The way we shoot is often a fashion trend. Make sure you’re creating original ideas, rather than following a cliche.
In this article, I’m going to draw up three videography gimmicks each from the past, present, and future. Without a doubt, I’m going to miss one, so please let us know what you think in the comments. Hopefully, this list will help readers steer clear of overdone concepts that will stereotype your work down the line.
I’m not suggesting that Quasar Science lights aren’t a very handy tool, but they’ve certainly earned their reputation as a lazy music video idea. Bonus points if you add fog.
Let's not forget about Astera tubes and Digital Sputnik too. The latter is certainly a cool concept, being able to animate light down the tube and go underwater. Also, these lights are inordinately versatile behind the camera.
Lazy Match Cuts
A film cliche is often lazy, and this one wins first place. A match cut is a cut between shots where the first shot shares a similarity to the second shot. I won’t overexplain when this video does the trick.
This auto-generated edit attempts to use whip pans and zooms to create the feeling of a match cut, but generally falls short.
Compare the well thought-out match cuts in this video to the automatic whip-pan-zoom “match cuts” that I made in a review. My video was generated by AI, but the point is that so many YouTubers use “transition packs” to make just this. They’re taking the beauty of pairing scenes and creating a cheaper knock-off.
M31 is both a galaxy and a New York City bus route. It’s also a tragically overused orange-teal LUT created by Vision Color. To me, it defines the "post-DSLR revolution" indie world. It was loved by both filmmakers and clients alike. It forced skin tones to look tanned and could kill low bit-rate footage (which was often how you’d see it). Now, it seems like most M31 abusers have moved on.
With new tech brings new ways to shoot. DJI’s Ronin S ushered in a new and nauseating era of rolling shots. This isn’t a creative trend; it’s born out of convenience. Since it’s the latter, I don’t think many users are thinking about why the camera is rolling around in circles.
I still think it’s a cool type of shot, and it will always have its place. I've been part of shoots that have used it, and it cut together quite well in small doses. However, I worry that we’ll look back and say: “remember when everybody needed to have a rolling shot?”
Wes Anderson’s 2D Vision
If I mention Anderson’s work, your mind might immediately jump to his famous “3D but looks like 2D” scenes. It’s a film essay that we’ve all read or watched and likely recreated.
I feel like this trend will take a long time to pass. Unlike a lot of other cliche techniques, this one usually adds more value than it takes away. By compressing the scene into a 2D-esque frame, we’re trimming away unimportant information. This could make the scene easier to digest, less noisy, and perhaps more thoughtful. Nonetheless, latching onto another directors trendy idea doesn’t usually age well.
I’m mainly talking about the unnatural movement one gets from a gimbal. Without stabilizing the Z-axis, the shot can bob up and down. Without properly tuning the settings, inhuman camera pans or tilts can become noticeable.
The gimbal is here to stay, but the Steadicam will last forever, I suspect. A gimbal will get a shot that’s technically stable, but a Steadicam and its operator will get a shot that flows. Cheap, computerized movement won’t look so hot in 10 years.
Generally speaking, I consider original-looking shots to be something that’s difficult to shoot on a smartphone. Drones with a longer lens might get more interesting shots than a standard wide angle lens. Shallow depth of field with tack-sharp focus looks professional. Steadicam work will stand the test of time when compared with gimbal work.
This is a mashup of tech that’s allowing shots that were never possible before. By splitting a 360 camera in two and putting a drone in the middle, one can have a floating 360 camera. This means the angle can point upward, something most drones can’t do.
Insta360 has just released a package to do this. I’m guessing it’ll be the next big kind of shot creators will strive to achieve. However, I worry that if everybody’s doing it, it will become a gimmick. We’ll have to wait and see on this one, but I’m looking forward to fresh ideas.
Smartphone Crash Zooms
You know the kind, popularized by Snapchat, then Instagram, and now the iPhone’s camera app. You press the record button, and then slide your finger up to zoom in. It’s a handy feature, but totally overused.
The reason I assume this will become a cliche is that the viewer knows exactly how it was shot. It’s low effort, it’s been done hundreds of millions of times, and it speaks to very specific social networks. That’s not to say it’s not fun, especially with Instagram’s filters.
Too Wide Angle to See Anything
We saw it with the GoPro, and we’re going to see it again with the iPhone 11. Wide angle is the modus operandi for 2020. Once everybody’s doing it, will it be become overdone?
One obvious issue that will make this a cliche is lazy wide angle shots. In the above video, you can see the difference between the “get it all in” attitude and actually framing the shot with thought. I suspect we’ll look back at the early ‘20s as being flooded with wide angle shots. Maybe we’ll see the telephoto ‘30s in 10 years?
In conclusion, I hope nobody thinks I’m taking apart their art here. Every shot is worth something, but an original shot will always be worth more than a thoughtless copycat. I hope that this list inspires readers to follow their own path. Of course, let us know if you’ve got any gripes with other trends or instead find them a platform from which to jump.