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Old February 15th, 2009, 12:37 AM   #1
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Is there a right and a wrong way?

I'm working on some instructional videos where I am behind a desk discussing and demonstrating. For the close ups of the demonstration do I have to keep the camera in front of me or am I allowed to use a jib and have it shoot from my vantage point?

Is there a right and a wrong way about this?
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Old February 15th, 2009, 12:46 AM   #2
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There's one or maybe two ways something can work visually, and dozens or even hundreds of ways that it won't. If you're not sure, try this test: shoot it -- and then watch it. Shoot it several ways, and watch all of them. Decide for yourself what works and what doesn't. And then hope your intended audience agrees with your decisions.
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Old February 15th, 2009, 01:07 AM   #3
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Depending on what you're doing, a "first person" view can be helpful. I've been working on instructional videos as well, and the "this is what you should see" view is crucial in my opinion.

I know it's not a typical angle, and I've even been experimenting with a modified shoulder mount that allows a small camera to get almost the exact same view I'm seeing while working - obviously this will mean two takes, so perhaps the jib with a small monitor to use to check the framing is a better idea <wink>!
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Old February 15th, 2009, 04:55 PM   #4
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Lots of instructional videos cut away to screen grabs, rather than video-of-the-screen, I have noticed. Does require two takes or the screen capture software running in the background; thinking it might be higher quality than a video of the screen...Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team

Last edited by Battle Vaughan; February 15th, 2009 at 04:55 PM. Reason: correct spelling
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Old February 15th, 2009, 06:01 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't committing a cardinal sin. I will shoot it both ways and see what looks best. Battle I agree with you 100%, but in my case there are no monitors involved.
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Old February 16th, 2009, 01:19 AM   #6
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One small quibble that may or may not bother you.

Assuming that the main camera is in front of you - any "POV" camera behind you will be guilty of "crossing the line" the video convention where action upstage suddenly appears reversed in direction.

If the audience camera shows someone walking left to right. On the upstage camera they'll appear to be walking right to left.

Makes for interesting editing issues.

If you decide to go the jib route, as long as you make the move from downstage to upstage then the audience should go with you.

Another traditional way to handle a demonstration is to hang an angled mirror over the set like they do in cooking shows.

One camera then can push into a close up overhead shot whenever necessary.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.
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Old February 18th, 2009, 05:38 PM   #7
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Remember too that you can cross the line with a moving camera. The idea of the line is it allows the viwer to establish a sense of the position of things within the virtual space that the screen is a window into. Crossing the line with cuts gives rise to the sensation that things are jumping around in space for no rhyme or reason. But a tracking shot preserves the sense of a stable space because the change in the relationships of objects is caused by the virtual movement of the viewer through the space, you understand the different spatial relationships because you know you've moved to a different POV. It's just like if you move from one side of the room the other, you can still know where the furniture is located, you know it's you that has moved and not the sofa.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 12:49 AM   #8
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When you're sitting behind the desk is there any reason the camera has to be across the desk from you as opposed to being slightly on the same side of the desk as you, just off to the side? You could be turned to face the camera, then look toward the desk top and turn to face the thing you're demonstrating as the camera switches to a position more or less at your position.

In other words, act like you're demonstrating to someone sitting in a side chair instead of across the desk from you.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 01:07 AM   #9
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I like your idea but my home studio isn't big enough.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 01:31 AM   #10
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Ah yes, the small detail of reality!

One thought, could you move the desk around so the side faces a door and put the camera outside the room and shoot through the doorway?
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Old February 20th, 2009, 01:13 PM   #11
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quick idea to get around the inability to do the tracking shot Chris suggested. Use a Picture in Picture effect to ease the transition across the line. just a thought.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #12
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I definitely intend to use the picture in a picture option in some areas but I was trying to use these as new scenes so make my scenes shorter. I'm not comfortable in front of the camera so many short scenes will be much easier for me than fewer long scenes.
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