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Video tips

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  • Use an extreme wide shot (EWS), or wide shot (WS), at the beginning of your video to establish location.

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  • Use a medium shot (MS) to provide more info about what the action is, who is involved, and where it is taking place.

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    Template copyright 2005 www.brainybetty.com

  • Use a closeup (CU) or extreme closeup (ECU) to give detail to the shot.

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  • Be aware of distracting backgrounds.If possible, change depth of field to blur the background.

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  • Make it a habit to tape a wide shot before you begin shooting at a location.If shooting a street location, progress from general to specific.

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  • Closeups can create intimacy between character and viewer. Can heighten tension or emotion, and provide additional info.Point of View (POV) shots pull viewer into action.

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  • Shoot at the widest possible focal length to reduce shake.When possible, use a tripod or monopod.Use closeups as a transition between scenes to leave the viewer with a final impression of a character or object.

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  • Do not walk stiff-legged.If you have a view screen and can hold the camera away from your face, try to simulate a steadicam with your arms.If standing still, try to lean against a wall, etc.

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  • For a low-angle shot, lie on the ground with your elbows steady on the surface, or, kneel down on one knee.For a steadier picture, keep your elbows in, close to your sides.Guide the camera move with the hand thats under the camera body, not the one operating the main controls.

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  • Use a tripod whenever possible.A monopod is probably your next-best option.

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  • There are a variety of shoulder & chest mounts giving hands-free operation.The Cameraman is a remote control mount.The Steadicam and Steadicam Jr. provide shots that seem to float.

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  • If your camcorder has a remote control, use that to start and stop recording.If youre using a combination movement (e.g., zoom & pan), use an assistant.Rehearse moves before you shoot.

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  • High angle: typically gives viewer dominance.Straight-on angle: everyone is on equal footing typical.Low angle: gives subject dominance.

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  • Handhold the camera for a first-person POV shot.Do not follow a high-angle shot with a low-angle shot, or vice versa, except for effect.Once an angle is established for a subject, e.g., a child, maintain that angle; the child may grow up with the angle changing accordingly.

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  • Lens moves: a Zoom In/Out makes the subject appear larger/smaller.Camera moves: Pan L/R, Tilt U/D, Dolly In/Out, Truck L/R.The speed of the move is critical: the faster the move, the greater the sense of urgency.Combining various moves can be effective.

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  • A shot should be still before a move begins, and the move should end before the next shot begins.The move should have a purpose.Rehearse the move.The move must be smooth.

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  • Always look at all subjects in the frame and their relationship to each other.Look for differences in the amount of light falling on each subject.If the shot has a camera/lens move, look at the perspective from start to end.

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  • First Person POV: the viewer sees the scene from a particular characters point of view.To shoot First Person, establish the character in a location, then, follow with a shot from the characters location.

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  • Second Person POV: makes the viewer part of the action; camera is an unseen companion; actors never make eye contact with camera.

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  • Third Person POV: most-used camera position; looks at the scene as a detached unseen observer.Third Person is usually a wider shot of the scene.Videos are more effective when they combine all three POVs.

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  • Perhaps try beginning with a wide 3rd person shot, cutting to a 2nd person shot; finally, cut to a 1st person shot.First person shots can be thrilling when the situation is tense or active.E.g., in a thriller, opening a door that has something evil behind it can be effective.

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  • Let the shot dictate the POV.A video that uses only one POV throughout will be boring.To make First Person POV most effective, use it sparingly and for dramatic impact.

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  • Depth of Field refers to the subject being in focus and the foreground or background being out of focus.It is controlled by the zoom lens focal length setting, and, size of the iris opening.

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  • Make sure the main subject is in focus before adjusting the depth of field.Be aware of confusing backgrounds, such as small patterns and shadows.Place the main subject as far from the background as possible.

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  • Continuity problems can occur with: shots, audio, subject, shot sequence, action, screen direction.Shot continuity: never cut from a wide shot to a wide shot of the same scene, or from a closeup to a closeup of the same person.

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  • Audio continuity: try to keep volume levels consistent throughout.If narrating, be sure to wait a second after your last sentence before stopping tape to allow for editing room.Subject continuity: stick to the subject; avoid confusing inserts.

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  • Shot sequence continuity: dont confuse the viewer with a departure from the natural progression of events.Action continuity: if someone is putting on a ring, the ring should not mysteriously be totally on the finger in the next closeup scene; start where you left off in the last scene.

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  • Screen direction continuity: if a jogger is running from screen L to R, dont reverse direction from another camera angle.

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  • Look at all elements of the shot to maintain continuity.Before changing to a new angle, know how the last shot ended.If you must break continuity for some reason, consider using a fade in/out to help cover it.Review last shot if there is any confusion.

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  • Dubbing, or copying, video requires two machinesone to play the video and one to record it.Cue the play machine to a few seconds before the dubbing point and press pause; put the record machine into record mode, and then release pause on the play machine.

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  • One way of capturing fast action is to pan with the speeding object.The background tells the viewer how fast the speeding object is moving.

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  • Another method is to have the camera remain stationary, or locked off, capturing the actual speed of the object.

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  • The third method is to combine the two camera techniques, striking a balance.

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  • To increase the speed of a moving object even further, do a reverse pan as the object approaches.To maximize the speed of th