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Seven Lessons: Number 4 - The shot order

Martin Johnson - Saturday, November 22, 2014

So far we've talked about how I used the new Sony Rx 100 Mk III camera on our recent trip to Europe and some suggestions on how to create memories.

Shooting in sequences is the key, but getting the shot order right is also important. Now I'm not talking about the shot order after you've finished editing, but rather how to shoot them in the first place. 

In my previous post I said that I always like to get a 'feel' of a location before I pull the camera out.

That way I 'see' the features or landmarks that I like and then I can start to shoot.

Locate your audience

Your audience likes to know where you are. Even when you look at your footage when you get home, it will help if you have one or more establishing shots to start off your edit. Generally this is either a static wide shot or a pan. If you pan, make sure you're not panning too quickly and that you have a static shot at the beginning and one at the end. Hold these for around five seconds. Whilst these will probably be edited down to one or two seconds, it's always good to have a longer head and tail to cover dissolves etc.

Look for the details

After the wide shot, look for the details that interest you. This also applies to shooting stills. Once again make sure you hold these as static shots or if you make a camera move, make sure the head and tail and steady. Often these shots will also have some action in them. The temptation is to 'follow' the action but my suggestion is to let the action happen within a static frame. Following action with a small camera is not easy as you have no mass to give inertia, but if you brace your arms and allow the in-built 'steadying' technology to do its thing, you can get very acceptable results.

Find unusual angles

Rather than always shooting 'from the front', look for angles from the side of even looking back. I've got some great shots looking back at the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa or the statue of David, for example. It's these angles which give you a different view and make your videos interesting.

Don't shoot too much

I mentioned in an early post that in many locations, such as St Peter's Basilica in Rome or the Vatican Museum some visitors rolled their video cameras for the whole tour. To me this gives me two problems. If I concentrate on what I'm videoing - for the whole tour - I'm going to miss out on what the guide is saying or looking at some of the features. If I forget about the camera - but just keep it rolling - I'll be shooting unwatchable footage. I like to edit my footage to between one and two minutes.

Here's an example from my shots of Venice.



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