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Old August 13th, 2009, 10:49 AM   #1
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Scene Lengths

I wanted to get opinions on what are average and/or acceptable times for scene lengths.
My goal is to create a dvd of waterfalls in my area. I have been getting anywhere from 15 to 20 useable shots from each waterfall I visit. I have edited each waterfall together using 1 sec. transitions to blend from shot to shot. The footage is a combination of wide, medium and close ups of a waterfall.

Excluding pans and slow zooms, my average scene length is about 5-6 sec, not including transitions. I have heard that 6 sec. is the max. length that a scene should be. There are times I would like to have a scene last 8 or 10 seconds to show the flow of the water, especially during close shots of water running around and across small rocks. Is this too long? Sometimes I feel 6 sec. isn’t long enough to take in the feel of things.

I would appreciate your thoughts and opinions.

Last edited by Christopher Neville; August 13th, 2009 at 11:48 AM.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 11:25 AM   #2
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This is a problem that I have thought about for some time. Most of my work is wildlife - principally birds. When one is bird-watching with binoculars, one may well watch a single bird continuously for some minutes, depending on the birds behaviour. With video, I have decided that for a clip to last for more than a few seconds, this behaviour has to be VERY interesting indeed. Otherwise, then yes, 6 seconds is a fair length.

I shall be interested to read other people's take on this.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 12:12 PM   #3
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Alan and Christopher,

I suggest you look at some wildlife films made by Lord Richard Attenborough and aired by the BBC, or some films made by Jane Goodall and her husband Hugo van Lawick.

Both will give you an idea of the timing of shots and the duration.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 12:55 PM   #4
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Narration can have a bearing on clip lengths as well. If there is something that is particularly interesting being said about the the subject of the video, the interest span is longer than with bare video with no audio track or just music.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #5
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My goal is to make a relaxation video. Something to unwind to. I wanted to have to audio tracks. One would be just the waterfall sounds, the other would be music and waterfall sound combined. The projects pacing, which is to be slow and relaxing, is what stated me wondering about scene lengths and if they could be longer than 6 sec. if there length helps to sustain a mood.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Snow View Post
Narration can have a bearing on clip lengths as well. If there is something that is particularly interesting being said about the the subject of the video, the interest span is longer than with bare video with no audio track or just music.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 02:20 AM   #6
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I read a very funny tutorial once, can't remember where, about this and other points. Take a baby. Most people would be happy to look at a baby for 5 to 8 seconds but families will make videos with 35 minutes straight of junior in the crib.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 07:28 AM   #7
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Christopher,

I shoot similar subject matter. I usually let the timing of the music drive the edit. Some scenes go 8-10 seconds. I always get a second opinion from my wife on pacing of shots. I also use a lot of dissolves and find that it helps to vary the length of the dissolve. If you are going to use the waterfall sound in the background be prepared for it to sound like "frying bacon". I try to pick as a calmer sound from a stream which has some "detail" in it to use as background sound. You can check out some of my stuff over at NATURE DVD to view timing. Not saying its perfect but it will give you some idea how others are editing.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 11:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
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If you are going to use the waterfall sound in the background be prepared for it to sound like "frying bacon".
It seems every on-board mic does this and I wanted to do the same type of video; natural sounds blended with music. So, I bought a pair of Rode NT1-A mics and an XLR adapter. I've been running around testing them and they give a very natural ambient sound. I got the idea from this site Rode NT1-A Mics & Field Recording
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Old August 17th, 2009, 07:13 AM   #9
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I am reticent to use arbitrary timing restrictions on shot lengths. Whilst long shot times can get boring, they don't have to be. Have you ever seen Hitchcock's "Rope"? I know that's comparing apples and anteaters but I think that surrendering artistic control to some convention of shot length restrictions is just wrong.

That said, I may be completely out to lunch. I am completely self taught and only started shooting nature a couple of years ago. But you decide. Some examples of my work can be found here: White Mountains in HD on Vimeo. Not all of the pieces are mine. Look for the ones authored by "Tripp". That would be me.
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