A great way to hone your videography skills is to get frustrated while editing video. As you may know, there are plenty of ways to get frustrated while editing. For example, let’s say you want to include a particular clip in your sequence. When you try to use the shot you realize that the videographer didn’t hold the shot for long enough, and now the clip is too short to use. Or maybe you want to use a shot that was completely ruined because a bug landed on the lens. These frustrations make you think about the shooting process. Below are a few of my favorite editor-friendly tips to consider while shooting.
Hold Your Shot
Too often I’ve found myself in an edit session where I’m unable to use a beautifully composed shot due to the fact that the clip is too short. When you’re out shooting it’s very easy to become impatient and think you’ve held a shot long enough. However, this is usually not the case. I find a good rule of thumb is to hold your shot for at least 10 seconds. This can feel like a lifetime when working with actors or models, however, it’s imperative that clips have enough “fat” with which to work. Extra fat on a clip is especially useful If you’re performing a lengthy transition in or out of your clip.
Shoot Multiple Takes
Earlier I mentioned a shot being ruined due to a bug landing on a lens. This is just one of the reasons why you would want to perform multiple takes of a shot. Often times you’ll hear a director say “one more for safety.” This means that a good take was already captured, they just want an additional take just in case, for example, a bug happens to land on the lens. There are plenty of other benefits to capturing multiple takes. Having several takes also obviously gives the editor options to compare and select the best version of the shot.
Capture Different Angles
Just as shooting various takes gives you options, capturing multiple angles of the same shot also helps you in the same way. When you think about your project or sequence as a whole, you need to think about how one shot will flow into the next. Getting adequate coverage will help make editing a breeze. Capturing the same shot from multiple angles will provide a diverse palette of clips for you to draw on. It will also help you avoid jump cuts and might even inspire you to change the direction of your story in the edit room.
Vary the Framing and Composition
Again, just as with shooting multiple takes and angles, varying your shot framing and composition can completely change the outcome of your final video. Framing and composition are visual languages. Simply switching from a wide shot to a close up can communicate a totally different message to the audience. Take control of where you want your viewer's eyes to focus on by framing your shot appropriately. If you capture numerous takes of the same shot, but each clip has a different composition, you give yourself more control in the edit room.
Anticipate and React
Shooting can be quite chaotic, especially if you’re covering a live event where you only have one chance to capture the moment. Think of wedding and news videographers; they have to be able to anticipate and react quickly to their environment or they can miss an important shot. I’ve also been on video shoots where I would shoot an interview in the morning and B-roll in the afternoon. Oftentimes the soundbites in the interview would help me decide what corresponding visuals I wanted to capture during my afternoon B-roll shoot.
Create a Shot List
Last but not least, create a shot list prior to going out to shoot. A shot list will serve as a road map on your videographic journey. If you use a shot list in conjunction with all of the previous tips listed above, you can’t go wrong. I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times before, but I’ll say it again: success happens when preparation meets opportunity. Or is it luck? Either way, follow these tips and you’ll get shots you can use. And as with everything, practice makes perfect. The more you learn about editing, the more you’ll learn about shooting, and vice versa. So stop reading and go edit something.