January 26, 2008
The Guardian has published a new guide to video, and this article follows a newbie videographer step by step through his quest to make his first video.
The initial plan behind my film was as follows: to use my journalistic wherewithal to arrange access to an event that might provide suitable footage for a short film; to record said event using techniques cribbed from experts and how-to guides; to not accidentally delete said footage; and, finally, to edit the footage into a short film which we could then put on the internet for the viewing pleasure of all and sundry.
Sounds easy, yes?
“The worst thing you can do is try to get everything on camera,” said John Domokos, a video producer at the Guardian and the first individual to offer me advice on how to film the world around me. “If you try to get everything in, you’ll miss everything. And don’t zoom much either, that’s another sure-fire miss. Don’t be afraid to hold the camera still, to look at the same thing for 8-10 seconds. It may feel like an eternity, but it’s worth it.”
See, I’m not the only one spewing out that advice. I don’t make this stuff up!
I haven’t shown you the tripods yet, but here’s a preview:
… when I spoke to Emmy award-winning film-maker Ben Summers, a theme of stillness began to emerge. “If you’re by yourself, get a tripod,” said Ben … “The reason that so much amateur footage is rubbish is because they have no tripod, they’re zooming in all the time and everything is shaky. The more zoom, the more any shakes are brought out. A tripod helps to eliminate that. So get a tripod, find one position where you get a good view, get a wideshot and establish all the action. Make life easy, make the camera still and steady and let the action unfold in front of you.”
Hold still. Do not zoom.
Next, the cutaway shot. What is that? Remember my short video of the Sunday painter? Remember her palette on the grass at her feet? She’s painting, she leans down to the right, her head is in the center of the image forever, and then she comes back up to paint some more. That’s my raw footage. The cutaway is the closeup of her palette. I cut where she leans to the right. I inserted the palette and her brush swirling the blobs of paint. Then cut to her coming back up.
Cut-away is a term I now like to use a lot because it sounds very TV, even though it simply means a shot of something other than the subject of your film, which can serve as an interlude when you’re jumping between clips. The idea, as I understand it, is to pick cut-aways that fit within the logic of the film (i.e., there’s no point splicing a pre-gig interview together with shots of the band on stage) and offer some element of detail. I squeezed in on a pair of toe-tapping feet and the flashing diodes of the bassist’s pre-amp to help later with the edit.
Have a read. The author has a few things to say about editing too. You can see his video (it won’t be winning any awards, and it’s much too long).