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Friday, February 8, 2013

Learn to Get the Action and Reaction

Now as you're moving forward with editing your video and keeping editing in mind when you're shooting, it's time to start thinking of more ways you can avoid the jump cut. Beyond that, it's time to start thinking about how you can better tell the story of what you're trying to share with your shooting and editing.

Sir Issac Newton would have made a great videographer. Paraphrasing one of his laws of motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Specifically for us shooters, we always need to be looking for the action and reaction in our scenes. This idea doesn't necessarily apply to static objects  but more specifically to the thing we should focus on the most: people.

Let's say your friend is giving a rousing speech and ends one of his paragraphs by making such a great point that the audience gives him a standing ovation before he continues. Think back to why you were getting the cutaways in the last post. So you could edit portions of his speech together without jump cuts. Now here's a way to get a cutaway that also adds to the story. If in the final edit, your friend makes his triumphant point and all you see is his face while the audience is cheering, then you've really missed out on part of the story of the scene.

If you think in terms of action and reaction, then you're naturally going to want to get the shot of the audience cheering (and you're probably going to want to move to get their faces).

An aside here: a sign of amateur video that features people is shots that don't treat the face as the most important thing. That's where all the emotion is. Backs of heads, feat, arms...they can serve a purpose, but when you really want to communicate feelings, go for the face. You may have a special reason for not doing so...think Nanny in the Muppet Babies, but, most of the time, it's the face that tells the story. Also always be asking yourself why. Why would the first several shots of the opening sequence of MacGyver only be his hands?

So you're going to want that action (the action being the speech) and the reaction (the audience's response to the speech).

In our fictional scenario, you've now solved one problem (giving yourself a cutaway) and you've also told a better story by showing that reaction. Now your viewer will really start feeling like they were there.

It's important to address the real world, practical applications of my tips. I understand it may be hard for you as a hobbyist to put yourself in the position to be able to get all these shots. You have to be able to work with what you have and what you're comfortable with doing. There's nothing wrong with that.

Nevertheless, if you're going to take it to the next level, you're going to need to be prepared to move. If you've ever been at a wedding or concert and seen a professional videographer or photographer...I'll bet you noticed something. They were all over the place. Moving, moving, moving.

We had a little saying in the news business: shoot and move; shoot and move; shoot and move.

It's up to you to think in advance about what position you can put yourself in to be able to get those cutaways and that every important action and reaction (while also being courteous to others around you).

Get that action and reaction and your final product will improve by one thousand percent.