sound with an external sound recorder a breeze. You still need to have a sound track on the camera to reference, but it really helps when I need more than one mic recording or another situation where its just not feasible to send my mix into the camera.

David Geffin's picture

very good point - i was lucky enough to see Pluraleyes in action recently and it is like some kind of magic that goes on with that thing. I must admit, i haven't used it as much as i wish i had, but from what i saw demonstrated, if you are doing multi camera audio sync work, it's a wonderful piece of software to have.

Lee Morris's picture

This is really good info

David Geffin's picture

thanks Lee :)

great sharing!

David Geffin's picture

Thanks Tim

Thanks for sharing! Very useful!

David Geffin's picture

you're welcome Paulo, glad you found it helpful

Meta data set in camera is a nice bonus as an editor, as is having the camera and sound rolled the same amount of times, even if one was an accident (and recording that this happened) as matching up 50 clips to 50 clips is a lot quicker than 50 to 49, mistakes happen in slating so having this as a backup can save time. Of course is only one rolled and you can delete that clip in device that is another option (best done if it can be done in such a way as to
keep file numbers correct, having a 7 and a 9 as an editor makes you worry that 8 went missing and is needed) record this on the data going to the editor.

Also theres often no such thing as completely unusable footage, that clip you delete on set could have been used by the editor to turn a poor scene into a masterpiece. It may well not but it cant if it doesnt exist. (This goes Hand in hand with getting b-roll and plenty of coverage, they are often what makes it possible to stich all those brilliant bits across multiple takes together).

As a lead on to that if part of a take is great but its ruined by something else (or in extreme cases its all aweful but that bit) noting this in the info that goes to the editor that that bit was fantastic is nice.

David Geffin's picture

good points, especially on mismatched clips.

That's just epic.

David Geffin's picture

Glad you enjoyed it

This is great stuff! Some of the points I was already aware of, but hearing it in a different way made me have a better grasp and understanding of it. I appreciate it!

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