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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Shot Selection For Better Video

How you shoot video affects how you edit it. The new JVC Everio camcorder makes shot review easy.

Look at your camera's zoom range. The JVC GZ-MC200US has a reasonable 10:1 zoom lens, which is quite good, considering the camera's small size. The key to getting a variety of shots is to use a zoom effectively in combination with physically moving closer to and farther from your subject.

Following are the four key shots:

Wide shot.
The wide shot is the overall view of the scene. Typically, you use your wider focal lengths and zoom the lens out to reveal the scene. This establishes a setting for the action and gives the viewer a context for any other shots. A wide shot is an arbitrary sizeā€”it might cover a huge area if you're shooting a track event or a small room if you're videotaping a toddler's birthday party.

Medium shot.
Action and relationships can be emphasized with this shot, which focuses in on the main subject and excludes most of the surroundings, but it's not so close that you only see details. The medium shot does its magic when it reveals the action of the subject, such as the runners in a 100-yard dash or the relationship of the subject to something or someone nearby, such as the toddler with his or her mother.

Close shot.
Watch commercials and you'll see a lot of medium and close shots used. The close shot brings you in close to your subject so that you see no relationship to its surroundings, and intimate details are revealed. Extremely variable in size, close shots of that track meet might range from a view of the high-jump poles and landing pad to a close-up of a runner's exhausted face. Close shots of the birthday party might include the details of the cake or joy in a toddler's eyes.

Cutaway. This is a somewhat random shot from the area, usually a close-up, but not necessarily something specific to the action or the main subject (though it helps if it is). A cutaway is used to bridge problem edits, such as when a shot goes too long and has to be cut in sections, removing dull action in the middle. The cutaway is a short segment to cover the missing middle section. Good cutaways at the track meet might be wide shots, medium shots and close shots of spectators. Shots of people watching an event are always useful for editing purposes (watch television news for these cutaways in action). Cutaways at the party might include other kids, presents or balloons.


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