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Shooting video to tell a story

From: Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR

Video: Shooting video to tell a story

By now you know about shooting video with variety. Now I am going to give you some specific ideas on what sorts of things to shoot to help you get that variety. Video is a great way to tell a story, but I don't want you to think that you have to do some Hollywood type of story. Story is simply the bringing together of separate shots in video to tell something about your subject. Story and video comes from the combining of these separate shots, not a single shot.

Shooting video to tell a story

By now you know about shooting video with variety. Now I am going to give you some specific ideas on what sorts of things to shoot to help you get that variety. Video is a great way to tell a story, but I don't want you to think that you have to do some Hollywood type of story. Story is simply the bringing together of separate shots in video to tell something about your subject. Story and video comes from the combining of these separate shots, not a single shot.

Story begins with three things: a beginning, a middle, and an end. Something is happening and something happens first to get the action going. That's the beginning. There is some sort of ending to what is going on and obviously that's the end. Everything between that beginning and end is middle. So as you are deciding what shots to take, you can look for a beginning, keeping alert for things happening during the action, and then look for something that shows an ending also during that action.

Then as you record everything else, that becomes your middle. The beginning, middle, and end structure of story helps you look for specific things happening. However, not all stories are going to be obvious. So here are three ideas that you can think about that will help you find stories. First, there is the coverage of an event, something very specific going on. That's pretty obvious and it could be as simple as a birthday party or it could be a larger event such as a dance contest.

The difference in such events is the total time from beginning to end. You are still looking to find those beginning shots, ending shots, and something that ties them together through the middle. There will be an order to the finished video, but the beginning, middle, and end do not have to arbitrarily fit a timeline. So here is the look at an event video. (Female speaker: All right, let me get it straight.) (Male speaker: So it's two swing outs and then the prep, right?) (Female speaker: Yes, it's two swing outs and then the prep.) (Male speaker: Okay, and then we're going to hit it for the count of 7ths and 8ths.) (Female speaker: Uh huh. And three triple spins.) (Male speaker: And three triple spins, okay. I got it.) (Male speaker: I think the hat will stay on.) (Male speaker: I think we're good to go, babe.) (Female speaker: All right. Let's hit it.) (Music playing) (Applause) Rob Sheppard: Second, there is a story about who or what a subject is about, details that tell you something about a location or an individual.

Now we are going to watch a short story based on one of the dancers and this is based on an interview to provide the basis of the story and then showing details around that story that help tell it. There are still a beginning, middle, and end, but it is not the same sort of story at all as an event. (Music Playing) (Kim Clever: Swing dancing brings you together, brings you to the simple time where the rules were defined.

One person follows, one person leads, and there is only three things that matter, and it's the music, the dance floor, and your partner, and you just forget everything else. My great-grandmother owned a clothing store in her 30s, 40s, and 50s. Since I was little girl, she started giving me those clothes. So I started collecting vintage clothing when I was just in elementary school. By the time, I hit high school, I was already wearing vintage clothing on a regular basis. I wanted my social activities to match what I was wearing.

So I learned all the dances from the 20s to the 50s, and which outfits should be worn while performing those dances, and I found other people that were like-minded. Swing dancing is bigger now around the world than it ever was. The actual swing era was so short and was so quick. The second coming of swing has lasted longer. (Music playing) Rob Sheppard: Third, there is narrative, the traditional story of Hollywood or television.

Narrative has a very strong beginning, a very strong middle, and a very strong end. But what makes it different than an event story is that there is a very specific sequence of shots that must be shown in order once the video is edited in order for the story to make sense. Each shot, from beginning to end, builds on previous shots. Narrative tells a story about something happening and changing over time.

Let's look at a narrative based on our dancers. (Music Playing) Now you have just seen three illustrations of stories and there were certainly different ways of shooting them and you saw like all kinds of things that are related to even photography that you know such as lighting, and shot angles, and so forth.

But all of them, if you cut down to the core, were basically about a story from beginning to end in terms of having a beginning shot, some sort of an ending shot, and then some things in between, and any of these stories really can be as simple as you saw there, or if you want to shoot a lot more that's a lot more complex, go for it. But when you first start thinking about story, it's probably a good idea to keep your story pretty simple.

Keep focused on finding something that begins the story, something visual that's going to get your viewers' attention. Then something that carries the story along through the middle and something visual that really says here is the end of the story. That's a great way to get started in capturing a variety of video for story.

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This video is part of

Image for Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR
Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR

33 video lessons · 25100 viewers

Rob Sheppard
Author

 
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  1. 2m 43s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. What video can do for you
      1m 27s
  2. 23m 13s
    1. Stopping time in photography vs. recording over time with video
      4m 14s
    2. Shooting for movement over time
      3m 58s
    3. Composing for constantly changing visuals
      4m 42s
    4. Adjusting to shooting for a non-RAW medium
      3m 26s
    5. Understanding resolution for video
      3m 36s
    6. Choosing a video frame rate
      3m 17s
  3. 37m 21s
    1. Comparing DSLRs with traditional camcorders
      6m 18s
    2. Comparing sensor sizes among DSLR cameras
      5m 26s
    3. Considering noise when comparing sensor sizes
      3m 8s
    4. Choosing memory cards and batteries
      3m 33s
    5. Understanding video tripods
      6m 10s
    6. Working with other camera supports
      3m 19s
    7. Using focusing aids for shooting video
      5m 29s
    8. Choosing lighting gear
      3m 58s
  4. 26m 23s
    1. Adjusting how you shoot
      6m 11s
    2. Limited "fixing" of images
      3m 42s
    3. Understanding the challenge of shutter speed
      3m 56s
    4. Getting the right exposure
      6m 59s
    5. Setting the right white balance
      5m 35s
  5. 19m 39s
    1. Understanding the importance of audio
      4m 5s
    2. Learning to work with sound
      4m 54s
    3. Gearing up for audio
      7m 19s
    4. Recording with external audio gear
      3m 21s
  6. 33m 56s
    1. Basic shooting
      6m 12s
    2. Shooting video to tell a story
      7m 27s
    3. Shooting for coverage
      4m 52s
    4. Understanding how to shoot movement
      4m 10s
    5. Shooting the moving subject
      4m 17s
    6. Creating movement
      6m 58s
  7. 6m 57s
    1. Preparing for the edit
      6m 57s
  8. 1m 47s
    1. Stay focused
      1m 47s

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