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Understanding body movement and prop handling

From: On Camera: Develop Your Video Presence

Video: Understanding body movement and prop handling

Quite often, on-camera presenters have to walk and handle props. By props, I mean anything that you hold in your hands. Or you may be interviewed on-camera where you have to demonstrate something that involves walking and handling objects. As I mentioned earlier in the movie about posture and stance, you want to avoid rapid body movements. So what should you do, and how do you handle those props or objects like a pro? When it comes to movement, one thing to always try to do is to walk with a purpose from one place to another.

Understanding body movement and prop handling

Quite often, on-camera presenters have to walk and handle props. By props, I mean anything that you hold in your hands. Or you may be interviewed on-camera where you have to demonstrate something that involves walking and handling objects. As I mentioned earlier in the movie about posture and stance, you want to avoid rapid body movements. So what should you do, and how do you handle those props or objects like a pro? When it comes to movement, one thing to always try to do is to walk with a purpose from one place to another.

This looks better than the walk to nowhere, just to be moving. Any movement should be motivated. You also want to always rehearse with the camera crew any blocking. That's movie speak for movement. This way they know in advance where you will go and what you will do. They will also tell you where you may need to turn, stop or do something. They may also put down pieces of tape on the floor called marks to indicate to you where you should be at any given point.

Your starting mark is always called one. Subsequent marks will be numbered mark two, mark three, and so on, so that everyone knows the plan. Video crews generally don't like surprises when it comes to the talent doing something unplanned. But whether the talent blew a take or the camera operator shook the camera, or the sound person detected a noise, the phrase you'll hear that tells everyone to get ready for another take is 'back to one.' When it comes to what to do with your hands, again, remember the audience.

If the topic is fun, you can use your hands and gesture more than if the topic is somber. How much hand gesturing should you do? Again, any hand movement should be motivated. You want it to be natural to you. Don't feel as if you have to gesture. Some folks just don't talk with their hands. Others can't say three words without having to draw their emotions in the air. Here's a great tip for making sure your gestures don't get too wild. Keep your elbows tucked in and your upper arms touching your body.

That way your hands and arms won't flail all over the place like some kind of cartoon character. Sometimes we have to work with props, or you may be interviewed about your job or hobby that involves doing something with objects. The first thing you always want to do is make friends with your props. Pick them up, handle them, get familiar with them. What you don't want to happen is to pick up a prop for the first time while you're on camera and have it come apart because you weren't holding it correctly.

It's generally okay to look or glance at a prop that's on the table, especially if the audience can see it. This is where having a camera rehearsal comes in handy. You should pick it up only if that's the plan. And when you do pick up a prop or an object, keep in mind that the camera needs to see it. Keep the prop close to your body or up by your face, this is especially helpful if you're promoting something. The camera can get a tighter shot of your face and this fabulous thing that the viewer is definitely going to want after seeing you smiling while you talk about it and admire it.

Walking and talking and handling props is not as easy as it looks. In fact, it's rather difficult. But here are a couple of tips to make the job easier. You maybe able to set the props face down, so you can just pick them straight up without having to turn them over or around. Then while you're walking and picking up the props, bring each one up close to your body and hold it still, long enough for the audience to see it before setting it back down. I call this letting the prop land with a definite stop. Don't just pick it up and wave it around.

If the audience can't see it, they won't want it, or they won't know what it is. So hold it still, even for just a moment. Have you ever watched a television game show that had a gorgeous model in a sparkling gown wave her hands over an object of desire? Anyway, if you look closely, you will notice that the model rarely touches the object, she merely waves her hand over it. And if she does touch it, it's a very light touch. This is called romancing the prop. And men, you can do it too. In fact, it's a great excuse for a manicure.

The more natural you make your movements, the better you will look on camera, whether you're a presenter or an interviewee. Remember, the audience can see only what you show them, and what the camera can get. If you handle a prop the way you would if you were showing it to a person standing next to you, the viewer probably won't get a good look at it. So rehearse your blocking, know your marks, and don't fret when you hear 'back to one.'

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On Camera: Develop Your Video Presence

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Rick Allen Lippert
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