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Old June 30th, 2010, 02:08 PM   #1
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Camera Angle Sequence Reference?

Hello,

I'm fresh to videojournalism, having studied and practiced print for a couple years at the University of Florida. For the past year I've taken classes that deal with basic camera operations, angles, editing etc...

In that time I was introduced to the BBC's 5 shot method:
Video: The five shot rule

This works well if you're subject is sitting in a single place, but there are many situations that it doesn't fit with.

I'm looking for a reference that I can look to when I face a particular filming challenge. I searched around on BBC and CNN for a bit.. but most of their videos seem to be commentary style and I don't want to have to wade too much for finding a video similar to the one I'm trying to film.

So, as a for instance, I am shooting a video of people who walk down the beach looking for turtle nests laid during the night. It would be nice to see how other videographers captured the movement of a few people over long distance in a more or less straight line with one camera.

This could be in the form of a TV website that has well organized videos shot by talented people or a video blogger that covers this topic or any number of other inventive ways.

Any other advice on thinking about camera angle sequences would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Hunter Sizemore
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Old June 30th, 2010, 06:44 PM   #2
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I'd check out some of the natural history programmes. Although in the end these things tend to be blocks of shots around interesting activity, which come together to give the overall story. There are just a few basic rules and then you run with it, an important part of which is that you usually need coverage or angles that allow you to compress time. You also need to be able to shoot out of sequence, although there may be a linear activity going on, the shots themselves may actually be used in a different time frame than when you shot them.

If some one is doing something you shoot material so that you can come back at any important,stages in what they are doing. Also, don't cross the line without good reason and do so in a manner that makes geographical sense.

BTW I never even heard of the BBC 5 shot rule and I've worked for them on many types of productions, so I wouldn't get over excited by it.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 12:22 PM   #3
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It helps to keep a plan in mind: "I'm shooting 3 minutes of video, but only :30 will make it into the sequence, and no shot will last longer than 3-4-5 seconds. How will they cut them together?"

In a linear progression down a beach, for example, you've got several friends.

1. The rule of 3: wide shot, medium, close up. Hard to go wrong here. WS for the set up, MS to see the folks looking for turtles, close ups of the hands, feet, flashlights, small illuminated patches of sand from the flashlight...all useful as cutaways.

2. 90 degrees. This is your buddy on any linear movement, whether it's beach walking, parades, races, etc. Make the line of the beach and the water as your screen direction axis, with you just a little higher on the beach than your subjects. You have a nice WS, MS and CU available to you, both as they come towards you and walk away. Now the 90. Step up the beach and face directly towards to ocean. Here you have a whole new set of WS, MS and CU opportunities to you, each of which can cut into the other coming&going shots...because of the change of screen direction.

3. In frame/out of frame. This is the best tool for time compression. You let the person walk out of the frame...and the next time they appear on camera, a second, a minute or an hour can have transpired. Same goes to let them walk into frame. All this helps propel them to the next interesting bit of video.

So, a nice sequence could be:

*WS head on as they walk towards the camera.
*90 degree MS of the heads and shoulders as they walk.
*Low angle from behind as you track their feet.
*MCU heads and shoulders from front as they talk and look for turtles.
*Illuminated sand from moving flashlight beam.
*LA camera shot of turtle eggs as couple walks into frame.
*Over the shoulder between the two people as they comment about the eggs.
*Medium wide from the 90 as the people walk into frame, with a camera pan to follow them for a few seconds as they look for more eggs, then stop and let them exit the frame.

And that's just one of a hundred easy sequences, if you have the basics covered.
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Old July 3rd, 2010, 07:23 AM   #4
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Great thread - very informative. Thanks to all who are contributing.
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Old July 3rd, 2010, 11:25 AM   #5
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Bill's specific example above is great, and worth closer review.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
...an important part of which is that you usually need coverage or angles that allow you to compress time. You also need to be able to shoot out of sequence, although there may be a linear activity going on, the shots themselves may actually be used in a different time frame than when you shot them.

If some one is doing something you shoot material so that you can come back at any important,stages in what they are doing. Also, don't cross the line without good reason and do so in a manner that makes geographical sense...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Ward View Post
...
3. In frame/out of frame. This is the best tool for time compression. You let the person walk out of the frame...and the next time they appear on camera, a second, a minute or an hour can have transpired. Same goes to let them walk into frame. All this helps propel them to the next interesting bit of video.
...
As above, from Brian - get MS and CU/ECU on all processes, so that they can be later cut into sequences under the subject's VO.

From Brian and Bill - the subject leaving a shot (through their movement or camera movement), the subject entering a shot... I think this is a key element of our visual language, and, one of my biggest challenges to get across to students. Can't emphasize this one enough.

For an example using camera movement:
1) MS Don is walking and explaining, camera follows.
Don stops, his attention on a tide pool "Look at that..."
Camera tilts down, showing tide pool, excludes Don's hands.
CUT TO
2) ECU object in tide pool.
"What we have here is..."
Don's hand comes in to frame, picks up object, exits frame.
CUT TO
3) MS, low-angle, Don examining object...

Whether we're talking soap opera, major motion picture, or the news, the closer the shot the more intimate we are with the subject. That intimacy might be used to build emotional tension in a drama, or to emphasize what the subject feels most strongly about in a news report.
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Old July 3rd, 2010, 11:42 AM   #6
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Some more stuff from my experience:
1. Generally speaking 7 different shots are enough most of the time for a sequence.
2. Change shot sizes, angles, field of view.
3. Take low angle and high angle shots
4. Pov shots when walking
5. Don't shoot too much
6. If your are making a hero piece make at least 3 different sequences
7. Always look for action in frame
8.Think it through before shooting, you should know what you going to shoot next before you shoot it.
9.When on tripod set a first position shoot different shots 360 degrees then move to second position do
the same. There is a limited number of different shots you can get on any location, don't repeat yourself.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 12:39 PM   #7
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Thanks so much for the information so far everyone. I have a few follow up questions.

@Bill Ward

I've drawn a diagram here of how I understood the 90 degree method that you suggested:
http://i50.tinypic.com/2cnzgo1.jpg


My understanding is that you shoot WS, MS and CUs from position 1 as the walkers come towards you and then again from the same spot as they walk away.

Then you move to position 2 (which is actually further down the beach from position 1, of course) and shoot 1 set of WS, MS and CUs from this angle.

@Seth

The sequence you offer seems fairly complex for a no-interference-style videojournalist. Is this something that you just get a feel for? As in, someday it would be second nature for me to capture that sequence as it happens without "redos" (which would require direction on my part and would counter to general journalistic practice)?

Is there some strategy to be prepared for seemingly impromptu situations such as sighting an object of interest in a tidal pool?

@Boris

You mention POV shots, which I played with when I shot the beach walking sequence. Do you have any further thoughts or suggestions on those? Do you try to keep some bit (hand?) of the person in the frame?
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Old July 6th, 2010, 03:55 PM   #8
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You really shouldn't get too mechanical, allow the locations and the actions of your subjects inspire you otherwise you'll not progress as a film maker. There's no point in just shooting from a certain angle if there's nothing worth filming from that angle.

POVs don't work unless you've engaged with a particular person. In journalist pieces, unless you're doing a reconstructing or re enacting something they're not normally used. In the final piece, what you think is a walking POV may actually be working as a tracking shot.

Keeping close to a subject's eye line does work and engages the audience,

BTW you can track with your subjects, just be careful of camera shake, it's a skill to be learnt through practise.
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Old July 11th, 2010, 03:30 PM   #9
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JH:

That's it.

The more you shoot, the more you'll be able to discern when to anticipate action and get in position to get the shot without interrupting the flow, and when to give a little direction to the people you're shooting.

Even in a strict "no staging allowed" rules of engagement shoot...you can usually get away with a quick: "Hold on for a second...OK, NOW pick up the oil-covered turtle."
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