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In Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR, photographer and videographer Rob Sheppard provides the essential foundation that photographers need to make the leap from still pictures to moving ones. From technical considerations, such as audio and frame rates, to aesthetic issues, such as composition and story development, this course presents concepts and techniques photographers need to get the best results from their gear and learn the art of video-based storytelling. Exercise files are included with the course.
As you shoot and edit video, you'll start to learn a lot about what is needed to put together an edited video show. You will especially understand how important it is to have variety in your shooting. I have made a big deal about shooting variety because I want you to start putting that idea in the back of your mind as you shoot. I am going to talk about coverage now. Coverage is sort of like variety because it helps you think about shooting a number of different shots. What is different about coverage is that it refers to some very specific ways to frame your subject and cover it with a variety of shots.
Remember that you are not looking for the perfect shot as you might be when you're shooting a still photo. You are looking for sequences and groups of shots that will go together to build an interesting video segment that will both capture your viewer's attention and tell a story about your subject. I'd like to give you three shot types that can be grouped in this way and are used by Hollywood, by professional video shooters, by television, by news videographers, in fact by nearly everyone who shoots video. I'm going to do this as I shoot these dancers, but this time I'm going to frame them in very specific ways.
First, there is the wide shot. Now, the wide shot is how I have this set up right now and the wide shot shows this overall scene. It gives a feeling of setting. It's sometimes called an establishing shot because it shows off or establishes where the subject is for the viewer. It tells us where this action is going to happen. It is also an environmental shot because it shows off the environment of the subject. Second, there's a medium shot. Now, I am just going to just zoom in on this and come in for a shot where I really am starting to feature the dancers more importantly than the whole environment.
So, here the subject becomes very important, but I'm not in so tight that I don't see a little bit of the surroundings. The surroundings are important as background but not as setting. Because of the size of your subject in the frame, we really see the relationships between the subject and other things, and in this case, between the two dancers. We can really see their interaction. That's a really great thing. Now third, there is the close shot. Now, with the close shot, I am going to go in and zoom in even tighter, so I'm mainly getting just their faces.
And anytime, we have a close shot, we start to emphasize details about the subject. Now, this could be a close-up or a macro shot in traditional photography terms but it doesn't have to be. A close shot refers to how close you are getting to a particular subject. If you have a bigger subject, then your close shot is not going to be a traditional close-up in traditional photographic terms. Close shots are almost always dramatic. They help provide a distinct contrast from a medium shot or wide shot.
They show off details of the subject that you can't see in any other way. You might have one big wide shot and several medium shots, but then you'll find it's very easy to get a lot of close shots of a particular subject, and having that variety is never a problem. Now, there's one other type of shot to consider as you're shooting your video. This is not one of the big three shots because it is usually not directly related to your subject, although it is related to where you're shooting. Also, it's not always used in editing but it is a shot that I think that you as a photographer will appreciate.
It's called a cutaway. One of the challenges that you will always face with video is when you are editing, you may find you have to make edits at certain places that look a little awkward. A way to cover up that awkwardness is to use a cutaway, which is simply a shot that cuts away from the main action or subject. There is usually a medium shot or a close shot that shows something of the setting or the environment but not usually of the subject itself. So, again you can cut away from the subject.
As you're shooting your coverage, keep in mind that all of the shots have to go together. You need to be careful of exposure and white balance, so all of your clips will cut together or edit smoothly. It's important not to forget audio while you're shooting coverage. Be sure to capture some of the ambient sound and even some of the existing sounds of your subject separate from actually recording the subject itself. This will give you more flexibility when you are editing because you will be able to use some of those sounds to help with other visuals.
Now you have some good ideas on how to get more variety in your shooting for video. Think about and look for different shot types. Wide, medium, close and cutaway, and that will help you get the right kind of variety you need for video.
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